LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

My Friends and Acquaintance
Thomas Campbell II

Vol I Contents
Charles Lamb I
Charles Lamb II
Charles Lamb III
Charles Lamb IV
Charles Lamb V
Charles Lamb VI
Charles Lamb VII
Charles Lamb VIII
Charles Lamb IX
Charles Lamb X
Thomas Campbell I
‣ Thomas Campbell II
Thomas Campbell III
Thomas Campbell IV
Thomas Campbell V
Thomas Campbell VI
Thomas Campbell VII
Lady Blessington I
Lady Blessington II
Lady Blessington III
Lady Blessington IV
Lady Blessington V
R. Plumer Ward I
R. Plumer Ward II
R. Plumer Ward III
R. Plumer Ward IV
R. Plumer Ward V
R. Plumer Ward VI
Appendix vol I
Vol II Contents
R. Plumer Ward VII
R. Plumer Ward VIII
R. Plumer Ward IX
R. Plumer Ward X
R. Plumer Ward XI
R. Plumer Ward XII
R. Plumer Ward XIII
R. Plumer Ward XIV
R. Plumer Ward XV
R. Plumer Ward XVI
R. Plumer Ward XVII
R. Plumer Ward XVIII
R. Plumer Ward XIX
R. Plumer Ward XX
R. Plumer Ward XXI
R. Plumer Ward XXII
R. Plumer Ward XXIII
Horace & James Smith I
Horace & James Smith II
William Hazlitt I
William Hazlitt II
William Hazlitt III
William Hazlitt IV
William Hazlitt V
William Hazlitt VI
William Hazlitt VII
William Hazlitt VIII
Appendix vol II
Vol III Contents
William Hazlitt IX
William Hazlitt X
William Hazlitt XI
William Hazlitt XII
William Hazlitt XIII
William Hazlitt XIV
William Hazlitt XV
William Hazlitt XVI
William Hazlitt XVII
William Hazlitt XVIII
William Hazlitt XIX
William Hazlitt XX
William Hazlitt XXI
William Hazlitt XXII
William Hazlitt XXIII
William Hazlitt XXIV
William Hazlitt XXV
William Hazlitt XXVI
Laman Blanchard I
Laman Blanchard II
Laman Blanchard III
Laman Blanchard IV
Laman Blanchard V
Laman Blanchard VI
Laman Blanchard VII
Laman Blanchard VIII
R & T Sheridan I
R & T Sheridan II
R & T Sheridan III
R & T Sheridan IV
R & T Sheridan V
R & T Sheridan VI
R & T Sheridan VII
R & T Sheridan VIII
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I will here give two or three illustrative anecdotes of the Campbell Editorship of the New Monthly, arising out of my own anonymous connexion with the Magazine before I became personally acquainted with Campbell. Among my first proffered contributions were the two first numbers of a series of papers, having for their object to illustrate the birth, growth, and gradual development of the passion of Love, by means of brief passages in the (supposed) life of the (supposed) writer; and, in order to go to the root of the matter, and to show that, at one period of our lives at all events, the passion is a purely intellectual one, uninfluenced by feelings of sex, the first story related to two school-boys of nine or ten years of age, one of whom “wasted the sweetness” of his nascent affection on “the desert air” of the other’s utter
indifference and disdain. Quite anticipating the possibility of this reminiscence of my school-days being thought too “innocent,” not to say too puerile, for a grave Magazine—but little thinking of the objection that would be made to it—I accompanied it by the second number of the series, which was a love story quite selon les règles, so far as regarded the relations of sex, however unorthodox in other respects.

Here is the reply I received to my communication. The style is quite regal in point of form, and, like all the others that I received on similar occasions, it is in the hand-writing of Campbell himself:—

“To the writer of the articles entitled —— the Editor of the ‘New Monthly Magazine’s’ compliments. The Editor admires the writer’s talents, and attaches not the slightest misconception to the nature of the feelings described in the first number; but he thinks that many persons, from ignorance, or prejudice, or ill-nature, may object to the description of the attachment in the first number, and he declines accepting it. He will, nevertheless, not
only be happy but grateful for the writer’s permission to publish the second number, and requests to be favoured with his further communications.”

Now it is impossible to believe, in the face of this decision, that the writer, who was excessively clear-sighted when he did take the trouble to look into anything, could have read the paper in question—which was simply what I have described it above. The probabilities are, that he never even saw it—that, being glanced at by the worthy proprietor of the Magazine (through whose hands all communications for the Editor passed), and found to relate throughout to two schoolboys, it was thought too simple food for the intellectual appetites of grown-up readers, and was therefore, to prevent accidents, intercepted on its way: a species of sifting which I believe everything underwent before it reached the ordeal from which there was no appeal. If I am right in this conjecture, the note I have given was probably the result of a suggestion from the same quarter, born of some vague feeling, generated by that rapid bird’s-eye glance which gathers its impres-
sions of a book from a single chapter, and a Magazine article from a single page, and is seldom very far wrong—though now and then, of course, ridiculously so.

About the same time with the above, I commenced another series of papers in the Magazine, entitled “Letters from England.” They related to “everything in the world” connected with English life, literature, art, &c., and in order to give a little adventitious novelty and lightness to topics so hacknied, the letters were written ostensibly under the character of a Frenchman. But the disguise was so transparent, and so loosely worn, that it was difficult to conceive—nor was it desired by the wearer—that any one should be otherwise than wilfully deceived by it. Yet here is the editorial Introduction by which the series was ushered to the attention of the readers of the New Monthly.

“These letters are, we understand, the production of a distinguished Frenchman, whose original MS. journal has been obligingly submitted to us by a friend for publication. The editor admits them on account
of the ability which they seem to possess.* For this special consideration he makes, in this one instance, a departure from his general rule, of not inserting any communications bearing the stamp of national prejudice. But he protests against being responsible for a single sentiment they contain.”

Now this, like the note preceding it, may safely, I think, be attributed to a suggestion emanating from the imperium in imperio which the proprietor of the Magazine himself was wise enough to maintain in his own literary domain. As these letters were intended, after their appearance in the Magazine, to be reprinted as a substantive work,† and it was their publisher’s policy that they should (in the first instance, at least), be considered by the public as the bonâ fide productions of a foreigner, he probably took the preliminary precaution of “insinuating the

* Here the secret of non-perusal peeps out. “Seem to possess!” So that they may or they may not possess it, for anything he knows about them.

† They were afterwards published by Mr. Colburn, in two volumes, under the title of “Letters on England.”

plot into the boxes,” through the plastic medium of the responsible editor of the
New Monthly, who was the most tractable person in the world, when his own personal feelings did not interfere to make him exactly the reverse. Be this as it may, I must deny having had anything to do with this note, beyond the fact of the letters being, as I have said, ostensibly written under the character of a foreigner.

The third anecdote I shall cite illustrative of Campbell’s editorship of the New Monthly relates to a series of papers entitled “The Months,”* which had for their object to note, for present recognition or future recollection, the various facts and incidents of country and of town life which mark the passage of each month respectively. I had accordingly noted, in connexion with the country life of April, the return of the shy and solitary cuckoo—so at least I had called it, and had particularly referred to its extreme rarity as an object of actual sight—a characteristic which Wordsworth has so

* Afterwards republished as a volume by Messrs. Whittaker, under the title of “Mirror of the Months.”

beautifully marked when calling it “a wandering voice.” But this Natural History did not accord with the supposed rural experience of the editor, who appended to the passage a note signifying that his contributor was a little at fault on this point, as he (the editor) had frequently “seen whole fields blue with cuckoos”—the cuckoo being of a dusky brown colour, and being never by any chance seen two together, except when callow in the nest!

I need scarcely add that these little blunders and oversights are noted merely as among the minor “Curiosities” of our periodical literature, and are by no means intended to call in question or disparage the general merits of a joint management that, taken altogether, raised the New Monthly Magazine to a pitch, not merely of popularity, but of actual desert, which had never before been attained by any work of a similar nature. In fact, the accession of Campbell’s name to the New Monthly may be fairly cited as marking an era in our Magazine literature.

Since the foregoing Recollections were
written, I have looked over
Mr. Cyrus Redding’s Reminiscences, in the New Monthly Magazine, with the view of either confirming or correcting my own impressions derived from an unbroken connexion with the magazine during the whole of Mr. Campbell’s (nominal) editorship. The unscrupulous disclosures of Mr. Redding on this subject, in his entertaining Papers, more than confirm all that I have said on it. In one place he speaks of the editorship as “consisting in a negative, not a positive, realization of the duty;” and he adds as follows:—“I do not believe the poet ever read through a single number of the magazine during the whole ten years of his editorship.”