« IndietroContinua »
RICHARD HEBER-DE STAEL-MOREAU.
"Telford has not been in London since I wrote you last, nor have I heard of the dear Stewarts. If you see or hear from either, will you offer them my best remembrance, as well as to all your beloved family. Believe me, with unceasing affection, "T. C."
The correspondence of this year concludes with a letter from Mr. Heber, to whom, in the progress of his "Selections," Campbell was indebted for the use of some very rare editions of the old poets.
WESTMINSTER, Dec. 30, 1813.
"MY DEAR SIR,
"I owe you many apologies-first, for delaying to forward the books you wished to examine; and secondly, for having omitted thanking you for your kind note. The occasion of both has been a very severe cold, from which I am just beginning to recover; and which, though it kept me pretty closely confined at home, made a visit to the Charnel-house, in which my poetry is deposited, too like a prelude to the entrance of my own. However, I hope you received my second parcel safe, as I did the first, containing Greene's pieces, which you returned. I now forward a third to St. James's Place, composed entirely of Elizabethan poetry, most of which will, I hope, prove useful. By dint of rummaging, I think others, of the same era, may yet be furnished; but whether before I leave town, or not until my return in February, is uncertain. . . . Of course you have seen "The Quintessence of English Poetry," in 3 vols., 12mo., 1740, as well as Herdley's Selections? If not, I can furnish you with both. Believe me, dear sir, your very faithful and humble servant, RICHARD HEBER.
His Lectures on Poetry had been so well received in London that, at the urgent request of his friends, Campbell agreed to repeat the course in Edinburgh. His intention, however, was defeated by unforeseen difficulties: "My resolution," he writes, "to lecture in Scotland is deferred, not laid aside. I think it will do famously; but Murray's work, 'The Poets,' must be first printed." The same scheme was subsequently revived, but never carried into effect.
In his letters from Ratisbon, the reader may remember his having been courteously received by General Moreau, and presented to his "young and beautiful wife." That lady was now in London; and Campbell, in the height of his popularity, and
with a grateful remembrance of her gallant husband, was among the first to bid her welcome. Madame de Staël had also arrived; and at her house the Poet was a frequent and favorite visiter.
Writing to Mr. Richardson, in great admiration, he says, "I have dined with Madame Moreau ! .. Tell Mrs. Archibald Grahame that she is excessively like the warrior's widow-who is, indeed, like nothing I ever saw for simplicity-somewhat Scotch-like, with a fascinating benignity of expression. She did me the honor of talking almost exclusively to me. I sate between Madame de Staël and the lovely widow."
At Holland House, also, as well as at St. James's Place-in the society of Lord Holland and Mr. Rogers-he came into familiar contact with the great talents of the day. "I have spent," he writes to a friend, "a pleasant day at Lord Holland's. We had the Marquis of Buckingham, Serjeant Best, Major Stanhope, Sir James Mackintosh, and a swan at dinner. Lord Byron came in the evening. It was one of the best parties I ever saw.' The first interview between Lord Byron and Campbell was in November, 1811, when they met at the table of Mr. Rogers. On another occasion-after a dinner party at Holland HouseLord Byron writes, "Campbell looks well, seems pleased, and dresses to sprucery. *A blue coat becomes him-so does a new wig. He really looked as if Apollo had sent him a birth-day suit, or a wedding garment. He was lively and witty. We were standing in the ante-saloon when Lord H. brought out of the other room a vessel of some composition, similar to that used in Catholic churches; and, seeing us, he exclaimed, 'Here is some incense for you! Campbell answered, Carry it to Lord Byron; he is used to it.'"
Turning from literature to art, and the British loom, Campbell mentions (Feb. 27) that he had just received from his dear old friend, Mr. Thomson, of Clitheroe, a specimen of English manufacture, which struck him with the greatest surprise. He was always an admirer and, so far as he was able, a promoter of native industry; but "I did not conceive it possible," he writes, "to have made such a fabric out of cotton. It is splendidly beautiful. The oriental richness of the coloring, and the softness of the texture, give one the idea of the most costly oriental loom; and yet there is a regularity and solidity of texture
* "Memoirs of Lord Byron." (MS. note). Campbell, in reference to his own personal appearance, has given a less flattering account. See Vol. I., pp. 448, 485.
BRITISH LOOM-LAWRENCE'S PORTRAIT.
which superadd the appearance of European art. . . . I wish I had some specimens of my own to send you; but that will be coming ere long-at least, I am reading hard for important views. In the mean time, you will let me send you a print of my head, which is only valuable as an engraving from Lawrence's drawing of me, corrected by himself, with his own name written in the proofs. T. C."
This copper-plate engraving, executed at his own expense, was presented by Sir Thomas Lawrence to the Poet, for whose benefit it was published. The sale of the impressions realized a handsome sum, which relieved him from some temporary embarrassment. This well-timed generosity was conferred with the greatest delicacy; and in the Poet's mind added gratitude to admiration.
Among the memoranda of this spring, is one of a visit to Madame de Staël, which procured him the acquaintance of several distinguished foreigners; but what rendered it no less profitable than pleasant, was her fascinating powers of conversation, to which he bears faithful testimony.
The invitation which preceded this visit is characteristic:
"Mon fils part le 1" Mars, pour quinze jours. Voulezvous venir occuper son appartement chez moi, pendant ce temps? Cet appartement est très simple. et la vie que je mène aussi : mais je serai ravie de vous recevoir à la ville, comme à la campagne; et peut-être vous conviendra-t-il d'être parfaitement. libre, et jouir en même temps du plaisir que vous me ferez de toutes manières. Je me crois toute isolée par le départ de mon fils; et quand je ne serais pas isolée, ne sentirais-je pas toujours le prix de votre présence? Si ma maison avait été plus grande, j'aurais prié Madame Campbell d'être de la partie; j'espère qu'elle m'en dédommagera cet automne à la campagne. Mille complimens, &c. B. DE STAEL."
To the "Daughter of Necker," the episode of Ellenore, spoke with peculiar force and tenderness, and the following lines were often on her lips :
"... Daughter of Conrad! when he heard his knell,
The plaint that owned unutterable wo;
"Farewell! when strangers lift thy father's bier, And place my nameless stone without a tear; When each returning pledge hath told my child That Conrad's tomb is on the desert piled; And when the dream of troubled fancy sees Its lonely rank grass waving in the breeze; Who then will soothe thy grief, when mine is o'er, Who will protect thee, helpless Ellenore? Shall secret scenes thy filial sorrows hide, Scorned by the world, to factious guilt allied! Ah, no! methinks the generous and the good Will woo thee from the shades of solitude! O'er friendless grief compassion shall awake, And smile on Innocence for Mercy's sake !"
VISIT TO PARIS,
VISIT TO PARIS.
IN the political affairs of Europe, which were now assuming a new and cheering aspect, Campbell felt and expressed the deepest interest. So absorbed, indeed, were his thoughts by the rapid progress of events, the fast approaching crisis, and the glorious results which it promised, that most of his correspondence is a mere chronicle of the day-short comments on military despatches, and confident predictions of what very soon after became the province of history. This eventful spring was the most exciting, but perhaps the least productive, season of his life; and for several weeks, or even months, his study of "The Poets," if not entirely neglected, was greatly retarded by the grand topics of the day.
During the ephemeral peace of 1802, he had often expressed an ardent, but fruitless, desire to visit "the scenes of the Revolution, the public monuments and libraries of Paris, but above all the Louvre ;" and now that the fall of Napoleon, the capture of Paris, the restoration of the Bourbons, and the presence of the Allied armies had drawn thousands of English subjects to the spot, he resolved to profit by the momentous crisis, and accomplish the long-cherished hope of a visit to the French capital.
Several of his intimate friends had already crossed the Channel; others were on the move: Mrs. Siddons, John Kemble, the Baroness de Staël, and others, whose society would give a charm even to the novelties of Paris, had pressed him to join them; and, on the 25th of August, Campbell embarked for Normandy. In twelve hours he had completed the first, and worst stage of his journey, and entered the picturesque streets of Dieppe. Several of his letters, as if suddenly infected with a passion for the "old court language," he has written in French; but, as the sentiments are pure, untranslateable English, I shall endeavor to relieve them from their foreign garb, so that the general reader may accompany him with more satisfaction in his first impressions of " the fallen Empire."