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ET.44.] FRIENDS AND ASSOCIATES-HIS ELDEST SON.
pages of a monthly journal. His Lectures on Classic Poetry, though greatly abridged while passing through the press, appeared to have gained, rather than lost, by the process of condensation; and, compared with the original manuscripts, they discover many traces of the taste and success with which he had prosecuted his researches in Germany. His essays, criticisms, and short poems, scattered through the monthly numbers, embrace almost every variety of subject; and, though not uniformly profound or sparkling, they bear, in general, the stamp of his genius, and, in a few happy instances, discover both the weight and brilliancy of the true ore.
His social intercourse at this time, as appears from the letters before me, was limited to a circle of literary friends, few and well chosen, whom he delighted to see at his frugal dinner-table, or in the quiet of his own study. In this circle was comprised much of the talent, literary and political, then residing in London, with frequent visiters from the country, and a number of distinguished foreigners. Among the latter were General Pepé* and his friend Colonel Macerone, who had served, and suffered together in the same cause. Campbell, indeed, was the uncompromising friend of every exile, every foreigner in distress; and this strong feeling of sympathy for the oppressed, never abated until, in after years, he founded the Polish Association-one of the proudest monuments of British philanthropy. But of this hereafter.
I am now to touch upon a subject which forms, unhappily, a prominent feature in the correspondence of this year, and for which the reader is, in some measure, prepared. I allude to the case of his eldest, and only surviving son. It is a delicate topic; but after the misstatements that have gone forth to the world, in which the motives and conduct of Campbell have been misrepresented, if not maligned, it becomes the duty of his biographer to place the facts of the case in a clear and incontestable light. This, it is hoped, may be done very briefly, and without any infringement of that delicacy which he is bound to observe towards the living.
Whoever has perused the foregoing memorials, cannot have failed to remark the uniform paternal fondness with which Campbell speaks and writes of his children; entering into all
"... Le Colonel Macerone est enchanté de votre amabilité, comme le sont tous ceux qui ont l'avantage de vous connaître; et je vous prie de me croire un de vos admirateurs que vous estiment le plus."-General Pepé to Campbell.
their little amusements, watching every indication of talent, repeating their half-formed thoughts, predicting their future eminence, and silently indulging the hope of seeing his own reputation eclipsed by theirs: then, his frantic grief at the death of his younger boy, his pathetic exclamations, his inward struggle to moderate that grief, the months that elapsed before he recovered sufficient composure to resume his duties; and lastly, the increased affection with which he directed all his thoughts to the survivor-devoting every leisure hour to his education, grudging no sacrifice, sparing no expense, that he might one day have the happiness, as he expressed it, of seeing his "son an accomplished man." This hope was apparently well founded; the pains bestowed on his education were brightened by a fair promise of reward; for, in the expanding intellect of his son, so often mentioned in his letters, Campbell thought he had discovered those moral elements that required only time and culture to render him an "ornament of society." In the midst of these pleasing anticipations, however, symptoms of a malady, to which we need not particularly allude, began to dispel the hopes, so long and fondly cherished. At the age of fourteen, either from hereditary taint,* or the effects of an accident at school, his son was pronounced incapable of prosecuting his studies. The disorder first discovered itself in capricious fits of temper; then in acts of violence-softening down, however, to what is called eccentricity; but sufficient, in any of its forms, to occasion most serious alarm to his parents. It was long before Campbell was brought to consider these symptoms in any other light than as the mere effects of temper, or physical derangement, which only required the aid of science to correct the diseased action; and, with this view, several plans were adopted, and persevered in, before he had courage to resort to ulterior measures. At length, the case became so clearly marked, as to leave no doubt of its nature and tendency; and the only alternative remaining, was to submit the case to professional investigation. And this brings us to the date of the following letters.
The family anxieties, casually alluded to in the notice of the past year, had rather increased than diminished during the spring; and, although not called upon to enter minutely into the subject, the following extracts from his letters will show too
This is clearly stated in one of Campbell's letters, and has been partially noticed in these pages.
clearly that the hopes he had so long cherished as a parent were already crushed; and that Campbell was maintaining a desperate but ineffectual struggle with his feelings.
PATERNAL ANXIETY REGARDING HIS SON.
"SYDENHAM, September 15, 1822. ... I have got Dr. Warburton's opinion; it stunned me-and required deep consideration on the steps which ought to be taken. I was in a deep study on this painful subject when I met Dr. Meyer,* of Bonn. I had received so much attention from him in Germany, that I could not in my heart apologize for not showing him proper hospitality, and explaining the circumstance of my unhappy family! He has spent the better part of the day with me. He says that T's case is one of decided melancholia; and that he ought to be put under supervision and medical treatment. He acknowledged, however, that there might be danger of injuring his mind, by suddenly placing him in an asylum; and thought it would be better to have a keeper in the house, because, I believe, he pitied the poor mother when he saw her, as might be expected, dreadfully shocked at the idea of consigning him to such a place. I know, however, what will happen if a keeper comes to enforce medical treatment. Neither his mother, nor possibly myself, will be able to stand the sight and sound of a man employing force. It will require cooler minds than either she or I possess, to draw the right line of distinction between the force which a man must fairly employ, and the improper violence which we may suspect him of employing. I told Matilda this; but her abhorrence of an asylum could not be overcome. To-day she called on Mrs. Denman, who enforced my view of the subject in the strongest manner; and when she came home, she acknowledged her fears that a keeper in private lodgings will not do.". "Dr. W. fairly warned me that the expense of his plan would be very great. My own conviction is, that, if we are justified in doing anything, we are justified in placing him in an asylum; and to this, I believe, it must inevitably come. Matilda will very soon perceive the necessity of this; but I feel myself called upon, both in prudence and delicacy, to leave her change of opinion, as far as possible, to its own course. Taking him to Sydenham is out of the question. In short, I have thought with the most
With whom his son had been placed. See Letters from Bonn, 1820. + In explanation of this feeling, the reader is referred to the note, page 100.
earnest calculation of probabilities on this subject; and, though not able to explain to you the reasons for my decision, so clearly as I could wish, I feel I must decide against the plan of treating him at home. Here the matter rests. I have had, as
you may imagine, little sleep since I saw you.
The event turned out exactly as Campbell had foreseen; the youth became less and less manageable, until Mrs. Campbell herself admitted that there was no alternative but an asylum. In the performance of this most painful duty, inquiries were made in various parts of the country for a temporary home, where the youth might have the double advantage of a kind friend and an experienced physician. This was happily discovered in the house of Dr. Finch, near Salisbury, where arrangements for his reception were instantly made; and thither the afflicted parents had the painful task of conducting their only child in the beginning of October. The records of this melancholy journey are preserved in a most interesting letter from Campbell to a friend, which I venture to give with very little abridgment.
"LONDON, October 15, 1822. "I was in too violent a state of agitation to send you a distinct answer on Saturday. To-day, Monday, I came home with Matilda, by the Salisbury coach, at seven in the morning, and have slept an hour or two since. It is much better that I have taken her to see our poor boy's abode, and the good people to whom I have consigned him. Their establishment speaks for itself; their kindness inspires unlimited confidence; and I have gained over my wife to an opinion that, in a case like the present, confidence should not be given by halves. I was determined, had the institution disappointed me, to have brought my boy back. As the case is quite otherwise, I have put him into Dr. F.'s hand, implicitly; and with a promise that he shall not be troubled with family interference. On this subject, it is not easy to tell you what I have felt. The consolation on which Matilda dwelt was that her boy should be well looked after; that her sisters* had all promised to go in succession to see him; and that the people of the institution should be well watched. It would not have been proper to argue harshly against this only prospect of comfort which a poor desolate mother proposed to herself: yet it was an alarming
* Mrs. Sellar, Mrs. Wiss, of Liverpool, and Miss Sinclair, of Bath.
prospect to me."* "Dr. F.'s asylum is too good to be submitted to injudicious espionage. A word of discontentment from Thomas, or an invidious remark of theirs, might have set things all at sixes and sevens.
JOURNEY TO LAVERSTOCK WITH HIS SON.
"A sight of the house and patients, and a conversation with Dr. and Mrs. F., have left the most unequivocal conviction on my mind, that they are both intelligent and humane personszealously interested in the recovery of their patients, and that the soul and spirit of their system is mildness. I inquired what Dr. F.'s ideas were as to the effect of friends and relations visiting their patients. On that question I found that it was a high point of honor with him to prevent the suspicion of there being any secrets of the prison-house in his establishment. Everything is open at all hours to inspection. I believe that if he could consciously commit an error, with regard to treatment, it would be this-that, let the consequences be what they might, he would admit perhaps an ill-timed visiter, sooner than risk his reputation by a breath of surmise, that anything underhand can go on in his house. I asked him if the visits of friends were not sometimes prejudicial? Yes-very frequently,' he said: 'A lady, whom I now have, was on the point of recovery, when her husband would see her; and I reckon her to have been thrown back a year in consequence of the interview. Observe, however, that a duty which I owe to myself is only to advise the friends of the afflicted to abstain from premature interviews; for, if I commanded them to do so, I should throw back my establishment instantly into that class of houses which are averse to being visited from suspicious motives.' then told him that, having come to rely on his faith, kindness, and professional knowledge, I should not place my reliance with one grain of drawback. I had perceived that, in my poor boy's case, Dr. F. had believed the taint to be of long standing, and that the cure, though not violent, might be stubborn. I therefore told him that I was aware the restoration of a human mind was not a job like restoring the color of a pair of stockings. . . I shall not, I said, put my boy in your hands with a view to let you be teased with importunate and impatient demands to have him back. I shall require to be personally informed of your mode of treatment, and his progress, at moderate intervals.
* One of Mrs. Campbell's sisters [page 100] was at this time afflicted by a similar complaint: therefore he says-My sisters-in-law-excellent as they are" are not fit to be a committee on the treatment."