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"The ceremony being graced by the presence of THOMAS CAMPBELL, whose unequalled anthem, Ye Mariners of England,' was sung in a full chorus (seventy voices,) the national enthusiasm, I may truly say, literally soared to heaven during the glorious burst
SHIP LAUNCH AT CHATHAM.
'Britannia needs no bulwark,
No towers along the steep;
Her march is o'er the mountain wave-
It is impossible to imagine anything more befitting the launch of a British ship of the line; and the effect was obviously heightened by rumors of war,' and the boasts so often made of the growing potency of the French marine. So far as I can judge, the feeling was universal, that, should the tug of strife again come, she will play her part, valorously and well, against the mightiest Frenchman that ever floated.
"A splendid déjeuner was given after the launch, by J. Fincham, Esq., the naval architect, to about eighty of the most distinguished gentlemen who had attended. After the toasts of the day, the Queen, &c., had been loyally and enthusiastically drunk, Mr. Fincham, in a very elegant and pointed address, proposed the health of the Poet Campbell,' which was drunk with three times three, and immense cheering, while the band in the inner court struck up the appropriate air, 'The Campbells are coming!' On returning thanks
'Friend of my life, which did not you prolong,
"I rise,' said the Poet, 'peculiarly unfitted, in one respect, for the duty of expressing my gratitude to the present company on this occasion. I am unwell-I believe principally from anxiety about the termination and success of the mighty spectacle which has been finished so gloriously before you. I should have been worse but for the presence of my right hand neighbor, who has administered to the corporeal and spasmodic affection on the outside of my heart which much afflicted me. I may well say of
but I beg to remark, that I allude to pain on the outside of my heart. In the inside of my heart all is healthful and exulting! I have witnessed a spectacle that, mentally speaking, shall ever dwell in my heart of hearts; and if I had a thousand hearts, they would have been all filled to the brim at witnessing this sight. A ship of the line fit to encounter any ship that ever floated on the waves, has been launched before 20,000 spectators. The "London" has been launched! In future she will do honor to our country in the nights of danger and the days of battle, at the ends of the earth which she shall visit, and in all that she has to do and suffer for her country. At present she does more immediate honor to the talented man who constructed her-Mr. Fincham, our present host. Well may he look upon her with pride. When she slipt from her cradle, my friends, and when she swung round after dipping in the water, did you ever see so magnificent a creature? No! I hear you reply; and let us turn with looks of gratitude to the framer of the ship. My friends, I am a poet, and poets are very proud of their art; but with all our poetical art, I do not think we could
have constructed a thing half so poetical as this noble ship "London,” which has just been launched. At least I know that if all our wits were combined, we could not write poems sufficient for her praise. No, it would require more than a poet-it would require a prophet to predict the future glory of the "London;" and the unworthiness of Poetry here gives way to Prophecy.
"I need not tell you that the honor which you have done me in causing my song of the "Mariners of England" to be sung on this occasion, has given me peculiar pride and pleasure. Whatever my verses may be, their being sung at this spectacle connects me more nearly with our nation. I have always loved my mother country; but now I feel as if, by special endearment, she were pressing me closely to her maternal breast! Allow me, my friends, to propose the health of Mr. Fincham,'—which being drank with enthusiasm, Mr. Campbell sat down under loud and continued cheering.
"Seldom has an afternoon passed, within the great naval arsenal of Chatham, attended with so much real harmony, and so many exhilarating circumstances.
"The following day, Dr. Rae, Physician to the Hospital, gave a dinner and evening party, at which most of the rank, beauty, and talent of the place were invited to meet the Poet Campbell. Music and song, both promoted and shared in by the Bard himself, enlivened the evening.
"Mr. Alexander Blyth had the honor of entertaining the Poet under his own roof during his visit; and on Wednesday he returned to town, restored in health, and preparing, as we are happy to learn, a new naval anthem. It is now fully expected that the 'Mariners' will be sung at the theatres, and become an appropriate accompaniment to every launch."
The result of this spectacle was the following lyric-the "Launch of a First-rate,"—which may take its place with the best of his naval odes :
"ENGLAND hails thee with emotion,
O'er seven hundred acres fell-
Where our hearts of oak' shall dwell!
Grandeur from our earth and sky,
In your timbers shall not die!
Thou shalt cleave the ocean's path,
SPEECH AT THE ALPHA CLUB.
And the thunders of her wrath!
Like the coming whirlwind's speck!
Storm or battle ne'er shall blast-
Dec. 5th.-At a meeting held in the British Coffee House, for the establishment of a club* for the middle classes, Campbell was invited to take the chair; and from his amusing speech on that occasion, I venture to present the following light but characteristic extracts:
.... Your project is not new to me: it has long been a subject of my thoughts. In looking round the Club-houses of London, I have said to myself- How is this? All the rich men of the metropolis-all who are ambitious to be thought rich-the titled men-public men-University men-naval and military men-all have built themselves palaces of social resort. But the vast and valuable class-they who can neither afford the palace Club-house of lords, nor descend to the gin-palace of dustmen-the middle class, who constitute morally the very thews and sinews of societywho are too respectable to make the public-house their daily haunt-yet have a natural yearning for society-for conversation-for the sight of books and newspapers, that they may give them a colored map of public events-how is it that they (as if destitute of gregarious instinct) have built for themselves no houses of social and sober resort? The question is satisfactorily answered by the present meeting.
"Your intended association has for one of its chief objects, that of making men independent of the tavern, and untempted to superfluous compotation. Though not rich myself, I belong to a West-End Club, and as expensive, I believe, as any in London; but were its subscription doubled, I should not quit it-so agreeable is the companionship I find in it. This Club is the solace of my life. A tuft-hunter once hinted that he would patronize us which I was determined he should not do. Are you all gentlemen in the Clarence? Yes, every inch of us.' 'But have you any noblemen? Not one.' 'Ha-I suspect none of your members have ever risen high in the world.' What!-have not three of our membersone of them an M.P.-ascended in a balloon? If that is not high in the world, I know not what is !'"
"Clubs, I must confess, are more important to unmarried than to married men but no man will be the worse husband for having access to publications which he cannot have at home, and to the conversation of sober extra-domestic society. The old Athenians, our fathers in civilization, had friendly associations for mutual protection against poverty-in fact Benefit Clubs; and from these they certainly did not exclude married citizens.
*This was to be called the Alpha Club, and "to be followed by an Alphabet of Clubs on the same principle."
The clubs of antiquity, however, remind me of a very quaint argument drawn from the latter against clubs-namely, that married men should resign them; because Hercules, under the dominion of his wife, laid aside his club! But I protest against this perversion of a classical fact. Omphale, the lady-love of Hercules, was not his wife: she was his mistressand his mistress with a vengeance! She took away from him his only manly toggery-his lion's skin-the Mackintosh of the heroic ages-wore it herself-cudgelled the hero with his own club-set him to spin-and, whipping off the buskins from her pretty feet, wallopped his ears with them whenever he was lazy at the distaff-as if he had been a classical prototype of Jerry Sneak. But I beg pardon-Hercules sneaked not to a wife, but a mistress; and this is clearly no argument for a married man resigning his Club."
"I once projected a Club on the most frugal plan that could be devised, consistent with respectability. I made a round of the London eating-houses-not as an amateur of eating, but as a student of prandiary statistics. I can speak of those places as confidently as the Indian could speak of the Bishop. Had he known the worthy prelate?' 'Oh, yes, and liked him vastly?' 'But how did you happen to know him? 'I ate a piece of him—j'n ai mangé! Now, though I cannot say that in all instances I liked them vastly,' I can speak of the eating-houses from trial. I was surprised in one respect, by the cheapness and goodness of the meat —in another, I was disappointed at the total absence of the picturesque. Where are now the glorious hay-loft ordinaries, described by Smollettwhere the hungry diner ascended by a ladder-and where his gradus ad Parnassum was not restored till his dinner had been paid for?"
"But the advantage of such a Club as you propose does not stop here. It will give the moral benefit of gradually-increasing acquaintance with respectable and known men. What gives the resident of town a quicker faculty of thinking and uttering his thoughts than the rusticated person? It is the circumstance of his living in a denser state of society, where, as iron sharpeneth iron, the man of wit is whetted by contact with the wit of others. The Club is a place of placid resort without solitude. It is not a rus in urbe-but an urbs in urbe—a city within a city, to the happy members of a well-organized association."
"I have counselled you to frugality; but though (as Burke thundered out in the house of Commons) thrift is a mighty revenue-magnum vectigal est parsimonia*—yet that virtue itself may be carried too far. Imagine not from my saying this, that I rescind one iota from my reverence for true economy-the child of wisdom, and the mother of independence. If I am the slave of no man, or party, I owe the independence of my life and principles to the frugality of my living.
'Be not hasty in this affair, as regards the admission of members :-better that ten good candidates should be excluded than one bad one admitted. You have an enviable privilege in the power of constructing a good Club. Fletcher of Saltoun said, 'Let me make the popular songs of a country, and I will allow you to make the laws.' But were I a legislator, I should say-in place of song, let me construct the popular Clubs of a nation,"
* Non intelligunt homines quam magnum vectigal sit parsimonia-Crc.
VICTORIA SQUARE, PIMLICO.
As the winter commenced, Campbell made preparations for another change of domicile. Having felt the loneliness of his chambers, he longed for the comforts of domestic society; and with his niece, whom he had educated, and now invited to superintend his ménage, he took the lease of a house in Victoria Square, Pimlico. This was a serious and ill-advised step; for it involved him in expenses and difficulties which he had neither calculated nor foreseen; but the arrangements he had made were so encouraging, that he saw only the bright side of things, and looked to his new house as a new era of happiness. Pimlico had been the first resting-place in his public career; and he felt a sort of impatient yearning to return to it-not without a presentiment, perhaps, that it might be his last: and while fancy was surrounding his hearth with old familiar faces, he writes:
"Jan. 23d.-I am so much in love with my new house in Victoria Square, that I have resolved to put off my journey to Italy, till I have finished and entered it-nay warmed it with a dinner to my friends in May !
"I got a letter from my sister at Edinburgh a few days ago, written, of course, by her companion, Miss Boston: 'So to be married-that is reported and quite certain. Oh, my good brother, is not this a rash step at your years? Have you consulted M- ? My answer was-I have neither consulted M nor any one else; for I did not hear that I was for certain to be married, till I got your letter. But why should you be surprised that I should commit matrimony at my young and giddy age for I am only sixty-three! I must nevertheless request you to obtain for me exact information as to the name,
* This House, No. 8, was to be finished early in the year, with possession in May or June.