LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 13

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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Retrospect of the poet’s later days.—Horner on his marriage.—Convivial manners.—His earlier and later poetry.—Corrections in “Hohenlinden.”—His Odes.—Despair of human progress.—Anecdotes.—Remarks.

TO retrograde a little in a desultory way. The solitude of the old domestic hearth has been already alluded to, as one cause of the poet’s change of residence. His removal to Scotland Yard took him away from old associations and from his study which he had added to his house, at a considerable expense. This shifting the scene and yet remaining a housekeeper, had the objection of still attaching domestic details to his incapacity for their management. His loneliness soon began to press upon him again, though he gave evening parties occasionally, and concealed as much as ever the contest that went on in his own bosom. His absences of mind were at
times still unaccountable. “You know that such or such an article, I should like to have seen.”

“You did see it; as usual, I knew it was one of those you would be delicate about, and put it in my pocket when I came on such an evening, to take coffee with you.”

“I had entirely forgot all about it.”

“I thought you were abstracted when I was describing it to you.”

He was soon tired of Scotland Yard. His loneliness began to press heavy on his feelings, and he wanted me to leave Upper Berkley Street, and come down nearer to him. I pleaded my small allowance of spare time. One of the later evenings I spent in Scotland Yard, I remember was one of the latest of those Mrs. Siddons ever passed out of her own house, and that John Lockhart and Washington Irving were of the party.

Under the same roof, but with another entrance, sat the Ecclesiastical Commission, his tenants, if I remember rightly.

“What a wonder—is it a conversion, that I find a son of the kirk, a covenanter, under the same roof with bishops, deans, doctors, and proctors. I was not aware you had abandoned John Knox, for high church Laud. I wonder the bishops do not scent the odour of your heretical tenets?”

“In the Stuart time they would have shut me
up in the Lollard’s Tower, but now high churchmen are very tolerant to heretics. All men begin to make allowance for each other’s sins. This is proof of a great reformation of manners after all. Think of
Laud and his friends being my tenants at Whitehall!”

He soon removed into lodgings, tired of housekeeping. This led him much into society, for he felt his loneliness still more. He bore a part in many of the club dinners, and shared in the conviviality, to which to the same extent he had been long a stranger. He had no evening fireside as formerly, and seemed to live with less regularity. He had begun to try and accustom himself to new habits at the very period of life, when custom generally points to a state of rest from change of any kind. Thrown upon accident he grew restless and mentally dissatisfied. Yet he took a pride in seeming indifferent to feelings that were sometimes exceedingly acute. He sought a refuge in company, often not with his former care in its selection, partaking in everyday conversation more than before, and seeming to want to lose sight of the past in the present. I have inferred, I think upon just grounds, for no one had so good an opportunity of observing the poet’s domestic life for nine or ten years before his wife’s decease, that her death threw him back into habits that existed before his marriage.
Horner writing to Lady Mackintosh, said:—“This morning I have returned from a visit to our poet Campbell. He has fixed himself in a small house upon Sydenham Common, where he labours hard, and is perfectly happy with his wife and child. I have seldom seen so strong an argument from experiment in favour of matrimony, as the change it has effected in the general tone of his temper and manners.”

Scotland is not a land of restraint from youthful conviviality. The social glass is taken to no small extent by those who are never seen inebriated—taken in quantities, even in youth, in a manner unknown in England. An hour of extraordinary indulgence in England is an after-dinner affair, not often repeated. The poet’s disposition was no doubt convivial at an early age, and even at college the bottle was not spared by young men. Then he went to Hamburgh, and at Altona, with the exiles, he had “merry bouts.” He returned home, was feasted, flattered and welcomed everywhere, and only broke through those indulgences on his marriage, and retirement to Sydenham. The convivialities of Thomas Hill there, could not have been injurious and were comparatively few. In his own house on receiving company, he was remarkably moderate, and took no more wine than other men did, and for days together none at all. The re-
gular habits of twenty-five years broken up by his wife’s decease, he was cast upon the world again. He was desolate, and inconsiderate, especially for one who was by temperament the least able to bear wine of any man I ever saw. He filled his glass in conversation without thinking, and in this way got affected with what another man would have taken harmlessly. I have often thought his habit of repressing his feelings, and exhibiting a sort of false fortitude under the trials of life, which he was so determined in doing, diminished his power of resistance to wine. His excitability was great. He had too rapid a flow both of words and ideas, and a little wine increased it. It is true it was not often that he was thus affected with one-third of what would affect another, but as to its being a frequent occurrence it is untrue. Of the last seven or eight years of his life, I knew little, but no one knew more of him for a score of years preceding. At all times his house and his study were open to me. I sat frequently at his table, and I deny that until he became a widower, he plunged into company in the way he did afterwards, or differed in the measure of his wine from other men. His convivialities before his marriage I only infer, but they could not have been more than temporary, or he would not have worked as
he did at that period. Another charge was made against him in Scotland, that he lived unhappily with his wife. I do not credit a syllable of it. He once said soon after his marriage, that it was useless for any married man to attempt to study, meaning that his wife drew too much of his attention. I never found
Mrs. Campbell out of temper. I never saw a remote symptom of disagreement, though I entered the poet’s house for years at all times, without ceremony. I believe the tale to be wholly a fiction.

Campbell appears, upon a careful survey of his career and productions, to have reached the summit of his poetical ability, about 1812; declining until 1825, and rapidly afterwards. As Scott remarked he had burst upon the world magnificently with a work of surpassing excellence. His youthful poetry, before he was eighteen, gave no promise of such excellence, although it exhibited the early dawn of the poetical faculty. Other poets had far outstripped his boyish efforts. Pope at twelve years of age, far outshone him. Some of his translations from the Greek at that age are plagiarisms—take those from “Anacreon” for example, particularly the nineteenth ode “Ή γη μέλαινα πίνει.” No one can mistake that the boy had been reading the translation of “Anacreon” by Fawkes, which is not in every
person’s hand. Two of his lines are verbatim with a trifling exception:—
“The sun in his prodigious cup,
Drinks all the seas and rivers up.”
“The sea in his prodigious cup,
Drinks all the rain and rivers up.”

Boys get translations sometimes among themselves, and use them in this manner. His lines “To the First of May,” were an imitation of our older poets of the same age, written at fourteen. In fact, the “Lines” he wrote in Mull are the first, perhaps, in order of merit out of the common run of their time. His verses to Caroline are sweet, delicate, passionless, and full of promise, but there was nothing to foretell so splendid an outbreak upon the world as was to follow, in the “Pleasures of Hope.” The original draught of which was fine, though by no means equal to the poem as it stood when corrected by Dr. Anderson’s suggestions, and the poet’s fortunate perception after all, of the benefit of that high finish which is contemned by present poetasters. There are lines in the “Pleasures of Hope” that will be orally transmitted through future generations, and become familiar aphorisms among those who have never read the work, when perhaps the lust of gain will have reduced to
contempt all superior pursuits in literature and the arts. There are more beautiful lines in this poem, pregnant with deeper meaning, coming home to the business and bosoms of all, than can be found in any other poem of the same length in the language. The author aspired nobly and his ambition met its reward. The poem overflows with the graces of the art. It is delicate, and at times rises to a loftiness, which, if it wants strength, overcomes with its beauties. Fancy and feeling with brilliancy of hue are its characteristics, as conspicuous as they are in all Campbell’s better writings. To invention he has little claim, his imagery seldom scales the height, but moves gracefully under rich embroidery over a plain of flowers of every hue. All is tender and subdued beauty—but the poem is too well appreciated, and has been too long before the reader to demand further notice, faultless in harmony as it is, and “musical as Apollo’s lute.”

The second, and his own favourite production, “Gertrude of Wyoming,” not being a didactical poem, brought out the poet in a different department of the art. It was one in which he was likely to be successful. That tranquil scenery and those tender emotions of which he excelled in the description, were main accessories here. His imagination rich and vivid, flashed forth continually in verse, which for grace, and all that
attaches the hearts of the good rather than the great, is creative of sentiment and affection more than that which surprizes or startles. The turns of thought are so happy, the expressions so peculiar to their author and so unlike those of his cotemporaries, that often, though fanciful, we credit them as realities, and when new seem to feel they are familiar thoughts. His language is mellifluous and partakes of that species of selection which genius can alone call and adapt to its purposes, leaving the line and rule men, the dry grammarian and cognoscenti lexicographer, to wonder by what magic art words so fitting to their places were discovered and introduced without entering into the mysteries of their art. “Gertrude” is a bouquet of the loveliest flowers—arose that germinated without a thorn—a rose of Paradise.

From all Campbell wrote it may be inferred that while he could draw upon his imagination for the richest embellishments of his art, he had little power in designating combined action. He could decorate with exquisite taste, and colour, and bathe in beauty and affection, the sentiments with which he invested and inspired his characters, but he could not conduct them through the complexity of a plot. He could follow, and render bewitchingly attractive, through the display of a luxuriant taste, straight lines in the blooming
parterre, and plant them with the richest floral assemblages, but he was not equally able to follow and adorn labyrinthian involutions and mathematical curves.

When Scott deemed the poet “afraid of the shadow his own fame cast before him,” and when he spoke of his having “wings that would bear him to the skies,” he miscalculated. Campbell’s best works were the fruits of impulsion, at the moment when his genius was at the summit of the hill in his life’s earlier journey. He would willingly have done as well in his middle life if he could, and, indolent as he was, he would and did try for it. Here and there, in some of his shorter pieces down to 1825, there are detached lines and scraps that recal his prime. But even in his sincere and enthusiastic regard for the Poles, when he exerted himself for the best, as far as he had the power, he could not raise the flame to its pristine intensity. The truth was, that the early intensity of his genius had become weakened, measured by the power of its after retention. He had finished his work with éclat, being among those whose lot it was to reach their eminence in early life, and then to see the reflection of their own renown, a pleasure often not reserved for greater names.

In the letters of Horner, an account is found of the changes the poet made in his “Hohen-
linden.” The truth was, he polished and altered not always for the better. I have mentioned his song, beginning:—
“Men of England who inherit
Rights that cost your sires their blood.”
I would not dine until I had the verses, and I found after two or three trials, that I took them away with the “first intention.” He himself read them and asked, which I preferred of two or three terminating stanzas, I replied the first, that it was often the sharpest, out of the mould. “Well then,” said he, “we will have that.”

So Horner got a copy of his alterations from Campbell himself, and sent them to a friend, who had only the first version, which it appears was in six stanzas, in place of eight, as they now stand.

Campbell,” said Horner, “gave me a copy of his poem, which will enable me to correct your edition of it, you will be pleased to enjoy it in a more perfect form, instead of six, it consists of eight stanzas; the third is this:—
‘By torch and trumpet fast array’d
‘Each horseman drew his battle-blade,
‘And furious every charger neighed,
‘To join the dreadful revelry.’
From an expression in this last line, your fifth
and sixth stanzas must change places, and the poem ends with the following:—
‘Few, few shall part where many meet,
‘The snow shall be their winding-sheet,
‘And every turf beneath their feet
‘Shall be a soldier’s sepulchre.’

“You must likewise make some corrections in your third stanza, line first, for ‘by’ read ‘with;’ line second, for ‘rush’d,’ read ‘flew;’ line third, for ‘volleying like the bolts,’ read ‘louder than the bolts;” [here I think a had line has been altered for the worse]. In your fourth stanza, for ‘and,’ read ‘but,’ in line first, and for ‘these fires’ read ‘that light;’ line second, for ‘purpled,’ read ‘stained;’ line third, for ‘shall be the flow,’ read ‘the torrent flow.” In your fifth stanza, for ‘warlike,’ read ‘fiery.’”

Of Dryden’s three best odes, the noblest is said by Johnson, to be that on the “Death of Mrs. Killigrew;” “The Odes on St. Cecilia’s Day” come after it. We have the charming ode of Collins, and several by Gray; but in subject and happy execution none resemble those of Campbell, and therefore do not admit of comparison. Campbell’s are war-songs—Tyrtean—severe in language, short, and full of spirit. They stand a species of their own, while conferring fame upon their author, adding another wreath to the literary glory of their country. It was well to have written no
more, since what was, has been so well written, and has produced so great and lasting an effect.

Campbell seldom made allusion to his own writings, never but twice, during our long intimacy. We were dining with Mr. R——, of Paddington, one day, and Lord Dillon, in a conversation in the drawing-room, asked me if I did not think Campbell’s best ode “Ye Mariners of England.” The poet had overheard us speaking of the ode, and walking home, asked what his Lordship and myself had been saying about his verses. I replied, that Lord D. preferred “Ye Mariners of England,” and that I gave the preference to the “Battle of the Baltic.” “Why what makes you prefer that piece to the other?”

“Because, it is a piece of action, addressed to more senses than one. It is a painting of a naval combat, the sound is truly an echo to the sense. The repetition ‘Again, again, again,’ is not only spirit-stirring, but quite truthful. The heavy firing of shipping often has short pauses, and then ‘Again, again.’ I have heard much of it, and it has been recalled by those words, it seemed like the real thing.”

“I am glad you think so,” said the poet, “it was unpremeditated on my part.”

Every stanza is a natural and perfect painting of itself, so that an artist might sketch from it a distinct feature. In the first, stand the warriors
of Denmark, each at his gun, with the match in hand, and next the unbroken silence of the drifting “leviathans” of England as they come down into the line so soon to be exchanged for the thunders of the battle; then the “deathshade” from the smoke of the cannon “like a hurricane eclipse of the sun.” In the fourth stanza, that tripled “again!” depicts the repetition of the firing happily; in fact, the whole is unequalled in our language. Then what may not be said in praise of “
Hohenlinden!” Campbell need not have written these odes to have stood one of the foremost on the list of British poets. He is the true lyrical poet and achieves effect more by some inexpressible agency than anything easy to define. He is the poet of inspiration if unequally inspired. The simplicity, purity, and condensation of language in these odes, remind us of antiquity, and recal the energy of the Greek writers. One could wish he had withheld his later pieces, because in their falling off they exhibit such evident signs of the decay of the poetical faculty. Of these, the “Child and Hind,” if written to imitate the old ballad, fails in its imitation altogether, and unless it designed to do that, does not rise even to mediocrity. “Napoleon and the British Sailor” would almost make one think he intended to rival some of Wordsworth’s odd lyrical ballads. “Benlomond” is good only in
design; for there is hardly consistency in the supposition that a mountain in the savage highlands of Scotland could mock the historian’s pen with the details of ancient ages, although it was coeval with them in existence, nor was the idea novel. The “
Parrot” is poor; the lines in “Getting the Portrait of a Female Child,” are worth all the rest in a volume, the falling off in which they will not redeem, though pretty, and then how quails the “Launch of the first rate,” before his superb naval odes!

If Sir Walter Scott was of opinion, though he could imitate all the modern poets, he must make Campbell an exception, because his peculiarities were not in manner but in matter, still his verses have been and are quoted by literati, in the senate and on public occasions, beyond those of any contemporary poet. “Lochiel,” “Glenara,” “The Mariners of England,” and “The Pleasures of Hope,” supply quotations for illustration to all ranks of men, because they respond to every heart, the true key to popularity.

Here I must close these reminiscences, entreating the reader to recal the quotation addressed to him at the commencement of these volumes, and to remember that to do more I have not pretended. I subjoin a few scattered remembrances of the poet, and of things in connection with him, not in the order of dates, which is impracticable, and
is not necessary. The wheels of time roll rapidly round, and crush human recollections unsparingly. The few are but as autumn leaves fallen upon the waters, and caught hurrying away towards the great sea of oblivion.

The poet did not excel in epistolary writing; there was a want of that careless ease which, accompanying the generality of subjects in familiar intercourse, makes their great charm; for it must be admitted, that the nearer our communications are in style to unstudied conversation the greater is their virtue. There was too much of the stiffness of metaphysics and the moral philosophy class in many of his letters; whereas, had they been touched with the spirit of his poetry their value would have been proportionate. The two are antagonistic; a Scotch education is ever marked with the metaphysical brand. Campbell had too much of the poet’s holy fire for metaphysics to quench, though they might sometimes deaden, the lustre of his prose writings.

The advance of the human race to some more elevated position at an era far remote from the present, was a thing which he did not call impossible; but of what moment could it be to us of the existing generation! When I said that with a single British frigate I could defeat the navies of Rome and Carthage united, that I could dare the unknown ocean, and circumnavigate the globe,
—while they crept along shore; that with a dozen British regiments I could rout the armies of
Cæsar or Hannibal, the glorified of history, and so with other things—the compass, steam-engine-power, and railways,—was not that progress? Compare Pompeii to London or Paris, which we were enabled to do. Look at morals, and creeds; mark the philosophic simplicity of the Christian doctrine as promulgated by Christ, not, indeed, as corrupted in practice; but still, even then mark how the comparison holds. What two or three great minds among the Greeks and Romans amid deplorable image-worship, could only picture and recommend, was carried out in our day sufficiently to exhibit our superiority.

“Admitting all this, what is it to us if in time, man, in place of threescore years and ten lives to a hundred, and is enabled by his advance to ‘tine the red lightning?’ We shall have passed away—your philosophy is very consolatory, to be sure!”

“It is the condition of our existence that we are as we are, and as we shall be. I speak of our race. Why we existed at all we cannot explain.”

“It is an hopeless affair that man will ever be much other than he is.”

Then he would change the subject, his views evidently unsettled, and often terminate the conversation in a common-place joke. While in the
jest itself he was always below par; he made amends for that by the mode of relating it, in which he excelled. His attempts at light or humorous writing were failures, as when he resolved to publish the “
Friars of Dijon” and “The Nun,” both unlike, and being so unworthy of him. At times he would vamp up bad puns, I fully believe only because he heard the laudations bestowed on the brothers Smith and upon Hook, for their jeux d’esprit.

He formed no just estimate of his own beautiful productions. “Hohenlinden,” that immortal ode, would not have been published at all but for Scott. The poet said it was only a “d—d drum-and-trumpet thing.” How he prevented the introduction of the beautiful “Dirge of Wallace,” in editing his works, because he did not think “it was perfect,” I have stated. Remonstrance was in vain.

Seldom, except in a moment when he seemed thrown off his guard, would he refer to the past. I recollect a story or two of his boyish tricks marked by nothing that has not happened to all boys at school, and not at all characteristic. These he stated at a moment of hilarity, to second a story told by a friend of his own childish days a little similar, and not worth putting into type.

During the whole of the year 1832 the poet was swallowed up in Polish affairs. It was a real
mania. Without a reference to “
The Pleasures of Hope,” the origin of this feeling is not discoverable—but on reading the passage commencing
“Warsaw’s last champion,”
and terminating—
“And freedom shriek’d, as Kosciusko fell!”
a clue is obtained to this zeal. He had not forgotten the generous feeling that he had nurtured in youth; and it had fixed itself more deeply in his constitution by the passage of years. His poem was well known in Warsaw soon after it was published, and he had repeated notices of the effect it produced in his favour—an effect which introduced him to the more illustrious men of that nation when driven from their homes in their first abortive attempt to throw off Russian slavery. During the year above mentioned, the poet talked, dreamed, laboured in behalf of the exiles, interrupted only by the “eternal”
Mrs. Siddons, and her biography. He effected much good for the Poles, and his sincerity and toil in their behalf bore the impress of a noble and generous nature, if a little ill regulated. At one time he determined to dine at two o’clock, to have the longer afternoon for his Polish labours. Regardless of appearances, he would snatch his dinner in haste, and repair again to the Sussex Chambers, where the business was transacted. Once or twice a
week he would call between two or three o’clock at the Club, after his hurried dinner, to read the paper, ordering a glass of brandy and water at the same time; and some persons said he came there “to drink before dinner; how unseemly it was!” I told the poet so one day, and he replied,

You believe I have dined?”

“Most assuredly, but the good-natured world does not know it.”

“Pooh! I don’t care for the world.”

Half-a-dozen lines a day would have completed the Life of Mrs. Siddons in a fourth part of the time he took to finish it. The Poles, too, were sometimes an excuse for his idleness on that unsatisfactory work. His published letters in relation to his toils at this period are “awful exaggerations,” often perversions through forgetfulness of the circumstances to which they relate, and often give incidents, which seeming lapses of memory, or a desire to be uppermost in everything with the smallest quantum of labour possible, could alone have coloured. I had once run down to St. Leonard’s to spend a couple of days with him. In rambling about together, with a third party, having reached the summit of the East cliff, a place I had often visited, I observed to the poet that I had little doubt in my own mind but William I. had encamped there after landing, and before the battle of Hastings. “Come with me
and we can go round the entrenched side, the sea below defends the rest of the hill.”

He was much struck with the spot, and that night began some verses, as he told me the next day (I was at the St. Leonard’s Hotel) when I went to breakfast with him. He could not get them ready in time, and sent them to town after me, for insertion in “The Metropolitan.” In his note that accompanied the verses, he wrote:—

“Sunday, Aug. 21, 1831.

“My dear Sir,—I have forwarded a paper to you which I think will be thought interesting. I bespoke it from Mr. M——, the traveller in Turkey, who is now here.

“I enclose you a note, the signature of which I cannot make out, though I suppose it to be known. What a shame for people to write so affectedly! Pray address it, if you know the name.

“Pray favour me with a little historical note about the Camp-hill, on which I have made the stanzas. The substance of what you told us on the spot will suffice, and let it be subjoined with the poem.

“Yours, &c.
“T. C.”

The verses are those beginning—
“In the deep blue of eve,
Ere the stars had appeared one by one,” &c.
The note was mine, as he wished it to be—(see “
The Metropolitan” for September, 1831).

I wrote:—

“What is called the East hill at Hastings is crowned with the works of an ancient camp, and it is more than probable it was the spot which William I. occupied between his landing and the battle which gave him England’s crown. It is a strong position; the works are easily traced.”

Of this there could be only my conjecture; no history of the spot remains, no record of the exact place William I. occupied on his landing before the battle; much less could it be known to have been occupied the evening before the Norman defeated Harold. The road out of Hastings to Battle, too, lay on the west of the town. Campbell, in a letter written to one of his correspondents, observes, in the month I thus visited him:—

“The subject of the following lines, which will appear in ‘The Metropolitan’ for September, is a spot of ground not far from the castle of Hastings, on which I have ascertained, by a comparison of histories, the camp of William the Conqueror must have been placed the evening before he defeated Harold!”

This was no solitary case of his want of memory, and its supply by taking the credit of what hardly belonged to him as to the history of places and
things. His forgetfulness and hallucinations, to those who did not know him, often appeared unaccountable.

He had been long fearful of the conduct of a countryman of his, and therefore had kept him under surveillance, and in that case nothing escaped his notice, though he was in general the most unsuspicious of mankind; but the party owed the poet money. He wrote me, “His word is not worth a straw; he has three times deceived Mr. M—— himself, in his promise to send to me. Mr. M—— and you believe that you can manage him; and so Captain C—— believed before you. It is my belief that he could manage you all three put together.” The poet was right, and he rallied us all three upon it as a triumph. He got his money, and we did not. I replied that it was no wonder as the affair was a money one, and he was a North Briton, pitted against a countryman, with whom three Southerns had no chance. He replied that he thought a lesson or two in the North would do us all three good, and he would give us introductions, for a Scotch rogue was generally a well-educated man, worth half-a-dozen English ones through his better instruction.

No one in moments of relaxation was a more lively companion; but he moved by fits and starts, and required to be reminded of the most ordinary things. His fine eyes would sometimes seem to
be without speculation, or directed internally, apparently immovable. He would forget the plainest promises given, or the most fixed of his intentions at such times. His servant one day brought him a book, written by an old and valued friend, for which he had subscribed. He rated her, bade her give it back to the bearer, and declared he knew nothing about it. The messenger went away, and in five minutes afterwards the street door flew open, and the poet, in a dressing-gown and slippers, his head uncovered, wig disarranged, and no neckcloth on, was seen hurrying up the public street after the messenger. The real state of the case was, that the friend’s book, and the supposed slight shown him, rushed into
Campbell’s mind, and he hasted to retrieve his error, at the expense of being thought mad by the street passengers.

On calling upon me, Swift’s works were upon the table.

“I have not read him for many years,” remarked Campbell, “and whoever reads him a second time laughs more heartily at him than on the first perusal, at least I do. He represents the mass of mankind just what it is in respect to its rationality. How superstitious and grovelling is its spirit! It was an admirable hit at the prevalent superstition for burying the dead east and west, to propose burying them with their heads downwards.”


No man was more the advocate of religious freedom than Campbell. He would have everyone judge for himself, abhorred any kind of persecution, and never cared to ask a man what his creed was, as a thing with which he had no concern. He had a number of good stories about the rigidly righteous of his countrymen. His own religious opinions were sceptical; but he was exceedingly cautious of any religious topic before strangers. He was blind to the failings of friends, charitable and humane in his feelings, ready to do a kind act to another, only give him the hint, and fond of town rather than country life. He was often despondent. One day Horace Smith met him when he felt some disappointment about the London University, and asked about it.

“My dear friend, don’t ask me a word about it. I never wish to hear its name mentioned. Don’t ask me about any thing upon the success of which I have set my heart, for you may be sure it’s a failure. All attempts at improving or benefiting my fellow-creatures I have given up for ever. I have now had a pretty long experience, and I have at length come to the conclusion—I wish I had done so sooner—that our race is not destined to improve, even if it do not relapse into comparative barbarism. Ay, you may shake your head; I know you are a sanguine believer in a never-ceasing progress towards higher desti-
nies; but for my own part I am satisfied that man is an incorrigible rascal, whose innate brutality will ever predominate over his modicum of rationality.”

It was rarely Campbell would discuss elevated and learned subjects before a third party. Lockhart often tried him on Spanish literature. They occupied his retired moments; and although he so well knew how to treat difficult points, he preferred in conversation in mixed company either to be reserved, or very social and lively. No one at certain times was more ready to join in setting the table in a roar, when in the particular humour.

To one well acquainted with the incidents stated—no unimportant witness, and, indeed, actor in the same scenes—the statements made by the poet in his senility are so much at war with the real facts, that they are painful to read. His recollection was continually at fault, and circumstances of little real moment to himself or others, are so misstated, as to afford evidence of the effect of time upon some constitutions, and upon the poet’s in a particular manner. This was remarked by Horace Smith, while the poet was alive, and by many of his friends. Smith has left an evidence of it in the statement which follows. Matter, too, which, it is presumed, was extracted from the notes
he put together two years before his decease, at the request of his executor, who has recorded it, perhaps partly the notes themselves are painfully inaccurate. It is impossible to pass by the reflection on perusing them, that the lot of the most brilliant genius is often that of common-place humanity, before life’s curtain falls. One proof of the poet’s mental change Smith gave as follows:—

“I was once,” said Smith, “rallying him in his last years upon his depression of spirits, and recommending his shaking off certain gloomy views he had of the world. He replied:—

“‘Oh, I am at no loss for much better society than the world can give me; come and see what a companion I have.’

“He led the way to an oil-painting in Lincoln’s Inn Chambers, the size of life, representing a handsome gipsy girl, the work of a Polish emigrant. In an excited tone, he gave the history of the picture, quite unconscious of the hallucination his narrative betrayed:—

“‘I was walking down Great Queen Street, when I saw this beautiful creature in a broker’s shop, gazing upon me with such a friendly smile, that I instantly stood transfixed. So much was I smitten with the painting, that I inquired the price, but finding that it was forty guineas, much more than I could afford to give, I uttered a deep sigh, and walked on to Long Acre. But the
gipsy was still before me, smiling at me as I proceeded, and thus she continued until I reached my home. Even in the darkness of night it was the same. I could not sleep, those beautiful eyes were still benignly fixed upon me; and in the morning I asked myself, why I should be made miserable by not possessing that which forty guineas would obtain. I procured the money, hurried to secure my beauty—there she is—and I would not take a thousand guineas for her! How can I be solitary with such a companion? I talk to her constantly, and she always gives me a gracious reply. You laugh. Mark you, I don’t say that you, or any one else, can hear her mellifluous voice; but I fancy I do, and that is quite enough to make her society charming, and more than enough to supply the place of other companionship.’

“Seeing it would be difficult and hardly desirable to dispel an illusion which had a charm for his imaginative mind, I did not attempt to combat it, and willingly admitted the great beauty of his canvas innamorata.”

The poet would sometimes have recourse to stratagem to get over a difficulty, or where he was pressed against his inclination about anything he was reluctant to do or deny, and would circumvent. His plans generally shewed his simplicity on these occasions, by their want of depth. In a
bantering mood, when he charged me with some idle thing out of mere badinage, I used to admit that his charge might be true, but he could not accuse me of “Scotticisms.” This would lead him away into a defence of his countrymen, from a charge which could only be proved against “a few Lawlanders” in any case.

I intended by “a Scotticism” merely some innocent stratagem to avoid that which he disliked, or to promote self-interest, when he had not inclination and firmness to say no, playing what he styled “paukiness” upon another. There were one or two places in London where, forced to make morning calls, he was always pressed to sit longer, under a variety of excuses, and where, too, he felt he had no disinclination to linger, and lose time in spite of himself. On leaving his house of an evening, he said to me, “Are you going into town to-morrow?—if so, call for me and we will walk together.” Upon calling, I found he had gone out before me, leaving word that he would be obliged to me if I would call for him at a house in a particular street. I did so, and he immediately joined me. This occurring more than once, I thought it odd, especially when one day, knocking and asking for him, in the same manner, the servant said his mistress requested I would walk up into the drawing-room, at the door of which I met Campbell, bustling away on hearing my name
announced by the man at whose heels I had mounted the stairs. When we got into the street I told him the servant would not announce me unless I came up.

“It is of no more use now,” said the poet, “I have made a cat’s-paw of you, that is the truth, to get me away from those people where I always lose too much time. They will never let me go, and your calling allowed me to plead another engagement.”

* * * *

“It had been the fashion,” he said, “to accuse our language of hissing sounds. This might in some degree be a charge well founded, especially since the th, the beautiful Greek θ, had been so much discarded to make room for the s; but there were lines in the Latin classics that in this respect could meet any of ours. What must the ancient Romans have thought of them if the sound of the s was so very annoying to classical ears? Foscolo, on being asked what sounds in our language were most pleasing and unpleasing to his Greek-Italian ear, made no mention of those overburdened with the accused letter. He said the most disagreeable word we had was a Spanish word, mucho, made worse by our pronunciation, ‘much.’ It was horrible to his ear. One of the most agreeable sounds in any language was our ‘indeed.’ pronounced partly in the way of interjec-
tion, or emphatically. But what was to be thought of
Virgil, in the Æneid?—
‘Dixerat: et spissia noctis so condidit umbris.
Adparent diræ facies, inimicaque Trojæ
Numina magna deûm.’
There was a French poet, too, who had these lines, and most assuredly they could have no ground to accuse us:—
‘Elle dit, et dans l’ombre echappe à mes regards,
Alors, le voile tombe; alors de toutes parts,
Je vois des dieux vengeurs la figure effroyante.’
Yet our own
Addison seemed to have admitted the charge, not of the great use of the letter in the English, which cannot be denied, but of its prevalence, so largely exceeding its use in any other tongue, according to the statement of some foreigners, who had not fairly considered the point. In prose, it would undoubtedly be preferable to make the genitive case with ‘of’ almost uniformly, which would be some diminution of the use of the accused letter. He did not think, where there was no advantage gained by its use, as in the syllabic diminution often required in poetry, that the application, of the letter in place of the more regular mark of the genitive case was at all more elegant.”

When Lord Londonderry committed suicide, Campbell was much struck with a circumstance
which, from the character of the man, was so wholly unexpected.

“No one could accuse his lordship,” the poet observed, “of being over-sensitive, early schooled as he had been in all that was hardening and unfeeling.”

Some singular reasons were assigned at the time for the act. Campbell took the most indulgent view of the case.

“It was no matter for the cause, since it was equally humbling to human nature to see a man at the pinnacle of hope, and prospering in the sight of the world, struck down thus into the grave.”

“You say,” he observed to me, “few will miss Lord Londonderry. That may be true; but it is a lesson of an inscrutable character happening to such an individual. That a mind, either of a wide or narrow scope, should thus overturn itself, was a painful contemplation. There was a man of a superior intellect and virtue to Lord Londonderry, Romilly, committed the same act, and Whitbread, too. Who can rely upon his own strength of mind even in no uncommon circumstances! You know a medical man, as well as I do, who says the balance between suicide and existence often turns upon a blue pill. If so, what are we?”

The poet thought there were three classes of readers, one of which, quoting Dryden, were
“mob-readers,” who preferred “the husk and rind of wit” to solid sense, with elegant expression. He was delighted with the style of the
Rev. Sidney Smith, to say nothing of the quaint humour of which it was the vehicle. He said that one of Sidney Smith’s criticisms on Dr. Parr, in which he had attacked the Doctor’s learned style, and errors arising out of his over-laboured scholasticism, had almost tickled him to death. It was where the Doctor, after praising the regulations of a hospital in a long climax, spoke of them as possessing “the firmness of conscious worth rather than the prancings of giddy ostentation.” In commenting upon which, Smith observed he had heard of a spirited carriage-horse, but had never yet witnessed a “prancing indenture.” Campbell used to repeat this with much humour.

Washington Irving was sitting with Campbell while at Whitehall, when a raw Scot called, and hearing there was company, said he would wait. He then began to pump a youth whom Campbell had employed to write.

“I suppose our Irving, may be, is giving the poet a little godly advice, and needs o’ it. The last time he was in Glasgow he never was in the kirk at all, but once, to hear one of our guid men.”

“I don’t know,” replied the youth, “anything
about Glasgow, I was never there; but
Mr. Irving writes the funniest books I ever read.”

“You are wrong, laddie, there is no so in his godly works, unless he ha’ writ anything leesome very lately.”

“You have never read his ‘Salmagundi,’ then, and have a pleasure to come?”

“Who should think of such a primsie man trying his hand at ungodly beuks?”

“You have read his ‘Knickerbocker’s History of New York?’”

“Come, laddie, this is carrying it too far. Don’t mock haly men. You maun think me daff to stan’ a’ that.”

The American took his leave, and the poet laughed immoderately at his countryman mistaking Washington Irving, who wrote “Salmagundi,” for the wild-looking enthusiast.

When Prince Czartorisky came an exile to England, Earl Grey, then prime minister, called upon him, though scarcely, if at all, personally acquainted; but Campbell remarked, with some asperity, that Lord Brougham, not long before made Chancellor, did not call upon the Prince, though they were old acquaintance. The motive attributed to the Lord Chancellor might have been mere surmise; but as he had just put on the “courtier’s coat,” the incident appeared singular. “I am sorry to see Brougham so actuated,” said
Campbell, “I thought he was above such apprehensions from any quarter.”

It is well known that the “Exile of Erin” was written by Campbell in 1800, upon an interesting Irishman named McCann, who took refuge in Hamburgh from the torturings practised by those in authority in Ireland, about the time of the rebellion. Campbell, visiting Berlin in 1825, went to Hamburgh on his return towards home, and saw his old friend. A dinner was given to the poet here, and he was heartily welcomed by those with whom he became acquainted on his first visit. McCann was alive, and Campbell had a communication from him in 1832. He has been dead many years, not having been suffered to return to England, though applications were repeatedly made in his behalf.

There is a statement on the strength of a friend’s recollection, that Campbell, in putting together “The Life of Mrs. Siddons,” so scanty of material, said, “Confound the woman! I wish her career had not been so monotonous and so virtuous, for it does not afford me any supplies, either of incident or scandal; so that when I once get her off the theatrical stage, I shall not have a word more left to say about her.”

When the poet was composing “Theodric,” Hook declared that, passing by his house, he saw the knocker tied up. Thinking the poet ill, he
inquired after his health, and was told by the servant he was doing as well as could be expected. “God bless me! what has happened?” “O, sir, master was safely delivered of a couplet this morning!”—thus hitting the poet’s fastidiousness in composition.

Captain Marryat sent an article to “The Metropolitan” in favour of naval punishment. Always on the side of humanity, Campbell sent him the following lines, which afterwards went into that publication:—
“Ingenious author of this article,
I believe in your doctrine not one particle,
But if e’er the power be mine
To flog contributors, my boy,
Your back shall be the first to enjoy
The benefit of the Nine!”

The following joke of the poet’s own, was related to a friend in one of his pleasant conversational moods, not caring whether the joke ran for or against himself:—

“Walking one day,” he said, “along Holborn Hill, he perceived he had burst his boot. The streets were wet, and he turned into the first shop where he could provide himself with a new pair, which was soon accomplished, when he wrote down his name and residence in an address-book kept for that purpose, directing the old boots to be sent home to him. No sooner had the shop-
keeper read the words, ‘
Thomas Campbell, Sussex Chambers, Duke Street, St. James’s,’ than his countenance underwent a change, and bowing with an air of reverence, he said, or rather whispered, as if his natural voice would not sufficiently express his homage,—

“‘I beg your pardon, sir; I hope I am not taking too great a liberty; I would not for the world be guilty of the smallest disrespect, but may I venture to inquire whether I have the honour of seeing in my shop the celebrated Mr. Thomas Campbell?’

“‘My dear sir,’” said the bard, in relating this anecdote, ‘I have heard so little lately of my literary reputation, for people have almost forgotten ‘The Pleasures of Hope,’ that having, as I fondly imagined, caught a new and ardent admirer, I resolved to play with the hook a little; so I replied, looking as modest and unconscious as I could,—

“‘I don’t exactly know whom you mean by the celebrated Mr. Thomas Campbell.’

“‘Oh, sir,’ cried the fellow, ‘I meant Mr. Thomas Campbell, the African missionary—I never heard of any other!’

“An ignorant Muggletonian rascal!” ejaculated the bard, in narrating this misadventure, “I’ll never buy another pair of boots of him as long as I live.”


When the Reform Bill was proceeding, Campbell remarked, “It must come, that reform. The most anti-popular minister can only retard the measure for a time. Even now, see how much better are the times than those through which you and I have lived. The chances of fighting for freedom are over, in this country at least.”

“I see, you would not have been knocked on the head with the old Covenanters.”

“I am afraid I should have taken that side.”

“It was the right side, as time has proved; but your friend, Sir Walter (Scott), does not quite think so.”

“No; Sir Watty, as Lady Scott used to call him, will stand by his regiment ‘right or wrang,’ as the old countrywoman prayed that God would do with Hamilton’s regiment. But Sir Walter is in earnest, believes himself right, and acts upon that belief.”

“Our friend, Horace Smith, has just been twitting the great novelist. See these lines, in some manuscript poetry he has enclosed to me,—
“Why does not England’s pride, the good Sir Walter,
Embalm their names in some immortal song!
Alas! he would not have us mend or alter
What time hath hallowed, be it right or wrong,
And leaves oppression and corruption still
To work their will!”

Smith is a good fellow; but has not Scott
given us a world of what is good, while his feeling in politics is of little public moment, in staying the progress of events. He will go down a great name to posterity when his politics are forgotten as well as his opposition to the advancement of freedom in an age no one has done more to delight than himself. Don’t you think so?”

I replied in the affirmative, and said I would take the risk of erasing the stanza, and Smith would not be displeased.

When Hazlitt published “The New Pigmalion,” which he afterwards endeavoured to suppress, wholly unworthy of his talent as it was, Campbell said, “‘Pigmalion,’ indeed! the title should be ‘Hogmalion!’”

His talent for punning, I have before observed, was not great.

“I have not a sixpence,” I said to him one day; “my money is in my writing-desk, and I have lost the key.”

“Never mind, Redding,” said Campbell, jestingly, “if nothing better turns up, you are sure of a post among the lackheys.”

One day at the dinner-table, Colonel Jones of the Guards, Lord Denman, and others being present, the Colonel complained that there were too many men in the Guards recruited from the
metropolis and its vicinity, and among them many attorneys’ clerks, the greatest rascals in existence.

“No, not exactly,” said the poet, “you might have had their masters.”

He would play upon an old pun of his own, and yet it did not appear threadbare from his mouth.

He wrote Horace Smith from Algiers, that it was the land of dates, for he had seen a camel carrying a load on his back. But he had long before said that the East was the site in which to write works on Chronology, “because it was the country of dates.”

Halting once at an inn in Haddington, N. B., he was much struck with the charms of the chambermaid. He fell asleep soon after he was in bed, to dream of her beauty, when he was awoke by the girl herself, standing at his bedside with a candle in her hand, and somewhat of an embarrassed air.

“Sir, sir, would you object to a bedfellow?” she questioned him with a hesitating voice.

Supposing she alluded to herself, he declared how he should be delighted.

“Oh, sir, I am so glad,” she replied; “there is a drunken Brummagem rider below, wants a bed, and I have been so bold as ask whether you’d let him turn in with you, for nobody I have yet asked will hear of the man.”


He told this story inimitably well.

The poet’s quarrel with the over-praised Dr. Leyden arose from one of those practical jokes of which no man of well-bred habits and gentlemanly feeling would be guilty. Leyden sent a paragraph to a newspaper, in the early part of Campbell’s career, stating that the poet had been playing “hide and seek,” and hoped to make his appearance through the profits of his “Pleasures of Hope.” The youthful sensitiveness of the poet, the falsehood of the story, and his anxiety at that moment in particular, rendered the act doubly mischievous. The poem appeared, and introduced him to all the literati of Edinburgh, who were his friends through life.

I could not take coffee with him, “because,” I observed, “I expected a couple of Jacks”—in reference to two countrymen so named—having hooked me in for the evening.

“I see,” said he, “you are the line to catch the Jacks that Busby wrote of,—
‘Hæc est progenies magnos captare Johannes.’”

The toast given by Campbell, out of compliment to the late great artist, Turner, and the retort, so ready of the artist, are perfectly true.

“Gentlemen, I give you the painters and glaziers!”

“I will respond, gentlemen,” said Turner, “by giving you ‘the paper-stainers!’”


Miss Webb was a lady who used her pen, not without considerable ability, some years ago. She was an amiable woman of some talent and ultimately married when very far gone in a state of single-blessedness. Some of those who were fond of nicknaming their friends called her “The Mummy,” in consequence of a tale she wrote so denominated.

“Who is that lady?” said the poet to L—— the first time he happened to be in her company.

“She is intensely blue,” replied L——, with affectation, “she is ‘The Mummy.’”

“It is the first time I have heard of a blue mummy!” was the response.

A man who had been a shoemaker, and unexpectedly came into a large property several years before, was invited to the tables of the people near him in a large country town, which shall be nameless. He was courted by those who would have despised him at his honest trade. At the dinner-table he had not the tact to accommodate his manners somewhat to the change as anyone else would have done. The poet, asking our host who he was, that he conducted himself so oddly—

“He is very rich, a man who has once been at the last!”

“O, I understand—he was before only accustomed to the table of ‘shoebread!’”


Rogers the poet,” said Campbell, “has been pressed with many applications for assistance and advice by literary tyros. One application began: ‘I am sorry to say I have been unsuccessful in my commercial pursuits, and not knowing what course to take, having exhausted my little capital, I have thought of turning my mind to literature as a last resource. How would you advise me to proceed, as I am “wholly inexperienced in that line?” I should esteem it a great kindness for a hint or two from one so capable of giving it.’ Rogers replied that as his correspondent was sensible he could not trade commercially without capital, was he not also aware that capital of another kind was necessary to authorship? When, therefore, he communicated the amount disposable for his projected undertaking, he should have his advice. Nothing more was heard of the applicant.”

When a certain minister received his appointment, Campbell said, “You don’t know the most shining talents necessary he should possess. He will ever be the most distinguished in his post as a statesman, who knows how to take advantage of the talents of other people after duly balancing them. He need have none himself.”

Of the poet’s relatives and friends in Glasgow and Edinburgh, many have followed him to the
Dr. Ralston Wood called upon me several years after the poet’s death and presented me with a certificate letter from Campbell, dated May 14, 1833, in which he testified to the accomplishments of Dr. Wood. The Principal of the Glasgow University had appended his signature to the same document. Dr. Wood was one of Campbell’s “glorious boys,” as he called them, and with Mr. John Tennant, founded the Campbell Club. Unfortunately, Dr. Wood having settled in London, did not adhere to “thin potations,” and died a few years ago of too great self-indulgence. He obtained high honours in the College, and bore off many prizes.

Billing, Printer, 108, Hatton Garden, London, and Guildford, Surrey.