For the Every-Day Book.
If I forget thee, worthy old Tam Hogg,
May I forget that ever knives were cheap: --
If I forget thy barrow huge and steep,
Slow as a snail, and croaking like a frog: --
Peripatetic, stoic, "cynic dog,"
If from my memory perish thee, or thine,
May I be doomed to gnaw asunder twine,
Or shave with razor that has chipped a log!
For in thy uncouth tabernacle dwelt
Honest Philosophy; and oh! far more
Religion thy unstooping heart could melt,
Nor scorned the muse to sojourn at thy door;
What pain, toil, poverty didst thou endure,
Reckless of earth so heaven might find thee pure!
In my native village of Heanor, in Derbyshire, some
sixteen or seventeen years ago, there appeared a singular character,
whose arrival excited a sensation, and became an epoch in
its history. Some boys who had been strolling to a distance brought an
account that a little man, with a barrow as large as a house, was coming
along the lane, at "a snail's gallop." Forth sallied a troop of gazers,
who found a small, thick-set, round-faced man,
in an old, red, soldier's jacket, and cocked hat, sitting on the handle
of his barrow, which was built and roofed after the manner of a caravan;
and was a storehouse of some kind of merchandise, what they yet knew
not. He sat very quietly as they came round him, and returned their
greetings in a way short and dry, and which became markedly testy and
impatient, as they crowded more closely, and began to ask questions.
‘Not too fast, my masters; not too fast! my first answer can't
overtake your twentieth question.’ At length he rose, and, by the
aid of a strong strap passed over his shoulders, heaved up the handles
of his barrow, and placing his head against it, like a tortoise under a
stone, proceeded at a toilsome rate of some few hundred yards per hour.
This specimen of patient endurance amazed the villagers. A brawny
labourer would have thought it a severe toil to wheel it a mile; yet
this singular being, outdoing the phlegmatic perseverance of an ass,
casting Job himself in the background for patience, from league to
league, from county to county, and from year to year, urged on his
ponderous vehicle with almost imperceptible progression.
It was soon found that he was not more singular in appearance, than
eccentric in mind. A villager, thinking to do him a kindness, offered to
wheel his barrow, but what was the surprise of the gazers to see him
present the man payment when he had moved it a considerable way, and on
its being refused, to behold him quietly raise the barrow, turn it
round, and wheel it back to the identical spot whence the villager set
On reaching the hamlet, he took up his quarters in a stable, and opened
his one-wheeled caravan, displaying a good assortment of cutlery ware.
It was there I first saw him, and was struck with his grave an
uncomplying air, more like that of a beadle stationed to keep off
intruders, than of a solicitous vender of wares. He was standing with a
pair of pliers, twisting wire into scissor-chains; keeping, at the same
time, a shrewd eye upon the goods. The prices were so wonderfully low
that it was whispered the articles could not be good, or they were
stolen: yet I did not perceive that either idea was suffiient to
dissuade the people from buying, or from attempting to get them still
lower. Then it was that his character and
temper showed themselves. He laid aside the goods attempted to be
chaffered for, saying, -- ‘You shall not have them at all, I
tell no lies about them nor shall you.’ In fact his goods were
goods. So much so, that many of them are in use in the
village to this day: he desired only such a profit as would supply the
necessities of one who never slept in a bed, never approached a fire for
the sake of its warmth, nor ever indulged in any luxury. His greatest
trial appeared to be to bear with the sordid spirit of the world. When
this did not cross him he became smiling, communicative, and, strange as
it may seem, exceedingly intelligent. I well recollect my boyish
astonishment when he quoted to me maxims of Plato and Seneca, and when I
heard him pouring out abundance of anecdote from the best sources. He
had a real spirit of kindliness in him, though the most immediately
striking features of his mind were shrewdness and rigid notions of
truth; which, as he practised it himself, he seemed to expect from the
whole world. He had a tame hedgehog which partook his fare, slept in a
better next than himself, and was evidently a source of affectionate
enjoyment. He was fond of children; but he had a stern spirit of
independence which made him refuse gifts and favours, unless permitted
to make some return. My mother frequently sent him warm messes in the
wintry weather, and he brought her a scissor-chain and a candlestick of
brass-wire. He was a writer of anagrams, acrostics, and so forth; and
one epitaph written for one of his bystanders was, --
Too bad for heaven, too good for hell,
So where he's gone I cannot tell.
He always slept with his barrow chained to his leg; and on Sundays kept
himself totally shut up, except during service time, standing the day
through, reading his bible.
When his character was known, he grew to be a general favourite. His
stable became a sort of school, where he taught, to a constant audience,
more useful knowledge than has emanated from many a philosopher, modern
or antique. The good-will he excited evidently pleased the old man; he
came again and again, till at length years rolled away without his
reappearance, and he was considered as dead. But not so. For ten or
years he was still going on his pilgrimage,
a wanderer and an outcast; probably doing voluntary penance for some sin
or unhappiness of youth; for he carefully kept aloof of his native
country, Scotland, and though he spoke of one living sister with tearful
eyes, he had not seen her for many, many years. In 1820 he had found his way to Midsomer Norton,
near Bristol, where he was hooted into the town by a troop of
boys, a poor, worn-down object, of the most apparent misery. This I
accidentally learnt, short time ago, from a little book, the memorial of his last days, written by the worthy
clergyman of that place, and published by Simpkin and Marshall, London.
What a tale would the history of those years have displayed. What scenes
of solitary travel, exhaustion, suffering, insults, and occasional
sympathy and kindness, breaking, like cheering sunbeams, through the
ordinary gloom. His barrow was gone! Poverty had wrung from
him or weakness had compelled him to abandon, that old companion of his
travels. I have often thought what must have been his feelings
at that parting. Poor old man, it was
his house, his friend, his dog, his everything. What energies had he not
expended in propelling it from place to place. It could not have been
left without a melancholy pang, -- without seeming to begin a
more isolated and cheerless existence. But I cannot dwell upon the
subject. It is sufficient to say that he found in the rev. William Read, who wrote the little
book just mentioned, and excellent friend in the time of final need.
That he retained the same character to the last; displaying, in a
concluding scene of such bodily wretchedness and sufferings as has
seldom been paralleled, the same astonishing endurance, nay ebullient
thankfulness of heart; and that his piety seems to have worn off much of
his asperity of manner.
A didactic poem called "The Flower Knot," or, "The Guide Post," was found
after his death, a composition of no ordinary merit, from which we will
quote two passages, and bid a final adieu to our old friend under every
name of Thomas Hogg, Tam Hogg, or Cheap Tommy.
"Pope calls it feather -- does he not say right?
'Tis like a custard weak, and bears no weight;
But had it not that wiping feather been
The poet's lines had never shone so clean.
Wisdom on foot ascends by slow degrees;
But wit has wings, and soars aloft with ease.
The seetest wine makes vinegar most sour,
So wit debased is hell's consummate power."
"Fountain of song, it prayer begins and ends;
Hope is the wing by which the soul ascends.
Some may allege I wander from the path,
And give to Hope the proper rights of Faith.
Like love and friendship, these, a comely pair,
What's done by one, the other has a share:
When heat is felt, we judge that fire is near,
Hope's twilight comes, -- Faith's day will soon appear.
Thus when the christian's contest doth begin
Hope fights with doubts, till Faith's reserves come in.
Hope comes desiring and expects relief;
Faith follows, and peace springs from firm belief.
Hope balances occurrences of time;
Faith will not stop till it has reached the prime.
Just like copartners in joint stock of trade,
What one contracts is by the other paid.
Make use of Hope thy labouring soul to cheer,
Faith shall be giv'n, if thou wilt persevere.
We see all things alike with either eye,
So Faith and Hope the self-same object spy.
But what is Hope? or where, or how begun?
It comes from God, as light comes from the sun."
In consequence of this interesting narrative concerning Thomas Hogg, the "little book -- the
memorial of his last days" by the rev. Mr. Read, was procured by the editor. It is entitled "The Scottish Wanderer," and as our kind correspondent "H."
has only related his own observations, probably from apprehension that
his narrative might be deemed of sufficient length, a few particulars
are extracted from Mr. Read's tract respecting the latter days of the
Mr. Read commences his "Memoir of Thomas Hogg," by saying -- ‘On Sunday the ninth of
January 1820, as I was proceeding in the services of the
day, my attention was attracted by a wretched object seated in the
nave of the church. There was an air of devout seriousness about
him, under all the disadvantages of tattered garments and squalid
appearance, which afforded a favourable presentiment to my mind.
When the service was over the stranger disappeared.’
Mr. Read conceived that he was some poor passing beggar, who had been
allured by the fire in the stove, but to his surprise on the following Sunday the same object presented
himself, and took his station, as before, near the stove. He seemed to
be a man decrepit with age: his head resting upon his bosom, which was
partly exposed, betokened considerable infirmity. Under a coarse and
dirty sackcloth frock was to be seen a soldier's coat patched in various
places, which was strangely contrasted with the cleanliness of his
shirt. His whole appearance was that of the lowest degree of poverty.
His devout attention induced Mr. Read when the service was concluded to
inquire who this old man was. "Sir," replied his informant, "he is a
person who works at the blacksmith's shop; he is a remarkable man, and
carries about with him a bible, which he constantly reads."
In the course of the week Mr. Read paid him a visit. He found him
standing by the side of the forge, putting some links of iron-wire
together, to form a chain to suspend scissors. The impressions of wretchedness excited by his first
appearance were greatly heightened by the soot, which, from the nature
of his occupation, had necessarily gathered round his person; and after
a few general observations Mr. Read went to Mr. H. S., the master of the
shop, who informed him that on Tuesday the fourth
of January, in the severely cold weather which then
prevailed, this destitute object came to his shop, almost exhausted with
cold and fatigue. In his passage through the neighbouring village of
P--------, he had been inhumanly pelted with snow-balls by a party of
boys, and might probably have perished, but for the humanity of some
respectable inhabitants of the place, who rescued him from their hands.
Having reached Mr. S.'s shop, he requested permission to erect, in a
shed which adjoined the shop, his little apparatus, consisting of slight
table, with a box containing his tools. the benevoletn master of the
premises kindly stationed him near the forge, where he might pursue his
work with advantage. In the evening, when the workmen were about to
retire, Mr. S. asked him where he intended to lodge that night. The old
man inquired if there were any ox-stall or stable near at hand, which he
might be permitted to occupy. His benefactor offered his stable, and the
poor creature, with his box and table upon his back, accompanied Mr. S.
home, where as comfortable a bed as fresh straw, and shelter from the
inclemency of the weather, could afford, was made up. One of Mr. S.'s
children afterwards carried him some warm cider, which he accepted with
reluctance, expressing his fears lest he should be depriving some part
of the family of it.
The weather was very cold: the thermometer, during the past night, had
been as low as six or seven degrees of Fahrenheit. In the morning he
resumed his post by the side of the forge. Mr. S. allowed him to retain
his station as long as he needed it; and contracted so great a regard
for him, as to declare, that he never learned so complete a lesson of
humility, contentment, and gratitude, as from the conduct of this man.
The poor fellow's days continued to be passed much in the manner above
described; but he had exchanged the stable, at night, for the shop,
which was warmer, as soon as his benevolent host was satisfied
respecting his principles; and with exemplary diligence he pursued his
humble employment of making chains and skewers. He usually dined on hot
potatoes, or bread and cheese, with occasionally half a pint of beer. If
solicited to take additional refreshment, he would decline it, saying,
‘I am thankful for the kindness, -- but
it would be intemperate.’
At an early hour in the afternoon of the first Saturday which he spent in
this village, he put by his work, and began to hum a hymn tune. Mr. S.
asked him if he could sing. ‘No, sir,’ he
replied. ‘I thought,’ added Mr. S., ‘I heard you singing.’
‘I was only composing my thoughts a little,’ said the poor man,
‘for the sabbath.’
On Mr. Read being informed of these particulars, he was induced to return
to the stranger with a view to converse with him. He says ‘There was a peculiar bluntness in his manner of
expressing himself, but it was very far removed from any thing of
churlishness or incivility. All his answers were pertinent, and were
sometimes given in such measured terms as quite astonished me. The
following was a part of our conversation. -- 'Well, my
friend, what are you about?' 'Making scisor-chains, sir.' 'And how
long does it take you to make one?' With peculiar archness he looked
up in my face, (for his head always rested upon his bosom, so that
the back part of it was depressed nearly to the same orizontal plane
with his shoulders,) and with a complacent smile, said, 'Ah! and you
will next ask me how many I make in a day; and then what the wire
costs me; and afterwards what I sell them for.' From the
indirectness of his reply, I was induced to conclude that he was in
the habit of making something considerable from his employment, and
wished to conceal the amount of his gains.’ It appeared, however,
that he was unable, even with success in disposing of his wares, to earn
more than sixpence or sevenpence a day, and that his apparent reluctance
to make known his poverty proceeded from habitual contentment.
Mr. Read asked him why he followed a vagrant life, in preference to a
stationary one, in which he would be
better known, and more respected? ‘The nature of my
business,’ he replied, ‘requires that I should move about from
place to place, that, having exhausted my custom in one spot, I may
obtain employment in another. Besides,’ added, he, ‘my mode of
life has at least this advantage, that if I leave my friends behind
me, I leave also my enemies.’
When asked his age, he replied, with a strong and firm voice, ‘That is
a question which I am frequently asked, as if persons supposed me to
be a great age; why, I am a mere boy.’
‘A mere boy!’ repeated Mr. Read; ‘and pray what do you mean by
that expression?’ -- ‘I am sixty-five years of age, sir;
and with a light heel and a cheerful heart, hope to hold out a
considerable time longer.’ In the course of the conversation, he
said, ‘It is not often that I am honoured with the visits of
clergymen. Two gentlemen, however, of your profession once came to
me when I was at -- -- , in -- -- ,
and expressed a hope that I should derive some advantage from their
conversation. 'We are come,' said they, 'with the same expectation
to you, for we understand that you know many things.' I told them
that I feared they would be greatly disappointed.’ He then stated
that the old scholastic question was proposed to him, ‘Why has God
given us two ears and one mouth?’
‘I replied,’ said he, ‘that we may hear twice as much as we
speak;’ adding, with his accustomed modesty, ‘I should not have
been able to have given an answer to this question if I had not
heard it before.’
Before they parted, Mr. Read lamented the differences that existed
between persons of various religious persuasions. The old man rejoined
in a sprightly tone, ‘No matter; there are two sides to the river.’
His readiness in reply was remarkable. Whatever he said implied
contentment, cheerfulness, and genuine piety. Before Mr. Read took leave
of him, he inquired how long he intended to remain in the village. He
answered, ‘I do not know; but as I have house-room and fire without
any tax, I am quite satisfied with my situation, and only regret the
trouble I am occasioning to my kind host.’
Until the twentieth of the month Mr. Read saw
but little of him. On the morning of that day he met him creeping along
under a vast burden, for on the pre
ceding Monday he
had set out on a journey to Bristol, to procure a
fresh stock of wire, and with half a hundred weight of wire upon his
back, and three half-pence in his pocket, the sole remains of his scanty
fund, he was now returning on foot, after having passed two days on the
road, and the intervening night before a coalpit fire in a neighbouring
village. The snow was deep upon the ground, and the scene indescribably desolate. Mr. Read was
glad to see him, and inquired if he were not very tired. ‘A little, a little,’ he replied, and taking off his hat, he asked if he could execute any thing for me. An order for some trifling articles,
brought him to Mr. Read on the following Wednesday, who entered into conversation with him, and says, ‘he repeated many admirable adages, with which his memory appeared to be well stored, and incidentally touched on the word
cleanliness. Immediately I added, 'cleanliness is next to godliness;' and seized the opportunity which I had long wanted, but from fear
of wounding his mind hesitated to embrace, to tell him of the absence of that quality in himself. He with much good nature
replied, 'I believe I am substantially clean. I have a clean shirt every week: my business, however, necessarily makes me dirty in my person.' 'But why do you
not dress more tidily, and take more care of yourself? You know that God hath given us the comforts of life that we may enjoy
them. Cannot you afford yourself these comforts?' 'That question,' said he emphatically, but by no means rudely, 'you should
have set out with. No, sir, I cannot afford myself these comforts.'’
Mr. Read perceiving his instep to be inflamed, and that he had a miserable pair of shoes, pressed a pair of his own upon him.
On the following day he visited him, and found him working upon his chains while sitting, -- a posture in which he did not
often indulge. Mr. Read looked at his foot, and found the whole leg prodigiously swollen and discoloured. It had inflamed
and mortified from fatigue of walking and inclemency of the weather during the journey to Bristol. Mr. Read insisted on his
having medical assistance. ‘The doctor is expected in the village to-day, and you must see him: I will give orders for him to call in upon you.’ ‘That is kind, very kind,’ he replied. At this moment an ignorant talker in the shop exclaimed in a vexatious and offensive manner, that he would not have such a leg (taking off his hat) ‘for that, full of guineas.’ The old man looked up somewhat sharply at him, and said, ‘nor I, if I could help it.’ The other, however, proceeded with his ranting. The afflicted man added, ‘You only torture me by your observations.’ This was the only instance approaching to impatience he manifested.
It appears that of late he had slept in one corner of the workshop, upon the bare earth, without his clothes, and with the
only blanket he had, wrapped round his shoulders. It was designed to procure him a bed in a better abode; but he preferred
remaining where he was, and only requested some clean straw. He seemed fixed to his purpose; every thing was arranged, as
well as could be, for his accommodation.
Early the next morning Mr. Read found the swelling and blackness extending themselves rapidly towards the vital parts. The
poor fellow was at times delirious, and convulsed; but he dozed during the greater part of the day. It was perceived from
an involuntary gesture of the medical gentleman on his entrance, that he had not before witnessed many such objects. He delcared
there was but little hope of life. Warm fomentations, and large doses of bark and port wine were administered. A bed was
provided in a neighbouring house, and Mr. Read infomed the patient of his wish to remove him to it, and his anxiety that he
should take the medicines prescribed. He submitted to every thing proposed, and added, ‘One night more, and I shall be beyond the clouds.’
On the Saturday his speed was almost unintelligible, the delirium became more frequent, and his hands were often apparently
employed in the task to which they had been so long habituated, making links for chains; his respiration became more and more
hurried; and Mr. Read ordered that he should be allowed to remain quite quiet upon his bed. At certain intervals his mind
seemed collected, and Mr. R. soothed him by kind attentions. He said, ‘There are your spectacles; but I do not think they have brought your bible? I dare say you would like to read it?’ ‘By-and-by,’ he replied: ‘I am pretty well acquainted with its contents.’ He articulated indistinctly, appeared exhausted, and on
Sunday morning his death-knell was rung from the steeple. He died about two o'clock in the morning without a sigh. His
last word was, in answer to the question, how are you? -- ‘Happy.’
A letter from a gentleman of Jedburgh, to the publishers of Mr. Read's tract, contains the following further particulars respecting
this humble individual.
At school he seldom associated with those of his own age, and rarely took part in those games which are so attractive to the
generality of youth, and which cannot be condemned in their own place. His declining the society of his schoolfellows did
not seem to arise from a sour and unsocial temper, nor from a quarrelsome disposition on his part, but from a love of solitude,
and from his finding more satisfaction in the resources of his own mind, than in all the noise and tumult of the most fascinating
He was, from his youth, noted for making shrewd and sometimes witty remarks, which indicated no ordinary cast of mind; and
in many instances showed a sagacity and discrimination which could not be expected from his years. He was, according to the
expressive language of his contemporaries, an ‘auld farrend’ boy. He began at an early period to make scissor-chains, more for amusement than for profit, and without ever dreaming that
to this humble occupation he was to be indebted for sugsistence in the end of his days. When no more than nine or ten years
of age, he betook himself to the selling of toys and some cheap articles of hardware; and gave reason to hope, from his shrewd,
cautious, and economical character, that he would gradually increase his stock of goods, and rise to affluence in the world.
His early acquaintances, considering these things, cannot account for the extreme poverty in which he was found at the time
of his death. He appears to have been always inattentive to his external dress, which, at times, was ragged enough; but was
remarkable for attention to his linen -- his shirts, however coarse, were always clean. This was his general character in
the days of his youth. On his last visit to Jedburgh, twnety-nine years before his death, he came with his clothes in a most
wretched condition. His sisters, two very excellent women, feeling for their brother, and concerned for their own credit,
got a suit of clothes made without delay. Dressed in this manner, he continued in the place for some time, visiting old acquaintances,
and enjoying the society of his friends. He left Jedburgh soon after; and, from that time, his sisters heard no more of their
Hogg's father was not a native of Jedburgh. Those with whom I have conversed seem to think that he came from the neighbourhood of Selkirk, and was closely connected with the progenitor of the Ettrick Shepherd. He, properly speaking, had no trade; at least did not practise any: he used to travel through the country with a pack containing
some hardware goods, and at one time kept a small shop in Jedburgh. All accounts agree that the father had, if not a talent
for poetry, at least a talent for rhyming.
He appears to have had amost excellent mother, whom he regularly accompanied (sic)to their usual place of public worship, and to whom he was indebted for many pious and profitable instructions, which seem
to have been of signal service to her son when she herself was numbered with the dead and mouldering in the dust.
During the time of his continuance in Jedburgh and its vicinity, he evinced a becoming regard to the external duties of religion;
but nothing of that sublime devotion which cheered the evening of his days, and which caused such astonishing contentment
in the midst of manifold privations. My own belief is, from all the circumstances of the case, that the pious efforts of his
worthy mother did not succeed in the first instance, but were blessed for his benefit at an advanced period of life. The
extreme poverty to which he was reduced and the corporal ailments under which he had laboured for a long time, were like breaking
up the fallow ground, and causing the seed which had been sown to vegetate.
We must here part from "the Scottish Wanderer." Some, perhaps, may think he might have been dismissed before -- "for what
was he?" He was not renowned, for he was neither warrior nor statesman; but to be guileless and harmless is to be happier
than the ruler of the turbulent
and more honourable than the leader of an army. If his life was not illustrious, it was wise; for he could not have been
seen, and sojourned in the hamlets of labour and ignorance, without exciting regard and communicating instruction. He might
have been ridiculed or despised on his first appearance, but where he remained he taught by the pithy truth of his sayings,
and the rectitude of his conduct: if the peripatetic philosophers of antiquity did so much, they did no more. Few among those
who, in later times, have been reputed wise, were teachers of practical wisdom: the wisdom of the rest was surpassed by "Cheap
126.96.36.199. NATURALISTS' CALENDAR.
Mean Temperature . . . 64 . 07.