Re-Visioning James Hogg
The Return of the Subject to Wordsworth’s ‘Extempore Effusion’

Janette Currie

‘Extempore Effusion’ declares itself a poem ‘Upon the Death of James Hogg,’ but the Ettrick Shepherd is mentioned in only three of the forty-four lines of the poem. Viewed as evidence of a biographical kind this might be thought not very surprising. Wordsworth felt no affinity with Hogg as he did with all of the others he mourned, nor did he value his writing. Although, ‘undoubtedly a man of original genius,’ Hogg was, Wordsworth judged, a man of ‘coarse manners and low and offensive opinions’ and the author of work disfigured by ‘insupportable slovenliness and neglect of syntax and grammer [sic].’ But whatever Wordsworth’s opinion of Hogg, he was liable to eclipse in the ‘Extempore Effusion’ simply because he was inextricable from Wordsworth’s memories of those who had mattered much more to him and from certain poems, both of the distant and the recent past, whose significance Wordsworth had not yet exhausted. [1]

Wordsworth didn’t know Hogg at all well and he didn’t much care either for him or for his writings. […] Hogg’s memory seemed precious to Wordsworth now, because it was inextricably bound up with that of a Scottish writer he really did care about: Hogg’s friend and erstwhile patron, Sir Walter Scott. [2]

Genius: Native intellectual power of an exalted type, such as is attributed to those who are esteemed greatest in any department of art, speculation, or practice; instinctive and extraordinary capacity for imaginative creation, original thought, invention, or discovery
(Oxford English Dictionary)

Literary critics of Wordsworth’s elegiac poem, ‘Extempore Effusion Upon the Death of James Hogg’ [hereafter ‘Extempore Effusion’] agree that the poem is concerned with Wordsworth’s memories of Coleridge, Scott, Lamb, Crabbe, and Mrs Hemans: ‘those who had mattered much more to him’ than the subject of the poem, James Hogg. Stephen Gill and William Ruddick ventriloquise Mary Moorman’s statement of 1965 that ‘Wordsworth held no very high opinion of Hogg either as a poet or as a man’. According to Moorman, Wordsworth had ‘a limited admiration’ of The Queen’s Wake, and thought [Hogg] ‘possessed of no ordinary power’, but ‘too illiterate to write in any measure or style that does not savour of balladism’. He classed him and Scott together as guilty of ‘insupportable slovenliness and neglect of syntax and grammar’. [3] In his examination of ‘Extempore Effusion’, Stephen Gill follows Moorman, and he also cites the ‘Fenwick Note’ to ‘Extempore Effusion’ where Wordsworth described Hogg as ‘undoubtedly a man of original genius, but of coarse manners and low and offensive opinions’. [4] Ruddick claims the tone of this ‘Fenwick Note’ was given ‘frostily’, [5] and he relies on Wordsworth’s correspondence with Robert Pearse Gillies, a young Edinburgh lawyer with whom Wordsworth corresponded on literary matters: ‘Wordsworth thought that Hogg’s poems possessed merit up to a point, but declared that Hogg’s best-known poem, The Queen’s Wake, was marred because Hogg “was too illiterate to write in any measure or style that does not savour of balladism” ’. [6] Gill does not indicate that Wordsworth held the same opinion of Scott’s poetry in 1814 as he did of Hogg’s, while Ruddick confuses Hogg’s writing: in the letter he quotes from, Wordsworth was in fact discussing Hogg’s experimental verse drama The Hunting of Badlewe and not the critically acclaimed Queen’s Wake. [7] Wordsworth’s negative criticisms of Hogg and his work lend weight to the argument that ‘Extempore Effusion’ was concerned with those who ‘had mattered much more’ to Wordsworth than Hogg. However, a different perspective can be selected from the same correspondence with Gillies where Wordsworth also discussed Hogg and his poetry in positive terms.Top of Page

     In 1814, Gillies gave Wordsworth two of Hogg’s works, The Queen’s Wake and The Hunting of Badlewe, and it is Wordsworth’s literary criticism of these, one polished and the other experimental, that has contributed to the continuing negative perceptions filtered through Wordsworth’s later ‘Fenwick Note’ to ‘Extempore Effusion’. However, as the chronological sequence below reveals, Wordsworth’s criticism was more measured and positive than has previously been suggested.

[On The Queen’s Wake:] It does Mr Hogg great credit. Of the tales, I liked best, much the best, the Witch of Fife, the former part of Kilmenie, and the Abbot Mackinnon. Mr H— himself I remember, seemed most partial to Mary Scott: though he thought it too long. For my part, though I always deem the opinion of an able Writer upon his own works entitled to consideration, I cannot agree with Mr H— in this preference. The story of Mary Scott appears to me extremely improbable, and not skilfully conducted- besides, the style of the piece is often vicious.—The intermediate parts of the Queen’s Wake are done with much spirit but the style here; also is often disfigured by false finery, and in too many places it recalls Mr Scott to one’s mind. Mr Hogg has too much genius to require that support however respectable in itself. [8]

[On The Hunting of Badlewe:] Mr. Hogg’s Badlew (I suppose it to be his) I could not get through. There are two pretty passages; the flight of the deer, and the falling of the child from the rock of Stirling, though both are a little outre. But the story is coarsely conceived, and, in my judgment, as coarsely executed; the style barbarous, and the versification harsh and uncouth. Mr. H. is too illiterate to write in any measure or style that does not savour of balladism. This is much to be regretted; for he is possessed of no ordinary power. [9]

[On literary style in general:] I confess if there is to be an Error in style, I much prefer the Classical model of Dr Beattie to the insupportable slovenliness and neglect of syntax and grammar, by which Hogg’s writings are disfigured. It is excusable in him from his education, but Walter Scott knows, and ought to do, better. They neither of them write a language which has any pretension to be called English; and their versification—who can endure it when he comes fresh from the Minstrel? [10]

In Acts of Union: Scotland and the Literary Negotiation of the British Nation, 1707–1830, Leith Davis finds that Wordsworth’s criticism of Hogg and Scott ‘conflates his economic anxieties with national prejudices’. [11] Davis explains Wordsworth’s criticisms in light of Francis Jeffrey’s hostile reviews of The Excursion in the Edinburgh Review of November 1814, but, as the above criticisms of The Queen’s Wake reveals, Wordsworth finds fault with more than Hogg’s Scottish diction, he also criticises his poetic style, including his use of ‘balladism’, ‘false finery’, syntactical and grammatical errors, and metrical rhythm. Such criticism is not surprising in light of Wordsworth’s experimentation with a new philosophy of poetry in the Lyrical Ballads. Indeed, his radical poetics lead to the recognition of Hogg’s intellectual acumen and poetic ability where he finds that Hogg is ‘an able writer’, ‘a genius’, ‘possessed of no ordinary power’.Top of Page

     Two recent developments in both Wordsworth and Hogg textual studies enable a fresh analysis of ‘Extempore Effusion’ that re-places Hogg firmly at the centre of Wordsworth’s commemorative poem. Firstly, the Stirling/South Carolina Research Edition of The Collected Works of James Hogg (hereafter S/SC Research Edition), an important international collaborative project that was inaugurated in 1995 with The Shepherd’s Calendar. In the ‘Introduction’ to the series, Douglas Mack points out the urgent necessity of the venture,

Hogg was a major writer whose true stature was not recognised in his own lifetime because his social origins led to his being smothered in genteel condescension; and whose true stature has not been recognised since, because of a lack of adequate editions. [12]

     The guiding principle behind the S/SC Research Edition is to reveal Hogg as an important writer within the generic community of nineteenth-century British authors through a variety of different textual approaches to the individual volumes in the series, including, ‘unbowdlerising’ texts, reprinting first editions in facsimile, and presenting the first publication of texts from Hogg’s original manuscripts. To date, sixteen volumes and eight paperback reissues have been published by Edinburgh University Press, enabling a serious re-evaluation of Hogg’s work.

     Secondly, the bibliographic array in the apparatus criticus of Cornell’s edition of Wordsworth’s Last Poems, 1821–50, edited by Jared Curtis et al., [13] reveals that contrary to assumed critical opinion, Wordsworth thought a great deal about Hogg while he composed his poem: thought about Hogg both as ‘a poet and as a man’. In the array, Curtis records nine different manuscript versions and four different published versions, together with an accumulation of over forty variants of Wordsworth’s extempore effusion on Hogg’s death. [14] Moreover, the array records that Wordsworth’s eleven alterations to his third representation of Hogg in the concluding line of the poem are in stark contrast to his unaltered depictions of Scott, Coleridge, Lamb, and Crabbe. [15] Given Wordsworth’s predilection for continuous revision, such an abundance of different versions is unsurprising. However, while Wordsworth’s revisionary habits, most notably for The Prelude, continue to attract keen scholarly debate, the critical reception of the poem to date suggests that an inability to separate Hogg the man from Hogg the author in Wordsworth’s ‘Fenwick Note’ have played their part in critical interrogations of the poem that refuse to take Hogg as its subject seriously. [16] The following examination of Wordsworth’s revisions and alterations to ‘Extempore Effusion’ from the bibliographic array in the Cornell Wordsworth is informed by the S/SC Research Edition principle that Hogg is an important subject within nineteenth-century literary studies.Top of Page

     Ebba Hutchinson’s recollections have become the context by which subsequent readings of the genesis of the poem have been made:

Once when she was staying at the Wordsworths’ the poet was much affected by reading in the newspaper the death of Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. Half an hour afterwards he came into the room where the ladies were sitting and asked Miss Hutchinson to write down some lines which he had just composed. She did so and these lines were the beautiful Poem called The Graves of the Poets. [17]

The poem entitled, ‘The Graves of the Poets’ has not been discovered and Hutchinson’s transcript is also missing. The earliest surviving ‘extempore effusion’, or moment of spontaneous composition, is the version of the poem Wordsworth contributed to John Hernaman, the editor of the Newcastle Journal, on 30 November 1835.

     The opening stanza acknowledges Hogg’s prominent role in Wordsworth’s emotional first visit to the Yarrow Valley late in the summer of 1814, when he claimed ‘The Ettrick Shepherd was my guide’ (l. 4). Wordsworth’s admission remained unaltered from the first version to the last known ‘authorised’ printed version in the fifth volume of The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. [18] So too, lines 10–12 of the poem where Wordsworth referred directly to Hogg’s death went unrevised: ‘And death upon the braes of Yarrow,/ Has closed the Shepherd-poet’s eyes’. This first version was transcribed by Mary Wordsworth and ‘autographed by William’, but misdated ‘Dec [r ]1 [st], 1835’. Hogg died on 21 November, and Wordsworth clearly felt that pre-publication revision was necessary to correct the error. In his second letter to Hernaman hurriedly sent the following day, he requested that the date be altered to ‘Nov [r] 30 [th]’, and with this letter, took the opportunity to include additional stanzas. Wordsworth told Hernaman on 1 December 1835:

By yesterday’s post I forwarded to you a copy of Extempory verses (which thro’ inadventure were dated Dec [r] 1 [st] instead of Nov [r] 30 [th]) and which I will beg you, if not too late, to correct—as well as the word ‘survive’, in the 7 [th] Stanza for which pray substitute ‘remain’. And add to the poem the following 3 Stanzas, which were cast, but unfinished yesterday; and I did not wait, not knowing if I should turn to it again in time for your next publication. If this alteration does not suit your convenience for this week, I should rather the Poem were kept back till the week following—both for the fact above stated, and because without the concluding Stanz: the verses scarcely do justice to the occasion that called them forth.     (Letters: LY, pp. 128–29)

     Wordsworth did not rewrite the poem in full but sent the three additional stanzas with his letter. Both in the first eight stanzas and in these additional stanzas the majority of Wordsworth’s revisions alter the tone:

As if but yesterday departed,
Thou too art gone before: >yet< but why,
>For< O’er ripe fruit, seasonably gathered,
Should frail survivors heave a sigh? [19]

The revision from ‘yet’ to ‘but’ is a repetition that adds a questioning, bewildered quality, and in the same stanza, Wordsworth’s revision in line 35 from ‘For ripe fruit’ to ‘O’er ripe fruit’ alters the over-sentimental attitude suggested through the alliterative f and s sounds, to a more muted expression of loss. Cumulatively, Wordsworth’s revisions reveal him fine-tuning the mood he wished to convey as his reaction to reading in the Newcastle Journal a note announcing Hogg’s death.Top of Page

     The first version of the text comprising the eight stanzas that Wordsworth contributed to the Newcastle Journal on 30 November 1835 had a despondent ending where Wordsworth had questioned his own mortality:

Yet I, whose lids from infant slumbers
Were earlier raised, survive to hear
A timid voice, that asks in whispers,
‘Who next will drop and disappear?’

This clearly did not fit well within a poem that purported to be about Hogg’s death. Therefore, as he had indicated to Hernaman, in order to ‘do justice to the occasion that called them forth’ he concluded his revised final stanza with a return to its subject:

With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten,
And Ettrick mourns with her their Shepherd Dead!

The array in the Cornell Wordsworth reveals that Wordsworth was unhappy with the additional concluding stanza. Initially, Wordsworth had concluded with a general lamentation:

With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten,
And Ettrick mourns thro grove and glade

This was cancelled to:

With sharper grief is Yarrow smitten,
And Ettrick mourns with her their Poet dead!

Hogg was born in the Ettrick valley in the Scottish Borders in 1770, and he had lived in or close to the next valley, Yarrow, for over twenty years until his death at Altrive Lake, his cottage on the banks of the Yarrow River. Yet Wordsworth’s revision adds more than biographical detail to his extempore effusion. In the first version, the flowing singlet to duplet rhythm evokes a sense of bewilderment, and concludes the questioning sense of loss that infuses the poem in the ‘timid voice that asks in whispers,/ “Who next will drop and disappear?” ’ Through his revised ending the rhythmic pattern is interrupted with the alteration from the pastoral ‘glade’ to an emphatic statement, ‘Poet’, together with a strong ending and exclamatory cry, ‘dead!’ Through his revisions, then, Wordsworth signals deeply felt personal grief over Hogg’s death.Top of Page

     Wordsworth was still unhappy with his last line however, and he substituted ‘Shepherd’ for ‘Poet’: a revision that did not interrupt the changed rhyme-scheme, but an important change nevertheless. ‘Ettrick Shepherd’ was the mantle Hogg adopted early in his writing career, and the name by which he was internationally known. During his early years as a struggling poet, it was, as Wordsworth signals, an actual reality as well as a literary construct, as Hogg had shepherded on the Blackhouse Heights above the Yarrow River during the 1790s. By revising the personal pronoun that had signalled Hogg’s professional status, to ‘Shepherd’, in the same line as ‘Ettrick’, Wordsworth acknowledged Hogg’s unique biography and humble beginnings, and recognised, through capitalisation, Hogg’s important contribution to nineteenth-century literature.

     In his second letter to Hernaman, Wordsworth emphasised that this final version of the last line was the one that he wished to be printed, as he explained, ‘I have written the last line over again below to prevent a mistake’ (Letters: LY, p. 129). Wordsworth’s contributions appeared together as the poem entitled, ‘Extempore Effusion, Upon reading in the Newcastle Journal, the notice of the death of the Poet, James Hogg’, in the Newcastle Journal of 5 December 1835. However, Wordsworth remained troubled by his revision from ‘Poet’ to ‘Shepherd’, so that when he extended the poem to include a commemorative stanza on Felicia Hemans around the middle of December, he revised his representation of Hogg once more. The extended version of the poem, transcribed by Dora Wordsworth, reveals that Wordsworth was still unhappy with the concluding line, as Wordsworth cancels a revision from ‘Shepherd’ to ‘Poet’ in her handwriting, and re-revises once more to ‘Shepherd’. Jared Curtis draws our attention to Wordsworth’s note, ‘quere Poet’ added at the end of the poem, as Curtis notes: ‘Either his revision of “Poet” to “Shepherd” in this manuscript followed his query, or he contemplated changing back to “Poet” ’. [20]

     In 1837, the now canonical version of the poem entitled ‘Extempore Effusion Upon the Death of James Hogg’ was included in the fifth volume of Poetical Works. It is this ‘latest authorial version’ that comprises the ‘reading text’ of the Cornell Wordsworth, and in this version both the title and the concluding line are altered. As he had signalled in his note at the end of his December 1835 revision, Wordsworth reverts from ‘Shepherd’ to ‘Poet’: a word originally cancelled in the additional stanzas that were forwarded to John Hernaman on 1 December 1835. In this instance, the reversion to ‘Poet’ in the last line of the poem re-emphasised Hogg’s professional status that the revised title had erased.

     But this was not Wordsworth’s final representation of Hogg in his commemorative poem. Helen Darbishire detailed the ‘manuscript variants’ of ‘Extempore Effusion’ in Wordsworth’s marked copy of his 1836 Poetical Works that he used to mark corrections, revisions, and additional verses in the preparation of both his 1840 and 1845 collected editions. In this version (MS 1836/45), line 44 is revised to: ‘And Ettrick mourns her Shepherd Poet dead’. So far as can be established this marked-up copy of the poem has never been published. [21] In her description of the ‘heavily annotated’ volumes Darbishire explained how Wordsworth used them:

Wordsworth used the volumes as a working copy, first, when he prepared the text of the volume of Sonnets, published in 1838; secondly when he revised the six volumes for the reprint of 1840; and thirdly, when he thoroughly overhauled his text for the edition in one volume of 1845. In the first two revisions—for 1838 and 1840—the corrections, mostly in pencil, are nearly all the hand of John Carter, his faithful clerk, who was for many years responsible for the practical business of seeing the poet’s books through the press. He seems particularly to have attended to the punctuation. For the more important revision for the volume of 1845 Wordsworth himself jotted down alternative readings in pencil or ink; or dictated to his wife Mary Wordsworth or to his daughter Dora a variant or whole new poem which he intended for fair copy. [22]

At some point, then, between 1838 and 1845, Wordsworth returned to the concluding line of ‘Extempore Effusion’ and marked in pencil ‘her Shepherd Poet’ to replace ‘with her their Poet’.Top of Page

     The Cornell Wordsworth array allows greater scope than has previously been available to scholars to examine all of Wordsworth’s revisions and alterations to the multiple versions of his poems. In particular, it reveals how he deliberated and worried about how he could best represent Hogg in the closing words to his commemorative poem. [23] The array raises an important question concerning ‘Extempore Effusion’ and Wordsworth’s relationship with Hogg. Why, when he ‘held no very high opinion of Hogg either as a poet or as a man’, did it matter so much to Wordsworth whether Hogg was represented as a ‘Shepherd’, a ‘Poet’, or a ‘shepherd-poet’? Wordsworth’s revisions raise the possibility that Hogg ‘mattered much more to him’ than has previously been considered; however, they do not explain why Wordsworth was so disturbed. In Social Values and Poetic Acts: The Historical Judgement of Literary Work, Jerome J. McGann has explored the array as a form of critical discourse that offers ‘special opportunities for those interested in exploiting the critical strategies available to writers’ because ‘narrativized discourse’ in its ‘formal commitment to the maintenance of continuity can throw up obstacles to its critical use’. However, McGann concludes that a return to narrative discourse is inevitable as the ‘critical status of ideological discourse […] can only be assessed in terms of its specific historical frame of reference’. [24] The array in the Cornell Wordsworth reveals the limitations of non-narrative discourse as a form of criticism because it is only by exploring the biographical details of their relationship ‘in its specific historical frame of reference’, which is inevitably narrativised, that we learn the cause of Wordsworth’s insecurities over his representation of Hogg.

     Wordsworth became acquainted with Hogg during the late summer of 1814 when they met in Edinburgh. A few weeks later Hogg met Wordsworth at Rydal Mount where the now frequently recounted anecdote of how their relationship was soured by Wordsworth’s arrogant denunciation of Hogg by posing the question, ‘Poets, where are they?’ in Hogg’s presence, occurred. This significant episode in Wordsworth/Hogg relations is usually described as ‘the triumphal arch scene’ from Hogg’s autobiographical account of the event in his ‘Reminiscences of Former Days: Wordsworth’. The ‘Memoir of the Author’s Life’ that preceded ‘Reminiscences’ was a record of Hogg’s professional life to 1832, and contained his account of his dealings with publishers and patrons, as well as offering his version of the genesis of many of his works. Hogg’s ‘Reminiscence’ of Wordsworth contextualises his verse-parodies in The Poetic Mirror of 1816, where Hogg reveals, for the first time, that his verse-parodies of Wordsworth were generated by an ‘affront’ or snub to his poetic abilities. Hogg claims the ‘anecdote has been told and told again, but never truly; and was likewise brought forward in the “Noctes Ambrosianæ, as a joke; but it was no joke’; his version, he insists, ‘is the plain, simple truth of the matter’. [25] Critics frequently note that Hogg’s later ‘Reminiscence’ is a repetition of an earlier anecdote that first appeared in the seventeenth number of ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ’ of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, in November 1824 (vol. 16, p. 592), and Hogg’s remembrance of the anecdote some eighteen years after the event is used as evidence that he never forgave Wordsworth’s insult. [26] However, the two anecdotes are not identical, and the first version is discussed below in order to establish why Hogg repeated it now.

     Number 17 of ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ’ is concerned with the publication of Conversations of Lord Byron, by Thomas Medwin, and allusions to widely circulated correspondence between Byron and Hogg weave ironically through the conversation; the purpose of which was to cast doubt on Medwin’s Conversations. [27] ‘Mullion’ tells ‘Hogg’, ‘ “I observe, Hogg, that Byron told Medwin he was greatly taken with your manners when he met you at the Lakes. Pray, Jem, was the feeling mutual?” Hogg, “Oo, aye, man—I thought Byron a very nice laud. […] We were just as thick as weavers in no time” ’(p. 591). Hogg never met Byron but he had corresponded with him, and it would appear that he had planned to publish their letters. [28] In one of his letters to Hogg, Byron described the ‘Lake poets’ in unflattering and unprofessional terms: ‘Wordsworth—stupendous genius! damned fool! These poets run about their ponds though they cannot fish. I am told there is not one who can angle—damned fools!’ [29] It is this letter that Medwin expands upon when recounting Hogg’s meeting with Byron. According to Medwin’s retelling, Byron said that he had

offended the par nobile mortally—past all hope of forgiveness—many years ago. I met, at the Cumberland Lakes, Hogg the Ettrick Shepherd, who had just been writing ‘The Poetic Mirror,’ a work that contains imitations of all the living poets’ styles, after the manner of the ‘Rejected Addresses’. The burlesque is well done, particularly that of me, but not equal to Horace Smith’s. I was pleased with Hogg; and he wrote me a very witty letter, to which I sent him, I suspect, a very dull reply. Certain it is that I did not spare the Lakists in it; and he told me he could not resist the temptation, and had shewn it to the fraternity. It was too tempting; and as I could never keep a secret of my own, as you know, much less that of other people, I could not blame him. I remember saying, among other things, that the Lake poets were such fools as not to fish in their own waters; but this was the least offensive part of the epistle. [30]

The letters containing Byron’s opinion of Wordsworth and Coleridge circulated widely, and their mention in the ‘Noctean’ conversation had a double function. As well as throwing doubt on the authenticity of Medwin’s Conversations, they also compared Byron and Wordsworth through their respective association with Hogg. ‘Hogg’ asks, “O, man, wasna this a different kind of behaviour frae that proud Don Wordsworth’s? Od! How Byron leuch when I tell’d him Wordsworth’s way wi’ me!” ’ And he goes on to recount his meeting with Wordsworth.Top of Page

I had never forgathered wi’ Wordsworth before, and he was invited to dinner at Godswhittles, and down he came; and just as he came in at the east gate, De Quuncey and me cam in at the west; and says I, the moment me and Wordsworth were introduced, ‘Lord keep us a’!’ says I, ‘Godswhittle, my man, there’s nae want of poets here the day, at ony rate.’ Wi’ that Wordsworth turned up his nose, as if we had been a’ carrion, and then he gied a kind of a smile, that I thought was the bitterest, most contemptible, despicable, abominable, wauf, narrow-minded, envious, sneezablest kind of an attitude that I ever saw a human form assume—and ‘PoetS!’ quo’ he, (deil mean him!)—‘PoetS, Mr Hogg?—Pray, where are they, sir?’ Confound him!—I doubt if he would have allowed even Byron to have been a poet, if he had been there. He thinks there’s nae real poets in our time, an it be not himself, and his sister, and Coleridge. He doesna make an exception in favour of Southey—at least to ony extent worth mentioning. Na, even Scott—would ony mortal believe there was sic a donneration of arrogance in this waurld?—even Scott I believe’s not a pawet, gin you take his word—or at least his sneer for’t. […]

I mind Byron had a kind of a curiosity to see him [Wordsworth], and I took him up to Rydallwood; and let him have a glimpse o’ him, as he was gaun staukin up and down on his ain backside, grumblin out some of his havers, and glowering about him like a gawpus. Byron and me just reconnattred him for a wee while, and then we came down the hill again, to hae our laugh out. We swam ower Grasmere that day, breeks an a’. I spoilt a pair o’ as gude corduroys as ever cam out of the Director-General’s for that piece of fun. I couldna bide to thwart him in onything—he did just as he liket wi’ me the twa days we staid yonder: he was sic a gay, laughing, lively, wutty fallow—we greed like breether. He was a grand lad, Byron—none of your blawn-up pompous laker notions about him. He took his toddy brawly. (p. 592)

     Marilyn Butler has described ‘Noctes Ambrosianæ’ as ‘a kind of dialogic gossip column in which the editor Wilson, using the pen name “Christopher North”, discussed current topics with contributors such as John Gibson Lockhart and James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd’. Butler quite rightly records that the ‘Noctes’ ‘are pages for browsing in, the place you go to find uneasy compliments to women poets and raw, demotic abuse of Hogg for his impenetrable accent and his bad manners: this teasing reads like eavesdropping, because it seems too lifelike to be anything else’. [31] In the gossipy, ‘lifelike’ nature of the ‘Noctes’, John Gibson Lockhart, William Maginn, and John Wilson co-authored the first version of the ‘triumphal arch scene’ anecdote, and not Hogg, and it is likely that Wilson, who was also present at Rydal Mount, was the person most offended by Wordsworth. [32] A comparison of the tone of the earlier and later anecdote reveals that the former is more hostile and vindictive towards Wordsworth. Where Hogg depicted Wordsworth as ‘treating him with utmost kindness’, Wilson/Maginn/Lockhart describe him in unflattering terms as the ‘bitterest, most contemptible, despicable, abominable, wauf, narrow-minded, envious, sneezablest kind of attitude that I ever saw a human form assume’. In the Blackwood’s article, Wordsworth is depicted as a ‘pompous laker’, whereas according to Hogg he ‘was delightful, and most eloquent’. [33]

      While Hogg was in London to see the first volume of his projected Collected Works through the press, Lockhart assisted him with biographical recollections for ‘Reminiscences of Former Days: Lockhart’. [34] It is not surprising, therefore, to find that Hogg’s recollections of Wordsworth closely parallel Lockhart’s 1824 ‘Noctean’ conversation, and it may be that Lockhart also assisted Hogg with this biographical notice. Hogg had frequently complained that he did not write some articles published in his name. For example, Robin MacLachlan has written of how Hogg complained to Scott in October 1821:

I have a written promise, dated 19 months back, most solemnly given ‘that my name should never be mentioned in his mag. without my own consent’, yet you see how it is kept and how I am again misrepresented to the world. I am neither a drunkard nor an idiot nor a monster of nature. Nor am I so imbecile as never to have written a word of grammar in my life. [35]

In one of several articles published to coincide with Hogg’s London visit, Lockhart insists that Hogg was not in any way related to the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’ of the ‘Noctes’. In the Quarterly Review, that he then edited, Lockhart described Hogg in a manner that readers of Blackwood’s would have found surprising: ‘no more sober and worthy man exists in his Majesty’s dominions than this distinguished poet, whom some of his waggish friends have taken up the absurd fancy of exhibiting in print as a sort of boozing buffoon.’ [36] In this context, it is important in Hogg’s retelling of the anecdote, that De Quincey, and not Hogg, overhears Wordsworth’s denunciatory comments. Hogg claimed, ‘I have always some hopes that De Quincey was leeing, for I did not myself hear Wordsworth utter the words’ (Altrive Tales, p. 68). It seems clear, then, that Hogg’s aim in ‘Reminiscences’ of literary men was to distance himself from ‘Noctean’ gossip. More particularly, in his ‘Reminiscence’ of Wordsworth, Hogg distanced himself from the earlier publication of the anecdote in Blackwood’s, which was the only public record of their 1814 meeting.Top of Page

     In William Wordsworth: A Life, Stephen Gill noted that Wordsworth would not accept editions of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine into Rydal Mount. [37] Nevertheless, Wordsworth was aware of the accusation that he had egotistically denounced his contemporaries, including Hogg, De Quincey, Scott, Byron, and Southey. For example, during a visit to the Lake District in August the year following the publication of the anecdote in Blackwood’s, Lockhart reported to Sophia, his wife, that ‘Wordsworth spoke kindly I think, on the whole, of Hogg, which is more than I should have expected after the story of “Poets, where are they?” being blabbed in print, especially as I knew Wordsworth took mighty offence at that matter’. Importantly, just prior to this report, in the same long, gossipy letter, Lockhart displays contempt of what he characterised as Wordsworth’s egotism: ‘the Unknown was continually quoting Wordsworth’s Poetry and Wordsworth ditto, but that the great Laker never uttered one syllable by which it might have been intimated to a stranger that your Papa had ever written a line either of verse or prose since he was born.’ [38] Since 1825, then, Wordsworth was aware that his egotistical posturing towards his contemporaries was publicly reported, and widely circulated. Wordsworth’s memorialising of his contemporaries in ‘Extempore Effusion’, therefore, is an admission that others, even such uneducated shepherds like Hogg, are worthy of the appellation ‘Poet’.

     Wordsworth offers a renunciation of his treatment of poets such as Hogg in his footnote to the additional stanzas contained in his second letter to Hernaman on 1 December 1835. The note was published along with the poem in the Newcastle Journal but it has never been published with it since. Two versions of Wordsworth’s note, the one contained in the letter and the version published in the Newcastle Journal are given in the bibliographic array of ‘Extempore Effusion’ in the Cornell Wordsworth. The former version is reprinted below:

In the above, is an expression borrowed from a Sonnet by Mr G. Bell, the author of a small vol: of Poems lately printed in Penrith. Speaking of Skiddaw, he says—‘yon dark cloud rakes and shrouds its noble brow.’ These Poems, tho’ incorrect often in expression and metre do honour to their unpretending Author; and may be added to the number of proofs, daily occurring, that a finer perception of appearances in Nature is spreading thro’ the humbler classes of Society.     (CW [1999], p. 470).

By this note, Wordsworth offered restitution for his elitist dismissal of Hogg’s lowly background, and admitted through the association of Hogg with ‘Mr G. Bell’ that Hogg had poetic ability. It is an act that enters the unaltered sixth stanza of ‘Extempore Effusion’:

Like clouds that rake the mountain-summits,
Or waves that own no curbing hand,
How fast has brother followed brother,
From sunshine to the sunless land!
(ll. 21–24; CW [1999], p. 306) [39]

As Byron and Hogg had ‘greed like breether’ in the early ‘Noctean’ anecdote, so finally, in death, Wordsworth accepts Hogg into the poetic fraternity.Top of Page

     Why then, does Hogg continue to be replaced by Coleridge, Scott, Lamb, Crabbe, and Mrs Hemans in studies of ‘Extempore Effusion’? These studies include Gill’s and Ruddick’s literary criticism noted above, and also recent literary anthologies and generic studies of the nineteenth century that reprint the poem without contextual information about Hogg other than a short biographical footnote. For example, in the most recent scholarly pedagogic tool, The Longman Anthology of British Literature, Volume 2A: The Romantics and their Contemporaries, several ‘major’ poets and their poems are contextualised in a series of ‘Perspectives’ that suggest lines of enquiry and themes for consideration along with related ‘companion reading’. Wordsworth’s ‘Extempore Effusion Upon the Death of James Hogg’ is represented in the Longman Anthology, as are four of the six poets he laments: Scott, Lamb, Coleridge, and Hemans. There are no texts by either Crabbe or Hogg. It is Felicia Hemans who represents the ‘contextual’ element to the poem, with extracts from Wordsworth’s biographical commentary of Hemans from the ‘Fenwick Note’ to ‘Extempore Effusion’ included under the heading of ‘Companion Readings’ to her poetry. Hogg’s absence from discussion of Wordsworth’s stately elegy on his death is continued with his exclusion from the ‘Companion Website’ on the ‘Romantic Timeline’, which begins in 1765 with Hargreaves’ invention of the ‘Spinning Jenny’, skips over Hogg’s birth-date of 1770, neglects to list any of his major works, and concludes in 1833, denying even the date of his death to be noted. [40]

     The ‘Fenwick Note’ is clearly perceived to represent Wordsworth’s final opinion on Hogg. Hogg’s humble background is undeniable and explains Wordsworth’s perception of him as ‘rude’ in polite company. However, what were Hogg’s ‘low and offensive opinions’? In April 1832 Wordsworth reacted to Hogg’s ‘Reminiscences’, when he interrupted Dora’s letter to Edward Quillinan in order to explain that Hogg’s anecdote was not entirely true. He told Quillinan:

Of Hogg’s silly story I have only to say that his memory is not the best in the world, as he speaks of his being called out of this room when the arch made its appearance; now in fact, Wilson and he were on their way either to or from Grasmere when they saw the arch and very obligingly came up to tell us of it, thinking, wh was the fact, that we might not be aware of the phenomenon. As to the speech, which galled poor Hogg so much, it must in one expression at least have been misreported, the word ‘fellow’ I am told by my family I apply to no one. I use strong terms I own, but there is a vulgarity about that, wh does not suit me, and had I applied it to Hogg there wd have also been hypocrisy in the kindness, wh he owns I invariably shewed him, wholly alien, as you must know, to my character. It is possible and not improbable that I might on that occasion have been tempted to use a contemptuous expression, for H. had disgusted me not by his vulgarity, wh he cd not help, but by his self-conceit in delivering confident opinions upon classical literature and other points about wh he cd know nothing. [41]

Wordsworth’s questioning in lines 25–32 of ‘Yarrow Visited, September 1814’ perhaps mirrors their conversation during their Yarrow excursion:

Where was it that the famous Flower
Of Yarrow Vale lay bleeding?
His bed perchance was yon smooth mound
On which the herd is feeding:
And haply from this crystal pool,
Now peaceful as the morning,
The Water-wraith ascended thrice—
And gave his doleful warning. [42]

The ‘famous Flower of Yarrow Vale’ is a quotation from the first stanza of Logan’s ‘The Braes of Yarrow’: ‘For never on thy banks shall I/ Behold my Love, the flower of Yarrow’. On the morning of their Yarrow tour, as Wordsworth later explained in his ‘Fenwick Note’ to ‘Yarrow Visited’, he met Dr Robert Anderson, the editor of The Works of the British Poets, in which Anderson had included a memoir and selections of Logan’s poetry. It is therefore possible, and Wordsworth’s direct quotation is highly suggestive, that they had discussed Logan’s association with Yarrow. Hogg’s first book-length publication was entitled The Mountain Bard (1807), his collection of songs was entitled The Forest Minstrel (1810), and Hogg himself appeared as one of the minstrels competing for Mary Queen of Scot’s harp in The Queen’s Wake (1813). [43] His apparent absence from the poem generated by their time together in the Yarrow valley, where Wordsworth bemoans,Top of Page

O that some Minstrel’s harp were near,
To utter notes of gladness,
And chase this silence from the air,
That fills my heart with sadness!     (ll. 5–8) [44]

has led critics to interpret Wordsworth’s ‘Minstrel’ as referring to that other Border Minstrel, Sir Walter Scott. Stephen Gill has made the case that ‘remembering James Hogg meant remembering the Yarrow’, an association that Gill suggests alludes to the Yarrow setting of Scott’s long poem, The Lay of the Last Minstrel. Gill further suggests that the ‘braes of Yarrow’ (ll. 12–13) in the third stanza of his extemporary verses is an allusion to poems entitled ‘The Braes of Yarrow’, by William Hamilton and John Logan. [45] All of this is true. But Hogg was also present, and Wordsworth’s reference to ‘the braes of Yarrow’ has associations with The Queen’s Wake, recently published to critical acclaim. Hogg mentions Hamilton and Logan amongst a list of notable poets who had written of the Ettrick and Yarrow. For example, in his explanatory notes to ‘Sweet rung the harp to Logan’s hand’, he explains he was ‘alluding to Logan’s beautiful song “The Braes of Yarrow” ’. [46]

     Wordsworth and Hogg’s conversations surrounding Border poetry also surfaced in ‘The Stranger: Being a further portion of The Recluse, A Poem’, one of three verse parodies of Wordsworth’s poetry that Hogg included in The Poetic Mirror in 1816 (London), and one that Hogg admitted he had written during his 1814 visit to the Lake District. [47] It is likely, as Wordsworth continued to assist Dr Anderson with a projected expansion of the British Poets on his return from Scotland to Rydal Mount, their conversations on ‘British Poets’ also continued from Yarrow. [48] The Wordsworthian narrator of ‘The Stranger’ recalls how he had travelled to Windermere with ‘bard obscure’ [Hogg]:

Our conversation ran on books and men:
The would-be songster* of the Scottish hills [*Hogg]
In dialect most uncouth and language rude
Lauded his countrymen, not unrebuked,
Reviewers and review’d, and talk’d amain
Of one unknown, inept, presumptuous bard,
The Border Minstrel—he of all the world
Farthest from genius or from common sense.
He too, the royal tool*, with erring tongue, [*Southey]
Back’d the poor foolish wight, and utter’d words
For which I blush’d—I could not chuse but smile.
‘Yet’, said I, tempted here to interpose,
‘You must acknowledge this your favourite
Hath more outraged the purity of speech,
The innate beauties of our English tongue,
For amplitude and nervous structure famed,
Than all the land beside, and therefore he
Deserves the high neglect which he has met
From all the studious and thinking—those
Unsway’d by caprices of the age,
The scorn of reason, and the world’s revile.’     (ll. 235–55)

Critics are divided over the figure of ‘The Border Minstrel’, and have suggested Burns or Scott as likely candidates. [49] However, the figure connects to The Queen’s Wake. The setting for Hogg’s major poem is an imaginary bardic competition between Scottish poets for an ornate harp before the court of Mary Queen of Scots in 1561. One of the poets named the ‘Bard of Ettrick’ does not win, but receives an unadorned harp, in consolation. Hogg theorised the origins of the Border ballads through the figure of ‘the Bard of Ettrick’ (one of the competing minstrels) who, ‘grieved the legendary lay/ Should perish from our land for ay’, and who therefore, ‘strikes, beside the pen,/ The harp of Yarrow’s braken glen’ (‘Introduction’, ll. 351–52). In his explanatory ‘Notes’ Hogg glosses ‘the bard of Ettrick’:Top of Page

That some notable bard flourished in Ettrick Forest in that age, is evident from numerous ballads and songs which relate to places in that country, and incidents that happened there. Many of these are of a superior cast. […] The dowy Downs of Yarrow, and many others are of the number. Dumbar [sic], in his lament for the bards, merely mentions him by the title of Etrick; more of him we know not. [50]

     In her study of Hogg’s ballad contributions to Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, Valentina Bold has shown how Hogg collected and transcribed

many texts, mainly his mother’s and his uncle’s, which were forwarded to Scott. They ranged from songs of love and chivalry from the Yarrow valley (‘The Gay Goss Hawk’, The Douglas Tragedy’) to Ettrick’s fairy traditions and cattle raids (‘Tam Lin’, ‘Jamie Telfer’). Some Hogg ballads were included in the third volume of the Minstrelsy, such as […] ‘The Dowie Houms o’ Yarrow’. [51]

Bold reprints Hogg’s manuscript transcription of ‘The Dowie houms o’ Yarrow’ and indicates Scott’s alterations:

The change of ‘noble’ to ‘leafu’ lord, in verse 9, alters audience perceptions and the gory line in verse 12, where Sarah drinks her lover’s blood, is replaced with a sanitised reference to kisses. The last two verses become sentimental, as Scott reflects, ‘A fairer rose did never bloom/ than now lies cropped on Yarrow’ and removes the final reductive equation of the couple’s sorrow with a love of gear: ‘your ousen’ (oxen). A venomous Ettrick ending is thereby changed for romantic anguish. [52]

In the literary conversations that Hogg satirically replays in ‘The Stranger’, he reiterates his theory that the Border ballads originated with a Border Minstrel-poet from the Ettrick Valley: ‘he of all the world/ Farthest from genius or from common sense’. Moreover, the interconnectedness of ‘The Stranger’ and the ‘triumphal arch scene’ that Hogg recounts in his 1832 ‘Reminiscence’ reveal how Wordsworth’s social arrogance undermined Hogg’s self-appointed position as an important repository and transmitter of traditional balladry associated with the Yarrow valley. Within the context of Wordsworth’s opinion of Hogg’s ‘self-conceit in delivering confident opinions upon classical literature and other points about w [h] he c [d] know nothing’, his indecisive, careful deliberation in his commemorative poem over his representation of whether Hogg was a ‘Poet’, a ‘Shepherd’, or a ‘shepherd-poet’ becomes an admission that Hogg was right to complain in his Wordsworthian ‘Reminiscence’: ‘It is surely presumption in any man to circumscribe all human excellence within the narrow sphere of his own capacity’ (Altrive Tales, p. 68). [53]

     In his recent S/SC Edition of The Queen’s Wake Douglas Mack suggests that Hogg’s opinions of traditional oral ballads ‘connects powerfully with the kind of poetry advocated by Wordsworth in the 1802 Preface to Lyrical Ballads ’:

Hogg must have felt that, while the circumstances of his upbringing were noticeably different from those of a university educated gentleman-poet, they nevertheless brought him some advantages as he sought to retune the harp of Ettrick’s old oral ballads, in his capacity as successor to Robert Burns as a national bard who could speak on behalf of the people of Scotland. [54]

Wordsworth did not intend ‘to give the [Fenwick] notes a prominence calculated to “manipulate” his readers by positioning them “as prefatory indexes to the poems” ’, as Jared Curtis rightly notes. [55] At the same time as the array in the Cornell Wordsworth undermines the ‘Fenwick Note’ to ‘Extempore Effusion’ through the revelation of Wordsworth’s insecure search for the best words to signify Hogg’s stature as ‘a national bard’, each new volume of the S/SC Research Edition uncovers evidence of Hogg’s ‘original genius’. It is time for Wordsworth’s assessment to be accepted, without the qualifying ‘but’.

Top of Page

I am grateful to Suzanne Gilbert, Douglas Mack, Mardi Stewart, and Helen Sutherland, for their helpful comments during the preparation of this essay.

1.   Stephen Gill, ‘ “The Braes of Yarrow”: Poetic Context and Personal Memory in Wordsworth’s “Extempore Effusion Upon the Death of James Hogg” ’, Wordsworth Circle, 16:3 (Summer 1985), 120–25 (p. 121).

2.   William Ruddick, ‘Subdued Passion and Controlled Emotion: Wordsworth’s ‘ “Extempore Effusion upon the Death of James Hogg” ’, Charles Lamb Bulletin: William Ruddick Issue, n.s. 87 (July 1994), 98–110 (pp. 101–02).

3.   William Wordsworth: A Biography. The Later Years 1803–1850 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1965), pp. 518–19. See also, pp. 275–76.

4.   Wordsworth dictated notes about his poems to Isabella Fenwick in 1843 and these were integrated into Christopher Wordsworth’s posthumously published Memoirs of Wordsworth in 1850, and were first published in 1857 as ‘headnotes’ to individual poems in the posthumous collected edn of Wordsworth’s poetry. See The Fenwick Notes of William Wordsworth, ed. by Jared Curtis (London: Bristol Classic Press, 1993).

5.   Ruddick, ‘Subdued Passion and Controlled Emotion’, p. 101.

6.   Ibid., p. 102.

7.   Hogg’s letters to friends and literary advisers in 1813–14 reveal his deep insecurities about his verse drama. Initially, only six copies were printed during a consultation and advisory period, before publication by Henry Colburn (London) in Mar 1814, under the pseudonym ‘J. H. Craig of Douglas, Esq.’. For more information see, e.g., Hogg’s letter to William Roscoe on 22 Jan 1814, and his letter to Eliza Izett on 11 Feb 1814, in The Collected Letters of James Hogg, Volume I: 1800–1819, ed. by Gillian Hughes (Edinburgh: EUP, 2004).

8.   Wordsworth to R. P. Gillies, 23 Nov 1814, in The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Volume VIII: A Supplement of New Letters, ed. by Alan G. Hill (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), pp. 154–56 (pp. 155–56). In this letter, Wordsworth also discusses his contribution to Hogg’s proposed literary miscellany: ‘Pray say to Mr Hogg that the printing of my two volumes, of which both the Yarrows are a part, advances so [?rapidly] that there is no probability of its answering his purpose. If I write any thing else in time for his publication I shall [?send] it’ (p. 156). Wordsworth had given Hogg an early version of ‘Yarrow Visited’ but in the event the miscellany idea was abandoned through lack of support from other authors, such as Scott. For Hogg’s version of this episode see his ‘Memoirs of the Author’s Life’ in Altrive Tales: Collected among the Peasantry of Scotland and from Foreign Adventurers, by the Ettrick Shepherd, ed. by Gillian Hughes (Edinburgh: EUP, 2003), pp. 40–41 and 68. Hereafter, Altive Tales.

9.   Wordsworth to R. P. Gillies, 22 Dec 1814, in The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Volume III: The Middle Years, Part II: 1812–1820, ed. by Ernest de Selincourt, revised by Mary Moorman and Alan G. Hill (2nd edn, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1970), pp. 178–80 (pp. 179–80). Hereafter, Letters: MY.

10.   Wordsworth to R. P. Gillies, 14 Feb 1815, in Letters: MY, pp. 195–98 (pp. 196–97).Top of Page

11.   Acts of Union: Scotland and the Literary Negotiation of the British Nation, 1707–1830 (California: Stanford University Press, 1998), p. 136.

12.   The Shepherd’s Calendar, ed. by Douglas S. Mack, was the first volume of the ongoing, collaborative project between the Universities of Stirling and South Carolina, under the General Editorship of Mack and Gillian Hughes. When complete, the Stirling/South Carolina Research Edition [hereafter S/SC Research Edition] will comprise over thirty volumes of Hogg’s ‘prose, his poetry, and his plays’. The success of the S/SC Research Edition has generated numerous critical essays, and effected Karl Miller’s recent biographical study, Electric Shepherd. A Likeness of James Hogg (London: Faber and Faber, 2003), which positively presents Hogg and his work centrally within nineteenth-century British literary history. See also contributions to the James Hogg Society journal, Studies in Hogg and his World.

13.   William Wordsworth, Last Poems, 1821–50, ed. by Jared Curtis, associate eds Apryl Lea Denny-Ferris and Jillian Heydt-Stevenson (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1999). Hereafter, CW (1999).

14.   See especially, CW (1999), pp. 305–07 and 469–70. The overall series is under the General Editorship of Stephen Parrish. Stephen Gill points out that Moorman’s statement, ‘scarcely any poem of Wordsworth’s has received so few alterations and corrections’, is ‘misleading’ because ‘the first version was subjected to considerable local revision and expansion after it first appeared in the Newcastle Journal, December 5 1835’. However, Gill did not have the advantage of the Cornell Wordsworth bibliographic array, and had clearly not personally examined Wordsworth’s extant manuscript versions—see Gill, ‘ “Braes of Yarrow” ’, p. 124, n. 1.

15.   Wordsworth revised the stanza concerning Mrs Hemans prior to its inclusion in the expanded version of the poem in The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth. A New Edition, 6 vols (London: Edward Moxon, 1836–37), V, 335–336. However, the alterations do not revise the representation of Mrs Hemans: ‘holy spirit/ Was sweet as Spring as Ocean deep’ is revised to ‘holy Spirit,/ Sweet as the spring, as ocean deep’, in the published form. See CW (1999), p. liv and 306 n.

16.   For example, four of the essays included in Romantic Revisions, ed. by Robert Brinkley and Keith Hanley (Cambridge: CUP, 1992), are concerned with Wordsworth’s revisions of The Prelude: see Jonathan Wordsworth, ‘Revision as Making: The Prelude and its Peers’, pp. 18–42; Stephen Gill, ‘Wordsworth’s Poems: The Question of Text’, pp. 43–63; ‘Revising the Revolution: History and Imagination in The Prelude, 1799, 1805, 1850’, pp. 87–102; and Keith Hanley, ‘Crossings Out: The Problem of Textual Passage in The Prelude’, pp. 103–35.

17.   Kilvert’s Diary, ed. by William Plomer, 3 vols (London: Cape, 1938–40), I, 318, reprinted in The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Volume VI: The Later Years, Part 3: 1835–1839, ed. by Ernest de Selincourt, revised by Alan G. Hill (2nd edn, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), p. 127. Hereafter, Letters: LY.

18.   Poetical Works of Wordsworth (1836–37), V, 335–36.

19.   The information on Wordsworth’s revisions that follow in this paragraph are taken from CW (1999), Manuscript Census, pp. lxxxiii–iv; the critical apparatus of the Reading Text, Part I, pp. 306–07, and Part II: Notes and Non-Verbal Variants, pp. 469–70.

20.   This version (Houghton MS.2) was enclosed within a letter to Robert Percival Graves in mid-Dec 1835 (Letters: LY, p. 139). See CW (1999), pp. liv, 307 and 470, l. 44 n.Top of Page

21.   Helen Darbishire, Some Variants in Wordsworth’s Text in the Volumes of 1836–7 in the King’s Library (Oxford: The Roxburghe Club, 1949), p. 47. See also CW (1999), p. 307, l. 44 n.

22.   Darbishire, Some Variants, p. ix.

23.   A summary of the concluding words of the printed versions is as follows: Newcastle Journal, 5 Dec 1835, p. 3: ‘Shepherd dead!’; The Athenaeum, 424 (12 Dec 1835), 930–31: ‘Shepherd dead’; The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth (1836–37), V (1837), 335–36: ‘Poet dead’ [and all subsequent editions]; Yarrow Visited, and other Poems (1839): ‘Poet dead’.

24.   Jerome J. McGann, Social Values and Poetic Acts: The Historical Judgement of Literary Work (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988), p. 133.

25.   The ‘Reminiscences’ complete Hogg’s ‘Memoir of the Author’s Life’ in Altrive Tales, the first and only volume published from an unsuccessful attempt to publish his Collected Works. See Altive Tales, pp. 66–69 (p. 68).

26.   E.g., Peter T. Murphy, in his chapter on ‘James Hogg’, in Poetry as an Occupation and an Art in Britain, 1760–1830 (Cambridge: CUP, 1993), pp. 94–135 (p. 105), and most recently in the annotation to Altrive Tales, p. 254. See also, Lee Erickson, ‘The Egoism of Authorship: Wordsworth’s Poetic Career’, Journal of English and Germanic Philology, 89:1 (Jan 1990), 37–49.

27.   See Medwin’s Conversations of Lord Byron, ed. by Ernest J. Lovell (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), especially pp. 196–97 and 121. The Conversations were reviewed in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, 16 (Nov 1824), 530–40, in the same number that the ‘Noctes’ appeared.

28.   Shortly after the article appeared Blackwood wrote to Hogg on 4 December 1824:

You will laugh very heartily at your account of your interview with Byron at the Lakes, which you will find in the ‘Noctes’. I anxiously hope you are preparing the correspondence. You should give the letters as near as you can possibly recollect them. It will be all the better fun for you to state plainly the blunder Medwin has made in saying that you and Byron had met, and that when you were giving Medwin an account of the interview, North and you were only cramming him, etc.—Mrs Garden, Memorials of James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd (2nd edn, London: Alexander Gardner, 1887), pp. 195–96.

29.   The letter is not extant; however, this ‘fragment’ from one of six letters that Byron sent to Hogg was ‘quoted to Henry Crabb Robinson by a friend (Cargill) and recorded in his diary of Dec. 1, 1816’—see Byrons’s Letters and Journals, ed. by Leslie A. Marchand, 12 vols (London: John Murray, 1973–82), V, 13. Wordsworth responded to Byron’s slight by contributing to Mary Barker’s verse satire, Lines Addressed to a Noble Lord; (His Lordship will know why,) by One of the Small Fry of the Lakes (London, 1815). This led to an acrimonious split between Wordsworth and Wilson that lasted until 1826, as Wordsworth told Gillies in his letter of 14 Feb 1815 (quoted above): ‘Mr Wilson has probably reached Edin: by this time; for ourselves, we have not seen him for many months, except once when Mrs W. and I called at his House. To use a College phrase, he appears to have cut us’, Letters: MY, pp. 195–98 (p. 197). In a letter to his wife on 25 Aug 1825, Lockhart explains that Wilson ‘had not been in W.’s house for 6 years’, but on this occasion he ‘made up for lost time’—Familiar Letters of Walter Scott, ed. by David Douglas, 2 vols (Edinburgh: Douglas, 1893), II, 339–43 (p. 341). Hereafter, Familiar Letters.

30.   Medwin’s Conversations of Lord Byron, ed. by Ernest J. Lovell (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966), pp. 196–97.Top of Page

31.   ‘Culture’s Medium: The Role of the Review’, in The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism, ed. by Stuart Curran (Cambridge: CUP, 1993), pp. 120–47 (p. 144).

32.   Identified by Alan Lang Strout in, A Bibliography of Articles in Blackwood’s Magazine, 1817–1825 (Lubbock, TX: Texas Technical College, 1959), p. 585. Stephen Gill has noted the curiously inconsistent nature of Wilson’s treatment of Wordsworth in his critical articles and ‘Noctean’ conversations in Blackwood’s, and he notes Wilson’s ‘bizarre behaviour’ towards Wordsworth through his contributing one ‘highly laudatory article [followed by] another violent attack’ in Blackwood’s—see William Wordsworth. A Life (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 477, n. 65.

33.   I am grateful to Helen Sutherland for pointing out that (although unpublished during his life) Byron denounced ‘laker’ egotism in the opening stanzas of the ‘Dedication’ to Don Juan where he urges them to ‘recollect a poet nothing loses/ In giving to his brethren their full meed/ Of merit’ (st. 8).

34.   Hughes considers that ‘the reminiscence of Lockhart is to some extent a collaborative effort between himself and Hogg, and that he may have revised other sections of these reminiscences of eminent men in proof’ (Altrive Tales, p. 203).

35.   ‘Hogg and the Art of Brand Management’, Studies in Hogg and his World, 14 (2003), 1–15 (p. 9). MacLachlan perceptively notes that ‘outrage was only one strategy’ adopted by Hogg to control the use of his ‘name’ (p. 11).

36.   See, e.g., John MacKay Wilson’s article in the Literary Gazette, 788 (25 Feb 1832), 121–23. Lockhart’s revisionary article in the Quarterly Review is discussed in Miller’s Electric Shepherd, pp. 296–300.

37.   Gill, Wordsworth: A Life, p. 347.

38.   Lockhart’s letter is addressed from ‘Lowther, Thursday 25 August 1825’, Familiar Letters, II, 339–43 (p. 341).

39.   This stanza remained unaltered through each version of the text.

40.   Ed. by David Damrosch, Peter J. Manning, and Susan J. Wolfson (1999, 2nd edn, Harlow: Longman, 2003). The website can be accessed at The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Volume 2A: The Romantic Period, ed. by M. H. Abrams and Jack Stillinger (7th edn, New York and London: W. W. Norton, 2000) also includes ‘Extempore Effusion on the Death of James Hogg’ (pp. 299–300), and excludes texts by Hogg. Similarly, the online ‘Chronological Index’ and ‘Author Index’ omits Hogg: Jane Stabler’s generic study, Burke to Byron, Barbauld to Baillie, 1790–1830 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002), also cites Wordsworth’s ‘Fenwick Note’ to ‘Extempore Effusion’ but concentrates on Felicia Hemans, and omits Hogg—see pp. 214–16 and 233. Top of Page

41.   The Letters of William and Dorothy Wordsworth. Volume V: The Later Years, Part 2: 1829–1834, ed. by Ernest de Selincourt, revised by Alan G. Hill (2nd edn, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979), pp. 517–19 (pp. 517–18). Wordsworth may not have read the ‘Reminiscence’ in Altrive Tales. Hughes records ‘several newspapers published extracts’, as it was ‘already divided into convenient and self-contained sections’ (Altrive Tales, p. liv).

42.   The text is from William Wordsworth: Shorter Poems, 1807–1820, ed. by Carl H. Ketcham (CW [1989]), pp. 137–40.

43.   Wordsworth owned copies of the 1807 edition of The Mountain Bard and 1813 edn of The Queen’s Wake: see Wordsworth’s Library, a Catalogue, compiled by Chester L. Shaver and Alice C. Shaver (New York & London: Garland Publishing, 1979), p. 125. Wordsworth received his copy of The Queen’s Wake from Gillies in 1814. It is not known when he received The Mountain Bard.

44.   Interestingly, in his array to ‘Yarrow Visited’, Ketcham records that Dorothy Wordsworth revised ‘notes’ to ‘words’ (l. 6) in her ‘fair copy’ transcript of the poem sent to Catherine Clarkson on 11 Nov 1814—see CW (1989), p. 137.

45.   Gill, ‘ “Braes of Yarrow” ’, p. 121. Gill includes an interesting discussion of Anderson’s memoir of Logan, on pp. 122–23. See also Ronald Schleifer, ‘Wordsworth’s Yarrow and the Poetics of Repetition’, MLQ, 38 (1977), 348–66.

46.   James Hogg, The Queen’s Wake, ed. by Douglas S. Mack (Edinburgh: EUP, 2004), pp. 446–47. Hereafter, Queen’s Wake.

47.   Hogg published Wordsworthian parodies or verse satires in 1816, 1817, 1829, and 1830, and together with the ‘triumphal arch scene’ (of 1824 and 1832) they are frequently cited as evidence that Hogg had ‘revenge’ on Wordsworth’s insult: see Miller, Electric Shepherd, p. 119, and James Hogg: Poetic Mirrors, ed. by David Groves (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1990).

48.   See, e.g., Wordsworth’s letter of 17 Sep 1814 to Dr Anderson, ‘favoured’ by ‘Mr Hogg’, Letters: MY, p. 151. Yet, in the ‘Fenwick Notes’ to ‘Yarrow Visited’, Wordsworth barely mentions Hogg’s presence:

As mentioned in my verses on the death of the Ettrick Shepherd, my first visit to Yarrow was in his company. We had lodged the night before at Traquhair, where Hogg had joined us,—& also Dr. Anderson the Editor of the British Poets, who was on a visit at the Manse. Dr. A. walked with us till we came in view of the vale of Yarrow, & being advanced in life he then turned back.     (Fenwick Notes, pp. 27–28)

Wordsworth’s note continues for a further 219 words of biographical reminiscence of Dr Anderson and his edition of ‘the British Poets’.

49.   For example, Groves suggests Burns in James Hogg: Poetic Mirrors, p. 137, while Miller suggests Scott in his Electric Shepherd, p. 119. Recently, Samantha Webb has supported Groves in her essay, ‘In-appropriating the Literary: James Hogg’s Poetic Mirror Parodies of Scott and Wordsworth, Studies in Hogg and his World, 13 (2002), 16–35 (p. 30).

50.   Queen’s Wake, pp. 190 and 388. For an important discussion of the significance of the harps, see pp. xxv–xxxviii.Top of Page

51.   ‘ “Nouther right spelled nor right setten doun”: Scott, Child and the Hogg Family Ballads’, reprinted from The Ballad in Scottish History, ed. by Edward J. Cowan (East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2000), pp. 116–41 [p. 2 of 16] in The Glasgow Broadside Ballads website of The Murray Collection, University of Glasgow—see

52.   Ibid., p. 3.

53.   A useful starting point for further studies of bardic theory such as Hogg proposes is Wordsworth’s Bardic Vocation, 1787–1842 by Richard Gravil (Houndmills: Palgrave, 2003), while Kathryn Sutherland’s ‘The Native Poet: The Influence of Percy’s Minstrel from Beattie to Wordsworth’, informs further studies of Beattie’s influence on Hogg—see RES, n.s. 23:132 (1982), 414–33.

54.   Queen’s Wake, pp. xxxvii–xxxviii.

55.   Curtis discusses a recent study by Scott Simpkins, entitled, ‘Telling the Reader What to Do: Wordsworth and the Fenwick Notes’, in Reader: Essays in Reader-Oriented Theory, Criticism and Pedagogy, 26 (1991), pp. 39–64, where Curtis explains how Simpkins mistakes the function of the ‘Fenwick Notes’: ‘a significant part of Simpkins’ argument rests on his misunderstanding of both the immediate context of the creation of the notes and the history of their use’ (Fenwick Notes, p. xxi). In his biographical notes, Curtis, bizarrely, situates Hogg’s home at St Mary’s Lake in Yorkshire, p. 209.

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Copyright Information
This article is copyright © 2006 Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, and is the result of the independent labour of the scholar or scholars credited with authorship. The material contained in this document may be freely distributed, as long as the origin of information used has been properly credited in the appropriate manner (e.g. through bibliographic citation, etc.).

Referring to this Article
J. CURRIE. ‘Re-Visioning James Hogg: The Return of the Subject to Wordsworth’s “Extempore Effusion” ’, Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840, 15 (Winter 2005). Online: Internet (date accessed): <>.

Contributor Details
Janette Currie received her PhD from the University of Stirling, where she is now Research Fellow of the AHRC-funded ‘Songs of James Hogg Project’ for the Stirling/South Carolina Research Edition of The Collected Works of James Hogg. Forthcoming in 2006 is James Hogg, Contributions to Literary Annuals and Gift Books (S/SC Research Edition). A major interest, and the subject of a previous AHRB-funded research project, is Hogg’s trans-Atlanticism —see ‘ “A Man’s a Man for a’ That”: Burns, Hogg, and The Liberator’ and ‘From Altrive to Albany: James Hogg’s Transatlantic Publication’ on STAR (Scotland’s Transatlantic Relations) project at <>.

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