(1721–91) Scottish poet and essayist, born near Annan, Dumfriesshire, the son of an English bricklayer; he lost his sight to smallpox when six months old. He was befriended by both David Hume and James Beattie, and received a DD from Marischal College, Aberdeen, in 1767. There is an account of his meeting with Samuel Johnson in James Boswell's Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides. His collected poems, with a life by Henry Mackenzie, appeared in 1793. His letter of praise for Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect is said to have dissuaded Robert Burns from emigrating to Jamaica.
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature in Oxford Reference.