LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 6

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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The poet indisposed.—Commencement of the illness of Mrs. Campbell.—First appearance of the poet’s collected works.—Portraits of the author.—The increasing illness and death of Mrs. Campbell.—The poet’s bearing on that occasion.—Presents of his poems to friends.—His rejected works.—The “Dirge of Wallace” and his “Evening Hymn.”—Doubtful production.

IN the December of 1827, and the beginning of 1828, the poet was much indisposed, restless, and unable to study or attend to anything. He would fancy now this thing, now that, would afford him relief from an indisposition, the nature of which he could not discriminate himself. I thought he was hypochondriacal; he said it was the liver—the same thing, in fact. He would go out of town for three or four days professedly, and come back after having been absent no more than one. He was well in the society of friends, and put on his
customary liveliness of manner, especially when he fell among them unexpectedly, for it was as if the prospect of any particular object rendered that object repugnant and unenjoyable. He regained a sound state of health again about the end of January, after which he wrote “
Navarino,” and “Lines on Revisiting a Scotch River.” I find the following in a letter under that date from a mutual friend,—“Your account of Campbell’s health grieved us much, the real good fellows are too few even to spare one, though that one were less distinguished, less serviceable to the good cause, and every way less valuable than our friend.”

As he got round, or nearly about the same time that he resumed his customary occupations, Mrs. Campbell began to complain of slight indisposition, which, though at first not calculated to excite alarm, did not decrease. There were for some time no symptoms in her complaint of any recognized disease, nothing that could enable the medical men to pronounce in a satisfactory manner the particular nature of her malady. At last the appearance of slow decline, a sort of atrophy appeared, but it did not in its earliest stage incapacitate her from seeing her friends. The sources of being seemed to diminish, but without any rapid change or acute suffering. Life grew dim, like the light of evening, mortality drawing
to its term calmly and serenely, and it was on this account, with many accompanying gleams of hope, that the poet’s mind, prone to meet any thing rather than uncertainty and suspense, felt the more distress. The lingering and uncertain nature of the disorder keeping him in a fever of anxiety, he soon became wholly unfit for any kind of business. His countenance bore strong marks of his misery. Sometimes he imagined there was less ground to apprehend danger than there was in reality, and then he would give up all as hopeless.

The last time I saw Mrs. Campbell she was thinner and paler than usual, otherwise not much altered. She spoke with hesitation, her face had become attenuated, but she did not, as far as I can recollect, exhibit any pulmonary symptoms, and had no consumptive cough. In conversation, her former good-humoured smile was exchanged for a thoughtful and almost careworn expression. She conversed with a slower utterance, and a languid carriage indicated increasing mischief. Her eyes, and she had fine dark eyes, were unusually clear. After a few weeks, during which she saw no strangers, but merely persons to whose society she had been well accustomed, she retired to her chamber, and was no longer visible to her friends. From day to day, the poet told me, with deep concern, one day that she was
worse and another that she was better, as the illusions of hope were strengthened by flattering appearances. At length he said he had no ground to expect her recovery.

It may be apprehended that this state of suspense to one of the poet’s temperament was a more cruel suffering than it would be to another less sensitively formed. He said that he was aware disease and death were the lot of humanity, that the closest ties were continually severed, and that however painful it might be in his case, he could meet it, he hoped, with firmness and resignation; but while he was kept in a state of vacillation between hope and fear, it was hard to bear.

It may naturally be concluded, that he could not attend to any literary business. That and everything else were laid by. He walked half the day up and down his study, not able to compose himself for a moment. It was useless, indeed, to consult him. On asking him an opinion upon any statement you had made but a minute before, he replied as one who had never heard it, like one in complete mental abstraction. It was easy to see that, dispensing altogether with interrupting him was, under the circumstances, the best plan to follow. I called or sent to him almost daily, to inquire after Mrs. Campbell’s state, and ask if I could be of any service to him. I found little variation in his own state of mind, or in Mrs.
Campbell’s gradual approximation to her end, until at last I heard the spark of life was not likely to last for twenty-four hours longer.

Singularly enough, in the midst of this calamity, the copyright of the “Pleasures of Hope” returned to the author under the new law, at the end of twenty-eight years from the first appearance of the poem. Its author was naturally anxious to have a collected edition of his poems brought out, and had begun to arrange matters for the purpose when this domestic calamity fell upon him. Colburn was to be the publisher. In the existing state of things he found himself incapable of compiling it. He had even forgotten several of his short pieces, that had run the round of the Scotch periodicals a quarter of a century before. I found him with an edition or two of his published works before him, utterly at a loss how to begin,—confused, melancholy, and abstracted. I said that I perceived he was unfit for his task, and if he would let me take it upon myself I would do it for him. All I requested was his own mark against such pieces, on a list I would make out of them, as he desired to have omitted, or believed were not his own. I took the different editions away with me, consulted our friend Pringle, who furnished me with some early youthful pieces he had copied in Scotland, where they first appeared, and only
existed in manuscript. With a pretty correct list I went to the poet and pencilled off those he wished to appear in the contemplated collection of his works. He had parted with no copyright but that of the “Pleasures of Hope.” I could not reason him into the admission of several of his early and acknowledged poems. He did not like them, or they were erroneous, or there was some displeasing phrase that made him reject them. This done, I had no further trouble. He had the dedications struck out, the only alteration of moment he wished to be made, and some of which, I believe, he afterwards capriciously restored.

When I had thus gone over them, I read over the list to him, and he objected to one or two pieces which were in the New Monthly Magazine, certainly not at all up to the mark, and issued there without his name.

“Now,” said I, “there are some pieces of yours not in our list. The world will undoubtedly add them to future editions of your works, especially when the copyright of these volumes becomes public property. There is the ‘Dirge of Wallace,’ one of the most beautiful poems I know, though never admitted into your published works; you must let me add that out of my own admiration of it.”

He gave a decided negative; “there were inac-
curacies in it: it was only designed for the newspapers.”

“Then would it not be better to alter those inaccuracies, which you yourself may perceive?” He said he could not take the trouble, but begged me to omit it. I mentioned several other pieces, one or two attributed to him, he could not tell “whether he had written them or not, they were not worth putting into the volumes.” Of these an account will be found presently. Even in the late cheap edition of his works, published in 1839, he introduced none of these poems, though he altered the order in which I had placed the others. He sent me a copy with his name; as from my “Friend, T. Campbell, London, 28th December, 1839,” and I collated it with the list I had exhibited to him in 1828, and found additional poems written subsequently, but none of those rejected by him as mentioned above. Sir Walter Scott, I have said before, made him publish “Hohenlinden,” but Sir Walter himself could make no more impression upon him in regard to the beautiful “Dirge of Wallace,” than I could make upon him, in regard to its introduction into the volume I thus edited.

I took away the list that included the poems of which he sanctioned the appearance, for the printer’s guidance, and comparing the new proofs with the old editions, the work was done and published without his being troubled any further. To that
first edition of his collected works is prefixed an engraved portrait of him, from a picture by Sir Thomas Lawrence. The painting, when taken, was the perfection of resemblance. Perhaps the under lip was a little too thick; but, on the whole, it could not be surpassed. It was the property of his friend Mr. Thompson, near Clithero, in Lancashire. It is now in possession of the Duke of Buccleugh. From the portrait of Lawrence an excellent copy in oil was made, I forget by what artist, but it is the closest copy I ever saw, and was in possession of Mr. Colburn. This portrait by Lawrence was taken when the poet was in full health, as stout as he ever was in person, and the costume and character just that described by Byron, when he was such a spruce-looking personage, in a blue coat and neatly arranged wig. He was about forty years of age. The engraving in the Edition of his poems published by Moxon is a wretched affair, apparently a very bad copy of the engraving from Lawrence, of the date of 1828. Whoever has that plate it should be preserved as the best likeness of the poet, and as being exactly as Byron described him in his best days.

There is a portrait also, nearly a full length, taken about twelve years afterwards, when the poet was between fifty and sixty. If any thing, the portrait is too full and round in face and figure. This portrait has been engraved with singular care
Mr. Overend Geller, nor has that artist omitted a single grace of his art which can tend to render his work one of high professional value. It is the only full-length portrait of the poet in existence. There is yet a third portrait, which represents him in age, more stricken with years than he showed at the time he sat for it.

I had asked him the fewest number of questions possible, being happy to take a trouble off his mind at such a time; a labour trivial enough in itself, though to him, at the moment, next to impossible to execute. He gave me a note to add to his poem of “Gertrude of Wyoming,” out of justice to the family of the Indian chief, Brant, and that I attached to the poem as it now stands, exculpating the chief from any participation in the slaughter at Wyoming. Why he withdrew all the dedications, of which practice he had, for some reason unknown, begun to disapprove, though, in a notice of Dr. Anderson’s decease, at a subsequent time, he alluded to the dedication that no longer appeared, he gave no reason. I tried in vain to get him to allow me to place his Greek translations at the end of the first volume. He would not consent, on account of the dates; and they stood as they appear in that edition. Yet, in the cheap edition published in 1839, he changed the order of the poems again, disregarding the dates in which they were written, and
placing “
Theodoric” before “Gertrude of Wyoming” and immediately after the “Pleasures of Hope,” as though his favourite “Gertrude” was to follow and obliterate any impression of the inferiority produced by reading “Theodoric.” I had observed the date of publication in placing the longer poems in the first volume, commencing the second with “O’Connor’s Child” and “Lochiel’s Warning,” next his superb odes, and the remainder as nearly as possible in their order of publication. With this arrangement, and satisfied with the natural order, he expressed himself pleased. The volumes were passed as rapidly as possible through the press, for obvious reasons, as he wished to supersede any chance of the sale of copies of the old editions of the “Pleasures of Hope,” and the short poems following it, now the copyright had come back to him.

Not only was he so unhinged as to be unable to bring out his poems himself, but having to decide upon the merit of the poems, for which he had offered a gold medal as a prize to the students at the Glasgow University, he declared he was unequal to the task. He begged me to dine with him, as he had something pressing to say. He then asked whether I would, in conjunction with another friend, decide the matter on his behalf; for the more he endeavoured, the more he was perplexed, that he had not, at such a moment of
anxiety, the power of cool judgment. It was impossible to refuse, and not without considerable attention we came to a decision; and I wrote the result, at the poet’s request, to the Principal.

Rev. Sir,

“The alarming illness of Mrs. Campbell, protracted beyond expectation, and the consequent state of solicitude in which it has involved Mr. Campbell, incapacitating him entirely for study, has induced him, being doubtful of his own judgment at such an anxious moment, to call in the aid of two literary gentlemen to examine the prize-poems, to which, from the perturbed state of his mind, he was fearful he might not have given the consideration required. As one of the persons alluded to, he has further requested me to announce to you the decision.

“The poem of the non-togatus, beyond all question entitled to the prize, is that denominated ‘Petrarch Crowned,’ having for a motto
Io veggio del ciel scender l’Aurora;
Aspice venturo lactentur at omnia sæclo.
This poem may challenge competition with any prize-poem we have seen of late years from either of the universities.


“There is a second non-togatus candidate, ‘Reminiscences of Youth,’ with the mottos
‘Admeritu locorum;’
‘There’s not a joy the world can give;’
which, though far from equalling the ‘Petrarch Crowned’ in merit, is entitled to high commendation for passages of simple elegance, and great adherence to truth and nature. The gowned candidates, I regret to state, do not attain an excellence equal to the preceding, making an allowance for the difference of advancement in education.
‘Infancy and boyhood;’
with the motto
‘Why love we Nature’s infant blessing;’
seems to promise best. With many errors and inaccuracies, it has numerous beautiful lines, which promise well. It would not, however, be advisable to suffer it to appear in print as a ‘prize production,’ while its announcement as above to its author, might stimulate him in his studies, and add fresh zeal after excellence.

“I am, Rev. Sir,
“Your most obedient servant,
Cyrus Redding.
“The Rev. D. Macfarlane,
“The Principal of Glasgow University.”

The foregoing letter is important alone, as it illustrates the state of mind in which the poet found himself during his wife’s illness. He was anxious about the post he filled, and the welfare of the students more particularly, for he really loved them. It must be considered, also, on the other hand, that towards the university he had a youthful affection, in addition to the present honour, to attach him to the post in which he had been more honoured than any predecessor.

To return to his domestic affliction. Mrs. Campbell became worse. I merely called to ask how matters stood, anticipating the melancholy event that was rapidly approaching, but whenever I could, rather avoiding a sight of Campbell, for I knew his wish was to be left to himself. I had missed calling for two days, when, early in the morning, I received the following note, blotted, and evidently written in a very perturbed state of mind, dated Saturday, May 10, 1828:—

Mrs. Campbell expired yesterday, at 5 p.m.

“Unable as I am to stir out, I should be greatly obliged to you if you could favour me with a visit now.”

I immediately went to him, and found him in his drawing-room, walking rapidly to and fro, haggard, pale, greatly agitated, having evidently not been in bed for the night. He addressed me in accents almost inarticulate with emotion. “Ah!
my friend, poor
Mrs. Campbell being no more, there is something decisive at last. I do not feel half so wretched now as I felt before. The worst is past now, both with her and myself. These are strange dispensations in human life, and to what demonstrated end!”

The impression on my mind was that he had been regarding his own immediate loss in a general view, endeavouring to reconcile the inevitable doom of mortality with some great controlling power acting with latent ends, for he added, directly afterwards, “There must be a God, that is evident: there must be an all-powerful, inscrutable God.”

Here he was silent for a few minutes, still walking about the room, more rapidly than at first, as if he wished to collect himself, in order to converse. He said that Mrs. Campbell had expired gently, apparently without pain, as if nature, unable longer to sustain herself, had gone calmly to sleep. The conversation seemed to restore somewhat of his composure, although it was evident he was endeavouring, with no small effort, to suppress the feelings which agitated him. He spoke of his loss as that which nothing could ever supply. From that time, or from a few days afterwards, it seemed to me as if he endeavoured to conquer his regret by stifling everything that recalled his wife in conversation, or as if he courted
oblivion, to obliterate what his reason told him it was so unavailing to regret.

He told me he had sent for me the first of any of his friends, because he felt under obligations to me arising out of existing circumstances, and his utter inability to do what I had undertaken to do for him regarding his poems. I begged him not to talk of such a trifling matter, which indeed it really was, though so formidable to him in his state of mind, and I requested to be informed if I could do anything further for him. He said he did not recollect anything, upon which I requested he would send to me in Upper Berkeley Street, if he did, and that without any hesitation. He said he would do so. I added, that otherwise I should not see him for a day or two, as he must have certain painful duties to attend to; that still I should be happy to be of any service, but I thought of being absent a day from home, and would time it accordingly.

He observed that he was pretty sure he should not need my assistance, thanking me in a manner that would seem as if he was really under some heavy obligation to me. On rising to go away, he seemed to recollect himself, and said there was one matter pressed upon him at the moment, which I should confer a favour upon him if I would execute, should I be going towards the city: that of course he could not go out himself,
and but for that one thing he had not the slightest need of assistance. It was to see the proper person in the city, in the parish of St. Mary Axe, in order that a vault existing there, belonging to her family, might be opened for his wife’s remains. I promised to execute his commission, sending the parish-clerk to his house, as I thought that official might not know, without further explanation, whereabouts in the church the locality alluded to might be.

I did not visit him again until the funeral was over. It was a private one, and I was out of town when it took place. Nor did I go into Seymour Street for a day or two subsequently to the foregoing interview. It is always painful to be in the midst of scenes where, without being of the slightest service, one cannot do otherwise than recall painful and useless recollections. For many years the poet’s fireside and house had been as familiar to me as my own. The uniform cheerfulness and hospitality of Mrs. Campbell, her conversation, confined to the news of the hour, always lively, her tea-table without her presence, her vacant chair, that inexpressible lack of something which long custom has made to us almost second nature, these things gave the poet’s home a melancholy colouring, which it was never my inclination to contemplate willingly, even under circumstances far less touching to the feel-
ings. The sternest philosophy cannot boast of being proof against such sensations, they being a part of that nature which, though useless, reason cannot obliterate.

When I next saw the poet he was composed, and much more himself than he had been before. It was evident that the anticipation of his loss had more unnerved him than the melancholy event itself. The departure of life having extinguished hope, his mind seemed to reconcile itself easier to an inevitable necessity than to endure the cruel alternations that preceded it.

Mrs. Campbell, when I knew her at first, and, indeed, down to her last illness, was good-looking, of the lesser class of women in make, of a neat and symmetrical figure, more so than any of her sisters, most of whom I met at one time or another. She must have been very pretty early in life. Her complexion was pale, with dark hair and eyes. She spoke with a little of the Scotch patois and her conversation was social, yet lady-like. She made no pretension to literary taste. Her age at her decease I do not recollect, but she was several years younger than her husband.

It was many weeks before things in the way of business resumed their ordinary course, or he could resume his studies. In the meanwhile his poems made their appearance in a collected form, for the first time, preceded by his engraved por-
trait after
Lawrence. He was pleased with the aspect of the volumes, and the first thing he did in return for my taking the editorship of them out of his hands during his affliction, was to send me a copy, with the following letter written on the blank leaves at the commencement, which I may be excused for transcribing:—

“My dear Sir,

“I have sent copies of this edition to several persons whose friendship or friendly attention has touched me during my latest calamity. I send this copy to you as a memorial of my sense of your kindness and of my high esteem for you, not founded merely on the experience of your friendship during my last trial, but with a full remembrance of its value on former occasions. It is now getting on to eight years since we have been co-editors, and I believe no man has ever had occasion to congratulate himself on being more fortunate in a literary partnership than

“Your very sincere friend,
T. Campbell.
“To C. Redding, Esq.”

While on the subject of his first collected poems, it may not be improper to notice those which he rejected in the volumes to which I have alluded as published at this time. His lines “To the Jewess at Altona,” and those “To Matilda Sinclair,” afterwards Mrs. Campbell, have already
been given. As a guide to some future edition of his works, when all the poems ascertained to be his own shall be collected, to prevent attributing to him pieces of which he was not the author, it will be proper to point them out. It was a singular and humiliating proof of the decay of the poet’s power and judgment in the last six or seven years of his life, that he should have written and published such lines as he put forth in 1842, under the title of the “
Massacre of Glencoe,” which cannot be read without wishing their utter suppression, and that he should reject such beautiful lines as those to the Altona Jewess; even those to Matilda Sinclair, which, though not of his best, are so greatly superior; also his magnificent “Dirge of Wallace,” one of his best things, now only to be found in books of fugitive poetry and the periodicals of past days! Regarding this poem, I could get, as I have said, no satisfactory reason for the rejection. “It was inaccurate.” I replied, I could not discern the inaccuracy. “It was unsatisfactory to himself.” So are often an author’s best works—“you will most assuredly have it some day added to your other works?” He did not care, he would not take it—he disliked it. Of course, I gave way, pained at his determination. I told Pringle of it, who lamented the circumstance equally with myself. “Why, my dear sir,” said this excellent man,
“I have been repeating it in my mind this twenty years, whenever
Wallace has come into my thoughts—he never wrote a finer thing, and so thinks Sir Walter Scott; and so, too, thinks Professor Wilson and friends in Scotland.”

Even after the first collected edition, I again urged upon him the propriety of taking it. When he sent me the half-crown edition of 1839, I found it omitted, and remarked it to him, and I received the same reply as he gave me eleven years before. I, therefore, give it here with the titles of others, to be a guide to those who may bring out his works hereafter. I do not believe I have omitted enumerating any piece of value, as Pringle assisted me in searching out what he had written, or was supposed to have written, and he had possession of some, beginning from the poet’s early years, though many of his youthful verses shew no promise of his future excellence. I have given the titles of most, and omitted only one or two in the “New Monthly,” that no one but myself can know to be his, as he suppressed his name, and they were not among his better things. They will be found in the newspapers and periodicals of the time, by careful research, and amount in all to about a dozen, including what I here give in full.

The following is the “Dirge of Wallace,” to which his antipathy was so unaccountable. This
poem furnishes an example of inconsistencies in the poet that were irreconcilable with his sound literary judgment and clear reasoning. It can only be accounted for by a prejudice at first generated through hurried impulse and the extraordinary haste in which he sometimes came to a conclusion, and which, even when erroneous, he could not be got to retract. It seemed as if he held that the first must be the unalterable impression—that it was a point of honour it should be so. Sometimes, as in the affair of
Northcote and Hazlitt, he might, at length, be convinced of his erroneous view of a case concerning others; but it was not possible in what regarded his own works, though it is true one could not, without rudeness, be equally persevering in attempting to work out a change of opinion. Here the world’s suffrage must be against the poet.

They lighted a taper at dead of night,
And chanted their holiest hymn;
But her brow and her bosom were damp with affright,
Her eye was all sleepless and dim,
And the lady of Elderslie wept for her lord,
When a death-watch beat in her lonely room,
When her curtain had shook of its own accord;
And the raven had flapp’d at her window-board,
To tell of her warrior’s doom!
“Now sing ye the death-gong, and loudly pray
For the soul of my knight so dear:
And call me a widow this wretched day,
Since the warning of God is here!
For nightmare rides on my strangled sleep:—
The lord of my bosom is doomed to die:
His valorous heart they have wounded deep;
And the blood-red tears shall his country weep
Yet knew not his country that ominous hour
Ere the loud matin bell was rung,
That a trumpet of death on an English tower
Had the dirge of her champion sung!
When his dungeon-light looked dim and red
On the high-born blood of a martyr slain,
No anthem was sung at his holy death-bed,
No weeping there was when his bosom bled,
And his heart was rent in twain!
O, it was not thus when his oaken spear
Was true to that knight forlorn,
And hosts of a thousand were scatter’d like deer
At the blast of the hunter’s horn;
When he strode on the wreck of each well-fought field
With the yellow-haired chiefs of his native land;
For his lance was not shivered on helmet or shield,
And the sword that seem’d fit for Archangel to wield,
Was light in his terrible hand!
Yet bleeding and bound, though the Wallace wight
For his long-loved country die,
The bugle ne’er sang to a braver knight
Than Wallace of Elderslie!
But the day of his glory shall never depart,
His head unentomb’d shall with glory be palm’d,
From its blood-streaming altar his spirit shall start—
Though the raven has fed on his mouldering heart,
A nobler was never embalm’d!

The lines he composed to the tune of the “Evening Hymn,” in early life, he would, above all things, have omitted. They are pleasing, but he said they were no better than a Christmas Carol. The reader may judge:—

“When Jordan hush’d his waters still,
And silence slept on Zion’s hill,
When Bethel’s shepherds through the night,
Watch’d o’er their flocks by starry light—
Hark! from the midnight hills around,
A voice of more than mortal sound,
In distant hallelujahs stole,
Wild murmuring on the raptured soul!
Then swift to every startled eye
New streams of glory lit the sky!
Heaven bursts her azure gates to pour
Her spirits on the midnight hour,
On wheels of light and wings of flame,
The glorious hosts to Zion came,
High heaven with songs of triumph rang,
While thus they smote their harps and sang:—
O Zion, lift thy raptured eye,
The long-expected hour is nigh,
The joys of nature rise again,
The Prince of Salem comes to reign!
See Mercy from her golden urn
Pour a rich stream to them that mourn,
Behold she binds with tender care
The bleeding bosom of despair!
He comes, he cheers the trembling heart,
Night and her shadows pale depart—
Again the day-star gilds the gloom,
Again the flowers of Eden bloom!
O Zion, lift thy raptured eye,
The long-expected hour is nigh,
The joys of nature rise again,
The Prince of Salem comes to reign!

This was written in Scotland after the “Pleasures of Hope,” and first printed in one of the Scotch periodicals, as were “Lines to the Queen of France,” written in 1793. He also wrote then and subsequently “The Choice of Paris,” “Trafalgar,” “Lines on the State of Greece, 1827,” “Lines on James II. of Scotland, at Flodden,” “Three Scotch Beauties—Jemima, Rose, and Elinore;” song, “When Love first came to Earth;” song, “My Mind to me a Kingdom is;” song, “O Cherub Content!” “The Friars of Dijon,” “The Spanish Patriot’s Song,” have been printed in publications of the time, but did not figure in his collected works, and were all written before 1830. He appeared to think that what he himself sanctioned would alone pass for his own to posterity. Alas! how contrary to experience, and, therefore, how proper to guard against its fruits, lest strange and unworthy children should be fathered upon honest men!

There cannot be anything more of note that escaped my researches in 1828, with Pringle’s assistance, except boyish verses scattered among
juvenile friendships, some, perhaps, utterly forgotten. The following lines, purporting to be written “in honour of the old Scotch legion, which returned with many blind from Egypt,” has been given to me as a production of
Campbell’s, since his decease. It must have been written, in that case, subsequent to the “Pleasures of Hope,” and before all his other more celebrated works. I can form no idea of its authenticity. If the lines are Campbell’s, they give little promise of the resplendency that burst forth subsequently in his glorious and immortal odes. The author of that noble Ode of “Hohenlinden,” which he so much undervalued, and which is so truly fine, is not here visible in a single line. On the other hand, it must be remembered how unequal the poet was in his compositions, and further, what is enough to tame any poet, except Moore, who measured his ground accordingly, they purport to have been written for music in place of music for them. Among modern musicians, “Hohenlinden,” that would have excited the old composers, would, to quote Byron, “prove a Mont St. Jean” to modern musicians, from its lack of that namby-pambyism which makes a merit of giving up melody and meaning to difficult digital execution. Doubting still of their authenticity, I give them as they were received. If Campbell’s, these must have been written
about 1801. The reader must judge for himself:—

“Sons of chiefs, renown’d in story,
Ye whose fame is heard afar,
Ye who rush’d to death or glory,
Welcome from the toils of war,
When from conquest late assembling
Madly armed the frantic Gaul,
Europe for her empire trembling
Doubted where the storm might fall;
Britain from her sea-girt station,
Guarded by her native oak,
Heard the threat with indignation,
Well prepared to meet the stroke.
But the foe, her thunder fearing,
Fled her naval arm before,
And far distant widely steering,
Seized the famed Egyptian shore.
There in vain his boasted legions
Vow’d to keep the wide domain;
Eager for the torrid regions,
See Britannia ploughs the main!
Ye whose sons of old opposing,
Checked the haughty Roman band,
In the shock of battle closing,
Freed the Caledonian land:
You, our guardian genius naming,
To the toils of combat bred,
Chase to hurl her vengeance flaming
On the foe’s devoted head!
Methinks old Ossian, from his station,
On the skirts of yonder cloud,
Eyes his race with exultation:
Hark! the hero speaks aloud—
‘Sons of chiefs renowned in story,
Ye whose fame is heard afar,
Ye who rush’d to death or glory,
Welcome from the toils of war!’”

The inclination for poetical composition came upon Campbell only at rare intervals, depending much upon the direction of his mind to analogous subjects. He was never, like Byron, in the habit of keeping poetry perpetually before him, nor of composing verses in his mind, at all times, in bed and up, “in and out of the bath,” as the noble poet states was his case. I always imagined there must be an exciting cause when he wrote, a vagrant fancy, that broke in upon his peculiar mind, and drew him towards poetical compositions, since his studies for so many years were continually directed to different subjects, most of them the reverse of poetical ones. He was a true poet, and yet did not make an idol of poetry; go when I would into his study I found metaphysics, German criticism, or history before him. He loved to plunge into speculative reading, and he would oftener talk of Dugald Stewart than of any of his country’s poets, save Burns, which was singular when the studied character of his own verse is considered.