LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 11

Vol. I. Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Vol. II. Contents
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
‣ Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
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Literary Union Club.—Letter of “Omnipresence Montgomery” to Campbell.—Memoir of Mackintosh.—“Metropolitan” undertaken.—Leaves his house in Scotland Yard.—Visits Hastings.—Anecdote of his kind-heartedness.—Campbell’s contributions to the “Metropolitan.”—The Magazine purchased by Captain Marryat.—Life of Mrs. Siddons.—The Association of the Friends of Poland.

THE Literary Union Club has been alluded to. It was among his numerous idealities as easy of execution, to form a body of individuals who should meet upon the common foundation of an interest in literature. The shapes of things entered the poet’s mind in great variety, but he could not work them out. He was the schemer, but not the practical man. The idea of the Literary Union was put forward at his house in Upper Seymour Street, in 1829-30. Among those who took a part in its origin were the late Sir George Ducket, Sir Francis Freeling, Sir Gore Ousley, Dr. Henderson, W. A. Mackinnon, Jno. Martin, the artist, and others. Having missed a
meeting, the poet sent me the next day the following letter:—

My dear Sir,—An anonymous member of our committee has sent me the accompanying correction of our memorandum. The wording of such a paper is devilishly difficult and delicate. On reconsidering, I sincerely hope whether you have made the printer throw off copies or not, to have the following for the standing list of our five paragraphs.”

(Here they follow, and are now immaterial. The object which the poet had in view, and which was not carried out, for the club became in the end an ordinary London West End club of seven or eight hundred members—that object was developed, additionally, in the latter part of the letter, and is somewhat novel in idea).

“The members of this society having increased with a rapidity exceeding the most sanguine expectations of its first proposers, their committee now think it time to develope certain characteristic objects by which they conceive that the Literary Union might be advantageously distinguished from ordinary clubs, but which it might have been premature to have propounded until it had been ascertained to what numerical strength the society was likely to attain, and how many individuals of decidedly literary and scientific acquirements it might have to reckon
among its members. The committee now conceive that it would be expedient to invite such members as may have leisure for the production of original papers on subjects of art, science, or literature, to favour the society with their communications. They think that in the event of any such paper or papers being voluntarily offered by any member of the society, a committee selected from the whole body of members should be appointed to inspect such paper or papers, and empowered to decide whether they should be received for public reading in the society, and in the event of their being received, that a meeting of all the members, or of as many as can be received into one room, should be opened in the Union Club House, and after the reading of the papers, that a conversation should be held on the subject of each paper.

“The committee are further of opinion that as such contributions are to be perfectly spontaneous, and as many literary and scientific men who might otherwise be competent and willing to afford them, may, nevertheless, be unable to do so from their occupations, the supply of such papers cannot be expected to be constant and numerous. The committee therefore think, as intelligence has been received of many intelligent and public-spirited individuals in the provincial towns of the empire being disposed to organise societies in
their respective towns, on the plan of the London Literary Union, that in the event of the formation of such societies being accomplished, and composed of respectable persons, an intercourse should be established between the London Literary Union and those provincial unions, and that such a transmission of original papers on subjects of art, science, and literature, should be agreed upon, as may enable all the productions of the combined Britannic Literary Union to be at the service of each society for reading and discussion.

“The committee are also of opinion that the London Literary Union should make an agreement with the other societies, which shall be thus established, to admit a certain small number—the future regulations to be subsequently considered—of the members of the branch clubs to be free of the London Literary Club during their residence in London. The number of such admissible honorary members (or delegate, if it should seem proper so to denominate them) the committee think ought not to exceed five per cent, of each provincial club to which they belong, so that, supposing ten provincial literary unions to exist over Britain and Ireland, the rooms of the London club would only be crowded by fifty additional visitants. A power of rejecting any objectionable individual from coming in this re-
presentative shape from the country clubs the committee think ought to be vested in the governing committee of the L. L. Union, and that a certificate of every provincial honorary visitant’s character should precede his claim to admittance. But the committee think that the London Union has little danger to apprehend from the chance of improper visitants being thus sent to the Parent Club. The provincial clubs would be interested in sending us their most respectable members.

“It is evident that every precaution adopted by the London L. Union for keeping out improper visitants from connected clubs must be left to the adoption of the provincial societies, and that the privileges of every portion of the projected confederation must be made perfectly reciprocal, and as equal as regulations can make them.

“A place for general conference in the centre of England might be fixed upon for the meeting of delegates from all the L. Unions if their harmony could not be organised by correspondence. But whether such a central meeting of delegates from the unions might be necessary or not for general management, yet still the committee think that the assembly of representatives from so many literary and scientific bodies in the centre of the kingdom, and the distribution of prizes for essays of preeminent merit, would be an inspiring spec-
tacle—bringing England nearer than she is in resemblance to ancient Greece.”

There is some wildness in the foregoing scheme, which, being modified, finally formed the groundwork of the club. The committee and members, after several preliminary meetings at the British Coffee House, moved into Waterloo Place, taking possession of the house once occupied by the “Athenæum.” On the 21st of April, 1831, Campbell read a paper on the “Geography of the Ancients,” but no one followed it up.

The club being got into full working, the committee met weekly, the poet in the chair, and it was curious to observe, after a few meetings had taken place, and the novelty was worn off, how restless he would become. While business was transacting, he would talk politics or sport idle jokes. “Come, Mr. Chairman,” a member of the committee would say, “I have a pressing call elsewhere at another committee-room; I can only afford an hour—let us stick to business, for I must walk off.” For a few minutes all would go on well, and then there would be a fresh outbreak, about something, or in fact anything, but the business in hand. The poet’s restlessness was incurable, and the business of the hour was gone through in despite of it, as seven out of twenty members, who yet survive, can bear witness. The business of such committees is strictly secret, yet there were
two instances of things getting known, for which it is to be feared he was blameable, who never reflected on consequences at the times, when over a glass of wine, he heedlessly let out his tale to some “good-natured friend.” One of the members of the committee was
Mr. Smirnove, the son of the chaplain to the Russian embassy, himself a Russian diplomatic secretary, and very gentlemanly man. The elder Smirnove had been an old acquaintance of the poet, and had been dead some years. In the committee Smirnove objected to a certain Pole, who was a candidate, and he was not elected. The Pole heard of it, and demanded of the committee by letter, if it was the fact, that Smirnove, the Russian, had objected to him. Before any reply was made, I called on Smirnove in Wigmore Street, and told him what had occurred, we knew not how. “Oh, never mind, I don’t care if he knows I objected to him—let him know it.” This reply got wind, and Smirnove was horsewhipped by the Pole—but how did the Pole know it? The Russian government removed Smirnove to a still higher situation on the continent than he held here, in which he died. In the second case, the Literary Union was forming, and the committee had to elect a hundred members from the list, as the nucleus of the club, which was to elect all the future candidates. Campbell was not present at the com-
mittee meeting that day. Among other names, that of “
Omnipresence Montgomery,” as he was generally called, was announced as desirous of being a member. As the committee only selected a given number of members, to form the nucleus of the club, and constitute a sufficient body to choose by ballot—I remarked, that the applicant just named, was reported, truly or falsely, no matter, to have added to his real name of Gomery, the letters which gave him the same name as Montgomery of Sheffield, and people, as both published poetry, mistook one for the other. That as such things had been said, was it not better to leave him to be chosen by the ballot? The club could then act as it felt inclined, because it was a Literary club. The name was left for the ballot accordingly, and was never put up.*

* The following letter was in consequence written by Montgomery to the poet, in which, after the writer had requested Campbell’s acceptance of a copy of one of his works just published, and declared he did not send it for a notice in the magazine, he proceeded—not alluding to the addition to his name on which the matter had turned:—

“You will not like me the less for being candid. A few plain words then. I cannot but feel that you have not treated me with that common generosity which ought to be the characteristic of every refined mind. I never courted your favour, nor feared your criticisms; but was it possible for me not to notice the strange fact, that while the most frivolous and ephemeral publications of the day had their quantum of New Monthly comments bestowed upon them, not a word was condescendingly devoted to any


He expressed apprehensions to his friends of being answerable as a trustee for the Literary

work of mine? If you thought my poems trash, you might have said so; but to allow them during your editorship to be passed by with affected neglect, excited more observations among literary men than I choose to repeat. However, there were those, both in my own country and abroad, that treated me in a far nobler manner.

“While I am thus venting a manly, but not ill-tempered statement, I must add another proof of your feelings, which reached me from one who was present—though at the time, I knew too well what was due to myself to notice it. When one of the committee proposed me as a member for the ‘Literary Union,’ you rose up and said I had tried to pass myself off for Mr. James Montgomery. The fact I deny with unutterable contempt, and am sorry that the author of the ‘Pleasures of Hope,’ could have condescended to have done himself such injustice, the word was the statement you made. No one is more ready than myself to acknowledge the beauty of Mr. James Montgomery’s writings, but I never wanted his name, nor envied him his reputation, and I would sooner let—
‘The flesh-fly blow in my mouth,’
than be guilty of ought so unmanly and dishonourable.

“With every courteous wish, I remain &c. &c.

The betrayal by a member of the committee stating any fact which took place in it, I do not believe of gentlemen bound in honour to secrecy. The letter of one so overridden by self-conceit, showing a breach of trust in the knowledge obtained, was not worth an answer, and it was not answered; but I fear Campbell himself let the secret out, from my relation of it to him on his having been absent.

Union, on the bank of
Sir G. Ducket failing, a thing that entered no one’s head but his own. There were four other trustees. This exhibits more of his peculiar character, and habit of raising things in which he was in any way concerned into undue importance, as if by so doing he raised the estimation of his own personality. The house of Drummond and Co. handsomely tendered a credit to the club at once, on the fact being made known to it. It was on the same ground he shut himself up to write the “Life of Lawrence,” and referred all who wanted any communication with him regarding the New Monthly, or the club, to myself—a thing I did not know of at the moment. I only heard it from a third party. Nobody regarded his seclusion to write the “Life of Lawrence,” which he at length declared too heavy a task for him, and besides, he had no real knowledge of art. Next he made the parturition of his “Life of Mrs. Siddons” as much a matter of notoriety as if the product were to be an expected prince of the blood royal. Campbell, whose knowledge of Mackintosh had not been long-continued before the latter went out to Bombay, had renewed his acquaintance upon the return of his friend from India. Their friendship was only interrupted by the death of Mackintosh. With that kindness which was characteristic of the poet, he would with difficulty
admit, and would hardly ever record the faults of his friends, thus disregarding that claim to the character of a biographer, which is a manifest duty. He would only write in accordance with his predispositions. He seemed to feel the implication laid upon another as applying to himself, from closely identifying himself with his subject, and from that charitable allowance he was ever ready to concede to human failings. He suffered feeling to predominate, and as he was not fond of seeking for excuses to palliate what he could not defend, generally passed over in silence what he felt he could not record without dissatisfaction. He now wrote a
notice of Mackintosh, recently no more. Parr, with whom Mackintosh was equally a favourite, and who would suffer no one to snub Mackintosh but himself, never forgot his conduct, when having most fully and triumphantly answered Burke in his “Vindiciæ Gallicæ,” having occasion afterwards to make that apologist of despotism a visit at Beaconsfield, he found himself in one short day confessing that Burke had converted him to the other side. He then employed himself in delivering lectures at Lincoln’s Inn, indirectly subversive of the very principles to which he owned all his celebrity. This he never recovered when he rejoined his former party. It was impossible he could recover such a step without pro-
ducing something to which his abilities, great as they were considered, were not equal; something that should retrieve the past, and hold out still greater hopes for the future. But he never realized such an expectation. Parr was often sarcastic upon him to his face, and once had a difference with him. Steadfast in the soundness of his own principles, he could not forget the lapse in those of Mackintosh, giving “Jemmy,” as he called him rather hard hits in after-dinner society. Not so Campbell, his plan was to overlook or pass in silence all faults, as if any man were free from them.

It was precisely in this spirit that the poet put together a short memoir of Mackintosh, immediately after his decease, in 1832. In his estimate of the acquirements of Mackintosh, he was most correct, although he gave him credit for more Greek than he really possessed; but no man possessed such a range of varied knowledge—so much universality. In this state of things Campbell wrote the first part of a brief notice of Mackintosh, which he styled, rather too fully, “The Life and Writings of Sir James Mackintosh.” When I had read it, I observed the mode in which the temporary apostacy of Mackintosh had been slurred over, I presumed, as really was the fact, from the kindly feeling of the poet towards his old friend’s memory. It was impossible not to
notice the lectures at Lincoln’s Inn, where Mackintosh was refused the use of the Hall, on account of the “Jacobinical principles,” as it was the fashion to charge all persons with possessing, who did not fling themselves, bound hand and foot, at the feet of the minister. The Hall was finally granted, at the request of
Mr. Pitt and Lord Loughborough; but it was after Mackintosh had declared his conversion by Mr. Burke, for Pitt would not have interfered but from some latent motive. Now Campbell mentioned Pitt’s eulogy on the lectures, but left the reader wholly in the dark upon the subject of Mackintosh’s tergiversation. The following is the passage, as Campbell wrote it. It must be observed, too, that Campbell had just been eulogising the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ,” and applauding Mackintosh’s reply to Burke respecting church property. It was as if the poet imagined that by his passing over the change in the opinions of Mackintosh, and the bearing of the “Lectures on Moral Polity,” the change and the bearing would never be regarded; as if, in fact, the poet thought his own version of the matter was all that the world would ever have, and that, therefore, Mackintosh would remain clear of the charge, not by its palliation or removal, but by its being forgotten through his own neglect of an incident so remarkable:—

“In his ‘Vindiciæ Gallicæ,’” said Campbell,
“he had shown the power of a great advocate on a great political subject, but still with a certain degree of special pleading. But now, in his ‘Lectures on Moral Polity,’ he took up a more lofty station. He placed the nations of the world, in all their relative social bearings, before the tribunal of philosophy, and he defined their rights, their duties, and obligations, with a precision that well justified
William Pitt’s words, when he said to Mackintosh, ‘I have no motive in wishing to please you; but I must be permitted to say, that I have never met with anything so able or so elegant on the subject in any language.’”

Now, it must seem strange and suspicious enough, that so austere and even virulent an enemy as William Pitt towards his former friends and former principles, should thus gratuitously eulogise so daring and successful an opponent as the author of the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ,” without any apparent cause, and Campbell gave none. He said not one word of Mackintosh’s change of principle which would have accounted for the eulogy, but proceeded:—

“In those lectures on the ‘Law of Nature and Nations,’ Mackintosh, with the eye of a true philosopher, laid bare the doctrines of Rousseau, Vattel, and a host of their followers, who borrowed their conceptions of the Law of Nature
from the savages of the forest, or from the abodes of the brute creation. In order to establish a false theory, those men assumed that man was always out of his natural state when he was removed in the smallest degree from barbarism. Mackintosh dispelled this error. Speaking of the Law of Nature—because its general precepts are essentially adapted to promote the happiness of man as long as he remains a being of the same nature with which he is at present endowed, or, in other words, as long as he continues to be man, in all the variety of times, places, and circumstances, in which he has been known or can be imagined to exist; because it is discernible by natural reason, and suitable to our general constitution; because its fitness and wisdom are founded on the general nature of human beings, and not on any of those temporary and accidental situations in which they may be placed. It is still with more propriety, and the most perfect accuracy, considered as a law, when, according to those just and magnificent views which philosophy and religion open to us of the government of the world—it is received and reverenced as the sacred code, promulgated by the Great Legislator of the universe, for the guidance of his creatures to happiness, guarded and enforced, as our own experience may inform us, by the penal sanctions of shame, of remorse, of infamy, and of misery;
and still further enforced by the reasonable expectation of yet more awful penalties in a future and more permanent state of existence.”

Now, because some of the more fanatical of the French revolutionary characters, in the worst times of excess, did support an extravagant opinion upon the Law of Nature, and that such an opinion was charged upon all who were friendly to human freedom in England, by the ministry that day, Mackintosh, by thus touching upon the Law of Nature in a mode adverse to those whom he had just before upheld in the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ,” struck at all his old friends a severe sideblow, and highly gratified the ministerialists. He struck, too, at the end of all human improvement at the same time. In this way Campbell ought to have put it. I found, however, in the course of conversation, that, as usual, he wished to cover the sins of his friend—I verily believe out of pure kindness, and the wholesome, though hardly, in such a case, justifiable impulses of his own partiality. Mackintosh gave great promise in the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ,” but Parr estimated him better than Campbell. He left no work of endurance behind him, and he had laid himself open to attack whichever side he took as a political or philosophical controversialist. His universality of knowledge must be admitted. He was one of the most amiable of men, and the most delightful
of all society, and not conceited and dogmatical like
Coleridge. As Campbell truly observed, also, he was too great a man for the House of Commons, where candid, sound argument, closely reasoned, is as much out of place as a ship upon dry land.

Remarking the omission to the poet he said he had passed it over because he did not like to record anything to the disadvantage of one whom he so much esteemed. But though you have passed it over others will not, and then do you not think when it comes out in some other piece of biography, people will not accuse you of error? They will say how could Pitt panegyrize Mackintosh in such a manner after the “Vindiciæ Gallicæ.” The bitter opponent as Mackintosh had thus shown himself to the minister’s measures; will not the whole story of Burke’s conversion of him come out, and the world ask why you omitted it?

“I will not state anything injurious to the memory of an old friend and a great man. Others may if they please. Mackintosh did wrong, but I will not perpetuate the remembrance of his error.”

“But the interest of truth and the necessity of accounting for what else will seem an omission, do you not think it will be remarked?”

“If it is, it must be—I cannot bring myself to
drag his faults before the world, I must leave the matter as it is.”

“But you have alluded to his lectures on moral polity, and yet have not remarked that their bearing was adverse to his previous tenets—to all that had gained him his celebrity. That he had undoubtedly ministered to the enemies of sound principles in these lectures in a mode in which no man who was grounded in the principles he had previously avowed could have done without a positive lowering of his character, both with friends and enemies.”

“There may be truth in what you say, but you know he did not continue that line of conduct—he saw what we all see and know who are acquainted with the events of that day. We know that Pitt’s policy was injurious but for a time, and that all Burke’s eloquent fulminations against what were called ‘French principles,’ written now would be thought ridiculous. Time has proved the falsity of his notions. There is Paine’sRights of Man,’ not a member on either side in the House of Commons would now censure that work. Indeed Pitt acknowledged that the greater part of it was unanswerable; it was impolitic to permit it to circulate—that was all. Mackintosh came back to the side of sound principle and lived long enough to repent of his aberration.”


“But,” said I, “you have eulogized the lectures upon the portion that attacked the false theories of Rousseau and others in respect to nature, but you have not mentioned his attack upon the principles of reform, his ridicule of human amendment in any shape, his support of every thing existing as the best of what could be under an imperfect system.”

“I have not done so, and passed that over on purpose, his conversion by Burke was but momentary; he came back from India a convert to his first principles.”

“Yes,” I observed, “Dr. Parr said that to me at Hatton, ‘Jemmy was only estranged for a time.’ India brought him back by his separation from the influence of parties at home and years of leisure in unbiassed reflection.”

“I cannot alter what I have said now,” answered the poet, “it is distasteful to cast even slight censure on old friends, especially on those to whom the world in our day shows so few parallels—no, no, we must spare such men for the sake of their paucity.”

Here I saw that if I prolonged the conversation I should annoy him. His slight memoir of Mackintosh was one of those evidences of Campbell’s cursory treatment even of favourite subjects which he desired to do well, but of which he was too idle to go back, read on, recall and weigh the
incidents and bearings. It is consequently unsatisfactory. He terminated the conversation by saying, “You were a true prophet about him.” I had forgotten to what he alluded, when he explained it by recalling to my recollection that I thought
Mackintosh would be the next to follow Lawrence, to which I have before made reference, speaking of the means by which Campbell became acquainted with Lawrence’s decease.

Though no one could go more closely into a subject than Campbell upon paper in his study, yet his naturally impatient disposition made him, in articles like that of Mackintosh, catch only at salient points of character, and the more prominent events that presented themselves, and slur over others. His long knowledge of this eminent man would lead to the expectation that he would have described some traits of the individual, from his personal knowledge, but the poet was not a nice observer of human action. He would penetrate sometimes intuitively, into motive and character, but he had no idea of forming a judgment of men in society by nice observation, and of perpetuating what he thus observed by committing it to writing. I take it that his abstracted habit unfitted him for this. His reserve at times was not that of occupation with external things, but rather with what was foreign to all that surrounded him. In society he often took a lively
and animated part, but this was always action upon impulse, according to his momentary feeling. He did not go into society to observe men, and was often a stranger to the singularities and even the opinions expressed in his presence, that it might be thought could not possibly have escaped him. When, however, Campbell directed his attention to such things, which he would do when he had doubts of a man being what others represented him, he would keenly examine every peculiarity and treasure it up.

Cochrane, a publisher, in Waterloo Place, who had been once in Colburn’s employment, made an application to the present narrator, whether he thought Campbell would give his name as editor to a new magazine: he was to send such contributions as he saw fit, to reside where he liked, and receive three hundred a-year, as such a work would not bear more; but Cochrane promised to take off the stock of the poet’s works still in Colburn’s hands, which he had not money to do as he promised. To this Campbell assented. He had quitted Middle Scotland Yard, and gone to reside at 31, Upper Eaton Street, Pimlico. From thence he got rooms for a study in Sussex chambers, Duke Street, St. James’s, and then ran down to Hastings, where he took lodgings, close to the sea, between St. Leonards and the old town, on the right hand side of the road, so that
the waves came up to his window. He sent up to town at different times some of his contributions, for he remained there until past Christmas, 1832.

As on many other occasions the promise of his poetry was sometimes not kept. In one instance, I did not go down to St. Leonards as soon as I intended, and I had the following letter about some verses near the end of December, in place of last days of November. Kindness was a remarkable characteristic of the poet, which his peculiar mode of acting did not lead some persons to imagine from their own observations, to anything like the magnitude to which he was disposed to carry his generous feelings. His absences from London, during the long years of our literary intercourse were numerous, and on one or two occasions considerable in length. It seldom happened that I did not get from him some confidential commission in the way of charity often in a pecuniary form, though he had not money enough to be as extensively generous as his feelings prompted him to be.

Xmas, —— St. Leonards.
My dear Sir,

“In consequence of what you say, print the verses. I hardly know what title they should have. Perhaps, after all, the one I have given will
do—but pray let me have a proof. You will get the letter, Monday, to-morrow morning, and by to-night’s mail I can have a packet Tuesday morning, and I could send it back by the coach of that day, so that we have time.

* * * * *

“I am almost at my last pound, for that poor, blustering creature has sent me not a farthing of my arrears, but I have enclosed two pounds which I shall be singularly obliged to you to see given to the object for whom they are meant, for the person who has written to me about her distress is a man unknown to me, so that I do not choose to trust him. The unfortunate creature to whom I crave your kindness to take these two sovereigns, is a Mrs. G——, at No. 5, —— Street. I never had one feeling of interest in that hapless woman, but a perception of something in her nature and character ill-fitted for the wretched life which she leads, from which I have made many endeavours to snatch her, and shall not cease to make them. But I shall be obliged to her to tell me if the child which she has with her be the same about whom I interested M——, in hopes that he might get her into a place at the Opera House.”

The Metropolitan had its name from the publisher and myself alone, and the first number
appeared May 1st, 1831. The first article was “
Remarks on the Geography of the Ancients,” the paper spoken of before, as read at the Literary Union, on the 27th of the preceding month. This paper made a sheet, and was ready for the printer’s hand. Sir Charles Morgan, Mr. Hogarth, Lady Morgan, Charles M’Kenzie, Cyrus Redding, Captains Chamier and Marryat, Mr. Wilmot, &c. furnished the prose; and Augustine Wade, Allan Cunningham, the Rev. Mr. Thompson, and Cyrus Redding, the poetry of the number. The contributions of Campbell, for which he received five hundred pounds very nearly, and those were all he contributed to the magazine, for he never inspected a single paper, unless it was one he obtained from a friend, until the property became that of Captain Marryat, were “Lines on a View from St. Leonards,” “Lines on Poland,” “Lines on the Camp Hill, near Hastings,” “Lines on a blank leaf of La Peyrouse’ Voyage,” the “Power of Russia,” “Benediction on Children,” “The Cherubs,” “On the Life and Writings of Mackintosh,” “Lines on a Girl in the Attitude of Prayer.”

This was a small bill of fare. It was in fact, paying him for his name alone. He talked at the same time of his labours in the work, just as if they were real. It was in the spring of 1832
Valpy, to whom the publisher had secretly mortgaged the work, wrote to me. We had before spoken of its state:—

Dear Sir—I cannot but think the magazine in its present improving state worth the 1000l., more particularly if Mr. Campbell, yourself, and two other satisfactory persons divided the property. If the Monthly Magazine sinks, a considerable rise will take place. The same arguments for the two years would of course remain in force over the assigned work. If Mr. C. desire it, I will retain a share, otherwise only print it, if a new proprietary continue their confidence in me. I shall be at the ballot at the L. U. to-morrow at four p.m.

“I am,
“Yours truly,
A. J. Valpy.”

“I understood that Captain M. and Mr. M. would take shares?”

In this state of things, when about to get the property out of the publisher’s hands, the matter was put an end to by a singular event. Campbell, still at St. Leonards, on my running down to see him, told me (it was to be in confidence) that Captain C——, R.N., had had a share for some time in the Metropolitan, and had kept it a
secret. I was surprised that Campbell had not told me of this before, as our confidence had been for so many years unlimited. He pleaded the injunction to secrecy. I told him that I would not have held a share without being more certain of
Cochrane’s solvency—he might be made a partner. He said he had borrowed money and paid it over. I replied, “So much the worse,” and he became alarmed. In the meanwhile, poor C——, who, in the terms upon which we stood, was disingenuous in not telling me he had taken a share with Cochrane, still kept his secret, until Valpy took the property. I should have soon stopped his having a share had I known his intention; but a man of honour is more liable than another to be imposed upon. No doubt he was himself bound to secrecy by Cochrane for obvious ends.

The whole now came out. Valpy’s scheme of dividing up the magazine terminated in Captain Marryat buying it altogether of Valpy, full of the notion that because he could write a good novel, he was equal to anything in literature. In the meanwhile I was served with a citation to give evidence in an action at law, brought by the creditors of Cochrane against Captain C—— as a partner of Cochrane’s. I could not give evidence regarding what I did not know, and all parole evidence, when I got into the witnesses’ box, was
set aside by a document signed by the Captain himself, which made him in law answerable. He therefore paid a large sum to compromise the affair, and showed himself highly honourable in repaying
Campbell his advance. The truth is, C—— was shamefully ill-treated, as a man of honour is certain to be in dealing with an artful trader.

Campbell’s nominal editorship was retained until October, 1832, and at Christmas I quitted the concern, just reversing what had happened in the case of the New Monthly, where the poet remained about the same space of time after me. Moore, Montgomery of Sheffield, and Moir, the “Delta” of Blackwood’s Magazine, had joined us before the failure of the publisher. Campbell, who thought because Marryat was an old acquaintance, he could go on as usual, found out his mistake, and resigned the name of editor, which de facto he never had been.

While at St. Leonards, walking out one day, when I had gone down to see him from town, a mutual friend with us asked a gruff-looking farmer the way. The man was grubbing up nettles. The bear bad him “follow his nose.” “He is too busy to answer you,” said the poet; “don’t you see, he is gathering his own laurels.”

The death of Mrs. Siddons, and the request she made of the poet, that he would be her biogra-
pher, had caused him to set about the task as a reluctant duty. The style of the book is foreign to that of his former works. It is a biography on stilts. When he thought he was earnest and effective, he was really inflated and unprofitable. It was an undertaking that, after all, few or none could succeed in. There can be no record of mind in the sayings of those whose lives are spent in doing no more than repeating the sayings of others, the whole matter being as to whether those sayings are well or ill declaimed. His sense of the weight of his task was almost ludicrously expressed. Most others in similar circumstances retire out of sight and go heartily at work, but
Campbell for a long time almost converted his employment into an advertisement for the book. He talked of it, and wrote about it to everybody to whom he wrote anything else. He put up a little paper notice at the door of his chambers, as lawyers do in the Temple, when they go out or lock themselves in, saying they are absent,—“parcels and letters,” so and so. The poet, in his simplicity, stuck up a notice that he could not be disturbed, being busy about the biography of Mrs. Siddons. For a time he had but that one idea. I asked him what were become of all the rest, that he had been fifty-five years in acquiring.

“O, my dear friend, you cannot imagine what a burthen I have brought upon myself!”


“It is only because you think it so; you have never been accustomed to that kind of work.”

“I have promised to finish it, and I will; but it will knock me up.”

Then I would strive to turn the conversation, and ask him a question, to which I really wanted a reply. I got only a remark about Mrs. Siddons in return. I remember telling him he was like a pretty girl I once knew in the country, who was deaf.

“How! I am not deaf, though this cursed book will make me deaf, and blind too, before long.”

“Why,” I replied, “because if I ask you about anything else, I get Mrs. Siddons as an answer. That pretty girl I once addressed:—‘Mary, good morning,—how do you do to-day?’ She replied: ‘Gone up the Mediterranean, my dear creature!’ The fact was, she had a sweetheart in the navy, of whom she was always thinking, and she supposed you must be doing the same.”

“Don’t play the philosopher,” continued Campbell. “Mrs. Siddons was a divine creature.”

“A divine actress, but an ordinary woman. You are referring to our old disputes about her, that poor Mrs. Campbell used to hear so patiently.”


“It is clear you have not changed your notions about her.”

“Nor my admiration of her as an actress—she was transcendent; but as a woman it is a different affair. She was majestic, certainly, but not very feminine. You are a little man, and little men, they say, are fond of giantesses, and gigantic men of little women. I must have feminine women. Byron said he should as soon think of going to bed with the archbishop of Canterbury as with Mrs. Siddons.”

“You iconoclast!”

I was always a philosopher or an iconoclast with the poet.

“Because I demolish the ‘idols of your mind.’”

“You can’t do that, but you try hard for it.”

In 1832, he lost his cousin, Captain Robert Campbell, whom he had introduced to me some years preceding.

A publication was got out in favour of the Poles, called “Polonia, or Monthly Reports on Polish Affairs.” The first number was published in August, 1832. I forget who was the editor. My hands were so full of other business at the time, that though I attended one or two meetings, it was all the participation I was able, through pressure of different affairs, to take in the matter. The society was called “The Association of the Friends of Poland.” Thomas Campbell was pre-
sident, the
Earl of Camperdown, Lord Panmure, G. W. Beaumont, Esq., M.P., and T. Wyse, Esq., M.P., were vice-presidents. There was a council consisting of fifteen members, among whom were W. Crawford, Esq., Colonel de Lacy Evans, M. Gore, Esq., W. A. Mackinnon, Esq., M.P., C. Mackenzie, Esq., Captain J. Norton, G. Webster, Esq., and others. There were also a treasurer and honorary secretary. The latter was Mr. Bach, on whose zealous shoulders the weight of the labour really fell, and to whom all the Polish exiles were deeply indebted. Campbell worked in the cause for a considerable time, at least, a considerable time for him. He would not give up his work to dine with friends for whom he had a strong regard. There was Mrs. L. M——, a great favourite of his, and justly a favourite with all who valued amiable temper, purity of heart, and attractive manners, cut off by death in the very bloom of existence, since the poet—one who was the kindest of mothers and the sincerest of friends. Even with her Campbell would not break off his labour to dine. He had half promised, but sent the following playful excuse:—

“My dear L.,—I can’t dine with you to-day. The prince* (who, by the way, promised yesterday to be godfather to your bairn) made such important criticisms on the address, and struck out

* Prince Adam Czartoriaky.

such new lights, that I must have some hours to correct it.
Bach took down notes from his remarks, and was to put them together for my use yesterday; but when we came home from the Prince to our chambers, he was so knocked up that he called for wine, and I was obliged to join the ‘man of the temperance society’ in a bottle of sherry, which we half consumed.”

(Here the poet had drawn with a pen a couple of figures, representing himself and his friend B. at work, that which represented the poet crying out “Shame, Mr. Temperance Society!” to his friend).

“This morning B—— sent me word that he could not get the notes finished last night, so I must wait his leisure to-day, and I cannot be certain of being disengaged even at six, so don’t expect me. The address must be ready for the newspapers this night, or else we shall not get them to publish it.

“Yours very truly,
T. Campbell.”

So we dined without him, for I was myself of the party.

A lady whom I have mentioned before, could not get him to dine. She had sent him a gold pen as a present, but she got only the usual reason for a refusal:—

“Christmas Day, 1832.
“My dear Mrs. M——.

With the beautiful pen in my hand, I thank you, with all my heart, for your Christmas present. I never in my life received a prettier or more welcome one.

“I am, indeed, a downright galley-slave in this biography that I am writing, and obliged to have written by a certain day, and spin it out to two volumes. I literally see none of my friends,—but the first exception shall be your honoured self. “Believe me, your sincere friend,

Thos. Campbell.”

Had the poet not assumed so singular a style, and one so different from his usual classical elegance in composition, although little could be said for the biography of Mrs. Siddons, as the work of so able a man as Campbell, beyond what others, less gifted, could have produced, it would be difficult to say how any thing more could have been made of what had no stamina in itself, and no startling matter to work upon, nothing but “indescribable merit to describe.” It is the most difficult of all difficult things in authorship, to produce elaborate works out of materials remarkable for their intellectual poverty, the fleeting recollections of illusive personification. Yet the great expectation of such a piece of biography must be almost wholly founded upon what can be
thus effected if it is to differ from that of common place existences.

The poet still kept close at work, and for some time was not seen by any one, though he had got rid to another of Lawrence’s biography. He told me he had promised Mrs. Siddons to write her life, and that, therefore, he could not break his word. He talked to all who had known the great actress about her and her family; he wrote letters of inquiry in all directions, and everything he obtained made but an unsatisfactory mass of material, as far as respected entertaining fact or interesting adventure. The incidents in the life of an actress of the highest class, of staid manners, and plain good sense, could not be expected to abound in incident. All those little points of action, that chit-chat and anecdote recorded of theatrical ladies in general, were, to say nothing of less moral incidents and their attendant circumstances, necessarily wanting in the life of one so lofty in feeling and pure in morals as Mrs. Siddons. Though the greatest actress that ever trod the stage, her real excellencies could not be described, more than half of them depending upon vision.

What was there besides her acting in which she was superior to many others of her sex? She was not a woman of genius; and she was not a woman of reading beyond her profession. The
poet owned himself that a young girl would write letters as good as those of
Mrs. Siddons. The very nobility of her person and her serious deportment, showed that the quips and cranks of comedy, sometimes seasoned with an actor’s own wit in performing, were not her accompaniments to startle or amuse. In truth, Campbell’s motto, signifying that the animated graces of the player live no longer than the breath and motion that represent them, was, in Mrs. Siddons, eminently true. Nor in her conversation, that I ever heard myself, or ever heard others state, was there anything worthy of record upon paper. She was not a De Staël. Yet, in spite of all this, how truly great she was on the boards, and how high the general feeling of respect was for her, need not be repeated. In this feeling all fully participated.

There was another circumstance unfitting Campbell for such a task. He had gone to the theatre as any other spectator would, a mere spectator; he had never mixed, as a matter of amusement, with the Thespian corps behind the scenes, as was common in former times for dramatic authors to do. He was not versed, if it may be so termed, in the patois of the theatre, a thing in some degree necessary, to write about it with ease, and to be “at home” upon the subject in treating of a common, much less an epic, actor
or actress. Campbell was never a man of the world in the sense that would be attributed to the term by play-goers. He was a solitary student, the matter of whose prose writings was drawn from a knowledge of books, acquired in seclusion, whose poetry was kept down by rule, and whose genius, even in its admiration of natural things, he carefully clipped of every exuberance. His simple, and, by fits and starts, boyish levity of temper had no affinity with the artificial theatre-going folk. He was, on all these accounts, unfit for the task he undertook. Is his book, then, worthless? It may be honestly replied in the negative. If he has not produced anything that has conferred additional fame upon his literary character, still he has said all that could be said, and left unrecorded nothing that such a subject would admit of being recorded in its regard, but he has erred, and egregiously too, in the manner of saying it.

Early in 1833, I went to South Lancing, where I put together my book on the History of Wine. I returned, published it, and the first edition was nearly sold before the Life of Mrs. Siddons appeared. I found, too, that Campbell had been lodging at Highgate, and then in Old Cavendish Street, so restless was he as to domicile, after his wife’s decease. This was a marked trait in his character. His Life of Mrs.
Siddons was not published until 1834. In the copy with which he presented me, he wrote his autograph, as usual. I believe it did not reach a second edition. Expectation had been kept too long on the stretch, and too much was expected. The public is like a spoiled child, if kept without its toy for a little time, it turns in the interim to other things, and when the long-expected bauble appears, regards it with indifference. This is well known to keen-scented bibliopolists, who calculate to a fraction of an hour how long the many-headed monster may be stimulated before reaction ensues, and accordingly play the game commensurate with the most satisfactory conclusion.

The review of the “Life of Mrs. Siddons,” not being Murray’s copyright, was roughly treated in the “Quarterly Review.” The effect was much less moving upon Campbell than might be expected. He was prepared for something of the kind, and must have been conscious his book was not up to the mark. That he repressed his feelings was evident. In referring to it, I laughed off the review, asking how he could expect anything better when for so many years Whig and Tory had continually damned each other’s works without any regard to literary merit. He smiled at the hollow consolation, and turned off the subject. He was grown more obtuse than in former
times, and yet he must have felt that what he had toiled about, and talked of so long, it was mortifying to see maltreated by the organ of an opposing party. The suppression of his feelings by his pride, was difficult; but however keen they were, it was, on the whole, successful. As to the book itself, it could not have been commended, if it were spared by his friends.