LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 4

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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Campbell’s introduction to Byron.—Lectures at the Royal Institution.—Analysis of their nature.—First, poetry in general.—Second, Hebrew poetry.—Third, Greek poetry.—Fourth, Classical poetry.—Fifth, Lyric and Epic poetry.—Sixth, Oracular poetry.—Seventh, called by Campbell the Ninth, the Athenian drama.—Tenth and last, Euripides.

AN unforeseen event took place in the year 1811, to which Campbell owed his introduction to Byron. A hostile epistolary communication had taken place, or one in a spirit which bordered upon hostile feeling, between Byron and Moore. The last, with the heat of his countrymen, was for settling the grievance with gunpowder, to prove his quarrel just. He did not ask himself whether Jeffrey was, or was not justified in vindicating truth and virtue, by censuring, as it was his duty to do, the gross licentiousness of
Little’s poems. He called out Jeffrey, and the wits of the day had their jokes about Chalk Farm, and the pistols and bullets. Byron, who then knew nothing of Moore personally, had a fling at the duellists in his attack on Jeffrey, and spoke about “Little’s leaden pistols.” Moore could not relish this, which he should have borne quietly, considering how much he was in the wrong on the score of morals. Having sought an explanation from Byron, Rogers had arranged the difference to the satisfaction of the disputants, who had never seen each other, but were about to meet the same day for the first time at the classical table of Rogers. Campbell chancing to call upon Rogers the same day, the dinner was to take place, received an invitation to meet Byron and Moore. Accordingly they all four met in this singular manner. Four names standing so high for poetical celebrity hardly ever before met in so unforeseen a manner, and certainly never at a more hospitable table. This year, too, Campbell made the acquaintance of Sir Thomas Lawrence.

In 1811, the poet agreed to give lectures at the Royal Institution, at twenty guineas each lecture; they were to be five in number, and to be delivered in the spring of the next year. In these lectures he did not carry out the plan he originally projected, which was to proceed from
general principles to the poetry of the Hebrews, and down to that of comparatively modern times. The latter would not have included any poet later than the end of the eighteenth century, in England or on the continent. This scheme he only half fulfilled. The truth was, that he could not continue a long labour upon one subject—it was not in his nature to draw a long breath—it fatigued him, and at length made him flag, and viewing the task he had set himself about with distaste, he hardly ever carried out his original design. Indeed, considering the number of years he devoted himself to literature, the quantity he brought to pass was, comparatively, very little. He too often found substances in shadows. He talked of labours never to be performed, and of the fatigues that arose from idle studies and readings out of the business in hand. The time he took in polishing the “
Pleasures of Hope,” and in completing his poem of “Gertrude,” is easily conjectured; and making full allowance for this, all he executed besides amounted to little, compared to the time set against it. His lectures cost him considerable labour. He would read upon some particular point, in which he desired to be satisfied, and while thus reading, meet with a novelty, and run after it for a day or two, reading and talking
of nothing else, and return after much loss of time to the main object of his pursuit. Then he had to refresh his memory in regard to what he had abandoned, and had scarcely got into the main track again before a fresh divergence would happen. Thus to his friends, verbally, and in his letters, he was always overwhelmed with labours of which they could see little fruit comparatively, and that little, if often really excellent, by no means justified the price in time and labour which he produced the impression of its having cost. Thus, while re-composing his lectures, he made references to
Gesenius and Michealis, and read them through, raising doubts foreign to the existing purpose, and lost time by seeking to settle them. All scholars are aware how time fleets in such a course. His lectures were delivered with considerable success, for though he read well, being a little irregular in enunciation, he was effective, and was heard with applause. He got ready for delivering a second series. He was also nominated Professor of Poetry to the Royal Institution; proceeding at the same time under his characteristic slowness with his specimens of the poets for the prince of bibliopolists, Murray. It is a fact for which I cannot account, except its interference with his specimens, that in 1820-1, Campbell should have begun to re-compose these lectures on poetry, at
least so far as he really did go in publishing them. He must have destroyed the original MS. He got tired of his task, and entirely neglecting them in the course of the year 1826, broke off and resumed them no more. He collected books from all quarters, and talked largely of continuing the subject, at one time, as far as regarded England, from
William of Malmsbury; but, as was his way, he made no adequate progress in carrying out his intentions, even in regard to England.

As these lectures were written and delivered at this time, 1812, the mention of them demands in this place a brief analysis of their nature, the order of dates being duly observed. Of the lectures, Byron said, “Campbell talks of lecturing next spring. His last lectures were eminently successful. Moore thought of it, but gave it up, I don’t know why. *  *  * had been prating dignity to him and such stuff, as if a man disgraced himself by instructing and pleasing at the same time.” It was his intention, when he had finished the classics, ancient and British, to have gone into a series of lectures upon the poetry of those other nations of modern times, with the literature of which he had an acquaintance. This was for him easier said than done, not for want of ability, but of perseverance, composition being oftentimes almost a punishment. I have seen him labour
almost with pity, because he could not proceed more satisfactorily to himself. His imagination was active enough; but his incapacity for protracted exertion marred with him many well-conceived designs. At one time he planned and communicated to the writer of this volume a work which should embrace a history of man, his physical wants, and the requisites for his supply from the cradle to the grave, in and out of the pale of civilization, exhibiting the differences in each state. Such an elaborate undertaking it would have cost him his whole life to execute.

His opening lectures, of which a brief analysis, as I have observed, may not be out of place, were devoted primarily to certain general remarks upon poetical composition. He entered at some length into a definition of its nature, and the mode in which poetry maintains its influence and advantages over painting and sculpture, notwithstanding the effects the last produce by immediate impression. He spoke of poetry as being the religion of nature, under a synonyme, and its object to delight the imagination, separating it from every pursuit of language. He exhibited how poetry, intermingled with other intellectual pursuits, had truth more strictly and directly for its object. Thus Shakspeare furnished texts for philosophy, and the apothegms of Bacon were orna-
mented with figurative illustrations. The metaphysics of
Locke exhibited poetical descriptions, and poetry was more or less diffused throughout moral sentiment. Cold imaginations had never been among the number of those which had influenced mankind, instancing the orator in appealing to human passions as indebted to the same pervading influence; and the historian, while dealing in fact, giving prominence to striking event and heroic character. He thus discriminated the limits which separated the labours of the muse from history, philosophy, and oratory. He explained how poetry produces its effect upon the human mind, by “views of the good and evil of existence thrown into large masses of light and shade”—how, on the sensibilities being modified by special exceptions and abatements, as in the necessary adherence of the historian to truth and impartiality, language ceased to be poetry, the very error of feeling being more poetical than its equilibrium.

Fiction was a distinctive and exclusive attribute of poetry, but it must be open and avowed. In ethics, rhetoric, oratory and the like, the detection of a falsehood was a defect; if it prevailed, it was a fraud. In poetry, the illusion of fiction was not a deception. In discriminating the end of severer pursuits from that of poetry, the intellectual character of the art was not to be kept
out of sight. The truths of the poet’s utterance were arranged differently from those of demonstration or historical precept; and though addressed to the imagination, yet the understanding was not unconcerned in them. Something must be done amidst all to obtain the acquiescence of the judgment. The term imagination, therefore, must be understood in poetry as a complex power of the mind, including fancy to combine and taste to arrange. The poet addressed the sympathies and affections, and if he did not task the understanding, it was not because he had not great truths to reveal, but that he was to reveal them with easy perspicuity. The lecturer alluded to the consequences and effects of poetry, and the mode in which it interests. After a full explanation of the nature, constitution, and effects of poetry with its mode of action and end, that prevailing idea of happiness which is still its sovereign feeling, lurking even in its misanthropy, the lecture proceeded to treat of language and its harmony, with the differences between harmony in prose and in verse, and also the necessity of association to produce pleasure. The fact was noticed that verse had been resorted to ever since language was known. Poetry had been the original record of human feelings and of all belief. The difference between poetry and prose was elegantly
and eloquently defined, and the tendency of verse to lead out the ideal and make the thoughts music to the mind as well as to the ear. The lecture, a model of fine writing and excellence of definition, included the remark that the term “poetry” in its more extensive meaning applied to prose fictions when they delighted the imagination. The alliance of comedy to poetry was shown, though less poetical in the emotions it produced than those of our serious sensibility; the difference of epithet too, in prose and poetry, with the licence permitted in one and not in the other, in this respect, as well as the admission of compounds, in part the peculiar attributes of poetical language and the primeval figurativeness of human speech. The cultivation of diction was defended.

Campbell then stated that he could appropriate no more than one lecture to the treatment of poetical subjects abstractedly, and that he should be necessitated to pass to the connexion of poetry with human improvement, the influence which the art receives from civilization, and the moral utility it gives back. The first part of the question he considered was how far the continued progress of knowledge and philosophy was likely to influence the future progress of poetry, and its power over the human mind. He complained of the undefined nature of the term “human civili-
zation,” and that the probable degree could only be justified by past improvement. He did not conceive that the cultivation of poetry and the fine arts was only an intermediate stage to the utmost intellectual social excellence. The progress of philosophy, it was presumed, would guard against relapses into darkness and superstition again. In the history of human improvement, the poet’s art had preceded all enquiry into moral and physical truth, while it had appealed to passions interwoven with ignorance. The civilization that called forth poetry was the recognition of certain religious feelings, and the laws of moral sympathy. The history of art differed from that of science. They who were the first imitators of nature, enjoyed the possession of the field, and deprived succeeding poets of materials, and then the search for novelty had given a tendency towards decay. With science it was different, all the knowledge gained tended to the acquisition of more. But it struck even at the innocent credulities which ran into poetry. Those immutable laws, emanating from one Supreme Being, destroyed the vision of subordinate agencies, to which the poet had been before deeply indebted. While ignorant of the physical truths of nature, the poet’s mind was familiar with an impassioned agency, and illusions were his which the philo-
sopher disenchanted. Poetry may be thus expected to exhaust her own resources, and thence the continued progress of civilization may tend to limit, rather than enlarge the influence of poetry upon the human mind. But some believed too much in this exhaustion of the materials of poetry. Some of its fairest flowers had bloomed in the light of civilization, and the perpetual and spiritual novelty of which it was susceptible was forgot. Our impressions of existence might be varied by new likenesses, for the objects it embraced were susceptible of varied combinations and associations, with our moral feelings, inimitably. The collective variety of poetry had increased with the social progress, though the excellence of its individual works might not. The benefits poetry received from false mythologies was instanced, but the enlightened imagination could not be expected to dwell at once complacently on resources borrowed from ignorance and superstition. Despite these being discarded, there were still the powers of mind from whence the connection with them had sprung which could not be extinguished. There was an indestructible love of ideal happiness in the human breast. “Whilst there is a star in heaven, man will look to it with a day-dream of brighter worlds.”


He agreed with Dugald Stewart that the spring of all human activity and improvement is the faculty of imagination, and dwelt for a short time upon this part of the subject, including the effect of poetry on the interests of virtue.

There is nothing in prose which Campbell did, either in regard to writing, analysis, or a philosophical view of any subject he ever treated, better than this his opening lecture. It is, in all points, masterly. He concluded—

“It is, therefore, but a faint eulogium on poetry to say, that it only furnishes an innocent amusement to fledge the lagging hours of existence. Its effects are incalculably more beneficent. Besides supplying records of human manners, in some respects more faithful than those of history itself, it upholds an image of existence that heightens our enjoyment of all the charms of external nature, and that deepens our sympathies with whatever is amiable, or interesting, or venerable in human character. We cannot alter one trait of our bodily forms, but the spiritual impressions made on the mind will elevate and amend the mind itself. And the spirits that would devote themselves to be the heroes and benefactors of mankind, are not likely to be less cherished by the philosophy that restrains their passions, than by the poetry that touches their
imaginations with humane and generous sentiments.”

In the next lecture he began by examining the character of the poetry of the earlier nations known, from the commencement of their records, as far as any traces of these last remain to our times. Hebrew was the dialect of a primitive Asiatic speech, once diffused over five nations of the East, and extending even to Ethiopia. It divided itself into three great branches. The Aramaish, whence sprang the Chaldaic and Syriac; the Canaanitish Hebrew, and the Arabic. The Hebrew and Arabic had exclusively come down to the present day. The former transmitted its early literature to posterity. Though Babylon possessed astronomical records nine hundred years before Alexander the Great, and Egypt and Phoenicia had been the nurseries of the arts, all their records have perished. The historical records of the Hebrews began a thousand years before Herodotus. From the language the lecturer proceeded to notice the poetry of the Hebrews in a literary point of view, or as a human art, abstracted from religious considerations.

There were many circumstances favourable to poetry among the Hebrews. Their ceremonials were eminently calculated to awaken the imagi-
nation. The prophetic poets addressed an unrefined people, whose manners were not adapted to a standard of taste. The Scriptures were given for higher purposes than aesthetic teaching, before which the importance of poetry sank into nothing. Still a very high value attached to the Hebrew muse. She painted the phenomena of nature with a lavishness and energy equalled in the composition of no other nation. There was harmony in Hebrew poetry, though whether it possessed syllabic measures is unknown. The Jewish legislator was a poet. David was a marked genius in the productions of the Hebrew muse, and infused a taste for music and poetry beyond any it is to be presumed his nation ever before possessed. His own psalms, and those composed by others at different times, are each to be distinguished. Those of David are most interesting to the heart, though some of the others may more powerfully affect the imagination. The 104th psalm of David was a minute and richly-varied picture of the creation. The reigns of David and Solomon were the most brilliant epoch of Hebrew history. The poetry of Solomon was an antithesis of the soberest moral thought, and of the most luxuriant imagination. In the Proverbs he exhibited his sagacity; in the Song of Songs his luxuriant fancy; and in the Preacher his satiety of human
vanity. The lecturer then touched upon Hebrew prophecy, and discriminated between the different prophets as to the merits of their language, giving Isaiah the palm on the whole, his genius going further upon the wing and burning longer with a steady flame. He moved with grace and beauty, under a divine self possession. Nahum was the most classically-poetical of the minor prophets. The third chapter of Habakkuk was a model of lyric sublimity. The pathetic voice of Jeremiah faltered under the mournful accents of his prophecy, and Ezekiel, who followed, was the only great poet afterwards, though his grandeur was not of the purest character. Daniel departed yet further from the old and pure taste of the former prophets. In the other prophets down to Malachi, the spirit of the Hebrew poetry evidently declined as divination drew towards its conclusion. Hebrew poetry was the denizen of nature. The land of the Hebrews was one of poetry, but their creed was one that did not adapt them for the cultivation of dramatic and epic composition. Though there may have been strains among this people on other themes than religion, they have not been handed down to our times. The Psalms, Proverbs, Solomon’s Song, Ecclesiastes, and Job, were the only undoubted books of poetry, though the prophets mingled poetry and
its imagery in their utterances, and were assisted by minstrelsy. Their diction was between prose and poetry.
Campbell then shewed that there was a rhythm in Hebrew verse—perfect harmony of thought. Moses was a poet as well as a legislator. David created a new era in Hebrew poetry. The lecturer then reviewed the poetry of Solomon and its imagery; its morality confined to the present state of existence, and its peculiar character. Thence he concluded with characterizing the prophets as already stated. Here the poet concluded his second lecture.

The next lecture treated of Greek poetry, which it was impossible to trace up to its earliest fountains; for there were strains in Greece anterior to the Iliad and Odyssey. He began with Homer, and the necessity of its being understood that in Homeric times a poet was a singer; he described the office of the bard, and the respect in which he was held in the earlier ages of Greece; and his wandering life, through which was imbibed a knowledge of human nature and of the world. The fact was, that Homer has only recorded the names of three poets, and says nothing of Orpheus or Musæus, hence his silence respecting them has given rise to the idea that he preceded both. After a dissertation of some length on this part of his subject, and on the cha-
racter of Orphic poetry; on the relation of Greek philosophy with poetry; on the ignorance of the ancients respecting Homer himself, and the identity of Homer with the poetry carrying his name, his composition of both the Iliad and Odyssey were upheld by the lecturer. The nature of Greek warfare and the character of its heroism in the early age of the Trojan war, were touched upon in connection with Homer and with the presumed state of society under his description, contrasting these with the chivalry of the middle ages. He then examined the differences of character in the Iliad, and the skill displayed in the diversity of manners, qualities, and dispositions with the perfect accordance observed in the delineations of men in the bloom of heroism and in advanced senility. Next the lecturer touched upon the mythology of the poet and its dignified and undignified descriptions; he treated of the traditions relative to the survivors of the downfall of Troy, especially those connected with Ulysses, and the subtle, hardy character with which the poet invested him, going all through his history in the Odyssey. While venturing into the realm of fancy in this his second work, Homer was described as the long precursor of
Virgil and Dante. Scarce any conception of romantic poetry existed, the germ of which might not be traced to the Odyssey.


Classical poetry was censured for its deficiency in regard to the treatment of female character; but, of the specimens alluded to, Homer was by far the best, his descriptions or allusions to social existence, in the Odyssey particularly, being in many respects pleasing. All that Homer left was interesting, and his pictures of life in the Odyssey particularly so. The discovery of Ulysses by Penelope was dwelt upon; then the scenes most repulsive were cited; and the other works attributed to Homer were enumerated. This part of the poet’s fourth lecture was precise and learned. In it, too, Hesiod, the next poet of Greece after Homer, was noticed, and his works enumerated by the lecturer; the priority of date in their writings was given to Homer. The works of Hesiod were then described.

In his fifth lecture, the migrations of the Ionians into Greece Proper were noticed, before which event it is contended that Homer must have flourished, because he failed to notice so important an event both to Europe and Asia. The Ionian and Æolic colonists, there was no doubt, preserved his writings. He seems to have lived in the infancy of all the arts, though the date would ever be a subject of speculation. Civilisation was in his day, it is probable, above the horison, from the date of the Olympiads and the Ionian
commonwealth, but whether any of its light shone upon Homer was doubtful. The fine arts were earlier cultivated in Asiatic than in European Greece. But in Greece Proper there were circumstances that contributed a preparatory influence towards the future perfection of her poetry. The oracle and the strains which issued from Delphi, and made a common bond among the Greeks, on a spot where war could not enter, and nature was hallowed by associations the most imposing, established a local supremacy over their religious superstitions. The Pythic, Olympic, and other games, were calculated to awaken the corporeal energies as well as the moral genius of the people. The lecturer noticed Crete, the earliest civilised among the Greek states; and Corinth, with its priestesses of Venus; then the Doric states and dialect; Lacedemon, and the causes why Asiatic names predominated so much in the Lyric poetry of Greece, commencing about seven hundred years before the Christian era, exhibiting the principal traits of Greek genius between the times of
Homer and Æschylus. All the lyric poets of Greece were eminent musicians. The preceding and old religious hymns of Greece, as those of Olen and of Orpheus, were, no doubt, a species of lyric poetry of a limited kind. The poetry of the most interesting period for its ex-
cellence was mature, while the science of music was yet young, and the crisis of Greek lyrical verse was so distinguished by the excellence of its productions, that it could hardly occur twice in the history of the world. It increased rather than diminished the influence of poetry over society, and acquired a political importance which did not belong to it in the days of Homer. The effect the early lyrists produced upon the ancient mind was conspicuous; but the scanty remains of their writings preserved to the present day from the ravages of bigots and barbarians, gave but a feeble idea of the causes of the great admiration they excited. The lecturer then noticed the relics that remained to the present day, and the regret felt that so much of Greek lyric poetry had perished. The varied character of their songs would have thrown great light upon the national manners, as each description of trade and profession had its songs. The principal poets were antecedent to the Attic drama.

The lecturer proceeded, in the second part of his fifth lecture, to treat of epic poetry in the first place, and of the Homeric spirit, and then of Hesiod as a mere secondary to Homer, a king-at-arms to the real monarch. The Cyclic poets that followed these two luminaries of Greek poetry were next noticed as drawing the themes of their
poetry from the events alluded to by Homer and Hesiod. Next in order were enumerated the writers of epic poetry down to the time of
Alexander the Great; then the mock-heroic poetry of the Greeks, and their taste for parody; the extant fragments left of this style being few and unsatisfactory. The didactic poetry of Greece was next reviewed. The chief Gnomic poets were enumerated, and the poet Empedocles named as the writer who first gave didactic poetry a worthy form, standing too pre-eminent in the history of philosophy.

Campbell next, in his sixth lecture, came to the consideration of Oracular poetry, or prophetic composition, as another branch of Greek poetry. Oracles were said to have taught the use of heroic measure to the poets. But a cloud of fable rested over the very names of the primitive prophets, and the verses they first brought forward, giving the primitive light of a distinct history, were not produced as original compositions, but were ascribed to departed genius. Oracles were coined under the authority of “prophet poets,” and Bacis foretold the battles of Salamis and Platæa. All manner of prophecies were given out at the beginning of the Peloponnesian war. The ideas of Plato were stated that love, poetry, and prophecy, were the three great branches of
divine transport. Dephi was the parent of divination, and the Pythoness bathed in the Castalian fount to prepare for prophesying. Yet no prophetic works existed of a high poetical character. The Sibylline verses were forgeries, most probably, of the early Christians, for they contained passages both from the Old and New Testament. The Pagans were not likely to forge verses against idolatry. Elegiac and lyric poetry next came under the lecturer’s review. The poets of this class marked out a new era. The lecturer was of opinion that the rude music of early Greece had previously possessed but a feeble influence on its poetry. A mistake of
Dr. Burney’s was corrected upon this part of the subject. The effect of the lyric poetry of Greece was exciting, and sprang up abundantly as soon as the age was attuned to perfect melody. Elegiac poetry began in the lyric age of Greece, perhaps preceded the earlier Greek lyrical poems, at least in the instance of Callinus. It was strictly a musical poem, sung to instrumental accompaniments. The term Elegy was described to be in Greek, applied to sterner subjects, than it bears relation to in modern times, and to martial themes, Mimnernus being the first elegiast who could be styled plaintive. The war-hymns of Tyrtæus were sung in the Greek camp two hundred years after the poet’s time. But this was not all. Greek lyric
poetry comprehended a vast variety in character, and the lyre accompanied the hymns even to the altar, music being used to set off poetry and imprint the sense on the mind, rendering it more captivating; the reverse, it may be observed, of the modern practice. This was a very learned and exceedingly interesting lecture.

The next lecture proceeded from the consideration of the lyric poetry of Greece, to notice the Athenian drama exclusively. Campbell resumed the lectures after an interval of time, during which he wrote a few pieces of poetry. The length of time that elapsed was probably the cause of his forgetfulness in this enumeration of his lectures. He began with Æschylus, opening his particular view in regard to Athens as connected with Greece, and, with the view of preparatory illustration, gave a considerable portion of preliminary matter. He noticed the fact that exotic poems have ever less charms for an individual than those which are native, and then proceeded to consider the Greek manners with a view to the easier comprehension of its drama. The spirit of the Greek legends and superstitions it was necessary to understand, without wading through the battles of Greece, or acquiring the whole of her mythology. Greece exhibited in the rise of the Attic drama a little world of diversified national character. A comparison might be
drawn, good in some respects, between Athens and England. It was a part of the subject to point out the influence of democracy in Athenian literature, without advocating the defects of that species of government. The commerce, laws, and institutions of Athens, were praised, and the advocates of all gothic abuses, who censure the smallest excess of plebeian power, were exposed. The whole of Attica would not equal a small province of Russia, and yet Athens did in literature, in a hundred years, what Russia, for example, is not likely to perform in as many centuries, making herself supreme in the literature of the world. The larger proportion of the literature of Greece extant is Athenian. The race of her free population never changed amid the shock of warfare; it sprung from her soil.

Here the lecturer entered into a brief notice of Greek history, and of the institutions of Sparta, and impugned the advocacy of Sparta and her institutions by Mitford, contrasting them with those of Athens, enumerating the more prominent, and pointing out their want of decency and innate barbarity. The backwardness of the Spartans in the arts was dwelt upon, and the lack of Lacedemonian poets, historians, or orators. All was to the advantage of Athens. Solon legislated for trade upon the free principles to which modern
nations have not yet arrived. Every one was protected under the Athenian laws. There was no permission of torture; when the suffrages were equal, prisoners were acquitted. The dramatic century of Athens was that after the battle of Marathon, which produced
Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. To the history of that century the lecturer first drew attention, in a brief sketch of the more remarkable events of the period, and an outline of the political system and government, with the institutions and laws of Solon. Here the lecturer went into a long defence of the policy and laws of the Athenians, controverting the statements of Mitford, in his History of Greece, eulogistic of the Spartans. The population, superficies, trade, and manufactures of Attica, the gymnastic exercises of the people, the climate, the religious and civil architecture, the rivers, the very prospect of the city from Mount Hymettus, all that could enhance the beauty, and elevate the glory of Athens in the lecturer’s favoured view, were included to heighten the merits of the people whom he most delighted to honour.

The Athenian drama being that alone which has come down to the present time, as well as that which was alone worthy of the name in Greece, was next considered. The word “drama,” of
Doric derivation, was first explained, and then the question was examined whether tragedy was known in Greece anterior to the Attic drama. This dispute was more about an age than a thing, for it was likely that the Greeks gave the name to a simple choral poem older than that drama. The Doric and Æolic tragedies were no other than simple choruses. The car of Thespis was the first stage that separated the player from the chorus. The dithyrambics and its three kinds of choruses were described.
Choerilus was the first tragic poet whose works were written, and for whom a theatre was constructed. The Satyric drama was founded by Pratinas. All, however, which was done by other worthies of the great stage was little in comparison to what Æschylus effected. He stamped the drama with the strength and solemnity of his own mind, and was the true founder of the Greek stage. He wrote under the star of his country’s prosperity. With Sophocles and Euripides inclusive, Attic tragedy was completed, and was in every sense an invention of the Athenians. Many accessories of the stage were borrowed, it was true, but the Attic tragic muse repaid the loan to the world with usury. The Temple of Bacchus was then noticed as being the first established theatre of the Attic drama. Comedy came later than tragedy upon
the Attic stage, but Sicily bore the palm for its invention, Epicharmus, a contemporary of Æschylus, being the first writer of regular comedy. In this department of the theatre Aristophanes stood alone, and his writings could only have been fulminated in the widest atmosphere of freedom.

The lecturer was of opinion that Euripides had more of the modern conception of subjects of tragic interest than Æschylus or Sophocles, deducing the pathetic and terrible more from the direct agency of the human passions. The Greeks employed more of the resources of art to affect the imagination in the drama than is done in modern times. Ideal and general impressions of grace and grandeur were effects studied by the Greeks, yet their characters were remarkably intelligible. Athenian tragedy was more a feast to the imagination than a mirror to nature. The choral parts fatigue the moderns. The plot, though simpler than the modern, had terrific situations and terrible bursts of passion. The theatre was not an every-day entertainment, but was only opened at festivals. The plays lasted the entire day, every three tragedies being followed by a farce, until the judges awarded the prize to the successful candidate. Not merely literary men by profession, but public officers,
and commanders of armies, were among the writers of Athenian plays. Of these there were two hundred and fifty of the first class; five hundred of the second; and a corresponding number of comedies.

The lecturer then proceeded to notice the site and form of the Dionysiac theatre of Athens, which Plato stated would contain thirty thousand spectators. He described the various parts of the building elaborately, and concluded his description by stating that every device known to the modern stage was practised by the Greeks. Returning again to Æschylus, the proper founder of Greek tragedy in the eighth, which the lecturer misdenominated the tenth lecture, he continued by noticing his birth, 525 years before Christ, and his parentage, but stated that nearly all known about him was obscure and perplexing. His decease at Gala, in Sicily, was certainly known. The crowning of the tragic poets was alluded to, and the drama in general described as highly national and mythological. The subjects generally chosen were described, and the repetition of new dramas upon the same subject. Æschylus was supposed to have composed his pieces in trilogies, quoting, in support of what he advanced, several eminent continental authorities. Æschylus merged the pathetic in the terrible. Only seven of his hun-
dred dramas are extant. The “
Prometheus Chained” was extolled by the lecturer, and examined in detail at some length. The least interesting of the great Greek poet’s dramas were, in the lecturer’s view, the “Suppliants,” and the “Persians.” The tragedy of “Agamemnon,” too, was cited by the lecturer, and its leading features described.

The character of Sophocles, as a poet, was the subject of the ninth lecture, after mention of the scanty information respecting him which has reached modern times, and which does not supply materials for the most meagre biography. It was ascertained that he was born B.C. 498, and at eight-and-twenty gained his first victory in the theatre—that at sixteen he was remarkable for his personal beauty, and led the band that danced around the trophy erected for the victory at Salamis. In a contest for the tragic crown with Æschylus, the prize was decreed to Sophocles. He became a general in the Athenian army; the principal incidents in his life were adverted to; many of his best tragedies were written after sixty years of age. The lecturer then entered upon the merits of his different works, and the difficulty of giving any idea of them in a translation. “Ajax,” “Philoctetes,” the “Electra”, “Œdipus at Coloneus,” and “Antigone,” were
successively examined, and at considerable length; thus the ninth lecture concluded.

Euripides was the subject of Campbell’s tenth and last lecture. Here a singular instance of the lecturer’s absence of mind or inattention, occurs, in the fact that he proceeded to the conclusion of what he called his “twelfth lecture,” in the manuscript, without observing that he had delivered only ten. He talked of commencing his thirteenth with the poetry of Rome. It was observed to him that he claimed credit for more lectures than he should do, having skipped two numbers, and gone from the seventh to the ninth. He had, in fact, given the number of nine to his seventh, and made the last half of the ninth so given the last half of the seventh. He had never thought of looking back to the preceding numbers, and thus omitted numbers eight and nine altogether, thinking he had completed twelve when he had only finished ten—this was characteristic. He began it by a brief account of Euripides and his birth on the day of the victory of Salamis, but went into a variety of other matters connected with the drama, and with Athens itself. Little about this great poet was known, but it was certain that he applied himself early to painting, and studied rhetoric. The opinions of the lecturer’s friends, the two celebrated Schlegels,
were quoted respecting the Greek dramatist. Euripides delineated life, not in the lofty ideal mode of
Sophocles, but according to individual nature, its faults and fashions. The disquisition of the lecturer on the merits of Euripides was every way worthy of his acquaintance with the Greek muse and his critical acumen. Between Euripides and Sophocles the line of distinction was drawn with the hand of a master. He observed with great truth, that the difference between Euripides and his predecessors in tragedy, if they may be so called, was, that his genius triumphed more in partial than in collective effect, the Iphigenia in Aulis being a bright exception to this judgment. In the whole drama, in the entirety of the piece, he was not so perfect, but in insulated scenes he was greatly superior. He was considered the most tragic of poets in the sense of pathos. By dealing with human passions, and his mastership of the pathetic, he retains still an interest on the stage, while the other dramatic writers of his country cannot be reproduced with any effect. Campbell was of opinion that he left the drama of Greece less perfect than he found it, though dramatic poetry must still be deemed his debtor.

With great research, much beautiful discrimination of subject, and charming touches of well-
defined criticism and description, the lecturer had every now and then wandered from the immediate subject as if it were forgotten. Proceeding with the Greek lyrics in a manner to instruct, and at the same time to delight the hearer, to the close of his sixth, and promising to detail more about them in a future lecture, he dropped, under this promise, all future consideration of them.

The further consideration of the lyrics postponed, he had thus gone on to the Greek drama. This he began by an apology for his redundancy, on account of his desire to be perspicuous. All at once, in giving the heads of Greek history to illustrate the poetry of the Grecian stage, he went off into a dissertation upon the opinions of Mitford upon Sparta, opinions which carried their own refutation in themselves, and consumed a large part of the seventh lecture in anything but the professed subject of that lecture. Numerous inaccuracies in trifles, which Campbell suffered to escape him, would be unaccountable but for the singular abstraction which led him to pass over things it would appear to others impossible not to detect. He was not backward in reference where he had doubts on points of moment; indeed, he was too fond of referring to opinions in cases where his own was preferable. Had he doubted about a fact, it would have been well. He did not doubt,
but his mind ran off at the instant to some other topic, when it ought to have been at the point of his pen, and then he neglected petty facts in following up new objects.

He thus considered the dramatic poetry of Greece, and broke off suddenly with Euripides. This was to be deplored, because a good part of what he gave was a charming addition to our stock of knowledge relative to Greece, in a very condensed form, the fruit of much research. The enthusiasm of Campbell on behalf of the Athenians made him throw his whole heart into his theme; and, accordingly, it was seen with what vigorous eloquence he set out on his task, and proceeded to a certain point in the same delightful manner. Next, at the termination of the sixth lecture, how a change ensued, which afforded a picture of the poet’s mental constitution. Everything he flew at was with a vigorous effort; sometimes he soared with the eagle in the glowing intensity of the noonday beam; but he soon began to slacken in his flight, and the pinions, just before so vigorous, became fatigued, and scarcely able to sustain him on the wing. His larger design, as to carrying out the lectures after the specimens, to which allusion will be made presently, fell to the ground. He never proceeded far with them, never even to complete the English poets, much
less those of modern nations. This was his way—ardent in planning schemes too extensive for execution, through want of vigour and perseverance to carry them out. They were thus what the Germans would call “dream-songs.”

The prose of the lectures delivered by Campbell was characteristic. He elaborated and finished sentence after sentence with great care, and thus, perhaps, in some degree deprived his language of that ease which would have added to its attraction. It is not disjointed as the prose composition of some fastidious writers is often found to be under similar circumstances, but is as neat and even elegant as might be expected from one so careful as he was in his metrical composition.

He was not without censurers. “Coleridge has been lecturing against Campbell,” said Byron, in 1811; “Rogers was present, and from him I derive the information. We are going to make a party to hear this Manichean of poesy.”

Again: “Coleridge has attacked the ‘Pleasures of Hope,’ and all other pleasures whatsoever. Mr. Rogers was present, and heard himself indirectly rowed by the lecturer. We are going in a party to hear the new Art of Poetry by this reformed schismatic; and were I one of these poetical luminaries, or of sufficient consequence to be noticed by the man of lectures, I should not
hear him without an answer. For you know ‘an’ a man will be beaten with brains he shall never keep a clean doublet.’
Campbell will be desperately annoyed. I never saw a man (and of him I have seen very little) so sensitive. What a happy temperament! I am sorry for it. What has he to fear from criticism!”

With the “Pleasures of Hope” the existing school of poetry claims little affinity. To polish and refine the verses which inspiration, real or fancied, produces, is out of fashion. Like the cheap goods of modern manufacturers, not made to last, but sell, quantity and celerity of production find most favour in the “discerning” public. It seems audacious to advocate, even in a measured degree, the mistakes of certain ancients, committed for some thousands of years, and by our better writers in later times, before it was discovered by the “Lake Poets” that the productions of the muse need no painstaking in language or imagery, and that to follow the customary course of things in all other arts is in poetry stark heresy, the “ideal” being designated in spontaneous language must follow nature. No matter if writers in this mode break their own laws, it is only a species of lapsus, when it incidentally occurs. The true poetic vein is the language taken from the mouths of men under the
influence of natural feeling, let it be as low as it may, says the great apostle of the new school, while continually breaking his own irrevocable law in practice. To this modern school, poetical diction, brilliant imagery, terse phrase, and lines breathing of beauty in the execution, are no ways tolerable. The overburdened ass cannot alone be pitied, it must be hailed as “brother” by one, and be made the hero of his tale by another. Fit audience, though few will alone be found to admire a poem like the “Pleasures of Hope.” Grace and beauty, fancy and feeling, may be blended in its composition, the language may be somewhat above that of every-day life, yet on this ground it was condemned and lectured against by a host of critics; of whom, for one who understands the mere rudiments of his business, there are at least a dozen good authors. Who does not feel that all this censure is vain? The law of the past will be emergent above the wave of time, together with what it justifies. The most finished productions will have the longest duration, the mists of error dispersing before the sun-burst of a purer taste with the many works to come. Like a piece of harmonious music which has won some great Apollonian wreath for the owner, that carries in its foliage perfume and colours rich with genius, this poem bears along sense with sound, while the
antitheses stamp the sentiment indelibly upon the memory, under impressions calculated to exalt eminently the pride of the lyre. The defect of the poem, according to some, is an oversweetness which cloys in poetry as in condiment. If it be really too sweet for some palates, let it be taken like virgin honey, a portion at a time, and let them be the more happy in protracting their enjoyment.

Thus the muse of Campbell belonged to that order in genius which is unable to sustain long its intensity of action. As with the execution of his two longer poems, the “Pleasures of Hope,” “Gertrude of Wyoming,” and three or four of his noble odes, in regard to quantity and excellence, so it was with the duration of his power in working out the best things he was able to execute. His productions before the “Pleasures of Hope” were published, were not of much more moment than those published after that poem, his Odes, and “Gertrude of Wyoming,” of course taking into account his additional experience. The poetical works, therefore, upon which his well-earned fame reposes were published between 1799 and 1809, or in about ten years of a life extended to sixty-seven. It is evident that his poetical power decreased before middle life. The circumstances which attend upon the early or
later development of genius are singular.
Milton began at eighteen, and continued to sixty-four; Waller from eighteen to eighty, with no perceptible diminution of ability; Dryden from twenty-six to seventy; Pope from twelve to forty; Cowley from ten to forty-nine; “Campbell,” says Scott, “broke out at once, like the Irish rebels, a hundred thousand strong;” he might have added that, like theirs, his progressive power slackened in proportion to the ardour of the onset.

On the Odes of Campbell, panegyric has been exhausted. “Gertrude” is a gem of serene beauty, while it is no cunningly-devised tale, possesses little action, but it has imagery so exquisite, an adaptation of language so happy, and such a union of tenderness and elegance, on the mixed model of the classical and romantic school, that it is not easy to find the counterpart in all the extensive circle of our island poetry. The poet’s fame had gone all over the land, and, as far as that was concerned, he might have reposed upon his laurels in early life, but for the necessity, the res angusta domi.

Regarding the poetry of Campbell, an eminent writer remarked, “Like Gray, Campbell smells too much of the oil; he is never satisfied with what he does; his finest things have been spoiled
by over-polish—the sharpness of the outline is worn off. Like paintings, poems may be too highly finished. The great art is effect, no matter how produced.”
Scott declared he was a bugbear to himself, from his poetical timidity. This was hardly correct. Inertness and timidity are different things.

Byron’s description of Campbell, in 1813, taken generally, is correct regarding the poet to about 1834, hardly later than the last year. “Campbell looks well—seems pleased, and dressed sprucely. A blue coat becomes him—so does his new wig. He really looked as if Apollo had sent him a birthday suit or a wedding garment, and was witty and lively.” Byron also alluded (in 1813) to Campbell’s “Lines on a Scene in Bavaria,” as being then in print, but not published; he styles them “perfectly magnificent, and equal to himself.”

Mrs. Grant, in one of her letters about the same date as that in which Campbell gave his lectures, says:—

“What has most interested me of late has been a visit from Campbell, the sweet bard of ‘Hope;’ you must know his enchanting ‘Gertrude,’ his ‘Exile of Erin,’ and other unequalled lyrics. I wish I could share with you the satisfaction I felt on seeing him cheerful, happy, and univer-
sally welcomed and caressed in his dear ‘
Queen of the North,’ from which he had been so long banished, by the necessity of seeking the bread that perisheth, elsewhere. He is one who has suffered much from neither understanding the world, nor being understood by it. He encountered every evil of poverty but that of being ashamed of his circumstances; in this respect he was nobly indifferent to opinion; and his good, gentle, patient little wife was so frugal, so simple, and so sweet-tempered, that she might have disarmed poverty of half its evils.”

Poverty is, after all, comparative, for at this time Campbell had his pension of about two hundred a-year. This was little enough, but it was a foundation upon which whatever the poet gained by his pen might be placed. Mrs. Grant probably alluded to some particular circumstance now forgotten. That any pressure of a pecuniary nature could have been more than temporary is scarcely probable, because at the peace of 1814 he went to France on a pleasure excursion, as I learned was the case the following year, just after the battle of Waterloo, when sojourning in Rouen for a few months, I found the poet had been there and had been honoured, by being enrolled a member of a literary society in that city; he was afterwards in Paris. That he lived with great frugality during
Mrs. Campbell’s lifetime, is perfectly true, nor could any praise be too high for her conduct in domestic life, and her good management, proved by the change after her decease. Had there been any necessity for the most rigid economy, she well knew how to exercise with grace, that excellent system which can disguise narrowness of circumstances under scarcely any alteration in exterior appearance; a conduct not shown, save where magnanimity lifts the mind above the vulgarity of thinking and feeling which marks the insanity of fashion.