« IndietroContinua »
ET. 57.] RETURn to europe-LETTER FROM TOULON.
and have been debilitated ever since; otherwise, I am in good health and spirits.-I reckon on remaining here till the middle of April-when the stormy season will be over-then to Algiers, for a week or so, and next to France and old England! You will find me, I fear, a little changed for the worse, in appearance, by my African adventures, but in heart and feelings unchangeable. T. C."
Contrary to what he facetiously imagined, the dormant spirit of song was not rekindled by a nearer approach to the sun. Phoebus, indeed, was more propitious on the north than on the south side of the Mediterranean; for with the exception of the Dead Eagle-and an exordium, written at the instance of his friend Neukomm-with a laughable "Ode," composed for Mr. St. John's children, the African tour was poetically barren. But his letters are full of poetry; and had not unforeseen objects diverted his attention from the subject, it is very probable that Algiers would have become the scene of a new poem.
Early in May, Campbell embarked for Europe; and writing to his nephew, gives the following retrospective sketch of his
"TOULON, Lazaretto, May 22d, 1885.
"You must excuse the shabbiness of the sheet of paper on which I write to you-for I am now in the Lazaretto of Toulon, a sort of hospital prison, where I must perform quarantine for six days; and where it is impossible to purchase any convenience. I am happy enough to get something to eat and drink. In spite of all this inconvenience, I am right happy to be once more in Europe. Since I wrote to you, I have visited the whole coast of Algiers from Bona to Oran ;-and have penetrated seventy miles into the interior, as far as Mascara, the capital of a province, which is purely African, and which the French have not conquered. I have slept for several nights under the tents of the Arabs-I have heard a lion roar in his native savage freedom, and I have seen the noble animal brought in dead-measuring seven feet and a half independently of the tail. I dined also at General Trizel's table off the said lion's tongue, and it was as nice as a neat's tongue.
"The excursion to the interior is what has most affected my health and strength. The night before setting out for Mascara, the Arab guides and the interpreter came and told me that several murders had occurred in the very neighborhood of Oran, where I then was; and that they would not venture on the journey
Diable! I thought, this was tormenting!-but I must see Mascara, cost what it may. I spent at my lodgings in Oran a dreadful night, but at break of day I went and beat up the quarters of a Jew-whom I shall ever regard as my friend* — Sir'-I said, 'I demand your assistance to help me to go to Mascara. You know that when I return to London, I can be of service to you'-alluding to an affair in which I can serve him. You understand Arabic-come with me;' and immediately Mr. Buznach came out like a hero Yes,' he said, 'Mr. Campbell, I will go with you, and place you under the protection of a friendly tribe of Arabs.' He then turned round to the Arab guides, who were unwilling to go with me, and said:- You dogs-you swine! do you talk of refusing to go with this English nobleman? If you do, the Bey of Mascara, who is my friend, will strike off your heads, for your refusal! Get arms and mount !' -In an instant six of us were armed with muskets, sabres, and pistols, and on the road to Mascara.
"I slept at Mascara, in the house of a Syrian Christian, who showed me a world of kindness. But for his hospitality I must have slept in the streets-for there is no such thing as an Inn or Hotel. The manners of the people are so simple, that they weigh their wool and grain with stones, which of course have a determined weight. Abdallah, my Syrian host, sent me back with some Arab protectors, if they could be called such, for they were the greatest thieves on earth. They drank my wine before my face-going under a tree, where they laughingly said that Mahomet could not see them!-This was a dreadful misfortune; for the water one finds in Africa, is turbid and unwholesome; but luckily we reached some Arab camps, which furnished us with sour milk from time to time. Oh, that delicious beverage, I
* " Buznach is the most influential Jew in the Regency; he understands Arabic: he mediated between the French and the Arab tribes, and was the chief means of bringing about peace. When I saw him first, his appearance reminded me strongly of that of the late statesman Wyndham. thought him haughty, even to an air of misanthropy; but still there was something of strong character, which I liked, in his mien and
manner. This was the second time I had ever spoken to him.
Mr.Buznach,' I said, 'you lay me under an overwhelming debt of gratitude! Here was a proud man-in every sense of the word, a gentleman -to whom I could have no more offered a remuneration, without offending him, than to Mr. Wyndham, had he been alive-taking the trouble to ride forty miles under an African sun, and who must measure back the same journey to-morrow-ay, and sleep on the ground in an Arab tentall out of gratuitous kindness to a mere stranger."-Letters from the South, Vol II. page 208.
MR. ST. JOHN'S REMINISCENCES.
shall bless it all my life! My chief misfortune was to be bit by a dog, one night in an Arab tent-when I was going out to see if the dawn was approaching. I had a sabre in my hand, with which I defended myself against a host of curs, and sent off some of them limping and howling-but one of them got up to me, and bit me in the thigh. The wound is now, thank God, healed; but the whole journey has been trying. The heat was excessive, as it blistered my face, so that the skin of it came off like the skin of a boiled pea. T. C."
Of the Poet's residence in Algeria, I have been favored with the following reminiscence from H. M. Consul-general, Mr. St. John:
"ALGIERS, May 20, 1846.
"WHAT struck me most in Campbell was his extreme modesty respecting his works, and a certain degree of vanity regarding points where it was ill placed. But his weaknesses were all caused by goodness of heart. His extreme violence about Poland was carried to such an extent that when I once asked him how he could have published certain odes calling Nicholas a scoundrel,'* &c. &c., he replied, 'Oh, we are not always polite !'
"He seemed more anxious to be considered a good Greek scholar than a Poet; and you will see that he alludes to it in the little jeu d'esprit which I enclose. This was a good proof of his good-nature: one of my children at dinner told him a favorite cat had just kittened, and that he ought to write a copy of verses about it. He laughed at the suggestion, and after dinner scrawled the laughable lines which, although they have no poetical pretensions, are full of good nonsense; and the winding up is really good.
"When he was at Oran, he sent me, in a letter which I now have, the original verses written there on an Eagle's Feather, afterwards published, requesting my opinion-to my great surprise; and when he came back he at my suggestion, made some trifling alterations. In reply to a question I put to him as to which of his works he thought the best, and when I expected to hear-if not his larger poems-either 'Ye Mariners,' 'Lochiel,' or the 'Scene in Argyllshire," I was surprised to hear him name his 'Lines on the View from St. Leonards.' He was much respected here even by the French, with whom he disputed in the most downright manner. He was careless of his money to such a degree that his servant might have cheated him to any extent. During his visit, the Chevalier Neukomm came here for a few days, and asked Campbell to turn part of the Book of Job into verse for an oratorio. The consequence was, that these two and myself got an English Bible, and Campbell turned a part of it into verse, --and that, without altering the simplicity of the original. Neukomm did
*This epithet was applied to the Czar, at a moment when the atrocities perpetrated upon Polish mothers and their infants, by the Emperor's authority, were related to the Poet in "descriptions which harassed his very soul"-See his letters from St. Leonards.
compose music; but whether it was published or not, you will know better than myself. The Poet," concludes Mr. St. John, "lived with us for some months, and left us with the most pleasing remembrance of him. I have quantities of his letters written to me on his rambles; but their contents are mostly in his 'Letters from the South.'"*
Here follows the verses alluded to :
ON THE BIRTH OF FIVE KITTENS IN THE HOUSE OF HER BRITANIO
"The cat she has kitten'd, Ohon! Ohon!
In the Consular house of St. John, St. John;
Of her five little cats
(They are all blind as bats)
There are two to be drown'd, that are gone, are gone!
"But the rest 'twere a pity to drown, to drown;
From this cat-as-trophee,
And to rear them as cats of renown, renown.
"These three pretty kittens, so sleek, so sleek,
There's Campbell to teach them their Greek, their Greek!
'Yankee doodle, doo, doo!'
And Zugasti in Spanish to speak, to speak.
"Five lives they shall have, every one, one one;
Of their beauty to boast,
From the shores of Bougie to Oran, Oran!
Of the French in Algiers,
And the health of her CITIZEN KING, king king!"
About the end of May, Campbell arrived in Paris; and being presented at the Tuileries by Lord Granville, was honored by
*Letter, dated Algiers, May 20, 1846, addressed to the Editor, and to which reference has been already made, Vol. I., respecting the Poet's Greek. The reader may also read the effect Neukomm's music produced upon his mind at Bakewell Church, Vol. II., page 255.
The Chevalier Zugasti, Spanish Consul at Algiers.
INTERVIEW WITH THE CITIZEN KING."
the King with a long and gracious audience. Curious to know the sentiments of an enlightened Englishman upon the actual state of the Regency, his Majesty questioned the Poet rather closely on the subject, and appeared much gratified by his answers. This interview, he told me, was very interesting; and, after a frank statement of the impressions left upon his mind by the late tour, he took leave of the "Citizen King," much pleased with his reception.
He returned to London in improved health, looking, as every one observed, some years younger" than when he set forth on his travels.* His old friends were delighted to see him; but not more so, he remarked, than he was to find himself once more in their society." His African adventures having invested him with new attractions, curiosity was excited, invitations multiplied; and, for a time, the company and conversation of the "African traveller" were more courted than those of "the Poet." He never appeared to greater advantage than immediately after his return; for, like his physical frame, his mind had recovered its tone; and without ever availing himself of a "traveller's privilege," he delighted to expatiate in the friendly circle, upon the strange scenes he had witnessed, the stories he had heard, the wild society in which he had mixed-with numerous personal anecdotes and adventures, which were shortly afterwards detailed in the pages of the NEW MONTHLY. There was a marked difference, however, between the spoken and the written records; his anecdotes lost much of their sparkling qualities by transfusion; and, graphic and characteristic as they are, his "Letters from the South" present but a portion of the peculiar talent that animated his conversation.
He continued in town during the season; removed his quarters to York Chambers, St. James's-street, fitted up his library for the seventh time, and then sat down to prepare his "Letters" for the press. In the midst of these, he was haunted by a beautiful air which he had heard at a private party, and could find no rest until he wrote to Mrs. Arkwright :
Aug. 19th. I have a request to make, which I hope you will not think assuming. All the world that has heard what I
* The munificent legacy left to him by Mr. Telford had placed him beyond the reach of pecuniary difficulties; and though the journey had been expensive, it did not perhaps cost him more than his ordinary residence in London.