LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 9

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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Contributions of the poet, 1829.—Catholic emancipation.—Deaths of old friends.—Barry St. Leger.—Remarks on Flaxman’s lectures.—Dulwich project and disappointment.—Mackintosh and Lawrence.—Appearance of Moore’s Byron.—Letter to Moore regarding Byron.—Defence of Lord Byron.—Remarks on the defence.—Removal to Scotland Yard.—Rooted dislike of the poet to honorary titles.—Madame Roland’s philosophy commended.

THE literary contributions of the poet in 1829, in poetry, were the songs beginning, “When Love first came to Earth,” “Lines to Julia Macdonald,” the accomplished daughter of the adjutant-general, and “Verses on the departure of the Emigrants,” to be found in the edition of his works in octavo, 1839, and “On Shakspeare’s Sonnets,” in prose. This year, in September, Campbell left Seymour Street for a house in Middle Scotland Yard, Whitehall.

Catholic emancipation still engrossed much of
the public attention. The
Duke of Wellington, evidently unable to bring about what he thought so desirable, owing to the bigotry of many of his Tory friends, had thought it best to temporise for a season. The jealousy of the high church party was uncontrollable. The welfare of the community, even that of the crown itself, appeared to that party a thing of no moment. The duke accordingly wrote a letter to Dr. Curtis in Ireland, which, although sound in policy, bore a remarkable contrast as to correctness of language and argument to that of the Marquis of Anglesey on the same subject, respecting which Peel had made the blunder of attributing the recall of Lord Anglesey to a letter that had no existence until afterwards. This showed the want of a “stepping out together” at head-quarters. The duke’s letter contained a bull. His grace recommended burying the question in oblivion for a time, and discussing its difficulty. This caused a remark from the poet, and no little merriment at a party, where some insisted that the sense was perfectly clear. The poet said that “oblivion,” with the word “buried” attached, seemed to imply irrecoverable forgetfulness; but this was hypercritical, especially towards the great soldier, who did not think much of language. Besides, it was a colloquial phrase in every society. As
to the bull, it belonged to the duke’s own side of the channel, and the meaning was clear.

“But it is a bull notwithstanding.”

“I do not deny it,” said the poet, “but the intention is clear, there could be little doubt about the meaning.”

“Nor is there,” remarked some one present, “about the answer of the Irishman who, when asked whether his sister-in-law had been brought to bed of a boy or a girl, replied, ’By my sowl I do not know whether I am an uncle or an aunt.’”

What then was language as to its end, but the communication of the intention or wishes of another; that achieved, it was enough for the duke, though it was an exception, in the present instance, to his general lucidness, and “no mistake” manner.

“Besides,” said the poet, “he is so pestered with Orange Protestants in Ireland, and bigots of all sorts in England, that I have no doubt he is more in perplexity than he was at Waterloo. Used to command and to have it all his own way at the head of an army, the virulent and intemperate opposition of his friends must annoy him; but if men will keep bad company they must expect to pay the penalty. The duke still clings to those on whose fidelity and narrow-mindedness he has so long placed reliance.”


This year died Henry Mathews, who had succeeded Sir Harding Giffard on the judicial Bench in Ceylon, where he fully realised every expectation entertained regarding him. Another friend, Francis Barry Boyle St. Leger, at the close of this year, aged thirty, departed from the world. His father had been a leading Whig, and a friend of Lord Guildford in Ireland. He was educated at Rugby, and went out to India at seventeen, when, not liking the service, he returned home, entered of the Middle Temple, and was called to the bar only three years before his decease. He was the author of “Gilbert Earle.” He died of repeated attacks of epilepsy. He was personally known to few persons, but his attainments were considerable, his attachments warm, his conversation highly agreeable, with qualities of the class that are certain to make strong friends.

The first literary effort of the poet in 1830, was his remarks on the lectures of Flaxman, the sculptor, which had been just before published. I have already stated, that the poet always felt and expressed a high admiration for Flaxman’s works. They in some measure met his preconceived ideas of Grecian form, that is, his own notions of what they once were in the reality, rather than any data of their excellence drawn from his own acquaintance with the details of the art,
for in art he was book-learned alone. He touched upon the
small ceremony of the Edinburgh Review in treating on Flaxman’s lectures, and proceeded, with judgment, to vindicate the high rank the sculptor undoubtedly held in art, not only in the opinion of eminent artists in England, but upon the continent, an opinion which has gained ground since the decease both of the sculptor and his eulogist. Some of his remarks, however, were not in that perfect sobriety of language and simile which in preceding times had marked his prose style, and seemed to lead towards the change, which in the biography of a player in Mrs. Siddons’ memoirs,—a most untoward subject for him,—was exhibited yet more remarkably afterwards. “The flow of didactic language, constructed for the tread of sober ideas perilously shaken by the tramp of impassioned enthusiasm,” is a strained metaphor. “Orgies in style,” or drunken feasts in style, is not happy, and to “new mint the ore of opinion“ is different indeed from the classical beauty of phraseology in his own lectures, and essay on poetry, as ore cannot be new minted, because if once minted it ceases to be ore, while ore standing for metal was too latitudinarian for his prose. When, however, he had to censure or blame, he seemed prone to have recourse to this kind of phrase, as may be remarked in his letter to Moore respecting Byron. He
censured the
critic who wrote in the Edinburgh Review, with much justice. His efforts to defend Flaxman were generous and just. He felt what he wrote. The classic severity of the sculptor, and the purity of his taste, were allied to the poet’s own feelings in his best days, those feelings in some respects that led to his defence of Pope against Bowles.

There could not be a doubt that Campbell preferred the composite excellence in art to any natural copy existence. The ideal was his elysium. I would not be sure that his frequent abstractions were not mental occupations upon better things than he could find among the realities of life; castle buildings, that, like the images of a kaleidoscope, displayed themselves in his sensorium, even as he walked London streets, and beguiled their sameness and noise. One of such a disposition would prefer the Venus or Apollo Belvidere, composed of a union of perfect parts, to the merely human, natural, but still transcendant merit of the Elgin sculptures. Learned in what concerned Greece, and in art book-learned, rather than learned from the actual observation and study of the antique figure, still the poet’s notions of art were high and worthy, and he had the advantage of the reviewer in the argument, who displayed no great intimacy with his subject, or
else was careless about hazarding remarks that fully justify such a suspicion.

The poet, in his remarks on the Edinburgh Review, censured that work further for its reprobation of Flaxman’s doctrine that an acquaintance with anatomy was of the highest consequence to the sculptor. This led to a suspicion that the article in the Edinburgh was written by some friend of Chantry, who disparaged anatomical knowledge because he possessed little or none himself. It is one thing, however, to obtain an ephemeral celebrity, which accident may contribute to obtain for individuals of mediocre ability in art or literature, and to work out that enduring fame which is co-existent with the works themselves in all times and countries. The artist who labours for all time feels that truth alone is the basis on which he must build up a name, and no flimsy resource for effect, no evasion of an essential contributing to excellence can be practised with any defect in this great and laudable object. A slight observation of nature is not enough. Flaxman desired the artist not to be content with a slight view of nature externally, but to carry his views into her internal organisation. Flaxman was as well known in other countries as his own, a rare thing indeed with English sculptors. His severity of style, and purity of
design, heralded him everywhere. The poet, it is easily seen, was a partisan of Flaxman’s opinion, for while he had himself no knowledge of the details of the art, he well knew how to defend principles which were coincident with his own ideas.

This notice of Flaxman’s lectures, or rather, of the Edinburgh Review, upon them, was published on the 1st of January, 1830. It was remarkable on another account, as having been read to the President of the Royal Academy just before he expired.

On the 8th of January, 1830, Campbell, who had fixed (after several former attempts had failed) to go with me to Dulwich, set out for that purpose. We were to walk down and dine at the College, where I had never dined, and he was to introduce me. Continually talked about and delayed upon some excuse or another, we set off down Regent Street about eleven o’clock in the forenoon; the poet in high spirits, talking of the many times he had been entertained there, of the kindness of the brethren, and of the valuable collection of pictures of Sir Francis Bourgeois. It might be thought that—actually on foot, and a mile passed upon our pedestrian exploit—there could have been no baulk to our design, but the College I was never destined to see
with him. We had reached the Quadrant, when, about half way through the southern colonnade, for it had not then been defaced by a barbarian destruction, we met
Sir James Mackintosh. I first saw him, and said, “Here comes Sir James Mackintosh, looking very ill.”

On meeting, Sir James said, “What a melancholy affair this is.”

“What?” said Campbell. “What do you mean—any news this morning?”

“Have you not heard?” replied Mackintosh, with the impress of much feeling. “Poor Lawrence is dead,—he expired last night.”

Campbell was thunderstruck, and maintained a dead silence for a minute or more, and then exclaimed, “Dead? Why, it was but an evening ago that I saw him.”

“It is all over now,” said Mackintosh; “he died last night—early in the evening; the immediate cause of his death remains to be explained.”

Campbell seemed to feel deeply,—”Another old friend is gone,” he observed; “a man who will be missed, indeed.”

“It was a very unexpected event,” remarked Sir James, and soon after bade us good morning, and passed on.

“Yes,” said I, “and Mackintosh will be the next, he looks so ill.”

“He has not looked well for some time,” said
Campbell, “and this matter has, no doubt, had its effect upon him. We must not go to Dulwich to-day; we must put it off. We must go and learn more about poor Lawrence. My company will be a burthen to-day.” So ended the promenade to Dulwich.

My remark was verified; Sir James soon followed the mutual friend to the tomb.

The poet attended the funeral of Lawrence, on the 21st of January, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, I think in Sir Francis Freeling’s carriage.

The task of writing the life of Lawrence was confined to Campbell, who entrusted it to the hands of another, dreading the weight of labour it involved, and exercising, in truth, no surveillance over its execution, after affecting to shut himself up from the world, that he might apply to the labour with greater effect.

It was during the spring of this year that the first volume of “Moore’s Life of Byron” made its appearance. This was a subject which, upon many accounts, it would have been difficult for a reviewer to notice, who was not aware of Campbell’s peculiar feeling upon the subject, and the apprehension he had about touching on any of his personal relations with individuals that might lead him into contention. I had informed him that the work was out, that a notice of it was preparing, which it would be necessary to consider. Could
not such a remarkable work be taken up in the large print, as it was a subject of general conversation, and ought we not to place it there? To the reasonableness of this he appeared, at first, as usual, to be inclined to let me do as I liked, but he altered his mind, and on the following day wrote me a note, of which this is an extract:—

“I have altered my mind with respect to the larger and fuller review of ‘Lord Byron’s Life,’ not from caprice, but for reasons which I will personally explain to you, and which I think your judgment, waiving some utilitarian arguments in compliance with certain delicate relations which 1 hold both with respect to Lady Byron and Moore, you will, on the whole, approve of.”

The consequence of this note was, that I stopped it, and had a notice of the work composed in the small print, and a proof sent to Campbell, who was fastidious about it, and added a letter he had addressed to Moore upon the subject a little before. This letter related to a passage in “Moore’s Life of Byron,” which was to the following effect, in the words of Byron himself:—

Campbell last night seemed a little nettled at something or other—I know not what. We were standing in the ante-saloon, when Lord H. (Holland) brought out of the other room a vessel of some composition similar to that which is used in catholic churches, and seeing us, he exclaimed,
‘Here is some incense for you.’ Campbell answered—‘Carry it to
Lord Byron, he is used to it.’ Now this comes of ‘bearing no brother near the throne.’ I, who have no throne, nor wish to have one now, whatever I may have done, am at perfect peace with all the poetical fraternity, or, at least, if I dislike any, it is not poetically, but personally.

“Surely the field of thought is infinite; what does it signify who is before or behind in a race where there is no goal? The ‘temple of fame’ is like that of the Persians—the universe; our altar the tops of mountains. I should be equally content with Mount Caucasus, or mount anything, and those who like it may have Mount Blanc or Chimborazo, without my envy of their elevation.”

The letter which Campbell wrote to Moore was attached to the notice—a notice evidently too short and superficial for a work of such importance. I remarked this in substance to Campbell. The letter was as follows:—

My dear Moore.—A thousand thanks to you for the kind things which you have said of me in your ‘Life of Lord Byron,’—but forgive me for animadverting to what his lordship says of me at page 463 of your first volume. It is not every day that one is mentioned in such joint pages as those of Moore and Byron.


Lord Byron there states, that one evening at Lord Holland’s I was nettled at something, and the whole passage, if believed, leaves it to infer that I was angry, envious, and ill-mannered. Now I have never envied Lord Byron, but, on the contrary, rejoiced in his fame; in the first place, from a sense of justice, and in the next place, because, as a poetical writer, he was my beneficent friend. I never was nettled in Lord Holland’s house, as Lord and Lady Holland can witness; and on the evening to which Lord Byron alludes, I said, ‘carry all your incense to Lord Byron,’ in the most perfect spirit of good humour. I remember the evening most distinctly, one of the happiest evenings of my life; and, if Lord Byron imagined me for a moment displeased, it only shows me, that, with all his transcendent powers, he was one of the most fanciful of human beings. I by no means impeach his veracity—but I see from this case that he was subject to strange illusions.

“What feeling but that of kindness could I have towards Lord Byron? He was always affectionate to me both in his writings and in personal interviews; how strange that he should misunderstand my manner on the occasion alluded to; and what temptation could I have to show myself pettish and envious before my inestimable friend Lord Holland. The whole scene as described by
Lord Byron is a phantom of his own imagination. Ah, my dear
Moore! if we had him back again how easily could we settle these matters! But I have detained you too long, and begging pardon for all my egotism, I remain,

“My dear Moore,
“Your obliged and faithful friend,
T. Campbell.
“Middle Scotland-yard, Whitehall, Feb. 18, 1830.”

I objected to two lines that I thought might be misconstrued. He admitted the justice of the observation, and they were struck out. I then expected he would make some mention of the note to myself as doing away with the first arrangement respecting the review. He began by saying that there were reasons why for the moment the short notice of the book should suffice. He thought my idea of a full review of Moore’s work, into which there might be introduced what he had to say about Byron’s conjugal differences, would not be enough for the object he had in view as regarded Lady Byron. That it was true conviction might perhaps be wrought out better in the side way (as I had urged) than in one that seemed put together for the purpose, but that the fact was, there were some remarks from Lady Byron herself, and that a more elaborate review could not include them. That he had since I saw him, determined to make some observations of his own
on the matter in a separate article, and that he had in consequence altered his mind, which he said I could not but think him right in doing. He then put me in possession of the facts which had been communicated to him, and again asked whether I did not agree that no review could include them. I replied in the affirmative, and added, “nor any article either.” I had, in reality, fears about the ground he would take, because, in several instances, I had found him an injudicious friend, and he could not state all, for that was impossible. His zeal, and the sincerity of his advocacy, led him in this case as in others, to overlook what belonged to sound policy, operating continually against the end he endeavoured to work out with the best intentions. I remarked to him that public appeals in similar differences had seldom been productive of benefit. That the world would say Lord Byron was now beyond the power of replying to anything that might be advanced by Lady Byron; that for the real merit of the matter, the same world did not care a jot—that if it could have its sneer at one side or the other, or at both, in such cases it was well pleased, and that in similar cases the female was always the hardest treated by it.
Campbell then put it as a question whether, the statement he made to me being correct, Lady Byron had not been ill-treated? To which it was impossible not to assent; for, however un-
fitted Lord and Lady Byron might have been for each other in respect to temper and disposition, the point at issue turned upon nothing of the kind. “Then,” said Campbell, “if you admit that, and Lady Byron be right, ought not I to disregard all other considerations?”

“Undoubtedly, if the matter be considered logically,” I replied; “but sound policy is another thing in an affair that does not imperiously press for discussion.”

He then spoke of Dr. Lushington’s opinion, and I remarked that the case was not altered one way or the other before the public by any legal opinion, that we often saw what absurdities were promulgated by ecclesiastical courts, and even those of common law, in cases involving conjugal disputes, when witnesses were put on their words to prove the quantum of conjugal affection existing between parties up to a certain day or hour. That the public had a sentiment of the absurdity of professional opinions in analogous cases of individual feeling, and that what might be law might not be right nor rightful. People formed their own opinions, uninfluenced by that in which they justly had very little faith.

Campbell still persisted he was right, and became chivalrous in the matter. Knowing him so well, my next apprehension was for the mode in which he would set about his task. He had talked
to and consulted me, as it was easy to see, with a foregone resolution. He was determined to be a champion-at-arms, though without practised weapons, and with reservations of which he could not make use. The manuscript of the article, which I have preserved as a relic, more than ever satisfied me with what I had said, and with the correctness of the view I had taken of the character of the championship.

There was nothing resembling the style of this article in all that he had written before. If it were considered spontaneous and uncalled-for, that was a matter of taste resting with himself, it was the ex cathedrâ manner in which it was dictated that excited so much animadversion. It dealt in assertion, it controverted Moore in a mode the most strange and outré possible. It disproved nothing that Lady Byron, the better authority, had not disproved before by her own assertions, supported by Dr. Lushington’s opinion. It bore the character rather of replicatory spleen against Moore, a stranger as he then was to Campbell’s information, a thing Campbell did not intend, than a defence of Lady Bryon. The language, compared to Campbell’s former simple and pure English, was inflated and verbose. He spoke almost in boast of his own courage, as if that had been called in question, or was ever likely to be in a similar affair. His phrases were anything
but those of Campbell, “planting the tic douloureux of domestic suffering in a weak woman’s bosom;” to “dirty and puddle the holy water of acknowledgment.” “A blue stocking of chilblained learning,” “keeping off sentimental mummeries from the hallowed precincts of a widow’s character,” to “poach for the pathetic,” were phrases that would have been vainly sought previously to this ill-judged defence in the writings of any other literary man in England save Campbell himself. One of those impulses under which the poet sometimes did singular things, moved him to undertake a defence that defended nothing, and to make assertions that could go no way in settling the point at issue. He said he had not read the work he attacked, or affected not to have done so:—

“I have not read it in your book, for I hate to wade through it; but they tell me, that you have not only warily depreciated Lady Byron, but that you have described a lady that would have suited him (Lord B). If this be true, it is the unkindest cut of all—to hold up a florid description of a woman suitable to Lord Byron, as if in mockery over the forlorn flower of virtue that was drooping in the solitude of sorrow.”

As if he would have burlesqued the pathetic, and make use of that burlesque as argument. He wished to have it credited that he disregarded
the censures of the press upon this affair, and that it was complimentary. This was affectation, he felt them keenly.
Lady Byron was not a very old friend, and the latest he made were generally for a time the best with him, and the best defended, especially if they tickled his vanity.

To an old friend like Moore, this defence must have had a very singular appearance, an aspect incomprehensible. It is difficult to image what Campbell thought when he sat down to write in a mode so utterly at variance with his former habits. Had he reasoned that he could communicate no more than Lady Byron had done, he would have seen that he really left the matter as it stood before; but he was moved, as usual, by feeling rather than by reason or policy. In truth, the poet did not possess that versatility of talent which he imagined he did possess. What he did thus badly, was done with good-heartedness and in good faith, but the execution never equalled the virtue of the motive, and, as usual, he was always seen to a disadvantage when off his beaten track. This injudicious championship of Lady Byron did him great mischief, not on account of the subject, which any one, partial to standing well in the esteem of the fair sex, might have undertaken with or without the charge of injudiciousness, as the case happened, but from the discovery it operated, that Campbell had less judgment and talent
as an advocate than was presupposed; that he was unable to make the best of a cause, and that he buried the purity of his literary taste in the zeal of overheated advocacy. Had he not undertaken such a task, he might still have had conceded to him the credit of possessing the requisite ability. Had he advanced the cause he undertook, this might have compensated for the manner in which it had been effected.

The publications thus sent into the world not only surprised his friends, but seemed to unsettle the poet himself for a considerable period afterwards. He appeared as if he could talk of no other subject. But this was his way when any particular thing had occupied his attention for a time. He visited much more than he had done previously, and expressed himself upon every occasion like a warm partisan who overleaps discretion on an all-engrossing topic. The singular way in which he dealt with Moore, in a style between censure and something akin to sneering, which was not at all intended, nor discovered by himself to carry that complexion, was not the least curious thing. There was a species of egotism used, which repelling hypothetical accusations of himself, placed Campbell, his motives, and his feelings prominently forward in the matter, instead of making the defence of the lady’s cause and its concomitant grounds the end and scope of all.
Moore must have felt astonished when he perused the article for the first time, while its eccentricity and peculiar deviation from a particular and cautious discretion which until then had appeared a conspicuous quality in the writer, must have surprised him still more.

Moore had done what every biographer does, he had relied with the regard of a friend, in the present case, upon the statements made by Byron. Under such circumstances, and without any light but from the documents he possessed, he had written upon the best authority within his reach. It was rather out of the way to treat him in any other mode than with mild expostulation in the first place, and then to enter calmly into an explanation of what there was to be said on the opposite side of the question. This ought to have been done in place of what really was done, and in a way more worthy of a long-professed friendship, upon which all the while Campbell himself never dreamed of trenching. However, it is satisfactory to know that an old friendship was not severed, and that both the one and the other met some time afterwards on terms of customary cordiality.

I have no aim but that of truth in this statement. It is impossible that I could promulgate one unkind sentiment in relation to a celebrated man with whom a long intercourse only served to
make the balance of esteem greatly preponderate. The best course is that of impartiality; such statements should be made with right feeling, because indifferent persons are interested in their correctness. I do not derogate from the poet’s worth by relating an instance of the overflow of his zeal somewhat hurriedly carried into effect. It is no test of kindness to the memory of departed individuals, to proclaim them faultless in the front of the acknowledged compact by which man is linked to his nature—the compact of a common imperfection.
Lady Byron, after all, was only anxious, and naturally so, to exculpate her father and mother from Lord Byron’s censures, and she attempted to do no more than this. But this was not enough for Campbell, who wildly undertook the task which the lady had expressly stated she had not undertaken. He championed her particular cause, and left it much as he found it, although there could not be two opinions about her having justice upon her side, among those who knew the whole circumstances, of which Moore was at the moment, as the rest of the world is still, in utter ignorance.

The last year of Campbell’s Lord Rectorship at Glasgow had expired at the close of 1829. I do not find that he visited Scotland at the conclusion of his official duties there, but conclude he did not, because I cannot find any letter or note from
him dated from Scotland, or indeed out of London, for the entire year. He appeared more sociable, and fonder of company at such seasons, than usual; as the particular humour came upon him, he devoted his time to study as irregularly, but his studies were on dry, abstract subjects, not calculated for the foundation of any work of public interest.

This year, before he moved his residence, he deemed it necessary to place his son under the care of Dr. Matthew Allen, at Epping. The youth’s own consciousness of some kind of surveillance being exercised over him, was all that was necessary. To a stranger rational enough, on some points well-informed, young Campbell was an agreeable, chatty companion. There was nothing fatuitous in his look, and in society his conduct was exceedingly correct. At times he was flighty when in the domestic circle, and appeared to view the restraint of his father upon his actions in gloomy meditation, so his father felt, and in consequence fancied what perhaps had no real existence. The poet still lamented to myself that he should never be able to make any thing of him, there being no change after so many years of observation. But he had still kept him in his house, not liking his absence from his own care, until at last he could not longer bear the way in which his son’s eyes sometimes became fixed upon him when
he was alone, as if he meditated mischief. I remember calling and finding
Mrs. Campbell alone one evening. On asking for the poet, she replied, “He is gone out, Tom was looking at his father just now in a way he could not bear. Though he expected you, he is gone out—he is ruffled in his feelings.” The idea, foundationless no doubt, was painful to one of the father’s sensitiveness. “I am going to send Tom to the care of Dr. Allen,” he observed to me; “I can bear it no longer.” The resolution was the more painful on account of the mild nature of the complaint, which would seem scarcely to have required removal to such an establishment, with a superficial observer. “What can I do? I cannot leave my home without some watch being kept over him in my absence; and when I am present he becomes a subject of painful contemplation.” No affection could be stronger towards a child than that of Campbell towards his son. Young Thomas was accordingly sent to the house of Dr. Allen, where he remained fourteen years and upwards. His father used to go occasionally and see him, and I have known the son walk into town with Dr. Allen, and call upon his father. On such an occasion, Dr. Allen told me once, upon my asking for him on visiting the establishment, that he was gone into the forest, where he had been planning roads and scheming improvements. That he spent almost
all his time in the open air if the weather was fine. “He comes in regularly to dinner at two o’clock,” said the doctor.

There was much of feeling displayed by Campbell on this parting occasion, and perhaps I have been wrong in charging upon his wonted restlessness of temper his removal to Scotland Yard from Upper Seymour Street. He had been put to considerable expense by the alterations and additions he had made to his house, and had altered his library just before Mrs. Campbell’s death. It is probable he felt at last much more gloomy than he liked to confess, in a residence where he had so much to remind him of the past. There he was now left to meditate on the loss he had sustained by the vicissitudes of life, and to suffer the more, because what he suffered was in vain. Certain it is that I imagined there was a good deal going on in his mind at the time, from observing a more than usual absence and inattention to business; but he let fall nothing that could afford a clue as to what was the real fact. Several wild reports were afloat regarding his motives, but he was ever restless as to his residences on leaving Sydenham. He had lodgings in Margaret Street, and in Foley Place only. Upon going to 10 Upper Seymour Street West, he gave up his house at Sydenham, but had he possessed it, he would hardly have returned there.
Some talkers would fain have ascribed to him an affair of the heart as the cause, but the poet knew better than to be caught at
Lord Brougham’s “eleventh hour.” There was a reserve, too, about him, that seemed to make it a matter of pride that he would bear even his grievances alone. He kept his mind in its own solitude, and would not suffer the precincts to be violated by one particle of that sympathy which others might communicate; the most philosophical, if not the most natural way of meeting the strokes of misfortune.

He had been reading the Life of Madame Roland, and highly commended, as a source of consolation under misfortunes, that passage in which this remarkable lady spoke of resistance to them—a resistance which she so nobly exemplified on the scaffold. “We must look to ourselves for consolation, not to extraneous assistance,” said Campbell. This seemed to me a clue to his feelings. A reference to the works of Madame Roland has enabled me to recover the passage to which he alluded, as it recurred to memory at once on seeing it.

“Dans toutes les peines que j’ai essuyée la plus vive impression de douleur est presque aussitôt accompagnée de l’ambition d’opposer mes forces au mal dont je suis l’objet, et de la surmonter ou par le bien que je fais à d’autres, ou par l’augmentation de mon propre courage.
Ainsi la malheur peut me poursuivre et non m’accable: les tyrans peuvent me persecuter; mais m’avilir? Jamais, jamais!”

This sentiment the poet thought worthy of a great mind of antiquity—and that it was the finer from being the doctrine of one who acted up to her high-minded convictions, and proved the value of her own philosophy.

When anything that touched his poetical works was alluded to in his presence, it was obvious how anxious he still was lest what might be even casually dropped should tend to their depreciation. Yet nothing of this was expressed in words, nor need it have been to one who knew the poet so well as myself.

“You are not the first Campbell that has written upon Hope,” said Pringle; “you had a predecessor, a Dr. Campbell, too, who wrote on the same subject in 1784.”

“Indeed!” and the poet seemed to prick up his ears.

“I do not think you will find his rivalry very formidable. He only wrote three stanzas upon the subject. One of them invokes Hope as follows:—
‘My beating bosom is a well-wrought cage,
Whence thou, sweet goldfinch, never shalt elope;
Thy music all my sorrows can assuage,
So soft the songs of sweet-deluding Hope.’”


Campbell smiled himself out of an expression of feature that, at first, indicated alarmed sensibility; he feared that something like a borrowed thought, or line, had been detected, at least, so I imagined. Then, as to Doctor Campbell, he had a dislike beyond example of being so denominated; it was his most particular aversion. Mrs. Campbell used to say it was his detestation—“Don’t call him doctor, anything else.” When the remark was now made, that he was Doctor Campbell too, he looked grave on Pringle, and said he was LL.D., but no friend of his would ever call him so. This was pride, honest pride; he felt that so dog-cheap an honour bestowed on anybody for almost anything, was no mark of merit on the owner’s part, and was not worth a plain name that had worked out its own celebrity. No one can deny but that the poet was right; the continued abuse in the bestowal of these titles renders them of no value whatever— genius is ever its own better and more durable distinction.

In a desultory conversation at this time, regarding his poetry, I remarked that I remembered the “Pleasures of Hope,” from boyhood with delight, and that Coleridge and the “Lakers,” in attacking it, had no more justice on their side, than they would have had in attacking Pope and Goldsmith, for example, or any of
those among our poets whose works had stood the test of time, through care and correctness in composition. I remarked that the new school had done some good in removing certain shackles that confined the poetical licence, perhaps too strictly, but that its disciples were not content with this. They might as well deprecate the perfect finish of a chronometer as of a poem, and yet they cried down the Augustan age as one destitute of worth,
Dryden and Pope going for nothing in their reckoning.

This seemed to please Campbell, especially when I added that I had acquired nearly the whole of his poem by heart before I was twenty years of age, little thinking we should ever be personally acquainted. I remarked, too, that even then, being pretty well versed in natural history, I had discovered his introduction of tigers to the shores of Lake Erie, and hyænas to South America, exclusively Asiatic and African animals, that it should have been jaguars. “Yes,” said the poet, “but the Yankees call them tigers.”

There is another point too, which I remember struck me, and does still, as being obscure, and yet in sound really noble. He enquired to what I alluded. I replied to the pilot:—
“Now on Atlantic waves he rides afar,
Where Andes, giant of the western star,
With meteor standard to the winds unfurl’d,
Looks from his throne of clouds o’er half the world!”


“To what part of the passage do you object?”

I replied, “To making Andes a giant and in the singular number. It was a plural Spanish word. Los Andes, the Andes—as Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, and a hundred others—
‘Giants of the Western Star.’
Again, the giant
‘Looks from his throne of clouds o’er half the world.’
Is not this defective? Mountains are not ‘enthroned’ in clouds: they are ‘crowned with clouds,’ as
Shakespear’s—‘cloud-capped towers.’ A mountain throned on a cloud would be a false image. If the line stood for example, the giants—
‘Look, with their crown of clouds, o’er half the world,’
it would explain what I intended to convey.”

Campbell replied, “There was some ground for what I remarked in the confusion of the metaphor, but it had stood through so many editions, it would not do to alter it now.”

Knowing his tenacity about his poems, and his inveterate hostility to altering anything of his own that had been published for a considerable time, I said no more. His hostility to Hazlitt for detecting a borrowed line came to my remembrance. What Johnson said of Pope, notwithstanding, came to my recollection as well, when speaking of that poet’s works:—“His parental attention never
abandoned them; what he found amiss in the first edition, he silently corrected in those that followed.”
Campbell seemed, his works being launched, to have had no more care about them. Composing with labour, and correcting reluctantly, while he felt the necessity, he toiled as he would toil about an irksome task, that was to try his temper, and test his perspicuity, and be conscious, after all, that it would still be imperfect. If the public received his labours satisfactorily for a succession of years, and a few blots had passed muster, it was better to let them alone than involve himself in a task he abhorred. His numerous errors in his “Specimens of the Poets,” trivial enough, he would not rectify on a new edition; and while he continually spoke and wrote of the fatigue and the labour of correcting his prose productions, he would often shuffle them off upon me to correct for him, under the guise of a friendly act for his relief. As to fame, while he had Pope’s “voracity” for it, he had an inveterate dislike to pay the purchase-money. He laboured in his study hour after hour, without the enthusiasm that stimulated his earlier years. Now walking up and down, concocting a sentence, he would step up to the table and write it down, and then, displeased with it, read it aloud, and be dissatisfied with it after all, abandoning his task invitâ Minervâ, to return to it again at a more auspicious moment.


The compositions of Campbell were exceedingly uneven in merit. One day, a proof of the piece of poetry, entitled “The Deathboat of Heligoland,” before alluded to, came to me, and I could not at first conceive how it got into the printer’s hand, until the poet stated he had sent it. These lines, ineffective, and the point obscure, were as follow:—

“Can restlessness reach the cold sepulchred head?
Ay, the quick have their sleep-walkers, so have the dead!
There are brains, though they moulder, that dream in the tomb,
And that, maddening, forehear the last trumpet of doom,
Till their corses start, sheeted, to revel on earth,
Making horror more deep by the semblance of mirth.
By the glare of new-lighted volcanoes they dance,
Or at midsea appal the chill’d mariner’s glance;
Such, I wot, was the band of cadaverous smile,
Seen ploughing the night-surge of Heligo’s isle.
The foam of the Baltic had sparkled like fire,
And the red moon look’d down with an aspect of ire,—
But her beams on a sudden grew sick-like and grey,
And the news that had slept chang’d and shriek’d far away,
And the buoys and the beacons extinguished their light,
As the boat of the stony-eyed dead came in sight,
High bounding from billow to billow, each form
Had a shroud like a plaid flying loose to the storm.
With an oar in each pulseless and icy-cold hand,
Fast they plough’d by the lee shore of Heligoland,
Such breakers as boat of the living ne’er cross’d,
Now surf-sunk for minutes, again they uptoss’d,
And with livid lips shouted reply o’er the flood
To the challenging watchman, that curdled his blood—
‘We are dead—we are bound from our graves to the West—
First to Hecla, and then to ——; unmeet the rest
For man’s ear.’ The old abbey-bell thundered its clang,
And their eyes gleamed with phosphorous light as it rang—
Ere they vanish’d, they stopped, and gazed, silently grim,
Till the eye could define them, garb, feature and limb.
Now, who were these roamers? Of gallows or wheel
Bore they marks, or the mangling anatomist’s steel?
No; by magistrate’s chains ’mid these grave-clothes you saw,
They were fellows too proud to have perished by law;
But a ribbon, that hung where a rope should have been,
’Twas the badge of their faction, its hue was not green—
Showed them men who had trampled, and tortured, and driven
To rebellion the fairest isle breathed on by heaven—
Men, whose heirs would yet finish the tyrannous task,
If the truth and the time had not dragg’d off their mask.
They parted, but not till the sight might discern
A scutcheon distinct at their pinnace’s stern,
Where letters emblazoned, in blood-coloured fame,
Named their faction—I blot not my page with its name!’”

Campbell wrote with great slowness, and when he had completed his work, and was still displeased with what he had done, would re-write the whole, which re-writing was often not equal to the first copy. In his youth he struck out a line in bed at night, or during a walk in the open air; but this was rarely, indeed, the case in middle life. He went to composition as to a task, and toiled along, and thus continually delayed his copy in consequence, being forced to close abruptly, having de-
layed his alterations, and sometimes not having begun, until the time when he should leave off. In his later life, when he had lost much of that self-respect which once ruled his transactions with booksellers, and had come to lend his name, or put together works not at all contributing to his reputation, during the last eight or nine years of his life, he was no longer ruled by his old solicitude for refining and sending forth his works as immaculate as he was when pressed by pecuniary circumstances, thus reversing the natural course of things, and, with age and independence, getting less regardful of correctness and originality, at the time when he had it in his power to secure them, free of anxiety about the cares of the day.