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not stronger but weaker than his headlong "Noctes." His nature and genius were not profound and intense, but exuberant and expansive. His pathos and humour alike, though natural and genuine, are not deep; are easily stirred and much too frothy. A hearty laugh is echoed and re-echoed again and again, till it becomes a wearisome, hollow monotony; page after page is pickled in the diluted brine of a single not very salt tear. The humour, in especial, is composed of the simplest and commonest ingredients — boisterous animal spirits and boundless exaggeration. Turn over the leaves of his works, and you see at a glance, by the mere multitude of the dashes, that you have to do with a prolix and slap-dash rhapsodist, not with a writer working studiously under laws of austere self-restraint. In his precipitant outpourings, the dregs, the foam, and the good liquor gush together in turbid redundance. Yet when criticism and hypercriticism have said their worst, we feel that this condensed "Comedy of the Noctes" is and will long continue a right wholesome as well as enjoyable book, particularly for the young. Robust animal spirits are catching and inspiring in this weary, moiling world, and we willingly ignore the defaults of their joyous and joy-giving possessors. The book is manly throughout; full of sympathy with Nature and human nature; contemptuous of all cant and priggishness, reverent to enthusiasm in the presence of lofty genius and virtue; inciting to activity, boldness and endurance, to the freest bodily as well as mental and moral culture. The Gargantuan eating and drinking (not all unaccompanied by smoking) are most jolly, for there is a hearty natural poetry in much of the

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fervid festal expatiation; and omnivorous eucrasy is infinitely to be preferred to the sentimental languishment of dyspeptic queasiness. Finally, the rich and racy Doric of the Shepherd adds wonderfully to the effectiveness of the whole; and really, as Ferrier urged, gives it a monumental significance. Nor do we think the less of Wilson because his life was superior to his writings, we who have been pained and disappointed in learning how many very considerable authors were very inconsiderable men.




OUR brief notice of Wilson and the "Noctes" may be fitly followed by some account of the original of the leading character in those exuberant dialogues. Christopher North himself intended and engaged to write a Memoir of his dear Shepherd, who owed much to him and to whom he also owed much; and this Memoir was even announced as accompanying a certain edition of Hogg's Poems, but it never got written. The Rev. Thomas Thomson tells us that his "Life of the Ettrick Shepherd" has been composed "partly from communications with his family, partly from oral intimations of the few friends who still survive, and partly from his own reminiscences which he appended to several of his publications, and

* "The Works of the Ettrick Shepherd. A new Edition; with a Memoir of the Author, by the Rev. Thomas Thomson [and Hogg's Autobiography and Reminiscences and Illustrative Engravings]." Two vols. Blackie and Son; London, Edinburgh, and Glasgow. 1865-66

"The Jacobite Relics of Scotland; being the Songs, Airs, and Legends of the Adherents to the House of Stuart." Collected and illustrated by James Hogg. Reprinted from the Original Edition. First and Second Series. Two vols. Paisley: Alex. Gardner.

which are now given in their collected form at the end of this volume, as his Autobiography." They had better have come immediately after or before the Life, and the last partly should be mainly, Mr. Thomson having little to add save by way of disquisition and amplification. Fortunately the real Shepherd is pretty fully pictured to us in his own reminiscences and other writings, whose self-portraiture agrees very well with the various casual sketches by his contemporaries, for he was genuine and simple to the core, and delightfully outspoken; and by help of these we can discern that there is a good deal of the actual man in the stage-presentation of the "Noctes." Thus he prefaces his fragmentary Autobiography :-"I like to write about myself; in fact there are few things which I like better; it is so delightful to call up old reminiscences. Often have I been laughed at, for what an Edinburgh editor styles my good-natured egotism, which is sometimes anything but that; and I am aware that I shall be laughed at again. But I care not. . . . I shall relate with the same frankness as formerly; and in all, relating either to others or myself, speak fearlessly and unreservedly out." And he keeps his word.

He tells us that he was the second of four sons by the same father and mother, Robert Hogg, and Margaret Laidlaw, and was born the 25th January, 1772. The parish register, however, records his baptism on the 9th December, 1770, and his birth may have taken place some considerable time before. He himself was decided as to the day and month, it being the anniversary of the birth of Burns; and not less decided as to the year, if we may trust a

charmingly characteristic passage in his reminiscences of Scott, who, as we know, was born August 15, 1771: "There are not above five people in the world who, I think, know Sir Walter better, or understand his character better than I do: and if I outlive him, which is likely, as I am five months and ten days younger, I shall draw a mental portrait of him, the likeness of which to the original shall not be disputed." He did outlive Scott, just three years and two months (let us be as precise as himself), dying November 21, 1835 (in his sixty-fourth year, says Mr. Thomson, after correcting Hogg's birthdate!); and in 1834 he published the "Domestic Manners and Private Life of Sir Walter Scott," wherein he exclaims, with honest and reverent enthusiasm : "Is it not a proud boast for an old shepherd, that for thirty years he could call this man 'friend,' and associate with him every day and hour that he chose? Yes, it is my proudest boast. Sir Walter sought me out in the wilderness and attached himself to me before I had ever seen him, and although I took cross fits with him, his interest in me never subsided for one day or one moment.” As we shall

find when we get farther on.

He was born in a lowly cottage at Ettrickhall, near the church and school, his father being a shepherd. No Southron swinish associations defiled the family name, which was rather exceedingly appropriate, hog, or hogg, in their venacular meaning, a year-old sheep; and they were indeed of right good Border descent, claiming from Haug of Norway, a valiant viking and reiver, whose successors were the Hoggs of Fauldshope, a farm about five miles from Selkirk,

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