Case 20 - Scott letters 2
Walter Scott, letter to James Hogg, no date [probably 6 January 1822]
This letter was written by Scott to James Hogg (1770-1835), another significant Scottish writer known as the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’. Hogg, while still a shepherd, sent Scott some poems for a collection of traditional ballads in 1805. The two became friends, and Hogg achieved fame as a poet, novelist, and contributor to Blackwood’s Edinburgh magazine. The letter on display regards one of Hogg’s novels, The three perils of man(1822).
Sir Walter Scott. Letters of Sir Walter Scott: addressed to the Rev. R. Polwhele, D. Gilbert, Esq., Francis Douce, Esq., &c, &c: accompanied by an autobiographical memoir of Lieut.-General Sir Hussey Vivian, Bart., K.C.B., K.G.H. [1st edition]. London: J.B. Nichols and Son, 1832.
This collection of letters was issued posthumously, two months after Scott’s death. In a letter to his friend the Cornish clergyman, poet and historian Richard Polwhele dated 6 October 1825, Scott agrees to the publication of certain of his correspondence, saying “I have consented to your wish merely because it is your wish, and without any idea on my own part, that what was written for your own eye deserved a more extensive circulation.”
[Sir Walter Scott]. Paul’s letters to his kinsfolk. [1st edition]. Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. for Archibald Constable and Company, Edinburgh; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, and John Murray, London, 1816.
Paul’s letters to his kinsfolk is composed as a series of imaginary letters recording Scott’s personal reaction to visiting the battlefield of Waterloo in 1815. The Lettersprovide a detailed history of Napoleon’s last campaign, based on interviews with participants and eyewitnesses. As in Scott’s later Life of Napoleon Buonaparte (1827), a non-partisan approach is taken.
Scott was greatly impressed by the lack of conceit and pretension of the Duke of Wellington, who provided him with invaluable information for his descriptions of Waterloo and Napoleon’s last campaign.