1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Hogg

Anonymous, in Review of Hogg, Queen's Wake; North American Review [Boston] 2 (November 1815) 103-04.



That the author of this poem was a common shepherd, which is asserted by the editor in a preface on his own personal knowledge, is the most extraordinary circumstance about the work; the dedication is the most pleasing: "To her Royal Highness the Princess Charlotte of Wales, a Shepherd among the mountains of Scotland dedicates this poem." This seems to be realizing in pastoral composition, what has hitherto been only fabulous, at least since the days of Arcadia, whose chronology is a little uncertain. The delicacy, purity and feeling, which the ancient poets attributed to shepherds, and which their successors have servilely imitated down to the present time, is ridiculously false as regards the modern race of them, and indeed from the nature of their occupation, must have always been so; for of all menial employments, this seems, from the circumstances attending it, as pursued in Europe, to nourish ignorance and stupidity. Mr. Hogg is a striking exception, who may be considered as one of the first real shepherds who has ever indulged in poetry; though the pretended ones have deluged us with their insipidity.