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effort, and in this he soon acquired pass
plicity and disregard of exactness, assumed the 25th January, Burns' natal | able efficiency. This was all the artifiday, whether under a vague feeling of such a coincidence being an auspicious omen, or other equally irrational influence, it is impossible to tell; yet as he was baptized on the 9th December 1770, he must have been born at least a fortnight earlier. He was the son of Robert Hogg, a shepherd in Ettrick Forest, Selkirkshire, who, having tried to improve his circumstances by farming, lost what savings he had accumulated as a shepherd, and was obliged to return to his original occupation. This reverse of fortune overtook the family when the poet was about six years old: he was therefore withdrawn from school, and in his seventh year was sent to herding -his wages being a ewe lamb, and a pair of shoes every six months, besides his board. In his eighth year he received a quarter's additional schooling, and learned to read the Bible. Thus ended his formal education.
Being promoted from cow-herding to sheep-herding-a more dignified and leisurely employment-he procured a violin, and commenced teaching himself the native airs, cultivating his sense of harmony, and his national feelings. In his eighteenth year he fell in with Hamilton's modernized version of Blind Harry's Wallace, and Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd, which he says he wished had been in prose; he had a difficulty too with the Scotch of the latter. His love of reading soon procured him other books; and his naturally poetic ardour being soon touched, he began to try his hand at rhyme before he mastered the art of writing. To write was his next
cial superstructure that he required. In 1797, while in the service of the father of William Laidlaw, Scott's amanuensis, and the author of "Lucy's Flitting," he obtained a copy of "Tam o' Shanter," which he committed to memory. He strongly felt and expressed the stimulus which it gave to the incipient promptings of his own muse. In 1800, he leased a small farm, where he kept his aged parents. He was known for some time as a local poet; but being in Edinburgh this year, he put his song of “Donald Macdonald” into general circulation, and it soon became a popular favourite. He visited Edinburgh again next year, and placed in the hands of a printer his first book, Scottish Pastoral Songs, etc., a little volume of 64 pages, full of all kinds of blunders, but now so scarce as to be reckoned a bibliographical treasure.
Scott was at this time (1801) busy collecting the materials of his Border Minstrelsy, and, being on one of his excursions to the Forest, was introduced to Hogg by Laidlaw, when an intimacy which ripened into friendship sprung up between these, to a large extent kindred spirits, which only ended with their lives. Hogg and his mother greatly aided Scott with ballads, preserved mostly by tradition. But the shepherd's farm did not keep him long out of difficulties, and he had to give it up. His efforts to obtain a situation as sheepfarm manager in the Highlands were also unsuccessful, when Scott came to his assistance, and got Constable, then his publisher, to publish an edition of
Hogg's poems under the title of the Mountain Bard; and also a treatise on sheep. By these publications he obtained the (to him) large sum of £300, | and he rushed into farming on a scale ten times beyond his means, having leased two farms in Dumfriesshire, at rents far beyond their value. The consequence was, that in less than three years he was again penniless, and in debt.
In these circumstances he tried to obtain a captaincy in the militia, and a situation in the excise, but failed in both, and again fell back upon his pen. He published a collection of songs, containing a large proportion of his own early pieces, under the title of the Forest Minstrel, and dedicated it to the Countess of Dalkeith. The handsome gift of one hundred guineas from his patroness was the only profit that it brought him. His next venture was a weekly newspaper, The Spy, which lived about twelve months, leaving him in a state of financial exhaustion.
When his fortune was about its lowest, in consequence of the failure of his various schemes, he, in 1813, astonished the world by his Queen's Wake, a production for which no one would have given him credit, but which places his right to the title of poet beyond dispute. It is in every way a remarkable poem, or rather a garland of varied poetic gems gracefully strung together, and was at once recognised as such. Although the plan of it is taken from Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel, yet the application and the execution are so original, that this in no way detracts from the merits of Hogg's genius, and the fact almost never intrudes itself on
the reader's notice. The story of Kilmeny is invariably selected as the masterpiece of the work; but, while fully alive to its charm as a production of the imagination, and its musical sweetness of language, and allowing for a certain dimness of outline as appropriate to the morbid sentiment of which it is the embodiment, we cannot overlook the confusion and want of perspective that pervade it, nor can we grant that indistinctness of outline enhances the beauty of even so purely ideal a clime of the imagination as that in which the scene of Kilmeny is laid. It also contains some descriptive incongruities, and the affectation of the ancient spelling is an absurdity that almost gives it a serio-comic air. The "Fate of Macgregor," similarly founded on superstitious sentiment, though inferior in imaginative breadth, has not, in our estimation, the blemishes which mar Kilmeny." It is in every way equal to Campbell's "Lochiel's Warning," which appeared about ten years earlier.
Hogg's next venture was The Poetic Mirror, intended as a collection of the poems of living bards. Scott refused to contribute, and this caused a temporary estrangement between the poets. He then issued Dramatic Tales, and The Brownie of Bodsbeck, &c. In 1820, he received a life-lease of the farm of Altrive from the Duke of Buccleuch, at a nominal rent, and on settling here he married. But his passion for farm ventures could not be overcome while he had the means of gratifying it, and with his wife's and his own means he took a lease of, and stocked the farm of Mount
Benger. The usual results followed. In 1821, he completed his Jacobite Relics, and, in 1822, received two hundred pounds for a select volume of his best poems. Besides these publications, he contributed to Blackwood's Magazine. His last poem was "Queen Hynde," which appeared in 1826. He died in 1835, and was buried in the churchyard of Ettrick. Twenty years after his death, his widow received a government pension of £100 a-year; and in 1860, a monument was erected to his memory overlooking St Mary's Loch.
Hogg has been compared with Ramsay; but except in the possession of a ludicrous Goldsmithian egotism which amused without offending, they are contrasts rather than counterparts, Ramsay being a shrewd and economic, almost unimpassioned man of business, while Hogg was the very reverse. Perhaps the best portrait of him is his own Bard of Ettrick in the Queen's Wake.
THE BARD OF ETTRICK.
The next was named-the very sound Excited merriment around : But when the bard himself appear'd, The ladies smiled, the courtiers sneer'd; For such a simple air and mien Before a court had never been. A clown he was, bred in the wild, And late from native moors exiled, In hopes his mellow mountain strain High favour from the great would gain. Poor wight! he never ween'd how hard For poverty to earn regard! Dejection o'er his visage ran, His coat was bare, his colour wan, His forest doublet darn'd and torn, His shepherd plaid all rent and worn ;
Yet dear the symbols to his eye, Memorials of a time gone by.
The bard on Ettrick's mountains green
Instead of ocean's billowy pride,
With many a mountain, moor, and tree,
So softly sail, and swiftly row,
The wild-roe from the forest driven; The oaks of ages peel'd and riven; Impending oceans whirl and boil, Convulsed by nature's grand turmoil.
Instead of arms or golden crest, His harp with mimic flowers was drest;
Around, in graceful streamers, fell
THE FATE OF MACGREGOR.
And do what it freezes my vitals to
Forgive me, dear brother, this horror of mind;
Thou knowest in the strife I was never be-
Nor ever receded a foot from the van,
But I've sworn by the cross, by my God, and by all,
An oath which I cannot, and dare not recall,
'Macgregor, Macgregor, remember Ere the shadows of midnight fall east from the pile, our foemen ;
The moon rises broad from the brow of To meet with a spirit this night in Glen
The clans are impatient, and chide thy delay;
Arise! let us bound to Glen-Lyon away."
Stern scowled the Macgregor; then, silent and sullen,
"Last night, in my chamber, all thoughtful and lone,
I called to remembrance some deeds I had done,
When entered a lady, with visage so wan,
He turned his red eye to the braes of And looks such as never were fastened
"Go, Malcolm, to sleep, let the clans be
I knew her, O brother! I knew her full well!
The Campbells this night for Macgregor Of that once fair dame such a tale I could must rest."
"Macgregor, Macgregor, our scouts
Three days round the hills of M'Nab and
Of riding and running such tidings they
We must meet them at home else they'll quickly be here."
As would thrill thy bold heart: but how long she remained,
So racked was my spirit, my bosom so pained,
I knew not-but ages seemed short to the while.
Though proffer'd the Highlands, nay, all the green isle,
With length of existence no man can enjoy,
"The Campbell may come, as his The same to endure, the dread proffer promises bind him,
And haughty M'Nab, with his giants be- The thrice-threaten'd pangs of last night hind him :
This night I am bound to relinquish the Macgregor would dive to the mansions
Despairing and mad, to futurity blind, The present to shun, and some respite to find,
I swore, ere the shadow fell east from the pile,
To meet her alone by the brook of GlenGlye.
"She told me, and turned my chilled heart to a stone,
The glory and name of Macgregor were gone:
That the pine, which for ages had shed a bright halo,
Afar on the mountains of Highland GlenFalo,
Should wither and fall ere the turn of yon
Smit through by the canker of hated Colquhoun :
That a feast on Macgregors each day should be common,
For years, to the eagles of Lennox and Lomond.
"A parting embrace, in one moment,
Her breath was a furnace, her bosom the grave!
Then flitting elusive, she said, with a frown,
"The mighty Macgregor shall yet be my own!"
"Macgregor, thy fancies are wild as the wind;
The dreams of the night have disordered thy mind.
Come, buckle thy panoply-march to the field,
See, brother, how hacked are thy helmet and shield!
Ay, that was M'Nab, in the height of his pride,
This night the proud chief his presumption shall rue;
Rise, brother, these chinks in his heart'sblood will glue:
Thy fantasies frightful shall flit on the wing,
When loud with thy bugle Glen-Lyon shall ring."
Like glimpse of the moon through the storm of the night, Macgregor's red eye shed one sparkle of light:
It faded-it darkened-he shuddered-he sighed,
"No! not for the universe!" low he replied.
Away went Macgregor, but went not alone;
To watch the dread rendezvous Malcolm has gone.
They oared the broad Lomond, so still and serene !
And deep in her bosom, how awful the scene!
O'er mountains inverted, the blue waters curled,
And rocked them on skies of a far nether world.
All silent they went, for the time was approaching:
The moon the blue zenith already was touching;
No foot was abroad on the forest or hill, No sound but the lullaby sung by the
Young Malcolm at distance couched trembling the while,
Margregor stood lone by the brook of Glen-Gyle.
Few minutes had passed ere they spied, on the stream,
When the lions of Dochart stood firm by A skiff sailing light, where a lady did