1880 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Hogg

William Minto, in The English Poets: Selections with Critical Introductions, ed. Thomas Humphry Ward (1880) 4:227.



Hogg owed his introduction to letters to the same sort of accident as Cunningham, and there was not a little similarity besides in their careers. Of both it may be said that there was as much of the elements of poetry in their lives as in their books. Hogg was a more boisterous character, with a much less firm grip of reality, and most at home in wild burlesque and the realms of unrestrained fancy. The combination of rough humour with sweetness and purity of sentiment is by no means rare; but Hogg is one of most eminent examples of it; all the more striking that both qualities were in him strongly accentuated by his demonstrative temperament. His humour often degenerates into deliberate loutishness, affected oddity; and his tenderness of fancy sometimes approaches "childishness," or, as the Scotch call it, "bairnliness." But with all his extravagances, there is a marked individuality in the Shepherd's songs and poems; he was a singer by genuine impulse, and there was an open-air freshness in his note.