James Hogg (1770-1835)
From 18th Century Literary Anecdotes

The personal history of James Hogg must have interested Scott.... Under the garb, aspect, and bearing of a rude peasant—and rude enough he was in most of these things, even after no inconsiderable experience of society—Scott found a brother poet, a true son of nature and genius, hardly conscious of his powers. He had taught himself to write by copying the letters of a printed book as he lay watching his flock on the hillside and had probably reached the utmost pitch of his ambition when he first found that his artless rhymes could touch the heart of the ewemilker who partook the shelter of his mantle during the passing storm ...

Shortly after their first meeting, Hogg, coming into Edinburgh with a flock of sheep, was seized with a sudden ambition of seeing himself in print, and wrote out that same night `William and Katie', and a few other ballads already famous in the forest, which some obscure bookseller gratified him by putting forth accordingly; but they appear to have attracted no notice beyond their original sphere....

The next time that Hogg's business carried him to Edinburgh he waited upon Scott, who invited him to dinner in Castle Street, in company with William Laidlaw, who happened also to be in town, and some other admirers of the rustic genius. When Hogg entered the drawing-room, Mrs. Scott, being at the time in a delicate state of health, was reclining on a sofa. The Shepherd, after being presented, and making his best bow, forthwith took possession of another sofa placed opposite to hers, and stretched himself thereupon at all his length; for, as he said afterwards, `I thought I could never do wrong to copy the lady of the house.' As his dress at this period was precisely that in which any ordinary herdsman attends cattle to the market, and as his hands, moreover, bore most legible marks of a recent sheep-smearing, the lady of the house did not observe with perfect equanimity the novel usage to which her chintz was exposed. The Shepherd, however, remarked nothing of all this—dined heartily and drank freely, and, by jest, anecdote, and song, offered plentiful merriment to the more civilized part of the company. As the liquor operated, his familiarity increased and strengthened; from `Mr. Scott' he advanced to `Sherra', and thence to `Scott', `Walter', and `Wattie'—until, at supper, he fairly convulsed the whole party by addressing Mrs. Scott as `Charlotte'.

The collection entitled The Mountain Bard was eventually published by Constable, in consequence of Scott's recommendation, and this work did at last afford Hogg no slender share of the popular reputation for which he had so long thirsted.

From Lockhart, Scott, i. 329, 407, 408-9

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