Hogg’s Anecdotes Introduced
It is with great delight that I am enabled to present to my reader in these pages, much and varied original information from the pen of the deceased poet’s intimate and long-tried friend, one who knew the inmost sentiments and feelings of Sir Walter’s heart for more than thirty years. I allude to Mr James Hogg, the celebrated Ettrick Shepherd. One delightful sketch from the same prolific and graphic pen has already appeared on this inexhaustible subject in his Altrive Tales, conceived and expressed in a style that made us regret the brevity of the notice. A continuation was, however, promised. ‘There are not above five people in the world’, observes the good old Shepherd, ‘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,1 I shall draw a mental portrait of him, the likeness of which to the original shall not be disputed.’2 If anything could add to my own feelings on this subject, it is the satisfaction that I am the favoured channel through which the warm-hearted poet has chosen to give his promised sentiments to the public eye.
It will be seen in these notices from Mr Hogg’s pen, which I shall make use of in the proper places, that he has, while he admits all the lights which belong to so glorious a picture as that which he has painted, he has [sic] not spared the darker tints which give effect to a composition of mere mortality, and thus, in his faithful narrative, the character of the subject of this memoir will be represented as it really was: ‘nothing is extenuated, or aught set down in malice’.3 It will be nothing new to the reader to know that Sir Walter shared with his fellow man, many of the faults inseparable from human nature, and that, amid all the vast intellectual capabilities which he
1. Macrone’s footnote: Little did ‘the mountain bard’ imagine when he penned the above pleasantry, that he would indeed survive his lamented friend, and draw so faithful a picture!
2. Hogg, James  (2003), Altrive Tales, ed. Gillian Hughes, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, p. 64.
3. ‘Nothing extenuate, / Nor set down aught in malice’ (Othello V, ii, 335–6).