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"When I look back on my adventures for two months past, I should be most ungrateful if I did not feel sensible of being very kindly treated by almost every human being with whom I have met. I have been fortunate, even in the very lodging where I have taken up my abode. My landlord is a toy-gilder -a splendid profession, certainly-and his family are so decent, interesting, and respectable, that they might bring a wholesome lesson to any reflecting mind, by showing what happiness and value of character may be found, independent of wealth and station, through mere good conduct. I sometimes sit down with the tradesman in his parlor, and enjoy the sight of the most perfect happiness, to all appearance, that domestic society can yield. His wife, as the maid-servant told Mrs. C., has never been known to be out of humor for eleven years. He sits and reads to her; at present he is reading my 'Poets." Their children would make you laugh with happiness: seven of them, like steps of stairs, with the highest degree of John Bull beauty that England affords. He has one little daughter, eight years old, that I could almost steal from him. . . . The Birmingham ladies, I think, dress better than they did the first evening I lectured to them. I observe more silk stockings among the men, and fewer morning caps among the ladies. My landlord, who has some acquaintance with belles lettres, told me very honestly, after a thousand apologies for his honesty, that the young women of B. would not understand my lectures. But these were only my first and second discourses: for, the moment I got them among the comic Greek and Latin poets, they understood me so well as to laugh, at least, very heartily, in the right place."
"March 13.-I concluded my lectures last night, and, the people say, to their satisfaction. . . I have met L-d, the quondam partner of L-b in poetry. He is an innocent creature, but imagines everybody dead! He came to my first lecture, and told his wife that if there were such a thing as real life, and if he and I, and all about us, were not mere phantoms, my lectures were just the sort of thing he should wish to attend; but he thinks all this show of life is mere illusion."
"March 16.-I had an express invitation from a literary
* During this literary tour, Campbell's "Specimens of the British Poets" was at last published; and he "had the satisfaction to hear that it was everywhere well received." He had also "remitted two hundred pounds, clear" and after appropriating a sum for the liquidation of all demands, found himself in the novel position of a man who had money to lay out at interest.
society in Glasgow, requesting me, in the name of a great body of people, to repeat my lectures there. My friends in Edinburgh have been so pressing to the same effect, that if my chest complaint were perfectly well conducted I should, without hesitation, avail myself of their offer. But I know well what would happen from the hospitality of Glasgow or Edinburgh. Here I can scarcely refuse invitations to dinner, which always expose me to catching cold; and in the north I should enjoy the hospitality, to the prejudice of my health. For though I now abstain, habitually, from even the ordinary indulgence in eating, and taking wine, yet the excitement of speaking always hurts me. Here I have scarcely gone out at all, except to poor Gregory Watt's father-the James Watt. All this I shall avoid by getting to the south, where I can live as I please. . . . Though I have shunned visiting at Birmingham, I should be ungrateful to forget the great kindness which every respectable person, I may say, in the town and neighborhood has paid me. The president of the Institution, a most respectable, learned, and worthy clergyman, delivered a lecture the Monday after I finished, in praise of the last lecturer on poetry, who was, luckily, in a back bench, and not obliged to be seen listening to his own eulogy! T. C."
Thus concluded a very agreeable, and, as regarded remuneration, a very satisfactory tour.
On his return to Sydenham, Campbell felt himself entitled to a little repose. The "Specimens," now fairly before the public, were to be followed by his Lectures; but the final arrangement of these for the press was not urgently required; and, for a short month, he enjoyed his otium cum dignitate-" study and ease, together mixed." The terms of praise, in which his new work was generally noticed, consoled him for the time and study expended in its compilation, and seemed to predict, at least, an equally favorable hearing for its successor. The work, however, was not faultless-and no man was more sensible of its imperfections than himself; and although he had exercised the greatest impartiality in the prefatory critiques, his remarks were occasionally felt, and resented, by those to whom they applied. Among these was the venerable editor of Pope's Works,* whose
*This charge, it may be here added, which Mr. Bowles had only repeated, and which Campbell resented as an insult to the private character of Pope, has been substantiated by the Marchmont Papers. See "Specimens of the British Poets," Art. POPE, 8vo. ed.; also, the Vindication.
gentle remonstance to Campbell not only precluded resentment, but conciliated respect and friendship :
RETIRES TO SYDENHAM-HIS SON.
"I have thought myself called upon," he writes, “to vindicate some observations of mine on the character of Pope, in answer to your critical remarks on those observations in the 1st vol. of your Specimens. I think you have hastily laid yourself open to some animadversions; but I trust you will find nothing said that might seem to imply any feelings but those of the highest respect for your acknowledged political and literary character. Your friend Moore is in this neighborhood, and also Crabbe and Crewe. It would give me great pleasure if I should ever have an opportunity of seeing you here; and believe me that, though our aspects are somewhat warlike in print, at home I remain most sincerely and faithfully, and with many thanks for the great pleasure I have derived from your works, "Your most obedient servant,
"Bremhill, April 18th, 1819.
W. L. BOWLES."
During the early part of the summer his retirement at Sydenham was agreeably enlivened by visits from numerous friends, and among others from Lord and Lady Selkirk, Lord Byron, and Mr. Rogers. Among the poetical products of the season were "Lines to the Rainbow," which differ materially from those subsequently published.*
The arrangement which he had entered into with his friends in Glasgow, was to have been now carried into effect; and although he had no valid objections to offer on the score of health, yet other difficulties, of a nature no less formidable, stood in the way; and, after a correspondence of some weeks, the plan was reluctantly abandoned. The reasons are forcibly stated in a letter to Mr. Gray, from which I will quote the following passage:-"My boy is now at a very critical time. He is finishing all the education he is to receive before going into a profession, and is in the hands of a teacher with whom, for the first time in his life, he is making rapid improvement. No one knows what distress I have had with his backwarkness, when obliged to be his tutor. But, by the greatest good fortune, Dr. Glennie, our neighbor, kindly took him on reasonable terms, as a day-scholar; and the pains which he takes with him are such as exceed all that I have ever seen bestowed by a master on a pupil. I would not, for all that years of lecturing would produce, take Thomas from his hands. . . I am convinced that a year with Dr. G. will make, to me, the inestimable difference of seeing him an accomplished, or a deficiently-educated man. Oh, my anxiety about this is what no one but a father can con
* See Appendix.
ceive! The beam of expectation that has dawned upon me within these few months, that my boy will yet be an ornament to us, creates an era in my existence !"
"Upon a superficial view of the case, it might seem quite as well to have him in Glasgow. But no. . . . Leaving Mrs. C. here is totally impossible. She is watching her invalid sister,* and would on no earthly consideration go to Scotland at present. To take my boy from school, would break up his education. It is indeed a sacrifice to give up Edinburgh and Glasgow, where I had to refresh old friendships, and enjoy travelling with so much benefit to my circumstances; but as things are, I cannot do it. T. C."
Thus terminated the negotiations—but higher honors awaited him; for, although prevented from visiting his native city as a lecturer on Poetry, his friends had the pleasure of receiving him, only a few years later, as Lord-Rector of their university. From this time forward, he appears to have declined invitations to lecture in the country; but the subject was ever afterwards one of the deepest interest; and, among the last occupations of his life, was a series of annotations on these lectures, made with the view, as he told me, of bringing them eventually before the public in a greatly improved form.
In the course of the autumn, his attention being directed to an article in the "Biographical Dictionary," where, in giving the history of his poetical life, the writer had assigned reasons for his being pensioned, which were at variance with the fact, Campbell contradicted the statement; and, as his spirited and characteristic letter to the editor places the subject in its true light, I quote the following passage:
"Sir,—It is stated in your article that I received a pension under the British Government, during the administration of Mr. Fox, for having written in support of his measures. This is not a correct statement of the fact: I am no political writer, and received the above grant at the recommendation of Mr. Fox, and other ministers in the same cabinet, purely and exclusively as an act of literary patronage. In stating this, I have no intention to declare myself neutral, with regard to political feelings, still less to disavow that zeal and reverence for Mr. Fox's principles, which are felt by so great a proportion of Englishmen. Neither do I mean to insinuate an uncharitable or unqualified maxim, that it is impossible for a political
* This "beautiful sister" was now suffering under temporary mental disorder at Sydenham; a calamity to which Campbell most feelingly alludes in this and other letters.-See Correspondence of 1825.
writer, who may have supported a party in the State, to receive a pension from Government without dishonor. Only, it is certain that such writers are justly regarded with more jealousy than those who receive similar favors simply, and without relation to politics, as men of letters. I have, at all events, a right to correct an error in my own biography. I now repeat to you what I will substantiate, if proof be required, that it was not political, but poetical writings, which gained me the good will of those statesmen who recommended me to my Sovereign. My poems, containing neither party satire, party praise, nor individual adulation, had the good fortune to please Mr. Fox and my noble friend Lord Holland. If, in their kindness towards me, they made a wrong choice as to literary merit, their intentions, at least, were wholly disinterested. They gained no political or party purpose; they obliged no relation nor friend's relation; and only benefited a man whom they were pleased to consider a poet. Of Lord Holland and Mr. Fox, it is scarcely necessary for me to say, that among all high-minded statesmen, there could be none more likely to befriend a literary man, without expecting political drudgery in return, or the slightest sacrifice of his personal independence. I am, &c.
REASONS FOR BEING PENSIONED.