A printing devil, a Scottish mummy, and an Edinburgh book of the dead: James Hogg's Napoleonic complex.
The Private Memoirs is usually interpreted as an autobiographical allegory of Hogg's experience with Blackwood's Magazine, when Hogg, who was satirized in a character in one of the magazine's series, had to compete with the notoriety of his fictional alter ego. (2) While this essay concurs with these interpretations and, particularly, the conflict between oral and print literature that Ian Duncan locates in Hogg, it does so by elucidating Hogg's thematizing of French Egyptology--a curious aspect of the Gothic novel which has not yet been accounted for. (3) That Egyptian antiquities are emblems of literary immortality for Hogg is evident in both The Private Memoirs and in the earlier "Translation from an Ancient Chaldee Manuscript" (1817), Hogg's first contribution to Blackwood's. In the novel the aforementioned mummy surfaces bearing a manuscript whose "yellowing, tightly wound" pages resemble papyri; the body itself is said to have survived solely "for the preservation o' that book" (252-53). (4) Similarly, the Chaldee Manuscript purports to be one of the "many admirable pieces of writing ... supposed to be lost forever," but which the "present age seems destined to witness the recovery of." (5) As I will argue, this "present age" that the Chaldee Manuscript invokes is both the contemporary craze for Egyptology spurred by Napoleon's recent North African campaigns and the fierce competition in the current magazine industry that definitively formed the Blackwood's culture. In this conceit, Hogg's Egyptian metaphors suggest the epochal moment that he occupies, where expanding print capitalism transforms obscure authors into "admirable pieces of writing" whose "recovery" are triumphs that the industry imagines are tantamount to Napoleonic discovery itself.
These political dimensions to the tropes of Hogg's literary ambition reveal the author as a more complicated instance of Scottish resistance to English colonization by way of print capitalism, such as has been detailed by Leith Davis and others. (6) As an autodidact and former shepherd whose second career as an author was partly necessitated by the Highland clearances conducted by England to consolidate dominion in Scotland, Hogg was ambivalent about the vibrant literary environment that offered cultural ascendency at the cost of individual and national autonomy. His cosmopolitan reference to French as a sign of his imperial resistance is not uncommon in Scottish literature, but Hogg's use is unique in its yoking to the rural Borders rather than the metropolitan magazines that he came to associate with Union subjugation. (7) This essay therefore tracks Hogg's changing relationship with Blackwood's, a growing alienation that the Chaldee Manuscript and The Private Memoirs both describe, paradoxically, as "my enemy, my friend." The first section of this essay recounts the tremendous hope and subsequent failure in Hogg's original reference to Egyptology in the Chaldee Manuscript; the second section discusses his deliberate reengagement in the novel with these imperial and print capitalism forces, in order to attain a satiric superiority that compensates for actual defeat and subordination. The final section shows how Hogg's discourse of French Egyptology reconciles orality and print, the alternate forms of authoriality that epitomized Hogg's struggle in the Edinburgh literary scene. What I call his "Napoleonic complex" is his revolt against imperial Union as well as the English hegemony and corporate practice of the Edinburgh literary elite.
1. An Edinburgh "Book of the Dead"
The "Chaldee Manuscript," Hogg's first submission to the publisher William Blackwood, documents Hogg's early hopes of using print culture to promote himself. The work pretends to be an ancient document excavated in Chaldea, the Mesopotamian region that was a rich archeological resource during the Higher Criticism, the recent trend in Biblical philology which sought to authenticate Jesus through the corroboration of pre-Christian documents. The Manuscript plays off this allusion to the Higher Criticism: the text itself is a Biblical parody in chapter and verse about the founding of Blackwood's Magazine. Describing the publisher's efforts to start the magazine, the work was submitted by Hogg to Blackwood as his eponymous magazine was about to launch. (8) The facetious, mock-historic elevation in the self-referential work exhibits a glamorous orientalism that represents literary Scotland as the Levant, geographic territory of Christian history. Accordingly, Scott's home on the Tweed reappears at the river Jordan, Hogg's home in Ettrick Forest is reimagined in the woods of Lebanon, and Edinburgh itself is re-mapped as the holy city of Jerusalem. Such oriental ornamentalism was common in contemporary imperial culture and, as Timothy Morton has shown, was particularly useful for authors, such as the Cockney poets, who relied upon such discursive exoticism to mask their dubious cultural status. (9) More importantly, though, this "eastern idiom" that Hogg concocts picks up on nicknames already invented by Archibald Constable, Scott's publisher and Blackwood's chief competitor, which proclaimed the power of contemporary print culture by likening publishing houses to oriental empires. (10) The Scriptural intonations in the Chaldee Manuscript work the same way. They intimate the height of Hogg's--and the magazine's--professional pretensions, which its elevated discourse presumably secures. A verse describing a snuffbox belonging to William Blackwood illustrates these conceits:
(34) And he took from under his girdle a gem of curious workmanship of silver, made by the hand of a cunning artificer, and overlaid within with pure gold; and he took from thence something in colour like unto the dust of the earth, or the ashes that remain of a furnace, and he snuffed it up like the east wind, and returned the gem again into its place.
In this ekphrastic description of Blackwood's snuffbox, the value of the publisher's other marvelous possession--i.e., Blackwood's magazine--also is implied. By depicting the publisher possessed of a "gem," the verse pictorially metaphorizes Blackwood's favored possession of a great "Book." This claim is dramatized in a subsequent scene, a parodic condensation of the Biblical scenes of Annunciation and Moses on the Mount, where the printer is visited by a mysterious figure who prophesies success for the journal ("So he gave unto the man ... a tablet ..." [II.7]). Hogg's contribution to the Chaldee Manuscript is indispensable in this destiny, as demonstrated by Scott's later praise of the work's oriental language--and particularly this verse--as the best part or "gem" of the whole work. Hogg, the Manuscript constantly implies, is a "cunning artificer" absolutely necessary to Blackwood's.
Underlying this self-congratulatory Biblical parody, however, is a more interesting commitment to the collective power of magazines--what the antiquated diction of the Manuscript describes as being "increased greatly" (II.20). This interest hints at a literary strategy more sophisticated than the ornamental; indeed, it divulges the industrial base which motivates Hogg's oriental leitmotif. In a peculiar development of the intimate partnership of orientalism and imperialism, the Manuscript's Biblical parody exists to reveal the organizational likeness between magazines and empires, which both employ systems of incorporation to fit persons into existing offices and, thereby, achieve a structure greater than the sum of its parts. (11) For Hogg, this synergistic aspect of "present day" magazines was supposed to benefit him in precisely such associative relationships as I have just outlined. Indeed, Blackwood's involvement with these practices of rationalization and incorporation were so extensive that the Manuscript also shows this structure applying to other journalistic positions. Thus, in the Annunciation scene that describes William Blackwood's decision to start a magazine, Blackwood's editorial office is signified by a veiled and enclouded apparition whose obscured identity represents the fact that, at the time of the magazine's founding, the office was not yet appointed. The device dramatizes the place-holding functions common in an industry in which the practices of anonymity, pseudonymity, and collective identity were ubiquitous. Similarly, in a variation of the magazine's power to "increase greatly," the Manuscript further highlights this imperial quality of magazines by verbally emphasizing their capacity to promote individuals advantageously. In the last chapter of the Manuscript, which parodies Revelation, the Manuscript repeatedly refers to magazines as "hosts." The word's allusions to the Eucharist therefore again facetiously hyperbolize the magazine's importance while also punningly underscoring the magazine's positive capacity to enhance individual authorial effort (IV.16; IV.36; IV.40).
Given this deliberate analogy to imperial industry, it is in the Manuscript's evocation of Egyptian archeology where Hogg's optimistic conceptualization of magazines is most apparent. In Hogg's time, Napoleon's recent involvement in Egypt ensured that such Biblical pretenses, in the context of Egyptology, invoked imperial contexts more than ever before. (12) Most notably, the 1799 discovery of the Rosetta Stone, a trebly-inscribed stone fragment unearthed by his army during Napoleon's Egyptian campaigns, presented the general as the heroic person likely to unlock the mysteries of ancient Egypt by translating hieroglyphs. That the Chaldee Manuscript participates in this topical evocation of French imperial activity is evident in the preface, which alludes to the document's residence "in the grand Library of Paris" and its imminent translation by "Sylvestre de Lacy"--clearly a reference to Sylvestre de Sacy, the leading orientalist then spearheading French attempts to decipher the Rosetta Stone.
Significantly, though, in the Chaldee Manuscript the imperial dimensions of Hogg's ambitions with Blackwood's take the form of British rather than French sympathies. In its formal evocation of an ancient Egyptian text, the Chaldee Manuscript implies the English displacement of Napoleonic Egyptological glory--a political distinction that is consistent with the time of the text's appearance. The Rosetta Stone had been surrendered by France to England as part of their defeat in 1801. By 1817, the time of the Chaldee Manuscript's publication, Britain was in the throws of its own post-Napoleonic exultation in their captured symbol of cultural status. (13) As Robert Southey noted, "Everything now must be Egyptian." (14) The Chaldee Manuscript betrays this specifically British interest in the Rosetta Stone in two ways. First, because the publication coincided with the new display of the Rosetta Stone that opened in the British Museum in that same year, the work likened the magazine to the museum that represented the nation's imperial accomplishments, and therefore reiterated the idea that literary Edinburgh harbored treasures much as London itself. Secondly, the article magnified this hubris by formally evoking the hieroglyphs that currently captured the British imagination as well. The Manuscript is a paranomastic roman a clef--"novel with a key"--in which Edinburgh literati such as William Blackwood or Hogg himself are punningly signified by literally-descriptive phrases such as "boar" or "the man whose name is ebony." Such rebus-like visual-lexical puzzles are a specifically Egyptian manifestation of the "imperial heraldry" that Nigel Leask identifies in Romantic orientalism, and particularly resemble the heraldric paranomasia of Walter Scott that Jerome Christensen has already shown to figure imperial destiny in Scott's novels. (15) Most importantly, though, the word-games in the Manuscript burlesque contemporary theories of hieroglyphic decipherment which pursued direct pictorial-to-lexical translation, wherein each ideogram was thought to mean a specific word. In Hogg's reverse verbal hieroglyphs, the 'key' to the Chaldee Manuscript is to read each transcription of a proper name as the cartouche that outlined proper names in actual hieroglyphic texts. What is significant about Hogg's ingenious play on contemporary Egyptian interests, though, is its optimistic thematization of hieroglyphic translation--which in 1817 did not yet exist. To pretend that it did was profoundly triumphant; it believed that a British breakthrough in decipherment was imminent--that hieroglyphs would become English--and it parallels this scientific accomplishment by assuming that Edinburgh's literary authority was universal--that everyone was familiar enough with the local literati to decipher the Chaldee Manuscript. (In fact, translation of the Chaldee Manuscript was further ensured because many copies circulated with a key.) For Hogg, the fact that this presumed translation was actually premature only confirms his faith in the British imperial project that, for him, metonymized the magazine in which his literary ambitions were vested. Indeed, much as the new magazine depicts itself as an already exalted work, the Chaldee Manuscript also asserts Hogg's eminence by portraying "the boar"--whose previous works emphasized his rustic beginnings--as already one of the urbane Blackwood's circle.
The actual circumstances of conception and dissemination surrounding the Chaldee Manuscript, however, prevented the work from realizing Hogg's hopes exactly as he had intended. Ironically, although the work would aid the magazine in becoming "a horn ... [that] ruled the nations" (I.17), just as the mock-prophetic work had envisioned, it did so with consequences that had immediate and long-lasting adverse effects on Hogg's career. First, the collective conventions of magazine authorship which the Manuscript exemplified--the same imperial qualities that underlined Hogg's ambitions--ensured that Hogg's achievement as progenitor of the Chaldee Manuscript was subsumed by the magazine's corporate practice. John Gibson Lockhart, "the scorpion," used the prerogative of collective authorship to alter significantly the Manuscript's roman a clef. Capitalizing on the depiction of Edinburgh society in order to advance a partisan agenda, Lockhart greatly increased the number of personages the Manuscript referenced and sharpened to vicious ad hominem satire its descriptions of Whig personalities and other persons not associated with Blackwood's. The notorious verses on the antiquarian and naturalist John Graham Dalyell, for example, derided Dalyell's genitalia (III.36-38). These malicious personal attacks transforming Hogg's original novelty are comparable to the squib, "On the Cockney School of Poetry," the other important article to appear in this crucial first issue of Blackwood's and which is also attributed to Lockhart. Today this infamous assault on Leigh Hunt and John Keats far surpasses the Manuscript in scholarly familiarity, but the history of the Chaldee Manuscript reveals that the Manuscript--which at the time of publication was the preeminent source of the magazine's notoriety--was the decisive publication in Blackwood's institutional culture.
At the second level of debacle the Chaldee Manuscript encountered, because of the incorporating tendencies celebrated in Hogg's imperial conceit, William Blackwood institutionalized venomous personal satire as a regular business practice. Scandal and outcry had greeted the publication of the Chaldee Manuscript, sparking numerous liberal suits that, strangely, pressed their case by accusing the Manuscript of blasphemy. Blackwood was forced to stop publication of the offensive article and settle most of the libel suits, but the scandal had stimulated so much interest in the new journal that the publisher was inspired to embrace personal satire as a defining feature of the new magazine. Soon after the Chaldee Manuscript controversy, Blackwood's established a fund with which to settle any future legal suits the magazine might invite. Importantly, these payments rendered in settlement for arrogated personalities tacitly endorsed the promotion of such controversy as editorial policy and were, in effect, similar to the salaries and commissions that enable a magazine to retain the work of contributors and staff writers. By thus securing with monetary consideration the fictionalized personalities the magazine had invented, these practices amounted to a retroactive and de facto acquisition of rights and, thereby, realized to an extreme degree the incorporating tendencies that Hogg's imperial conceit had already astutely imagined.
The Noctes Ambrosianae (1820-1835) is a direct descendent of the vitriolic personal satire which the Chaldee Manuscript made as Blackwood's signature feature. The Noctes, which was named after the Edinburgh clubhouse where Blackwood's contributors supposedly gathered to compose the publications, was the product of prominent Edinburgh literary figures such as Lockhart, John Wilson (the editor of Blackwood's appointed after its launch), and William Maginn. The series consisted of fictional dialogues between these Blackwood's figures; most of the ideas for the magazine's content supposedly originated in these exchanges. (16) Not surprisingly, because most of the contributors to the Noctes also had been involved in the Chaldee Manuscript, the series subjected Hogg to the brutal ad hominem satire that Lockhart's expanded Chaldee Manuscript had pioneered. In the hands of Blackwood's writers--but not Hogg himself--the "Ettrick Shepherd," the signature used by Hogg since The Queen's Wake (1813), was caricatured as a boorish and befuddled clown whose rude, rustic speech was transcribed in the Noctes by dialect, unlike the other characters who were all represented in plain English. Because dialect, in the educated and cosmopolitan world of literary Edinburgh, invested as it was in its status as a British cultural capital, was the linguistic equivalent of the physical deformities that the Chaldee Manuscript mocked, Hogg's authorial reputation was grossly damaged by this representation. (17) Not only did the Noctes publicize an embarrassing picture of the author, undermining Hogg's literary achievements by publishing a competing representation that emphasized his habits of speech, but in its popularity the series further compounded this injury by surpassing the renown of Hogg's own works. After the Noctes, Hogg did not need to seek celebrity; he had the arguably more formidable task of correcting notoriety.
That the satiric invention of fictionalized personalities once devised by Hogg in the Chaldee Manuscript ironically could be used against him in the perverted form that was Lockhart's contribution to the Noctes begs the question of why Hogg himself never sought legal recourse to control his alter ego, as did the other victims of the Chaldee Manuscript. Hogg's failure to prosecute Blackwood's may reflect the fact that the corporate structure Hogg once embraced, but from which he now suffered, continued to have other professional advantages. For example, not only did it confer upon him widespread, if bittersweet, celebrity, but Hogg's affiliation with the collective organ of the magazine also sponsored an anonymity that absolved him of personal accountability for the legal suits leveled against Blackwood's. Indeed, if the cruel irony of the Manuscript's legacy for Blackwood's was Hogg's own role in originating the personal satire that the Noctes would later use to roast him, the episode also provided Hogg with exculpation: as Hogg himself noted, he would be "ruined if it [the Manuscript] can be attached" to him. (18) But it would be a mistake, however, to conclude that Hogg allowed the Noctes to assault him entirely without penalty. In his examination of Blackwood's powerful capacity to manufacture reality in the Noctes, Peter T. Murphy recounts the case of Glasgow surgeon James Scott, who dined out by performing the songs and quips attributed to "the Odontist," a fictionalized Noctes character loosely based on him. (19) Similarly, I will suggest that Hogg found a way to profit from the kind of identity theft that the Noctes practiced. His attempt to trump Blackwood's occurs in the autobiographical narrative that recounts this history--his appropriately titled Private Memoirs.
Certainly, as the numerous autobiographical interpretations of the novel assert, the demonic possession that befalls the protagonist of The Private Memoirs appears to rehearse Hogg's experience in the Noctes Ambrosianae. The novel's plot details the plight of Robert Wringhim, a religious zealot, as he is persecuted for crimes perhaps committed by his friend Gil-Martin, a mysteriously powerful personality who may be the Devil. The allegorical interpretations of the novel thus are based on the novel's portrait of Wringhim's torment at the hands of someone gifted at "setting his features in the mould of other people's" (119), much as Lockhart usurped Hogg's authorial voice in the Chaldee Manuscript. But, in a development more specifically demonstrative of Hogg's understanding of the Noctes' relationship to the Manuscript--and one that is suggestive of the novel's role as a non-litigious literary stratagem--The Private Memoirs directly evokes the Chaldee Manuscript in its conclusion when the novel reprises the earlier work's Egyptological themes. The aforementioned mummy and rolled-up antique manuscript found with the corpse, which are believed to be Wringhim's body and autobiography, actually are the centerpieces of an elaborate Egyptological design in the novel. The items surface amidst an orientalizing journey reminiscent of the Levantine topography of the Chaldee Manuscript. The expedition organized to investigate the mummy journeys "through a romantic, and now classical country," as if their movement from Edinburgh to the Borders where the mummy is located also is a temporal regression towards antiquity (246). The excavated text itself recalls the language of Biblical philology that the Chaldee Manuscript harnessed, as the fictional editor of the memoirs attempts to classify the mysterious text as either "an ALLEGORY, or a religious PARABLE" (240). Indeed, The Private Memoirs seems to present itself as the fulfillment of the combined Biblical-Egyptological metaphors that Hogg, in the Chaldee Manuscript, had found a resonant vehicle for his hopes of literary renown. Implicit in the conclusion of the novel, when the fictional manuscript is destined to become the actual commercial novel of the same name, is the posterity of Hogg's own works: The Private Memoirs, an "original document of a most singular nature" (93), is Hogg's own "precious treasure" which, like the manuscript found with the mummy, is intended to "miraculously preserv[e]" its author's memory, "a hunder times longer than any other body's" (252). The conceit of Hogg's pun is clear: his manuscript not only outlasts normal human decay but, indeed, is superior to everybody else's works.
But why does Hogg revive the Egyptological motif he once used in the disastrous Chaldee Manuscript? After all, as a work subsequent to the Chaldee Manuscript and the Noctes Ambrosianae, and which depicts the sad consequences of those works, The Private Memoirs ought to be opposed to the collective and anonymizing systems of literary production that magazines practiced, and hence would be expected to avoid the "eastern idiom" formerly associated with Blackwood's. On closer scrutiny, however, Hogg's Gothic novel inverts the Higher Criticism that the Chaldee Manuscript once used to figure its ecstatic anticipation of magazine culture. Significantly positing the existence not of Christ but of the devil, the novel laments the violent processes of incorporation that metamorphose a person into a literary fiction, or what the Ettrick Shepherd once deplored in his characteristic burr as "deevilry." Perhaps the more accurate question then is not why Hogg revives his Egyptological motifs in The Private Memoirs, but how its reapplication as a newly individualistic declaration of independence from magazines actually works. In the remainder of this essay I will show how The Private Memoirs rewrites the British Egyptological motif that once underpinned Hogg's imperial idealism about magazines into its French opposite. Where Hogg, in his ambitiously optimistic association of magazines with empires once imagined a printing angel that could help him ascend to the Edinburgh elect, The Private Memoirs instead depicts the contemporary print industry as a Blakean "Printing house in Hell," where "All Bibles or sacred codes [that] have been the causes of ... Errors" (Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Erdman ed., 40) are reimagined once more as a subversive and fiercely idiosyncratic narrative puzzle that identifies with the post-Napoleonic race to withhold hieroglyphic translation from the English.
2. Printing Devil
The Private Memoirs alludes to Hogg's experience with Blackwood's Magazine by depicting the compromises an author makes by participating in commercial print culture. A key passage in the novel is the episode at a printing house where, during the course of his flight from Gil-Martin, Wringhim fantasizes about a posthumous existence through the publication of his autobiography. The metafictional episode is the scene of the eponymous novel's coming-into-being and, as does the Chaldee Manuscript for Blackwood's Magazine, it dramatizes the authorial aspiration for literary immortality:
I put my work to the press, and wrote early and late; and encouraging my companion to work at odd hours, and on Sundays, before the press-work of the second sheet was begun, we had the work all in types, corrected, and a clean copy thrown off for farther revisal. The first sheet was wrought off; and I never shall forget how my heart exulted when at the printing house this day, I saw what numbers of my works were to go abroad among mankind (222)
The episode at the printing house thus begins as a quintessential instance of the birth of an author: it is at the printing house where Wringhim "first conceived the idea of writing [his] journal" (221). The tragic circumstances which brought him to the press only underscore his hope in such literary parthogenesis--clinging to the perdurability of book over body, Wringhim takes comfort in his publications' ability to "go abroad among mankind," as if they were the offspring the doomed man lacks. (Such personification of his autobiography accounts for why Wringhim, then living under an alias, insists on signing his manuscript with his own name .) Significantly, the printing house passage repeats the language and imagery of literary fame used in the Chaldee Manuscript, which had also described one contributor's literary success as a "name ... gone abroad ... on many books" (IV.10). This rhetorical repetition situates the scene within the imperial optimism about print capitalism that Hogg subscribed to in the earlier work. Indeed, the printing house episode suggests that the mystery plot of The Private Memoirs--in which the heavens to which the zealot seeks to ascend serves again as a metaphor for literary status--is the culmination of the print-culture concerns in the Chaldee Manuscript's Biblical parody. Robert Wringhim, who once sought to "have his name written in the ... book of life," now wants nothing more than to translate himself into a printed text, suggesting an orthographic rather than spiritual meaning in his aspirations to "justification" (115). (20)
The printing house passage thus provides an Edenic vision of literary production reminiscent of Hogg's idealism in the Chaldee Manuscript, prior to the moment when that publication was corrupted by Lockhart's pen. The novel suggests the strategic intentions under which Hogg originally conceived the Chaldee Manuscript when Mr. Watson, the head printer, urges Wringhim to cater to current literary tastes by adding "a shade of [religious] allegory," then "the very rage of the day" (222). Similarly, it allusively depicts Lockhart's alterations of the Manuscript when Gil-Martin, the devil, "appears twice in the printing house, assisting the workmen at the printing of [Wringhim's] book" (222). Most importantly, the novel replays the Chaldee Manuscript scandal by acknowledging the charges under which most suits were leveled--Mr. Watson dismisses Wringhim's work as a "medley of lies and blasphemy"--and also recalls Blackwood's removal of the Manuscript from circulation when the printer orders Wringhim's press run to be destroyed (223). At the center of the allegorical episode is an inspired narrative pun, where Gil-Martin is a "printing devil"--both a literalization of the conventional term for an assistant to a printing press and a personification of Hogg's demonization of publication in response to the Noctes Ambrosianae. The pun clearly recalls the hieroglyphic roman a clef descriptions in the Chaldee Manuscript, but importantly also contrasts with that earlier text by the pejorative valence it now accords commercial print culture. In this detailed allusion to the history of the Chaldee Manuscript, The Private Memoirs reflects Hogg's recent experience with Blackwood's Magazine by significantly portraying publication not as authorial birth but as a Faustian bargain entailing the death of the author.
Such narrative indictment of Hogg's biographical situation is further apparent in the novel's conclusion, where The Private Memoirs directly implicates Blackwood's in the erosion of authorial integrity by actually simulating the Noctes Ambrosianae, the magazine series that had been so pernicious to Hogg. The conclusion to the novel takes place in 1823, the year of the novel's composition, and includes as characters both of Hogg's literary identities as well as numerous other figures from the Blackwood's circle. "JAMES HOGG" is the author of an article published in Blackwood's which announces the discovery of the mummy, pricking the curiosity of Edinburgh gentlemen, and the Ettrick Shepherd, "the very man we wanted to make our party complete" (246), is the agrarian figure to whom those figures are directed during their search for the article's author. Significantly, the article attributed to Hogg is an excerpt of the 1823 letter actually published by Hogg in Blackwood's in the months before the publication of the novel, and the Edinburgh party that organizes to investigate the mummy consists entirely of Blackwood's figures, including Lockhart, William Maginn, and an anonymous "Editor" who will become the fictional redactor of Wringhim's exhumed manuscript. Numerous critics have remarked how the Editor's pomposity likens him to John Wilson, the Blackwood's editor and one of Hogg's chief antagonists. That the satirized Editor is not actually named as Wilson but is left anonymous may be strategic on Hogg's part, given the Chaldee Manuscript history. Overall, though, these intertextual and metafictional details render the novel's satire of the Noctes beyond doubt: The Private Memoirs even goes so far as to portray the conflicting public identities from which Hogg suffered through his encounter with the magazine, as its Ettrick Shepherd, like the one that existed in the Noctes, speaks with a thick burr and an anachronistic vocabulary that the Editor does not understand (246). Indeed, paralleling the discrepancy between the two voices in Hogg's published appearance and in his own writing that the Noctes perpetuated, in the novel the Shepherd's speech bears no resemblance to the sophisticated, scientifically-conversant language in the Blackwood's letter that appears under Hogg's proper signature. As the Editor himself acknowledges, the stuff in the letter is, unlike the voice he encountered in the Shepherd, "so ingeniously described" (247).
By allegorically dramatizing the origins as well as the conditions of Hogg's adverse experience with Blachwood's, The Private Memoirs imaginatively rewrites that history to favor Hogg himself. Hogg's antidote to his antagonist--the one he literally represents as a printing devil--is the "Scots mummy," a preserved authorial body which overturns the corporatizing processes of industrial print culture because it refuses to replace bodies with personified texts, as had the Chaldee Manuscript and Noctes Ambrosianae. Instead, the Scots mummy is the means of recovering an "admirable piece of writing," almost "lost to the present age" because of the injuries the Noctes wrought; and unlike the Chaldee Manuscript, which was unable to fulfill its promise for authorial promotion, Wringhim's manuscript is literally still tied to its authorial body. That portions of the mummy disintegrate after their exhumation might be understood as a symbol of Hogg's refusal to ever let the Blackwood's party possess his identity again. Similarly, formal resemblances between the two works also illustrate the reversionary relationship between The Private Memoirs and the Chaldee Manuscript. Just as the novel recounts Wringhim's qua Hogg's "life of turmoil and trouble," it also "wreak[s]" "vengeance" on his and Hogg's "adversaries" by its very existence, because the author responded to disappointment by "[setting him]self down and [writing]" again (97). Wringhim's fictional manuscript thus is both a symbol of, and a substitute for, Hogg's ill-fated Chaldee Manuscript, a "slighted gospel." Indeed, reflecting paranoia about arrogation and alteration that the Chaldee Manuscript debacle would have introduced, Wringhim's manuscript concludes with injunctions against modification. It threatens a curse against "he who trieth to alter or amend his" book (240).
The Private Memoirs also manifests its oppositional position in its narrative geography, which features a centripetal pressure that symbolically reverses the imperial propulsion towards the capital city that the Chaldee Manuscript epitomizes. Extensive geographical detail in The Private Memoirs always features Edinburgh as the site of evil. Both the tennis match and Arthur's Seat scenes, early episodes in which Wringhim hounds his brother into attacking him, are found in and around the city, as is a more farcical scene where Wringhim's entanglement in a weaver's loom depicts the handicaps of mechanization and thereby prefigures the betrayal at the printing press that occurs near the end of his life (216). Most obviously, Hogg's qualified inclusion among the Blackwood's circle is poignantly allegorized by Wringhim's inability to re-enter Edinburgh during his escape from Gil-Martin and his subsequent exclusion from full membership at the printing house, which is located on the outskirts of the capital. These scenes inculpate Blackwood's--and the political Union that enabled the rise of the Edinburgh literary industry to which Blackwood's belongs--by a disparaging opposition of diabolical urbanity to pastoral rural environments. The latter, in particular, are expressed in strikingly personal images. After his failure at the printing house, Wringhim finally finds peace as a shepherd. This suggestive career development significantly reverses the trajectory of Hogg's own life, as if to suggest Hogg's regret at that fateful change from shepherd to author. Indeed, nostalgic political fantasy takes place in the Shepherd's anachronistic appearance at a sheep fair in 1823, actually a time when the clearances were at their height. The Private Memoirs has Hogg's alter ego do so, presumably, because it allows him to "turn his back" on history as well as the Blackwood's circle (247).
Such a correlation between Union politics and narrative poetics in The Private Memoirs renders the novel a striking contrast to those of Scott. As Hogg's mentor and the leading national literary figure of the day, Walter Scott is often considered as a literary model for Hogg. Yet any formal and thematic similarities between the authors only reveal The Private Memoirs to be the exact opposite of a Scott novel. For example, the Hogg novel begins with a breakdown of a marriage and a subsequent division in property, in sharp contrast to the family romances that structure Scott's Unionist narratives. (21) More generally, Hogg's novel especially differs from Scott's in the impenetrable history that makes Wringhim's tale no more clear in the novel's modern conclusion. A case in point is Hogg's character Bell Calvert, a gypsy whose court testimony has obvious antecedents in Madge Wildfire (Guy Mannering) and Meg Merrilees (The Heart of Midlothian), but whose testimony confuses rather than clarifies history. The indeterminate narrative and resistance to closure that results from this formal negation of Scott is the distinguishing, compelling reason for The Private Memoirs' renown. Instead of a Scott novel, then, the text whose political contexts Hogg adopts in his novel to express his resistance to Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine is the hieroglyphic Egyptian tablet whose propitious decipherment in the year prior to the novel's composition enabled Hogg's continued reference of Egyptology to express anti-Edinburgh leanings.
3. Scottish Mummy
In the historic Lettre a M. Dacier (1822), the French prodigy Jean-Francois Champollion announced his solution or key to the Rosetta Stone. (22) The article, which was published in Paris but quickly made known to the centers for hieroglyphic translation in London, Oxford, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen, overturned the triumphal terms of imperial conquest that the Rosetta Stone once signified for Britain and wrought an upheaval of the Egyptological motifs which, after the publication of the Chaldee Manuscript, might otherwise have seemed antipathetic to Hogg. Decipherment crowned Champollion--student of Sylvestre de Sacy, the French orientalist mentioned in the Manuscript--as the new genius of orientalist scholarship, and inaugurated a new era of Egyptology in which the Stone's connotations shifted from material possession of the artifact--the kind of triumphalism underlying Britain's appropriation of Napoleon's trophy--to the feat of intellect embodied in the act of hieroglyphic translation. The breakthrough brought about further distinctions in the already politicized ethos of the race to decipherment; as the French cultural supremacy previously occupied by Napoleon was restored by Champollion, so that the markedly textual aspects of orientalism that Edward Said has observed is a distinctly French attribute, English interest in literary Egyptological antiquities declined. (23) As English interest in Egypt reformed around a taste for spectacular artifacts such as mummies, post-decipherment interest in hieroglyphic translation had a jubilantly anti-English cast. (24)
The Private Memoirs reflects these developments in contemporary Egyptology. At the printing house Wringhim promises to deliver a "key to the process, management, and winding up of the whole matter," as if his autobiography will provide the means to decipher this mysterious history (222). His allusion to a "key" secures the work's origins in the Egyptological tropes of the Chaldee Manuscript, while its import in 1824 emphasizes English defeat. Indeed, The Private Memoirs goes so far in monopolizing the key to decipherment that it generates a ludic encryption that defies precedent in English-language literature. Wringhim's intention to make sense of his incredible narrative is never fulfilled: his pamphlet, unlike the Chaldee Manuscript, does not come with a key. Instead the novel is known for the countless detailed but inauthenticatable moments whose resistance to any consistent explanation suggests that indeterminacy is precisely the novel's aesthetic. One of the post-decipherment strains in Egyptological interest illuminates the kind of epistemological blockage that the novel elicits. "Pyramidiots," occult believers attracted to Egyptian mysticism, rejected the achievements sought by translation in order to insist that hieroglyphs were a coded language deliberately devised to exclude common society; upon decipherment they clung to their beliefs by cultivating a reverse nostalgia for the romantic mystery of unintelligibility. The Private Memoirs practices a similar obscurity. Where Edinburgh literati used deliberately unintelligible dialect to separate Hogg from their transparently English, English-speaking society, The Private Memoirs is the antithesis of the imperially-triumphant intelligibility in the Chaldee Manuscript. The novel distinguishes itself as a confusing and, therefore, original work precisely because it remains impervious to interpretation. In terms of the heroic conceits with which the hieroglyphic decipherment was invested, it is as if Hogg is both author and translator of the Rosetta Stone, who importantly keeps the key to himself.
Of course, the political and professional concerns that shape the distinct narrative instability of The Private Memoirs is not a new insight. Previous critics of the work, such as Gary Kelly, account for the novel's obscurity as an attempt to systematically unmake Romantic fiction in a way that acknowledges Hogg's outsider status. (25) Similarly, with specific relation to Scott, Nicola Watson claims "Hogg produces a Jacobinical textuality that consistently scrambles ... [the] state [and thereby] explicitly revises and reverses Scott's deployment of the twinned disciplinary discourses of political romance and national history." (26) Egypt, I am arguing, is just Hogg's unique sign for this resistant literary style, actually a distinct vein in Scottish literature since the eighteenth century, when Edinburgh literary society began its ascendency after Union. Because of the concurrent rise of industrial print culture, the issues of textual authenticity and the different status of a printed text that The Private Memoirs portrays have their precedent here. Hogg's novel notably resembles Macpherson's Ossian, the eighteenth-century literary forgery which was a flashpoint for Scottish nationalism. Like the Ossian controversy, The Private Memoirs turns upon faith in the authenticity of its history, in which to doubt is to align oneself with metropolitan culture. One might even go so far as to say that Hogg's novel satirizes Samuel Johnson, one of the most vocal critics of the Ossian fragments, in the character of Wringhim's pompous, baffled Editor who claims that "no person ... will ever peruse it with the same attention that [he has]" (253-54) but still must finally admit he "dare not venture a judgment" on the work. In a recent essay, Ian Duncan similarly links The Private Memoirs to the Ossian controversy as illustrative of the need to naturalize narrative at the moment of industrial publication that characterized Scottish Romantic literature. (27) Indeed, resembling the kind of innovation in novelistic form that Katie Trumpener has shown to be a distinctive feature of Scottish nationalist literature after Ossian, The Private Memoirs presents itself as more authentically Scottish than the metropolitan Blackwood's contributors can ever be. (28)
The crux of Hogg's complaint with Blackwood's was the ruinous pretense of the Edinburgh literati. If Hogg's alienation from the Blackwood's circle was based on personal injuries he perceived in imperial terms, the elitism by which the magazine conducted their persecution was typified in the hypocrisy of their privileging of English, a linguistic choice which announced their political accommodationism. The Private Memoirs frees itself from this predicament by a notable amalgamation of English and dialect, the very linguistic instruments with which the Noctes had tormented Hogg. As Penny Fielding and others have shown, Hogg's writing is frequently distinguished by an unusual degree of discursive blends. Moreover, dialect is usually privileged in Hogg's use, in deliberate contrast to the practice of Blackwood's. (29) In The Private Memoirs, for example, insightful characters such as Bell Calvert and Samuel Scrape are voiced in dialect; similarly, Hogg's cousin William Laidlaw is praised for speaking "an excellent strong broad Scots" (252). The "Scots mummy" himself is the most over-determined figure of this discursive focus. In its oxymoronic blend of Egypt and Scotland, the figure is named to emphasize its dialect (Scots) rather than the more likely rubric of its ethnicity (Scotch), in order to underscore its personification of Hogg's print impersonation in dialect. The unusual presence of the self-referential Scots mummy thus requires, however, that The Private Memoirs depart from Hogg's usual privileging of dialect over English. Hogg's unusual double self-representation in the novel as both a dialect speaker (the Ettrick Shepherd) and an author who can write in English (the source of the Blackwood's letter) does not only reprise the conditions of the Noctes impersonation. More importantly, it posits a pluralist linguistic environment where contrasting voices can coexist.
The episode at Auchtermuchty, a tellingly complex passage that many critics cite as representative of the novel as a whole, presents the possibility of discursive multiplicity within an individual by one of the most linguistically hybrid passages in all of The Private Memoirs. In the fantastically embedded and multi-voiced passage--whose multiple narrators telescope from genteel Wringhim to his manservant, to the two rustic figures Lucky Shaw and Robin Ruthven, and finally to two demonic birds--both dialect and English-speaking characters appear. Glaringly, in the central dialogue between the two dialect-speaking birds, one bird suddenly shifts into speaking in plain English. (30) Such a capacity to switch from dialect to English is important, of course. As the bilingual capacity sought by all culturally-ambitious Scots--and hence a sign of class mobility that the scene underscores by its shifts through characters of various class status--the ability to reconcile both linguistic signifiers also functions, and in the loaded context of Hogg's autobiographical novel, to reincorporate the dialect-speaking Shepherd with the English-authoring "JAMES HOGG," and therefore rejects the Noctes' exclusion. It substantiates Hogg's claims to inclusion among Edinburgh's unaccented elite. In fact, it allows Hogg, at that moment, to ventriloquize Scott. Interestingly, the injunction "Mount, Diabolus, and fly" with which the birds' conversation concludes is a refrain in The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805), suggesting Hogg's burlesque of Scott in his absurd attribution of the comment to birds.
The 1823 letter by Hogg to Blackwood's, with which this essay began, secures the relationship of his longstanding Egyptological metaphors with these discursive ambitions. The letter, like the Auchtermuchty episode, uses both English and dialect in its strategic imitation of elements of the Noctes Ambrosianae. Addressed to "Christopher North," John Wilson's fictional persona in the Noctes Ambrosianae, the letter begins by describing a meeting between the Shepherd and North, in which North enjoins the Shepherd to write about "the boundless phenomena of nature." Initially perpetuating the condescending satire with which the Shepherd was portrayed in the Noctes, the letter first voices the Shepherd in dialect, and alludes to Hogg's educational deficiencies when the Shepherd--who presumably does not even recognize the word--punningly wonders "what the devil can this phenomena of nature be." (31) But in fact the Blackwood's letter immediately overturns this suggestion, characteristic of the Noctes, that Hogg is intellectually lacking. By providing the story about a Scots mummy as fulfillment of North's challenge to find a "phenomenon," Hogg's letter not only delivers on North's command, but also surpasses North's expectations by showing Hogg's competence with scientific discourse. The Shepherd not only understands the word "phenomenon" but, with the Scots mummy story, fulfills the challenge in spades. Significantly, the formerly dialect-speaking Ettrick Shepherd shifts into English when he narrates his account of the Scots mummy in the letter--but equally as significantly also reverts back to dialect in his concluding remarks, reiterating the equality of the two linguistic modes. "Well," says the Shepherd, "you will be saying, that ... there is nothing at all of what you wanted in this ugly traditional tale. Stop a wee bit, my dear Sir Christy. Dinna just cut afore the point." This shift from dialect to English and back again summarizes the phases Hogg experienced in his own political leanings and professional ambitions. Like the Auchtermuchty passage, the first shift from dialect to English counters the damage of Blackwood's satire--but that, as the Shepherd says, is not the point. Closing the letter by returning to dialect, Hogg refuses to conform to Edinburgh mandates for English and instead pointedly uses a double injunction ("Stop ... dinna") in both English and dialect to assert his capacious, commanding authorial voice.
The Egyptian mysticism that motivates the novel's discursive multiplicity therefore anchors the affinity of The Private Memoirs to magazines, a multidiscursive literary form Hogg once associated with Egypt and which Hogg approximates and recuperates in the same way. While the pervasive layering of discursive modes in The Private Memoirs evokes the multiply-inscribed nature of the Rosetta Stone, it also resembles nothing so much as a magazine itself, in which the wildly uneven tones of the novel, and particularly the miscellany of "history, justiciary records, and tradition" (92) with which Wringhim's original memoir is expanded, approximates the multiple voices, interpolated texts, embedded narratives, and real and fictional personalities that comprise modern magazines. The reasons for this formal simulation of an adversarial genre are various. The most banal explanation--which tends to compound the critical notion of Hogg's limited gifts--is that the discursive multiplicity and generic inconsistency of The Private Memoirs reflects Hogg's scattershot literary productions, a varied literary corpus that ranges from ballads and epics to prose fiction and an award-winning paper on treating the diseases of sheep. My belief, however, is that Hogg in The Private Memoirs deliberately uses and imitates magazine culture in order to bring his manuscript to publication--and thereby implicate Blackwood's in its own lampoon, just as the Chaldee Manuscript style was used against Hogg in the Noctes. The 1823 letter to Blackwood's was the first step in this scheme. Ostensibly portraying Hogg as still subject to the magazine's cultural brokers, it actually drums up interest in the forthcoming novel by setting up an extratextual document that will add to the novel's verisimilitude. The letter, we might say, is Hogg's Lettre a M. Dacier, just as The Private Memoirs is his Rosetta Stone, for in it the Ettrick Shepherd's conspicuous misclassification of "phenomenon" as a "French word" is the key to this novelistic puzzle's way of representing Hogg's distaste for Edinburgh's English-privileging culture.
Hogg's ultimate rejoinder to the Noctes' contempt for him is the novel itself, as the Blackwood's letter sets up. That document concludes with the Shepherd's reassurance to North that something surpassing even the extraordinary curiosity of the mummy has yet to arrive; according to the Shepherd, "the grand phenomena of Nature's a' to come yet." Clearly, this phenomenon is Hogg's forthcoming novel. Hogg's simulation of magazine diversity is instrumental to this exploitation of the Blackwood's industry to his own ends. In simulating the modern experience of authorship as an original manuscript that suffers under editing, The Private Memoirs is a novel that reads like a magazine in order to promote its one author as the sole source of its numerous pleasures. That the novel includes a mummy--an Egyptological artifact of particular interest to the English after the decipherment of the Rosetta Stone--is just another instance of Hogg's commercial desire to satisfy the maximum number of readers. As always in Hogg's writing, these are performative gestures that describe what Hogg hopes to realize. Whereas the Blackwood's expeditionists and other figures who cut Wringhim's remnants into souvenirs allegorize the assault on Hogg's authorial person, the novel uses the attributes of a magazine-like heterogeneity to reunite those disparate fragments. These contrivances also demonstrate the heroically subversive terms in which Hogg conceived his literary style. As early as 1810 Hogg had formulated parody, disguise, and inconsistent personality as his literary style. In The Spy (1810-1811), Hogg single-handedly produced a periodical in which he appears, significantly, as an Edinburgh agent in shepherd's clothing. For Hogg this chameleonic production was not inadequacy but--as for Keats--a sign of his literary strength. In an early letter to William Blackwood, Hogg once described his notion of a "bold and manly" style as something, like a magazine, that would be "that best intermixing of all things" (Strout 718).
Sadly, the triumph of this "bold and manly" style would have to wait. In Hogg's lifetime this scheme was compromised as the novel, which was first published anonymously and harshly reviewed, did little to promote him. Today, however, the novel survives as a major Romantic work, unlike the Chaldee Manuscript. This status is proof of the posterity for which Hogg plotted by burying it in pseudo-historical narrative obscurity. Interestingly, the novel's recovery by modern scholarship hinges upon an historical influence of French intellectual culture similar to that in the Champollion era: Andre Gide's effusive modernist appreciation of The Private Memoirs is credited with reviving critical interest in the work. (32) More interestingly, at least one modern critic of The Private Memoirs has recognized the Egyptological dimensions of the novel's narrative indeterminability. In an essay illustrative of its publication in the 1980S, Magdalene Redekop refers to the occult texts believed to hold the Egyptian secrets to the afterlife, and describes The Private Memoirs as a "Book of the Dead." (33) While the force of Redekop's metaphor clearly lies in its occult associations or as a figure for how Hogg conjures the return of the repressed, it also fortuitously underscores the fundamentally nationalist contours of Hogg's Egyptological motif. By linking Egypt with a narrative indeterminacy that is best elucidated by contemporary French theory, Redekop's professedly Derridean essay on The Private Memoirs acknowledges the historical origins of Hogg's thematic interests.
4. James Hogg's Napoleonic Complex
So what does it mean to say that Hogg harbored a Napoleonic complex? The term, which literally refers to attributes relating to Napoleon, has descended into colloquial usage to mean a personality type that compensates for perceived physical deficiencies by an ambitious or aggressive manner. My application of the term to Hogg subtends both meanings, as Hogg's exhibition of the latter definition manifests the former. (34) His linguistic handicaps impel his first turn to French Egyptology because of its power as an emblem of world-historical genius; by The Private Memoirs, this identification only consolidated because of its recent example of transforming defeat into astonishing triumph by usurping the iconic accomplishment once stolen from him. This identification with Napoleon by Hogg thus differs from the political and historical contexts that attracted other Romantics, as Simon Bainbridge has explored. (35) For Hogg, who found politics and print capitalism inextricably related, Napoleon embodied the alternatively imperial and anti-imperial dimensions of individual authorial fame.
The specifically Napoleonic context of Hogg's interest in Egypt is accentuated by his reversal of Egyptian connotations--actually a tradition of national representation in Scotland for some time. Egyptian motifs had been common in Scottish nationalist tradition since the early eighteenth century, when Biblical allegories in Jacobite broadsheets depicted Scotland as the Jews, oppressed by an England figured as Egypt. These Mosaic conceits capitalized upon the shared history of shepherding between Scotland and the Jews--a point the Chaldee Manuscript picks up when referencing Hogg--and by figuring Egypt as England, are the inverse of the Napoleonic Egyptology in Hogg's work. Such a revisionary association of Egypt with Scotland as Hogg practices could not exist until Napoleon. As the leading historical figure of the day, Napoleon transposed the terms of Egypt's significance for Scotland by making it the prize of political and cultural contest. Moreover, by paralleling his territorial campaign with the scientific documentation of the region that resulted in the monumental Description de l'Egypte (1809-1828), Napoleon established the textual focus essential to Hogg's interest. Indeed, Hogg was not unique in this post-Napoleonic appreciation of Egypt as a mythic civilization strongly associated with textual production. Egypt was always celebrated as the civilization to invent writing. The appeal of this august history to other contemporary Scottish writers is evident in Peter's Letters to His Kinsfolk (1819), where John Gibson Lockhart refers to Edinburgh as "Memphis or Palmyra." (36)
The contrast between Lockhart's invocation of Egypt and Hogg's, however, only affirms the imperial context that Hogg alone elaborated. Lockhart's likening of Edinburgh to ancient Egyptian kingdoms presents the Scottish capital as an eternal city; it is the same promise of textual immortality that first drew Hogg to Egypt, but makes no mention of the political and economic processes wrought by Napoleon that were transforming Egypt at that time. The specifically imperial way in which Hogg came to understand the modern print industry is depicted in Richard Whateley's Historic Doubts Concerning the Existence of Napoleon Bonaparte (1819), an interesting contemporary of Hogg's Napoleonic texts that may have influenced The Private Memoirs. The work, a skeptical satire of British prejudice against Napoleon, questions the tendency in the contemporary press to portray Napoleon as Satan. The devil in the Napoleonic The Private Memoirs" bears considerable similarity to Whateley's Satanic Napoleon: Gilmartin is "never seen by anyone" but Wringhim himself, which raises doubt about his existence just as Whateley facetiously discredits British claims about an enemy few have ever seen. Crucial to Whateley's argument is the idea--also central to The Private Memoirs" history--that the advanced nature of contemporary print capitalism is the more obvious source of public prejudice. The burlesque of the Ettrick Shepherd in the Noctes Ambrosianae was a similar phenomenon, which The Private Memoirs allegorizes when the Editor of the found manuscript remarks that Wringhim's true history can never be known because of "the printers, with their families and gossips" who spread "numerous distorted traditions" (254). In these notable precedents to The Private Memoirs, Whateley's text--well-known among Edinburgh intellectuals in Hogg's time--suggests an additional Napoleonic context to the critique of print capitalism that Hogg describes. (37)
To say that Hogg harbored a Napoleonic complex is to allege an apparent shortcoming in order to reveal his visionary genius. Hogg's historical insight was to recognize that the momentum of print capitalism cannot be stopped, and thus that the only way to combat the arrogation of his identity was to work within that system. He pursued this strategy by publishing more representations. In the course of his authorial career Hogg authored several published autobiographies and unpublished works that attempt to correct the Blackwood's arrogations and impersonations. Shortly after the Chaldee Manuscript fiasco, for example, he finished "The Boar," another Biblical parody that appears to be his own rewrite of the Chaldee text; that text went unpublished (see Strout 710-13). In 1821, Hogg published a revised version of his autobiography, The Mountain Bard, first published in 1807, and renamed it Memoirs of the Author's Life. This revised version Hogg even published a third time in 1832. Appearing between these iterations of his autobiography, The Private Memoirs can be considered an allegorical variation upon this recuperative autobiographical project. Marx would recognize the generic and discursive swings between fact and fiction, hoax and sincerity, that distinguish Hogg's literary life. Part of Hogg's Napoleonic pathos is how he, like a failed revolutionary, repeats the history of his tragedy as farce.
In the end, though, with its paramount concern for rehabilitating dialect, Hogg's compelling use of Egyptian motifs still has much in common with the older, proto-Napoleonic Scottish interest in Egypt, which began as an oppositional identification aligning Scots with Jews. This Mosaic model appealed to Scots because of the Jewish history in which a minority empowers itself through the linguistic impersonation of its oppressors. Similarly, Hogg's Napoleonic complex--really an interest in Egypt that stages his ambition to enter the Edinburgh circle--turns to French as an alternative to the conflict between English and dialect that Blackwood's promulgated. In the Biblical terms of the Chaldee Manuscript where Hogg first attempted to use elevated discourse to gain recognition, it constitutes his shibboleth to enter Edinburgh's linguistically-exclusive but seductively powerful print culture.
University of Houston, Texas
I would like to thank Charles Barker, Colene Bentley, Jerome Christensen, Frances Ferguson, Ruth Mack, David Mazella, and Ronald Paulson for their commentary on earlier versions of this essay.
(1.) James Hogg, "A Scots Mummy--To Sir Charles Christopher North," Blackwood's 79.14 (August 1823): 188-90. Quotation from Byron from The Complete Poetical Works, ed. Jerome J. McGann (Oxford, Clarendon, 1991) 5: 409.
SiR, 43 (Summer 2004)
(2.) See Barbara Bloede, "James Hogg's Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner: The Genesis of the Double," Etudes Anglaises 16.2 (1973): 174-86; and Karl Miller, "Flying Scotsman," Doubles: Studies in Literary History (Oxford: Oxford UP 1985). Douglas Gifford specifically emphasizes Lockhart as the double in James Hogg (Edinburgh: Ramsay Head, 1976) 142-43.
(3.) Ian Duncan, Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel: The Gothic, Scott, Dickens (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992).
(4.) James Hogg, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, ed. John Carey (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1999).
(5.) [James Hogg], "Translation from an Ancient Chaldee Manuscript," Blackwood's 7.2 (October 1817): 89-96. Citations in the text quoted by book and verse.
(6.) Leith Davis, Acts of Union: Scotland and the Literary Negotiation of the British Nation, 1707-1830 (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1998); Ian Duncan, "Edinburgh: Capital of the Nineteenth Century," in Romantic Metropolis: Cultural Productions of the City 1770-1850, ed. James Chandler and Kevin Gilmartin (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2002); and Tom Nairn, The Break-Up of Britain (London: Verso, 1981).
(7.) On metropolitan collaboration with Union, see Michael Hechter, Internal Colonialism: The Celtic Fringe in British National Development, 1536-1966 (Berkeley: U of California P, 1975). Interest in the auld alliance between France and Scotland is a recurring topic in the recent special issue of SiR 40 (Spring 2001).
(8.) For Hogg's Biblical influences see Coleman O. Parsons, "The Parodic Background of 'The Chaldee Manuscript,'" Studies in Scottish Literature 24 (1989): 221-25.
(9.) Timothy Morton, The Poetics of Spice: Romantic Consumerism and the Exotic (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000).
(10). Other nicknames included John Murray as "The Emperor of the West" and John Ballantyne as "The Dey of All-jeers," Noctes Ambrosianae, R. Shelton Mackenzie, ed. (New York: Redfield, 1855), Vol. 1: xix-xxi, n. 1.
(11.) On the corporate qualities of Romantic magazines, see Romantic Periodicals and Print Culture, ed. Kim Wheatley (London: Frank Cass, 2003).
(12.) E. S. Shaffer, "Kubla Khan" and The Fall of Jerusalem (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1975); Sue Zemka, Victorian Testaments: The Bible, Christology, and Literary Authority in Early Nineteenth Century British Culture, (Stanford: Stanford UP, 1997).
(13.) John David Wortham, The Genesis of British Egyptology (Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1971); Richard G. Carrott, The Egyptian Revival: Its Sources, Monuments, and Meaning, 1801-1858 (Berkeley: U of California P, 1978); Alan Bewell, "The Political Implications of Keats's Classicist Aesthetics," SiR 25.2 (1986): 220-29.
(14.) Quoted in Nigel Leask, British Romantic Writers and the East: Anxieties of the East (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992) I.
(15.) Leask 8; Jerome Christensen, Romanticism at the End of History (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2001) 174.
(16.) Mark Parker, "The Burial of Romanticism: the First Twenty Installments of the 'Noctes Ambrosianae,'" Literary Magazines and British Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000).
(17.) On unaccented English in Scottish magazine culture, see George Pottinger, Heirs of the Enlightenment: Edinburgh Reviewers and Writers, 1800-1830 (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic, 1992).
(18.) Alan Lang Strout, "James Hogg's Chaldee Manuscript," Publications of the Modern Language Association 65 (1950): 695-718 (704).
(19.) Peter T. Murphy, "Impersonation and Authorship in Romantic Britain," ELH 59 (1992): 625-49 (633).
(20.) See a similar discussion in David Groves, James Hogg: The Growth of a Writer (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic. 1988) 115.
(21.) On Scott's theme of family romance, see George Lukacs, The Historical Novel (New York: Humanities P, 1965) and Murray Pittock, The Invention of Scotland: The Stuart Myth and the Scottish Identity, 1638 to the Present (London: Routledge, 1991).
(22.) E.g., "Art. XI" [review of the Lettre a M. Dacier], Quarterly Review 28.55 (1823): 188-96.
(23.) Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978).
(24.) Leslie Greener, The Discovery of Egypt (New York: Viking, 1996) 140-53; Warren R. Dawson, "Pettigrew's Demonstrations Upon Mummies: A Chapter in the History of Egyptology," Journal of Egyptian Archeology 20 (1934): 169-82; Richard D. Altick, The Shows of London (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978) 235-52; James Steven Curl, Egyptomania: The Egyptian Revival, A Recurring Theme In The History Of Taste (Manchester: Manchester UP, 1994); Diego Saglia, "Consuming Egypt: Appropriation and the Cultural Modalities of Romantic Luxury," Nineteenth-Century Contexts 24.3 (September 2002): 317-32. To my knowledge, no one has previously noted a difference between English and Scottish Egyptology after decipherment.
(25.) Gary Kelly, English Fiction of the Romantic Period: 1789-1830 (London: Longman, 1989) 260-73.
(26.) Nicola J. Watson, Revolution and the Form of the British Novel, 1790-1825 (London: Clarendon, 1994) 170-76, 156.
(27.) Ian Duncan, "Authenticity Effects: The Work of Fiction in Romantic Scotland," South Atlantic Quarterly 102.1 (Winter 2003): 93-116.
(28.) Katie Trumpener, Bardic Nationalism: The Romantic Novel and the British Empire (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1997).
(29.) Penny Fielding, "Scott, Hogg, and Storytelling" in Writing and Orality: Nationality, Culture, and Nineteenth-Century Scottish Fiction (Oxford: Clarendon, 1996) 129.
(30.) Here is the dialogue annotated according to the punctuation and speech tags given in the text:
(1) 'Where will the ravens find a prey the night?'
(2) 'On the lean crazy souls o' Auchtermuchty,' quo the thither.
(1) 'I fear they will be o'er weel wrappit up in the warm flannens o' to mak a meal o',' quo the first. 'Whaten vile sounds are these that I hear coming bumming up the hill?'
(2) 'O cresshy louns o' Auchtermucthy, wha are gaun crooning being beat, we might let our great enemy tak them. For we think o' heaven; an' gin it warna for the shame o' sic a prize as he will hae! Heaven, forsooth! What shall thae, amang whom there is mair poverty and pollution, than I can name.'
(1) 'No matter for that,' said the first, 'we cannot have our power set at defiance; though we should put them in the thief's hole, we must catch them, and catch them with their own bait too. Come all to church to-morrow, and I'll let you hear how I'll gull the saints of Auchtermuchty. In the mean time, there is a feast on the Sidlaw hills tonight, below the hill of Macbeth,--Mount, Diabolus, and fly.' (199).
(31.) Interestingly, "phenomenon" was a charged word in the Rosetta Stone history. It was a popular honorific for Thomas Young, the English polymath whose correspondence with Champollion regarding the Rosetta Stone was instrumental to Champollion's breakthrough; for British proponents, Young was the true discoverer of the key to decipherment. This detail may be yet another of Hogg's sophisticated evocations of the Rosetta Stone history.
(32.) Andre Gide, "Introduction" to The Private Memoirs (London: Cresset, 1947).
(33.) Magdalene Redekop, "Beyond Closure: Buried Alive with James Hogg's Justified Sinner," ELH 52 (1985): 159-84 (161). Although the term "Book of the Dead" was not coined until 1842, it referred to an item sought by oriental antiquarianism since the mid-eighteenth century.
(34.) For reasons of length, more obscure Egyptian references in The Private Memoirs cannot be addressed in this essay. One such aspect is the novel's recurring allusions to gypsies. As their name suggests, gypsies were believed to be descendants of ancient Egyptians. This association was familiar to readers of Blackwood's, which in 1817-1820 carried a number of articles on local gypsies. See "Notices Concerning the Scottish Gypsies," Blackwood's 1.1 (April 1817): 43-58 (66); with epigraph by Hogg; 1.2 (May 1817): 154-61; 1.6 (September 1817): 615-20; "Anecdotes of the Fife Gypsies," by "W.S.," 2.9 (December 1817): 282-85; 2 (February 1818): 523-27; 3.8 (April 1818): 14-18, 3.16 (July 1818): 393-98; "Adventure with the Gypsies," 7-37 (April 1820): 48-57; (May 1820): 157-69.
(35.) Simon Bainbridge, Napoleon and English Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995).
(36.) John Gibson Lockhart, Peter's Letters to His Kinfolk (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic, 1977) 87.
(37.) Richard Whately, Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Buonaparte (Brown, Shattuck, and Co., 1832).
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|Publication:||Studies in Romanticism|
|Article Type:||Critical Essay|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2004|
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