Johnston, Arthur

, was born at Caskieben, near Aberdeen, the seat of his ancestors, in 1587, and probably | was educated at Aberdeen, as he was afterwards advanced to the highest dignity in that university. The study to which he chiefly applied, was that of physic; and to improve himself in that science, he travelled into foreign countries. He was twice at Rome, but the chief place of his residence was at Padua, in which university the degree of M. D. was conferred on him in 1610, as appears by a ms copy of verses in the advocates’ library in Edinburgh. After leaving Padua, he travelled through the rest of Italy, and over Germany, Denmark, England, Holland, and other countries, and at last settled in France, where he met with great applause as a Latin poet. He lived there twenty years, and by two wives had thirteen children. At last, after twenty-four years absence, he returned into Scotland, as some say in 1632, but probably much sooner, as there is an edition of his “Epigrammata,” printed at Aberdeen in 1632, in which he is styled the king’s physician. It appears by the council-books at Edinburgh, that the doctor had a suit at law before that court about the same time. In the year following, Charles I. went into Scotland, and made bishop Laud, then with him, a member of that council; and by this accident it is probable the acquaintance began between the doctor and that prelate, which produced his “Psalmorum Davidis Paraphrasis Poetica.” We find, that in the same year the doctor printed a specimen of his Psalms at London, and dedicated them to his lordship, which is considered as a proof that the bishop prevailed upon Johnston to remove to London from Scotland, and then set him upon this work; neither can it be doubted but, after he had seen this sample, he also engaged him to perfect the whole, which took him up four years; for the first etlition’of all the Psalms was published at Aberdeen in 1637, and at London in the same year. In 1641, Dr. Johnston being at Oxford on a visit to one of his daughters, who was married to a divine of the church of England in that place, was seized with a violent diarrhoea, of which he died in a few days, in the fifty-fourth year of his age, not without having seen the beginning of those troubles which proved so fatal to his patron. He was buried in the place where he died, which gave occasion to the following lines of his learned friend Wedderburn in his “Suspiria,” on the doctor’s death:


"Scotia moesta, dole, taiiti vidtiata sepulchro

Vatis; is Angligenis contigit akus honos."

In 1632, as already remarked, was published at AberdeenEpigrammata Arturi Johnstoni;” and in 1633, he translated Solomon’s Song into Latin elegiac verse, and dedicated it to his majesty; in 1637, he edited the “Deliciae Poetarum Scoticorum,” to which he was himself a large contributor, and which, says Dr. Johnson, would have done honour to any country. His Psalms were reprinted at Middleburg, 1642; London, 1657; Cambridge,; Amsterdam, 1706 Edinburgh, by William Lauder, 1739 and at last on the plan of the Delphin classics, at London, 1741, 8vo, at the expence of auditor Benson, who dedicated them to his late majesty, and prefixed to this edition memoirs of Dr. Johnston, with the testimonies of various learned persons. A laboured, but partial and injudicious comparison between the two translations of Buchanan and Johnston, was printed the same year by Benson, in English, in 8vo, entitled <* A Prefatory Discourse to Dr. Johnston’s Psalms,“&c. andA Conclusion to it.“This was ably answered by the learned Ruddiman inA Vindication of Mr. George Buchanan’s Paraphrase of the Book of Psalms,“1745, 8vo. Johnston’s translations of theTe Deum, Creed, Decalogue,“&c. were subjoined to the Psalms. His other poetical works are his” Parerga,“and his” Musae Aulicse,“or commendatory verses upon persons of rank in church and state at that time. Johnston is evidently entitled to very high praise as a Latin poet; and the late lord Woodhouselee seems to admit that from his days the Latin muses have deserted the northern part of our island: Benson’s comparison between Buchanan and Johnston was absurd enough, but it is not fair that Johnston should suffer by his editor’s want of taste. The abler critic we have just mentioned, does not think Johnston’s attempt to emulate Buchanan as a translator of the Psalms, greatly beyond his powers; for, although taken as a whole, his version is certainly inferior (as indeed what modern has, in Latin poetry, equalled Buchanan) yet there are a few of his Psalms, such as the 24th, 30th, 74th, 81st, 82d, 102d, and above all, the 137th, which, on comparison, lord Woodhouselee says, will be found to excel the corresponding paraphrase of his rival. And Dr. Beattie seems to speak in one respect more decidedly. Johnston, he says,” is not so verbose as Buchanan, and has of course | more vigour;" but he very justly censures the radical evil of Johnston’s Psalms, his choice of a couplet, which keeps the reader always in rnind of the puerile epistles of Ovid. 1

1 Memoirs by Benson. Chalmers’s Life of Ruddiman, p. 42, 176, &c, Tytier’s Life of Kamei. Beattie’s Dissertations, 4to, p. 645,