Immagini della pagina

ET. 48.]


amination on the part of the teachers; and it involves many particulars that could not enter into your scheme. It is no inconsistency, therefore, on the part of the most strenuous advocate for a London University, to wish that institutions, like this, may increase and prosper. Welcome be your success!—it will expand, and corroborate the desire for mental improvement. Most welcome be your chairs-to be filled by able and eloquent teachers! They will be wholesome rivals to those of our University; for who knows not that competition is the parent of all excellence? No-the literary institutions of London will be no impediment to her University; on the contrary, they will be so many redoubts, and flanking towers, around the great fortress of public instruction."*


On his return from Germany, Campbell found that he had a considerable lee-way to make up in his editorial duties; and on these, with harassing cares from another quarter, his improved. health was too soon exhausted.



Nov. 25th, he writes-"I passed last night in the most dismal conjectures. It is now, however, unnecessary for me to talk thus. I ought to tell you how I am employed in the little world in which I move. . . . . I am immersed in the obscure points of the history of the Greek drama; and some of them I am in hopes of settling, at least, to my own satisfaction. I patronize, you know, the Attic dialect and the Athenians; but the Doric dialect has put in most impudent claims on my attention to priority in the drama; and I have found Theban inscriptions of very hard digestion. . . . But never mind. Attic salt and a stout stomach will digest them all. Our glorious old English Bentley, and the most modern German scholars, present views and proofs of the subject, beyond what I had dared to hope for, analagous to my own involuntarily formed opinions.

"Do not think I am becoming a speechifier, or a peoplehunter, if you hear of my attending, or presiding at, public meetings for new institutions. I am only complying with the earnest solicitations of bodies of men, whose intentions I consider praiseworthy and virtuous; and I firmly believe that popular sobriety will be the result of this popular love of literary institutions.t T. C."

*This speech, of which the preceding is but a short extract, was followed by others in the same spirit from Mr. Brougham, Mr. Hobhouse, Mr. D. Kinnaird, and various gentlemen less known, and less eloquent, but not less zealous in their endeavors to promote the good cause.

In the spring of this year, Campbell entered into correspondence with President JEFFERSON, of Virginia, with the view of serving his friend, Mr. R, who purposed to emigrate and establish public schools in that State, upon the Scottish principle. The enterprise was warmly espoused by Jef

On the 30th of January, a letter, full of characteristic sympathy, was drawn from him by the death of Mrs. Gray :-" My dear Gray, I hasten to offer you and all your family my deepest condolence on this sad event. It excites feelings beyond the reach of expression. A being so dear to you as your departed mother, I am convinced, was never taken from you—I can enter into your sorrow with no ordinary sympathy: for, as you know, and as I have often told you, I never knew her superior in gentleness-in principle, and in pure conduct. My heart loved her as a child, and I shall always venerate her memory. What woman ever left a more beautiful memory to the love of her surviving kindred-among whom I am proud to rank myself? Only the actions of the just smell sweet, and blossom in the dust!' Commend me with a full heart to all your family. Mrs. C. joins me in best regards to you-nothing was necessary to increase my regard for you, dear Gray: but this event makes me feel to the utmost extent, how much I am your sincerely attached cousin. T. C."*

As a contrast to the preceding, and one of numerous instances where he seeks relief from pressing cares, by forcing his thoughts into new channels, I subjoin a lively paragraph regarding the decorative process in his new house :-" Feb. 12th.-Yesterday I was greeted all day long with the glad notes of preparation; namely, the hammering down of the partitions which are to throw the whole domicile into one spacious study, eighteen feet by fifteen! I have bargained with the mason to finish it for a reasonable sum,† considering that the iron door alone, which is enjoined by Act of Parliament where partitions are entered between separate houses, will cost ten guineas. I have also carried a great domestic point, which is, that the drawing-room is to be stript of every book; and I propose to treat myself with a handsome new carpet, as well as to some elegant leathern chairs. I have moreover bargained with myself that I shall

ferson; and, in a long letter to Campbell, full of kindness to himself and anxiety to serve his friend, he gave a minute account of the educational system adopted in his own State, where a University had just been opened; and adds-"Should Mr. R pursue this chance, I should cordially give him any aid in my power, and be very happy to receive him at Monticello.-T. J."

* To William Gray, Esq., on the death of his mother, the Poet's "favorite cousin." See page 288.

This and other reasonable sums, as will appear, turned out to be three times the amount calculated


Most of this furniture Campbell retained until his death at Boulogne.


smoke no more in my study, but transfer all my fuming meditations to a spare garret. My fancy also riots by anticipation in the luxury of a geranium-colored paper, with gold leaves, to harmonize with the glory of my gilded and red-bound books! But here my poverty and my vanity are at loggerheads. And who knows whether this study may not at last send me to the spunging house? With regard to the bust,* I daresay my sculptor thinks me mad not to let him finish it; but, alas! I have neither leisure nor fortitude for another sitting. T. C."





The first hints respecting the functions of Lord Rector, to which he was very soon to be called in his native University, are thrown out in the following reply to a communication that "he had a strong party among the students of Glasgow, who, if he accepted their invitation, would ensure his election."

"SEYMOUR-STREET WEST, February, 28, 1826.

"I own to you that, although now approaching to what is called a Dumbarton youth, I have still youthful ambition left to wish to visit Glasgow on such honorable terms; and really, I do not think it would do any harm to the good cause, if it did take place-so far, at least, as to prevent the Tories getting replaced in their Rector-elections. I have a presentiment that it will take place; though I have completely fortified my mind against eventual disappointment. Belief is something towards its own realization. Grotius, in describing the success of the Batavians, in breaking the Spanish yoke, says beautifully -Credendo fecerunt! Let us go on in this belief. . . Meanwhile, whatever be the issue, believe me, that I shall feel equally sensible of your kindness, whether it be that I sup with you, as Lord Rector, at Glasgow; or that you dine, and condole with me for my non-rectorship, in London.

"I have added a side-house as a study to my establishment, where I am getting up my books in capital order; and when you come to town, for the aforesaid purpose of consoling me for my disappointment, it is there we shall laugh over the matter.

"T. C."

This topic, once started, supplied materials for regular correspondence with his Glasgow friends, whose confidence in the result was daily increased by passing events. It is unnecessary,

* By E. H. Baily. Ordered by Mr. Thomson, by whom a copy was presented to the Glasgow University. See vol. I. Note, page 105.

however, that we should enter into these with more minuteness than is merely sufficient to show the progressive steps by which the object was attained; and, while endeavoring to perform this duty, I shall continue such extracts* as may bring before the reader the more private, but not less interesting, traits of the Poet's life, during the exciting period that had now commenced.

By the end of March he announces, with much satisfaction, that he had taken possession of his library, and asks the congratulations of his friends on the propitious event. But the happiness he had promised himself in this, as in other important arrangements, ended in, at least temporary disappointment; for he writes "I have had sad, racking headaches, occasioned by the smell of the paint in my new study; yet, thank Heaven, I have got into it; and it is comfortable in all other respects." In a few days later, he adds, "I am thankful that my headache, having no longer the pretext of the smell of paint for tormenting me, has modestly spared its visits; and I find my twentyfeet room a more agreeable asylum than I even expected; but still-still I long to breathe the air of Sydenham !"

Again--"I like the extent and quiet of my study; for it seems to give me room and repose to think of all things pleasant -and among these, there is nothing pleasanter than to be entitled by old use and wont--which constitute a right--to be, your affectionate friend. T. C."

May 7th.--" On Saturday morning I projected a trip to Sydenham, just to breathe the fresh air and to lunch with you. But no; I was obliged to coin an extempore in the course of five hours. Our poetical department was desperately desolate this week; so I was kept at work from eleven till five, making five very so-so stanzas. Then I had to dress and go to the anniversary dinner of the Artists' Benevolent Fund; while, all the way, I had to muse on the pleasing uncertainty whether it would be necessary for me to make a speech!... During my hackneycoach journey to the Freemasons' Tavern, I composed ten sentences, making each of my fingers-thumbs, of course, included -the representative and remembrancer of a sentence.


Well, I arrived at the place of execution; dinner began, the

* In selecting some of these paragraphs, the reader, perhaps, may think me injudicious; but I cannot exclude instances of various humor which, however apparently beneath the notice of a great mind, are very characteristic of the Poet, and show that habitual gravity is no test of superior philosophy.

ET. 48.]



room was 'heatified' to suffocation; whilst the conversation on all sides prevented me from rehearsing to my own devout soul, what I should possibly say. . . . I felt a head-ache—such as I had on Monday-coming on. . . . I asked Mulready, who sat beside me, if he could get a list of the toasts intended. He succeeded in getting one. Overjoyed, I saw that there was no mention of my name; my head-ache left me, and my spirits rose to serene gaiety! Moore was but second from me, and the conversation delightful. When, horrible to relate! Mr. Shee got up, and, in spite of the written list, proposed Moore's health and mine! Moore, the rogue, had evidently a neat speech by heart, about stars and astronomy.-But I will save you further agony on my account. I looked earnestly at my thumbs and fingers, and then spoke for about ten minutes without break or hesitation! A plague on public dinners, with their afterpieces and gluttonous insincerity! Yet, after all, I was not insincere in my gratitude to Moore, for rising first, and allowing me time to count my fingers. . . . The Honorable F. Robinson was chairman, and spoke very well in the chair. He alluded to his father, with an affectionate ardor that touched a string in my heart, which vibrates still. I lost sight of the statesman in the man ; and it was this that made me feel really flattered, when he spoke of me kindly in his speech, and came up and shook hands with me, when the meeting was breaking up. T. C."

"June 6th.-My old friend having ceased to manage the opera, I applied to the only man who can now give me tickets. He has promised me a box to the piece you mention; but, I am sorry to say, he has more than once disappointed me, and has the character of a promising genius; but I will try to keep him to his promise.... I was provoked with myself for overlooking the vile misprint in the "Wild Flowers," where birchen glades are printed broken glades."


Early in August, Campbell lost the younger of his two brothers, whose brief history has been given in the introductory chapter of this work. To the circumstances there mentioned, I will merely add, in one short sentence, a trait of feeling and

* "I love you for lulling me back into dreams!

Of the blue Highland mountains and echoing streams,
And birchen glades breathing their balm:
While the deer was seen glancing in sunshine remote,
And the deep mellow crush of the wood-pigeon's note
Made music that sweetened its calm."-POEMS, p. 235.

« IndietroContinua »