1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Pringle

James Hogg, in Autobiography (1832); Works (1865) 2:455.



From the time I gave up The Spy, I had been planning with my friends to commence the publication of a magazine on a new plan; but, for several years we only conversed about the utility of such a work, without doing anything farther. At length, among others, I chanced to mention it to Mr. Thomas Pringle; when I found that he and his friends had a plan in contemplation of the same kind. We agreed to join our efforts, and try to set it agoing; but, as I declined the editorship on account of residing mostly on my farm at a distance from town, it became a puzzling question who was the best qualified among our friends for that undertaking. We at length fixed on Mr. Gray as the fittest person for the principal department, and I mentioned the plan to Mr. Blackwood, who, to my astonishment, I found had likewise long been cherishing a plan of the same kind. He said he knew nothing about Pringle, and always had his eye on me as a principle assistant; but he would not begin the undertaking until he saw he could do it with effect. Finding him, however, disposed to encourage such a work, Pringle, at my suggestion, made out a plan in writing, with a list of his supporters, and sent it in a letter to me. I inclosed it in another, and sent it to Mr. Blackwood; and not long after that period Pringle and he came to an arrangement about commencing the work, while I was in the country. Thus I had the honour of being the beginner, and almost sole instigator of the celebrated work, Blackwood's Magazine; but from the time I heard that Pringle had taken in Cleghorn as a partner I declined all connection with it, farther than as an occasional contributor. I told him the connection would not likely last for a year, and insisted that he should break it at once; but to this proposal he would in nowise listen. As I had predicted, so it fell out, and much sooner than might have been expected. In the fourth month after the commencement of that work, I received a letter from Mr. Blackwood, soliciting my return to Edinburgh; and when I arrived there, I found that he and his two redoubted editors had gone to loggerheads, and instead of arguing the matter face to face, they were corresponding together at the rate of about a sheet an hour. Viewing this as a ridiculous mode of proceeding, I brought about two meetings between Mr. Blackwood and Mr. Pringle, and endeavoured all that I could to bring them to a right understanding about the matter. A reconciliation was effected at that time, and I returned again to the country. Soon, however, I heard that the flames of controversy, and proud opposition, had broken out between the parties with greater fury than ever; and shortly after, that they had finally separated, and the two champions gone over and enlisted under the banners of Mr. Constable, having left Mr. Blackwood to shift for himself, and carried over, as they pretended, their right to the magazine, with all their subscribers and contributors to the other side.

I received letters from both sides. I loved Pringle, and would gladly have assisted him had it been in my power; but, after balancing fairly the two sides, I thought, Mr. Blackwood more sinned against than sinning, and that the two editors had been endeavouring to bind him to a plan which could not possibly succeed; so, on considering his disinterested friendship for me, manifested in several striking instances, I stuck to him, expecting excellent sport in the various exertions and manoeuvres of the the two parties for the superiority.