By Richard B.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Last revised 23 September 2000
There are no comprehensive bibliographies of the editions of
Blair's own works or of the secondary literature on Blair. For
Blair's writings, see parts I and II of the bibliography in
Schmitz's biography (though these are badly in need of revision
and expansion) and the Jiriczek and Rizza articles. For secondary
sources on Blair, Schmitz's biography, part III, is generally
adequate for older works. For studies of Blair as a literary
critic, consult Harding's edition of the Lectures on Rhetoric
and Belles Lettres and the bibliography in Miller's
Formation of College English. For other aspects of Blair's
career, and its wider ecclesiastical and academic context, see
the bibliographical essay in Sher, Church and University in
the Scottish Enlightenment.
- Otto L. Jiriczek, "Zur Bibliographie und Textgeschichte von
Hugh Blair's Critical Dissertation on the Poems of
Ossian," Englische Studien 70 (1935-36): 181-89. See
also the article by Rizza cited in the Ossian section below.
- Hugh Amory, "Hugh Blair," in Sale Catalogues of Libraries
of Eminent Persons, vol. 7: Poets and Men of Letters,
ed. H. Amory (1973), pp. 159-64. An informed discussion of
Blair's library, which contained approximately 2,400 volumes and
was sold by auction in two parts in 1801 and 1816.
No complete edition of Blair's works has ever been published, but
the following editions of his individual books are recommended:
- A Critical Dissertation on the Poems of Ossian (1763),
in The Poems of Ossian and Related Works, ed. Howard
Gaskill, with an Introduction by Fiona Stafford (Edinburgh:
Edinburgh Univ. Press, 1996), 343-408. Contains useful notes by
the editor, as well as Blair's Appendix, which appeared only in
the second edition.
- Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, ed. Harold F.
Harding, 2 vols. (Carbondale and Edwardsville: Southern Illinois
Univ. Press, 1965). A facsimile of the first (quarto) edition of
1783, with a useful Introduction by Harding that contains a good
bibliography of older studies.
- Sermons, 5 vols. (1777-1801). The early
nineteenth-century five-volume sets published in London by Cadell
and Davies, with Finlayson's biographical sketch, are the closest
thing to a standard edition.
- James Finlayson, "A Short Account of the Life and Character
of the Author," first published in the posthumous fifth volume of
Blair's Sermons (London, 1801), and subsequently prefixed
to the first volume of many editions of the five-volume set. A
brief sketch by one of Blair's ecclesiastical and academic
colleagues and close friends.
- John Hill, An Account of the Life and Writings of Hugh
Blair, D.D. (Edinburgh, 1807; reprint, Bristol: Thoemmes
Press, 1997). The standard contemporary biography, by a friend
and colleague in the University of Edinburgh. The Thoemmes
reprint edition contains a new Introduction by Emma Vincent
Macleod, with a bibliographical note on earlier biographies.
- Steven Rizza, "Hugh Blair," in The Dictionary of
Eighteenth-Century British Philosophers, 2 vols. (Bristol,
1999), 1:101-7. Emphasizes Blair's literary side.
- Robert Morell Schmitz, Hugh Blair (New York: King's
Crown Press, 1948). A printed Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia
University which is still the standard modern biography more than
half a century later, though now extremely dated.
- Hew Scott, Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae: The Succession of
Ministers in the Church of Scotland, new ed., 9 vols.
(Edinburgh: 1915-28), 1:29, 68, 82; 5:134. A fundamental source
for ecclesiastical information.
- Richard B. Sher, "Hugh Blair," in the New Dictionary of
National Biography, (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press,
- "Dr. Hugh Blair," in Public Characters of 1800-1801
(Dublin, 1801), pp. 288-303. Written during Blair's last days,
this anonymous sketch contains useful pieces of information along
with many errors.
Literary Criticism and Rhetoric
- Don Abbott, "Blair 'Abroad': The European Reception of the
Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres," in Scottish
Rhetoric and Its Influences, ed. Lynee Lewis Gaillet (Mahwah,
N.J.: Hermagoras Press, 1998), pp. 67-78.
- Lois Agnew, "The Civic Function of Taste: A Re-assessment of
Hugh Blair's Rhetorical Theory," Rhetoric Society
Quarterly 28 (1998): 25-36. An appreciative reassessment of
- Paul Bator, "The Formation of the Regius Chair of Rhetoric
and Belles Lettres at the University of Edinburgh," Quarterly
Journal of Speech 75 (1989): 40-64. The chair was formed for
Blair in 1762.
- Vincent M. Bevilacqua, "Philosophical Assumptions Underlying
Hugh Blair's Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres,"
Western Speech 31 (1967): 150-64. Connects Blair's
Lectures with common sense philosophy.
- Alan Brinton, "Hugh Blair and the True Eloquence,"
Rhetoric Society Quarterly 22 (1992): 30-42
- Robert Crawford, Devolving English Literature (Oxford:
Oxford Univ. Press, 1992).
- Franklin E. Court, Institutionalizing English Literature:
The Culture and Politics of Literary Study, 1750-1900
(Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1992).
- David Daiches, "Style Périodique and Style
Coupé: Hugh Blair and the Scottish Rhetoric of
American Independence," in Scotland and American in the Age of
the Enlightenment, ed. Richard B. Sher and Jeffrey R. Smitten
(Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, and Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ.
Press, 1990), pp. 209-26. How Blair's teachings on sentence
structure may have influenced the American Founding Fathers.
- Rajit S. Dosanjh, "The 'Eloquence of the Bar': Hugh Blair's
Lectures, Professionalism and Scottish Legal Education,"
in The Scottish Invention of English Literature, ed.
Robert Crawford (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1998), pp.
- Linda Ferreira-Buckley, "Hugh Blair," in
Eighteenth-Century British and American Rhetorics and
Rhetoricians: Critical Studies and Sources, ed. Michael G.
Moran (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1994), pp. 21-33.
- Lynee Lewis Gaillet, ed., Scottish Rhetoric and Its
Influences (Mahwah, N.J.: Hermagoras Press, 1998). In
addition to the two articles specifically about Blair (see Abbott
and Hatch in this section), this volume contains much relevant
- Gary Layne Hatch, "Student Notes of Hugh Blair's Lectures on
Rhetoric," in Scottish Rhetoric and Its Influences, ed.
Lynee Lewis Gaillet (Mahwah, N.J.: Hermagoras Press, 1998), pp.
- Winifred Bryan Horner, Nineteenth-Century Scottish
Rhetoric: The American Connection (Carbondale: Southern
Illinois Univ. Press, 1993). Contains a fair bit on the
eighteenth century despite its title.
- Wilbur Samuel Howell, Eighteenth-Century British Logic and
Rhetoric (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1971), esp.
648-71. Treats Blair within the context of the emergence of the
new science of rhetoric in late eighteenth-century Britain, and
- F. McIntosh, "Hugh Blair and the Use of Ornamentation in the
Sublime Style of Writing: From Paradox to Aesthetics," RLC:
Revue de littérature comparée 70 (July-Sept.
- Thomas P. Miller, "Witherspoon, Blair and the Rhetoric of
Civic Humanism," in Scotland and American in the Age of the
Enlightenment, ed. Richard B. Sher and Jeffrey R. Smitten
(Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, and Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ.
Press, 1990), pp. 100-14. Criticizes Blair's belletristic
approach to rhetoric.
- Thomas P. Miller, The Formation of College English:
Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in the British Cultural Provinces
(Pittsburgh: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1997). Contains a fine
chapter on Blair's "rhetoric of belles lettres" and its academic
impact, as well as a good bibliography.
- Adam Potkay, The Fate of Eloquence in the Age of Hume
(Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1994).
- J. Tarver, "Abridged Editions of Blair's Lectures on
Rhetoric and Belles Lettres in America: What
Nineteenth-Century College Students Really Learned about Blair on
Rhetoric," The Bibliotheck 21 (1996): 55-68.
- Barbara Warnick, The Sixth Canon: Belletristic Rhetorical
Theory and Its French Antecedents (Columbia, S.C.: Univ. of
South Carolina Press, 1993). Blair is among those featured.
Scottish Men of Letters and the Church of Scotland
- Alexander Carlyle, "A Comparison of Two Eminent Characters
Attempted after the Manner of Plutarch," in Carlyle, Anecdotes
and Characters of the Times, ed. James Kinsley (London:
Oxford Univ. Press, 1973), pp. 277-82. Interesting comparison of
Blair and William Robertson by a member of their circle. Another
version exists among Carlyle's papers in the National Library of
- The Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle of Inveresk
1722-1805, ed. John Hill Burton, new ed. (London &
Edinburgh: T. N. Foulis, 1910; reprint, Bristol: Thoemmes Press,
1990). The best edition of an important contemporary source on
Blair and his circle, with a new Introduction by Richard B. Sher
- John Dwyer, Virtuous Discourse: Sensibility and Community
in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland (Edinburgh: John Donald,
1987). Pathbreaking study of the role of sensibility in the Henry
Mackenzie-Mirror circle, placing Blair in a new context.
- J. DeLancey Ferguson, "Burns and Hugh Blair," Modern
Language Notes 45 (1930): 440-46. On Blair's well-intentioned
but wrong-headed efforts to clean up Burns.
- James L. Golden, "Hugh Blair: Minister of St. Giles,"
Quarterly Journal of Speech 38 (1952): 155-60. One of the
few publications on Blair's preaching.
- Gary Layne Hatch, "Adam Smith's Accusations of Plagiarism
against Hugh Blair," Eighteenth-Century Scotland, no. 8
(1994): 7-10. Argues that the charges do not stick.
- William C. Lehmann, Henry Home, Lord Kames, and the
Scottish Enlightenment (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1971).
Along with Ross's study of Kames, cited below, contains much
information on the Kames-Blair connection.
- Maurice Lindsay, The Burns Encyclopedia, 3rd. ed.
(London: Robert Hale Ltd., 1980). The article on Blair, pp.
31-33, is a useful summary of the Blair-Burns relationship.
- Davis D. McElroy, Scotland's Age of Improvement: A Survey
of Eighteenth-Century Literary Clubs and Societies (n.p.:
Washington State Univ. Press, 1969). Blair turns up in the Select
Society, the Poker Club, the Oyster Club, the Royal Society of
Edinburgh, and others.
- Ernest Campbell Mossner, The Life of David Hume, 2nd
ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980). Still a rich source of
information about Blair's relationship with Hume.
- Ian Simpson Ross, The Life of Adam Smith (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1995). The new standard biography of Smith, with
coverage of his relationship with Blair.
- Ian Simpson Ross, Lord Kames and the Scotland of His
Day (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972). Along with Lehmann's
book, cited above, contains much useful information on the
- Richard B. Sher, Church and University in the Scottish
Enlightenment: The Moderate Literati of Edinburgh (Princeton:
Princeton Univ. Press, and Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press,
1985). Treats Blair's career in the context of his circle of
Edinburgh "Moderate Literati."
Ossian and the Critical Dissertation
- R. W. Chapman, "Blair on Ossian," Review of English
Studies 7 (1931). Reprints a valuable letter from Blair to
the publisher of his Critical Dissertation, Thomas Becket,
dated 19 August 1762.
- Steve Rizza, "A Bulky and Foolish Treatise?: Hugh Blair's
Critical Dissertation Reconsidered," in Ossian
Revisited, ed. Howard Gaskill (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ.
Press, 1991), pp. 129-46. A thorough and insightful discussion.
- M. M. Rubel, Savage and Barbarian: Historical Attitudes in
the Criticism of Homer and Ossian in Britain, 1760-1800
- Richard B. Sher, "Those Scotch Imposters and their Cabal:
Ossian and the Scottish Enlightenment," Man and Nature:
Proceedings of the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century
Studies, ed. Roger L. Emerson (London, Ont., 1982), 55-63.
Views the Ossian phenomenon as a collaborative effort by James
Macpherson and Blair's circle of Edinburgh literati.
- Richard B. Sher, "Percy, Shaw and the Ferguson 'Cheat':
National Prejudice in the Ossian Wars," in Ossian
Revisited, ed. Howard Gaskill (Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ.
Press, 1991), pp. 207-45. A nasty skirmish involving Blair.
- Fiona Stafford, "Hugh Blair's Ossian, Romanticism and the
Teaching of Literature," in The Scottish Invention of English
Literature, ed. Robert Crawford (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ.
Press, 1998), pp. 68-88.
- Yoshiaki Sudo, "An Unpublished Lecture of Hugh Blair on the
Poems of Ossian," The Hiyoshi Review of English Studies 25
(March 1995): 160-94. Dropped from Blair's Lectures on
Rhetoric and Belles Lettres, the Ossian lecture is here
reconstructed from surviving student notes.
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