|Activity||He was descended from James VI's master-smith in Scotland, John Callander, who purchased Craigforth of the earls of Livingston and Callander about 1603. His father was also John Callander; his mother, Catherine Mackenzie of Cromarty. He passed advocate at the Scottish bar, but never obtained a practice, and seems to have devoted his leisure chiefly to classical pursuits. He presented five volumes of manuscripts entitled ‘Spicilegia Antiquitatis Græcæ, sive ex veteribus Poetis deperdita Fragmenta,’ to the Society of Scottish Antiquaries in 1781, shortly after he was elected a fellow. He also presented at the same time nine volumes of manuscript annotations on Milton's ‘Paradise Lost,’ of which he had published those on Book I. in 1750. In 1766-8 he brought out in three volumes ‘Terra Australis Cognita, or Voyages to the Southern Hemisphere during the Sixteenth, Seventeenth, and Eighteenth Centuries,’ partly translated from the French of M. de Brosses, from which, however, he merely confesses to ‘have drawn many helps.’ In 1779 he published ‘An Essay towards a Literal English Version of the New Testament in the Epistle of Paul directed to the Ephesians,’ in which he gave a complete representation in English of the Greek idiom, even to the order of the words. His edition of ‘Two ancient Scottish Poems, the Gaberlunzie Man, and Christ's Kirk on the Green, with Notes and Observations,’ published at Edinburgh in 1782, displays research; but, although the notes are valuable to those unfamiliar with the Scottish language, many of his etymological remarks are unsound. Callander projected a variety of other works, including ‘Bibliotheca Septentrionalis,’ of which he printed a specimen in 1778, and a ‘History of the Ancient Music of Scotland from the age of the venerable Ossian to the beginning of the Sixteenth Century,’ in regard to which he printed ‘Proposals’ in 1781. From the preface to ‘Letters from Thomas Percy, D.D., afterwards Bishop of Dromore, John Callander of Craigforth, Esq., and others, to George Paton,’ which appeared at Edinburgh in 1830, we learn that Callander had a taste for music, and was an excellent performer on the violin, and that in his latter years he became very retired in his habits, and saw little company, his mind being deeply affected by a religious melancholy which unfitted him for society. |
He died, ‘at a good old age,’ at Craigforth on 14 Sept. 1789. By his wife, Mary, daughter of Sir James Livingstone, he had seventeen children. His eldest son, James, assumed the name of Campbell.
In March 1818 an article on Callander's edition of Book I. of Milton's ‘Paradise Lost’ appeared in ‘Blackwood's Magazine,’ in which it was shown by parallel lines that much of his notes had been borrowed without acknowledgment from the annotations of Patrick Hume in the sixth edition of ‘Paradise Lost’ published by Jacob Tonson in 1695. On account of this article a committee of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland was appointed to examine his manuscript notes of Milton in their possession, who reported that, though only a comparatively small proportion of Callander's notes were borrowed from Patrick Hume, his obligations to him were not sufficiently acknowledged.