LOGAN, JOHN (1748-1788), Scottish poet, was born at Soutra, Midlothian, in 1748. His father, George Logan, was a farmer and a member of the Burgher sect of the Secession church. John Logan was sent to Musselburgh grammar school, and in 1762 to the university of Edinburgh. In 1768-1769 he was tutor to John, afterwards Sir John, Sinclair, at Ulbster, Caithness, and in 1770, having left the Secession church, he was licensed as a preacher by the presbytery of Haddington. In 1771 he was presented to the charge of South Leith, but was not ordained till two years later. On the death of Michael Bruce (q.v.) he obtained that poet's MSS. with a view to publication. In 1 770 he published Poems on Several Occasions, by Michael Bruce with a preface, in which, after eulogizing Bruce, who had been a fellow student of his, he remarked that " to make up a miscellany some poems wrote by different authors are inserted, all of them originals, and none of them destitute of merit. The reader of taste will easily distinguish them fiom those of Mr Bruce, without their being particularized by any mark." Logan was an active member of the committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland which worked from 1775 to 1781 at revising the Translations and Paraphrases " for public worship, in which many of his hymns are printed. In 1779-1781 he delivered a course of lectures on the philosophy of history at St Mary's Chapel, Edinbuigh. An analysis of these lectures, Elements of the Philosophy of History (1781), bears striking resemblance to A View of Ancient History (1787), printed as the work of Dr W. Rutherford, but thought by Logan's friends to be his. In 1781 he published his own Poems, including the " Ode to the Cuckoo " and some other poems which had appeared in his volume of Michael Bruce's poems, and also his own contributions to the Paraphrases. His other publications were An Essay on the Manners and Governments of Asia (1782), Runnamede, a tragedy (1783), and A Review of the Principal Charges against Warren Hastings (1788). His connexion with the theatre gave offence to his congiegation at South Leith; he was intemperate in his habits, and there was some local scandal attached to his name. He resigned his charge in 1786, retaining part of his stipend, and proceeded to London, where he became a writer for the English Review. He died on the 28th of December 1788. Two posthumous volumes of sermons appeared in 1790 and 1791. They were very popular, and were reprinted in 1810. His Poetical Works were printed in Dr Robert Anderson's British Poets (vol. xi., 1795), with a life of the author. They were reprinted in similar collections, and separately in 1805.
Logan was accused of having appropriated in his Poems (1781) verses written by Michael Bruce. The statements of John Birrell and David Pearson on behalf of Bruce were included in Dr Anderson's Life of Logan. The charge of plagiarism has been revived from time to time, notably by Dr W. Mackelvie (1837) and Mr James Mackenzie (1905). The whole controversy has been marked by strong partisanship. The chief points against Logan are the suppression of the major portion of Bruce's MSS. and some proved cases of plagiarism in his sermons and hymns. Even in the beautiful " Braes of Yarrow " one of the verses is borrowed direct from an old border ballad. The traditional evidence in favour of Bruce's authorship of the " Ode to the Cuckoo" can hardly be set aside, but Dr Robertson of Dalmeny, who was Logan's literary executor, stated that he had gone over the MSS. procured at Kinnesswood with Logan.
Logan's authorship of the poems in dispute is defended by David Laing, Ode to the Cuckoo with remarks on its authorship, in a letter to J. C. Shairp, LL.D. (1873) ; by John Small in the British and Foreign Evangelical Review (July, 1877, April and October, 1879); and by R. Small in two papers (ibid., 1878). See also BRUCE, MICHAEL.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)