LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 10

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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Remarks on Shakspeare’s Sonnets.—Observations on the French poets.—The poet abandons his editorship.—Conduct on his retirement.—Defence of the classics.—Personal appearance.—List of his contributions.—Character of reviews.—The poet’s critique on Byron’s “Werner.”—Polish Society.

BARRON FIELD, had written some remarks upon the sonnets of Shakspeare. Campbell could not agree with him in his views of these much-debated productions and set about controverting them. Sometimes he would suffer opinions at war with his own to be promulgated out of pure indolence, at others he would kindle, take up his pen, get one third through a reply, or criticism, and then fling away all he had begun. In the present instance he completed his article and published it, but he did not publish the article on account of which he wrote, and therefore the public had at the time no means of estimating
the justice of his observations. The charge made was, that Field imagined he had discovered in
Shakspeare’s Sonnets a clue to the whole history of the life of the poet. The mistake, Campbell argued, was not new, but originated with one of the most acute and brilliant spirits of the age, Augustus William Schlegel, in his dramatic lectures. He there declared that these sonnets paint most unequivocally the actual situation and sentiments of the poet. This opinion Campbell controverted. He made the remarks upon the sonnets by Field a mere peg upon which to hang up and tear to pieces the hypothesis of Schlegel. He proceeded to examine the sonnets that bore more immediately upon the private life of the poet, and the notions of Dr. Drake and others regarding them. He pointed out, with some acuteness, the inconsistencies of this commentator and the supporters of that opinion. Upon the question of the sonnets, at the moment when Shakspeare was occupying the attention of clubs and societies, that rather seek for autographs and hunt for material relics, than search out through the labyrinthian windings of his wonderful poetry, their involutions of beauty, or place the glow of “colours dipt in heaven,” in new and gorgeous lights, in order to show more of Nature’s truths in connection with such a state of things, it may not be irrelevant to quote some of Campbell’s own words.


“I have said that the addition which these sonnets afford to our knowledge of Shakspeare, is insignificant as an index to his biography, and I shall not feel the assertion falsified, though I should see persons of more ingenuity than I can pretend to, eliciting many brilliant conjectures from their contents. I can only say that I have outlived all taste for conjectural biographies, and that the truths brought to view by these effusions seem to me to be neither numerous nor momentous. We learn from them that Shakspeare had a friend to whom he was devotedly attached (the nature of his language to that friend I shall by and by consider), and a poetical mistress, who, not satisfied with inroads on the poet’s heart, carried her conquests even to that of his friend, and made Shakspeare sonnetise on his jealousy of too much tenderness subsisting between them. It appears, however, that he never broke with his friend on this account, so that his love-passion must have been a humbler sort of lodger in his heart, that could put up without either the whole or the best of its apartments. Other casual moods of his mind are expressed with an air of sincerity, which I deny not to be interesting as insulated records of his feelings, though I still refuse them the character of new or indicative importance to his history. He speaks to his friend, in certain passages, with extreme modesty as to his own poeti-
cal merit, and alludes with an admiration which is beautifully unenvious, to some other poet of the time, who had won the favour of his friend. He writes on one or two occasions in apparent dejection, under the frowns of fortune, and in one sonnet distinctly laments being obliged to live by the vocation of a player. If there be any other interesting allusions in these sonnets to his personal circumstances, it is from want of memory that I have unintentionally omitted them.”

Campbell’s judgment on this question in his better days, must not be confounded with his work on Shakspeare, at a later period. The above much-debated question can have nothing further nor better said of it than is said in these observations, by one who was a poet himself, and therefore a judge of a poet’s feelings and objects.

As might be conjectured from the character of his poem of “Gertrude,” and his natural bearing in regard to the master passion, Campbell was distinguished more for the tender than the ardent. There was no ardour in his delineations of love, all was gentle and subdued. He once asked me which of the French poets I preferred. I replied Corneille, but that I was not fond of French poetry. Racine, he observed was his favourite, and there were some passages in his tragedies which were of unequalled tenderness and yet perfectly natural. I did not dispute that
fact, but I preferred a writer who was a little more uneven, and the French too perhaps on that account, preferred Corneille. One got tired of tranquil beauty—cloyed as with luscious food which lacked seasoning or piquancy.

“I know that is the case with people in general,” replied the poet, “but Racine is so sweet while not wanting in strength that I give him the preference.”

I observed that I had an advantage over him in one respect, I had seen Talma in Orestes and Duchenois acting together in his pieces. I had seen the latter in Hermione. Still there was a want of power in the language and sentiment. They did not affect me, as the works of some other dramatic writers did.

He observed that the tenderness of Racine was unequalled even in Shakspeare. He supposed that I objected to the lack of excitement and want of strength which were abundantly compensated in his view by the perfection of that in which other writers were deficient, and in which Corneille, who in some respects soared higher, could not equal his rival. In his view there was something peculiarly graceful in the drama of Racine. Did I object to his regularity and adherence to the rules of the classic drama as understood in France?

I replied not at all—that I could not set myself
up as a judge, and spoke only of the impression
Racine produced on my own mind regardless of dramatic law in the French sense so strictly regulated, or of Shakspeare so out of all stop-watch criticism.”

“I do not speak critically—Racine and even Metastasio are most grateful to my feelings.”

“But is not the last tame?”

“I do not know how it is,” replied the poet, “but I prefer the calm beauties which I find in such writers beyond those which are more exciting.”

“I should not have thought that from the writer of ‘Hohenlinden.’“

“That was a sudden thing, brief, thrown off as it were by accident when the spirit moved—a moment of intoxication felt by us all at times.”

“Now I can comprehend your preference for Racine,” I observed, “when such verses as ‘Hohenlinden’ are the exception.”

It was singular that Campbell should have shown such a preference for the French poets, while I never heard him exalt in any way the poets of Germany. At the same time he would plunge over head and ears into Teutonic metaphysics. This was, perhaps, owing to his early study of the Scotch metaphysicians, who are an incubus on a poet, and restrain his flight from the earth. An educated Scotchman is rarely light and easy in what he does.


Of Göthe, Lessing or Schiller, I never heard a word, but of Kant more than enough. The Scotch in such studies, especially those educated in the universities, are, like their preachers, for ever ready to divide a speech or a sermon into a couple of dozen heads and to subdivide each into as many more. Their men of genius too exhibit symptoms of a kind of oxidation which dims the polish of the poetic product, and stiffens that which should be lithe. Those who have read some of Campbell’s prose will discover what is meant, and readily credit that the source of its derivation is not from the inspiration of the muse, but from the mode in which Calvinistic syllogisms have been inculcated from the days of John Knox to the late preacher Irving. Campbell bore the taint in common with his countrymen, only much ameliorated by circumstances and the poetic spirit. It has the evil of shutting up the muse’s wings—or sewing them up as housewives sew up those of some kinds of poultry, so that their flight shall be hampered. Here Burns had an advantage over many of his countrymen, in that he never chopped their favourite logic, in a native university, but stood alone, his muse a chartered libertine.

During the year 1829, and beginning of 1830, the New Monthly had sustained the loss of many of its earlier and more valuable contributors. Some who had greatly aided in raising
the work to its high eminence had been taken away by death. It was striking to see how considerable was the number of names that had disappeared in this way. Others had ceased to aid the publication, in consequence of the temptation held out by pecuniary offers made to them as novel writers. This was a more lucrative employment in those days, and one much more facile of execution. A magazine requires a continual change of subject, and consequently a large and various stock of information to qualify an habitual contributor. The articles must be concise in order to occupy as small a space as possible, and this to such a degree that there is frequently not sufficient development for many important subjects that therefore must be excluded. The novel admits of the diffuse treatment of a single prime incident, out of which collateral events flow naturally. Every writer knows the difference between following up one imaginary subject through a single or through successive volumes, continually aided by the association of ideas, and on the other hand, having to write in a narrow compass, upon a hundred topics, each wholly different. Nothing is so easy as to write, and nothing is so difficult as to write to the purpose, whatever common place people may think of the matter.

It was not less singular than true, that while several of the old writers made good novelists,
such novel writers as became contributors to the publication, with the exception of
Theodore Hook, whose versatility of talent was unequalled, although in learned acquirements he never soared high, did not equal those who had aided in conferring its early reputation upon the work. The publisher, whose prejudices were not unnaturally in favour of a monetary conclusion, based upon the specious aspect of the case, thought differently. About this time the publication was inundated with articles of a class that ran out their tether and left no impress on the reader’s mind either of novelty or information. A sickly taste for excitement began to be cherished by the “trade,” which has latently or openly influenced to a ruinous extent the national literature. It did not foresee the inevitable re-action when the game could no longer be played. This change, intermingled with diffuseness and want of that solid interest which to be lasting, must be of sterling value, caused the work to assume in some degree an altered character. To this must be added the practice then introduced, still more injurious, of making a double profit of works purchased in manuscript for circulating library people, after being published wholly or partially in periodicals. It was penny wise and pound foolish.

Hazlitt, one of the best writers in periodicals of the day, died this year. If a love of the better
literature of the country should revive in England, Hazlitt will be more highly estimated than he has yet been, and more liberally judged.

Campbell, whose inertness made him incapable of acting with vigour under any circumstances, as usual still left things to take their course. True he observed, authors of high success in one department of literature are not often so in another. Of which truth he might himself have been quoted as an example. The consequence was that the stream flowed as it listed. Papers written by what may be styled “trade” writers were continually inserted in consequence, and in 1830 the practice was carried to a considerable extent. These papers were generally anonymous, and had therefore to rest upon innate merit for their effect with the public. The result was, that they made no way. Had the authors’ names been affixed, the public would perhaps have thought them excellent, and the author’s name not the quality of the writing, might have decided their merit. There were writers of considerable popularity whose contributions were inserted that were as meritorious as any they had produced. This was not their fault. A literary reputation had been too frequently made for those who would never have possessed one otherwise, by means of newspaper paragraphs; and good and bad being confounded, the public never ceased to judge thus
artificially, the abstract question of merit being a matter either too troublesome for the application, of its judgment, or out of the sphere of its ability.

When interest in the conduct of a work flags, and there is a feeling that the customary time and labour are hopelessly bestowed upon it under the consciousness of a wrong system, it generates a feeling of indifference in the management. The poet had long shown this state of mind, for with him it had been the natural course of things after the novelty of the excitement had subsided, even within the first year of the editorship. Under circumstances similar to these, the work proceeded through the best part of 1830, or until the October number, when the present narrator’s connection with it ceased, and in December Campbell resigned his ten years’ editorship.*

* Campbell had gone on with little or none of the troubles of the publication for nearly ten years. All at once he had it flung upon his own shoulders, and an incident occurred which I have given elsewhere. The poet is said to have stated his resignation to have taken place because “it was impossible to continue editor without interminable scrapes and a law-suit now and then.” It was strange then that he could be editor for nearly ten years without any scrapes or law-suits? The truth was, I should not have let the poet’s attack on Sheldrake appear, for he had only told the truth about Glennie. I should have reasoned with him upon its violence, and he would have withdrawn it. Singular enough there were two Sheldrakes, and


“I could not go on comfortably as we did formerly,” said the poet, when he had quitted.

Glennie had blundered, mistaking one for the other. “When I returned to the publisher the articles in my hand, on quitting my post, I think for the October number, there was one for which Colburn had pressed me, being “about Lord Byron.” I called on Campbell with it in my pocket, for Byron was a subject I did not like to pass myself. It was the last time, and I gave up the paper to the publisher with other MSS:—

“‘Going to see Campbell I had put it in my pocket. The article had nothing objectionable except that it reflected in some degree on a Dr. Glennie, a Dulwich schoolmaster, whom Campbell happened to know, but in his careless way not recalling the acquaintanceship, paid no attention to the fact. When the article appeared, this Glennie wrote to Campbell, and as the poet thundered against Hazlitt, without reflection in Northcote’s affair, so he attacked Sheldrake. The latter threatened an action for libel. Campbell then inserted a species of apology, making the matter a ‘mistake.’ I did not see the apology till some time afterwards. I thought I had had quite enough of the work. ‘Moore’s Life of Byron,’ p. 44, Vol. i. chancing to cross me, I found Sheldrake had stated nothing but the truth and that Glennie had really committed the error of taking one man for another.’—Redding’s Recollections,” Vol. ii. When Campbell found himself in a scrape he made any excuse to get out of it. It would have taken a new actor in the editorial drama a good while to know the poet’s way without the fate of Dubois. Nothing would have induced me to go back, and Campbell, when he resigned, would not return without me. He wrote me that when Colburn and Co. sent and offered him terms to return, ‘I refused the Editorship principally because I could not have you for my coadjutor.’”—Private Letter.


“And as to the state finances?”

“Devil take the finances. It is something to be free, if a man has but a shirt and carpet-bag. Don’t damp our jubilee?”

In this way the poet joked, and I believe felt, in giving up his editorship, almost without labour, and 500l. a year, as if he had really flung off a burthen equal to the Old Man of the Mountain. We dined together the same day, and he inquired what was to be done now we were both out of Mr. Colburn’s Paradise. He was never in better spirits than he was that day over his wine. Did I not think he could travel about with an electrical machine, and turn lecturer to Lord Brougham’s mechanical corps? I replied how will you tramp with the machine on your back—you can neither ride nor drive.

“True,” said the poet, “I must learn how to manage the instrument.”

“You have thrown philosophy in my teeth of old,” I observed, “and now it must stand you in some stead—you had better take a magic lantern.”

“I never thought of that,” he replied, “there would be less call upon the mind that way, and in consequence, in the way of the world, much more profit. Then we could have our old friends painted on the glasses, and in spite of Colburn, we might ‘publish them.’ This, ladies and gen-
tlemen, is the head of
Horace Smith, who wrote the addresses of all the poets, and this is friend C——, who could never write his own address in a plain hand, much less the addresses of other people.”

Goldsmith travelled with his flute.”

“Yes, but the magic lantern would be a more complex thing, and people would have a higher opinion of an optical illusion. The black art always had a majority of admirers.”

“Yes, I see the Sieur Campbell posted in large letters at the corners of the streets, a new Katerfelto conjuring for his bread.”

“Then,” he said, “I could make ballads but not set them nor sing them—that I cannot do like Moore.” When the man of the world would have been thinking of profit and loss, and have merged his hilarity in sulkiness about future gains to the same amount, the poet was as lively as a child let out of school. It is true, for a poet he was still independent, but he thought only of the present, and of his imaginary, rather than his real, emancipation. He talked of a visit to the Continent and of numerous literary projects he had conceived, which never had an existence out of the “ideal” of that moment. Then wandering from this to other topics he almost got out of humour, because I said, after all, the classical authors bequeathed by
antiquity had contributed little or nothing to the existing spirit of freedom; for, until the shackles of priestcraft were broken, civil liberty made no progress, and that in this country, at least, the vices, or properly the crimes, of
Henry VIII. had aided the reformers, and effected as much as they had done themselves in bringing it about. That for fifteen hundred years the priests and people had possessed the classic authors, at least, such of the people as could understand them, and no sensible effect had been produced. The ground upon which the poet argued on the reverse side is forgotten, but the impression is, that he referred almost wholly to Greece and her history, “elevating and heroic as it was,” to show the error, though I did not question the institutions of Greece being great and free, but their effect on the intervening ages from the decadence of Rome to recent times. He asked whether the classics had produced no effect in Italy during the middle ages, whether their action was not seen in the works of the Italian writers. He was surprised at my having so unfounded, so absurd a notion. I observed that works, such as those of Petrarch and Dante, showed no more than the reflection of their own enlarged minds, indignant at corruption, and that the Italians did not seem to have learned anything from them conducive to civil liberty in our sense of the term. With all great
minds, these Italian, men of genius were indignant at tyranny. It could not be perceived how the classics produced an effect here, separate from natural causes and events under their own eyes.

“You will not be convinced of anything,” said the poet;” “your philosophy is stoical. You are incredulous. You have no value for the noblest specimens of human character the world has produced. You have your own hard notions about all.”

“Pardon me. There was no assault made upon the glorious characters of antiquity. Let us keep to the point, whether the works of the classic authors left to us contributed anything of moment to the public liberty of modern times.”

“Here the poet, as was his custom, no longer argued, but asserted that the classics had greatly contributed to spread civil freedom; that it could not be otherwise, because they advocated it—that I loved paradox, and had not reflected enough upon the subject.”

“My dear fellow,”said he, “the classic writers left to us devoured their foster-fathers, the monks, those fat rascals to whom we are indebted for them, they destroyed the monkery that preserved them, and that was doing much for freedom.”

“I thought common-sense and Martin Luther did more.”

“Poh!” said he, “it was here monk against
monk, and the monk
Luther had the liberal side,—he was the ‘radical’ of his day. Don’t promulgate your notions about the classics, it is blasphemy.” The poet was now in his fifty-second year, and was still like what Byron described him ten years before, as already quoted. Every article of dress was neatly adjusted upon his compact, well-made figure, which, though under the middle size, was not so much so as to impress the beholder with diminutiveness. His wig, fabricated to simulate the natural hair, most exactly fitted a head which had been bald from early youth. His features were good, and stamped with a certain acuteness; his lips thin, and perturbed upon any mental emotion; his eyes grey, and finely expressive of the genius he possessed, often speaking the language of his mind, particularly in the social circle, when he felt perfectly at home; his manner varied, on common occasions it was easy and agreeable, sometimes silent and pensive, but in general lively. He was at certain times fond of vivacious conversation among friends; still, with much latent pride, and considerable self-respect, a trifle intervening, some trivial , would throw him back upon himself in a moment, and then he would drop into reserve and silence in conversation, before strangers, and many, indeed, of his friends, when he could rarely be drawn into giving an opinion upon anything.


Galt had just got into some difference with Sir J. C. Hobhouse in regard to Lord Byron, where he was in the wrong. In the course of the discussion, Campbell strangely chose to append to a letter from Galt the excuse, such as it was, for the appearance of what was after all true, in the paper, regarding Dr. Glennie. The poet had a prejudice against Galt. Some articles written by the latter needing explanation, Galt came to the present writer, in Berners Street, rather than call upon his countryman. Galt had made current, wholly without foundation, that Campbell had first published “The Pleasures of Hope” by subscription, and had re-asserted it.*

Sir J. C. Hobhouse’s accusation was a similar instance of Galt’s misrepresentation, respecting himself and Byron. I did not much like Galt, and as I left the publication while the dispute was going on, and our interviews were strictly confined to business, so they quietly terminated.

This, or the preceding year, Campbell lost his sister, Elizabeth, in Edinburgh.

In the September number of the last year of his editorship, the poet wrote a review of Hughs’Travels in Greece and Albania.” Here he got upon his old and favourite theme. On reading it, the supposition of its being the production of the author of the letter to Moore about Byron, or

* See ante, Vol. i. p. 31.

even of the
review of Flaxman’sLectures,” would hardly be indulged. Here there was no controversy, no censure of others, which, when the poet attempted, was certain to lead him into a style dissimilar from his own, as already remarked. Here he expatiated upon a favourite subject, assisted by the light thrown upon his own knowledge through the observations of the traveller. When he had written in former times a paper or two for the “Edinburgh Review,” Jeffrey used to complain of his laziness, as he well might have done. What those papers were cannot now be known. They were, probably, on subjects analogous to the present, upon which he was at home. The relations of the traveller enabled him to picture in his imagination, if not more correctly, perhaps more vividly, the scenes on which he delighted to dwell. He alluded to the temples of Agrigentum with evident predilection; he lingered over the ruins of Syracuse with melancholy retrospections, passed briefly over the republic of the Seven Islands, and entered the Peloponnesus, full of the remembrance of his youthful studies, and pleased to recur again to the sites of ancient cities, the crumbling wrecks of Doric temples, and the ruins of Cyclopean architecture. This was the most elaborate review that Campbell wrote during the whole period of his editorship, and he extended it through two num-
bers, feeling, perhaps, there was a necessity for his amplitude, and that what has already been remarked about the state of the publication as to its contributions, seemed to call for something from his hands more in quantity than he had been in the habit of presenting in its pages.

In the December of the same year he wrote his last contribution. It was entitled “Thoughts and Facts respecting the Civilization of Africa.” His muse had been silent, as if anticipating the change. The colonization of Africa was a favourite subject with him. He adverted in it to Algiers, which he had at the moment little idea of visiting four years afterwards, and perhaps it led the way to his desire for seeing that country. He took his text from a publication of Jules Planat, upon the regeneration of Egypt. In this paper he somewhat overvalued the influence of the French with Mohammed Ali, miscalculating their policy, which had shown itself adverse to the conciliation of the inhabitants whenever they attempted settlements. But Campbell was the sanguine friend of freedom in all he put forth, and if his zeal were too lively at times, it was never misdirected. His heart always beat with the generous and the just. He never compromised with right policy, and even the excesses of an honest spirit are outpourings hallowed by the good.

It may be well to enumerate the contributions
of the poet to the work of which he undertook the editorship. It must be added that all the old contributors, as
Talford, the Smiths, and others, quitted the work at the same time. Some of the poet’s contributions were no more than twelve or fourteen lines in length. In 1821, “Lectures I. and II. on Poetry,” “Lines on the Rainbow”, “The Lover to his Mistress on her Birthday,” “The Maid’s Remonstrance,” “Absence,” “The Friars of Dijon,” “The Brave Roland,” translation of the “Song of Hybrias.” In 1822, “The Devil and the Nuns,” “Lectures on Poetry,” “The Spectre-boat,” two short Songs, “Reflections on Plum Pudding.” 1823. “The Last Man,” “Stanzas to the Memory of the Spanish Patriots,” “Lines on Admiral Campbell,” “Spanish Patriots’ Song.” 1824. “Reullura,” “The Ritter Bann,” “A Dream.” 1825. “Suggestions respecting a London University,” stanzas, “Hallowed Ground,” “Lectures on Poetry,” “Remarks on the London University.” 1826. “Lecture on Poetry,” “Field Flowers.” 1827. “Lecture on Poetry.” 1828. “Letters to the Glasgow Students,” “Lines on the Battle of Navarino,” “Lines to E. L. Bulwer,” “Heligoland Deathboat.” 1829. “Lines on the Departure of the Emigrants for New South Wales,” “Remarks on the Sonnets of Shakspeare,” “Song,” “Lines to Julia M——,” with a copy of his Poems. 1830. “Review of Hugh’s Travels,” On the Civilization of Africa,”
Remarks on Flaxman,” “On Moore’s Life of Byron, and Defence of Lady Byron.” These, and a few small print critiques—when a friend sent him a book, together with a review of Milton’s work, discovered in the State Paper Office, and one of Las Casas’ Memoirs—comprise the whole of the editor’s contributions of moment, for ten years, save a short letter to Brandt, the son of the Indian chief, noticed in “Gertrude of Wyoming.”

The poet having refused to return to the work he had edited, his refusal roused the ire of the proprietor, who exhibited his spleen in language by no means becoming. Campbell, though grossly ill-treated, did not seem to resent it as he would have done in his better days; or perhaps the reflection that he was under some pecuniary obligations still to Colburn and Co. restrained him. I quote the “Athenæum,” which made some just and impartial remarks upon the subject. The offensive matter was on a commentary upon the poet’s successor. “Has he yet to learn that every literary man is a gentleman, until he has done something to forfeit the name, and the rank and respect which attach to it? That something, indeed, is a fine and subtle thing—subtle and fine according to the delicacy of men’s minds. For ourselves, we should have feared to accept the editorship of the New Monthly, after the ’few words with the public’ on the retirement of Mr.
Campbell; when the proprietor in a familiar mood gossipped on the subject, observing, ‘Whether we take a new bookbinder or porter on our establishment, or reject one for returning, too redolent of Meux or Barclay, is, we apprehend, a matter of infinitely small importance. Should we ship off a lazy official, or other person paid for doing nothing, we take it for granted that no comet with a fiery tail could set fire to our establishment.’” What a trading, huxtering, mercenary, insolent, sordid specimen of money-grubbing sensibility towards an eminent man of genius!

Most of his short criticisms, given to me by himself, and noticed in the double-column pages, were hurriedly and loosely executed, so that his own neat hand was scarcely to be recognised in them. His manuscript was good or bad, according to the humour of the moment. When he lost a particular friend, he would now and then give out a few lines of his own regarding him, to be introduced into the obituary. This did not occur half-a-dozen times. He did not take the least interest in the articles inserted in the small print relative to distinguished characters of the hour who had become deceased. It is doubtful if he ever read them, unless his attention was directed to them, his natural indolence getting the better of his curiosity.

There was one excellence in the New Monthly
which had it been observed in all publications of the same kind, and even in newspapers would be highly advantageous to readers in general, in the way of forming a correct judgment of the contents of books. The reviews and notices which were of moment were placed in the hands of individuals acquainted with the subjects treated upon. The ignorance displayed in criticism on technical books and those works of the nature of which it is necessary for the reviewer to have some information has become so palpable, that criticisms now really so called are only “notices,” the last name being substituted, it is presumed, to evade the charge of ignorance of the subject, against the writers. Raw youths from Scotland or Ireland often make those notices with a spice of commendation or censure to a trade “order.” Works on Northern and Western Africa were reviewed by
James Grey Jackson, who had resided in Morocco for sixteen years, and was then known as “Morocco Jackson.” He was profoundly learned in the Arabic tongue, and perfect master of the characters and customs of the different nations in that part of Africa. J. B. Frazer, too, the well-known traveller and accomplished novelist, generally called “Himalaya Frazer,” was a most valuable reviewer, and Talfourd, the late judge. Depping, Beyle, and Sismondi were continental associates, writers who understood,
far better than the assumptive English sent out to be the correspondents of modern publications, the social lives of the people about whom they wrote.

Before taking leave of the editorship it may not be amiss to state that Campbell wrote a critique incog, upon Byron’sWerner,” founded, it will be remembered, on one of Miss Lee’sCanterbury Tales.” Byron’s avowal of having borrowed from them, will be borne in mind.

Campbell was of opinion Byron had added little either to the merit or invention displayed in the story of “Werner.” He animadverted on the different fates of Miss Lee and Byron, in regard to the public—the fates of Cæsar with a temple, and Pompey without a tomb. As to the story of “Werner,” to quote his own words, “It is in many respects so fine a story, that if the public has not had the good taste to know it already, they scarcely deserve the complaisance of its being now told to them, even in order to gratify their just interest in a work of Lord Byron. While we pronounce it, on the whole, a striking and fine story, we nevertheless cannot pretend to be blind to the peculiarity of taste and genius which it evinces. Lord Byron conveys in his preface, and we are fully inclined to believe him, that it may be said to contain the germ of much that he has written since perusing the story, and before he dramatised it. It guides us to see
where Lord Byron formed his taste. His genius he got from nature; but his taste has been partly kindled and partly clouded by his early perusal of fictions such as this. There is power, and there is pathos, no doubt, in the story; but there are gross and extravagant improbabilities, and there is a propensity to force upon our sympathy events and characters, which, if admitted to be probable, harrow our feelings to a painful excess. A youth of twenty is, taken all in all, the prominent figure in the plot. He meets us first in the company of parents who are inexpressibly interesting. He rescues a mother from grief, and a father from shame. All the while, he appears (at the expence of a good deal of probability, no doubt) consummately cool and experienced beyond his years, like one of those men, who, as
Voltaire said, “seem to be born with experience.” But let such improbability pass, for thus far the illusion of the story is not unpleasant. But when the interest of the plot has been wound up to the highest, Miss Lee has so determined, and Lord Byron has followed her example, that this youth—Miss Lee calls him Conrad, Lord Byron Ulric—shall turn out to be the most accomplished and cool villain that ever broke the heart of parents. He saves the life of a man by a signal act of intrepidity; yet, after we have loved and admired him in the fourth act, we find
that he has been the cool assassin of the same individual whom he had previously rescued at the risk of his life. The same youth of twenty determines also on assassinating another being, who had once offered to relieve his father with money, when on the point of famishing, and who had been wrongfully accused, both of their murder, in consequence of a theft committed by the villain’s own father, and of a murder which turns out to have been committed by the villain himself.

“This tragedy of Lord Byron is in some respects a less pleasing production than the story of Miss Lee. She softens the transition of characters in prose details, which, prolix as his lordship is in particulars, he cannot so well graduate in blank verse. Miss Lee brings forward Josephine, their common heroine, more fully towards the close of the catastrophe, than Lord Byron does, and by her mild and amiable character, considerably softens the pain of our compassion. It may be asked what Lord Byron has added to Miss Lee’s materials? Certainly, in many passages, a good deal of beautiful poetical language and imagery—nothing, however, to the creation of character, except one young woman, Ida—and nothing, upon the whole, to the pleasurable interest of the story. It is with no irreverence for Lord Byron’s genius, but in justice to Miss Lee, to say that she appears to be sometimes more interesting in her
mere narrative than his lordship in his dramatic dialogue. But we hold it equally just to allow that his depth of feeling, and fervid powers of expression have illustrated one or two of the fine situations with an effect like the increased sunshine on a glorious landscape. To show how much his lordship has followed his professed original, we subjoin the following pages of his and Miss Lee’s, in juxtaposition.”

Campbell then quoted the “Canterbury Tales,” vol. iv. p. 186—“German’s Tale”—and Miss Lee’s “Conrad” (Lord Byron’s “Ulric”) and compared the passage in Lord Byron’s tragedy, beginning: “Ulric, before you dare despise your father,” to—“You turn aside. I did so.” See Byron’s “Werner.

One of the passages of Miss Lee’s original, on which Byron improved, quoted by Campbell, alluded to the festival in Prague, which Ida, speaking, thus describes:—
“———never have I dreamed
Of aught so beautiful—the flowers; the boughs;
The banners; and the nobles and the knights;
The gems; the robes; the plumes; the happy faces;
The coursers and the incense; and the sun
Streaming through the stained windows—even the tombs
Which look’d so calm; and the celestial hymns,
Which seemed as if they rather came from heaven
Than mounted there; the bursting organ’s peal,
Rolling on high like an harmonious thunder;
The white robes, and the lifted eyes; the world
At peace, and all at peace with one another—
Oh! my sweet mother!"”

Criticisms or notices of Byron’s works as they appeared, were written generally by myself, or others. Campbell wrote only the above, on “Werner,” and, until now, that he did so was unknown except to myself. I have given it, because it is a copy of his feeling towards Byron—free from petty jealousy; and towards Miss Lee, whom he knew, and what he has stated carries the stamp of truth. I have also printed it, because Byron and Campbell belong to posterity in the time when true poetry will revive.

From the period when the poet left the New Monthly Magazine he survived fourteen years, which were perhaps as eventful as any portion of his life, for they saw him still a widower and they included a period in which great changes took place in his habits as well as bodily health.

He joined a society of the friends of Poland, planned by Mr. Bach. There were many motives which urged him to be hearty in this cause. Mr. Bach, who was honorary secretary to that society, said that he had seen the poet cry like a child, when drawing up some of the papers in behalf of that despoiled people. In the chambers still occupied by this gentleman, there is an attic to which the poet used to steal for the purposes of study, out of all chance of intrusion. In this
room too is a marble tablet affixed by his warm-hearted friend, Bach, recording the circumstance, which the owner of the house has promised shall be a fixture. Here he began the “
Life of Mrs. Siddons.”

The committee rooms were at the Sussex Chambers, Duke Street, St. James’s, and no one could be more ardent than Campbell was in the Polish cause—it was almost a mania. When Prince Czartorisky, and the old Polish poet, Niemcevitz, came to this country, exiles, Campbell had been one of the first to call upon them. Afterwards, hastening back to the Literary Union, he proposed a private dinner to both exiles, and about twenty friends set down their names. The invitation was given by Campbell personally, and accepted. He then became busy in preparing for the occasion, when he received a message from the Prince, declining the honour if it could be in any way construed into a political matter. It was a curious trait in Campbell’s character, that he shirked anything he thought difficult or troublesome, or anything which forced him to make a request to set a crooked affair right, while he grasped at the credit of what hardly belonged to him. He therefore came to me—

“You are one going to meet the prince?”



“I am afraid he will not come—he has written to say he cannot join us, if the dinner can be construed into a political one. Had you not better see him at once. I wish you would go and talk to him upon the subject.”

“I have had no introduction to him yet.”

“No matter, go in all our names, persuade him that the party is really a private one, of only about twenty in number.”

He urged me so much, and made such excuses about himself, that I consented to go to Holles Street, where the Prince was lodging, and talk to him on the point, I found him alone, and after a little conversation, assuring him that we had nothing political in our constitution as a body, he finally agreed to come and dine. The Prince, a much younger man then, was of a very superior carriage, every way worthy his noble house. He spoke with clearness of enunciation, his manner was pleasing yet dignified. When I left him I could not help thinking of the old caricature of the Polish cow; and asking Campbell if he recollected it, he replied in the negative, when I observed he ought to refresh his memory with reading in relation to the period of the infamous partition, and the doings of those who ruled Europe by “the right divine to govern wrong.” I told him the story, and he made good use of it. Under Louis XV. in France, while Russia, Prussia and Austria,
were struggling about which of the three crowned felons should have the larger share of the “swag,” as petty thieves call their plunder, Louis, who had married the daughter of Stanislaus, was represented as vainly pulling at the cow’s tail (a cow was the arms of Poland) and receiving in his hands something not very cleanly. The poet at first looked serious, as considering whether he should not rebuke a tale so light upon a subject so absorbent of his feelings, and then began to laugh at the drollery of the idea. I had a decanter of wine and water placed for him, fearing he would pass the bottle with the rest, which was too much for him when in the chair; for though he could not bear much wine, he would drink on heedlessly at dinner-parties, and not reflect upon what he was taking. I often made the steward repeat the same thing whenever he was chairman at our dinners, for he loved wine. I never saw one so soon affected by it, but he did not drink it except in company.

Mr. Hunter Gordon engaged to act gratuitously as a working secretary to the Polish committee, and being somewhat lax in his duties, Campbell, who was certainly a little fast on the Polish subject, was forced to do his work. In consequence, having received an invitation to dinner he replied:—

“31, Upper Eaton Street.

“‘My dear and worthy friend,’ as Chancellor Bach would say, you must excuse me for not dining with you to-day, for I am engaged in drawing up our manifesto, and in doing other work, that more properly belongs to that long, grinning mountain cat—your friend G——,

(Here there was an attempt at drawing a cat, more like a crocodile.)

“Give my best love to your wife,

“and believe me
“Yours affectionately,
T. Campbell.”

This was written in one of his playful humours.

At another time he asked me to sound Prince Cimitilli as to whether he would ask the Duke of Sussex to place his name on the list of members of the Literary Union. I objected, that as he himself would that day at dinner, meet the Prince, he was more fitted to ask the question than I was, a simple individual. No, he hoped I would do it. He gave me reasons why he should not do it. I then said I would undertake it. When the dessert came on, the poet, on the name of a party being mentioned, whom he did not like, began to censure him in a most violent manner, before persons, some of whom would infallibly carry off the vituperation to the party censured. I had no means of preferring the
request unheard by others, but the next day, calling upon the Prince, I mentioned
Campbell’s request, that as he, the Prince, was intimate with the Duke of Sussex, would he propose it to his Royal Highness? Prince Cimitilli replied,“Did you not hear at the dinner-table yesterday how Mr. Campbell abused ——, now there was one dined with us, who will carry all that was said to the party whom Mr. Campbell censured, and from him it will reach the Duke’s ear. How then can I make such a request, when I can anticipate the notice which will be taken of the circumstance, by the Duke, with whom the party is a great favourite. No, I must stand excused from such a request—why is Mr. Campbell so imprudent?”

When I told Campbell the result, he replied all he had said at the table was true, and it could not be helped. Any one but the poet would have been conscious of such a result, if he had reflected. However it may appear, I am convinced that the cause was that mauvaise honte he had never quite shaken off from his youth upwards, for he was not always easy about requests to great people.

Another of his peculiarities was pleading poverty when not called for by circumstances. No one ever pleaded it more when it was real, it became a common thing with him when groundless.
Mrs. Campbell’s lifetime, she managed his money affairs with excellent economy. After her death he would throw away pounds one day, and the next grudge sixpences, and all by fits and starts. We had taken a cab, for which I paid a shilling. “It is no matter,” I observed, “you can pay for me next time we go out together.” He actually wanted me to ask the bookseller at the shop where we stopped for sixpence to pay myself, as the bibliopolist owed him sixpence. It need scarcely be said I did no such thing. At another time he saw me in low spirits, and kindly supposing want of money the cause, he added, “I can give you some, for I have two or three hundred pounds in hand.” I thanked him, and assured him I had no such want. Such were singularities arising from his impulsive character. Thus fitful was he upon almost all points, ever running to opposite extremes. Even in speaking of the literary works of a writer with disdain at one time, he would commend them at another. It was just the same in his dealings with acquaintances. His censures severe on some individual to-day, it would be found were forgotten, and the abused party would be met at his table a week or two afterwards. His friend Williams complained to me bitterly of his accepting an arbitration in a matter of some consequence, making him, with great pains, well acquainted with all the circum-
stances, and then, not being able to get him to attend more than once or twice, and at the second meeting forgetting all that had taken place about the affair, and the state of the question altogether. Williams did not know the poet as well as I did, or he was the last man he would have selected for an arbitrator—one thing continually pushing that which preceded it quite out of the poet’s head, as I had often experienced.