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Robert Burns Lives!
Another Unsubstantiated Claim by Paddy Hogg

Edited by Frank R. Shaw, FSA Scot, Dawsonville, GA, USA

Below you will find another brief commentary regarding the on-going exchange of Patrick Scott Hogg, Mark Wilson, Gerard Carruthers, etc. I have nothing further to add from an editorial perspective, but I do wonder how many copies of The Patriot Bard have been sold. If any of you know or can recommend how to find the answer, I’d appreciate it. Perhaps the publishers might care to reply to the question at the end of the article below. It would be interesting to hear from them.

In the meantime, thanks to whoever wrote the following line, “I bid you adieu, but not goodbye”! (FRS: 7.1.10)

Another Unsubstantiated Claim by Paddy Hogg

Dr Gerard Carruthers’s article, ‘The Peculiar “Research” of P S Hogg’ prompted by my own comments and also Mark Wilson’s essay confirms my own suspicions about the seriously unreliable claims made by Paddy Hogg in the book, The Patriot Bard. Another strange set of remarks by Hogg surrounding the issue of ‘J.B.’ and Claud I Boswell, concerns the latter’s kinsman, the famous James Boswell. In refuting another writer’s idea, that ‘J.B.’ was a man called Robert Watt, Hogg writes:

Whether or not Watt was involved in a planned rebellion is far from Conclusive — it may have been that he had become sympathetic to the cause Of reform but knew too much about the government's spying activities. The elusive spy 'JB', who infiltrated the Edinburgh radicals, began to fear his cover would be blown when he spotted Watt attending a few of the same meetings of radicals. James Boswell of Auchinleck, Ayrshire, (on a rare visit to Scotland from London), was beaten up by Paisley radicals who thought him to be the infamous 'JB' spy. (The Patriot Bard, p.289)

Here yet again, as previously observed by Wilson and Carruthers, we have the habitual Hogg ‘fuzziness’. What exactly is the link between the sentences that precede it and the one about the beating of James Boswell? Presumably, we are supposed to infer that the Paisley radicals confused James Boswell for Claud Boswell. How likely is it that the identity of the spy ‘J.B.’ as a Boswell would be known so generally? No responsible historian of the twentieth century has felt confident that ‘J.B.’ can be identified, and exactly because this was a closely guarded secret at the time with no whisper of J.B.’s identity emanating from his own time. Hogg provides no source for his claim about James Boswell, and I want to ask, is there any evidence for his version? Was James Boswell, indeed, in Paisley in the 1790s? No mainstream Boswell biography tells us about this, which is curious. According to one of these, Peter Martin’s A Life of James Boswell (London 1999), Boswell was apparently beaten up and robbed in London in June 1793, but this had nothing to do with Boswell’s politics (Martin, pp.538-9). Is Hogg’s story a distorted version of this event? At the very least, Hogg is sloppy with his references as has been repeatedly revealed, and probably something worse. How The Patriot Bard, a veritable farrago of incompetence and fiddled ‘facts’ about the 1790s, came to be published defies common sense.

-A ‘Scottish Historian’

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