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cester shortly after the appearance of its progeny would have appeared in the great snake, and which has been that neighbourhood. considered as its progeny, not only by The Committee of the New Engthe common people, but by many land Society do not seem to have been members of the Linnean Society of aware of the recent labours of their New England. This non-descript brethren on this side of the Atlantic : serpent is remarkably distinguished for they take no notice of the Orkney by a row of protuberances along the animal, nor of the judicious remarks back, formed by undulations of the of our eminent townsman Dr Barclay ; spine. That these undulations are nor of the great snake seen by the Renatural and permanent, is proved by verend Mr Maclean, although the dethe structure of the vertebræ, which scription of this last, it may be notivaries in order to accommodate itself ced, agrees completely with that given to this configuration. The back is co- by Mr Nash, and the more accurate vered with hexagonal scales; the ab- of the American witnesses. N. domen with scuta or plates; the tail with scutella, or plates divided in the middle. It closely resembles the Co- LIFE AND WRITINGS OF JAMES HOGG. luber constrictor, which was exhibited by M. Polito in Edinburgh, last year, Nothing is so destructive of that excepting in the dorsal protuberances. spirit of adventure, which leads the The Committee have considered this mind into new and unexplored regions flexuous structure of the spine as suf- of intellect, as the pride of learning, ficient to constitute a generic charac- which considers its own attainments ter; and have established a genus as the limits of human knowledge, called Scoliophis, from oroncos flexuous, and looks down from its fancied eleand sou a serpent. A figure is given vation on all those who have not been of the complete animal, unless where taught to prate, in trim phrase, of the the head has been injured ; accompa- philosophical creed that happens to nied with representations of the dissec- be in fashion, or of certain books writtions made. They examined the , ten in languages that have ceased to stomach, and found in it the skin and be spoken for many centuries. To an scales of another serpent ; but they do acquaintance with them every one not tell us whether any ovarium was must be trained, and on them his opiobserved, or any appearance of eggs, nions must be formed, or he can hard-an important point in endeavouring ly expect to be admitted into good soto ascertain whether the animal was ciety any more than he should if his very young, or had nearly attained its coat were not in fashion. Nothing is natural size. It was apparently perfect so rare as originality of genius; and, in all its external parts; but the Com- according to the modes of education mittee remark, that all young serpents that have long prevailed, and are still
in use, in our public institutions, the 'The evidence of identity between little that exists is in danger of being the great snake and this small one, it extinguished in its very dawning. may be remarked, depends almost en- Every boy is required to perform the tirely on the circumstances of proxi- same tasks, and in the same manner, mity of place, and coincidence of time, without the slightest regard to the in the appearance of the two animals. original bent of the mind; and if, unSome objections may, doubtless, be fortunately, he is either unfit or disurged against the probability of their inclined, he must be breeched into belonging to the same species. The the knowledge of what he justly persnall serpent was found on the land, haps considers useless, or sink into a coiled up like an ordinary snake, be- listless lethargy, and be degraded in side some whortleberry bushes; the his own eyes, and in those of his felgreat snake has only been seen at sea, lows, as an incorrigible dunce. Wo and has not afforded any decided in- to the poor child whose fancy wanders dication of its being an amphibious to the clear waters where the little animal. If the great snake had gone fishes twinkle in his mental vision ashore at Gloucester to deposit its like beams of light, in freedom and in eggs, it seems likely that these must beauty, or to the heathery slope where have been numerous, and that inore of his soul dances to the melody of the
lark overhead; he will soon be recal- in what we conceive to be the most led from the dream of delight, in bit- favourable situation for its developeterness and tears, to the hated volume ment. It was his high privilege, that, from which he is doomed to hear one even in boyhood, his eye was familiar dull sentence rung in his ears a hun- with the elements of poetry that dred times. By this mode of treat- even then, his soul soared to heaven ment, the soul is stunted, and pre- on the wing of the eagle, and grew vented from putting forth its shoots gidily over the cataract, and drank and blossoms in the uncontrolled ener- inspiration in the breezes of the hill, sy of nature; and rather resembles a and worshipped nature on her moun-' tree which creeps along a garden wall, tain throne ;--that the first music to than the magnificent oak that has not which he listened was the sound of been profaned by the axe of the wood- the brooks, and the winds, and the
Men bred under such disci- thunders, with which he held myspline, are precisely what education has terious communings ;-that he was made them. They passively receive nursed in the solitude of the deep what is poured into their minds, and glens, and amid the sublime drapery of give it out again unchanged by medi- the mists and the clouds, where natation and reflection; or, if any change ture and superstition alike dispose the has taken place, it is a weakening and mind to lofty musings ;-and that he dilution. Their intellectual range is was left undisturbed to the wildness confined to the narrow circle that has and the grandeur of his own imagibeen trode on by the men of many nations, where every object adminigenerations ; yet they told the acade- stered to his favourite propensities, mic stole around their infirmities, and and where he moulded each into a pace it with a degree of self importo thousand combinations that never exance that is quite ridiculous. By isted but in his own mind. He was their own unaided strength, they in truth a student of nature, before would never have raised themselves he was aware of her influences, or above the level of hewers of wood, and could give utterance to his feelings in drawers of water; and those unas- language; and fortune placed him in cended steeps where alone true science a situation where she was unveiled to is to be found, have never once entered his eye in all her infinitude and omtheir minds. Yet their vanity is nipotence. harmless, and night be tolerated, if But, fully to understand the cirthey did not imagine themselves equal cumstances that kindled his genius to the great poets of antiquity ; be- into activity, and developed the excause they understand the structure traordinary powers of his mind, it of their verse, and have sometimes will be necessary to make a few refeloniously dared to substitute their marks on the features of the country own worthless dross for their fine gold; where he was born, and the moral or deem themselves the rivals of the and intellectual character of the peofather of Greek philosophy, because ple among whom he passed his early they have learned from him to con- days. The glens and the mountains struct a syllogism. It is not such of Etterick and Yarrow combine almen, that, by the ingenuity and most all the soft beauty and wild suthe splendour of their inventions, blinity that Highland scenery exhished a lustre on our common nature, bits. In the lower district of Yarrow, or by the originality of their imagi- that lovely stream winds ainong hills nations, add to the stock of immortal of no great height, gently swelling, poetry. Bacon looked through the and green to the summits; in some philosophy of his age only to dis- places finely wooded, but generally cover its utter worthlessness, and naked, and well suited to the pasture to substitute something better in its of flocks. This is their common chaplace; and the gigantic genius of racter, but some miles from the mouth Shakespeare was never subjected to of the valley, dark heathy mounthe shackles of the schools.
tains are seen towering to a considerIt is not our purpose to lament that able height above the surrounding Mr Hogg was denied the advantages hills, and give an interesting variety of a school education, which he could to the scene. Towards the head, not have enjoyed but at such a risk, the glen widens, and embosoms St But to trace the progress of his genius Mary's Loch, and the Loch of the
Lowes; and above these sweet lakes, ral being, or sanctified by the blood terminates in a wild mountain-pass, of some martyr. In such a country, that divides it from Moffatdale. In full of chastened beauty, and dark the loftiest and most rugged regions sublimity, and visionary agency, and ot' this pass, the Grey-Mare's Tail, & glorious recollections, it was the good waterfall 300 feet in perpendicular fortune of Hogg to be born, and to height, dashes and foams over stu- spend the greater part of his life. pendous rocks. This celebrated fall His mother, Margaret Laidlaw, is formed by a stream that flows from was, like himself, a self-taught geLoch-Skene, a dark mountain-lake nius. Her mother had died while she abont a mile above it, surrounded by was yet young ; but, being the eldest inaccessible heights on all sides save of several children, and her father far one, and that is strewed by a thou- from wealthy, she was kept at home sand black heathery hillocks of the to superintend the household affairs, most grotesque and irregular forms. and assist in bringing up younger This place is so solitary, that the eagle brothers and sisters, during those years has built her nest in an islet of the when the children of the Scottish pealake for ages, and is overhung by the santry, even the poorest, are sent to highest mountains in the south of school ; and they at the proper age enScotland. The character of Etterick joyed the usual advantages. About the is similar to that of Yarrow, except, age of twelve or thirteen she began to perhaps, that its tints are softer and feel her inferiority to them; and on more mellow, and it is destitute of the Sabbath, her only day of rest, she lakes. These valleys, so celebrated in used to wander out alone to a solitary Border legend and song, are skirted hill side, with a Bible under her arm, by hills, extending many miles on and, humbled by a sense of her ignoboth sides, and, as there is no great rance, to throw herself down on the road through them, the people have heath, and water the page with bitter long lived shut out from the rest of tears. By the ardour of her zeal, she mankind, in a state of pastoral sim- soon accomplished the object of her plicity and virtuous seclusion, alike dearest wishes, and supplied the detiremote froin the vices of boorish rus- ciencies of her education. The race ticity, and fawning servility. Among of wandering minstrels was not then the wild mountains at the head of Et- extinct in her native glens; and from terick and Yarrow, the sturdy cham- the recitations of one of them, an old pions of the Covenant found an asy- man of ninety, she stored her melum when they were chased like wild mory with many thousand lines of beasts, by a relentless persecution, the old Border bálad, which he alone from every other part of the country. knew. To his knowledge she sucTheir preachers held their conven- ceeded; and there is reason to fear tieles in the most sequestered glens, that much of it died with her. and made many converts, from whom This woman, herself of an imaginaa number of the present race are de- tive and enthusiastic 'mind, soon disscended; but, while they cherish the covered in hier son James a kindred memory of these glorious men, and spirit, and laboured in its cultivation as well they may, retain all the noble- with an earnestness greatly homindedness that arises froin the con- nourable to her, and to which, persciousness of an illustrious ancestry, haps, the world is indebted for the their moral features have lost much Queen's Wake. In the remote and of the sternness of their fathers, and solitary glens of these mountain disare softened down into the gentler tricts, the cottages of the shepherds virtues of more peaceful times; yet, are often situated at great distances if we were asked what people of Bri- from other dwellings, and their tetain had suffered least from the evil nants pass the winter months with no consequences of excessive refinement, other society than that of their own we should answer, without hesitation, family. Nothing can be conceived the inhabitants of Etterick and Yar- humbler in the way of human habitarow. In these interesting valleys, tions than these cottages then were; there is hardly a cottage that has not yet they were frequently lighted by a its legend, or a cleugh that is not brilliancy of imagination, and cheered famed for some act of romantic chic by a gentleness of affection, and an envalry, or tenanted by some supernatu- thusiasm of feeling, that Grecian sofas.
and gilded canopies cannot confer. In lished critic, could ever extinguish or
mits of the mountains, or in the boJames enjoyed even fewer of the som of a sequestered glen, he had the advantages of education than his bro- opportunity of looking on nature, thers, for he never attended school freed from the mists of prejudice, or above three months; and though his the pedantry of books, where she is mother taught him to read, his whole seldom seen in her original forms and stock of literature, till he wis 20 years native hues. It was not with him, of age, consisted in the knowledge of as is too often the case, the study of his Bible, Hervey's Meditations, The poetry that led him to the study of naGentle Shepherd, an occasional num- ture ; it was nature herself, green, ber of the Scots Magazine, and a and fresh, and vernal, that inspiredl large store of oral poetry; but these him with a passionate admiration of he knew thoroughly, and still retains ; her untouched grandeur, and an amand it may be questioned if any man bition of singing her glories; and he alive is more thoroughly acquainted would have been a poet if no one had with the sacred scriptures than him- ever existed before him. All the vaself. The searching eye of a mother rious shows of the visible universe, soon marked his talent for versification, and all the doings of the elements and she used to say to him, “ Jamie, were familiar to his imagination, my man, gang, ben the house and which reflected on them its own mak me a sang,” while she proposed a lights, and called into existence a subject for his muse. How he suc- creation of its own, of such beauty ceeded in these boyish efforts, we and magnificence as never appeared have not learned, yet the effects of but in the eye of inspiration. In such such a training, on such a mind, may a situation, all his dreams were poetry, be easily conceived. It fanned the and we have often heard him describe spark of poetry that nature had im- mountain phenomena with such fide planted in his bosom into a flame, that lity, and beauty, and shadowy granneither poverty, nor misfortune, nor deur, as to convince us, that, as a neglect, nor even the sneer of the po« landscape painter, he would have had
no rival. All his organs, indeed, are their love of glory, and contempt of so acute, and all his perceptions of such death, the song of the triumph, and uncommon vividness, and leave such the dirge of the slain,-and to each of complete pictures, that we believe these she gave an appropriate emphasis were he to apply to art, his paintings and action, rising into the wildness of in truth and originality of conception, possession, or melting into an overat least, would be equal to his poetry. powering tenderness. Such were the These circumstances have rendered effects of her manner, that when her him, above all men, the poet of the son saw these poems printed, of which mountains, which he never approach- her recitations had delighted him so es but his imagination takes wing, much, he could not believe they were and, like the eagle, wheels and soars the same. His mind was early imwith a magnificence and loftiness of bued with these ballads ; on them his range in her native element.
taste was formed; and the“ Mountain The principal object of this essay Bard” is a professed imitation of them. is to unfold the circumstances that In this memoir of the progress of assisted nature in the formation of the genius of the poet, rather than the Mr Hogg's mind. These were chief- life of the man, it would be unparly the legendary tales and supersti- donable not to mention the family of tions of his country, and the wildness Mr Laidlaw of Blackhouse. Here he and solitude of its scenery, and the was received rather as a son at the impression of one or other of them is house of his father, than a servant ; stamped on almost every line of poe- yet this respectable man is mentioned, try he has written. The Border Bal- not so much on account of the kindness lad, which is impetuous and daring, Hogg received under his roof, as the and as little subject to rule as the means he there enjoyed of cultivating men whose achievements it cele- his mind, and improving his poetical brates, was peculiarly adapted to en- talent. Mr Laidlaw himself was an gage the young fancy of such a man. intelligent and a well informed man, Nature had richly gifted his mind, and possessed a good library for his and accident and education were alike situation, which was always at Mr favourable to the developement of its Hogg's command, and it was then peculiar faculties; nor if Scotland that he may be said to have commenhad been searched for the purpose, ced reading. He never speaks of this would it have been possible to find respectable man but as a father ; but a woman better qualified than his it was the friendship that he formed mother to discover the early sparks with his son, Mr William Laidlaw, of his genius, and to kindle them that must make this change in his into an unquenchable flame. Af situation be remembered as an era in ter the death of the old man above his life. Before this period, he had mentioned, she became the great re- had some acquaintances, but he had pository of the Border ballad, being never till now enjoyed a friend out of able to recite almost every line that is his own family. The young man to be found in the Minstrelsy of the who was now his associate, was a kinScottish Border, and many others, dred spirit; like himself, an unspoiled which were by her death lost to the pupil of nature, who, to a vigorous world. She possessed a soul of great imagination, added an acute judgsensibility, and a voice ever in unison ment, and soon discovered the genius with its movements; and in her re- of the future poet, through the uncitations, which resembled the enthu- gainly exterior that concealed it. siasm of immediate inspiration, rather With a knowledge of character almost than the repetition of the ideas of intuitive, he saw, under the unpreothers, she caught the tone of the tending simplicity of the shepherd, a piece in all its variety of rapidity and mind of strong originality, and capagrandeur. These rude lays of our ble of extraordinary things. He adforefathers contain the hardy adven- mired him to enthusiasm, and roused tures and constant vicissitudes of men him to a sense of his own importance, who spent their lives amid the alarms cheering him in his poetical attempts, and dangers of a predatory warfare ; and zealously propagating his fame; -their affluence and spoliation,-their and though many of those to whom palourin making and repelling an attack, he shewed his verses received them