BLAIR, HUGH; Church of Scotland; b. in Edinburgh Apr. 7, 1718; d. there Dec. 27, 1800. He studied in the local university; became minister of Colessie, Fifeshire, 1742; second minister of the Canongate Church, Edinburgh, 1743; minister of Lady Yester's 1754; was transferred to the High Church 1758. From 1759 he lectured in the University so acceptably on rhetoric and belles-lettres, that in 1760 he was appointed the town council professor in that department, and from 1762 to 1783 was the royal professor; when on resigning he published his lectures (2 vols.) he became one of the most famous authors of works on rhetoric in the English language and retained the position for a century. In 1780 he received a pension of £200 a year. To his own generation he was a most acceptable preacher and his sermons continued to be read and to be translated far into the nineteenth century. Their simplicity, excellent style, and high morality account for their vogue, but their lack of depth in thought and spirituality have caused them to lose popularity.
Bibliography: Sketches of Blair's life were appended to vol. v of his sermons by J. Finlayson, London, 1801; consult also John Hill, An Account of the Life and Writings of H. Blair, Edinburgh, 1807; DNB, v, 160-161.