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veloped in a coarse plaid impregnated or manners than a child I was a sort of with tobacco, with a prodigious mouth natural songster, without another advan, ful of immeasurable tusks, and a di- tage on earth. Fain would I have done alect that set all conjecture at defiance, something; but, on finding myself shunlumbering suddenly in upon the ele ned by every one, I determined to push my own fortune independent of booksellers, gant retirement of Mr Miller's backshop, or the dim seclusion of Mr John whom I now began to view as beings ob noxious to all genius. My plan was, to Ogle! Were these worthies to be begin a literary weekly paper, a work for blamed if they fainted upon the spot, which I certainly was rarely qualified, when or run out yelling into the street past the above facts are considered. I tried the monster, or, in desperation, flung Walker and Greig, and several printers, themselves into safety from a back offering them security to print it for me.→→→ window over ten stories? Mr Hogg No; not one of them would print it with speaks of his visits to booksellers' shops out a bookseller's name at it as publisher. at this period with the utmost nonchalance. What would he himself have thought, if a large surly brown bear, or a huge baboon, had burst open his door when he was at breakfast, and helped himself to a chair and a mouth ful of parritch? would not his hair have touched the ceiling, and his under jaw fallen down upon the floor? So was it with those and other bibliopoles. It was no imputation on their taste that they, like other men, were subject to the natural infirmity of fear. No man likes to be devoured suddenly in the forenoon—and the question, in such a case, was not respecting the principles of poetical composition, but the preservation of human life.
Baulked in his attempt at publication of poetry, Hogg determines to set the town on fire. To effect this purpose, he commences a periodical work called the Spy, in which he proposes to treat of Life, Manners and Miller. This, I humbly presume to think, was gross impertinence. I have a copy of the Spy, and it is truly a sickening concern. The author makes love like a drunken servant, who has been turned out of place for taking indecent liberties in the kitchen with the cookwench. The Edinburgh young ladies did not relish this kind of thing, it was thought coarse even by the Blue Stockings of the Old Town, after warm whisky toddy and oysters; so the Spy was executed, the dead body given up to his friends where buried, remains & secret until this day.
Hogg looks back on this enterprize with feelings of evident exultation, ill disguised under mock humility. Just take notice how he glorics in his
"And all this time I had never been once in any polished society had read next to none-was now in the 38th year of my age, and knew no more of human life
Dn them,' said I to myself, as I was running from one to another, the folks here are all combined in a body.' Mr Constable laughed at me exceedingly, and finally told me he wished me too well to encourage such a thing. Mr Ballantyne was rather more civil, and got off by subscribing for so many copies, and giving me credit for £10 worth of paper.. David Brown would have nothing to do with it, unless some gentlemen, whom he named, should contribute. At length, I found an honest man, James Robertson, a bookseller in Nicolson Street, whom I had never before seen or heard of, who undertook it at once on my own terms; and on the 1st of
September, 1810, my first number made its appearance on a quarto demy sheet, price four-pence.
"A great number were sold, and many hundred delivered gratis; but one of Robertson's boys, a great rascal, had demanded the price in full for all that he delivered gratis. They shewed him the imprint, that they were to be delivered gratis; so they are,' said he; I take nothing for the delivery; but I must have the price of the paper, if you please.'
"This money, that the boy brought me, consisting of a few shillings and an immense number of halfpence, was the first and only money I had pocketed, of my own making, since my arrival in Edinburgh in February last. On the publication of the two first numbers, I deemed I had as many subscribers as, at all events, would secure the work from being dropped; but, on the publication of my third or fourth number, I have forgot which, it was so indecorous, that no fewer than seventy-three
subscribers gave up. This was a sad blow for me; but, as usual, I despised the fastidity and affectation of the people, and continued my work. It proved a fatal oversight for the paper, for all those who had given in set themseves against it with the utmost inveteracy. The literary ladies, in particular, agreed, in full divan, that I would never write a sentence which deserved to be read. A reverend friend of mine has often repeated my remark on being told of this Gaping deevils! wha cares what
they say! If I leeve ony time, I'll let them see the contrair o' that.'
"My publisher, James Robertson, was a kind-hearted, confused body, who loved a joke and a dram. He sent for me every day about one o'clock, to consult about the publication; and then we uniformly went down to a dark house in the Cowgate, where we drank whisky and ate rolls with a number of printers, the dirtiest and leanest looking men I had ever seen. My youthful habits having been so regular, I could not stand this; and though I took care, as I thought, to drink very little, yet, when I went out, I was at times so dizzy, I could scarcely walk; and the worst thing of all was, I felt that I was beginning to relish
I write now, Christopher, to direct your attention to the next grand æra in the life of this extraordinary man,and let us have it first in his own words.
"The next thing in which I became deeply interested, in a literary way, was the FORUM, a debating society, established by a few young men, of whom I was one of the first. We opened our house to the public, making each individual pay a sixpence, and the crowds that attended, for three years running, were beyond all bounds. I was appointed secretary, with a salary of £20 a-year, which never was paid, though I gave away hundreds in charity. We were exceedingly improvident; but I never was so much the better of any thing as that society; for it let me feel, as it were, the pulse of the public, and precisely what they would swallow, and what they would not. All my friends were averse to my coming forward in the Forum as a public speaker, and tried to reason me out of it, by representing my incapacity to harangue a thousand people in a speech of half an hour. I had, however, given my word to my associates, and my confidence in myself being unbounded, I began, and came off with flying colours. We met once a-week: I spoke every night, and sometimes twice the same night; and, though I sometimes incurred pointed disapprobation, was in general a prodigious favourite. The characters of all my brother members are given in the larger work, but here they import not. have scarcely known any society of young men who have all got so well on. Their progress has been singular; and, I am certain, people may say as they will, that they were greatly improved by their weekly appearances in the Forum. Private societies sig. nify nothing; but a discerning public is a severe test, especially in a multitude, where
See Dr Jamieson once more.
the smallest departure from good taste, or
in St Cæcilia's Hall, Niddry Street,
whom I was one of the first!" This is a gross anachronism. He was at this time an old man, of two score and upwards. Here he says, "he felt the pulse of the public," and gauged "precisely what they would swallow and what they would not!" Suppose, my dear Christopher, that you, or any other medical man, (you seem to have dropped the M. D.) by way of feeling the pulse of christian patients, should jack-asses at Leadburn-hills! or judge practice on the left legs of a gang of of the swallow of a convalescent young lady, by amusing yourself with feeding a tame cormorant? or prescribe to a dowager, fat, fair, and forty, as if you were James Stuart flinging oil cakes to the Dunearn ox? The Public unquestionably has a large and a wide swallow, and a pretty strong bouncing pulse of her own. But the Public would have retched, scunnered,* vomited, swarfed,† fallen into successive convulsions, become comatose, and died under one tenth part of the perilous stuff that was both meat and drink to the Forum. The Forum got fat and pursy, red in the face, with a round belly, under circumstances that would have reduced the Public to a walking skele
heard like the tick of an eight-day The pulse of the Forum was clock, 60 in the minute, slow but sure, when that of the poor Public would have been 150. The Forum heard unmoved, what would have driven the Public for ever into the deepest retirement, the cell, or the cloister. Why, in com
+ Once more.
parison with the Forum, the Public has all the sensitive delicacy of a private person.
But lest I should be suspected of exaggeration-who composed the select society of the Niddry Street Forum? Young grocers, redolent of cheese, comfits, and tallow-candles, who dealt out their small, greasy, fetid sentences, as if they were serving a penny customer across the counter with something odious in brown paper,-precocious apprentices,- -one of whom, in all probability, had made or mended the president's unpaid breeches,-occasional young men obviously of little or no profession, who rose, looked wildly round them, muttered, sunk, and were seen no more,—now and then a blunt bluff butcher-like block-head,routing like a bull ona market-day in the Grass Market, stray students of medicine from the sister-island, booming like bitterns in the bog of Allen,-long-faced lads from Professor Paxton, dissenters from every thing intelligible among men,-laymen from Leeds, and Birmingham, Hull, and Halifax, inspired with their red port wines, and all stinking like foxes of the strong Henglish-accent,-pert, prim, prating personages, who are seen going in, and coming out of the Parliament House, nobody knows why, or wherefore,-mealy-mouthed middle-aged men, of miscellaneous information, masters of their matter, all cut and dry, distinguished as private pedagogues, great as grinders, and powerful in extemporaneous prayer,-now and then a shrivelled mummy, apparently of the reign of George the II. with dry dusty leathern palate, seen joining in the debate,-stickit ministers who have settled down into book-binders, compositors, or amanuenses to some gentlemen literarily disposed,-apothecaries deep in dog-latin, and tenderly attached to words of six or eight syllables, such as latitudinarianism, a sprinkling of moist members from mason-lodges, dropping in when the discussion is about half-seas-over,and finally, for there is no end to this, a few players and seene-shifters, (for on Friday night the theatre is shut,) assiduous in their noble endeavours to revive the study of Shakespeare, and making the Forum resound with screeds of blank verse, out of mouths as unmerciful as leaden spouts on a rainy day.
Such is a most imperfect enumeration of a few of the component parts of
the Forum, where Hogg learned to feel the pulse, and gauge the swallow of the Edinburgh public. "Here it was," quoth the swineherd, "that the smallest departure from good taste was sure to draw down disapproval ! ! ! ! ! ! !!! !!!!!" No doubt, even in the Forum, it was possible to go too far, and Hogg was, I know, often hissed. It is said, that even among apes and monkeys, there are rules of good breeding, and that the better bred ones are often excessively irritated at the mews and chattering of their less decorous brethren of Ape kind.
But the truth is, that Hogg never could speak at all in the Forum. He used to read ribald rhymes about marriage and other absurdities, off whitybrown paper, stuck up on a niche, with a farthing candle on each side of him, which he used to snuff in great trepidation, with his finger and thumb instantly applied to his cooling mouth, in the midst of the most pathetic passages, cheered by shouts of derisive applause that startled Dugald M'Glashan and his cadies beneath the shadow of the Tron-Kirk. He has no more command of language than a Highlander had of breeches before the 45; and his chief figure of speech consisted in a twist of his mouth, which might certainly at times be called eloquent. He had recourse to this view of the subject, whenever he found himself fairly planted, so that a deaf spectator of the debate would have supposed him stuck up in a hole in the wall to make ugly faces, and would have called for a horse-collar. Was that a situation in which "the smallest deviation from good taste would have drawn down disapproval?"
On the decline and fall of the Forum, James Hogg looked once more abroad over the world, and, his brilliant career of oratory being closed, Poetry once more opened her arms to receive his embrace. He wrote the Queen's Wake; and wishing to astonish some of his friends with a rehear sal, the following scene is described as taking place.
"Having some ballads or metrical tales
past me, which I did not like to lose, I planned the Queen's Wake, in order that I might take these all in, and had it ready in a few months after it was first proposed. I was very anxious to read it to some person of taste, but no one would
either read it, or listen to me reading it,
save Grieve, who assured me it would do. As I lived at Deanhaugh then, I invited Mr and Mrs Gray to drink tea, and to read a part of it with me before offering it for publication. Unluckily, however, before I had read half a page, Mrs Gray objected to a word, which Grieve approved of and defended, and some high disputes arose ; other authors were appealed to, and notwithstanding my giving several very broad hints, I could not procure a hearing for another line of my new poem. Indeed, I was sorely disappointed, and told my friends so on going away; on which another day was appointed, and I brought my manuscript to Buccleuch Place. Mr Gray had not got through the third page, when he was told that an itinerant bard was come into the lobby, and repeating his poetry to the boarders. Mr Gray went out and joined them, leaving me alone wish a young lady, to read, or not, as we liked. In about half an hour, he sent a request for me likewise to come: on which I went, and heard a poor crazy beggar repeating such miserable stuff as I had never heard before. I was terribly affronted; and putting my manuscript in my pocket, jogged my way home in very bad humour. Gray has sometimes tried to deny the truth of this anecdote, and to face me out of it, but it would not do. I never estimated him the less as a friend; but I did not forget it, in one point of view; for I never read any more new poems to him."
Some of the ballads in the Queen's Wake are tolerable imitations of Scott, and the old traditionary poetry of Scot land. But who the devil cares a jot for Mr Hogg's negociation about it with Constable, and Miller, and Murray, and Goldie, and Blackwood? All
the world knows that booksellers are the most selfish and crafty of their sex; and that poor poets are the most ignorant, absurd, and unreasonable of theirs. Poetry is a drug; even goodish decent poetry wont sell; and therefore I blame no publisher for behaving as ill as possible to any poet. Of the publishers aforesaid, Constable seems to have been amused with the matchless stupidity and vanity of Hogg, but to have behaved to him, on the whole, with much good nature and due liberality. Miller seems to have intended to publish the Pilgrims of the Sun, but got frightened at Hogg's uncouth appearance, and the universal rumours of his incapacity. Murray seems to have awoke out of a dream, and on recovering his senses, to have cut the Shepherd in his easiest manner. Of Blackwood, it would be unbecoming me to speak with either praise
or censure in his own Magazine. But this I will say, that if he had offered, or will yet offer, to pay me as well as he has paid Hogg, I will become one of the best periodical writers in this country.
But let us hear what he says furthe with regard to the Queen's Wake. "This address gave me a little confi dence, and 1 faced my acquaintances on by one; and every thing that I heard wa laudatory. The first report of any work that goes abroad, be it good or bad, spread like fire set to a hill of heather in a war spring day, and no one knows where it wi stop. From that day forward every on has spoken well of the work; and ever review praised its general features, save th Electic, which, in the number for 1813 tried to hold it up to ridicule and contemp Mr Jeffrey ventured not a word about i either good or bad, himself, until the yea after, when it had fairly got into a secon and third edition. He then gave a very jud cious and sensible review of it; but he con mitted a mest horrible blunder, in classi Mr Tennant, the author of Anster Fair, a me together, as two self-taught geniuses whereas there is not one point of reser blance-Tennant being a better educat man than the reviewer himself, was not little affronted at being classsed with m From that day to this Mr Jeffrey has tak no notice of any thing that I have publis ed, which I think can hardly be expect to do him any honour at the long run. should like the worst poem that I ha with some that he has strained himself since published, to stand a fair comparis bring forward. It is a pity that any rary connexion, which with the one pa might be unavoidable, should ever pre dice one valued friend and acquainta against another. In the heart-burnings party-spirit, the failings of great minds more exposed than in all other things the world put together."
Now, Christopher, you, and two three other men in Scotland are titled to cut up Mr Jeffrey. He man of real wit and cleverness, and serves to be cut up. But he ought to be haggled with a blunt jocteles the hands of a clown. There is so thing most laughable in a vul rhymster accusing Mr Jeffrey of lay in reviewing his worthless tr
-All the world saw that the c wished to do a good-natured th to the swine-herd, and to give a lift above the sneers of the to "He then gave a very sensible judicious review of it!!" It was ther sensible nor judicious, nor it meant to be so. It was a mere
of charitable bam-of amiable humbug; and Mr Jeffrey is a great deal too kind, in my opinion, in bepraising the small fry of poetasters, while he sends his harpoon into the backs of the larger poets, and laughs at beholding them floundering about with a mile of rope coiled round them. I never could see any more wickedness in Frank Jeffrey than in Christopher North; and I believe you both to be a couple of admirable fellows,-no men's ene mies but your own,-a little defi cient in prudence and worldly wisdom; but gradually improving by age and infirmity, and likely to turn out, after all, useful and respectable members of society. I could not let this favourable opportunity pass without paying you both a well deserved compliment. Pray, where lay "the horrible blunder," in classing Mr Tennant, the author of Anster Fair, with Mr Hogg. Mr Jeffrey had never heard of Mr Tennant when he reviewed his poem. He did not speak of him as an ignorant, but a selfeducated man. And though this was not altogether the case, there was no horrible blunder in saying so. Mr Hogg is simply a fool, when he talks of Mr Tennant being a better educated man than Mr Jeffrey. Mr Jeffrey's education was complete, and he is a most accomplished scholar, though not yet a professor at Dollar Academy.
Mr Hogg goes on to narrate to the world the circumstances under which he composed his Mador of the Moor, Poetic Mirror, Dramatic Tales, and
Of Mador of the Moor, it is not in my power at present to speak in terms of adequate contempt. The story is this:-King James assumes the character of an itinerant fiddler, and seduces a farmer's daughter, somewhere about the extremity of Perthshire. She absconds, and, after a safe delivery of a thumping boy, at which it does not appear that any howdy officiated, madam takes her foot in her hand, and fathers the child upon his Majesty, in his court at Stirling Castle. The king marries the trull, and with the wedding (rather a stale concern) the poem concludes. This may be a common enough way of settling the business about Ettrick and Yarrow, but the kings of Scotland, I am persuaded, never did wive after such a fashion. King Jamie played a good many pranks during the long nights unquestionably, but on no single occa VOL. X.
sion did he marry any of the girls; and Mr Hogg ought not thus to defend morality at the expence of historical truth. A poet, above all men, should always stick to facts; and this young woman, who, he says, carried her husband, is altogether an imaginary Jacobite relic.
The Poetic Mirror is now lying before me, and two of the imitations of Wordsworth are admirable. But Hogg never wrote one syllable of them. They were written by Lord Byron, with an immense stack of bread and butter before him, and a basin of weak tea. Mr Pringle's little poem is pretty enough, but all the rest of the volume is most inhuman and inerciless trash. Does Hogg believe, that if he were to steal Lord Byron's breeches and coat, and so forth, and walk along the Rialto, that the Venetian ladies would mistake him for his lordship? It is easier to play the fool than the lord, and, therefore, in one or two of his imitations, the swine-herd is more lucky. That of himself, for example, is a true specimen of the stye-school of poetry.
I request you, Christopher, to look again at page 65. "Risum teneatis, amice?" Read it aloud, and believe your ears.
"I know not what wicked genius put it into my head, but it was then, in an evil hour, when I had determined on the side I was to espouse, that I wrote the Chaldee Manuscript, and transmitted it to Mr Blackwood from Yarrow. On first reading it, he never thought of publishing
it; but some of the rascals to whom he showed it, after laughing at it, by their own accounts till they were sick, persuaded him, nay, almost forced him to insert it; for some of them went so far as to tell him, that if he did not admit that inimitable article, they would never speak to him again so long as they lived."
There is a bouncer!-The Chaldee manuscript!-Why, no more did he write the Chaldee Manuscript than the five books of Moses.-Prove he wrote it, and I undertake to prove the moon green cheese, and eat a slice of it every morning before breakfast. I presume that Mr Hogg is also the author of Waverley. He may say so if he chooses, without contradiction,and he may also assert that he, and not Lord Wellington, fought the battle of Waterloo, that he communicated the steam-engine to Mr Watt,and was the original inventor of Day and Martin's patent blacking. It must be a delightful thing to have such fanG