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cies as these in one's noddle;-but, on the subject of the Chaldee manuscript, let me now speak the truth. You your self, Kit, were learned respecting that article; and myself, Blackwood, and a reverend gentleman of this city, alone know the perpetrator. The unfortunate man is now dead, but delicacy to his friends makes me withhold his name from the public. It was the same person who murdered Begbie! Like Mr Bowles and Ali Pacha, he was a mild man, of unassuming manners, a scholar and a gentleman. It is quite a vulgar error to suppose him a ruffian. He was sensibility itself, and would not hurt a fly. But it was a disease with him " to excite public emotion." Though he had an amiable wife, and a vast family, he never was happy, unless he saw the world gaping like a stuck pig. With respect to his murdering Begbie, as it is called, he knew the poor man well, and had frequently given him both small sums of money, and articles of wearing apparel. But all at once it entered his
brain, that, by putting him to death in a sharp, and clever, and mysterious manner, and seeming also to rob him of an immense number of bank notes, the city of Edinburgh would be thrown into a ferment of consternation, and there would be no end of the "public emotion," to use his own constant phrase on occasions of this nature. The scheme succeeded to a miracle. He stabbed Begbie to the heart, robbed the dead body in a moment, and escaped. But he never used a single stiver of the money, and was always kind to the widow of the poor man, who was rather a gainer by her husband's death. I have reason to believe that he ultimately regretted the act; but there can be no doubt that his enjoyment was great for many years, hearing the murder canvassed in his own presence, and the many absurd theories broached on the subject, which he could have overthrown by a single
wrote the Chaldee Manuscript precisely on the same principle on which he murdered Begbie; and he used frequently to be tickled at hearing the author termed an assassin. "Very true, very true," he used to say on such occasions, shrugging his shoulders with delight, "he is an assassin, sir; he murdered Begbie:"-and this sober truth would pass, at the time,
for a mere jeu-d'esprit,-for my friend was a humourist, and was in the habit of saying good things. The Chaldee was the last work, of the kind of which I have been speaking, that he lived to finish. He confessed it and the murder, the day before he died, to the gentleman specified, and was sufficiently penitent; yet, with that inconsistency not unusual with dying men, almost his last words were, (indistinctly mumbled to himself,)" It ought not to have been left out of the other editions."
After this plain statement, Hogg must look extremely foolish. We shall next have him claiming the murder likewise, I suppose; but he is totally incapable of either.
Now for another confounded boun
"From the time I gave up The Spy,' I had been planning with my friends to commence the publication of a Magazine on a new plan; but for several years, we only conversed about the utility of such a work, without doing any thing farther. mention it to Mr Thomas Pringle; when At length, among others. I chanced to I found that he and his friends had a plan in contemplation of the same kind. We agreed to join our efforts, and try to set it a-going; but, as I declined the editorship on account of residing mostly on my farm at a distance from town, it became a puzling question who was the best qualified among our friends for that undertaking. We at length fixed on Mr Gray as the fittest person for a principal department, Blackwood, who, to my astonishment, I and I went and mentioned the plan to Mr found, had likewise long been cherishing a plan of the same kind. He said he knew nothing about Pringle, and always had his eye on me as a principal assistant; but he would not begin the undertaking, until he saw he could do it with effect. Finding him, however, disposed to encourage such a work, Pringle, at my suggestion, made out a plan in writing, with a list of his supporters, and sent it in a letter to me. I enclosed it in another, and sent it to Mr Pringle and he came to an arrangement Blackwood; and not long after that period, about commencing the work, while I was in the country. Thus I had the honour of being the beginner, and almost sole instigator of that celebrated work, BLACKwooD's MAGAZINE.”
Hogg here says, he declined the editorship of Blackwood's Magazine. This happened the same year that he declined the offer of the governor-generalship of India, and a seat in the cabinet. These refusals on his part
prevented his being requested to become leader in the House of Commons, to overawe Brougham and Macintosh. In short, Blackwood tells me, that all this story is a mere muddled misrepresentation. Ebony is no blockhead; and who but a supreme blockhead would make Hogg an editor!
This long letter will cost you double postage, my dear friend.-Look at page 66.
“That same year, I published the BROWNIE OF BODSBECK, and other
Tales, in two volumes. I got injustice in the eyes of the world, with regard to that tale, which was looked on as an imitation of the tale of Old Mortality, and a counterpart to that; whereas it was written long ere the tale of Old Mortality was heard of, and I well remember my chagrin on find ing the ground that I thought clear preoccupied, before I would appear publicly en it, and that by such a redoubted champion. It was wholly owing to Mr Blackwood, that the tale was not published a year sooner, which would effectually have freed me from the stigma of being an imitator, and brought in the author of the Tales of My Landlord as an imitator of me. That was the only ill turn that ever Mr Blackwood did me; and it ought to be a warning to authors never to intrust book sellers with their manuscripts."
"I was unlucky in the publication of my first novel, and what impeded me still farther, was the publication of Old Mortality; for, having made the redoubted Burly the hero of my tale, I was obliged to go over it again, and alter all the traits in the character of the principal personage, substituting John Brown of Caldwell for John Balfour of Burly, greatly to the detriment of my story. I tried also to take out Clavers, but I found this impossible. A better instance could not be given, of the good luck attached to one person, and the bad luck which attended the efforts of another."
The Brownie of Bodsbeck shall, God willing, never be read by me; but I have been forced to see bits of it in corners of the periodical works, and they are, indeed, cruelly ill-written. There are various other instances of "good and ill luck," as Mr Hogg calls it, in literary history, besides this one of Old Mortality and the Brownie. Milton, for example, has been somehow or other a much luckier writer than Sir Richard Blackmore. Homer made two choice hits in the Iliad and Odyssey, that have raised his name above that of Professor Wilkie, the unlucky author of the Epigoniad.
Adam Smith has perhaps been more fortunate on the whole than the Scotsman; and while you yourself, Christopher, have, by the merest accident in the world, become the best of all imaginable editors, only think what must be the feelings of Taylor and Hessey, as they look on that luckless ass with the lion's head! It is the same in the fine arts. What a lucky dog was Raphael in his Transfiguraaccident that befel Mr Geddes in handtion; and who does not weep for the ling the Scottish regalia? In philosophy, by some casualty never to be satisfactorily explained, the fame of Lord Bacon has eclipsed that of the latest of his commentators. We indeed live in a strange world; but these things will be all rectified at last in a higher state of existence. There, Blackmore very possibly may get Milton to clean his shoes; Virgil may stand behind the chair of Dr Trapp; and Longinus gaze with admiration on William Hazlitt.
But I bridle in my struggling muse in vain, That longs to launch into a nobler stain.
In page 75, you will observe a list of Hogg's works.
Now, if the man had absolutely written fifteen volumes in seven years, death would be infinitely too good for him; but his enormities, though numerous and great, do not amount nearly to fifteen volumes. The Hunting of Badlewe is reprinted in the Dramatic Tales,-therefore, strike off one volume for that. The Pilgrims of the Sun, and Mador of the Moor, may sleep in one bed very easily, and the Sacred Melodies and the Border Garland may be thrown in to them. This most fortunately cuts off three volumes. The Poetic Mirror must, I fear, be allowed to stand very nearly as a sort of volume in its way. But, pray, did Mr Hogg write all the Jacobite relics?
No, nor the notes either. They are all cribbed out of books, without even the grace of inverted commas. Destroy, therefore, these two volumes. The Winter Evening Tales" were written in early life, when I was serving as a shepherd-lad among the mountains," -so charge not against an elderly man the sins of his youth. This yields the relief of two volumes. His guilt, therefore, lies within the compass of seven volumes, or a volume per year since the 1813.
The swineherd frequently alludes to a larger work, of which the present is only an abstract, or rather a collection of "elegant extracts." He concludes the present autobiography thus:
In this short memoir, which is composed of extracts from a larger detail, I have confined myself to such anecdotes only, as re late to my progress as a writer, and these I intend continuing from year to year as long as I live. There is much that I have written that cannot as yet appear; for the literary men of Scotland, my contempora
ries, may change their characters, so as to disgrace the estimate at which I have set them, and my social companions may alter their habits. Of my own productions, I have endeavoured to give an opinion, with tiality of an author may be too apparent in perfect candour; and, although the parthe preceding pages, yet I trust every generous heart will excuse the failing, and make due allowance."
Heaven knows that I had no intenwhen I began this letter; but I have tion of subjecting you to double postage, been led on, drivelling away paragraph after paragraph, in my good natured old style, till there is not above an inch of candle left, vapouring away in the socket of the save-all. The truth is, ness for Hogg; and, to shew how that, after all, I have a sneaking kindcompletely free I am, of all malicious thoughts, I request that you will send out to him this Letter by the Selkirk carrier, and oblige,
AN OLD FRIEND WITH A NEW FACE.
[COURTEOUS READER,-If thou art one of the numerous family of "THE SMALLS," the consternation which thou hast suffered in reading the foregoing epistle, can receive no alleviation from any palliative in our power to apply. But if thou art, as we believe the generality of our readers are, à person endowed with a gentlemanly portion of common sense, and can relish banter and good humour as well as curry and claret, thou wilt at once discover that the object of this "deevilrie," to use an expression of the Shepherd's, is to add to the interest which his life has excited. Indeed if the paper has not come from Altrive Lake itself, it has certainly been written by some one who takes no small interest in the Shepherd's affairs; for, in the private letter which accompanies it, the virtues and talents of Hogg are treated with all the respect they merit; and a hope is most feelingly expressed, that by this tickling the public sympathy may be awakened, so as to occasion a most beneficial demand for his works, and put a few cool hundreds in his pocket. At all events, if the Shepherd himself is not the flagellant, we may forthwith expect such an answer as will leave him quits with the writer, whoever he may be ; and certainly, as his autobiography sufficiently proves, his fame can be in no hands more friendly than his own. Let us not, however, be misunderstood. To those who will," with lifted hands, and eyes upraised," regard this as one of those wicked, and we-know-not-whatto-call-them, things, which afflict the spirits of so many of our co-temporaries, we can offer nothing in extenuation of the playful malice of this "attack." But seriously we do think, that among all those whom it must constrain to laughter, none will "rax his jaws" more freely than the Shepherd himself.
THE MODERN BRITISH DRAMA.
THE FATAL UNCTION.
A Coronation Tragedy-By LAELIUS *******, M.D.
We have great pleasure in doing our utmost to bring this singularly beautiful production into notice. It has redeemed, in our opinion, the literary character of the age from the imputation of the players, to whom we may now confidently assert a true dramatic genius does exist in English literature. Not only is the subject of this tragedy chosen in an original spirit, and the fable constructed with the greatest skill, but the versification and dialogue are equally entitled to unqualified praise.
The plot is founded on the unhappy coronation of Carlo Aurenzebe, King of Sicily, a prince of the Austrian dynasty, who was put to death during the solemn ceremony of the anointment, by the conspirators substituting a corrosive oil, of the most direful nature, instead of the consecrated ointment; and the medical author, with a rare felicity, has accordingly called his tragedy" The Fatal Unction." As the story is well known, we think it unnecessary to say more respecting it, than that the Doctor, with a judicious fidelity to historical truth, has stuck close to all the leading incidents, as they are narrated in Ugo Foscolo's classic history, in three volumes quarto, a translation of which, with ingenious annotations, may speedily, we understand, be expected from the animated pen of Sir Robert Wilson, the enterprizing member for Southwark.
The play opens with a grand scene in a hilly country, in which Mount Etna is discovered in the back ground. Butero, who had a chief hand in the plot,enters at midnight, followed by the Archbishop of Palermo, whom he addresses in the following spirited lines, his right hand stretched towards the burning mountain.
There, spitting fires in heaven's enduring face,
Behold where Etna stands sublime, nor
The vengeance of the foe he so insults-
The wonted arms with which the warring
Do wreak their wrath upon the stedfast hills."
After some further conversation of
The spark of life in Carlo Aurenzebe
At any time, my lord, at any time,
Peace, fool, peace," is the abrupt and impassioned reply of Count Butero to the archbishop, and then the following animated colloquy ensues :
"Archb. I am no fool, you misapply the term;
I ne'er was such, nor such will ever be.
I would a scheme unfold to take him off,
Count Butero. Thy hand and pardon.
'Tis my nature's weakness To be thus petulant; ah, well you know, My Lord Archbishop, for I oft have told
Told in confession how my too quick ire
Count Butero. There's no one near.
Count Butero. "Twas but the mountain
Archb. To-morrow, my dear Count,
I know that.
Archb. And 'tis your part, an old time-
To place the diadem upon his brow.
The traitor archbishop then proceeds to develope the treason which he had
hatched, and proposes, instead of the consecrated oil, to anoint the King with a deadly venom, of which he had provided himself with a phial. Occasional borrowed expressions may be here and there detected in the dialogue; but, in general, they only serve to shew the variety of the Doctor's reading; we fear, however, that the following account of the preparation, which the archbishop had procured, must be considered as a palpable imitation of the history of Othello's handkerchief; at the same time, it certainly possesses much of an original freshness, and of the energy that belongs to a new conception.
“The stuff in this [shewing the bottle]
a gypsey did prepare
From a decoction made of adders' hearts, And the fell hemlock, whose mysterious juice
Doth into mortal curd knead the brisk blood,
Wherein the circling life doth hold its
A friar saw her sitting by a well, Tasting the water with her tawny palm, And bought the deadly stuff."
The count and archbishop having agreed to infect with death" their lawful and legitimate monarch, while he is undergoing the fatigues of his inauguration, then go to the palace on purpose to confer with certain others of the rebellious nobles; and the scene changes to a narrow valley, and pea sants are seen descending from the hills, singing "God save the King," being then on their way towards Palermo to see the coronation.
Having descended on the stage, and finished their loyal song, one of them, Gaffer Curioso, sees an old gypsey woman, the same who sold the poison to the friar, standing in a disconsolate posture, and going towards her, he gives her a hearty slap on the back, and says, in a jocund humour,—
"What's making you hing your gruntle, lucky, on sie a day as this?
Gyp. Och hon! och hon!
Gyp. Do ye see that bell in the dub there? Gaffer Curi. Weel, what o't? Gyp. It's a' that's left me for an ass and twa creels."
The carlin having thus explained the cause of her grief, namely, the loss of her ass and paniers in the mire, a conversation arises respecting the bad and neglected state of the roads, in which
some political reflections, rather of radical nature, are made on the Sicilian government and road trustees. In the end, however, as the poor woman is quite bankrupt, by the sinking her quadruped Argusey, Gaffer Curioso persuades her to go to the city, where she may perhaps gather as much mo ney by begging in the crowd assembled to see the coronation, as will enable her to set up again with another ass and baskets. The whole of this scene is managed with great skill, and the breaks and sparklings of natural pathos, here and there elicited, are exceeding ly beautiful. The little incongruity of making the Sicilians converse in our be deemed a blemish; but when it is doric dialect, may, perhaps, by some, considered, that the different high characters in the piece speak in English, the propriety of making those of the lower order talk in Scotch, we are convinced, must, upon serious reflec tion, appear judicious and beautiful.
When the peasants, with the gypsey, have quitted the stage, the scene is again shifted, and we are introduced to Carlo Aurenzebe, the King and the beautiful Splendora, his royal consort, in their bed-chamber. His majesty has been up some time, walking about the room, anxious for the coming of his Lord Chamberlain, whose duty it was, according to ancient custom, in such a morning, to dress him; but the Queen still presses her pillow asleep; in this situation, the King happens to cast his eye towards the bed, and forgetting his own anxious cares about the im pending ceremony of the day, address es her in the following tender and touching verses
"How like a rose her blooming beauty presses
The smooth plump pillow, and the dent