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The call for submissions for the present special number of Romanticism on the Net posed a question:

What new texts (texts newly edited from manuscript, those recovered from the less-read literature of the period, or texts that have been substantially re-edited) will shape discussion of British literature 1780-1830 in the first decade of the next century?

This question brings to mind various texts by James Hogg, whose Collected Works are currently being published by the Edinburgh University Press. Hogg was for long regarded as a minor writer, and this view of him can still be encountered. Margaret Russett, however, has argued:

The minor is to be distinguished [...] not only from the major but also from the disenfranchised marginal writer, of whom, again, Romanticism presents many examples, ranging from peasant poets like John Clare and James Hogg to then-famous women writers like Felicia Hemans, Mary Robinson, and Ann Radcliff. [1]

Hogg can indeed be seen as a 'disenfranchised marginal writer', but the present essay will suggest that his extraordinarily powerful and interesting texts nevertheless have a part to play at the heart of current discussion of British literature of the Romantic era.

Hogg is significant partly because his texts seek to give voice to the insights, culture, and concerns of non-elite, subaltern Scotland. In attempting to let subaltern Scotland speak, Hogg's texts engage in sustained and creative debate with the novels and poems of Sir Walter Scott. A major new edition of Scott is currently being published, [2] and a major conference on 'Scott, Scotland, and Romanticism' was held at the University of Oregon in the summer of 1999. Papers given at that conference by James Chandler, Jerome McGann and others confirmed that Scott is currently re-emerging as one of the major figures of British and European Romanticism. Hogg also featured strongly at the Oregon conference, and interest in his creative debate with Scott is being encouraged by the publication of the new Hogg Collected Works. [3]

James Hogg and his Reputation

James Hogg (1770-1835), known as 'The Ettrick Shepherd', was widely regarded in his own lifetime as one of the major British literary figures of the generation of Scott, Coleridge, and Wordsworth. Hogg's substantial reputation among his contemporaries had first been established by his book-length poem The Queen's Wake (1813), but the nature of his fame was influenced by the fact that, as a young man, he had been a self-educated farm worker in Ettrick Forest, a remote sheep-farming district in the south of Scotland. Hogg's unusual background for a writer provides the context in which George Goldie, the publisher of The Queen's Wake, made the following remarks in the second edition of the poem (1813):

The Publisher having been favoured with letters from gentlemen in various parts of the United Kingdom respecting the Author of the Queen's Wake, and most of them expressing doubts of his being a Scotch Shepherd; he takes this opportunity of assuring the Public, that The Queen's Wake is really and truly the production of James Hogg, a common Shepherd, bred among the mountains of Ettrick Forest, who went to service when only seven years of age; and since that period has never received any education whatever.

The view of Hogg taken by his contemporaries is also reflected in the various early reviews of his novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, which appeared anonymously in 1824. Gillian Hughes has shown that many of the early reviews identify Hogg as the author, and see the Justified Sinner as being typical of Hogg's writings in that it presents 'an incongruous mixture of the strongest powers with the strongest absurdities'. [4] The 'Scotch Shepherd' was undoubtedly regarded by his contemporaries as a man of powerful and original talent, but it was felt that his lack of education caused his writings to be seriously marred by frequent failures in discretion, expression, and knowledge of the world. Worst of all was Hogg's lack of what was called 'delicacy', a failing which caused him to deal openly in his writings with subjects (such as prostitution) felt to be unsuitable for mention in polite literature. How could a novel mentioning such subjects be read aloud by modest young ladies in their family circles? The Ettrick Shepherd was widely regarded as a man of genius. Emphatically, however, his genius was felt to be damagingly flawed. Hogg was recognisable as a diamond, but he was felt to be a distinctly unpolished one.

In the late 1830s Blackie & Son of Glasgow published a posthumous collected edition of the rough diamond's writings. As was perhaps natural in all the circumstances, the Blackie firm took pains to smooth away what they took to be the rough edges of the texts of their talented but distressingly boorish author. The urge to remove the Scotch shepherd's numerous indelicacies was taken even further in the 1860s, when the Rev. Thomas Thomson prepared an anxiously and extensively bowdlerised new edition of Hogg's Collected Works for Blackie. Texts based on these Blackie editions were frequently reprinted in the nineteenth century. All the various posthumous nineteenth-century collected editions of Hogg present a bland and neutered version of his writings, and it was normally in these editions that he was read by the Victorians. It is therefore hardly surprising that by the beginning of the twentieth century he had come to be regarded as a minor figure of no great importance or interest.

A spectacular revival of interest in Hogg took place in the second half of the twentieth century, however. This revival was triggered by the republication by the Cresset Press in 1947 of the original unbowdlerised text of The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, with an enthusiastic and perceptive Introduction by André Gide. Thanks in large measure to Gide, the Justified Sinner has now become firmly established as one of the major English-language texts of the Romantic era.

The Stirling / South Carolina Research Edition of the Collected Works of James Hogg

A growing realisation that Hogg's achievement extends well beyond the Justified Sinner has been encouraged by the publication since 1995 of the first eight volumes of the Stirling / South Carolina Research Edition of the Collected Works of James Hogg (hereafter referred to as the S/SC Edition). This is the first new collected edition of Hogg to appear since Thomson's bowdlerised Victorian version. The S/SC Edition is being published by the Edinburgh University Press, and it is expected that it will be completed in thirty-one volumes by around 2012.

Reviewers have tended to regard the appearance of the S/SC Hogg as an event of some significance. For example, Karl Miller writes as follows in a long review in the TLS of the first three volumes of the S/SC Edition:

the later eighteenth century was a time when the country [Scotland] had taken to producing writers and thinkers of world consequence. One of these—though long disregarded as such, long unimaginable as such—was Hogg. [5]

Edwin Morgan, in another long review of the first three volumes, suggests that the significance of the S/SC Hogg Edition lies at least in part in its provision of 'proper and unbowdlerised texts':

It has taken a long time for Hogg to be recognised as one of the most notable Scottish writers, and it can fairly be said that the process of getting him into full and clear focus is still far from complete. That process is immeasurably helped by the provision of proper and unbowdlerised texts (in many cases for the first time), and in this the ongoing Collected Works will be a milestone. [...] There can be little doubt that in the prose and verse of these three volumes we have an author of unique interest, force, and originality. [6]

Other reviews confirm an emerging consensus that Hogg can now be seen as a major figure whose true stature was not fully recognised in his own lifetime because his social origins led to his being smothered in genteel condescension; and whose true stature was not fully recognised for more than a century after his death because of a lack of adequate editions. The S/SC Hogg Edition sets out to fill the gap represented by that lack.

The S/SC Hogg Edition: Published Volumes

Eight volumes of the S/SC Hogg Edition have now been published, and each of these volumes has its own claim to be regarded as a significant 'new' text of the kind being discussed in the present number of Romanticism on the Net. It may be useful to consider these volumes in turn.

The Three Perils of Woman, ed. David Groves, Antony Hasler, and Douglas S. Mack (1995)

First published in 1823, The Three Perils of Woman enters into debate with one of the most prominent texts of the Romantic era, Scott's Waverley (1814). On its titlepage The Three Perils of Woman describes itself as 'a series of domestic Scottish tales', a comfortingly tame and unthreatening subtitle. Nevertheless, this is a daringly experimental text in various ways. For example, The Three Perils of Woman is willing to deal with such 'delicate' matters as prostitution and venereal disease. It likewise goes out of its way to assert the significance and value of the kind of people often dismissed in Hogg's period as 'low' and marginal: in its narrative of the Jacobite rising of 1745-46 The Three Perils of Woman has as its central characters a maidservant and a village blacksmith, in pointed contrast with the cavalry officers and Highland chieftains prominent in Waverley's account of the events of 1745-46.

Hogg's text likewise questions Waverley's Enlightenment-influenced assumptions about progress. Scott's novel asserts that human history can be understood as a story of progress away from primitive barbarity and superstition towards civilisation, modernity, and rationality. This is a view of history that tends to marginalise people like the allegedly uncultivated, unenlightened, and superstitious peasants among whom Hogg grew up and whose culture he shared. It is therefore unsurprising that The Three Perils of Woman challenges Waverley's linear narrative about progress by offering a circular, cyclical narrative in which it is asserted that human life repeats the same old glories, follies, and iniquities from generation to generation. The Three Perils of Woman rejects a linear narrative of progress, in favour of a cyclical narrative of addition and repetition. In this text, from generation to generation, Winter will continue to follow Autumn, and Summer will continue to follow Spring.

The Three Perils of Woman overtly insists on its status as a cyclical rather than a linear narrative by dividing itself into 'Circles' rather than 'Chapters', and its multiple narrative structure further complicates assumptions about linear progress by placing its story about the 1740s after a story set in Hogg's own period, the early nineteenth century. Waverley's story about progress tends to marginalise the voices of people it regards as backward and uncultivated. By challenging Waverley's assumptions, Hogg's experimental and innovative narrative structures allow The Three Perils of Woman to engage fully and seriously with the lives and experiences of people who live outside the world of the social elite. To put it another way, Hogg's text sets out to allow the voice of subaltern Scotland to be heard.

The subject of much fascinated (but shocked and hostile) comment in the 1820s, The Three Perils of Woman was excised from the various Victorian collected editions of Hogg's works, and after its initial circulation in the 1820s this scandalous and deeply disturbing text remained out of print until its republication in 1995 in the S/SC Edition. This new edition was discussed by John Barrell in 1996 in the London Review of Books, in a long review of the S/SC Edition. Barrell writes:

The Ettrick Shepherd [...] was much more comfortable to be with than James Hogg, the author of obsessive, experimental fictions which either satirised or ignored the decencies of polite letters. To some degree even these could be bowdlerised and domesticated, as many of them were in the Victorian collections of Hogg's fiction published after his death, and passed off as written by 'the Ettrick Shepherd'. But one in particular, and for my money the best of them—The Three Perils of Woman—was immediately recognised as irredeemable by its first reviewers, and until last year had never been reprinted. [...] [The new] collected edition [...] will eventually run to some thirty volumes. The first three came out last year, and are magnificent: spaciously designed, scrupulously edited and thoughtfully introduced, with Antony Hasler's Introduction to The Three Perils of Woman especially illuminating. [7]

In reprinting The Three Perils of Woman, the S/SC Hogg Edition has brought back into circulation a major text of British Romanticism that has been virtually invisible since the 1820s.

The Shepherd's Calendar, ed. Douglas S. Mack (1995)

In the 1820s Hogg contributed a series of stories and sketches to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. The series, entitled 'The Shepherd's Calendar', presented itself as a nostalgic evocation, for the amusement of the gentlemanly readership of Blackwood's, of the traditional oral storytelling of Hogg's native Ettrick. Cumulatively, however, the stories of the 'Shepherd's Calendar' series pack an unexpected punch: they build up into an unobtrusive but sustained and sophisticated subversion of the values of the Scottish Tory elite, the values adopted and articulated by Blackwood's. For example, 'Tibby Hyslop's Dream' is a story that revolves around the sexual pursuit of a rather simple-minded eighteen-year-old milkmaid by her employer Gilbert Forret, a farmer eager to operate at the cutting edge of agricultural innovation and improvement. The readers of Blackwood's would tend to identify with the gentlemanly Forret rather than his milkmaid. In Hogg's story, however, Forret emerges as an exploiter. In attempting to rape Tibby, the milkmaid, he is sexually exploitative, and he also takes an exploitative approach to his land, damaging it by ignoring the necessary rotation of crops in pursuit of short-term financial profit. Forret's patterns of behaviour are consistently presented as being exploitative, and this allows Hogg's story to make a quiet, understated, but ultimately devastating point about the social structures of 1820s Scotland. Meanwhile the honesty and compassion of the simple-minded milkmaid gives her an unexpected dignity, in spite of her poverty and low social standing. 'Tibby Hyslop's Dream' is not a piece of angry polemical preaching. Rather, the story makes its points through deadpan teasing, as the Ettrick Shepherd slyly undermines the settled assumptions of his gentlemanly readers.

Hogg's Shepherd's Calendar stories are markedly uninhibited in their subject-matter, and when the series came to be republished in book form in 1829 the publisher William Blackwood ensured that Hogg's text was extensively bowdlerised. It was this bowdlerised text that formed the basis for subsequent nineteenth-century printings, and as a result the S/SC Hogg edition of 1995 was the first unbowdlerised printing of The Shepherd's Calendar since the original magazine publication in the 1820s. Reviewing the unbowdlerised 1995 edition in the Review of English Studies, Fiona Stafford writes:

The reader is not being treated to a quaint display of an outmoded lifestyle, but privileged with glimpses of a community possessed of special knowledge and internal laws. Hogg's shepherds are far removed from those of Virgil or Spenser, while even Wordsworth's Michael seems remote from the narrator who can describe the destruction of '12 scores of excellent ewes' with such calmness and compassion: 'when the snow went away they were discovered all lying dead with their heads one way as if a flock of sheep had dropped dead going from the washing'. [...] As he introduces the tale of George Dobson, the narrator explicitly upholds the power of narrative over rational analysis. While the philosopher 'does not know what mind is; even his own mind, to which one would think he has the most direct access', the storyteller not only apprehends truths, but can communicate them to others. And thus we are told that 'it is on this ground that I like to contemplate, not the theory of dreams, but dreams themselves'. If Hogg was patronized in his lifetime, it was perhaps not after all because he knew too little, but for fear that he knew too much. [8]

A Queer Book, ed. P.D. Garside (1995)

A Queer Book (1832) is a collection of Hogg's 'Romantic Ballads and Pastorals' (to quote his own description). [9] Most of these poems had already been published in magazines and annuals, but Hogg valued them highly and was anxious to bring them together in book form. In his new edition Peter Garside demonstrates that A Queer Book accurately reflected Hogg's wishes with regard to the selection of poems to be included, but Garside also demonstrates that the texts that appear in the 1832 book seriously diminish Hogg's 'Romantic Ballads and Pastorals' through extensive bowdlerization. Garside's new edition is a tour de force of editorial detective work involving the examination of manuscripts widely scattered in Scotland, New Zealand, and the USA. The result is a volume in which the unbowdlerised texts of Hogg's Queer Book poems are made readily available for the first time. Clearly, Hogg's 'Romantic Ballads and Pastorals' share some of the concerns of his contemporaries Coleridge and Wordsworth, joint authors of Lyrical Ballads; but A Queer Book offers its own distinctive and extravagant mixture of the mystical, the tender, the surreal, and the absurd. Garside's edition provides full and eloquent support for Thomas Crawford's apt suggestion that Hogg is, as it were, Blake with a sense humour: 'one is tempted to call him a Blake with comic vision that did not exclude a mystical and, on occasion, a tragic dimension'. [10]

Tales of the Wars of Montrose, ed. Gillian Hughes (1996)

This late collection of short stories deals with the Scottish civil war of 1644—45, in which the Marquis of Montrose led his royalist forces in a series of stunning victories against the odds before his final defeat at Philiphaugh. Each of Hogg's five tales centres on one of the five major battles of Montrose's brilliant but ultimately futile campaign. Each tale is utterly different from the others in genre and tone, but taken together they build up a composite picture of what it was like to experience the 'anarchy and confusion' of the time at first hand. In a review of Gillian Hughes's edition Fiona Stafford writes:

Tales of the Wars of Montrose, too, though held together by internal connections and the common historical context, displays a similar delight in literary form, beginning with the conscious imitation of Defoe, 'Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of an Edinburgh Baillie Written by himself'. The dates and details of the opening narrative (admirably glossed by Gillian Hughes) enable Hogg to follow Defoe in exploring the relationship between literature and history, truth and fiction, while also creating a foundation for the subsequent tales of romantic intrigue, Ossianic tragedy, adventure and vendetta all over Scotland. It is hard to imagine a tale less like the Edinburgh Baillie's memoirs than that of 'Sir Simon Brodie', whose quixotic adventures include being thrown overboard in the Firth of Forth by the Duke of Argyll and rescued from his predicament by an amorous seal. [11]

In building up a composite picture of a period, Tales of the Wars of Montrose (1835) offers an alternative to the pattern of historical fiction to be found in Scott's Waverley Novels. In this collection Hogg pushes on still further with the experiments in multiple narrative that characterise The Three Perils of Woman (1823) and The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824). However, the importance of Tales of the Wars of Montrose was long obscured by the fact that the publisher of the first edition seriously mangled Hogg's text, not least by including an unrelated sixth tale in order to bulk out the collection to the commercially-expected norm of three volumes. In her new edition Gillian Hughes restores Hogg's coherent five-tale collection: in due course the additional sixth tale will appear elsewhere in the S/SC Edition. By returning to Hogg's manuscripts in preparing her edition of Tales of the Wars of Montrose, Gillian Hughes has made possible the first appearance in print of an unbowdlerised text of this lively and innovative collection.

Lay Sermons, ed. Gillian Hughes (1997)

This new edition by Gillian Hughes represents the first reprinting in any form of Hogg's Lay Sermons since the original edition of 1834. From the early 1820s Hogg had become used to being haunted by his alter ego, the 'Ettrick Shepherd' of the Noctes Ambrosianae of Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. By the 1830s this caricature of Hogg had become an extremely popular and famous figure throughout the English-speaking world. The Noctean Shepherd represented Hogg as a boozing buffoon with a strain of native genius; as an absurd, opinionated clown who, nevertheless, could sometimes get to the heart of the matter with the inspired intuitive simplicity of a child.

Understandably, Hogg did not wholly warm to this caricature, and Lay Sermons can be regarded as his attempt to regain control of his unruly alter ego. As a result Lay Sermons is presented as being written by an 'Ettrick Shepherd' who retains some of the characteristics of the Blackwood's version: vanity, for example, and intuitive wisdom. However, Hogg's gently self-mocking self-portrait in Lay Sermons offers a less absurd and more serene version of the Ettrick Shepherd than is to be found in Blackwood's: the boozing buffoon becomes the Sage of Ettrick.

Lay Sermons offers, playfully, a series of lay sermons on good principles and good breeding: the very last thing one would expect from the pen of the famous Ettrick Shepherd of Blackwood's. But an important part of the joke is that the Shepherd, most unexpectedly, provides lay sermons that combine into a series of wise meditations on life and on literature. Gillian Hughes's new edition restores a significant Romantic-era text to circulation for the first time since its original publication.

Queen Hynde, ed. Suzanne Gilbert and Douglas S. Mack (1998)

In recent years there has been a strong revival of interest in James Macpherson's Ossian poems, and this development has been complemented by two ground-breaking books, Robert Crawford's Devolving English Literature (Clarendon Press, 1992) and Katie Trumpener's Bardic Nationalism (Princeton University Press, 1997). Trumpener argues that 'English Literature, so-called, constitutes itself in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries through the systematic imitation, appropriation, and political neutralization of antiquarian and nationalist literary developments in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales'. She continues:

Responding in particular to Enlightenment dismissals of Gaelic oral traditions, Irish and Scottish antiquaries reconceive national history and literary history under the sign of the bard. According to their theories, bardic performance binds the nation together across time and across social divides; it reanimates a national landscape made desolate first by conquest and then by modernization, infusing it with historical memory. A figure both of the traditional aristocratic culture that preceded English occupation and of continued national resistance to that occupation, the bard symbolizes the central role of literature in defining national identity. [12]

Queen Hynde is Hogg's major contribution to the project of these 'Irish and Scottish antiquaries', and he gives his contribution his own particular spin. This poem is Hogg's bardic epic, but as Suzanne Gilbert argues in the Introduction of the S/SC Edition, it is 'still decidedly a Romantic poem', connecting creatively with the poetry of Byron, Wordsworth, and Scott. Fruitfully combining Epic and Romance, Queen Hynde gives an account of Scottish national origins that offers itself as an anarchic and exuberant alternative to the Ossian poems of James Macpherson. Queen Hynde presents itself as a bardic performance by the Ettrick Shepherd which radically modifies the melancholy solemnities of Ossian. Capable of being utterly hilarious, especially when Wicked Wene is on-stage, Queen Hynde is Ossian with jokes. In and through its hilarity, however, Hogg's poem has serious purposes in mind. St Columba, a key figure in the conversion of Scotland to Christianity, is one of the central characters in Hogg's recasting of the Ossianic material, and Queen Hynde valorises Columba's values of love and forgiveness, as they overcome the values of a pagan world of aristocratic heroic violence. Hogg's poem also celebrates the emergence of a disregarded boorish peasant who is transformed into Columba's kingly ally in freeing Scotland from the Viking yoke. Queen Hynde thus contrives to present a foundation myth that makes connections between Scotland's earliest days and the anti-aristocratic struggle for religious freedom carried on by the Covenanters of seventeenth-century Scotland.

Queen Hynde, as originally written by Hogg, is a vividly indecorous poem. It was heavily bowdlerised while being prepared for its first publication, but the S/SC Edition restores the unbowdlerised text by returning to the version of the poem to be found in Hogg's manuscript, that is to say the version of the poem that Hogg carefully prepared for publication. In reviewing the new edition of Hogg's epic Ian Duncan writes:

The present edition of Queen Hynde offers a poem that even those readers who know their Hogg will never have seen before. This reviewer, ignorant of any other version, enjoyed the wild ride: the poem sweeps along with an apparently effortless, not to say reckless, clarity and gusto. The editors' self-effacing skill and care contribute not a little to the appearance of effortlessness. [13]

The new edition reveals a poem of unexpected energy and force, a poem that has the potential to become a major focus for the continuing debate generated by recent work on Ossian and by Trumpener's Bardic Nationalism.

Anecdotes of Scott, ed. Jill Rubenstein (1999)

After Scott's death in 1832 Hogg wrote an affectionate but frank account of his friendship with the Author of Waverley, a friendship that had lasted since their first meeting thirty years earlier. This account, Anecdotes of Sir W. Scott, was designed to be incorporated into a projected life of Scott being prepared by Hogg's friend and London publisher John M'Crone, but Hogg arranged for his manuscript to be sent by M'Crone for approval in advance of publication to John Gibson Lockhart, Scott's son-in-law and official biographer. To Hogg's surprise, when Lockhart read the manuscript he declared himself to be filled with 'utter disgust and loathing' at the 'beastly and abominable things' he found it to contain. As a result, Hogg withdrew his manuscript from publication, but he later arranged for the publication in the USA of an extensively revised account of his friendship with Scott, under the title Familiar Anecdotes of Sir Walter Scott. Hogg's manuscripts survive for both versions of his anecdotes of Scott, and Professor Rubenstein has returned to these manuscripts to provide the basis of her new edition of Hogg's two accounts of his long friendship with Scott, a friendship between two of the major figures of British writing of the Romantic era. In her extensive editorial apparatus Professor Rubenstein provides a wealth of information about these lively, readable, idiosyncratic, and disconcerting texts.

The Spy, ed. Gillian Hughes (May 2000)

Like The Three Perils of Woman, this is a major Hogg text that slipped almost completely from view after its first publication. The Spy was Hogg's attempt to establish his own weekly literary periodical, a project he undertook when, unable to find employment as a shepherd in his native Ettrick, he arrived in Edinburgh in 1810. At this point in his chequered career Hogg was 40 years old, penniless, but determined to establish himself in the Scottish capital as a professional writer.

Much of The Spy was written by Hogg himself, but there are various contributions by others. Hogg's periodical was modelled on eighteenth-century essay-periodicals like The Spectator, The Rambler, and The Lounger, but The Spy gave this genre a new twist by including fiction and poetry as well as essays. Interestingly, Hogg's periodical adopts the perspective of an outsider, a 'Spy' who describes and criticises Edinburgh from within the Edinburgh social world, but who really belongs elsewhere. Produced on a shoestring budget, The Spy at first was sold very successfully around the doors of Edinburgh, but it soon began to lose readers because of Hogg's perceived 'indelicacy'. Nevertheless Hogg's periodical contrived to survive for a year. Only a handful of sets of the original numbers of The Spy have survived, and after its original circulation in 1810 and 1811 there was no reprint of any kind until the appearance of the S/SC Hogg Edition in May 2000.

The Spy shows Hogg moving easily in Whig and even Radical circles, and this interestingly complicates the traditional perception of him as one of the Tory group of writers associated with Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, founded in 1817. Indeed, The Spy opens up various new perspectives on the Edinburgh of 1810 and 1811. The leading figures of literary Edinburgh at this time were people like Francis Jeffrey and Walter Scott, and the world of this literary elite is well known. Hogg's essay-periodical complements this familiar picture by providing detailed and revealing insights into a less familiar world, the lively social and literary culture of non-elite Edinburgh at a time when the Scottish capital was confidently maintaining its place as one of the major European centres of cultural production.

The S/SC Hogg Edition: Beyond 2000

Various other interesting but little-known Hogg texts will be restored to general circulation by forthcoming volumes of the S/SC Edition. It is hoped that the following volumes will appear in 2001:

The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, ed. P.D. Garside (April 2001)

This now-famous book was given a hostile reception when first published in 1824, and it was not reprinted until the late 1830s, when a heavily bowdlerised version was included in the posthumous Blackie edition of Hogg's collected Tales and Sketches. Thereafter the Justified Sinner attracted little interest until the 1890s, when a new edition of the unbowdlerised first-edition text appeared. However, this novel's current high reputation did not fully begin to establish itself until the appearance in 1947 of André Gide's Introduction, discussed above.

Peter Garside's eagerly-awaited S/SC edition of Hogg's most famous book will contain much new information. Its annotation will add very substantially to the contributions of previous editors, for example by showing various layers of hitherto undetected references. Through an impressive piece of scholarly detective-work, Garside has also uncovered the remarkable story of the first printing of the Justified Sinner. This involved a battle of wits between Hogg and his London publishers, Longman, who regarded this particular author as something of a loose cannon. The nervous publishers gave instructions for Hogg's novel to be printed in Edinburgh by James Ballantyne, secure in the knowledge that Ballantyne's staff always took pains to remove 'indelicacies' from the texts they printed. From Hogg's point of view, the involvement of Ballantyne raised the possibility not only of bowdlerisation, but also of interference by Ballantyne's business partner Walter Scott, whose fiction (as Peter Garside and others have shown) is questioned and subverted in the Justified Sinner. Indeed, interference of this kind had already happened in 1822 when Scott, having read proofs of The Three Perils of Man, proceeded to pressurise Hogg into making changes in that novel. Faced with the real danger that his novel would be seriously damaged while passing through Ballantyne's hands, Hogg contrived to get the Justified Sinner printed by James Clarke rather than James Ballantyne, in spite of his publisher's express instructions to the contrary. As a result, Hogg was able in this instance to retain control of his text, and to ensure that his subversive and challenging novel made its first appearance in a form he found satisfactory.

Mador of the Moor, ed. James Barcus (Spring 2001)

Hogg's Mador of the Moor (1816) can be read as a text consciously engaged in debate with Walter Scott's hugely popular book-length narrative poem The Lady of the Lake (1810). In The Lady of the Lake Scott constructs a view of the Scottish Highlands that responds to the rival Highland narratives produced in the eighteenth century by Dr Johnson's A Journey to the Western Islands and James Macpherson's Ossian poems. The sixteenth-century clansmen of Scott's poem combine some of the qualities of Johnson's savage and backward Highlanders with something of the nobility of the ancient Highland warriors and bards of Ossian. In The Lady of the Lake as in Waverley Scott suggests that traditional Highland society contains savage and primitive elements that must be left behind as modern civilisation advances, but that it also contains features that could serve Britain well, once the Highlanders are re-educated for the modern world and their loyalty is harnessed to the Imperial cause.

In Mador of the Moor Hogg produced a book-length poem in which The Lady of the Lake is 'made o'er' or madeover. In Hogg's re-telling of Scott's story the aristocratic Lady of the Lake becomes Ila Moore, an enterprising and self-reliant young Highland woman of low social standing who (unusually for an early-nineteenth-century heroine) remains admirable in spite of becoming pregnant out of wedlock. In Mador's introductory stanzas the reader is warned that Hogg, who here as elsewhere presents himself as 'Nature's Bard', will not be offering an idealised picture of human behaviour:

But ween not thou that Nature's simple Bard

 Can e'er unblemish'd character define;

True to his faithful monitor's award,

 He paints her glories only as they shine.

 Of men all pure, and maidens all divine,

Expect not thou his wild-wood lay to be;

 But those whose virtues and defects combine,

Such as in erring man we daily see—

The child of failings born, and scathed humanity.

Like The Lady of the Lake, Hogg's poem is willing to find value in Highland Scotland. Unexpectedly, however, Mador of the Moor locates that value, not in the valiant loyalty of Highland warriors, but in a feisty and self-reliant peasant girl who, as the old phrase has it, is no better than she should be. In providing this critique of The Lady of the Lake Hogg's poem makes its own telling contribution to the continuing debate about Highlanders, bards, and Ossian, and it also makes its own telling contribution to Romanticism's tendency to valorise the lives and insights of the rural poor.

Winter Evening Tales, ed. Ian Duncan (Autumn 2001)

This collection of prose and verse pieces, so far little discussed even by Hogg specialists, will emerge from Ian Duncan's new edition as a major text. In Winter Evening Tales Hogg sought to re-create on paper the manner and the matter of the traditional oral story-telling of the people of Ettrick during the long dark evenings of a Scottish winter, when farm work was impossible. Hogg's collection is thus in some sense an attempt to convey the substance of an oral culture through the medium of published writing. Penny Fielding's important book Writing and Orality (Clarendon Press, 1996) has demonstrated that the relationship of oral culture to the written forms of language is a matter of central importance for the understanding of many nineteenth-century literary texts, and when Ian Duncan's edition appears it will become evident that Winter Evening Tales is highly relevant for any attempt to theorise the presence of the oral in the written. Because of the concern with orality in Winter Evening Tales, the new edition will also have an important contribution to make to the continuing lively debate centring around Macpherson's Ossian and Katie Trumpener's Bardic Nationalism.

Winter Evening Tales was published in Edinburgh by Oliver & Boyd rather than Hogg's usual Edinburgh publisher William Blackwood, and this change of publisher encouraged Hogg to address a popular rather than a gentlemanly audience. Here as elsewhere Hogg seeks to allow marginalised, lower-class, rural Scotland to find its voice; but in Winter Evening Tales he does so in a particularly direct and forceful way. As a result this collection provides a potent example of Hogg's achievement in finding his own distinctive way of emulating his great predecessor Robert Burns. Ian Duncan's edition of Winter Evening Tales will be one of the landmark volumes of the Hogg Edition.

Other volumes forthcoming after 2001 may be listed more briefly:

  • Altrive Tales, ed. Gillian Hughes—A late volume, including the final version of Hogg's autobiography as well as interesting prose tales.

  • The Brownie of Bodsbeck and Other Tales, ed. Valentina Bold—This collection consists of three stories which tell of Ettrick life in different historical periods, and which combine into a picture of the development of a community over the centuries. The Brownie of Bodsbeck itself is Hogg's novel of Ettrick life at the time of the Covenanters.

  • Contributions to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, ed. Thomas C. Richardson—From its foundation in 1817, Blackwood's played a particularly important in Hogg's life, and a good deal of his best writing appeared in its pages. Thomas Richardson's edition is expected to run to two volumes.

  • Contributions to Fraser's Magazine, ed. Patrick Scott—In the 1830s the London-based periodical Fraser's Magazine for Town and Country provided a major outlet for Hogg's later writings, and this volume will contain some particularly interesting and important texts.

  • Contributions to the Annuals, ed. Janette Currie and Gillian Hughes—Hogg was a regular contributor to the literary annuals that flourished in the 1820s and 1830s. Research for this volume of the S/SC Hogg Edition is well advanced, and has brought to light new material of real significance and interest.

  • Dramatic Tales and Other Plays—Hogg had a strong interest in the theatre, and frequently wrote in The Spy about Edinburgh theatrical performances. Although they were not performed in his own lifetime, Hogg's dramas remain surprisingly fresh. Indeed, The Bush Aboon Traquair, a pastoral play in the tradition of Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd, will emerge as a work of great interest from an editorial process involving Hogg's manuscripts.

  • Early Poems, ed. Suzanne Gilbert—Some of Hogg's early poems (c.1794-c.1807) show him responding to and continuing the eighteenth-century Scottish vernacular tradition of Ramsay, Fergusson, and Burns, while others show him responding to and questioning the contemporary interest in traditional oral ballads manifested in Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border and the Lyrical Ballads of Wordsworth and Coleridge.

  • Highland Journeys, ed. Hans de Groot—This volume will contain Hogg's journals of the tours he made through the Scottish Highlands as a young man, on foot and on horseback.

  • Jacobite Relics, ed. Murray Pittock—Hogg's two-volume collection was a labour of love, and provides what has come to be accepted as the definitive canon of traditional Jacobite song.

  • Memoir of Burns, ed. G. Ross Roy—Hogg's little-known but extremely interesting book-length biography of Burns.

  • Midsummer Night Dreams, ed. Jill Rubenstein—This collection of texts on 'wild and visionary subjects' includes Hogg's most ambitious poem, Pilgrims of the Sun.

  • The Mountain Bard (1821)—The first version of The Mountain Bard appeared in 1807, and will form part the the S/Sc volume entitled Early Poems. The extensively revised and enlarged Mountain Bard of 1821 will appear as a separate volume.

  • The Poetic Mirror, ed. Antony Hasler—This volume of poetic parodies is widely regarded as one of the best of its kind in the English language, Hogg's parodies of Wordsworth being especially hilarious and famous.

  • The Queen's Wake, ed. Douglas S. Mack—This book-length poem explores the Scotland of Mary Queen of Scots, and the nature of the Scottish poetic tradition.

  • The Shepherd's Guide, ed. Hans de Groot—This text, dating from 1807, is in effect a practical guide to sheep-farming, written by a professional shepherd. It has its own kind of interest, not least because it includes an essay containing Hogg's intelligent and perceptive discussion of the forces that produced the Highland Clearances.

  • Songs— Hogg, like Burns, was a prolific song-writer, and many of his songs are still frequently performed. The volume or volumes devoted to Hogg's songs will be among the highlights of the S/SC Edition.

  • The Three Perils of Man, ed. Graham Tulloch—This major novel explores different possible ways of understanding the medieval period; explores the competing claims of written and oral story-telling; and questions, praises, and subverts Scott's Ivanhoe.

  • Uncollected Pieces —This catch-all volume will contain all the pieces that have not found a place elsewhere.

In parallel to the S/SC Edition, but as a separate project, an edition of Hogg's Collected Letters is being prepared under the direction of Dr Gillian Hughes.

Hogg's Significance for the Early Twenty-First Century

The S/SC Hogg Edition began publication in 1995, and this proved to be an appropriate time to begin the recovery of the full range of Hogg's texts. Looking back on the early volumes of the Hogg Edition and on developments in literary studies since the 1980s, Penny Fielding wrote in 1998 that 'the world of literary studies has expanded in directions very relevant to our understanding of Hogg'. She continues:

The rediscovered or re-evaluated Hogg texts emerge to a changed and changing academic world. Not only has the Hogg available to us increased significantly, but also his world, the greater environment of the Romantic period, has undergone many changes in the way it is constructed within literary studies. Hogg is interestingly placed at the connective points of a number of important developments in the study of Romanticism. Even at the start of the current decade, an academic consensus about Romanticism was marked by vestiges of a long-standing tradition which sought to establish the Romantic at the expense of that designated the non-Romantic. In the latter category were prose fiction, popular fiction, working- or labouring-class authors (though these were acceptable as the subject of literature), women, Scottish writers—a list which hardly advanced the cause of James Hogg, whose fate was further sealed by his fitting so many categories, yet none of them corresponding to what was then seen as 'mainstream' Romanticism. These categories were not, generally speaking, openly articulated, but their alterity emerged in their silent exclusion from the greatest Romantic topos of all: the transcendental imagination. Now, however, the great incremental autobiography of subjectivity, the psychological totality of the sublime, and the exploration of the unifying symbol of Wordsworth and Coleridge have been both deconstructed and woven back into their more fragmented historical and material contexts. The 1980s witnessed the reformulation of Romanticism by New Historicism. Relevant though these approaches were to Hogg, they tended to pass him by, prolonging the reign of Wordsworth as Romantic writer par excellence in such highly important books as James Chandler's Wordsworth's Second Nature (1984), Marjorie Levinson's Wordsworth's Great Poems (1987), and Alan Liu's The Sense of History (1989). [14]

Fielding recognises that 'despite his re-entry into published form, Hogg is unlikely ever to occupy such a position as the mighty Wordsworth—a fact which need not worry his admirers' (p. 85). Nevertheless Fielding goes on to assert that the

relaxation of canonical evaluation has been a very rich field for the rediscovery of one of the most complex figures in the Romantic period's construction of the idea of writing itself. Hogg, interestingly placed both at the centre and on the margins of [Edinburgh,] the most fertile and self-dramatising centre of publishing in early nineteenth-century Europe, offers a unique starting-point for any analysis of the fluid interchange between literary and historical versions of British culture in this period.

p. 85

In this discussion Fielding clearly indicates why what she calls the 'rediscovered or re-evaluated Hogg texts' made available by the S/SC Hogg Edition have a crucial contribution to make to the discussion, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, of Romantic-era British literature. Fielding's case may be summed up in another way by asserting that, although not discussed at any length by Robert Crawford and Katie Trumpener, Hogg's texts are nevertheless highly relevant to the issues raised by those seminal and justly well-received books, Devolving English Literature and Bardic Nationalism.