LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 2

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
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
Campbell leaves Edinburgh for Germany.—Acquaintances at Hamburgh.—Klopstock.—Lines to the Jewess of Altona.—Visits Gottingen.—Introduction to the Schlegels.—Journey to Munich.—The Field of Hohenlinden.—Begins a new poem called “The Queen of the North.”—Returns to Scotland.—Seizure of his papers.—Voyage to Liverpool.—Dr. Currie and Mr. Roscoe.—Reaches London with letters of introduction from Dr. Currie.—Anecdote of the Poet.—Quarto edition of his Poems.—Love Verses.—Letter to the Poet from Mr. Roscoe.

A FEW months after he had completed his arrangement with Mundell and Son for the publication of the “Pleasures of Hope,” Campbell quitted Scotland for Germany, having a strong inclination to visit that country. The Elbe, on account of the war, was then the most facile mode, to an inhabitant of England, of entering Germany by Hamburgh, where he arrived in June, 1800. It was not wholly the desire to acquire a know-
ledge of German literature that induced the poet to take the step, for he had made several acquaintance among the young men sent over to study medicine in Edinburgh, and this was another cause inducing him to bend his steps in that direction.

Campbell could at that moment have derived little pecuniary benefit from his poem beyond what arose from the sale of the copies given by his booksellers as the price of the copyright, about fifty pounds, for he could hardly foresee that his poem would turn out as profitable to him as it ultimately did, nor calculate on the sums presented to him by his publishers, nor on his subsequent quarto edition. What were his pecuniary resources to meet a sojourn of nearly thirteen months on the continent, no inconsiderable portion of the time being spent in travelling, does not readily appear, except it arose from his correspondence with a London paper, the “Morning Chronicle.”

His first residence was at Hamburgh, where he remained for some time, and made many friends, besides meeting one or two individuals whom he had before known. Long years afterwards, he continued to retain a grateful remembrance of his acquaintance there by an occasional correspondence. As late as 1832, he gave me a letter
for a particular object, a passage in which bore upon his visit to that city, and afforded full evidence that the case of an Irish exile, at that time in Hamburgh, was the cause of his composing “
The Exile of Erin.” The writer said:—

“When I quitted Hamburgh, I left all your friends and acquaintance well, with the exception of Dr. S——, whom you may remember to have met at dinner on one or two occasions. He, poor fellow, is dead. You were, I believe, better acquainted with Dr. L——, formerly a student at Edinburgh. He was brother-in-law of Dr. S——. The latter was likewise nephew to the Professor S of Gottingen, the celebrated botanist. Not long before I quitted Hamburgh, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. M’Cann at the house of our mutual friend J——, and I am happy to say that, at the period of which I speak, ‘The Exile of Erin’ was in excellent health and spirits.”

That gem in pathetic poetry,* “The Exile of Erin,” was suggested by the case of this friend of the poet. The severities practised in Ireland by the British government, incredible as they would appear in the present day, cannot be recalled but with indignation by those who yet remember them. A grudge against a neighbour was sufficient, by secret information, to make him a prisoner in a dungeon at home, or drive him a
voluntary exile into any foreign land. Many excellent persons of this class attracted the poet’s sympathy at Hamburgh, and most justly and feelingly did he afterwards speak of their situation.
Campbell made many efforts to obtain leave for M’Cann to return home, but in vain. Lord Castlereagh was inexorable.

While at Hamburgh, Campbell paid a visit to Klopstock, who resided not far away, two years before the decease of the venerable author of the “Messiah.” Klopstock was then very infirm. Campbell described him, at the age of seventy-seven, as a plain man, of unpretending manners, great mildness, and apparent goodness of disposition, and as one of the first great names in the world of letters he ever knew. He presented him with a copy of the “Pleasures of Hope.” He said that though Klopstock’s works reminded him of Milton, by a scanty image or two, there was no association produced by the German’s person or manner that recalled the unbending and lofty ideal of the English bard. There was, he said, an ode of Klopstock to the “Lake of Zurich,” which, in the original German, was an excellent specimen of his style in lyric writing, as well as of the temper of the man.

The poet did not remain long enough at Hamburgh to make an acquaintance with more than
the general constitution of the German language. While sojourning there, he paid visits to the country in the vicinity, and was introduced to more than one individual of literary attainments at Altona. It was at that place he composed those sweet lines which have been long ago published, but which he would not allow to appear in his collected works “because they were a fragment.” They were republished in one of the annuals about twenty years ago.

Oh, Judith! had our lot been cast
In that remote and simple time
When, shepherd swains, thy fathers past
From dreary wilds and deserts vast
To Judah’s happy clime,—
My song, upon the mountain rocks,
Had echoed of thy rural charms;
And I had fed thy father’s flocks;
O Judith of the raven locks!
To win thee to my arms.
Our tent, beside the murmur calm
Of Jordan’s grassy-vested shore,
Had sought the shadow of the palm,
And blest with Gilead’s holy balm
Our hospitable door.
At falling night, or ruby dawn,
Or yellow moonlight’s welcome cool,
With health and gladness we had drawn,
From silver fountains on the lawn,
Our pitcher brimming full.
How sweet to us at sober hours
The bird of Salem would have sung,
In orange or in almond bowers,—
Fresh with the bloom of many flowers,
Like thee, for ever young!
But ah, my Love! thy father’s land—
It sheds no more a spicy bloom,
Nor fills with fruit the reaper’s hand;
But wide its silent wilds expand,
A desert and a tomb!
Yet, by the good and golden hours
That dawn’d those rosy fields among,—
By Zion’s palm-encircled towers,—
By Salem’s far forsaken bowers,
And long-forgotten song.
* * * * *

The precise road Campbell took on leaving Hamburgh is unknown, unless any of his correspondence, remaining in the surviving family of Dr. Anderson, should bring it to light. There was not, at that period, so great a strictness on the continent as was afterwards shown by the French government in relation to British subjects. It was said that he was in Ratisbon when the French and Austrian treaty saved it
from bombardment; but there were no Austrian and French treaties but those of July and December, 1800, and the poet only reached Munich in the first days of August. About this I am in the dark, and therefore speak vaguely as they concern the poet. The public dates thus given are correct.
Augereau, it is true, menaced Ratisbon, and the poet might have gone from thence to Munich, for the treaty was in full force. In Germany he made an intimacy with Augustus William Schlegel. On the visits of Schlegel to this country, he was the constant guest of the poet, who had a very high idea of him as a man; his acquirements, as all the world well knows, were undisputed. Never were there two men more dissimilar. Augustus Schlegel was talkative upon every subject connected with literature, and showed at times no small share of the vanity of successful authorship. His friend, Campbell, was the very reverse of this. There was, too, about Schlegel a sort of petit-maître bearing, assumed upon occasions, of which Campbell had not a trace. The poet was unconstrained, patriotic, and free in his political sentiments. Schlegel had mingled too much among the despotic nobles of Germany to talk of politics, or find fault with things that were; notwithstanding he was most learned and agreeable
company, and had a very sincere regard for Campbell, whose friendship seemed to relax in the German’s regard some sixteen years after the period when he introduced him to the narrator. On asking him, in the spring of 1836, whether he had heard recently from Bonn, he replied, that Schlegel, he thought, was altered from what he had been, and that there was some coldness in his conduct. This was no more, it is probable, than surmise; as men get older, the expression of that warmth of feeling seen in preceding life too commonly weakens, as if, when mortal friendships draw towards an inevitable end, nature would smooth the way by lessening the strength of the tie to the imagination, to deaden the pain of separation.

The route to be taken by the poet towards Vienna from Ratisbon, lay through a district that had been the seat of war in the existing summer. A suspension of arms had been concluded between Moreau and the Austrians at Parsdorf, in front of Munich, on the 15th of July, 1800. Moreau had fixed his head quarters at Munich, and was then in possession of all the country between the Iser and the Inn. It was thought the suspension of arms would terminate in a peace, and four months had actually passed without active hostilities; so that Campbell began
to imagine he might proceed without personal danger. The suspension of arms stipulated that hostilities might be renewed by either party on giving twelve days’ notice.

It was in the month of October, 1800, that he was travelling towards Vienna, when it was announced to him that the hostilities would soon recommence, and he found that the prescribed notice of twelve days had just expired, though the fact was unknown beyond the head quarters of the hostile armies. This caused the traveller considerable perplexity; he had supposed he might proceed with safety in the rear of the French army, and that the Austrians would make but little resistance; he had quartered himself in the Scotch college at Ratisbon, but now he returned from Ratisbon to Altona, out of the way of the scenes of carnage that were expected to take place, after visiting Munich and the Valley of the Inn. While at Ratisbon he had suffered an attack of fever within the convent walls. In one place he crossed a battle-field in a clumsy German carriage, but he did not say exactly where, perhaps near Landshut. On emerging from a pine-wood he came upon open ground, where the ravages of war were horribly visible in the bodies of men and horses strewed on the blood-stained ground. Nothing impeded his
route, yet he perceived the vehicle stop, and missed the postilion, who left him full three-quarters of an hour alone. “I had enough around me to meditate upon,” observed
Campbell to myself, “that is if the weather had not been unbearably chill. I had lost all patience, when the Bavarian scoundrel came up loaded with horses’ tails. He had been cutting off the tails of the horses that lay dead around, then piling up a goodly number of them behind the carriage, he resumed his tardy pace.” The poet also saw a skirmish from the walls of the convent, between the outposts of the French and Austrians, when the latter retreated. The account of this affair given by Washington Irving is not correct.

Safe at Altona, he began a new poem, called “The Queen of the North,” and cultivated his knowledge of the German tongue very assiduously. There is reason to believe that he was foremost in some merry-makings among his countrymen and the unfortunate exiles whom the government of Ireland had forced to seek a refuge in Hamburgh.

He returned home after an absence of twelve months; he came back to Yarmouth, and so to London, where he was kindly received by Perry, of the Morning Chronicle; Perry introduced him,
Thomas Pringle, to many of the leading characters in London.

He now began a mock-heroic poem, but his attempts at wit in writing were always unsatisfactory. His acquaintance with Sir G. Elliott, afterwards Lord Minto, commenced at this time. He presumed that in the great success of the “Pleasures of Hope” he had a fair ground for soliciting the permission of Mundell and Co. to print a handsome edition in quarto, by subscription. This may be called the seventh, but the booksellers to whom the copyright belonged named the next edition in 16mo. after the subscription quarto, the seventh. The quarto edition, it was agreed, should be printed in London, and the poet himself came to town for the purpose of superintending the printing by Bensley. The spy system of the minister Addington was now fully carried out, and yet further illustrated by the seizure of his papers on his arrival at home, and the arrest of himself, if it might be so called, in Scotland. The treason in his papers was comprized in the draught of “Ye Mariners of England.” The affair came to nothing, and was solely owing to some of the wretches, who were then kept in the minister’s pay, who instigated men to crime to show something
for their wages; he escaped a personal detention in England by mere accident.

The “Pleasures of Hope,” or indeed any other poem of equal merit, could not have obtained the success it did without being sustained for a time, and then proclaimed, as it were by authority, to be worthy of public regard. The work that now issues from the publishers’ shelves, unsupported by latent and too often not very honest means of designation, has no chance of success let its merits be what they may. Campbell steered his boat with a flowing sail. The auspicious breeze of critical favour, that in those days was commanding, wafted to him the patronage of what is styled, in most undiscerning, uncomplimentary phrase for the interests of truth, the “discerning public.” The success of the poem was what might be expected, and no more than it merited. Scotland had been loud in the praises of the young poet, who had no rival at that time in his native land. A writer in one of the magazines*—the only writer who, amidst a mass of falsehood and disgraceful rubbish put forth respecting the poet after his decease, seems to have known anything about him, said that Campbell, after his return, became for a time the “Lion of Edinburgh.”

* Frazer’s Magazine.


“The last time I saw you,” said a lady of advanced age, to the poet, “was in Edinburgh, when you were swaggering about in a Suwarrow jacket.”

“Yes,” replied Campbell, “I was then a contemptible puppy.”

“But that was thirty years ago and more,” she remarked.

“Whist, whist!” said Campbell, “it is unfair to reveal both our puppyism and our years.”

The poet reached London at the commencement of the spring of 1802. At Liverpool, on his way, having introduced himself to Dr. Currie with a letter from Dugald Stewart, he was hospitably entertained in the doctor’s house, in a mode that might be expected from such a disinterested lover of literature. He did more, for he introduced him to the noble-hearted Roscoe, then resident at Allerton Hall, who was no less kind and attentive to the young poet than Dr. Currie had been. Campbell was in weak health, and nervous; Roscoe, not to the diminution of the poet’s nervousness, insisting on mounting him upon a pony for exercise. The poet’s timidity on the occasion is well remembered by some of the surviving members of the family. Mr. Thomas Roscoe, a friend of the poet’s as well as his father, told me that he had a perfect recollection
of the circumstance, and of being diverted at seeing the poet in his nervous equestrianship at Allerton, when he himself was quite a boy.

How long Campbell remained in Liverpool is not clear, probably not more than two or three weeks. In a letter from Dr. Currie, introducing Campbell to Mackintosh and Scarlet, the date, it appears, is February 26, 1802. The doctor describes the poet as a young man of celebrity, author of the “Pleasures of Hope.” He states that his knowledge of him was derived from Dugald Stewart, and that he had been staying some days with him. He remarked that he was a young man of extraordinary learning and acquirements, unusually quick of apprehension and possessing great sensibility, and further, that he was on his way to London to bring out there an edition of his poem, by permission of the bookseller to whom he had parted with the copyright before it was printed. That the profits of the booksellers having been extraordinary, they had only annexed the condition that the edition of the author should be of such a nature as not to interfere with their editions; the work to be a quarto, embellished, and printed by Bensley. Dr. Currie then concludes by requesting his friends to lay out a fee with the poet, thereby
obliging the doctor and serving at the same time a man of genius.

On coming to town it would appear that Campbell commenced writing for the newspapers under the auspices of Perry of the Morning Chronicle, who introduced him everywhere. Here he found his friend Telford, the engineer; Horner, too, another warm friend; but, except with his poetical pieces inserted in that paper, he was not very successful, nor could it be expected; experience must have been wanting. A knowledge of the political topics of the time, and the art of rapid composition, those essentials in writing for the mass, were not the qualities with which Campbell was endowed. Great knowledge of literature, care in the choice of words, and slowness in composition, were impediments in concocting the articles of a newspaper. In no department of the multifarious literature of the metropolis could the poet have been employed with less effect. He must have been an utter stranger to the tact which, in the newspaper contests at that time, when politics ran high, must have been more than ever demanded; he had none of that positive acquaintance with men and things, connected with political affairs, which can be obtained at the seat of government alone. Political knowledge was not then diffused as
widely as it is at present, and the duties of an adroit writer in a London newspaper were not to be acquired in the country. It suffices that the poet was unsuccessful, though Perry retained him for some time to aid in filling up the poet’s corner of his paper.

He did not bring out the quarto or seventh edition of his poems until he had been a twelvemonth (or in June, 1803) in London. I have no means now of comparing it with the first, which I had once in my possession for a week or two. This copy belonged to the poet, and he begged its restoration, as he knew not how to obtain another. The quarto is not scarce, and is similar to many other works of that day from the elegant press of Bensley. What the poet’s pecuniary means were at this time it is not easy to discover; his receipts from the “Pleasures of Hope,” it has been observed, could not have taken him to Germany and supported him during above a twelvemonths’ residence and travelling, and, moreover, he had set off immediately after their first publication, and before any receipts could have accrued had they been his own to receive. This year he published too, “Lochiel and Hohenlinden” in Edinburgh, dedicated to Dr. Alison, but without his name. He also married his cousin, Matilda
Sinclair, on the 10th of October the same year. She was a resident in London, in Park Street, Westminster, and they were married at St. Margaret’s. She was the daughter of Mr. Sinclair, a merchant in the city, one of seven daughters, several of whom I knew. He had scanty means when he married. It is probable, therefore, that he had other prospects of supporting a wife at the time. After this, he paid a visit to Edinburgh. During his attentions to his cousin he composed the following lines, which do not exhibit very flatteringly bis skill in love strains, or the depth of passionate affection, wanting that quick pulse which beats through intensity of amatory feeling. In the list of his pieces in 1828, when he marked off what he wished to be omitted from his collected works, he excluded this, which first appeared in an Edinburgh periodical work.

Air—The Flower of North Wales.
O cherub content! at thy moss-covered shrine,
I would all the gay hopes of my bosom resign;
I would part from ambition thy votary to be,
And breathe not a vow but to friendship and thee.
But thy presence appears from my wishes to fly,
Like the gold-coloured clouds on the verge of the sky;
No lustre that hangs on the green willow tree,
Is so short as the smile of thy favour to me.
In the pulse of my heart I have nourished a care,
That forbids me thy sweet inspiration to share;
The noon of my life slow departing I see,
But its years as they pass bring no tidings of thee.
O cherub content! at thy moss-covered shrine
I would offer my vows if Matilda were mine;
Could I call her my own, whom enraptured I see,
I would breathe not a vow but to friendship and thee!

He wrote some lines on the threatened invasion, and was for some time employed in translating for the “Star” newspaper, in 1802. He lodged before his marriage at 61, South Molton Street. In 1803, he returned to London, where rumour stated that he wrote a series of articles in defence of the Grenville administration, which appeared in an evening paper, and that these were the reasons of his receiving a pension of 184l. out of the Scotch excise. This was made up to 300l. subsequently by Lord Melbourne’s ministry. The pension could hardly have been conferred for any such service as that above stated. The knowledge of his pecuniary circumstances, and his being the foremost poet of that day in merit, his Whig principles, and personal knowledge of some of the most distinguished of the party, are sufficient to account for the grant which took place in October, 1806; the intentions of Fox in the matter being carried out by his successors.


He wrote papers in the “Edinburgh Review,” but what articles they comprised is uncertain. Jeffrey was known to have complained more than once of the poet’s idleness. He also made proposals to Constable and Co., which came to nothing. In August 1804, his son, Thomas Telford, was born, and the same year he projected his specimens of the British poets. His son was named Telford from the eminent engineer, his old friend.

Campbell projected a publication of some work in 1805. This is evident from the following letter of the historian of Leo X. Dr. Currie had died of consumption on the 31st of August in that year, aged fifty. He had gone to Devonshire for the establishment of his health in a milder climate than that of Lancashire. Roscoe, with that consideration and kindness which stamped true nobility upon his character, hearing the rumour that Campbell was about to publish again, and knowing that Dr. Currie’s death deprived him of a useful and zealous friend in Liverpool, wrote him the following letter, so worthy of himself, with which I am favoured from Mr. Roscoe’s existing correspondence.—

My Dear Sir,—

“The common sympathy and sorrow which I am sure we both of us feel for the loss of our late
ever-lamented friend
Dr. Currie, would be a sufficient apology for this intrusion, even if we were greater strangers to each other than I have the happiness to think we are. On the death of our friend nothing is more soothing to our feelings, and indeed more natural, than to turn towards those whom they have respected and loved, and who have returned the friendship with equal warmth; and that he ever regarded you with affectionate kindness is not less certain than that you now deeply lament his most unfortunate, and I may add, untimely loss. Allow me, then, my dear sir, to say, that amidst these ravages of death and warnings of mortality, I feel myself bound, by an additional tie to those who once partook with me in the society and friendship of him who is no more, and that although the loss of one beloved friend has occasioned a void in the bosom which can never be supplied, yet nothing can afford me more pleasure than an interchange of good offices and of mutual kindness and affection with those whom he esteemed and loved. If in this view I should be fortunate enough to meet your own sentiments, the only proof I shall at present ask of it is, that you will allow me to take that interest in the success of your labours which they so eminently deserve, and to render you the same services, as respecting the volume which our
excellent young friend
Mr. Wallace Currie informs me you shortly intend to publish, as his father did respecting your last, and which he would have repeated with so much pleasure had he still survived.

“Favour me, then, with your plan of publication, and such particulars as you may think necessary, and be assured, the deserved celebrity of your name and the actual merit of your writings will render it not only an easy, but a grateful task to me to furnish you with the suffrages of many of my friends, for whom pecuniarily I will be answerable, and whose payments I will with the greatest pleasure anticipate.

“If in this communication I have ventured too far on the presumption, either on the grounds of our personal acquaintance, or on those I have before stated, let me at least hope to stand excused, and it shall be sufficient for me to write with such influence as I may obtain in the general list of your admirers and friends, who, by their public approbation of your writings, will, instead of honouring you, do honour to themselves.

“I am, my dear sir,
“Most truly and invariably yours,
William Roscoe.”
“Allerton, 3rd of November, 1805.

Campbell having first taken up his residence in Pimlico, and removed to Sydenham, after his marriage, finished there his “Annals of Great Britain, from the Accession of George III. to the peace of Amiens.” This is a work almost unknown, nor had he himself a copy in his own library to show me. It seems to have fallen into neglect from the time of publication, for it bore about it nothing salient or striking that possessed attraction. The poet was not gifted with talent of the order necessary to success in that kind of literature, and the “annals” were little more than a dry catalogue of events chronologically arranged.

His second son, Alison, was born in June, this year, 1805.