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"Thomas thought it was the most absurd thing in the world that Dr. S should be in such a place. He is a noble-looking man, with refined manners and conversation; but I had not talked to him long, when I ceased to be of my son's opinion, about the sanity of his mind. When we were left alone, he entered pretty shrewdly into Thomas's case, and remarked that his main mental misfortune was the want of power to apply his faculties continuously to one object; but very soon he launched out into extravagant praises of my son's natural genius, and then into a history of himself, attributing his slight derangement to the refusal of a lady to marry him. Query, might not the derangement have been rather the cause than the consequence of the refusal? My son has pen, ink, and paper at his command; and I enjoined him to write to me the moment he had any cause of complaint.
"You have heard of the rustic poet Clare. He is at Dr. Allen's, and has written a poem, in which he mentions my son's conversation as one of the solaces of his life. T. C."
"May 24th.-I always thought well of you, my dear Mrs. but I never felt so much satisfaction as in your last letter-so full of feeling and information, so taking me back to Woodville, and so identifying my very existence with the friends who are dearest to me, that I cannot sufficiently thank you for it. I am glad to find that its serious contents give, on the whole, a favorable account of my most beloved friend, your father-in-law.
"You kindly desire me to speak about myself. I fear you will think me romancing, but it is strict truth when I tell you that I am a changed man. Until about two months ago, an influenza, contracted, I believe, by my travels among the Arabs-when I endured a mid-day sun that would have poached eggs on the crown of my hat, and when I slept on the ground in my cloak-undoubtedly affected my liver. I was so ill, that, at times, nothing could comfort me in body or mind. I used to say to myself, Why am I not happy? Have I not my Alisons and my Gregorys? my Margaret and my Dora? and my Grays of Glasgow? But nothing made me happy. At length I took medicine, and made out a grand secret that I was always better avoiding being out after sunset. I followed out this plan, and
*The passage here omitted is an account, similar to that already given, of his presenting his poems to the Queen.
cured myself. I recovered my health and spirits to such a degree, that wherever I used formerly to detect myself sighing and drooping, I now find myself too often singing and dancing. I say too often, for my laundress looks at me as if I were a man beside himself; and as I am but an indifferent performer, both in song and dance, I am obliged to confine my cantatory and saltatory bursts' to private performances.' Altogether, so much do I now enjoy existence-instead of merely enduring it, as I did formerly-that if my guardian angel had led me up to a looking-glass, and said, Behold yourself transformed into a youth of twenty-two!' I could not have been much more astonished. In my bad health and despondency, I had made up my mind to trouble nobody with any account of my unhappiness, but to get to the end of my life as uncomplainingly as possible..
LETTER TO WOODVILLE-SYDNEY SMITH.
"I thank you, my dear Mrs. for your account of the flourishing of the Poet's tree.* I sometimes envy my own tree for being so near to those who planted it.
"I am about finishing a preface to a new and popular edition of 'Shakespeare's Plays,' a copy of which I shall shortly send to Woodville. Immediately after that engagement I enter on editing an edition of the Life of Petrarch,' by Archdeacon Coxe. It is inexplicable to myself why I should have entered on this engagement; for it is neither very pleasant, nor very profitable. In September or October, after finishing this job, I purpose to set out for Italy. T. C."
"June 16th. I met Sydney Smith the other day. 'Campbell,' he said, 'we met last, two years ago, in Fleet-street; and, as you may remember, we got into a violent argument, but were separated by a wagon, and have never met since. Let us have out that argument now. Do you recollect the subject?' 'No,' I said, I have clean forgotten the subject; but I remember that I was in the right, and that you were violent, and in the wrong!' I had scarcely uttered these words when a violent shower came on. I took refuge in a shop, and he in a cab. He parted with a proud threat that he would renew the argument the next time we met. Very well,' I said; 'but you shan't get off again, either in a wagon or a cab.'
"I am now reading much, in order to write about Petrarch. I had always, till of late, something like an aversion to Petrarch,
* Planted at Woodville by the Poet, during his visit in August, 1887.
on account of the monotony of his amatory sonnets, and the apparent wildness and half insanity of his passion for Laura. I used to say to myself (indulging, I confess, a rather vulgar spirit of criticism,) hang these cater-wauling sonnets! they afflict my compassion. I pity the poor poet who could be in love for twenty years with a woman who was every other year bearing pledges of her conjugal union. Besides, I used to think that Laura never could have loved him. But, on closer perusal of his 'Life and Sonnets,' I think that Laura did love him; and that the record of their affection ought to be preserved. " What!' you will say, an illegitimate affection?' Yes; be not startled. I think their affection, which I now believe to have been mutual, was redeemed from its illegitimacy by its purity, its intensity, and its constancy. Such an opinion, I know, is of delicate mention; but be not afraid that I shall be rash in defending it. I am touched by the genuine air of grief which he showed in the 'Sonnets,' written after her death-a grief that contrasts most terribly with the indifference of Laura's husband, who used to scold her, till she shed abundance of tears, and married another wife seven months after her death.
"But then comes the grave question, What would become of society, if you were to let loose every couple of sentimental fools, who might imagine themselves a Petrarch and a Laura, from the bonds of duty, and thus acquit their frivolous passion! I answer, that Petrarch's passion was not frivolous nor transient. It had the spirit of conjugal devotion, without its ceremonies. Is it not a great thing for a poet to infect the breast of his readers with a sympathy for devotion, attached without change, to one object? Is not this the religious marriage of true minds?' It seems to me that Petrarch is an evangelist of faithful marriage. He may seem an exception to the moral rule; but he is an exception that proves the rule. T. C."
The Levee had almost been the death
"June 26th. of me! We got into the ante-room about one o'clock, and there we remained two hours and a half, among at least a thousand persons. It would have been of no use to faint; for there was not space to fall down. I thought I should have expired-but at last the presence-room opened, and I went through the ceremony. On getting home, I was in a high fever. Dr.
* On this occasion-the first after her Majesty's accession-Campbell was presented by his "feudal Chief," the late Duke of Argyll.
ET. 60.] VISIT TO EDINBURGH-CORRESPONDENCE.
Holland prescribed for me, and it is not till this morning that I feel myself anything like restored. Last night, however, I had a calm, sweet sleep. I have a ticket for a seat in the Poets' Corner, in the Abbey, for Thursday, which the Earl-Marshal sent me in a very civil note. But I am doubtful if I shall be strong enough to venture.
"Poor Petrarch and Laura are at a stand, but I shall rally and be at them soon. Meanwhile, I have good booksellers' news from Scotland. Of the 5000 of my small copy edition there, 2500 have been sold in eleven months. Mr. Moxon has sold 2500 of my illustrated edition, and 1000 of the octavo edition; so that, within the year, 6000 copies of my poems have gone off. T. C."
Being summoned to Scotland, on matters of family concern, he took his berth in one of the Leith steamers. The weather was unexpectedly boisterous; and the Poet, as usual, incurred the penalty of severe sickness-so severe, that he did not recover his strength for several months afterwards. Writing from Edinburgh to a friend, he says:
"July 28th.-I am here, at last, with Mrs. Alison beside me, and recovering from my severe sickness. I think I should have died had not Mrs. Alison come in. I never was so ill. I had something like a forecast of death. . . Tell Fanny that one of the regrets I had to leave life was, that I had never contrived to put into poetry that ineffably sublime thought of hers, about sister Caroline :-That she saw her spirit mounting to heaven, and leaving her body behind her, like its shadow. Was there ever a nobler thought!"
"28th. I have not yet seen my sister.
She is not strong enough to see me to-day. Mrs. Dugald Stewart is released! It is foolish in me to weep-but I cannot help it. . . Her friendships were numerous; her acquaintance was extensive-her heart was largely benevolent. She did much good in her time-probably as much as can be related of any one who lived the same number of years. The wife of Dugald Stewart -a philosopher in the highest rank of literary reputation-she was looked up to with a respect inferior to none that was paid to intellect, rank, or power. In spite of political differences, she sustained her influence in the northern metropolis, when it was really a metropolis of intellectual power. Then flourished in friendship with Mrs. Stewart, Walter Scott, Henry Mac
kenzie, and the Gregories, who have had a hereditary reputation for intellect. With the latter, and with the Rev. Mr. Alison, Mrs. Stewart was knit in the closest friendship. To the last she was remarkable for a winning gentleness of manner-a meekness more expressive than austerity-by which, during her whole life, she had exercised greater influence on those around her, than others could do by an assumption of dignity. In her youth, Mrs. Stewart was stately and handsome; in her later life a certain benignant expression in her eyes continued to retain her peculiar image in the memory of her friends. Her last hours-nay, her last days and months-were serene and tranquil. T. C."
For the following reminiscences, which present a clear reflection of the Poet's mind, I am indebted to members of the family circle in which he generally resided, during his visits to Edinburgh :
August.-Mr. Campbell spoke warmly of the talents of Joseph Gerald one of the patriots-whose trial* he had witnessed when a boy. Gerald, he said, was a man of great natural ability, and one of Dr. Parr's most promising scholars. We then asked him what first suggested the idea of 'The Pleasures of Hope,' and if he had thought long about it? He said it had been in his mind for a year, and that it was first suggested by Rogers's Pleasures of Memory.' He spoke with great admiration of Rogers both as a man and a poet: He is a man of very fine genius, and 'The Pleasures of Memory is a beautiful poem: it is a much more perfect poem than mine.'
"He described vividly the nervous anxiety he felt as to the reception of "The Pleasures of Hope; but this was mixed with a sort of proud feeling that it deserved to make its way. There was nothing for it but to wait; so he tried to be patient, and waited almost breathlessly for some sign of interest or approbation. One day his friend Leyden came to him in great joy-Your poem is safe-all is secure now. I have just come from Creech's shop, where I overheard Dr. Gregory say to another, "I have been reading a new poem by a young and unknown author-The Pleasures of Hope.' Nothing has appeared like it for a very long time: it is all beautiful, and there are some passages that are absolutely sublime!"' Mr. Campbell said, 'No man can ever know how my heart beat with joy then!'
"He spoke frequently, if led to it, of his feelings while writing his poems. When he wrote "The Pleasures of Hope,' fame, he said, was everything in the world to him: if any one had foretold to him then, how indifferent he would be now, to fame and public opinion, he would have scouted the idea; but, nevertheless, he finds it so now. He said, he hoped he really did feel, with regard to his posthumous fame, that he left it, as well as all
* See the Poet's account of this trial, Vol. I., p. 91.
+ See this circumstance alluded to in the Autobiography, Vol. I., p. 218.