1834 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Hogg

John Wilson to James Hogg, 1834; Mary Wilson Gordon, Christopher North (1862; 1894) 365-67.



MY DEAR SHEPHERD:

From the first blush of the business, I greatly disliked your quarrel with the Blackwoods, and often wished to be instrumental in putting an end to it, but I saw no opening, and did not choose to be needlessly obtrusive. Hearing that you would rather it was made up, and not doubting that Mr. Blackwood would meet you for that purpose in an amicable spirit, I volunteer my services — if you and he choose to accept of them — as mediator.

I propose this — that all mere differences on this, and that, and every subject, and all asperities of sentiment or language on either side, be at once forgotten, and never once alluded to — so that there shall be asked no explanation nor apology, but each of you continue to think yourself in the right, without taking the trouble to say so.

But you have accused Mr. Blackwood in your correspondence with him, as I understand, of shabbiness, meanness, selfish motives, and almost dishonesty. In your Memoir there is an allusion to some transaction about a bill, which directly charges Mr. Blackwood with want of integrity. In that light it was received by a knave and fool in Fraser's Magazine, and on it was founded a public charge of downright dishonesty against a perfectly honorable and honest man. Now, my good sir, insinuations or accusations of this kind are quite "another guess matter" from mere ebullitions of temper, and it is impossible that Mr. Blackwood can ever make up any quarrel with any man who doubts his integrity. It is your bounden duty, therefore, to make amends to him on this subject. But even here I would not counsel any apology. I would say that it is your duty as an honest man to say fully, and freely, and unequivocally that you know Mr. Blackwood to be one, and in all his dealings with you he has behaved as one. This avowal is no more than he is entitled to from you; and, of course, it should be taken in lieu of an apology. As to writing henceforth in Maga, I am sure it will give me the greatest pleasure to see the Shepherd adorning that work with his friends again; and, in that case, it would be graceful and becoming in you to address Mr. Blackwood in terms of esteem, such as would remove from all minds any idea that you ever wished to accuse him of want of principle. I should think that would be agreeable to yourself, and that it would be agreeable to all who feel the kindest interest in your character and reputation. In this way you would both appear in your true colors, and to the best advantage.

As for the Noctes Ambrosianae, that is a subject in which I am chiefly concerned; and there shall never be another with you in it, if indeed that be disagreeable to you!!! But all the idiots in existence shall never persuade me that in those dialogues you are not respected and honored, and that they have not spread the fame of your genius and your virtues all over Europe, America, Asia, and Africa. If there be another man who has done more for your fame than I have done, let me know in what region of the moon he has taken up his abode. But let the Noctes drop, or let us talk upon that subject, if you choose, that we may find out which of us is insane, perhaps both.

Show this letter to the Grays — our friends — and let them say whether or not it be reasonable, and if any good is likely to result from my services. I have written of my own accord, and without any authority from Mr. Blackwood, but entirely from believing that his kindness towards you would dispose him to make the matter up at once, on the one condition which, as an honest man, I would advise him to consider essential, and without which, indeed, he could not listen to any proposal. I am, my dear sir, your affectionate friend,

JOHN WILSON.