1813 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Hogg

Walter Scott to Lord Byron, 6 November 1813; in Lockhart, Life of Scott (1837-38; 1902) 2:366-67.



The author of the Queen's Wake will be delighted with your approbation. He is a wonderful creature for his opportunities, which were far inferior to those of the generality of Scottish peasants. Burns, for instance — (not that their extent of talents is to be compared for an instant) — had an education not much worse than the sons of many gentlemen in Scotland. But poor Hogg literally could neither read nor write till a very late period of his life; and when he first distinguished himself by his poetical talent, could neither spell nor write grammar. When I first knew him, he used to send me his poetry, and was both indignant and horrified when I pointed out to him parallel passages in authors whom he had never read, but whom all the world would have sworn he had copied. An evil fate has hitherto attended him, and baffled every attempt that has been made to place him in a road to independence. But I trust he will be more fortunate in future.