LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Literary Reminiscences and Memoirs of Thomas Campbell
Chapter 8

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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Inaugural address.—Political feelings of the poet.—Death of the poet’s friend, Dugald Stewart.—Banim’s verses.—Lord Dillon and the symposium.—Characteristic abstractions.—Dinner parties.—Cavaliers and Roundheads. —Prizes distributed at Glasgow.—A breakfast in Seymour Street.—The Bishop of Toronto.—Sir Robert Peel.

THE poet, upon his arrival at Glasgow, promised the students anew that he would abide by them and fill the rectorship, if, on due consideration, they could find no one more likely to unite their suffrages, who satisfied them better. A new election took place, and Campbell was voted lord rector by a larger majority of the students than before, and by three out of the four nations.

On the 5th of December, 1828, at three o’clock, no exclusion of the public happening, a great assemblage of persons took place at the Hall, and when the doors were thrown open, the building,
galleries and all, was filled to an overflow. For some time a noise and uproar prevailed, which were silenced by the principal. The oath being administered to the new lord rector, and having signed it, he addressed the students to the following effect:—

Gentlemen,—It is an understood conventional propriety among all civilised elective bodies, than when the tumult of election has subsided, there should be an amnesty proclaimed as to past hostile feeling, and an abstinence observed, on the one side, from all hostile language, and, on the other, from any ungentlemanlike expression of discontent. I come not to break up any such amnesty. I am not capable of degrading myself on this bench by an insidious insinuation against any man’s motives or conduct. You, in the free exercise of your elective franchise, had a more than ordinary right to be divided in your opinions; and this division would have been to me, if I needed it, only a fresh incentive to my desire of making you all my constituents in your hearts, by the faithful performance of my duty. But contrary to what would otherwise be my wish, I shall be obliged, for a few moments, to speak of myself; for there are some circumstances respecting my motives and conduct in the present affair that may be unknown to, or misapprehended by many individuals in this assembly. It may not be gene-
rally known, that, before I suffered myself to be proposed for this high mark of your favour, I had ascertained the entire improbability of
Lord John Russell’s being able to accept of your rectorship, if it had been offered to him. It is also a fact, that I knew not a single popular name, except this nobleman’s, that was likely to have divided your suffrages, at the time when I received and answered a first letter, from a large portion of the students, asking me to say explicitly, whether, in the event of being elected, I would come and take the oath for the third and last time. Now, a twelvemonth had not elapsed since, in the eye of day, and with emotions as justifiable as they were fervid and sincere, I had declared to the assembled students of Glasgow, assembled, not at my bidding, but by their own spontaneous enthusiasm, that whilst I lived, I should never forget the manifestations of their attachment, or refuse them any proof of my interest in their welfare, within the small compass of my power. And now, when they tender me a token of their regard, that was palpably meant to be the last of its kind,—and now that they urge their token on my acceptance, by my sympathy in their own interests,—I ask, in the name of consistency and warmheartedness, what was the most natural and proper answer I should send? That I was in bad health, I could not say; that it was impossible for me to come, I could not
say; that it would be inconvenient for me to come, I disdained to say. For I should thus have shown myself a friend weighing the duty of friendship like a light or suspected coin in the little scale of my own convenience. Truly enough, indeed, I might have pleaded my apology for not coming, that I had already shown some proofs of my good-will in having come last year, merely from anxiety to say a few good words in your behalf to the commissioners—a journey that cost me my health, and literally put my life itself into peril. But the business between us now, was not a matter of sentimental argumentation, but a practical question, whether I should fulfil your wishes, and attempt to serve, what you at least considered to be your interests. And if I had spoken of my former services, the simplest youth among you would have had a right to ask, ‘If our rector’s zeal last year was so ardent, what has become of it now? and if he could come to us in sickness, why can he not come to us in health?’ Besides, all your shrewder students know, as well as I know, that, not from any fault or indolence of mine, but from absolute necessity, and from due caution not to moot certain points prematurely, I had, all but the journey in bad health, a comparatively easy and placid rectorship; but that a crisis was now coming, likely to render the rectorship of this year both a trying and a
troublesome post. By what honourable tie was I then bound to insist on leaving that post against your general wish, just at the time when it might be feared that it would become a little more irksome? Was I to have sailed with you all smiles and affection through the calm, but the moment the water was a little ruffled, was I to show my romantic interest in you by resolutely going on shore and shuddering at the prospect of keeping you company for another year? Was I to send you a fine declaration, forsooth, that my soul and zeal were still yours as much as ever; but to let it out after all, that my zeal was of a delicate constitution, that it could not brook any agitation, and that it would catch its death of cold on the first exposure to the slightest breath of censorious opposition? No! I thought it more like a man to answer, that, if elected, I should regard it as my bounden duty to come. And if I had sent you any other answer, you might have been generally satisfied with me, but I should never have been satisfied with myself. I should never have ceased to have a secret misgiving, that I had tainted some young and ingenuous mind among you with a suspicion, that when men speak fervently of their attachment to any public cause, they are not to be literally understood as meaning ail that they say. I should not have been satisfied that I had acted up to my declarations. By-and-
bye came a letter, putting these declarations to the proof, and invoking me, by all my past regard for the students, to come to them immediately. This letter still came from a majority of them. And you, honourable young men, even you have offered me—for I am bound to think you honourable—let me remind your candour, that still, when I came, I coupled my promise of abiding by my friends with the offer of withdrawing and supporting any other man who could be found to unite more of your suffrages. But from a contested election I could not fly without abandoning my friends and my faith, and all pretensions to moral courage; and without setting an example to trustlessness and cowardice before a university resorted to by the youth of England and of Ireland, and filled with the young hearts of my native land. I, therefore, return you my best thanks for this appointment, as a token of your confidence and regard. But if I were to thank you for the pageantry and publicity of the office, I should record a sentiment to which my heart is at this moment an utter and disdainful stranger. For, supposing, what is anything but the case, that in the present circumstances of my life, I was much alive to vain—glorious feeling, still your rectorship, honourable as it is—if I had been without an affectionate interest in my native university—would have been but a sorry bribe to my
most selfish calculations. And if I had gone on these, I should not have had the honour of now addressing you. But I had no selfish or ignoble motives. And for your accrediting this assertion, I palter not with suspicions—I appeal to whatever is honourable in your bosoms—and I demand belief.

“No, gentlemen, I come to you in a frame of mind not indeed crushed, though chastened by calamity, but still in a frame of mind little coveting any new sprig for my mere vanity to be interwoven with this crape. Gentleman, unavoidable circumstances have robbed me of the lingua that would have been necessary for addressing you in a worthy manner, on certain of those points connected with your studies, on which your rectors have, for some time past, felt it their duty or their privilege to address you. But I have not forgotten one pleasing privilege of office, which is that of adding to the prizes that may contribute to excite your emulation and to exercise your industry. I propose to offer two silver medals, to be competed for only by the gown students, for the best exercises in Latin and Greek verse, on subjects that shall be speedily announced. I propose also to give two gold medals, to be competed for only by ungowned students, and graduates, whether gowned or not, on two subjects, which, though not intrinsically improper for the consideration of younger minds,
might yet, as subjects of composition, distract them from more immediately important pursuits. The first gold medal which I propose is for the best English essay on ‘The Evils of Intolerance towards those who differ from us in Religion.’ I use this circuitous phrase from disliking to couple the epithet religious with that spirit of intolerance which, reversing the sublime aim of all religion, bows down the mind from its celestial aspiration to the anxieties of this world; like the Indian fig-tree, which, after bearing its head loftily in the sky, turns down again its branches from the sunshine of heaven to be blended and buried in the dirt of earth. Another gold medal shall be given for the best English essay on ‘The Comparative importance of Scientific and Classical Instruction in the General Education of Mankind.’

“Now, let no candidate imagine that I shall favour any essay on this subject, on account of the side which he takes as to this or that opinion in the comparative estimate, for I shall decide merely by the display of talent. In my own opinion, the importance of science is paramount; but this idea from an unscientific man, and thus hastily thrown out and unargued, will not, of course, affect you, still less I hope will it cause you to suspect that I would depreciate the beautifying and exalting influences of classic learning. No! For in looking down through the furthest
imaginable vistas of futurity, I cannot picture to myself any intelligent future age in which classical erudition shall not hold a high and glorious niche in the grand temple of human knowledge.

“I have nothing further to add, than to beg you to return assiduously to your studies; and that if any feuds have sprung up among you in consequence of this election, you will bury them all in generous oblivion.”

He returned to London in tolerable health, and began to talk much on politics. He contended, on the accession of the Peel and Wellington administration that there was a want of sound public opinion in the country. Speaking of the aspect of public affairs to a friend, whose transcript of his words is before me, he says:—

“Your feelings on the aspect of affairs are precisely my own. It is not that the Tories are in power again, that might be, but it is vexatious because it proves the lamentable want of a sound public opinion, and the corruption of the influential part of the English population. The Tories may go out, but that does not cure the evil. Reform must come some day, and that not a distant one. Wellington’s bayonets cannot create wealth, but may do much towards knocking it down. At our time of life, we can expect to see no revival from enforced revolution and all the misery it brings before it brings good. I think we all overlook one
important thing in human affairs, and not an inconsiderable one. We have counted too much on the increasing intelligence of society, without recollecting that besides intellect there must be will to move onward, to produce great ameliorations in social life. It is to be feared matters are so arranged that the volitions of the dishonest few are and will ever be more concentrated, and therefore more operative than those of the many, and that, as of old, to those that have will be given. I do not say that the liberal party have acted over well, it has shown division in itself. Each man seems to seek his own good, and forget that the good of the public is identified with it, if it be lawful good.”

He had no high opinion of Huskisson, who made some noise at that moment in a Liverpool speech, though he admitted that his financial views augured well. At the inveterate imbecility of Lord Goderich the poet indulged in many a joke, and it must be owned that time has strengthened the legality of a deeper derision than the poet ever commanded towards such a minister. As the Catholic question gained ground the poet’s spirit seemed to get up.

“If we cannot have political let us have religious liberty; it is something, at least, for our thoughts to be free.”

But it was only in the society of his particular
friends that he spoke so freely upon political topics. As a Whig he never once wavered in his sentiments, but grew more liberal, as all, in place of a few of the Whigs ought then to have grown. He was, however, quite vociferous at the attack made by the
Duke of Wellington upon Sir Edward Codrington for fighting the Battle of Navarino. The duke and his ministry styled it an “untoward event.” He said it was untoward, because it was honest and straightforward, and because it prevented years more of that sneaking, intriguing, lying diplomacy by which the Holy Alliance powers would, out of their mutual jealousy, damage the freedom of Greece, if they could not wholly prevent it.

Campbell, staunch as he was to sound political principles, was too earnest and warm for a politician. His views were liberal, high-minded, and sound, but he would have been a poor statesman from these very virtues. He would never yield a valid principle, while he would not have had patience to work it out by that sure and slow process which alone ensures success; by that wearisome waste of effort, of language, of time and muscle, which must be made a sacrifice to render current any one of the simplest truths that the cultivated mind finds self-evident. Was it worth the pains? No, said Campbell, for if the people having learned the alphabet will not
proceed to words themselves, there are only two classes that will take the pains for them, the fools and the ambitious, and one or the other have always been rulers; the first ever blundering, and the last making the public a stepping-stone. To consume a series of years in convincing the Lords and Commons that two and two do not make seven, is a humiliating task for a prime minister, let his principles be what they may, and that is the whole history of the matter. In truth, the poet would have made a sorry public man; his want of application to business and his impatience under restraint, as well as his scorn of the formal and pedantic, even where form and pedantry are, from usage, indispensable, he could never have surmounted.

The repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts in the same year, and Lord Eldon’s opposition to that repeal, made Campbell one day laughingly remark of that narrow-minded and bigoted old man, that what he was in law he could not judge, but out of it he was an old woman. His solitary warning to the Lords against the repeal reminded him of the warning of the witch of Endor, without its veracity.

Just then political feeling ran high. The poet expressed his astonishment that Peel should deny the claims of the Catholics to emancipation either upon the score of justice or policy. Peel was partly a favourite with the poet.


About a month after the death of Mrs. Campbell, he lost an old friend, for whom he ever expressed the greatest regard, one of his earliest friends too, Dugald Stewart, to whose “Philosophy of the Human Mind” he had made frequent references to myself. The professor retained his high mental qualities to the last, having at seventy-five written a preface that exhibited an increase of mental power, a contrast of an opposite nature to the poet’s own conformation, and, looking at what a few years were to bring about, another of the many striking proofs of human frailty and blindness to the future. When Campbell noted the brilliant mind of his friend shining like the noon-day sun to the last, how little could he have foreseen the decay of his own genius so long before the like age.

Banim just then sent me some verses from Sevenoaks, which the poet did not like, I could not conceive why, and I gave them to Pringle for his little annual—“The Friendship’s Offering.” The subject was a touching one. I give it here from his own letter. “They,” the lines, “were at least earnestly felt and conceived. Last summer, after going down to Hastings, Mrs. Banim and I took a walk along the path at the bottom of Cart Hill, and passing the little churchyard, which you may recollect, we caught a glance of the headstone of an old friend, who had just died in the
town, and whom we knew a few months before. Young, beautiful, and good, after the first feeling came the remarkable question—‘Yes, here lies poor Bessy—before her time—yet what has she lost?’ and that answer, thus made, it was that suggested my verses.”

The poet’s objection was not to the verses, but the subject. The truth was, he did not like to see any thing about lost friends, as it recalled to his mind what had just happened. Few Parisians went to see the catacombs of Paris when they were open to the public, from something of a similar sentiment. Yet this year the poet wrote “The Death-boat of Heligoland,” a subject sombre enough. He published it anonymously in the Magazine.

Viscount Dillon, a great friend of Campbell’s, launched an epic poem, in twelve books, in 1828; the metre, blank verse, was recommended by Campbell. It had been a work of three years. There were excellent points about Lord Dillon; he was kind, gentlemanly, hospitable, with a handsome person. In company highly agreeable, though given to engross a full share of conversation. In his poem he imitated some of the inversions of language in Milton and others of the great poet’s peculiarities, but not with success. The noble viscount, however, erred sometimes on the score of metaphorical propriety. I remember a figure of his which compared the flight of a female apparition through the sky to a rocket—
“Rapid as rocket rushing with a hiss
She cleaves the sky.”

Some passages were effective and poetical.

Lord Dillon patronised a young lady as a poetess, and mentioned her in the highest terms to Campbell, to whom she was, it subsequently appeared, to dedicate her volume. His lordship had talked of her for nearly two years, and one day said, “She is a wonderful girl—she is the girl to start for the Derby.” Some time after, the poet asked if she had not “bolted,” as he had heard nothing more of her at the winning-post. The volume at last appeared, with lines indicative of an elegant, well-informed mind.

At the poet’s this amiable but somewhat enthusiastic nobleman used to get into conversations of a considerable length, until Campbell either got impatient, or lapsed into one of his abstractions, and became lost to all that was said. In the meantime I was generally conversing with Mrs. Campbell. Lord Dillon would turn and address me, on perceiving Campbell’s inattention. It was impossible not to attend to one who was really so kind a man, and of such thorough good manners, although, as a French writer says, “it was difficult to get a comma into the discourse.” On many subjects, particularly in relation to Ireland,
he was full of information. He had made himself well acquainted with Italy, where he said he had lived several years for less than a thousand a year in order to economise, and could get teachers for his children, keep a carriage, horses, and a town and country house for that sum.

At the house of R——n at Paddington, a warm conversation ensued about some Roman antiquities, volubly enunciated by Lord Dillon. Campbell, who felt the call of appetite, saw the dinner set in the next room, and the discussion going on while the guests were seating themselves. Fancying a turkey under one of the covers he said, “Gentlemen, let us leave Rome for Turkey.” When the cover was taken off, the dish exhibited a goose. “We can’t leave the Capitol, you see,” said our host. “No,” said Campbell, “every one to his friend—dulce domum.”

Dillon, Campbell, and one or two others, used to meet at dinner at this friend’s house near Maida Hill, when the pleasantness and conviviality of the after-dinner-hour were the most agreeable I ever remember. The table was strictly a “conversable table,” never less than the Graces nor more than the Muses sitting down to it. In general there were no more than six. Here all kinds of subjects were freely discussed—poetry, philosophy, economy, politics, and sometimes religion, but nothing in the way of disputation, all being in a strain
of sober inquiry or illustration, carried on in good humour. There was none of that affectation of wit, that intention to exhibit which too frequently in those days consumed time to no purpose; none of that Sisyphean labor which, toiling for smartness and levity, falls back from over-effort. The poet and the peer both came into the world in 1777, and were within a month or two of the same age. Lord Dillon had a seat out of Ireland—Ditchley, in Oxfordshire, where he dealt out a generous hospitality.

In 1829, the poet had become somewhat more reconciled to his domestic misfortune. He now went into society frequently and saw company at home. He had not lost any portion of his old abstractive habit, however, for Pringle had been circulating a paper soliciting a subscription for an unfortunate youth named Henry Scott. A copy was put into Campbell’s hand for the purpose of mentioning the subject at a dinner where he was to be in the chair. When the cloth was removed, the poet had forgotten the paper and all about the subscription for which Pringle had been solicitous. In fact, Campbell had mislaid it at home. Pringle complained to me; “You should have kept the paper yourself,” I observed, “and having prepared Campbell for the expectation of it beforehand, have gone and given it to him at the proper moment; it was eight chances out of ten otherwise that he would lose it.”


“Impossible!” said Pringle; “a charity matter, too?”

With his habitual absence of mind, as I told that excellent and kind man, he would have lost an exchequer bill in the same way, the last property he had in the world.

Pringle then sent him a note, recalling the circumstance of his inattention, which the world would have declared was unpardonable neglect, disregard of charitable feelings, and the like. Campbell instantly replied:—

“I was guilty of a sad oversight in neglecting to circulate the paper which you gave me, and now, by some fatality, I have mislaid it for the present, though I shall seek for it, and I think to a certainty I shall find it.

“In the meantime I enclose 3l. as the only atonement I can offer you for the behoof of the poor fellow in whom you are so humanely interested. With much regard, and respect, &c.”

This was but a repetition of the poet’s old way. I never heard that the paper was discovered; the chances are, that it was never heard of again.

I think it was the time he last came up from Scotland that I crossed him in the street just as he was entering his own house, wearied and dusty. I went in with him for a few minutes, when putting his hand into all his pockets, he exclaimed, “I have not lost them, surely; I had a hundred
pounds and more just now.” He searched, but searched in vain, coat, pockets, and all. He had just been set down in the White-horse Yard, Fetter Lane, and remarked that he was positive he had the notes there.

“Did he know the numbers?”

“No.” He set off to the inn again, but he never heard any thing more of his notes. He pulled them out perhaps, and dropped them in the coach in which he left the inn. I found he had brought them loose in his pocket, such was his careless way. Even when he wished to place any thing at home in security, he generally put it in some place that when he wanted it he had forgotten. He soon forgot in the present case the loss of his money, economist as he affected at times to be.

He passed the first three months of the year in London, in tolerable health, resuming as near an approach as he could make to his old domestic life, though it was easily seen that his efforts were far from successful. There are so many little things demanding female supervision in the economy of a household, that are certain to be neglected under male superintendence, and above all under the superintendence of one so “helpless” as the poet was, to use Mrs. Campbell’s word, that the want of her who had for so many years filled up the void now become wider in the poet’s ex-
istence, was every day more and more visible. On the loss of Mrs. Campbell he had to begin a new course of life, without adaptation for the change, or experience to direct him how to make the best of it. It is with many like the severance of life itself to be thus torn away from past habits to form new ones. Confidence in self may do much to retrieve such a state of things, but it will as often lead wide of the mark as it will steer successfully, while in any case there are no more than partial restoratives, since the memory of past things, like antique coins, gaining additional value from the green rust of time, is quite sufficient to prevent the present from yielding satisfaction.

He decked his table with fresh plate, gave dinners, occasionally, as if he wished to seek in society at home, the removal of that desolateness of feeling which it was impossible he should not experience. His table had seldom more than six, including himself and son, or eight at most. I never recollect to have met more. His dinners were frugal and well served, there was nothing extraneous; all was in good taste, too, at this time, for he had not yet betaken himself to those changes of domicile nor that disregard of comfort which he afterwards fell into as he drew more towards his last years. I well remember his giving
dinners in the month of January in this year, on account of circumstances occurring peculiarly characteristic.

In April this year Campbell took a journey into Scotland again, although he had been down three months before. The object was to distribute the prizes which it has been already seen, from his address to the students of Glasgow, it was his intention to give them for certain essays upon subjects he had designated. He reached Glasgow on the 6th of April, from the following communication which I still have in my possession, stating, as was too frequently the case where business was to be transacted under his arrangement, that some error had taken place:—

“I arrived here this morning, when I learnt to my mortification that the prize exercises for my medals had been sent to London. They must have come to Seymour Street this morning. Will you have the goodness, my dear friend, to get them sent off immediately to me per mail, addressed to me Wm. Gray, Esq., Claremont Place, Glasgow. With best remembrances, I remain, &c. (though with a wretched steel-pen).”

He was occupied until the 17th of the month in Glasgow, about the affairs of the university, during which time he adjudged the prizes for the different essays which had been sent to London for his decision, under the idea that he would not
have gone down to Scotland for that purpose. His zeal in his office and his attachment to the place of his instruction and of his much-cherished youthful recollections, would not permit him to remain absent on such an occasion as the above letter shows.

On the 17th of the same month, he was still in Glasgow, for he wrote from thence under that date.

“After a good deal of discussion, I have brought my rectorial matters to a settlement, and am now on the point of leaving this place for Edinburgh, from whence, on Monday next, the 20th, I shall embark for London. I am bringing with me one of the students, whom I have invited to stop a month with me in town. I long to tell you all my adventures here.”

The first notice I had of his return was a note to the following effect, undated:—

“I have returned sooner than I expected, last night, and am here at your service at as early an hour as you like to come to-day. I have an apology to make to you, which I must make verbally.

“P.S.—By an early hour, I mean five or so. I am going out at two. Perhaps you will have the goodness to say whether you will come at five or later.”

To what the apology related I have now no recollection. I went over and dined. The poet was in excellent spirits, and entered into a detail
of his journey and of the high gratification he felt at his reception in the third year of his rectorship. He spoke of the piece of plate he had received as a memento of the most agreeable recollections of his life, and said that he never felt so strongly before the impression made from bygone years. That he knew it was a delusion of the past which conferred upon them their present value, but that he could hardly overcome by reason the fallacy of their superior worth over existing objects. That as he might not again visit Scotland, he had taken a silent leave of the places to which he had been most attached in early life. I rather wondered this had given no occasion for the use of his pen. In the former year he had published his “
Lines on Revisiting a Scottish River,” after his return from Glasgow, but now, perhaps, his feelings were too deep to find a vent this way. I remember he dwelt, even with pathos, upon recollections of his early life, as I never heard him do before, for he was exceedingly reserved about all that related to his personal feelings, as if he would fain have it thought he was indifferent to that which most affected mankind in general. He spoke of calling upon some friends in Edinburgh, and of Professor Wilson, who was not at home when he came through. He spoke of Sir Walter Scott, and of hearing that he was not in as good health as every body wished;
of the continued changes he observed in the Scottish capital, to which he expressed a great attachment, and wound up all by remarking that he thought the locality of a vast city like London had this recommendation in its favour, that it made personal changes less visible, and buried in its perpetual round of bustle and anxiety, the acuteness of those feelings which in the country, from their causes being continually present, were sure to be prolonged to no good end. What did it matter, we ran the same inevitable round towards age, less perceptibly in London than in the country; here
Tempora labunter, tacitisque senesoimus annis,
it was some consideration not to have the continued observation of it before our eyes.

I remarked that he had left the poetical for the philosophical mood, which was rather a strange thing with him.

“My good friend,” he replied, “a poet is a philosopher; the world won’t think so, because his lessons are not delivered according to the conventional ideas of the philosopher’s language. The difference is, that the poet gives the same lessons over sparkling wine, that the dry philosopher gives without even a glass of water to moisten his mouth.”

In the spring of this year, as before, Campbell
gave, now and then, breakfast-parties to ten or a dozen literary friends. I cannot recollect whether it was this year or the preceding that, at one of these parties, he played me a trick, which he enjoyed, and to which as late as 1839 he referred in a mode which showed that though his bodily strength had began to exhibit, in no slight degree, symptoms of that decay which year by year became more visible, his memory had not quite failed him. I remember
Washington Irving, Thomas Pringle, Leigh Hunt, Generals Lallemand and Pepe, Sir C. Morgan, H. Smith, Lord Dillon, Dr. Strachan, Archdeacon of Canada, afterwards Bishop, and others, were present. I did not then know that the doctor was an archdeacon, or of the church of England, but supposed he was a clergyman of the church of Scotland. Campbell, perceiving this, slily ran me deep into my error. The church of England came upon the carpet, in consequence of an allusion to some flagrant circumstances that had occurred in the cloth about that time in relation to cases of great looseness of morals in certain church clergymen. I forget now what they were, nor does it matter, as it merely set the subject going. I began to dilate upon the greater care exercised in respect to moral character in choosing clergymen in Scotland than in England—addressing myself now and then to Dr. Strachan directly. Thence I proceeded to other points, in
which I conceived the church of Scotland had an advantage over that of England. Campbell now and then said something to me in a low tone, for no other end save to prolong the deception I was under. At length I paid the church of Scotland so many compliments, as being more simple in form. I do not know whether I did not speak of apostolic fishermen and purple thrones and mitres being irreconcileable to primitive Christianity. I fairly galled the good archdeacon, who soon withdrew solus to the drawing-room. Campbell could contain no longer. He stated to all present that Dr. Strachan was of the church of England, archdeacon of Toronto, in Canada, a very good man, and an old friend of his.

“You have done your own business now,” said Campbell to me.

“Why, I saw you did not disapprove of what I said.”

“Oh no,” he replied, “the doctor is very good-natured, and to punish one of the orthodox who put faith in prelacy is a virtue in the eyes of a John Knoxer, as of course I am.”

I felt annoyed; I would not willingly give any one offence, and feared I had hurt the archdeacon’s feelings.

Catholic Emancipation was at this time the engrossing topic of conversation. The conduct of the Duke of Wellington in yielding to the neces-
sity of the measure, obtained more than one eulogium from the poet.

“See here,” said Campbell, showing me a letter from Ireland, in the month of January or February, “there will be serious work, I fear; Peel, says ——, is the greatest ignoramus or unaccountable that ever lived. He wrote to the lord-lieutenant, Lord Anglesey, a school-boy letter, most insolent and overbearing, and attributed his recall to his correspondence with Dr. Curtis, though that correspondence was not published till after the recall had arrived here—this is too bad even for Candor ‘himself.’”

“Soft and fair,” said the poet, “parliament is but just opened. If Peel opposes the measure, it will still be carried. I cannot believe he will hold out in opposition.”

Some very severe remarks upon Sir Robert Peel’s conduct, then Mr. Peel, in afterwards giving his late assent to that measure, were made in the poet’s hearing. It was contended that he had sacrificed his principles, forsaken his friends, and, for the sake of place, cast a stain upon his reputation. Campbell, whose political tenets had never varied through life, and, therefore, might be supposed more likely than individuals of looser political principles to join in the censures thus unsparingly dealt out, on the contrary, vindicated the conduct of Peel. He insisted that there was
no reason to suppose one, who was independent in fortune, and allied to a powerful party for so long a period as Peel had been, would change his opinion without a conviction that he was acting for the public benefit, giving way not to any alteration effected in his own previous prejudices, but to the consideration that those prejudices, placed in competition with a great public advantage, must not be suffered to contravene its operations. Our honest convictions were not dependent upon our will, nor should they be upon our party feeling, and to restrain their effects because they opposed our wishes or attachments, might become those who never acted from honest conviction at all, but could not so operate with those who had better constituted minds, and more enlarged ideas. Peel might have been given to look too little in advance of the moment in judging of a great public question, but when the moment came that he saw the advantage of a conduct opposite to that he had before pursued, and with boldness and honesty gave it his support—though, at a late period, comparatively—he did not merit censure, but praise. He, Campbell, would not allow that motive was in such a case to be impugned in the precipitate manner in which it had been. He thought the great preponderance of evidence was in Peel’s favour, and he would not suffer the predilections of Whig or
Tory to mingle with the examination of the causes of such a change in the minister. He knew, because it was openly shown by the reasons they gave, that bigotry in religion, and a want of right reasoning, were the main springs of the opposition made to complete emancipation—to the removal of every sort of restraint that existed connected with opinion, whether with “Jew or Greek.” Actions, not opinions, were the true objects of legal restraint, because the one was dependent upon volition, and the other was not—the one concerned man, was tangible and visible, the other arraigned mental and unseen agencies. The advancement of knowledge caused the growing conviction of this truth. It was operating in all civilised countries. It was rather hard upon a British minister to censure him for becoming a party to a state of things that, sooner or later, would be inevitable. Peel had nothing to fear from the reproach that he differed from narrowminded friends, and incurred their censures for insuring a great benefit to his country. For his, Campbell’s, part, he should ever feel happy at the change in Peel’s opinions, and concede to him heartfelt thanks for the act, as well as esteem the sacrifice he had made of party, as one made for the public benefit.

Whenever he heard the minister attacked for changing his sentiments, he used similar argu-
ments, insisting, too, that
Peel was not bound to go out of office unless a majority of the House of Commons were against him. He was rather constrained to remain in place for the purpose of carrying the measure of Emancipation. Because he had once thought as his friends did, he ought not to suffer the good intended, to be marred for the sake of party. The alteration in Peel’s policy bad been from wrong to right principles, he had not acted as some had done, and gone over from right to wrong, sacrificing liberal and enlarged to narrow and selfish views. Peel, in advocating Emancipation, had done nothing of this kind, and was entitled to be judged fairly on that particular measure, by the good the change in his sentiments would confer upon the community, and not by Whig or Tory partialities. Thus the poet showed nothing of the spirit of party upon this question. Again and again I heard him allude to it almost in the same terms. There can be no doubt that he spoke from his own conviction of the injustice of Peel giving up to party cabal the completion of a measure then deemed necessary for the peace of Ireland, as well as being essential to the freedom of the citizen. Campbell did not deny that Peel’s former party might complain, but that was not a point of moment where a public benefit was in question. Peel’s want of foresight might be a constitutional failing; foresight had been denied
to many characters of eminence—it was wanting in numberless instances in the transactions of persons in ordinary life, and might be wanting in a statesman as well as in any other individual who might possess other qualifications for office. If so, it was a misfortune, not a crime, and despite the misfortune the good had been done, the true sense of the thing had become visible in time to effect what was wanted.

It was singular that Campbell thus strenuously defended this statesman in those days upon the very point on which, since he has been deceased, the same statesman exhibited more striking lapses. It was singular, too, that a Whig so zealous as Campbell should become Peel’s champion, when, by so many of all parties, his conduct was placed on the list of unquestionable equivocations.