When James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, visited London — in January, 1832, he produced in "literary circles " a sensation almost as great as might have been created by the removal of Ben Nevis to Blackheath. The world of London was idle then, and the incident became an event.
It was a rare and curious sight to see the Shepherd feted in aristocratic salons, mingling among the learned and polite of all grades — clumsily, but not rudely. He was rustic, without being coarse; not attempting to ape the refinement to which he was unused, but seeming perfectly aware that all eyes were upon him, and accepting admiration as a right.
He was my guest several times during that period of unnatural excitement, which there can be no question shortened his life; and at my house he met many of his literary contemporaries, whom he might not otherwise have known.
In society, where, as I have intimated, he was easy and self-possessed, because natural, his glowing and kindly countenance, his rousing and hearty laugh, the quaintness of his remarks, his gentle or biting satire, the continual flow of homely wit, the rough, but perfectly becoming manner in which he sung his own Jacobite songs, all gained for him personally the golden opinions previously accorded to his writings; and the visit of James Hogg to the metropolis was not a failure, but a success.
On the 25th of January, 1832, a public dinner was given to him in the great hail of the Freemasons' Tavern: nominally it was to commemorate the birthday of Robert Burns, but really to receive the Shepherd. There were many men of note present; among others, two of the sons of Burns, Lockhart, Basil Hall, Allan Cunningham, and others of equal or lesser note; the most conspicuous of the guests being Mr. Aiken, then Consul at Archangel, to whom Burns had, half a century before, addressed his famous lines — the "Epistle to a Young Friend."
The dinner had been ordered for two hundred; but, long before it appeared on the table, four hundred persons had assembled to partake of it. It will be easy to conceive the terrible confusion that ensued, as steward after steward rushed about the room, seizing food wherever he could find it, and bearing it off in triumph to the empty dishes laid before his friends, over which it became necessary for him to stand guard, while the wrathful clamour of those who had nothing was effectually drowned by the bagpipes — two pipers pacing leisurely round the hall. It was no wonder, therefore, if the guests were indignant, for each had paid twenty-five shillings for his ticket of admission, and certainly many were sent hungry away.
Sir John Malcolm a gallant soldier, from "the Border," who had gained "the bubble reputation" in the East, and who had achieved some fame as an author, was in the chair.
When the usual toasts had been given, THE toast of the evening was announced; but the toastmaster had no idea that a guest thus honoured was nothing more than a simple shepherd, and consequently conceived he was doing his duty best when to the assembled crowd he announced, "A bumper toast to the health of Mister Shepherd!" There was a roar throughout the building, and the hero of the day joined in the laugh as heartily as the guests.
Up rose a man, hale and hearty as a mountain breeze, fresh as a branch of hillside heather, with a visage unequivocally Scotch, high cheek bones, a sharp and clear grey eye, an expansive forehead, sandy hair, and with ruddy cheeks, which the late nights and late mornings of a month in London had not yet sallowed. His form was manly and muscular, and his voice strong and gladsome, with a rich Scottish accent, which he probably, on that occasion, rather heightened than depressed. His appearance that evening may be described by one word, and that word purely English. It was HEARTY!
He expressed his "great satisfaction at meeting so numerous and respectable an assembly — met in so magnificent an edifice for such an object. He was proud that he had been born a poet — proud that his humble name should have been associated with that of his mighty predecessor, Burns. That indeed was fame, and nobody, henceforward, would venture to insinuate that he had not acquired some share of true greatness after the honour which had been conferred upon him by the literary public of such a metropolis. He loved literature for its own sake, and he gloried in his connection with his country. The Muse, it was true, had found him a poor shepherd, and a poor shepherd he still remained after all, but in his cultivation of poetry he was influenced by far prouder motives and more elevated considerations, and he was not without his reward. After expatiating on his literary labours, the Shepherd concluded by repeating his thanks for the favours he had experienced, and hoped that the overflowings of a grateful heart would not be the less acceptable because they might be conveyed in 'an uncouth idiom and barbarous phraseology.'"
The applause that followed his "racy" remarks — a brief history of his life — and his expressions of wonder at finding himself where he was, and how he was, might have turned a stronger brain than that of James Hogg.
Hogg has given us an Autobiography, from his birth up to a late — but not a very late — period of his life. His vanity was so inartificial as to be absolutely amusing; he avowed, and seemed proud of it, as one of his natural rights. "I like to write about myself" — that sentence begins his Autobiography; and the sensation is kept up to the end. Accordingly, he speaks "fearlessly and unreservedly out;" but bating his belief that he beat Byron, Scott, and Wordsworth on their own ground, and that he originated Blackwood's Magazine, enough remains to exhibit a man of great natural powers, who merits the high place he obtained in the literary history of his age and country. It is, indeed, a record of wonderful triumphs over difficulties almost without parallel.
He stated himself to have been born on the 25th of January, 1772; but the parish register gives the date of his birth — December 9th, 1770. There is, consequently, a confusion as to the actual time, as there is about the actual place, some according the honour to "Ettrick Hall," others to "Ettrick House," each of which, notwithstanding its high-sounding title, was a humble cottage not far removed from a hut. The unpoetic name, Hogg, which he was always better pleased to exchange for that of the "Ettrick Shepherd," is said to have been derived from a far-away ancestor — a pirate, or a sea-king — "one Haug of Norway." He, was, born a shepherd, of a race of shepherds, the youngest of four sons. His father was in no way remarkable; but, as with all men of intellectual power, he inherited mental strength from his mother, Margaret Laidlaw, "a pious, though uneducated, woman, who loved her husband, her children, and her Bible. Her memory was stored with Border-ballads; she was a firm believer in kelpies, brownies, and others of the good people," stories concerning which from his earliest infancy she poured into the greedy ears of her son. They were the seed that bore the fruit.
He had a few months' schooling — the school-house being close to his cottage door. At seven years old, however, it was needful that he should do work; and he was hired by a neighbouring farmer, his half-year's wage being "one ewe lamb and a pair of shoes."
From his childhood he had a perpetual struggle with untoward fate: "chill penury repressed his noble rage" from his birth almost to his death. As his biographer writes, "He was always in deep waters, where nothing was above the surface but the head;" yet the historian of his singular and wayward life has little to say to his discredit, and nothing to his dishonour. He has to record more of temptations resisted than of culpabilities encouraged; and although by no means a man of regular habits, Hogg never so far yielded to dissipation as to be ignored even by the very scrupulous among his countrymen. Wayward, indeed, he was. He quarrelled with his true friend, Scott, but the magnanimous man sought reconciliation with his irritable brother. To Wilson, another true friend, he wrote a letter which, according to his own admission, was "full of abusive epithets." With all the publishers he was perpetually at war.
In judging a character, regard must be had to the circumstances under which it is formed; and Hogg might have been pardoned by posterity if he had fallen far more short than he did of the high standard which it is perhaps necessary for our teachers to set up; while it is certain that his voluminous and varied writings were designed and are calculated to uphold the cause of Righteousness and Virtue.
He was employed, almost from infancy, in tending sheep, herding cows — doing anything that a very child could do — and ran about ill clad, bare-footed, learning from Nature, and Nature only, eating scanty meals by wayside brooks, and drinking from some crystal stream near at hand; serving twelve masters before he had reached his fifteenth year, enduring hunger often, suffering much from over-toil, sleeping in stables and cow-houses, associating only with four-footed beasts over which he kept watch and ward, picking up, how and when he could, a little learning; hearing from many — from his mother especially — the old ballad-songs of Scotland, and acquiring in early youth the cognomen of "Jamie the Poeter;" writing poems as he tended his unruly flock; and at length rising out of the mire in which circumstances seemed to have plunged him, to become notorious-nay, famous-as one of the men of whom Scotland, so fertile of great and glorious women and men, is rightly and justly proud.
These are the eloquent words of his eloquent countryman, Professor Wilson, in reference to the earlier career of Hogg:—
"He passed a youth of poverty and hardship — but it was the youth of a lonely shepherd among the most beautiful pastoral valleys in the world; and in that solitary life in which seasons of spirit-stirring activity are followed by seasons of contemplative repose, how many years passed over him rich in impressions of sense and, in dreams of fancy! His haunts were among scenes
The most remote and inaccessible
By shepherds trod.
And living for years in solitude, he unconsciously formed friendships with the springs, the brooks, the caves, the hills, and with all the more fleeting and faithless pageantry of the sky, that to him came in the place of those human affections from whose indulgence he was debarred by the necessities that kept him aloof from the cottage fire, and up among the mists on the mountain-top .... To feel the full power of his genius, we must go with him 'Beyond this visible diurnal sphere,' and walk through the shadowy world of the imagination .... The still green beauty of the pastoral hills and vales where he passed his youth inspired him with ever-brooding visions of fairy-land — till, as he lay musing in his lonely shieling, the world of fantasy seemed, in the clear depths of his imagination, a lovelier reflection of that of nature, like the hills and heavens more softly shining in the waters of his native lake."
In 1801, a chance visit to Edinburgh, in charge of a flock of sheep for sale, led to his "engaging" a printer to print sundry of his poems. They did not find, nor were they entitled to find, fame; and he continued a shepherd until another and a happier "chance" came in his way.
When Scott was seeking materials for his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border" he made the acquaintance of William Laidlaw, a peasant with whom he contracted an enduring friendship. Hogg had been Laidlaw's father's servant, and Laidlaw knew his enthusiasm concerning the subject of Scott's search. He brought Scott and Hogg together, being especially anxious to do so because "Jamie's mother" had "by heart" many old Scottish ballads. Scott found a brother-poet, a true son of Nature and Genius, and continued to befriend him to the close of his life.
Soon after "auspicious fate" had thus brought him into connection with Scott, he was cheered and invigorated, for awhile, by the sun of prosperity. Subscribers to his "Mountain Bard," and a sum paid to him for what he calls "that celebrated work, Hogg on Sheep," made him so suddenly rich (for he was master and owner of £300) that he "went perfectly mad," took a large pasture farm, lost all his money, and was again as poor as ever, until, in 1810, he wrapped his plaid about his shoulders, and marched to Edinburgh to become a man of letters "by profession." The wayward, vain, and erratic man of genius encountered more than the usual impediments. At that period he wrote of himself that he was "a common shepherd, who never was at school, who went to service at seven years old, and could neither read nor write with any degree of accuracy when thirty;" yet who had "set up for a connoisseur in manners, taste, and genius." Thus he alludes to a periodical work, the Spy, of which he was for a time the editor.
He became, therefore, "by profession a man of letters." Afterwards he pursued that "profession" through many varied paths — writing plays, poems, and prose, getting money now and then, by fits and starts, but, on the whole, "doing badly," and obtaining a large amount of popularity with an infinitesimal portion of actual gain.
In 1814 he was presented with the small farm of "Altrive Lake, in the wilds of Yarrow," by the Duke of Buccleuch. No doubt the suggestion came from Walter Scott; it was a great boon to Hogg, for "it gave him a habitation among his native woods and streams." Here he built a cottage, married, took a large farm (Mount Benger), found he had not half money enough to stock it, and gradually drooped down, until, at the age of sixty, he had "not a sixpence in the world."
Yet, on the whole, he led a happy life. "Some may think," he writes, "that I must have worn out a life of misery and wretchedness; but the case has been quite the reverse. I never knew either man or woman who has been so uniformly happy as I have been; which has been partly owing to a good constitution, and partly to the conviction that a heavenly gift, conferring the powers of immortal song, was inherent in my soul. Indeed, so uniformly smooth and happy has my married life been, that, on a retrospect, I cannot distinguish one part from another, save by some remarkably good days of fishing, shooting, and curling on the ice."
I have great pleasure in again transcribing a few passages from one of his Lay Sermons:—
"I am an old man, and, of course, my sentiments are those of an old man; but I am not like one of those crabbed philosophers who rail at the state which they cannot reach, for, in sincerity of heart, I believe that hitherto no man has enjoyed a greater share of felicity than I have. It is well known in what a labyrinth of poverty and toil my life has been spent, but I never repined, for when subjected to the greatest and most humiliating disdain and reproaches, I always rejoiced in the consciousness that I did not deserve them. I have rejoiced in the prosperity of my friends, and have never envied any man's happiness. I have never intentionally done evil to any living soul; and knowing how little power I had to do good to others, I never missed an opportunity that came within the reach of my capacity to do it. I have not only been satisfied, but most thankful to the Giver of all good, for my sublunary blessings, the highest of all for a grateful heart that enjoys them; and I have always accustomed myself to think more on what I have than on what I want. I have seen but little of life, but I have looked minutely into that little, and I assure you, on the faith of a poet and a philosopher, that I have been able to trace the miseries and misfortunes of many of my friends solely to the situation in which they were placed, and which other men envied; and I never knew a man happy with a great fortune, who would not have been much happier without it. Nor did I ever know a vicious person, nor one who scoffed at religion, happy."
We have other testimony beside his own that the goodness of his nature made the happiness of his life.
The Rev. James Russell, of Yarrow, at a festival in honour of the poet, when the statue was inaugurated, thus touchingly referred to the social and domestic habits and feelings of the poet he had long known and loved:—
"Much it testified for his home affections that, while spending a season in London, where he was feted and flattered by all parties, he sent down 'a New Year's Gift for his children,' in the form of a few simple prayers and hymns, written expressly for their use. I cannot forget him as a kind master of a household, indulgent perhaps to a fault, nor how he was wont, as the Sabbath evening came round, to take down 'the big ha' Bible, ance his father's pride,' for the worship of God, and to exercise his domestics in the Shorter Catechism. I cannot forget the attractions of his social companionship, his lively fancy, nor his flashes of merriment that set the table in a roar. I cannot forget his intense sympathy with the joys and sorrows of cottage-life, nor his generous aid in bringing the means of education (all the more valued from his own early disadvantages) within the reach of the shepherds and peasantry around him."
Perhaps the name of the Ettrick Shepherd was made more widely known in England by the lavish and sometimes inconsiderate use of it in Blackwood's Magazine than by all his many poems and tales in prose and verse. Few read nowadays his "Mountain Bard," or his "Queen's Wake;" and "Bonny Kilmeny" is known chiefly by its pleasant sound, while the "Brownie of Bodsbeck" and his "Tales of the Covenanters" were long ago laid on the shelf. The Shepherd is, however, immortalised in the "Noctes." It is understood that Hogg protested against the "too much familiarity that breeds contempt," and it is certain that he was often "shown up "in a way that could not have been agreeable; but of a surety it gave him notoriety, if it did not bring him fame; and it is not improbable that he preferred thus to be talked about to the not being talked about at all. That his friend Wilson meant him no serious wrong is certain, for Wilson was of those who most esteemed and regarded him. In one of his letters to Hogg, Wilson promises to abstain from introducing him into the "Noctes;" "if, indeed, that be disagreeable to you." "But," he adds, "all the idiots in existence shall never persuade me that in those dialogues you are not respected and honoured, and that they have not spread the fame of your genius and your virtues all over Europe, America, Asia, and Africa."
Like Wordsworth's pedlar, he was
Whom no one could have passed without remark;
Active and nervous in his gait; his limbs
And his whole figure breathe intelligence.
He is ably described by one who loved him much, and whose name might have been associated with the foremost worthies of his country, had not an "evil destiny" placed him, while yet young, in a position of independence — to whom "letters" have, therefore, ever since been a relaxation, and not a pursuit, but who sometimes supplies proof that Scotland, in obtaining a valuable sheriff, lost a rare poet: I refer to Henry Glasford Bell, who, on the occasion of inaugurating the statue of Hogg, thus pictured his friend: — "We remember his sturdy form, and shrewd, familiar face; his kindly greetings and his social cheer, his summer angling and his winter curling, his welcome presence at kirk and market, and Border game; and, above all, how his grey eye sparkled as he sang, in his own simple and unadorned fashion, those rustic ditties in which a manly vigour of sentiment was combined with unexpected grace, sweetness, and tenderness."
This is Lockhart's portrait ("Peter's Letters"): — "His hair is of the true. Sicambrian yellow; his eyes are of the lightest, and at the same time of the clearest, blue; his forehead is finely, but strangely, shaped, the regions of pure fancy and of pure wit being largely developed; his countenance is eloquent, both in its gravity and levity;" and he adds, "He could have undergone very little change since he was a herd on Yarrow."
The Rev. Mr. Thomson, his biographer, thus pictures him: — "In height he was five feet ten inches and a half; his broad chest and square shoulders indicated health and strength; while a well-rounded leg, and small ankle and foot, showed the active shepherd who could outstrip the runaway sheep." His hair in his younger days was auburn, slightly inclining to yellow, which afterwards became dark brown, mixed with grey; his eyes, which were dark blue, were bright and intelligent. His features were irregular, while his eye and ample forehead redeemed the countenance from every charge of common-place homeliness. And Lockhart thus, with unusual generosity, gives an insight into his character: — "The great beauty of this man's deportment, to my mind, lies in the unaffected simplicity with which he retains, in many respects, the external manners and appearance of his original station, blending all, however, with a softness and manly courtesy, derived, perhaps, in the main, rather from the natural delicacy of his mind and temperament than from the influence of anything he has learned by mixing more largely in the world."
The following tribute to the memory of Hogg I take from the speech of Professor Aytoun, delivered at the Burns Festival in 1844 — a scene I have described in my Memory of Professor Wilson:—
"Who is there that has not heard of the Ettrick Shepherd — of him whose inspiration descended as lightly as the breeze that blows along the mountain sides — who saw, amongst the lonely and sequestered glens of the south, from eyelids touched with fairy-ointment, such visions as are vouchsafed to the minstrel alone — the dream of sweet Kilmeny, too spiritual for the taint of earth? I shall not attempt any comparison — for I am not here to criticise — between his genius and that of other men on whom God, in His bounty, has bestowed the great and the marvellous gift. The songs and the poetry of the Shepherd are now the nation's own, as indeed they long have been, and amidst the minstrelsy of the choir who have made the name of Scotland and her peasantry familiar throughout the wide reach of the habitable world, the clear, wild notes of the forest will for ever be heard to ring. I have seen him many times by the banks of his own romantic Yarrow; I have sat with him in the calm and sunny weather by the margin of St. Mary's Lake; I have seen his eyes sparkle and his cheeks flush as he spoke out some old heroic ballad of the days of the Douglas and the Graeme; and I have felt, as I listened to the accents of his manly voice, that while Scotland could produce amongst her children such men as him beside me, her ancient spirit had not departed from her, nor the star of her glory grown pale. For he was a man, indeed, cast in Nature's happiest mould. True-hearted, and brave, and generous, and sincere; alive to every kindly impulse, and fresh at the core to the last, he lived among his native hills the blameless life of the shepherd and the poet; and, on the day when he was laid beneath the sod in the lonely kirkyard of Ettrick, there was not one dry eye amongst the hundreds that lingered round his grave."
I quote the testimony of Professor Wilson in respect to the peculiar character of his poetic power:—
"Whenever he treats of fairy-land, his language insensibly becomes, as it were, soft, mild, and aerial — we could almost think that we heard the voice of one of the fairy folk — still and serene images seem to rise up with the wild music of the inspiration, and the poet deludes us for the time into an unquestioning and satisfied belief in the existence of those 'green realms of bliss' of which he himself seems to be a native minstrel. In this department of pure poetry the Ettrick Shepherd has, among his own countrymen at least, no competitor. He is the poet-laureate of the Court of Faery. The pastoral valleys of the south of Scotland look to him as their best-beloved poet — all their wild and gentle superstitions have blended with his being."
Of all his many original and very beautiful compositions there are some that take their places among the more perfect poems of the age. That from which I quote this verse is surely of them:—
Bird of the wilderness,
Blithesome and cumberless,
Sweet be thy matin o'er moorland and lea!
Emblem of happiness,
Blest is thy dwelling-place,
Oh to abide in the desert with thee!
Wild is thy lay, and loud,
Far in the downy cloud,
Love gives it energy, love gave it birth:
Where, on thy dewy wing,
Where art then journeying?
Thy lay is in heaven, thy love is on earth
Southey — ever a safe guide — writes of James Hogg as "a worthy fellow, and a man of very extraordinary powers;" and Wordsworth pays a graceful and grateful compliment to one who was his "guide" when first he saw "the stream of Yarrow." The poet also wrote some memorable lines when he learned the death of one he esteemed and valued — when "Ettrick mourned her Shepherd dead."
Mrs. Hall describes an evening party at our house, in which, among the guests, were James Hogg, Maria Edgeworth, Allan Cunningham, Colonel James Glencairn Burns, Laetitia Landon, Procter, Miss M. J. Jewsbury, Emma Roberts, William Jerdan, Mrs. Hofland, Laman Blanchard, Richard Lalor Shiel, and Sir David Wilkie. Others, no doubt, might be called to mind who there met on that evening. They have all (excepting Procter) passed from earth. This is the portrait she then drew of Hogg: — "I can recall James Hogg sitting on the sofa — his countenance flushed with the excitement and the 'toddy' — (he had cone to us from a dinner with Sir George Warrender, whom some wag spoke of as Sir George Provender) — expressing wild earnestness, not, I thought, unmixed with irascibility. He was then, certainly, more like a buoyant Irishman than a steady son of the soil of the thistle, as he shouted forth, in an untunable voice, songs that were his own especial favourites, giving us some account of the origin of each at its conclusion. One I particularly remember — 'The Women Folk.' 'Ha, ha!' he exclaimed, echoing our applause with his own broad hands — 'that song, which I am often forced to sing to the leddies, sometimes against my will, that song never will be sung so well again by any one after I be done wi' it.' I remember Cunningham's comment, 'That's because you have the nature in you!'"
Hogg's birthplace and his grave are but a few hundred yards asunder. Ettrick Kirk is modern; but the kirkyard is so old that the rude forefathers of Ettrick have been laid there for many centuries. A plain headstone marks the poet's grave. It contains this inscription:
"James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, who was born at Ettrick Hall in 1770, and died at Altrive Lake the 21st day of November, 1835."
The place of his death was some miles distant from that of his birth and burial; but there his people lay; there he desired to lie, and to that kirkyard his widow rightly conveyed him; his widow — for in 1820 he had married Miss Margaret Phillips, a young lady of respectable family; "and," writes his biographer, "no choice he ever made was so wise, and at the same time so fortunate." She survived him, and so did one son and three daughters.
When he was interred in Ettrick Kirkyard, a thoughtful and loving friend, a peasant, as he himself had been, brought some clumps of daisies from one of the far-off nooks he loved, to plant upon his grave; and by its side stood Professor Wilson. As one of Hogg's friends writes, "It was a sight to see that grand old man, head uncovered, his long hair waving in the wind, the tears streaming down his cheeks!"
Thus the Shepherd sleeps among his kindred, his friends, his companions — associates from youth to age — in the bosom of Ettrick Dale, so often the subject of his fervid song. The debt he asked for has been paid; the green turf of his native valley covers the clay that enclosed the lofty, genial, and generous spirit of a truly great man.
Thee I'll sing, and when I dee,
Thou wilt lend a sod to hap me.
Pausing swains will say, and weep,
'Here our Shepherd lies asleep.'
But the grave-stone at Ettrick is not the only monument to James Hogg. "Auld Scotland," after pausing, perhaps, too long, made a move; and a statue of the Ettrick Shepherd was erected in Ettrick Dale.
That monument is the work of Mr. Andrew Currie, R.S.A., and was erected in 1860 by subscription, mainly owing to the efforts of the Rev. Charles Rogers, LL.D. The Bard of Ettrick is seated on "an oak-root — an appropriate relic of the forest." The poet's well-knit, muscular form is partly enveloped in his plaid, which crosses one shoulder, and falls gracefully upon his finely-moulded limbs. His coat is closely buttoned; he plants his sturdy staff firmly on the ground with his right hand, and holds in his left a scroll, inscribed with the last line of "The Queen's Wake" — "Hath taught the wandering winds to sing."
"Hector," the poet's favourite dog, rests lovingly at his feet, with head erect, surveying the hills behind, as if conscious of his duties in tending the flocks during the poetic reverie of his master.
The panels of the pedestal contain appropriate inscriptions from "The Queen's Wake."
The statue stands on an elevation midway between two lakes — St. Mary's Loch and the Lowes Loch. They are in the centre of a district renowned in picture and in song, rich in traditionary lore, and consecrated by heroic deeds in the olden time. Legendary Yarrow pours its waters into St. Mary's Lake. It was "lone St. Mary's silent lake" that especially delighted the poet Wordsworth, visiting Yarrow, suggesting the often-quoted lines:—
The swan on still St. Mary's lake
Floats double, swan and shadow.
It was the lake that moved the muse of Scott:—
Abrupt and sheer, the mountains sink
At once upon the level brink,
And just a trace of silver sand
Marks where the water meets the land.
The poet, while he lived, must have often looked from that very spot over the grand view, thence obtained, of fertile land and clear water; and here, no doubt, if his spirit is permitted to revisit earth, he often wanders, about the scenes he has commemorated in prose and in verse.
These are the eloquent words of Sheriff Bell at the festival when the statue was inaugurated:—
"And now that monument is there before you, adding a new feature to this romantic land; announcing to all comers that Scotland never forgets her native poets; teaching the lowliest labourer that genius and the rewards of genius are limited to no rank or condition; upholding, in its Doric and manly simplicity, the dignity of humble worth; and bidding the Tweed and the Yarrow, the Ettrick, the Teviot, and the Gala, sparkle more brightly as they 'roll on their way;' for the Shepherd who murmured by their banks a music sweeter than their own is to be seen once more by the side of his own Loch Mary. There let it remain in the summer winds and the winter showers, never destined to be passed carelessly by, as similar testimonials too often are in the crowded thoroughfares of cities, but gladdening the heart of many an admiring pilgrim, who will feel at this shrine that the 'donum naturae,' the great gift of song, can only come from on high, and who, as he wends on his way, will waken the mountain echoes with the Shepherd's glowing strains, wedded to some grand old melody of Scotland, one of those many melodies which have given energy to the swords of her heroes, and inspiration to the lyres of her poets!"
Hogg survived but a short time his sympathising and generous friend, Sir Walter Scott. Lockhart says, "It had been better for Hogg's fame had his end been of earlier date; for he did not follow his best benefactor until he had insulted his dust." But that blot upon his memory is not justified by evidence. Lockhart's indignation was excited by Hogg's publication, "The Domestic Manners and Private Life of Sir Walter Scott," published after Scott's death. I have not seen it, and it is not reprinted in Blackie's edition of his works; but I willingly accept the statement of his biographer, that "notwithstanding the little vanity that occasionally peeps out," it is amply redeemed by "high and just appreciation of his illustrious mentor, and the affectionate enthusiasm of his details." Neither has there been a reprint of his very singular book, "Lay Sermons on Good Principles and Good Breeding," published by Fraser in 1834, a copy of which he presented to Mrs. Hall. It is full of practical wisdom, contains some striking anecdotes concerning himself and his experience, and bears the strongest and most conclusive evidence of his trust in Divine Providence and his entire faith in Christianity. I must express my regret that this most beautiful and useful volume has been overlooked by the Rev. Mr. Thomson in republishing the works of James Hogg; and I earnestly counsel Messrs. Blackie to reprint it, not only as an act of justice to the memory of the writer, but as a means of rendering incalculable service to the cause of virtue and religion.
Among the worthies of Scotland, James Hogg holds, and will ever hold, a foremost place. A country so fertile of great men and great women may be, as it is, proud of his genius. Among "uneducated poets" he stands broadly out — beyond them all: generally they were "poets," and nothing more. The prose of Hogg has many claims to merit; his tales are full of interest, and often manifest great power; and if he wrote much — far more than others of his "class" — he wrote much that was good, and nothing — at least so far as general readers know — that was bad.