Immagini della pagina

ÆT. 36.]


Could we thy mother and thy widowed wife-
Consign thy much-loved relics to the dust
Unsolaced by this high and holy trust-
There is another and a better life!* T. C.

A third piece, "The Gravestone," hastily written on a slip of waste paper, is too remarkable to be overlooked :—


Man! shouldst thou fill the proudest throne,
And have mightiest deeds enacted,
Thither, like steel to th' magnet-stone,
Thou goest compelled-attracted!

The grave-stone-th' amulet of trouble-
Makes love a phantom seem-
Calls glory but a bubble,

And life itself a dream.

The grave's a sealed letter,
That secrets shall reveal
Of a next world-worse or better
And the gravestone is the seal!

But the seal shall not be broken
Nor the letter's secrets read,
Till the last trump shall have spoken
To the living and the dead!

The correspondence of this year opens with a lively and characteristic letter to Mr. Alison :

"SYDENHAM, January 14, 1815.


"Cold and weary with the tooth-ache, my dearest Alison, I return from our village chapel to enclose my accustomed certificate to you. Eheu fugaces, Posthume!' If you have not yet preached a sermon on the shortness of time, you may instance the rapid returns of the Poet Campbell's certificates for his pension, to prove the fleetness of its wings. . . . But, alas! my dearest Alison, had I been doomed to hear you dissert on that subject, it would have been a comfort to me. But I have been doomed to hear a proser-with an east wind tormenting my rheumatic jaw, and nipping my toes--preach for two hours on the shortness of time; while I need hardly say that his sermon proved anything but his text! . . . With sincerest affection, yours ever, T. C."





[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

*Inscription for the monument of the Rev. Edward D.

Thus far we have followed the Poet through various alternations of light and shade-here, bright with fame, and soothed by the consolations of friendship; and there, struggling with unmerited difficulties. We are now to change the scene, and observe him under the influence of prosperity. Of the many discouragements he had met with in his career, some have been noticed, but more omitted, in these pages; for to have mentioned them as often as they occur in his letters and memoranda, would have been needlessly depressing and monotonous. He bore them with fortitude; but what rendered him less fit to cope with the many trials of life, was a delicate morbid sensibility, which aggravated every difficulty; and, to troubles, in themselves but slight and transitory, imparted a sense of acute mental suffering, that often induced serious bodily illness.

The most important event in his literary life was the grant of a pension, which had enabled him, since 1806, not only to continue, but to increase, the annuity to his mother and sisters. In the discharge of this pious duty, however, he had often to pay at the rate of twenty per cent. for cash; and if the merit of a good deed be weighed by the personal difficulties encountered in its performance, his conduct was highly meritorious. He never excused himself by saying that he had given hostages to the public; that he had heavy responsibilities and difficulties at home; but cheerfully taxed himself with extra labor to discharge these voluntary obligations. He was poor in the good things of the world, and could not give plenteously; but of the little he had, he "did his diligence to give gladly of that little;" and where he gave, "he expected nothing in return." So much selfdenying generosity excited among the few friends who were privy to it, feelings of sympathy and admiration; and in another quarter, where it was least expected, it happily awakened an interest which was now to operate with permanent advantage to the Poet and his family. Thus, even in a worldly sense, the good work received its recompense: "What he had sown he reaped fourfold;"" and gathered for himself a good reward in the day of necessity." These facts will appear in the sequel; but at the date of the previous letter, nothing had yet transpired to enliven his prospects, or relieve his present difficulties, unless perhaps, the hope, which originated with Mr. Roscoe, of trying a course of lectures in the provinces.

The event alluded to, and that which brought to Campbell the earnest of future independence, was the death of his Highland cousin, MacArthur Stewart, of Ascog, which occurred on



the 28th of March, in whose will he was left one of the special legatees. The legacy was nominally five hundred pounds to himself, in life-rent, and to his children in fee; but as it was provided in the will that the special legatees should share any unappropriated residue that the testator might leave, the original legacy was thus increased to nearly five thousand. Although the legatee was designated in the will by his title of "the Author of the Pleasures of Hope," the testator did not even acknowledge that distinction as the ground of his bounty manifested in the will; for it is mentioned by a member of Mr. Stewart's family, that the "old man, when giving instructions for his settlement, observed that little Tommy, the Poet, ought to have a legacy, because he had been so kind as to give his mother sixty pounds yearly out of his pension."+

As the relationship between Mr. Stewart, of Ascog, and the Poet's family has been already noticed in the introductory portion of this work, I need not further advert to it. But it is believed by able lawyers, that if the Poet's elder brother had been aware of the law, which rendered aliens to the Crown of Great Britain incapable of inheriting entailed estates, or of holding land within the United Kingdom, and had made up his title as the nearest heir of tailzie, on the death of MacArthur Stewart -or before Mr. Campbell Stewart, his successor, obtained his Act of naturalization, he might have been the proprietor of the old family estates, which were afterwards sold by the American heir for 78,000Z.

On receiving this announcement Campbell started for Scotland; and in a letter to his eldest sister, at Harrowgate, thus adverts to the new posture of his affairs:

*After paying legacy duty and all other expenses, the sum amounted to 4,4987. 108., which is now [1847] in possession of the Poet's son, bringing him an interest of 4 per cent. For the facts here and afterwards to be mentioned on this subject, I am indebted to communications from Lord Cuninghame, and Cormack, Esq., law-agent for the Ascog estates.


The legacy to the Poet is conceived in the following terms: "To Thomas Campbell, of London, author of The Pleasures of Hope,' in liferent, and to his children who may survive him, equally amongst them and their heirs, in fee, the sum of five hundred pounds, to be laid out, secured, and administered by my said trustees [The Marquis of Bute, Lord Archibald Hamilton, Sir John Sinclair, Lord Alloway, Lord Gillies, the Rev. John Fleming of Colinton, and Alexander Weir of Boghead,] for their behoof accordingly," &c.

VOL. II.-3

EDINBURGH, April 15, 1815.



Thank God for hope being opened! If things turn out well, I shall endeavor to console Elizabeth and Isabella for their loss and ill usage; and all my sisters, I trust, shall be convinced that I have their happiness at heart . . . In the meantime, application is making to get the interests of the unprovided part of our family pleaded with the American heir, and rich legatee; but affairs are still so intricate that I should be speaking at random, were I to decide on the specified extent to which I can hope to pledge myself. . . Among the trustees I learn that the positive legacy is 5007.; but, from the sales yet to be made, it may amount to 5,000l. There is to be a meeting on Tuesday, and I shall let you know the result. . . . Ever affectionately yours, T. C.

By his old friends in Edinburgh, whom he had not seen for many years, Campbell was received with that warm sympathy in his better fortunes, which made his short visit amongst them a scene of exquisite enjoyment. On his arrival, says Mrs. Fletcher, "he was in great spirits at this turn of Fortune's wheel, and claimed the sympathy of all his old friends on the occasion; meeting him in the street he said-'I feel as blythe as if the devil were dead!'" The phrase was expressive; for the same event which brought him to Edinburgh had removed much of the evil with which he had hitherto contended. In the same cheerful mood he writes to a friend in London; but the happiness of the moment is impaired by feverish anxiety respecting his son, whom he had left in a very doubtful state of health.

"EDINBURGH, 21st April, 1815.

"I am whirled about, my dear F., from one friend to another, with such velocity, that my head has little time for reflection; but my heart is employed in thinking, in lieu of the intellectual faculty. Somebody said of an eloquent writer, that he thought with his heart. You will perhaps find me, however, more tiresome than eloquent, when I tell you of the cordial greetings I have met with in the north. . .

"I met Mrs. Fletcher-she is English-improved in all points by thirteen years' absence: her beauty, eloquence, wit, and warm-heartedness-all heightened by time, that so seldom improves the first of these articles. As my sisters live at some

ET. 36.]


distance from town, her house is my home when I do not sleep at their house. In her coterie is Mrs. Grant of Laggan, whom I never met before, but who is even more than her writings bespeak.

"I have been much with the Alisons. Mr. A. looks better and fresher than when I left him. His family are grown up. His sons, two grave and sagacious young men, rising in professional eminence, sit beside us, while the venerable priest and I exhibit the contrast of two giggling old fellows. His youngest daughter M., who was five years old when I left her, is grown a fine, handsome woman. She keeps also beside us, on a cushion at the fireside, constantly reminding me of the days of old, when, with alternate romping and quarrelling, we used to be the mutual torment and delight of each other. Alison is an emblem of all human happiness. . .

"Yesterday I spent with the Miss Hills. Their joy and heartfelt kindness is what I feel beyond expression. It is only damped by the indifferent health in which I find them. I dine to-morrow with Mrs. Hay; and she has promised to sing me all her best Scottish songs. Lord Gillies, Lord Alloway, [the executors-all my lawyer friends, have met me with overcoming cordiality. Pardon all this egotism. . . Let me add, what will be welcome news to you, that though my sisters are in poor health, they speak to me with fair, candid, even delicate moderation on the subject of my intentions towards them, and, with good sense, seem entirely disposed to leave the decision to myself. All this is well. But in my happiness, the fear about my boy hangs like a dead weight upon my mind. Your kindness to inform me if you have seen him will come like a piece of intelligence from a better world. Surely my anxiety is not a foreboding! Thomas-Thomas's image is ever before me.Write me but a line. Yours, ever thankfully, T. C."


Leaving Edinburgh, he hastened to Kinniel, where he was anxiously expected by Mr. and Mrs. Dugald Stewart; and from that delightful retreat he sends the following picture of domestic happiness to a friend in London :—


"News respecting my dear boy's health was absolutely necessary to set my heart at rest. But my letters, it seems, have not been received. I have spent three days with my beloved friends, Dugald Stewart and his family. His wife is most

« IndietroContinua »