LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 1

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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Birth of Campbell.—His boyhood.—Conduct at school.—Verses on a parrot.—Lampoons his schoolfellows.—Tedious sermons, “the good old way.”—Gains a Leighton Bursary in Glasgow University.—Bears off prizes.—His great progress in the Greek tongue.—Attachment to the University.—His admiration of Dr. Millar.—Trials of Gerald, Muir, and Palmer.—Accepts a tutorship in the Isle of Mull.—Returns to Glasgow.—“The Pleasures of Hope.”—Blemishes in that poem.—Tribute to Dr. Anderson.

THE biography of literary men must be sought in their works, “La vie d’un sedentaire est dans ses ecrits.” “The life of a student is in his writings,” observed Voltaire. These must supply the place of stirring incidents in his
history. In military life, in the perils of adventure, in the toils of the bar, in the triumphs of the senate, or excellence in any other pursuit, by which men attain distinction, actions speak. The mental peculiarities of literary men displayed in their productions, linked with feeling, fix the attention, and interesting the heart, belong to a different order of things. If less exciting at the moment, the effects are more permanent. They increase with time, while the most splendid achievements, as those of the field, continually lessen in memory, because they create only a momentary admiration, while that which affects the heart, felt to be a part of our nature, is for all time. This is more particularly the case with the poet constituted by genius, “that power without which judgment is cold, and knowledge inert; the energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates.” Thus having enlisted on its side the better sympathies, the biography of the poet has a strong hold upon the minds of all men. There are times when even matter-of-fact personages are awakened by writers of imagination to that ideal, in which the shows of things are accommodated to the desires of the mind. If this be doubted, it is only to refer to the past, to the continual disquisitions on the works of the poets, on
Dante, Petrarch, Tasso, Alfieri and their succes-
sors in Italy, or in England, to the great names of
Spenser, Shakspeare, Milton, and other eminent men of genius.

Among the works of the later poets of Great Britain, whether we consider their classical beauty or lyrical inspiration, none are more worthy of note than those of Thomas Campbell. Though Scottish born, like his countryman Thomson, he was eminently an English writer. His works are in that tongue unmingled with a dialect of which little can be said in praise, and though spoken between districts in which the English and Gaelic prevail, yet not well recognized by the people who speak either of those languages. His family belonged to the clan of the Campbells, one of the most powerful in the records of barbarian feudality, when lord and serf or villain divided a semi-civilized people throughout these Islands, too many remnants of the customs and laws of which still afflict both countries.

Thomas Campbell was born at Glasgow, in a house no longer in existence, situated in the High Street, on the 27th of July, 1777. His ancestry had long resided in Argyleshire, near Inverary, at a place named Kiernan, or Kirnan. A report prevailed that his birth-place was North Knapdale, in Argyleshire, but he informed the present writer, that he was a native of Glasgow,
“where Scotch mists prevailed half the year.” The error probably arose from the statement of an individual who had visited a hamlet at Knapdale, and was there erroneously informed that the poet had been born in a particular hamlet situated in a spot of great beauty, amid wild and romantic scenery, a spot the poet had, it is true, visited, in his numerous youthful excursions, near Loch Awe, in Argyleshire, and on which he afterwards wrote the verses upon the dwelling of the Campbells, beginning:—

“All ruined and wild is their roofless abode.”

Campbell too would often joke at the expense of the lowlanders, extolling their brethren of the mountains, and drawing inferences to their disadvantage. In this he alluded most probably to his descent, not to his own particular birth-place. However that may be, his birth at Glasgow is certain, as it was thus confirmed by himself.

The poet was the son of Alexander Campbell, the latest born of three brothers, sons of Archibald Campbell, of Kiernan, or Kirnan, for it has been spelled both ways. That place descended to Robert, the eldest son of Archibald, who sold it to become a resident in London. The second son was a clergyman in the West Indies, and died in Virginia, leaving his property to his
relatives, of which between four and five thousand pounds came to the poet.*

Before settling as a merchant in Glasgow, Alexander Campbell had been a merchant in the United States. On his return he entered into partnership with an individual of the same name, but unconnected in relationship, whose sister, Margaret, aged twenty, the poet’s father married in 1756, being then nearly thirty years older. The business of the partnership seems to have flourished until the disruption of the colonies, with which it principally traded, when the house failed, with others similarly connected. This happened in 1775. The poet told the present writer, that his father was attentive to business, and possessed great good sense, but made no profession of any literary acquirements; that his manners were bland and engaging, and that he was a religious man. Mrs. Campbell, the poet’s mother, seemed in the marriage state to have been a woman of much decision of character, and to have ruled her household with great prudence, and a determination of will that was not to be questioned. In her person she was spare, not handsome, but pleasing; dark of complexion,

* On the authority of Thomas Pringle, who collected on the spot all he could ascertain regarding the poet, before he left England for the Cape.

keen, and bore a kindly character among her friends, and those with whom she associated. She died in 1812, aged seventy-six, surviving her husband eleven years, the latter having paid the debt of nature at Edinburgh, in March, 1801, at the age of ninety-one.

The parents of the poet had eleven children; one son, named Daniel, died in a state of infancy. There were seven other sons—Archibald, Alexander, John, Robert, James, Daniel, the second of the name, and Thomas, the poet. The daughters were three, namely; Mary, Isabella, and Elizabeth. Mary, the eldest, died in Edinburgh in 1843, aged eighty-six: Elizabeth and Isabella died in the same city, the first aged sixty-four, in 1829, and Isabella, in 1837, aged seventy-nine. Of the sons, James was drowned in the Clyde while bathing, in 1783; John, a settler in Demerara, died there in 1806; Robert went to America, became a merchant there, married a daughter of Patrick Henry, and died in 1807; Alexander went to Berbice as a settler, and returning from thence to Glasgow, died there in 1826; Daniel became a cotton manufacturer in Glasgow, from whence, owing to ill success, he went to France, and undertook the management of a cotton manufactory at Rouen. An idle resident there in 1816, for five or six months, it is
singular, among the few English in the city at the moment, I did not encounter him. If still alive, he must be now (1859) in his eighty-sixth year.
Thomas, the poet, came into the world after him, as one born out of due season, his father being then sixty-seven, and his mother about thirty-seven. He informed the present narrator that his father was born in 1710. Observing a portrait in the poet’s study set on edge upon the floor, he said it was that of his father. It carried the resemblance of a venerable man in old-fashioned costume, and wearing a wig. There was not the remotest resemblance in the picture to the poet, though in personal appearance it had been reported like him; which, on remarking, he admitted he could not see himself. On observing that it did not look like a man of ninety years of age, he said he did not know at what period of his father’s life it was taken, which might account for the impress of so great an age not being visible in the portrait. It seemed as if there was little he remembered about his family. Of his mother I never heard him speak. The love of the byegone in his life had apparently no charm for him, although now and then a chance anecdote of his college days would come up, and be repeated with a melancholy pleasure. But this was only when recalled by some analogous incident re-
lated by another, as if it had recalled what he had well nigh forgotten. To the remark about his father’s age, he said if it were a rule that a long life was inherited, he might expect it with some reason, for that, adding his birthday to his father’s, only a year or two were wanting to divide four generations between them, reckoning them at thirty years, and his own age at forty-eight.*

He spoke to the writer regarding his father as being no churl; and once of his grandfather, in connection with the country. He said that he was told by his father they lived a social life in the olden days, and that no wine but claret was consumed in Scotland in his grandfather’s time; that the quantity drunk was so great, that they used to fence round their gardens and orchards with the staves of the hogsheads; and that, in the times alluded to, which would be about the close of the seventeenth century, there was great sociality and much convivial living in Scotland.

It is not the least painful of our reflections that time so rapidly places human action beyond the reach of oral testimony. The celebrity of the poet may yet cause a scanty survivor—the companion of his earlier years—to disclose some incident floating in memory regarding this period of his life, to gratify curiosity; but even this is

* In 1825.

a dubious expectation. It is more probable we know, at present, all that can be known regarding a poet, who, if the standard of our poetical literature should again attain the proud superiority of the past, will not be placed out of his proper position among the more eminent, who at present are as “caviar to the general.”

Young Campbell was christened by Dr. Reid, Professor of Moral Philosophy in Glasgow College, and named Thomas, after the same Professor. A sister, nineteen years his senior, taught him to read. He was the favourite child of his parents, more beloved, perhaps, from being the latest offspring. When he first went to school, his father assisted him in his studies. He was placed under Dr. Alison in 1785, a master celebrated for his assiduity and an improved mode of classical instruction.

At school there is reason to think that, like the majority of those subsequently most distinguished for excelling in other things besides poetry, he could not be brought exactly within that mechanical routine of learning which the pedagogue delights to honour. He is reported to have been, if not an idle boy, which from his progress would hardly be credible, though it is on record—yet one who would only learn by fits and starts, as he felt it congenial to his inclination; in fact, capable of
anything under unfettered application. To one of his temperament, mechanical routine was not congenial, if he might he judged of regarding his youth by his habits of study when a man. To apply, when the mental bias is against application, at the will of a controlling authority, has long deprived of the character of “good boys at school” those who have had the finest capacity for any kind of learning. Genius is a free plant, and will not be forced.
Byron was idle, but could make up three days’ work in one at any time when he was inclined to do it. Sheridan would not work at all. “He was an enemy to all constraint,” it was said of Cowley, “and that his master never could prevail upon him to learn the rules out of book,” yet at ten years of age he wrote the “History of Pyramus and Thisbe,” and published a volume of poems at fifteen. Campbell’s progress was triumphant; but the mode in which he worked it out, with his superior talent, was no doubt a consequence of his being left in a great measure to take his own way in imbibing the elements of learning; the sagacity of Dr. Alison, who had broken away from the old monkish system of teaching, discovered his pupil’s peculiar disposition. Campbell was therefore no exception to the rule that has been observed to hold good with so many distinguished names.


Certain verses by Campbell, on a parrot’s death—some have said his first attempt at rhyme—will at least bear a comparison with those of Johnson upon his duck; the last, indeed, concludes with a piece of very boyish information; but the lexicographer was, after all, no great poet. The concluding lines of Campbell’s juvenile performance have not a much higher claim to poetical merit. They were long extant in the large boyish hand of their author. It is a singular coincidence that Campbell’s first, and one of his last compositions, amid bodily decline, and no slight loss of poetical efficiency, should be lines on a parrot. The first were naturally crude, the last showed that, unlike Waller, it could not be said of him, “it was impossible to distinguish between what he wrote at eighteen and what he wrote at eighty”—such are the diversities of genius! Some of these lines upon the parrot, written and circulated in the poet’s eleventh year, in 1788, are as follow. They are entitled “An Elegy on Poll, written on the death of a Schoolmaster’s favourite parrot:”*

“Melpomene, thou queen of tears,
Attend my dirge of woe,
Nor blush with harmony to deck
My numbers as they flow.

* Given the writer, with various other early pieces of

Poor Poll was but an hourly joy,
A gift soon to decay—
Emblem of all our earthly bliss,
That only lasts a day.
The dust of death is poor Poll’s heart,
Poor Irvine he doth cry:
‘O, may the day of the year be dark
On which my Poll did die!’”
* * * *
&c. &c.

What a vast difference in merit between these lines and the “Pleasures of Hope!” yet they serve to show the changes genius and ten years may effect in the day-spring of life. These were not equal to Pope’s Ode on Solitude, written under twelve years of age. He was attached to his Greek School translations beyond their merit, perhaps because he excelled in such translations afterwards, at the university.

the poet, by Thomas Pringle, who possessed many others of the poet’s childish verses and exercises. Several of his better poems, published in the first edition of his collected works, in 1828, were furnished to me by Pringle, the poet having no copies, and not knowing where they were to be found. The former had treasured them in Scotland in his early days. There seem to have been different versions of this. Several others of his youthful effusions are extant, but none of any mark, to excite surprize, being scarcely worthy of record. Some of them have been recorded by his executor, Dr. Beattie.


Campbell himself once stated that he began his poetic career, correctly speaking, with some Ossianic verses, called “Morven and Fillan,” in the year 1791, which were printed at the joint expense of his schoolfellows, when he was thirteen years of age; that at fifteen he wrote a poem on “Marie Antoinette, Queen of France,” published in the Glasgow Courier; that at eighteen he printed his elegy called “Love and Madness and before he had completed his twenty-second year, his “Pleasures of Hope.” There is a story current, on the authority of Galt, an authority very dubious, owing to his general inaccuracies, that the boys paid some ridiculous trifle in order to have their schoolfellow’s poem in print, and that the “Pleasures of Hope” was first published by subscription, he, Galt, being one of the subscribers. The utter want of truth in the latter part of this statement will presently be made manifest.

At school Campbell was not a little inclined to boyish mischief, upon his own testimony. He lampooned some of his schoolfellows. Talking on one occasion of school days, when he was spending an hour at the house of a mutual friend, Dr. Evans, at Hampstead, he said that at school both himself and his comrades wrote songs, and sometimes lampoons, and used to sing them after
their own fashion to any tune that would apply. This was considered very objectionable in those days, when the Scotch were more “rigidly righteous” than they find it convenient to be in these innovating times. The boys were much tormented by the length of the sermons of a grave divine, who not only bored them into weariness upon points of doctrine of which they could comprehend nothing, but spun his discourses out to an unbearable longitude. At length the whim came into their heads to turn him into ridicule, out of revenge. In his sermons there was no end to the repetition of the phrase, “the good old way,” in the manner of recommendation to his hearers “to keep in the good old way,” to remember “the good old way.” Whatever was the text, the preacher was certain to drag in these words over and over again. This was so prominent a feature in the good minister’s delivery, that no one could misunderstand his identity upon repeating the phrase. The poet and his schoolfellows therefore wrote a song—most probably the whole was Campbell’s—in which, seizing upon the obnoxious phrase, they made it the burden of their verse, and identified the minister with the ridicule. There was a sort of chorus appended to each stanza:—
“O, there’s nothing like the merry, merry good old way.”


The parson had married a young wife. The poet had the lines still in memory:—

“We wish him well for old and new,
For good King David, people say,
He only copies to be true,
To the good old way,
To the good old way,
O, there’s nothing like the merry, merry good old way!
So, for another Shunamite
He hunts the city day by day,
To warm his chilly veins at night,
In the good old way,
In the good old way,
O, there’s nothing like the merry, merry good old way!”

According to the poet’s own statement, he ran a little wild at times with his fellow-students, occasionally treating the kirk with no great reverence among themselves, though grave and becoming, as in duty bound, before their superiors. Once or twice, notwithstanding, he did not escape sharp rebukes.

From the boys of the school the lines went over the city, that in those days did not approach, in extent and population, what it is at present. The minister was greeted with exclamations about the “merry good old way” where he little expected the salutation. “But,” added the poet, “it did not suffice to turn him out of the ‘old way;’ he
continued to annoy us as much as ever with his long sermons and wearisome repetitions. A great noise was made about our want of duty towards the godly man, and we were pronounced incorrigible, profane scoundrels altogether, because the authors of the song were not given up. We repaid this censure by an increased impatience at long sermons, and by other boyish revenge of the same nature.”

At thirteen Campbell gained a Leighton bursary in Glasgow university, in competition with a candidate far above his own age. Spurred on by a feeling of the necessity for exertion on account of his narrow circumstances, he laboured hard, and the success excited a spirit of emulation to exert himself still more. He annually bore off prizes, while his efforts in the Greek tongue were fully as successful as those in the Latin had been. Yet his efforts appear to have been irregular—at one time strenuous, at another lax. He carried off one prize for a translation of the “Clouds” of Aristophanes. His success here was most probably the reason that induced him to publish subsequently the translations from Tyrtæus, Alcman, and Medea, which appeared in his works following the “Pleasures of Hope,” in the earlier editions of that poem. Though as youthful efforts, they are of a character to merit
praise; yet, in comparison with what he gave to the world in English poetry, they cannot be estimated proportionably high. The versions of
Polwhele and of Pye are equal to them in merit, and in some parts more literal. When the first collected edition of his poems was published, which took place during the last illness of his wife, it was proposed to place these translations last of all in the two volumes of which that edition was composed, but their author would not agree to it, and they were placed at the end of the first.* When the cheap edition, in 1839, was put together, Campbell brought them back himself still nearer to the “Pleasures of Hope.” It was probable that they dwelt agreeably in his memory, and he felt no inclination to treat them slightingly, for he was governed in such cases by sensibility rather than by his reason, however sufficing. The value set by authors upon their literary progeny is no criterion of sterling worth. Milton preferred “Paradise Regained” to “Paradise Lost.” Campbell may stand excused for cherishing impressions which had gathered strength by time, and were of an enduring cha-

* The first collected edition, published by Colburn, 1828. The illness of Mrs. Campbell prostrating the poet, as seen in the sequel, they were edited by the present writer.

racter. If not as meritorious as they might have been, they were embalmed in memory as youthful triumphs. This may be judged from his frequent allusions to the Greek lyric poets afterwards both in writing and conversation.

The time he passed at the university the poet always mentioned with affectionate feeling in later life. The season of study depending now more upon his own volition and the moment when the mind is in a proper tune, than upon compulsory efforts, when labour is under the constraint of another will, he made a progress proportionably rapid. His earlier success seems to have given him a predilection for classical learning. When he had acquired the German, he read all the German critics upon the classics of Greece and Rome, and continued to read all that was published new regarding them, to the very last. Except metaphysics and biblical literature, he at one time neglected almost every other topic. The geography of the ancients, for example, he knew more accurately than that of the moderns. A continued attachment to that which in youth was most gratifying to us, is natural to our self-love as well as to our general humanity; besides, our predilections, whether for good or evil, we owe to early impressions. His studies at the university were severe, and at one
time affected his health, for he had to give elementary instruction to the younger class—thus teaching others while learning himself.

It is on record, though not perhaps singular, that the poet kept so close to his favourite studies as to neglect many branches of information, in which it would not be expected he was so little informed. He did not acquire the species and general properties of things, which Imlac says, in “Rasselas,” should be in possession of the poet through all their varieties. He was ever more inclined to metaphysical research than could be expected in a writer whose fame reposed upon works of imagination. At the time he was a student at Glasgow university, in 1793, he wrote some lines on the “First of May,” not out of the common rate in excellence. There too he attended the lectures of Dr. Millar, a professor of extraordinary merit and of liberal opinions, who had the art of making the driest subjects captivating. That a poet could be enraptured with lectures upon Roman law, seems in itself convincing that the attractive power of the lecturer was considerable. Almost equally attached to Jardine, the Professor of Logic—in which he gained a prize—it is not wonderful that, with all his poetic bias, Campbell should have too often forgotten his muse, lovely and attractive as she
was to others, for speculative studies, to which eloquence in their explanation too much bent his mind. His admiration of Millar he thus left upon record.

“Whether John Millar’s doctrines,” he said, “were always right, is one question; but that they were generally so, and that right doctrines could not be expounded by a better teacher, I believe is questioned by none who ever listened to him. His writings always seem to me to be imperfect casts of his mind, like those casts of sculpture which want the diaphanous polish of the original marble. I heard him, when I was but sixteen, lecture on Roman law. A dry subject enough it would have been in common hands; but in his hands Heineccius was made a feast to the attention. His eyes, his voice, his figure, were commanding; as if nature had made him for the purpose of giving dignity and fascination to oral instruction. Such was the truth, cheerfulness, and courage, that seemed to give erectness to his shapely bust, he might have stood to the statuary for a Roman orator; but he was too much in earnest with his duty, and too manly, to affect the orator; but keeping close to his subject, he gave it a seriousness that was never tiresome, and a gaiety that never seemed for a moment unillustrative or unnecessary. His cheerfulness appeared
as indispensable as his gravity, and his humour was as light as his seriousness was intense. But he was the contrast of those weak men who suffer either their gaiety or gravity to run away with them—he was master of both. His students were always in the class before him, waiting as for a treat. It was rumoured that he was coming. There was a grave look of pleasure on every face when he began; and I thought—it might be imagination—that there was a murmur of regret when the time was at an end. Once, when he was lecturing in his best style and spirit, an English student, though perfectly sober, and meaning no offence, was so carried away by interest in the subject, that, forgetting himself, he made a remark aloud to the professor. It was as much against etiquette as speaking to a parson in church. A look from John Millar was sufficient to bring any man to his recollection, and the face of the student who had offered the involuntary compliment, was instantly covered with blushes.”

Under teachers who thus secured to themselves the love as well as respect of the students, it is not wonderful that Campbell should have made great progress. “Professor Millar has been dead twenty-eight years,” Campbell said to me, in 1829, showing one of his works. “This is Millar’sHistorical View of the English Government;’
it is full of information, and well worth reading. How he would have rejoiced, had he been alive, at the triumph of free principles after the war he saw begun to put them down.” It was said that his own undeviating liberal principles were imbibed from the zealous Whig politics of Professor Millar, most probably at the time of which mention is now made.

After gaining a prize in Greek for good behaviour, and writing some verses addressed to the Loyal Volunteers of Glasgow, he walked, during a vacation, over to Edinburgh. The trial of Gerald, after Muir, and Palmer, took place while he was there, and filled his mind with honest indignation. For years afterwards, he inveighed against the unfairness of the Scotch judges and their proceedings. It exhibits his sensitiveness of disposition, that it was some time before he recovered the shock he sustained from witnessing that scene of judicial degradation. He was much interested in learning the history of Gerald, as related to myself at Hatton, by Dr. Parr; it was then he stated his witnessing the trial.

While at the university, Campbell had formed several friendships. Among them was that of the Reverend Hamilton Paul, in Broughton; Paul was a poet too, though in a different degree from his friend; and he said to Campbell when the
poet went to Edinburgh, “Thomas, I see from the way poetry is coming upon you, that whatever other profession you try, it will be the one through which you will be most distinguished in the world. I am about to leave verse for another pursuit; yours be the laurel, the kirk mine.”

When the poet quitted the university, where his translation from Aristophanes was pronounced the best version ever produced by any student, he was in his seventeenth year. He was now perplexed how to relieve his family by following some profession or business, at least, so as to be independent of his parents. His father’s income had become reduced by a lawsuit, his family large, and he on whom it depended for support being in his eighty-fourth year. The poet could decide on nothing, because every day more and more exhibited the pressure upon talent destitute of wealth. Neither of the learned professions could be followed without a pecuniary outlay; besides, his nervous sensibility was a bar to some professional pursuits. It was true the qualification for the church of Scotland involved but little further expense, and he had been educated as a son of the kirk, though not a very strict disciple; but it is probable, judging from his sentiments in years a little farther advanced, that he could not, from doubts of many doctrinal points, have put on
the gown without a full belief in what he professed to inculcate as a duty upon others. He had too honest and elevated a mind for such hypocrisy. In this state of things, and by the advice of friends, he determined to accept the duty of a tutor in the isle of Mull, at Callioch, the residence of a distant relative of
Mrs. Campbell. There he was kindly received, wrote several short pieces of poetry, and took an opportunity of visiting the principal Hebrides, remaining there some months of the years 1795-6. From Mull he returned to Glasgow, complaining of the sameness of the country. He had at this time, as he had all through life, a habit of abstraction or thoughtlessness, it is difficult to say which; he would even go out without money, and lose himself in his wanderings. He had continued his Greek studies and translations while in Mull; and on the authority of Pringle, who possessed most of the unpublished youthful poems, he wrote in Mull, besides his verses to “Caroline,” parts I. and II., a piece which he denominated an “Elegy,” as well, some say, as his beautiful “Dirge of Wallace,” which he would not agree should be inserted in the first edition of his collected poems.

Akenside’sPleasures of Imagination” had long been published, and Rogers’sPleasures of Memory” had preceded that time by nearly six
years, there was, consequently, no novelty in the “
Pleasures of Hope,” as respects title; but it was there he made the first sketch of the poem. It is now of no moment to examine why he adopted the existing title, since that it was not original must be evident; it is probable, indeed almost certain, that the rough copy of the “Pleasures of Hope,” yet existing in manuscript, was all that the poet brought to Edinburgh. In later times, he seemed to fling a veil of mystery over the history of this earlier performance. Hence it is likely arose so many conflicting statements about its origin and publication. When the copyright expired in 1828, the poet mentioned to a friend the circumstance of his parting with it, and said that the booksellers had made two or three hundred a year by the sale of the poem, from the commencement, he had very little doubt; that Messrs. Longman had applied to him for leave to sell off a part of an edition which they had upon hand, but he had refused the request, saying, “it might be managed some other way.”

It is creditable to his diligence that on returning from Mull, in 1795, he supported himself some time by private teaching, and numbered among his pupils several men distinguished afterwards in public life. In the following year he quitted
the university, having obtained two prizes more in Greek literature.

He became for a short time tutor to Sir William Napier of Miliken, and resident near Inverary, and wrote there his verses entitled “Love and Madness,” in consequence of the murder of her lover by a lady. He was there, too, in the vicinity of his friend Paul, the minister of the Kirk already mentioned. There he seems to have relaxed at times from the severity of his studies, and to have shown by fits and starts considerable elevation of spirits, as if breaking away for a short season from the depression caused by his circumstances, and his desire to be independent. He occasionally joined his friends at convivial repasts, when he gave full rein to his youthful elasticity of spirits over a cheerful glass. How long he remained is not clear, probably about two years. He returned to Glasgow, his mind darkened as to the future, so as to depress him greatly. After much perplexity, he resolved to proceed to the Scottish capital, with little money in his pocket, his head full of schemes for the future, now thinking of an attorney’s office, then of writing for the booksellers, or establishing a periodical work; all his designs full of the hope that inexperience too often creates only to meet disappointment. He fancied that some of his
Greek translations might meet favour among the Edinburgh publishers, an idea the last that would have entered the head of any one acquainted with the “ungentle trade.” He took with him the first sketch of the “
Pleasures of Hope.”

Such were the sanguine ideas of the poet when he set out. He began by trying his hand at copying as a law-clerk. Accident introduced him to Dr. Anderson, who was pleased on perusing some verses he had written, and he soon became a favourite with a man of no ordinary talent, and was introduced by him to Mundell, an Edinburgh publisher, who offered him twenty guineas to abridge Bryan Edwards’West Indies.” He at once cast his law-copying to the dogs, a labour which could not but act as a narcotic to high intellect, and sink imaginativeness in the technical monotony of unmeaning verbiage and triviality; in fact, nothing could be more averse to his poetic temperament. He returned to his native town on foot, resolving to complete his task there. To his return home he was more immediately urged by the hope of meeting a brother from America. He proceeded with his task for Mundell; projected various schemes, none of which were brought to pass, and composed “The Wounded Hussar,” which was sung as a ballad about the streets of Glasgow. At this period he wrote several of his shorter
pieces, one of which was his “
Epistle to the Three Ladies on the banks of the Cart.” His “Dirge of Wallace,” so beautiful in all eyes but his own, some say was not composed until now.

At this time the poet’s appearance and manners were pleasing, his countenance intellectual, and his address good. He went back to Edinburgh, with his abridgment completed. He had turned his twentieth year, and before setting out, urged his father and mother to follow him, which they did, in 1798. Still he was unsettled about his future pursuits. He thought of the law, of physic, of going to the United States, over and over again. This uncertainty became painful, and more particularly to one of his temperament, nervous and sensitive as he was constituted. He had as yet only a scanty employment from the booksellers, and a pupil or two to depend upon for support. At one time he was on the point of emigrating to join a brother abroad. From this he was persuaded by a friend, and he thus remained, with a clouded horizon around him, instructing a few pupils, and completing the “Pleasures of Hope,” from the sketch he had previously made in Argyleshire.

It might be thought that, with a mind ever anxious about to-morrow, the composition and high finish of such a poem as the “Pleasures of
Hope,” would have been a task impossible of achievement. But in the composition of a poem, the mind becoming wholly absorbed, external things are for a time dismissed. Here the hope of a brilliant result, a dream often woven in sanguine minds even of the more mediocre order, acted as a stimulant to the prosecution of the task up to the completion of the manuscript.

These details in the memoir of one whose life was a continual change of incident or narrative of adventure, might be thought trivial, were they not useful to discriminate more immediately between physical differences and the more refined mental attributes. The rough hand of the ploughman can ill appreciate the delicate touch of the finger that constructs the chronometer. To him the instrument may appear useless, but to the professional and cultivated mind its application is obvious. Shades and nice differences in character are sometimes discriminated through the medium of some symptomatic expression of feeling oftentimes insignificant. Hence there is little performed by the man of genius unworthy of notice, especially when it contributes to the means of forming a true conception of the character of the individual.

I once asked Campbell whether it was true that he got but fifty pounds for the copyright of the poem, and he replied that was the correct sum.
Upon which I remarked that it was an unlucky adventure in publication; but that no bookseller would have given such a sum to a young stranger for the best tragedy of
Shakspeare, were the author unknown in the great world. “Oh,” replied the poet, “I did not go to mine unrecommended;” alluding, it is probable, to the recommendation of Dr. Anderson, who must have had considerable influence with Mundell and Co., from their being his own publishers.

My supposition was, that the sum of fifty pounds had been paid to the poet in the usual manner; but the following statement of facts, ascertained since his decease, shows that Campbell, as already observed, was not from pride, or some unknown reason, at all inclined to be more communicative than was absolutely necessary, respecting the copyright of his poem. There were some circumstances of novelty attaching to it, which he could hardly have forgotten, especially as he was free enough in his communications upon incidents of an earlier date; in fact, he showed a disingenuousness in regard to this business which it is not easy to explain.

He did not receive fifty pounds in money for the copyright of the “Pleasures of Hope,” but he parted with the copyright of the poem altogether for two hundred printed copies, to be re-
ceived of the publishers. This is shown by the following documents belonging to
Mundell and Son, in the course of the business transacted between them. It must be observed that the dedication of the first edition bore a date three months antecedent, or April 13, 1799.

Exempt from a letter dated July 13, 1799.

“As the ‘Pleasures of Hope’ are now published, it is proper that it be expressed in writing what bargain I made with you about the copyright of the work. It was settled that, for two hundred copies of the book in quires, Mundell and Son should have the entire copyright of the poem.

(Addressed) Thomas Campbell.”

Exempt from letter, dated July 15, 1799.

“I acknowledge having sold you the copyright of the ‘Pleasures of Hope’ for two hundred copies in quires.

(Signed) Thomas Campbell.”

Now, two hundred copies in quires would be above fifty pounds, and supposing the sum of fifty shillings for boarding, and selling at six shillings, he must have received fifty-seven pounds ten shillings for the copyright. He also was presented by his booksellers, of their own free will, with
twenty-five pounds for every edition of a thousand copies, or, if two thousand were printed, fifty pounds, which sums were sometimes remitted to him in London, through
Longman and Co., and sometimes paid to his mother. He was most generous and considerate to his relatives, and a truly excellent son and brother. On this score his receipts were one hundred and fifty pounds more. A misunderstanding taking place between the poet and Mundell and Son, these free payments were discontinued. Besides these payments, Campbell received permission to print by subscription a quarto edition, the seventh, for his own benefit. This edition yielded him at least six hundred pounds more, or, in all, eight hundred and seven pounds. Campbell did not receive less than nine hundred pounds for the copyright of the “Pleasures of Hope” alone.*

More than half a century ago, such a profit upon a poem of eleven hundred lines was equal to that of Byron in a more vaunted literary era, a poet whose writings had a prodigious run, even, as it is well known, to the utmost of profit that the most popular author could expect to receive who does not retain his copyright. The “Pleasures of Hope” brought its author fifteen shillings and a

* Letter to the writer from Mr. Stirling, once of the house of Mundell and Co., (1844), who was then living in Rose Street, Edinburgh.

fraction a line; and Byron, in receiving two thousand five hundred pounds for “
Manfred,” the “Prisoner of Chillon,” and the third canto of “Childe Harold,” got no more per line. It is true that the booksellers, their heirs, executors, assigns, may, to their own advantage, quintuple such sums, but the author can have no ground to complain. The bargain made by the author of the “Pleasures of Hope” might have been bad, but the pecuniary worth of the poem could not be known until it was tested. It turned out that the author had no reason to censure the time in which he published, which appreciated his poem more correctly, nearly half a century ago, and with half the present reading population of the British Isles, than it would have done had he written later. Byron then, with his astonishing popularity, and driving the bargain of a well-known author, got no more than Campbell received, merely through a concession of his publishers.

Mundell and Co. therefore behaved with extraordinary generosity, and they were rewarded proportionably. It must be confessed, that when the poet years afterwards, at a public dinner, astounded the company by proposing the health of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, in an assembly where that wonderful man was in those days looked upon as little other than his
Satanic majesty, and being asked how he could give such a toast, replied, “He shot a bookseller.” The experience of the past ought to have whispered to him, that in this he showed a lapse of taste, however much other authors might have reason to complain. His misunderstanding with Mundell and Co. lasted several years. This statement, now for the first time given, rests upon competent authority.

The first edition of the “Pleasures of Hope.” was dedicated to Dr. Anderson. It is not possible to say what numerous changes and alterations the poem underwent before it reached its last point of refinement. The original copy, it appears, consisted of no more than four hundred lines. In the manuscript, at the end, was appended “The Irish Harper’s Lament for his Dog,” at present printed in Campbell’s poems as “The Harper.” This manuscript belongs now to a gentleman who obtained it from Dr. Murray, in his day professor of Oriental languages in the University of Edinburgh; and it stands in Campbell’s handwriting.

It is probable that Dr. Anderson made so many suggestions in the way of alteration and emendation, that the poet set about the recomposition of the whole poem. Campbell being once asked if such a manuscript copy were not in existence,
is stated to have replied in the negative. This was not unlikely. When I put the question to Campbell separately, about several of his poems that I had obtained in manuscript, in order to add them to his first
collected edition, there were some which he could not tell whether he had written or not. His carelessness about papers, too, that were not in immediate use, those who knew his habits can easily imagine. The last copy of “The Pleasures of Hope” completed, any rough draught that preceded, fragments of his composition, or imperfect verses, would have been left to their fate about his study-floor, or flung into the grate. The poet’s sincere belief in the non-existence of such a copy is, therefore, not at all to be doubted, although it was really in being in the hands of a friend.

How very different the first poem began, may be judged by comparing the opening lines of “The Pleasures of Hope,” as they now exist—commencing
“At summer eve, when heaven’s etherial bow,”
with the following opening in the original draught. Those who are enraptured with the emasculated verse of the present hour, and treat the labour of such as polish and condense their poetical compositions with affected scorn, will
prefer the original opening of “The Pleasures of Hope” to that which was finally attached to it:—

“Seven lingering moons have cross’d the starry line
Since Beauty’s form, or Nature’s face divine,
Had power the sombre of my soul to turn—
Had power to wake my strings and bid them burn.
The charm dissolves! What genius bade me go
To search the unfathom’d mine of human woe—
The wrongs of man to man, of clime to clime—
Since Nature yoked the fiery steeds of Time—
The tales of death—since cold on Eden’s plain
The beauteous mother clasp’d her Abel slain—
Ambitious guilt—since Carthage wept her doom—
The patriot’s fate—since Brutus fell with Rome?
The charm dissolves! My kindling fancy dreams
Of brighter forms inspired by gentler themes;
Joy and her rosy flowers attract my view,
And Mirth can please, or Music charm anew;
And Hope, the harbinger of golden hours,
The light of life, the fire of Fancy’s powers,
Returns:—Again I lift my trembling gaze,
And bless the smiling guest of other days.
So when the Northern in the lonely gloom,
Where Hecla’s fires the Polar night illume,
Hails the glad summer to his Lulean shores,
And, bow’d to earth, his circling suns adores.
So when Cimmerian darkness wakes the dead,
And hideous Nightmare haunts the curtain’d bed,
And scowls her wild eye on the maddening brain,
What speechless horrors thrill the slumbering swain,
When shapeless fiends inhale his tortur’d breath,
Immure him living in the vaults of death,
Or lead him lonely through the charnell’d aisles,
The roaring floods, the dark and swampy vales,
When rock’d by winds he wanders on the deep,
Climbs the tall spire, or scales the beetling steep,
His life-blood freezing to the central urn,
No voice can call for aid, no limb can turn,
Till eastern shoots the harbinger of day,
And night and all her spectres fade away.
If then some wandering huntsman of the morn,
Wind from the hill his murmuring bugle horn,
The shrill sweet music wakes the slumberer’s ear,
And melts his blood, and bursts the bands of fear;
The vision fades—the shepherd lifts his eye—
And views the lark that carols to the sky.”

By a comparison it will be discovered what lines are altered from the original draught, and what are altogether omitted; nor is it an unpleasing task thus to follow the refinement of the cruder expressions of the thoughts up to their highest polish. An idea of the extreme care and laborious finish given by young Campbell to his compositions can only be formed in this mode. The accident of the poet falling thus early into the hands of such an accomplished critic and man of kindly nature as Dr. Anderson, was one of those lucky circumstances that befall the favoured of fortune in early life, and contributed mainly to the poet’s success.


It would be interesting to know all that took place between the poet and his acquaintance, who then bore the chief weight of literary authority in Edinburgh. How the labour of the author was taxed by the fastidiousness of the critic; how the poet’s efforts, stimulated to exertion, produced the consecutive portions of the poem to his delighted friend; what was said, and still more what was felt; how the poet was at one time elevated at the chances of success, at another depressed, his fear of deficiency in his own view discouraging him, while it was the criterion of merit; how his heart secretly exulted at the prospect of succeeding. I say “secretly,” because Campbell ever strove to conceal his emotions—but all this and more is now as a buried and lost treasure. That he must have well employed his residence in Edinburgh, is hardly doubtful. Few anecdotes of him made public relate to that time. It appears, that while there he was much given to solitude. He was often seen wandering alone over the bridge or in the vicinity of the city, perhaps mentally working up the verses of his poem, and nurturing flattering visions of the future. At times he hummed a tune as he went saunteringly along, unobservant of all around him.

When Dr. Anderson died, Campbell enumerated the particulars of his life, and his various
literary labours, and terminated his remarks upon his friend as follows:—

Dr. Anderson’s habits were so regular, and his disposition so cheerful and animated, that his old age stole upon him almost imperceptibly. For the last winter he had been more than usually confined to the house by a succession of bad colds; but the disease which proved fatal, and terminated very speedily, was a dropsy in the chest. Yet to the last he retained the possession of his mind, together with his habitually quiet and social temper. On the close approach of death he displayed affecting and exemplary resignation, and spoke of his dissolution with tender remembrances of lost and surviving friends, as well as with pious hopes of futurity. His remains were taken to his native place, Carnwath, and deposited, as had always been his wish, beside his father and mother. As a literary critic, Dr. Anderson was distinguished by a warm and honest sensibility to the beauties of poetry, and by extreme candour. His character was marked by the most urbane manners, the most honourable probity in his dealings, and by unshaken constancy in friendship. He was an encouraging friend to young writers, and to him the author of ‘The Pleasures of Hope,’ who
was long and mutually attached to him, dedicated his first production.”

This is, at least, declaratory of the poet’s recollection of past obligations, of which he was never unmindful to show his acknowledgment, when they occurred to him, for it is necessary to premise this. From his unlucky habit of abstraction, he continually stood in need of a flapper. No one was more ready to do what was kind, agreeable, or useful to others, than he was, while his omissions in this way at times gave ground to those who did not know his failing, for the supposition that his neglects were wilful, and his heart ungrateful. Nothing can be more erroneous. No man existing had a better heart, or was more ready to perform a friendly action. He spoke in the kindest manner of Dugald Stewart, too, who was one of his first Edinburgh acquaintance. In referring to Stewart’s works, and his account of the “Life and Writings of Dr. Reid,” who had christened him, he said that the profound character of Stewart’s writings on the “Philosophy of the Human Mind,” he felt almost too much for him; that it was a continued object of his admiration; that his theory of mind was wonderful; that he was one of the greatest men Scotland ever produced. “He was one of my best and earliest friends, too,” said Campbell,
“whom it is not possible for me to forget. He gave me rules for thinking, and much excellent advice.”

It is not to be supposed that a metaphysician like Dugald Stewart was of much assistance to Campbell in the composition of a poem. Dr. Anderson, whose acquirements were more directed to judge works of an imaginative character, not to criticise, but to suggest and prompt improvements, must have been his main aid. Campbell used to carry his alterations and additions in manuscript, to receive the judgments which were often to renew corrections and alterations. To the united attention of both author and critic was the poem ultimately indebted for its perfection. It was read and re-read, and the result was proportional to the pains which had been taken. The sale of this lasting monument of taste and poetical excellence also affords a high idea of the public judgment of that day in literature.

The Pleasures of Hope” appeared in the author’s twenty-second year, in the month of May, 1799. The poet had sojourned some months in Edinburgh at the time, and had acquired during his residence the friendship of every distinguished individual in the University.

It was thought that in composing “The Pleasures of Hope” he completed the sections
separately, but not in the order in which they now appear. This was the most facile mode, as there is no continuous story, the poem being didactical. He said that it was composed much in that way. Each attribute or invocation being sometimes continuous in sense, and sometimes not with the paragraph which follows, he could thus compose, and then select and arrange, as his taste or fancy might dictate. When a new idea came into his mind, he could follow it out to completion, and afterwards perfect others that he had begun before and not completed, leaving the work of arrangement to the last. It has been said that the opening lines were intended for the conclusion; and this is probable.

Almost faultless as well as being exquisitely beautiful, the “Pleasures of Hope” has some errors, which on that account appear the more remarkable, and these errors, too, though small, are of a very obvious character. With all the graces of execution and elaborateness of workmanship, that they should have escaped both himself and Dr. Anderson, the last so recognised for his critical acumen, is wonderful. The remark was once ventured to him that the introduction of tigers to the shores of Lake Erie—
“On Erie’s banks, where tigers steal along,”
was an error that might easily be corrected in future editions. He admitted to me it was an error, but he would not alter it, “because it had gone through so many editions.” The truth no doubt really was, that his pride would not permit him to acknowledge the error, and that it would be thought he used it from the opinion that it was a legitimate poetical licence. When he wrote it he had read little, perhaps, of natural history. Indeed, to the last of his life this was a subject of which he knew next to nothing. Nine or ten years afterwards, he committed similar errors. In the same paragraph, unless the word “curfew” be disconnected from its character and used metonymically, he is almost equally unfortunate, as the epithet recals a crime against freedom which the poet could never connect in his mind with the desired advance of Canadian civilisation. In the lines referring to
Commodore Byron we find hyænas in South America, equally out of place. But these are only specks on a beautiful disc. What does it matter that in one place, for the sake of a rhyme, he uses the singular for the plural, or borrows a line, with the exception of one word, verbatim, unperceived by himself or his critical guide? The poem is so full of the choicest flowers of poetry—it is such a garland of rich odours, and of “colours
dipt in heaven,” exquisitely arranged, that it becomes us to enjoy the sweets rather than set about discovering here and there a faded leaf that may only set off the gorgeousness of the foliage, in a production which it seems difficult to expect will be surpassed, and of the superiority of which there was little doubt of the author’s consciousness.

There was a high tone of thinking about Campbell in middle life. He never spoke of his own poetry but on rare occasions. His feeling was of a delicate kind; he experienced that sort of pride which is utterly wanting in a tribe of writers of the present hour acting so differently. We had been visiting a vain author in company one day, who displayed upon his drawing-room table a number of elegantly bound books, two or three volumes among which were his own productions. On coming away and walking towards home, he said to me:—“Did you observe the works of just now, displayed upon his own table with so much ostentation? It is beneath a writer of merit. If they had been worth sixpence, they would not have been perked up under our noses in that way.” Yet he had much vanity of a different kind. He was delighted to be thought the foremost in every thing in which he engaged, even when he was palpably deficient. He would
present facts at times in letters to his friends to make himself the hero of a tale which belonged to another. He also had much concealed amour-propre.

During the last few years of his life a qualified exception may be made to this high tone of thinking, but no one in his better days possessed so much of that just propriety of feeling which can have no existence except in an organisation of great sensibility, conscious of innate power, fearful of the degradation of its renown through its actions, ambitious of fame, and exceedingly solicitous about the preservation of the place it had attained by the productions of its genius.

Telling Campbell on a particular occasion that he had been abused by a party from whom an attack, though of no great importance, was somewhat annoying, he replied, “I don’t care what they say of me.” He appeared to lay a stress upon the last word, indicating “if they do attack me personally, they cannot injure the reputation of my poetry—that is secured.” The apparently unintentional emphasis on a word will sometimes explain what is passing in the mind, as the key unlocks the latent meaning of the cypher.

The various and magnificent range of English poetry presents no example of early excellence
to equal the “
Pleasures of Hope.” The “Vathek” of Beckford, written at the same age, is, perhaps, the most striking specimen of early prose writing we possess, coupled, too, with the fact of its having been written in a foreign language. Both productions are remarkable for bearing marks of the highest possible mental culture. The laborious polish in the verses of the “Pleasures of Hope” are among the best proofs to what an extent the English is capable of being refined, and how far the capabilities of the language will go in that species of poetical composition which can alone be expected to attain in the eyes of true taste a classical and healthful longevity.

Dr. Anderson introduced young Campbell to the best Edinburgh society, among which were Jeffrey, Brougham, and one of his earliest and best friends, Mr. Thompson of Clithero. There, too, he found an old friend in Grahame, author of “The Sabbath,” whom he had known in Glasgow. At this time he seems to have made the acquaintance of Scott. Lockhart states as much, and that Scott was among the foremost to welcome him to Edinburgh. Campbell said, in relation to the MS. of Cadyow—“The verses of Cadyow Castle are perpetually ringing in my imagination:—
‘Where, mightiest of beasts of chace,
That roam in woody Caledon,
Crushing the forest in his race,
The mountain bull comes thundering on.’
And the arrival of
Hamilton, when—
‘Reeling from the recent deed,
He dash’d his carbine on the ground!’
I have repeated these lines so often on the North Bridge, that the whole fraternity of coachmen know me by my tongue as I pass. To be sure, to a mind in sober, serious, street-walking humour, it must have the appearance of lunacy, when one stamps with the hurried pace and fervent shake of the head which strong, pithy poetry excites.”