1833 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Hogg

William Blackwood to Alexander Blackwood, 19 April 1833; Margaret Oliphant, William Blackwood and his Sons (1897) 2:119-20.



LONDON, April 19, 1833.

We sat nearly a couple of hours with Mr. Lockhart, and had a great deal of talk with him. He is just the old man, as friendly and as satirical as ever. He gave us a most ludicrous account of some interviews he had had with this fellow Mr. S. — Cochrane's partner. This worthy, you know, has announced a Life of Sir Walter Scott, and told Mr. L. he had got a number of his (Sir Walter's) letters to Constable which he intended to incorporate in his work. Mr. L. made him aware that the law would entitle Sir W.'s executors to get an injunction to prevent them being published without their consent. This, however, Mr. S. did not at first believe, but he soon found Mr. L. was right. Their next interview — and this is the best joke of all — was to consult Mr. L. with respect to a large MS. which he had received from his friend Hogg, containing anecdotes of Sir Walter. Mr. L., knowing well what a bundle of lies it would be, at first declined to look at it, but Mr. S. pressed him so much that he opened the scroll. The first page he glanced at contained such abominable things that he could not restrain his indignation, but poured it forth upon Hogg in such unmeasured terms that his poor auditor was dumbfoundered. He, however, left the manuscript for Mr. L.'s consideration. He went over it, and filled with utter disgust not only at the lies on every page, but the bad feeling displayed in mentioning the three Dukes of Buccleugh, Scott of Harden, and many others, and speeches of Sir Walter and Lady Scott [concerning them?] in the most offensive way possible. He therefore returned the MS. with a note saying he could give no opinion upon it. I had almost forgot to tell you a very curious part of the affair: though all in Hogg's own handwriting, it is given as if it were written by Mr. S., and he takes good care to speak of himself in the most laudatory way as the excellent Shepherd, the original genius, &c., &c., and Mr. S. is supposed to write down the remarks of this son of genius. One atrocious lie Mr. L. was able to detect from his own personal knowledge. Hogg details to Mr. S. at great length an interview he had with Sir Walter on his last return from Drumlanrig, when, he says, Sir Walter called on him with Miss Scott. He makes Sir Walter pay him the most extravagant compliments, and exalt him far above any poet of the age. And this is all pure fiction, except that Sir Walter did call, and Mr. Lockhart was with him, not Miss Scott. What a fortunate escape we have made in not having anything more to do with Hogg, for he would have been an eternal torment.