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Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Shelley's Vegetarianism


Of this Book Twenty-five Copies only have been printed.

BY H. S. SALT, Author of Pircy Bysshe Shelley: a Monograph Etc., Etc.


"That such a man should have written one of the best books in the world," says Lord Macaulay, in speak ing of Boswell, "is strange enough. But this is not all. Many persons who have conducted themselves foolishly in active life, and whose conversation has indicated no superior powers of mind, have left us valuable works. . . . But these men attained literary eminence in spite of their weaknesses. Boswell attained it by reason of his weaknesses. If he had not been a great fool, he would never have been a great writer." Macaulay has been justly taken to task by Carlyle for allowing his love of paradox to lead him into this strange assertion, that a writer's excellence was consequent upon his folly ; yet I think that, in one sense at least, there is some truth in the remark. In a certain class of biography, of which Boswell's Life of Johnson and Hogg's Life of Shelley are conspicuous examples, part of the charm exercised on the mind of the reader is due to the striking contrast of character between the biographer and his subject. When a philosopher is presented to us by a fool, an idealist by a worldling, a poet by a Philistine, the very incongruity of the medium imparts an additional zest to an introduction that would anyhow be delightful ; and the biographer thus profits, in a manner, by his own shortcomings; while his very consciousness of the gulf that divides him from the object of his hero-worship of itself gives a relish to his narrative. Provided, therefore, that the writer is fully imbued with a genuine feeling of interest and admiration — for this is certainly indispensable — it is possible for a notable biography to be written even with an absence of tact, delicacy, judgment, critical power, and good taste. Such was the case with Boswell's Life of Johnson and to a minor extent such is the case also with Hogg's Life of Shelley, Hogg was indeed greatly inferior to Boswell as a biographer, and not quite so foolish as a man; yet in reading Hogg, as in reading Boswell, we feel inclined at times to like him for his very absurdity, and to admire him for that Boswellian quality which Macaulay has described as 'a perfect unconsciousness that he was making a fool of himself."

Thomas Jefferson Hogg, whose intimacy with Shelley commenced at Oxford in 1810, was essentially what is known as "a rough diamond" — "a pearl within an oyster shell," is the expression applied to him by Shelley. The cynical, mordant, worldly disposition of his maturer years could have been only partially developed in his youth ; otherwise he could have had little in common with Shelley. But although he took an interest in literature during his residence at Oxford, even to the extent of attempting poetry and fiction, and although the promptings of good comradeship led him to share his friend's dismissal from the University, it is obvious enough that his heart was already set on something very different from literature or freethought. To get on in the world, to have a comfortable berth, from which he could regard the foibles and follies of mankind with an air of cynical amusement — this was the true end and aim of Hogg's ambition. Yet blunt and crabbed as he was, priding himself on his Tory exclusiveness and his contempt for crotchet-mongers and enthusiasts, he nevertheless saw in Shelley "the divine poet" side by side with "the poor fellow;" and in this whimsical mixture of pity and admiration lies, as Professor Dowden has remarked, the "peculiar piquancy" of Hogg's relations with Shelley. It was Hogg's destiny to play the Caliban to Shelley's Ariel.

After Shelley's marriage with Harriet Westbrook in 1811, Hogg, who was now studying for the legal profession, still continued to be his intimate companion or correspondent, until Shelley's eyes were opened to the infiperfections of his friend's character by the incident at York, when Hogg's conduct to Harriet led to a temporary estrangement. A year later, however, the friendship was renewed; and though the old intimacy could never be fully re-established, Hogg remained on pleasant terms with Shelley during the time spent in Bracknell, Marlow, and London. After the departure to Italy in 1818 he did not again see Shelley, but received friendly messages and invitations on more than one occasion. In 1826, four years after Shelley's death, Hogg married the widow of Edward Williams — the "Jane" to whom so many of Shelley's later lyrics had been dedicated. He was on friendly terms with Mary Shelley, who had now returned to England : and it was through her introduction that he became acquainted, a few years later, with Bulwer Lytton, then editor of the New Monthly Magazine to which periodical he contributed, in 1832 and 1833, the series of articles on "Shelley at Oxford," which were afterwards incorporated in the "Life."

It is on this portion of his work that Hogg's fame as a biographer must practically rest. He was here treating of that part of Shelley's life of which alone he was really competent to speak with indubitable authority; and in spite of the want of accuracy and veracity which may be detected here and there, even in this Oxford narrative, the portrait as a whole is drawn with admirable force and vivacity. Hogg's Shelley at Oxford is so well known, and has been so fully appreciated, and so often quoted, by later Shelley students, that there is no need here to do more than briefly allude to its merits, and to emphasize the point that, but for the reproduction of these famous articles, the Life of Shelley published by Hogg a quarter of a century later, would have cut a very sorry figure indeed. Professor Dowden has pointed out that Hogg the Oxford student, was a very different person from Hogg the biographer of Shelley. I would add yet another distinction, and say that Hogg the writer of Shelley at Oxford is by no means to be confounded with the author of the two volumes issued in 1858. In 1832 he was writing of what he knew well, and with a certain command of literary style and judgment ; in 1858, he wrote of matters about which he had not troubled to inform himself, while in style and tone he was — well, not exactly what one would desire in a biographer of Shelley. It is worth remarking, however, that the excellence of the earlier articles may have been partly due to the interposition of the editor of the New Monthly Magazine who, much to Hogg's disgust, as we learn from his Preface, insisted on the exercise of his editorial prerogative, and struck out certain passages which he judged superfluous or indiscreet It is much to be regretted that the later chapters of the Life of Shelley did not pass under similar editorial censorship.

The articles on Shelly at Oxford were published, as I have said, in 1832 and 1833. It had long been Mary Shelley's desire to write the life of her husband, but this intention was thwarted by the ill-will of the implacable Sir Timothy, who, as Mrs. Shelley stated in a letter of 1838, ''forbade biography under a threat of stopping the supplies." In 1844, the death of Sir Timothy relieved her of this prohibition; but a still more fatal obstacle now arose in the form of a serious illness, from which she never wholly recovered. She died in 1851; and a few years after her death. Sir Percy and Lady Shelley entrusted the biographical materials to the charge of Hogg "a gentlemen" (to quote Lady Shelley's words) whose literary habits and early knowledge of the poet seemed to point him out as the most fitting person for bringing them to the notice of the public." Unfortunately the Shelley family, in their guileless confidence in Hogg's biographical qualities, neglected to stipulate that the proof sheets should be submitted for their approval.

When the first two volumes of Hogg's biography — that is, half the book — were published in 1858, they were found to be a most unexpected and startling performance. "It was impossible," says Lady Shelley in the Preface to the Shelley Memorials "to imagine beforehand that from such materials a book could have been produced which has astonished and shocked those who have the greatest right to form an opinion on the character of Shelley. . . . Our feelings of duty to the memory of Shelley left us no other alternative than to withdraw the materials which we had originally entrusted to his early friend." Accordingly the third and fourth volumes (which are sometimes said to exist in manuscript) never saw the light; and Hogg's Life of Shelley remains to this day a fragment, like some strange half-finished structure — a "Folly," the country people would call it, — which has been reared and then deserted by some eccentric architect Mr. Rossetti has remarked that the suppression of the concluding portions of this book defrauds the admirers of Shelley of their just perquisites."I cannot say that I think we have lost much by the withdrawal; on the contrary, I believe that the step taken by the Shelley family was, under the circumstances, a wise one for all parties ; not so much because Hogg's portrait of the poet was, as Lady Shelley complains, "a fantastic caricature," or in Thornton Hunt's words, ''a figure seen through fantastically distorting panes of glass" (for I am not sure that this objection can be altogether maintained), but rather because of the insufferable vulgarity of tone which pervades all the new portion of the book, and the utter inability of the author to realize the primary functions of a biographer. The inclusion of the articles on Shelley at Oxford which form about one-sixth of the whole, of course lent a great value to the work; so, too, did the publication of Shelley's letters to Godwin and Hogg; there is also, it must be admitted, a certain amount of the old raciness in a few of the stories told about Shelley's life at Edinburgh, Bracknell, and other places. But, on the whole, I do not think it is exaggeration to say that Hogg did his work, not only in a most egotistical spirit, but also in a most recklessly stupid and slovenly fashion ; and that, with the exception of the letters, at least one half of the later narrative is downright rubbish — pointless, silly, and grotesque. This is an assertion which needs to be corroborated by proof; if therefore, in the rest of this paper, I dwell on Hogg's failings, rather than on his merits, it will be understood that I do so simply because this aspect of his writings has been somewhat overlooked by Shelley students, who, as it seems to me, are inclined to take him much too seriously in his capacity of biographer.

The most notable feature of Hogg's book is, perhaps, the extraordinary egotism of its author. It is amusing to find him reminding us in one passage that he was not writing the history of his own life and times, "but the biography of a Divine Poet, to the illustration of whose remarkable character alone every word should tend." This admirable theory was unfortunately not carried into practice ; for he devotes page after page to a full record of his own circumstances and adventures, gravely supplying his readers with the most ample information concerning his family affairs, his legal studies, his holiday tours, his attempts in literature, his witty sayings, and, above all, his dinners. We have all heard of the wish expressed by the exasperated housekeeper, that the milkman would allow her to receive the milk in one can, and the water in another ; in the same way the reader of Hogg's volumes often wishes that a more distinct line of demarcation had been drawn between the life of Shelley and the life of Hogg. "It is sometimes in my power," says Hogg, "to illustrate the life of Shelley by parallel passages drawn from my own;" and armed with this ingenious plea of "illustration," he proceeds to write what might really be fairly entitled "The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson Hogg, with records of his dietetic experiences." For Hogg's memory, however unreliable it may have been in some matters, was preternaturally retentive of everything that related to the table: so much so, that one is tempted to apply to him the description given by Nathaniel Hawthorne of an old gentleman of his acquaintance." His reminiscences of good cheer," writes Hawthorne, "however ancient the date of the actual banquet, seemed to bring the savour of pig or turkey under one's very nostrils. There were flavours on his palate that had lingered there not less than sixty or seventy years, and were still apparently as fresh as that of the mutton-chop which he had just devoured for his breakfast. The chief tragic event of the old man's life, so far as I could judge, was his mishap with a certain goose, which lived and died some twenty or forty years ago — a goose of most promising figure, but which, at table, proved so inveterately tough, that the carving-knife would make no impression on its carcase, and it could only be divided with an axe and hand-saw." Many not less grievous dietetic mishaps are recorded by Hogg, in his lengthy accounts of the tours made by himself in his holidays, and at other times when he was separated from Shelley. Here are a few instances.

In the Oxford vacation of January 1811, Hogg made a solitary pedestrian tour to Stonehenge, to an account of which he devotes fifteen pages of his Life of Shelley. He was soon in trouble at a wayside inn near Abingdon. His dinner consisted of "raw potatoes, muddy beer, stinking cheese, and wine that might be paid for, but not drunken." "The hope of tea," he says, "was the sole remaining consolation;" but the tea proved to be like chopped straw ; no milk could be had ; only "a huge indurated loaf and salt butter." At Winchester his experiences were equally unfortunate ; and at Abingdon, on the return journey, he had "a scurvy meal," for there "a nasty little girl gave him some nasty tea in a nasty cold room."When Shelley and "his future," as Hogg elegantly calls Harriet, eloped to Scotland in the summer of the same year, Hogg, who was then at York, went northward to join them in Edinburgh ; and, forty-seven years later, when writing his Life of Shelley he thought fit to commemorate the most trivial incidents of this very trivial journey, even to the mention of "a filthy and utterly useless breakfast " which was served to him at "an odious little inn in a very narrow street." But the most calamitous of all his voyages was that which he undertook to Ireland in 1813. "I have travelled much," he says, " by coaches ; and therefore I know as well as any man, and to my sorrow, what a bad breakfast is, and I assert that the breakfast at Conway was never surpassed — vile bread, vile butter, and the vilest tea." At last, at Holyhead, he was on the point of obtaining consolation. "The provisions" he says, "looked well. There was a nice roast leg of mutton, mealy potatoes, and other things — all very tempting." But now, at this supreme moment, the fate of Tantalus befell him, for just as he was sitting down to dinner, it was announced that the packet was about to sail, and there was no time to dine. Even then, he made a last effort, and by the advice of a crafty waiter, purchased, at an exorbitant price, the whole leg of mutton in question ; but when he got on board the vessel he found he had been tricked, for the leg of mutton was nowhere to be seen. How I should have enjoyed a little breakfast," he cries, "however homely ; a crust of brown bread and milk, skim milk, oatmeal porridge, cold cabbage, anything ; but no man grave unto me." The crowning sorrow was when, himself unfed, he saw a bishop on deck, "sipping hot chocolate out of a large china cup." But we have had enough of this protracted agony. Let us draw a curtain over the remainder of Hogg's dietetic misfortunes.

It is certainly a singular and remarkable fact, that Shelley, one of the foremost apostles of "plain living and high thinking," should have found for his chief exponent and biographer a gourmand who was so decidedly addicted to the contrary formula. Yet let us give Hogg his due; for, epicure though he was, he seems to have been willing to make what was to him a heavy sacrifice for the sake of Shelley's society. "It is a strong proof," he says (and here we are inclined to agree with him), "of the extraordinary fascination of the society of the Divine Poet, that to purchase it — and it was absolutely requisite to pay a price — I submitted cheerfully so often and for such a long period, to so many inconveniences and privations. I was never indifferent to the amenities of life; I had always been accustomed to comfort — to a certain elegance, indeed: at college, in preparing for college, and more especially at home ; for in a district where the creature comforts were well cared for, my own family were always conspicuous for an exact and exquisite nicety. In this respect, as in some others, there was something contradictory in Shelley." It is amusing to find Hogg, the votary of creature comforts, actually introduced by Shelley into the vegetarian circle of the Newtons and Boinvilles ; nay more, the plunge once made, he seems not only to have tolerated, but to a certain limited extent, and always with the confident hope of a something better hereafter, to have even enjoyed the Pythagorean fare. " I also," he tells us, "followed exactly the canonical observances of the vegetable church of Nature ; and I found them far from disagreeable, in the country, and during the summer and autumn.'' "An epicure," he elsewhere remarks, "fond of variety, would do well to adopt vegetable diet, now and then, for a day or two, as a change, for the mere gratification."

But it is time to leave Hogg, the teacher of dietetics, and to return to him in his capacity of Shelley's biographer. His egotism, gluttony, and digressive tendency might in themselves be pardonable enough, if they were merely a thing apart, that could be passed by and forgotten ; if we could effect the literary analysis already hinted at, and separate the milk of Shelley's life from the water of Hogg's. But unfortunately this is not possible ; for Hogg is so carried away by the sense of his own importance, that the whole narrative is thereby affected ; he persistently minimizes and depreciates the value of those episodes in Shelley's early life in which he himself had no part. His account of Shelley's school-days is most meagre and unsatisfactory." How long he remained at Sion House," he says, "I know not," nor at what age he was removed to Eton" — as if, forsooth, it was not his duty, as biographer, to inquire into and elucidate precisely such questions as these. So, too, with regard to the Dublin episode, which occurred during the year in which Hogg was not admitted to Shelley's confidences, and is accordingly relegated to a position of absolute non-importance. "I never could discover," he says, " the source of the strange scheme. He did not communicate his intentions to me at the time. I never heard of his exploits at Dublin until after their termination, and but little did I learn at any period from himself ; in truth he appeared to be heartily ashamed of the whole proceeding. Whatever can be discovered concerning this Irish dream, — the vision of want of judgment, — must be made out from his correspondence with his newly acquired friend" (William Godwin). How incompetent Hogg was to understand the motives that prompted Shelley's Irish campaign, may be judged from his own confession of his interest in the state of Ireland. "I would not take the trouble to walk across Chancery Lane in the narrowest part, if by so doing I could at once redress all the wrongs and grievances of Ireland." It is very amusing to notice the supreme contempt expressed by Hogg for all the plans undertaken by Shelley without his sanction ; it is then that he speaks of him as "the poor fellow " rather than "the Divine Poet" "The truth is," he says, speaking of Shelley's self-introduction to Leigh Hunt, "my poor friend knew well that it was quite wrong, because he never communicated his intentions tot myself or to any of his friends." And in another passage : Whenever any act of signal folly, extraordinary indiscretion, and insane extravagance, was to be perpetrated, I was never informed of it, and certainly there was no obligation to tell me." When Shelley and Harriet went with Peacock on a tour to Scotland, Hogg confesses that he was surprised "at the unexpected intelligence of his sudden and absurd flight, of his second and causeless visit to the metropolis of Scotland." And so in other instances ; the biographical importance of the events of Shelley's life is measured chiefly by the pipminence, in each case, of the biographer's own perscxiality.

The fact is, that Hogg, apart from his consuming sense of self-importance, had none of the diligence which is indispensable to a competent biographer. Boswell, it may be, was a fool ; but he was a fool who could take an immense amount of trouble in his biographical labours. Hogg could not, or would not, do this ; the absurd parade he makes of his preparations for writing the Life of Shelley is itself suggestive of a too easy-going view of the biographer's duty. "When I undertook," he says, " to write the life of my incomparable friend, my first care was to collect materials for the task. Accordingly, I spent several long and laborious days in the painful offie, painful in every way, of looking over my ample collections, and selecting from my several repositories whatever had any reference to the subject" "I never," he adds, lapsing as usual into a piece of autobiography, which in this case may be understood in more senses than one, " I never had such dirty hands, or went through so filthy a job, as when I made the retrospect of my past life." In addition to the contents of his own "repositories," Hogg was entrusted, as we know, with certain papers in the possession of the Shelley family. But he was too lazy, too conceited, or too incompetent to arrange and dispose his materials with any method or accuracy ; his book is accordingly a mere jumble of letters, anecdotes, and information, pitch-forked in without any regard to relevancy or chronological succession.

But Hogg, as a biographer, had a still more serious failing than his lack of diligence : he is guilty at times of stating, or suggesting, what is directly contrary to the truth. His portrait of Shelley at Oxford is in the main so vivid and impressive, that the reader is disinclined to criticize too minutely the treatment of details ; otherwise there are probably few of Hogg's anecdotes that would stand the test of a critical examination. This perhaps is a matter of no great consequence, certainly of no great rarity. De Quincey has expressed his opinion that all anecdotes are false. "My duty to the reader," he says, "extorts from me the disagreeable confession, as upon a matter specially investigated by myself, that all dealers in anecdotes are tainted with mendacity. Rarer than the phoenix is that virtuous man (a monster he is — nay, he is an impossible man) who will consent to lose a prosperous anecdote on the consideration that it happens to be a He." We may suspect that a goodly number of Hogg's anecdotes were retained by him in spite of this trifling objection ; but as they are so graphic and amusing, and as the general result is so good, we are content to regard them not as lies, but "idealisations."

Unfortunately the misstatements in Hogg's later biography are of a more serious nature. The most signal instance is the account given by him of Shelley's sudden departure from York to Keswick in November, 1811, — a change of residence which was in reality necessitated by Hogg^s conduct to Harriet, and was for that reason carried into effect without the knowledge or sanction of the amazed offender. Finding himself thus left ignominiously in the lurch, Hogg wrote letter after letter, entreating to be allowed once more to be a neighbour or inmate of Shelley's family ; but his prayers, self-reproaches, expostulations, and threats (for he even threatened Shelley with a duel) were all alike disregarded, and he received only the cold comfort of several admonitory epistles, — written in a measured philosophical style like that of Godwin, — in which Shelley advised him as to the course of conduct that would best conduce to his moral welfare. When Hogg was writing the history of this passage of Shelley's life, he found himself in an awkward predicament ; for it was not at all to his taste to chronicle his own dismissal at the hands of his "incomparable friend;" he therefore put a bold face on the matter, and represented the journey to Keswick as a mere whim on Shelley's part, while his own sojourn at York was due to his inflexible determination to continue his legal studies. Nothing would please," he says, " but an immediate journey to Keswick; and our flight must be in the winter. I was requested, strongly urged to join in it. To quit my professional duties in which I had engaged was impossible ; besides, the impracticable month of November was ill-suited for such an excursion. ... I gave no hopes that I would soon follow, but they knew better than I did ; and they were confident I should not tarry." Unfortunately for Hogg's story, Shelley's letters to Miss Hitchener give a full account of this episode, and show that so far from strongly urging him to join them, they resolutely declined the ofier of his company. But writing nearly half a century later, Hogg no doubt trusted that all record of these events had perished, except the letters which he had himself received from Shelley ; and so great was his audacity, that he actually printed one of these in a later chapter of his book, under the title of a " Fragment of a Novel," substituting the name Charlotte for Harriet. "You deceive yourself terribly, my friend," says the supposed novelist, who is of course Shelley. " It convinces me more forcibly than ever how unfit it is that you should live near us ; it convinces me that I, by permitting it, should act a subservient part in the promotion of yours and Charlotte's misery. ... It appears to me that I am acting as your friend — your disinterested friend — by objecting to your living near us at present." To publish this passage in the very volume where he represented himself as being urgently invited to Keswick, was certainly a sign of considerable biographical hardihood.

It must be admitted that Hogg, in the matter of veracity, or the contrary, did not do things by halves, but that when he had told a lie of the first magnitude he not only stuck to it bravely, but took pleasure in garnishing it and enhancing its proportions by a few auxiliary fibs. So it was in this case of Shelley's departure to Keswick. " My instructions" says Hogg, " with regard to Shelley's correspondence were to open all letters that should come to York for him, and to despatch such only as appeared to me to be worth the postage." These instructions may have been given ; though under the circumstances it does not seem very probable that Shelley would have empowered Hogg to read his letters. But when Hogg goes on to state that, among the letters he opened and forwarded, was one from the Duke of Norfolk, dated November 7th, 1811, in which Shelley was invited to pay a visit to Graystoke, he at once shows the cloven hoof, for it has been ascertained beyond doubt that the letter of November 7th contained no invitation at all, the invitation being given in a later letter of November 23rd, which did not pass through Hogg's hands. He had evidently heard of the visit to Graystoke, and naturally concluded that the letter he had forwarded had reference to that point ; he therefore invented the account of his opening and reading the letter, in order to give a life-like touch to his foregoing figments about his unbroken intimacy with Shelley at this time. As the letter which he forwarded was franked by the Duke, he had no cause to open it at all, and doubtless did not do so.

It is useless, however, to multiply instances of the vulgarity and inaccuracy which are apparent to every reader of Hogg's two volumes. Many of his stories are too coarse and brutal to bear repetition ; nor is their coarseness often redeemed by any touch of real wit or humour — they are, in nine cases out of ten, stupid and pointless to the last degree, and their inclusion in a Life of Shelley is scarcely less than an outrage on Shelley's name. The only excuse for Hogg is that he was unaware of his own vulgarity ; and this excuse, I fear, is the severest condemnation that can be passed on a man. When we read some of the sallies and witticisms which he records with so much self-satisfaction, we can feel the force of that story about the Oxford don, who, when Hogg heroically exclaimed before the magnates of University College, ''If Shelley is an atheist, I am an atheist," quietly answered, "No; you are only a fool" Was there ever such bathos, such balderdash, as that into which Hogg sinks, quiet contentedly, and unconsciously, when he attempts to write of Shelley, or of Mary Shelley, or of himself, in a tender and touching strain? Here is his allusion to Sir Timothy's refusal to allow his daughter-in-law to write her husband's life. "Be silent or starve! The prohibition is certainly hard ; harder than all things; harder than all hard things; harder than all hard things put together, and hardened into one superlatively hard thing. The poor widowed dove was forbidden to lament her lost mate." And again, of his own biography, which really does not seem to call for any particular gush of sentiment, least of all from an author who boasted himself the sworn foe of all sentimentality: "Let us next write of the immortal dead whilst he was at Eton. And, oh! let us write of him with a tender sadness, as a dove would write about his lost mate." This pathetic symbol of the bereaved dove was evidently one to which Hogg was partial; but feeling, on this occasion, that his metaphors were getting rather "mixed" when he attributed to this plaintive bird the faculty of penmanship, he adds by way of explanation: "And why may not a dove write, with a pen drawn painfully from his own wing?" Had he said goose instead of dove, the notion might have been less open to critical remark.

In consideration of the above-mentioned defects in Hogg's biographical style, numerous other instances of which might easily have been adduced, I do not think it can be a matter for surprise that Shelley's relatives declined to lend their sanction to the production of a third and a fourth volume of a similar kind.

In late years Mr. Jefferson Hogg has found a fitting champion in Mr. Cordy Jeaffreson, whose view is that Hogg's delightful book " was stopped midway because its realism offended the Hunts and Field Place." "It had been hoped," he says, "by Field Place, that Mr. Hogg would varnish ugly facts with specious phrases" and Hogg, being "a robust enemy of shams," was sacrificed to this family sentiment ; since "no biography" according to Mr. Jeaffreson, "would satisfy Field Place, which should fail to accord with the notion that Shelley was a being of stainless purity and angelic holiness" Field Place " is well able to take care of itself in this matter but it is worth pointing out that the true gravamen of the charge against Hogg is not that he was disloyal to Shelley (for, as a matter of fact, he bears repeated and explicit testimony to the nobility of Shelley's character) but that he utterly failed in his biographical duties, owing to his egotism, vulgarity, untruthfulness, and general incompetence. Even Mr. Jeaffreson is compelled to admit that Hogg was guilty of occasional lapses in this respect ; though, with characteristic perverseness, he chooses the episode at York, and Shelley's consequent quarrel with Hogg, as the opportunity for passing a severe censure on the wicked poet, and a high encomium on the faithful and wrongly-suspected friend. Shelley, it seems, was the victim in this matter of "a morbid fancy," "a ghastly hallucination," caused in the first instance by the machinations of Eliza Westbrook ; while Hogg was wholly guiltless of offence, being, according to Mr. Jeaffreson's description, "from certain points of view a typical English gentleman," with "a vein of poetry, a strong vein of romance, in his comparatively cold nature." Such is Mr. Jeaffreson's "real Hogg" — a personage quite as mythical and non-existent as his "real Shelley."

It is far from being a fact that Hogg has been unjustly depreciated by those whom Mr. Jeaffreson calls " the Shelleyan enthusiasts." On the contrary, it is strange that so many Shelley students should have taken him practically at his own valuation, gravely repeating his antastic assertions concerning his aristocratic tastes, intellectual exclusiveness, and so forth ; the only notable exception of which I am aware being found in Mr. Denis MacCarthy's volume on Shelley's Early Life which contains a merciless exposure of many of Hogg's absurdities and misstatements.

Let us be just to Hogg and allow that as a young man he had a liking for good literature (his love of Greek, especially, seems to have been an abiding affection) ; he had moreover a certain caustic humour and good-natured oddity of character, which, if not too closely examined, might have been mistaken, as indeed it wets at first mistaken by Shelley himself, for originality. Apart from Shelley, Hogg was simply a rough diamond — a coarse-tongued jester, whose jokes did not improve with time ; magnetized by Shelley's genius into genuine and loyal admiration of faculties the most dissimilar to his own, he was able, in spite of his seeming disqualifications, to give us, in his Shelley at Oxford one of the best, perhaps the very best, of all the portraits of the poet, a portrait which, incorporated in his Life of Shelley stands out in strong relief from the ineptitude and vulgarity of its surroundings. When commissioned, a quarter of a century later, to construct a larger work, with materials which exceeded and transcended the limited range of his knowledge and experience, he failed, as he might have been expected to fail, to do justice to his subject ; such value as his work possessed being due to the intrinsic interest of the biography rathfer than to the biographer's manner of treatment. The sarcastic comment made by Ruskin on Grote's History of Greece — that as good a book might have been written by any clerk between Charing Cross and the Bank — might be applied, without being wholly erroneous, to the later written portion of Hogg's Life of Shelley, How destitute Hogg was of any real literary ability, except when under the influence of that one interesting feature of his life — his connection with Shelley, — may be learnt by those who care to look into his foumal of a Traveller on the Continent published in 1827, as commonplace a book of travel as could anywhere be met with. That early comradeship with his " incomparable friend " was the one fertile oasis in Hogg's life- desert of barren soil and egotistical platitudes ; his career — if I may venture to quote Mr. Browning's often-quoted stanza — was

"A moor, with a name of its own.
And a certain use in the world no doubt ;
Yet a hand's-breadth of it shines alone,
'Mid the blank miles round about."

Hogg, like Boswell, was gifted by fortune with one memorable thing to tell to his fellow-men ; and the telling of it was enhanced, as in Boswell's case, by the singular contrast between the biographer and the subject of the biography. Whenever the Shelley at Oxford is in question, we recognise with gratitude the value of Hogg's work ; but, outside that special and limited province, we cannot for a moment admit that his writing is in any way trustworthy or valuable.

H. S. Salt.

Printed by Richard Qay & Sons, limited, Bread Street Hill
August 1889.