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MEMORIALS OF
JAMES HOGG

THE ETTRICK SHEPHERD



EDITED BY HIS DAUGHTER

Mrs. garden



WITH PREFACE BY

PROFESSOR VEITCH



THIRD EDITION

WITH INTRODUCTION BY

Sir GEORCxE DOUGLAS, Bart.



PAISLEY: ALEXANDER GARDNER

^^ubltsher bg <^ppffintment to the IaU (Quftn iSixrtom



1903



• • • t , , ,
••••••• «



PEEFACE.



y



This volume — a tribute from a daughter to the
memory of her father — does not profess to be more
than, as its title suggests, " Memorials " of James
Hogg, the Shepherd Poet of Ettrick. It may serve,
however, from the dhectness and authenticity of
the materials — especially the letters of Hogg him-
self — to shed a truer light on the man, his charac-
ter, and his life, than has yet been done. Circum-
stances have been unfavourable to our having a true
picture of the man. It was the fate of Hogg to
have his name associated with certain representa-
tions in the well-known and once universally read
*' Noctes " of Blackwood's Magazine. Whatever
be the merits of the picture of the Shepherd therein
delineated — and no one will deny its power and
genius — it is true, all the same, that this Shepherd
was not the Shepherd of Ettrick, or the man James
Hogg. He was neither a Socrates nor a Falstaff—

224888



vi. PREFACE.

neither to be credited with the wisdom and lofty
ideaUsings of the one, nor with the characteristic
humour and coarseness of the other. Nor are the
habitual bombast and boasting with which the
Shepherd of the " Noctes " is endowed to be re-
garded as serious characteristics of the man.

In these Memorials it A\'ill, I think, appear that
James Hogg was very much what we might ex})ect
from his robust peasant ancestry, and the shaping
circumstances of his early life and surroundings.
Physically, he was a healthy man all round, knew
nothmg of the ailments of sedentary or dysj)eptic
authors, had an unfailing flow of animal spirits,
loved all out-door life — walking, fishing, shooting,
curling. This temperament and these habits helped
him more than anything else, to bear up during a
chequered life, under the pressure of adverse cir-
cumstances, which would have sunk most men in
despair.

His poetic faculty and imaginative creations were
almost as thoroughly the growth of the district and
circumstances in which he was born and bred, as the
birk by the burn or the bracken in the glen. The



PREFACE. vii.

green pastoral solitudes of Ettrick moulded his
feelings and fancy from the earliest days of his life ;
and the whole district of the Ettrick and the Yar-
row, — the main part of the Forest of the Stuart
kings, — carried his imagination back into the past^
as to an ideal world ; while in all the glens of the
waters and the burns there were men and women liv-
ing who could touch the heart of the eager listening
stripling lad, with recitation and notes of an old
ballad lore, — the quaintest, the richest, the most
unique which Britain has known. Weird tale,
ghostly legend, fairy visitations, — mysterious dis-
appearances of maidens in the green wood shaw,
and shepherds spirited away on the hills, — these
were in the atmosphere which he breathed, still
believed in by many, and a source of awe and won-
der to all. The supernatural world was in his
youth close to the natural — often flashing upon it ;
and it was thus that the Ettrick Shepherd came
gradually to weave into one beautiful, weird,
and dreamy ideal, the actual scenes of the valleys
he loved so well, with the world of fairy vision.
The traits of Hogg's personal character, further.



vi. PREFACE.

neitlier to be credited with the wisdom and lofty
idealisings of the one, nor with the characteristic
humour and coarseness of the other. Nor are the
habitual bombast and boasting with which the
Shepherd of the *' Noctes " is endowed to be re-
garded as serious characteristics of the man.

In these Memorials it will, I think, appear that
James Hogg was very much' what we might expect
from his robust peasant ancestry, and the shaping
circumstances of his early life and surroundings.
Physically, he was a healthy man all round, knew
nothing of the ailments of sedentary or dyspeptic
authors, had an unfailing flow of animal spirits,
loved all out-door life — walking, fishing, shooting,
curling. This temperament and these habits helped
him more than anything else, to bear up during a
chequered life, under the pressure of adverse cir-
cumstances, which would have sunk most men in
despair.

His poetic faculty and imaginative creations were
almost as thoroughly the growth of the district and
circumstances in which he was born and l)re(l, as the
birk by the burn or the bracken in the glen. The



PREFACE. vii.

green pastoral solitudes of Ettrick moulded his-
feelings and fancy from the earliest days of his life ;
and the whole district of the Ettrick and the Yar-
row, — the main part of the Forest of the Stuart
kings, — carried his imagination back into the past^
as to an ideal world ; while in all the glens of the
waters and the burns there were men and women liv-
ing who could touch the heart of the eager listening
stripling lad, with recitation and notes of an old
ballad lore, — the quaintest, the richest, the most
unique which Britain has known. Weird tale,
ghostly legend, fairy visitations, — mysterious dis-
appearances of maidens in the green wood shaw,.
and shepherds spirited away on the hills, — these
were in the atmosphere which he breathed, still
believed in by many, and a source of awe and won-
der to all. The supernatural world was in his
youth close to the natural — often flashing upon it ;
and it was thus that the Ettrick Shepherd came
gradually to weave into one beautiful, weird,
and dreamy ideal, the actual scenes of the valleys
he loved so well, with the world of fairy vision.
The traits of Hogg's personal character, further.



viii. PREFACE.

reflect very much his birth and surroundings. He
was a man of simple, kindly heart, and straightfor-
ward purpose, — " aefauld/' as he might be describ-
ed, ready to trust, shrewd and sagacious withal,
not prone to think or speak evil of any one, in-
clined to admiration rather than to censure, but
with a proud scorn of meanness and baseness of
conduct. As was to be expected, his manners had
a certain rusticity and homeliness. He is said some-
times to have carried a little too far the privileges
of an innocent rusticity in the violation of matters
of social etiquette ; but we see clearly, from the tes-
timonies in this volume of those who met him in so-
ciety, that he was, especially towards the middle
and close of his life, neither rude nor loutish, but
marked by a good deal of simple dignity. His rul-
ing ambition in life, from the hour when the quaint,
clever, half-daft, wandering Jock Scott, recited to
him, shortly after the death of Burns, Tarn o
SJianter on tlie hill-side in the Blackhouse Glen,
was to be known as a poet, as, in fact, like Burns,
a national poet, and, in his then untutored mood of
mind, he had even formed the idea of emulating



PREFACE. xiii.



tain things which might have been omitted— coarg-e
gossip and injudicious inferences;— and Hogg's sen-
sitive vanity leads him occasionally to see and to
feel a meaning in his friend's utterances and dealings
with him which probably had no reality. Still, the
tract, taken as a whole, affords no reasonable ground
for Lockhart's attack on Hogg, and his genera^
annnadversions on his character and manners. It
would almost seem that some of Hogg's plain-
spoken truths regarding certain foibles in the char-
acter of Scott— after all, only spots on the sun— had
come home to Lockhart's own sense of truth, and
made him unreasonably angry. It was to Lockhart
disgusting even to find Hogg offeriug criticism on
Scott at all. The truth is, that Lockhart, in his
OAvn line, was as narrow as the Shepherd was in his.
Lockhart, like some of his other Edinburgh con-
temporaries, could not understand that any man
was a gentleman, who had not been born conven-
tionally into the guild ; while it sometimes happens
that the conventional personage with the outward
veneering, is not at heart so true a gentleman as
the simple peasant or shepherd of the hills.



xiv. PREFACE.

The volume is of interest, further, as giving us
well-authenticated dates and details of Hogg's Hfe,
especially his early years, and the influences which
helped to form his character and develop his genius.

One of his most marked characteristics is that of
an intense love for free and simple nature ; and
that grew up in him amid the scenes of his youth.

'' The Bard on Ettrick's mountains green,
In Nature's bosom nursed had been,
And oft had marked in forest lone
Her beauties on her mountain throne ;
Had seen her deck the wild wood tree,
And star with snowy gems the lea ;
In loveliest colours paint the plain,
And sow the moor with purple grain ;
By golden mead and mountain sheer
Had viewed the Ettrick waving clear.
Where shadowy flocks of purest snow
Seemed grazing in a world below.
Oft had he viewed, as morning rose.
The bosom of the lonely Lowes,
Ploughed far by many a downy keel
Of wild duck and of vagrant teal.
Oft thrilled the heart at close of even,
To see the dappled vales of Heaven,
With many a mountain, moor, and tree.
Asleep upon the St. Mary."

But apart from his native Ettrick, lie was sin-
gularly fortunate, as a youth with a soul in him, in
the localities of his herdhig. In his sixteenth year



PREFACE. XV.



he went to Willanslee, in Leithen Water, with
a kindly master, Mr. Laidlaw. Willanslee is a
charming spot for a lover of nature. It is lonely
and secluded, placed at the base of high, wide-
spreading, massive hills that carry the greenest of
sward up to the sky-line, and fronting it are heights
that grow purple in autumn with the richest
heather-bloom. There is a constant sound of burns,
which, coming from north and south, fuse with the
Leithen Water in the valley by the old and quaint
farmhouse. Here it was, amid blissful surroundings,
that the shepherd boy and his collie for two years
herded the sheep through the long summer day,
and here it was that he first read The Gentle Shep-
herd and was touched by the romance of the Ex-
ploits of William Wallace. Slowly, unconsciously,
the latent soul of poesy was gathering strength and
harmony within, which must issue in rhyme, if
only for the freedom of relief.

From Willanslee he passed to Blackhouse, on
the Yarrow. As I have had occasion to remark, re-
ferring to Hogg, in another pubhcation, the spring-
time of his genius was no doubt the ten years from



xvi. PREFACE.

1790 to 1800, when he herded at Blackhouse in the
Douglas Burn, and had the advantage of the kindly
sympathy, aid, and advice of his master's son,
William Laidlaw, one who has left all too little
for the lovers of simple pathos and the well-wishers
of the Scottish muse. I like to picture Hogg at
this period as he herded on the Hawkshaw Rig, up
the Douglas Burn, a dark heathery slope of the
Blackhouse Heights, which divides the Blackhope
Burn from the other main feeders of the Douglas.
There on a summer day, during these ten years,
you would find on the hill a ruddy-faced youth of
middle height, of finely symmetrical and agile form,
with beaming light blue eyes, and a profusion of
light brown hair that fell over his shoulders, long,
fair, and lissome as a woman's. The time is between
the middle of July and the middle of September,
when his duty is to "sunnner the lambs."

These had simply to be moved from place to
place, and this was done by *' Hector " or his suc-
cessor — the shepherd's collie and iVicud. Now was
the opportunity of the shepherd-studeut. Witli
the lambs (piietly pasturing, he sets to work, j»ro-



PREFACE. xvii.

duces a sheet or two of paper folded and stitched,
has an ink horn stuck in the hole of his waistcoat
with a cork and a bit of twine, and a stump of a
pen, and there he thinks out his verses — writes
them, in fact, all through on the tablet of memory,
and then commits the production which he has
already finished and polished in his mind to paper.
What kind of poetic impulse and cast of genius was
likely to come out of this ? Let us look on the
surroundings. It is a lone wild scene, this Hawk-
shaw Eig. The grains of the burn spread out on
each side, like arms stretched upwards, to the dark
overhanging and envkoning heights of Blackhouse,
scored deep with peat-bogs, and suggestive of wild
work of the winter wind and the winter night.
These heights shut him in on the north and
west, while on the east the benty moorland opens and
widens to the head of the watershed of the Quair.
There, on this moorland, at the head of the Risp-
syke, are the eleven stones — three erect, eight
fallen — which mark the scene of the Douglas Tra-
gedy. Below, in the valley of the Burn, as it
sweeps to the Yarrow, is Blackhouse Tower, carry-



xviii. PREFACE.

iiig the thought back along the chequered flow of
Scottish story to the early kings, when from that
tower, or one on its site, the lord of Douglas Burn
rode to a Parliament of Malcolm Canmore. Awe
and solitude, legendary tale, and the shadows of
old memories are all round about him. But there
is also a sweet strange beauty, for the heather is in
bloom, and there are numberless gentle birks down
in the cleughs, and green spots of rare grassy
beauty by the burnsides, and the many branched
feeders of the burn themselves make a soft, pulsing,
intermittent sough and hum, that charms the ear
and inclines the soul to tenderness and pathos, and
all gentle thoughts and feelings. It is as if soft
beauty of sight and sound lay quiet at the heart of
solitude and fear. Now it was here in those louir
summer days, that extend from morn till gloamin',
and amid similar scenes in Ettrick and in Yarrow,
that this simple, untaught, yet impassioned shop-
herd lad, with his heart full of the lore his mother,
and grey-haired men had taught him, developed
the peculiar cast of his pot^tic genius. It was thus
he learned to love simple, free, solitary nature so



PREFACE. xix.

intensely ; it was thus that his heart soared with,
and yearned after, the skylark of a morning, and
swelled into lyric passion of an evening " when the
kye comes hame ; " it was thus he learned to con-
ceive those exquisite visions of Fairy and Fairyland
which he has embodied in Kilmeny, to feel and ex-
press the power of the awful and weu'd in a way
such as almost no modern poet has expressed them,
as in the '' Fate of MacGregor," " The Abbot Mac-
Kinnon," " The Witch of Fife," and others ; to re-
vel, in a word, in a remote, ideal, super-sensible,
yet most ethereal beauty and grandeur, which has
a spell we do not seek to analyse.''^

Hogg's prose tales seem to me to be as a rule
very inferior to the best of his poetry. In them he
deals often powerfully enough with the element of
suj)ernatural belief and agency — ghost and fairy.
But the plots are seldom well constructed, and
there is often a lack of proportion and congruity in
the parts. As Scott said to him more than once,
'^ How much better could it be made with a little

* " Border History and Poetry," p. 488, et seq.



XX. PREFACE.

more pains." Tlte Brownie of Bodsbtcky TKe Bridal
of Polmood, and several others, will, at the same
time, continue to touch us with a weird charm.
Hogg was a true idealist. He was more at home
among fairies than folk of middle erd.

The first meeting with Scott in the cottage at
Ettrickhall, in the summer of 1801, when the future
author of The Lay was gathering the old Ballads
and laying up his stores of romance, is very interest-
ing. And the picture of the Shepherd's mother,
and her sayings to Scott, are thoroughly charac-
teristic of the intelligent Scottish peasant woman
of the time. When she said the old Ballads were
for singing, not for writing, she was right ; and
when she predicted that these Ballads, after Scott
had printed them, would cease to be sung in the
peasant and rural homes of Scotland, she was
sagaciously and prophetically true.

Hogg's last interview with Scott (1830) was in
Yarrow, at the Gordon Arms, near tho house of
Mount Benger. Scott had st^iit liiui word that lie
was to pass down the Yarrow from Drumlanrig, on
his way to Abbotsford. The carriage sto})pecl at



PREFACE. xxi.

the small inn — the Gordon Arms — and there
the Shepherd met Sir Walter. They walked
down the road past Mount Benger, Sh Walter
leaning heavily on Hogg's arm, and walking very
feebly. The Shepherd noticed the change, bodily
and mental, in the great man whom he honoured,
almost worshipped. There was some talk, not
of a very clear kind, but kindly and affectionate.
It was exactly twenty-nine years before, that Hogg,
a young man, had met Scott in his mother's cottage
at Ettrick Hall, when the editor of the Minstrelsy
was sowing the seed that had ripened during those
intervening years into that glorious golden harvest
of poem and romance — as rich an outcome of one
man's lifetime as the world has ever seen. Here,
appropriately enough, in beloved Yarrow — dear to
Hogg, and dearest vale on earth to Scott — the two
poets whom Yarrow itself had quickened and
nourished, parted for the last time on earth. One
cannot help feeling that this touching incident
gives a new interest to the spot in the vale where
they met and parted, and adds anotlier to the many



xxii. PREFACE.

sacred associations that cluster round the name of
Yarrow.

Hogg's life nearly all through was a struggle
with adverse circumstances, relieved now and
again by a glint of good fortune. But just when
he thouo^lit he was within sio-ht of the realis-
ation of one main ambition of his life, — to become a
tenant farmer, — his struggle rose really to the
hardest. Mount Benger was over-rented, seasons
were bad, and prices low, and to keep this farm swal-
lowed up all the gains of his literary labours, — cons-
tant as these were. Then came the bankruptcies of
publishers whom in his simplicity he had trusted ; and
no author ever suffered more from this source than
Hogg. Still the spmt and pluck of the man
remained undaunted ; and he worked on, contribut-
ing to periodicals, Avriting tales and sketches, with
a quiet heroism and patience which are very
touching. At length, towards 1835, came the
symptons of failing strength and of the end. The
conviction of the coming close to all his work was
ill his heart. But lie would see Blackhouse and
the Douglas Burn, which fiom 17')0 to 1800



PREFACE. xxiii.

witnessed and nourished the first promise of his
powers. There he had lain on the hillside, as a lad
with the fervour of his genius stirring in him. And
now he came back to the spot associated with his
early dreams and hopes, after the promise had so
far been realised in his life, though probably by no
means to his own satisfaction, for to a man of
idealising temperament all achievement is poor and
passing. He rode, accompanied by his young boy,
a sympathetic lad, up the old path by the Tower,
up the burn, and up the glen to the right as far as
the Bisp Dyke and the Douglas Stones ; then on
to the solitary moorland height of the watershed of
the Quau". He took a long lingering look of the
spot and its surrounding hills, massive, dark
browed, and scaured, and then rode slowly back to
Eltrive, never to see Blackhouse again. In
November of the same year, he was laid beside his
shepherd forebears in the green kirkyard of Ettrick.
The shadow of Ettrick Pen can be seen to the
south-west, and the Ettrick and the Tima join
their waters not far from his grave — a grave
which contains the ashes of one who, after Burns,



xxiv. PREFACE.



was "



the greatest poet that has sprung from the
bosom of the common people " of Scotland.

J.Y.



ERRATA



Page 22, /or "1796" read "1793."

„ ^9, for "1830" read "1801."

„ 42j for "lad " (line 5) read "man " (Hogg was 34 years
of age).

„ 44, /or "or" (line 9) read "a."

„ 44, /or "Mitchell-Hack" read " Mitchelslack."

„ 4f5, for " Hogg on Sheep" rc«^/"The Shepherd's Guide."

„ 174, /or "debid" read " debut ."

„ 272, for " The Wool Gatherers or the Bridge of Pohnood "
read "The Wool-Gatherer or the Bridal of l*ohnood."

„ 309,, for '^ J amies" read '' Jaajues."



INTRODUCTION TO THIIII) EDITION.



The re-issue, with additions, of Mrs. Garden's
Memorials of the Ettrick Shepherd, calls for a few
introductory remarks, which naturally concern
themselves with the new matter. The additions
consist of three separate contributions : to wit.
Reminiscences of James Hogg ; Letters from and
to him ; a brief notice of his wife, — which may
now be glanced at in turn.

The Reminiscences, reprinted from the pages of
the Border Magazine for 1897, are of especial
value for the lively portrait of Hogg which they
present, as well as from the fact, vouched for by
Mrs. Garden, that they are the work of one who
knew him " better than almost any one else did."
They exhibit the Shepherd in a very attractive,
though by no means unfamiliar light, as a simple-



4 INTRODUCTION TO THIRD EDITION.

hearted and most kindly being, living in friendli-
ness with his broth erman and in blameless enjoy-
ment of the good things wliich the gods have
given him. And without pretending to the status
of a sage or seer, surely such a man does much —
not the less that he does it unconsciously — to
reconcile us to the world and to our lot as cast in
it. For himself, the writer avows that the spec-
tacle of this keen curler, expert and eager angler,
athlete and enthusiast for games, who was also
the kindest of friends, the most genial and hospit-
able of hosts, and an excellent talker, rich in
anecdote — this spectacle is one more apt to warm
the heart and stimulate the soul than that of
many a life of poorer vitality or less varied endow-
ment, which has been modelled (all credit to it in
its due degree) upon a loftier or more consciously
humanitarian ideal. Not that in lIoGG the
deliberately limnanitarian impulse was wanting
either; as is amply shown by his practical zeal for
education, and by the inconvenience to which in
its interests lie was ready to submit hinisell". One
regrets the severe indictnuMil of " Christopher



INTRODUCTION TO THIRD EDITION. 5

North " with which the Reminiscences close, which
unfortunately is borne out by other known facts
regarding his conduct in relation to his dead
friend.

Turning to the Letters, those written by Hogg
from London are as charmino; in their combined
naivete, playfulness, and affection as any from his
pen that have been preserved. The letter ad-
dressed by him to Mr. Phillips is interesting no
less for its reference to the tried and trusted
amanuensis of Sir Walter Scott, than for its exhi-
bition of the writer's solicitude for a friend in
need. And it is particularly pleasant to remem-
ber that his friendship w4th Laidlaw dated from
days w^hen they, who now were old, had been
young men and neighbours.

The letters from Mr. Blackwood amply prove, I
think, the friendly relations subsisting between
author and publisher, and the esteem and honour
in which the former was held by the latter ; and,
as so doing, combine with the Note on Mrs. Hogg
finally to dispose of the misrepresentations made
by a writer now deceased in the volumes entitled



6 INTRODUCTION TO THIRD EDITION.

William Blackwood and his Sons — misrepresen-
tations which have been dealt with at large in an-
other place.'" The extract from a letter of Mrs. I.,
herself a person of great piety, affords testimony
as to Hogg's religious views, and may be read in
connection with the following paragraph from a
letter of his eldest daughter t : — " There was one
rule of my father's," she writes, " which I wish
every father in our land would adopt — whether
noble or peasant — this was every Sabbath evening,
before family worship, to assemble all in the house,
including servants, when the half of the Shorter
Catechism was said, ending with the Fourth Com-
mandment the one Sunday, and commencing with
it the next. Each one repeated an answer, and
asked the next question. Some of us were too
young to know them. This is an exercise which
is not wearisome to children, and while I live it
will be a cause of thankfulness to me that this was


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