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HOGG, THOMAS JEFFERSON (1792–1862), friend and biographer of Shelley, eldest son of John Hogg of Norton House, Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, by Prudentia, eldest daughter of the Rev. Watkin Jones, was born at Norton 24 May 1792. His grandfather had made a fortune as agent to the dean and chapter of Durham. He received his education at Durham grammar school, and in January 1810 proceeded to University College, Oxford, where in the following October he made the acquaintance of Shelley. Two men more dissimilar in most respects could hardly have been found; their bond of union was a passion for uncontrolled speculation and an utter distaste for the ordinary pursuits and general society of Oxford. At the beginning of 1811 they jointly produced a pamphlet of burlesque poetry, humorously attributed to Margaret Nicholson, a mad washerwoman, who had attempted to stab George III—a jeu-d'esprit now among the rarest prizes of Shelley collectors, and which, according to Hogg, was taken seriously by many undergraduates. ‘Leonora,’ a fiction jointly written by the two friends, is said to have been partly in type when, in March 1811, Shelley's syllabus on the ‘Necessity of Atheism’ occasioned his expulsion from the university. Hogg generously addressed a remonstrance to the authorities, who summoned him before them, and on his refusing to disclaim all participation in the pamphlet visited him with the like sentence. The proceeding was harsh, but the eccentric behaviour of the two young men must have long made them objects of suspicion. Hogg was now placed with a conveyancer at York, and remained there, ‘leading a studious and quiet life,’ until in September Shelley, accompanied by his young wife, flashed through the city at midnight in the Scottish mail, leaving a note which brought Hogg after him to Edinburgh. After spending some time at Edinburgh all three travellers returned to York. In October 1811 Shelley departed on a short visit to London, and for a year afterwards there is no extant trace of communication between him and Hogg, the fact being that Hogg's behaviour to Harriet in Shelley's absence had obliged the latter to renounce his acquaintance (Shelley's letter to Miss Hitchener, 14 Nov. 1811, quoted in Dowden, Life of Shelley, i. 192). There can be little doubt that the production printed in Hogg's ‘Life of Shelley’ (ii. 490–7) as ‘a fragment of a novel’ is in fact a letter of remonstrance addressed by Shelley to himself. In October 1813, however, friendly relations were resumed upon the arrival of the Shelleys in London, whither Hogg had removed from York to continue the study of the law. In the following April Hogg undertook an expedition after Shelley into Ireland, where he failed to find him. Some little time previous he had produced a novel, ‘Memoirs of Prince Alexy Haimatoff’ (1813), gravely stated on the title-page to be ‘translated from the original Latin MS. under the immediate inspection of the Prince by John Brown, esq.’ Shelley wrote an enthusiastic notice of this curious production in the ‘Critical Review’ for December 1814, sagaciously traced to him by Professor Dowden. The book could neither have attracted nor deserved attention while it remained anonymous, but at the present day the identification of the imaginary Haimatoff with the real Hogg is a source of no inconsiderable amusement. Some features in the portrait of Haimatoff are plainly taken from Shelley, and the venerable pedagogue Gotha seems to have been suggested by Shelley's account of Dr. Lind. After Shelley's return from the continent in 1814 his relations with Hogg reassumed much of their former intimacy; the two seem to have been nearly as much together as Hogg's enforced residence in the Temple allowed, and his correspondence with his friend depicts him as about equally divided between studying law and ‘Scapulizing Euripides.’ He was a zealous Hellenist, and so continued all his life. He was called to the bar at the Michaelmas term of 1817, and went the circuit in Northumberland and Durham, where he obtained some practice, but his reserved manner and lack of fluency were not conducive to forensic success. In 1822 he contributed to the ‘Liberal’ an essay on Apuleius, written some time previously for an abortive magazine projected by Leigh Hunt. In 1823 his quiet existence was perturbed by his passion for Jane Williams, widow of the Edward Williams who had perished along with Shelley. After considerable delay his suit was accepted on condition that he should qualify himself by a course of foreign travel. He accordingly left England for a tour in Germany and Italy on 3 Aug. 1825, returning on 27 Feb. following, ‘having thus actually completed two hundred and nine days without having once had recourse to any one of three things, each of which daily habit had taught me to consider a prime necessary of life—law, Greek, or an English newspaper.’ The journal of his tour was published in 1827 under the title of ‘Two Hundred and Nine Days,’ a record of trivial occurrences, seasoned by the strong personality of the writer. It is dedicated to Brougham, who had undertaken to procure him a professorship at the new university of London, but the office was not established for want of funds. An intended but unspoken inaugural lecture was published in 1831. Hogg meanwhile united himself with Mrs. Williams and joined the circle grouped around the younger Mill, with whom he quarrelled for some unexplained reason. Peacock and Coulson were among his chief intimates; and Mary Shelley endeavoured to persuade Peacock to procure him an appointment at the India House, from which his breach with Mill would have excluded him, even had he not been entirely unfitted for such employment. In 1832 his reminiscences of Shelley at Oxford, subsequently incorporated with his biography of the poet, appeared in the ‘New Monthly Magazine,’ under Bulwer's auspices. In the following year Brougham made him a municipal corporation commissioner, and, after the expiration of the commission, he was appointed revising barrister for Northumberland and Berwick. In 1840 and 1841 several chapters of a nondescript performance entitled ‘Some Recollections of Childhood,’ and defined by the author as a novel, appeared in Bulwer's ‘Monthly Chronicle,’ so mercilessly ridiculed by Thackeray. In 1844 Hogg inherited 2,000l. under Shelley's will, and about 1855, furnished with documents by the Shelley family, he undertook the task of writing the poet's life, for which Mary Shelley had always declared him the only qualified person. The first two volumes, bringing Shelley's history down to the eve of his elopement with Mary Godwin, appeared in 1858, and were at first received with almost universal disfavour. The remarkable merit of his article on Shelley at Oxford, where Hogg's tendency to irrelevance and extravagance had been controlled by Bulwer's ‘able editorship,’ had raised excessive expectations. Instead of the anticipated model memoir appeared two thick volumes of inconsecutive rodomontade, rather autobiography than biography, with no sign of real insight into Shelley's works or character. It was also soon discovered that Hogg had taken most unwarrantable liberties with his materials. When the writer was at last accepted as an eccentric humorist, disburdening himself of anecdotes, reminiscences, and views on things in general, relevant and irrelevant, it became clear that the book was remarkable and probably unique. Hogg possessed one great qualification of the biographer—the art of conveying a vivid impression of persons and things. Clough said on the appearance of the book: ‘It is a great pleasure to see Shelley really alive and treading the vulgar earth—Hogg's transparent absurdity being the only intervening impediment.’ Shelley's representatives, however, fearing that the prosecution of the work would result in stereotyping a caricature not only of Shelley but of Mary Shelley, withdrew the materials on which Hogg had depended for continuing it. Whether it was nevertheless continued is not known; no sequel has hitherto been published. Hogg died on 27 Aug. 1862. In addition to the writings mentioned above, he contributed the articles ‘Alphabets’ and ‘Antiquities’ to the eighth edition of the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ and several essays to the ‘Edinburgh Review.’

[Hogg's Life of Shelley; Dowden's Life of Shelley; Dowden's Some Early Writings of Shelley, in Contemporary Review for September 1884; Gent. Mag. 1862; private information.]

R. G.