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In whose sea-odes, as in those shells
Where ocean's voice of majesty
Old Albion's Spirit of the Sea.
“ Such was our host; and though since then
Slight clouds have risen 'twixt him and me,
Stretched forth again in amity ?
To let such mists a moment stay,
Like sunshine, melts them all away ?”
On the occasion of the lamented death of the Princess Charlotte, Campbell wrote a monody, which was recited by Mrs. Bartley, at Drury Lane, for the benefit of the performers, who were severe sufferers by this national calamity. Before it was printed, copies of this monody were sent by the author to the Prince Regent and Prince Leopold. He enclosed the lines, also, to his sister, with the remark that they were hardly worth mentioning for their poetry, but that they were a sincere expression of the feelings of a whole kingdom. Leopold sent him a very polite and kind acknowledgment, “ like a true gentleman," but the poet heard nothing from Carlton House.
In the autumn of 1818, on an invitation communicated by his friend Mr. Roscoe, the poet delivered a course of lectures on poetry, before the Royal Institution of Liverpool. It embraced the same subjects with his London course, but there was some change in the arrangement. On this excursion he received three hundred and forty pounds from his Liverpool subscriptions, and one hundred more for repeating the lectures at Birmingham, on his way to London. From the contemporary notices we infer that Campbell must have been a very agreeable lecturer. We know that in private he sometimes recited his own poetry with animation and effect; and we can well imagine that his fine eye and voice were made to do their full part in setting off his public discourses to the best advantage.
At Birmingham he seldom visited, except at the house of “ poor Gregory Watt’s father, the James Watt.” Here he was a guest peculiarly welcome, and he found Watt, at the age of eighty-three,
full of anecdote and interest. His son promised the poet a cast of a "glorious bust of his father, by Chantrey, and a profile of Gregory.”
His lectures he concluded so much to his own satisfaction, and that of his auditors, that he thought lecturing likely to become his metier. Invitations to repeat the series were urged upon him from Glasgow and Edinburgh, but they were declined, in consequence of chest complaint, from which he was at that time suffering. He said that he had not a voice to exert without imminent hazard.
During his absence from London the Specimens of the British Poets at length made its appearance. It was published in seven volumes, duodecimo, the first of which was devoted to an essay on English poetry. The remaining volumes were occupied with the specimens, and with critical and biographical notices of their authors. A second edition was published many years afterwards, in one volume octavo, and it has been recently republished in the United States. The work was deservedly successful, and still maintains a high reputation. A writer in the Quarterly Review, after the death of Campbell, styled it “a book not unworthy to be handed down with the classical verse of its author."
In the month of May, 1820, Campbell was lecturing again before the Royal Institution, and preparing for another visit to Germany, with his family. It was his intention to proceed to the Rhine, and pass some time at Bonn, or Heidelberg, in revising his lectures, and extending them till they should comprehend an entire view of Greek, Roman, French, Spanish, German and Italian literature. Before starting on his journey, he signed an agreement with Mr. Colburn, the publisher, to edit the New Monthly Magazine for three years from the first of the succeeding January, and furnish for it
annually six articles in prose and six in verse, on a salary of five hundred pounds. It was stipulated that the prose articles should contain the whole value and substance of the Lectures on Poetry, the copyright of which, with that of all his own writings in the magazine, was to revert to the author. This matter arranged, Campbell embarked for Germany by the way of Rotterdam. Early in June he was at Bonn, on the Rhine, where he studied German with Professor Strahl, whom, in return, he assisted in the pronunciation of the English.
The professor read to him from a book entitled Beauties of British Literature, containing extracts from Scott and Byron, with the entire works of Campbell himself. Another edition of his poems had also appeared at Leipsic.
Of this visit his letters record some personalities of interest :
“ Boxx, June 30. “I am fortunato in my lodgings. For a pound a week I have two very large, good bed-rooms and a sitting-room ; lofty, beautifully papered ; tho ceiling painted ; china vases in the recesses ; paintings in gilded frames all round the walls; and a sofa covered with such new and beautiful silk, that I cannot find in my heart to sit down upon it. For half-a-crown a day, I have dinner for Matilda and myself, consisting of soup, cutlets, ham, fowls, &c.; and a bottle of Rhenish for a shilling. Thomas is boarded with Professor Kapp, at five pounds a month, including all teachers. He sees us very seldom, and is kept tightly to his studies; while I prosecute my own in the library, and step in at pleasure to the lectures of the professors. Schlegel, I must say, is very eloquent ; though I cannot yet perfectly follow German as I hear it spoken. His students seem in raptures with him ; in fact, he should never be out of the pulpit.”
6 RATISBON, August 2. “ Though much exhausted, my spirits rallied at sight of the Danube, first visible from the high road, about four miles from Ratisbon. At that moment, as you may guess, I felt a flood of associations rushing upon my mind, that seemed as wide as the river I was contemplating. The sensation was less melancholy than I expected ; I felt myself tranquil, and even cheerful ; though the scene reminded me how much of life was gone by, and how much there was to regret in the retrospect! But the evening was fine, the prospect grand ; and, as I stood up in the carriage, I could reckon twenty places fraught with lively interest to my memory. There were the heights to which the Austrians retreated in 1800 ; there was the spire of the church from which I had watched their movements ; there was the wood, from which the last shot was fired, before the armistice. Alas! that
campaign was but a trifle ; ten years afterwards, thirty thousand fell in the great battle with Napoleon, before Ratisbon. This morning, since five o'clock, I have been looking at the scene of action.
“ My first visit was to the Scotch college, - a dismal visit! Of all the monastery, there are only two survivors, out of a dozen whom I knew. I first inquired for the worthy prelate, who had shown a fatherly kindness to me when I was here. He died, they told me, last April, between eighty and ninety years of age. I scarcely imagined that the news of an old man's death could have touched me so much ; but I could not help weeping heartily when I recalled his benevolent looks and venerable figure, ad found myself in the same ball where I had often sat and conversed with him,- admiring, what seemed so strange to me, the most liberal and tolerant religious sentiments from a Roman Catholic abbot. Poor old Arbuthnot! it was impossible not to love him. All Bavaria, they told me, lamented his death. He was, when I knew him, the most commanding human figure I ever beheld. His head was then quite white ; but his complexion was fresh, and his features were regular and handsome. In manners, he had a perpetual suavity and benevolence. I think I still see him in the cathedral, with the golden cross on his fine chest, and hear his full, deep voice chanting the service.”
“ VIENNA, Sept. 29. “I have found a kind friend in the Countess R. All Vienna speaks not only well, but reverentially, of her. She is majestic, like Mrs. Siddons, but very natural and gentle, an excellent scholar,— for she helped me out with a quotation from Cicero,- yet perfectly unassuming, almost to timidity. Her house is the rendezvous of the best society in Vienna ; and she made me promise to come every evening. When I arrive, I find her seated in full glory at the upper end of the room, where the place beside her is reserved for me. * Here you meet a number of the Polish nobility, of whom tho somen are extremely beautiful. The men are more like Englishmen than any foreigners I have seen. It curious to find myself at home amongst them, and receiving invitations to call upon them, should I ever be at Warsaw !
“During a day I spent at the countess' house, she took me to the height called the · Fountain of the Thorn,' where wo had a most magnificent view of the course of the Danube, from the walls of Vienna to the mountains of Hungary. Our party partook of a collation on tho side of a beautiful hill, where we looked over woods on the fine prospect, and sat surrounded by beds of mignonette, which was fragrant enough to regalo even my dull senses. * I have written a few lines to the countess on the subject, which I will show you when we meet. “I have found an excellent friend, - for so I may truly call him,- in Von Hammer, & member of the Aulic Council, and of celebrity as an Oriental scholar. He has translated my Lines on a Scene in Argyleshire ; another literary man has translated Ye Mariners ; and both have appeared in the Vienna papers. The Exile of Erin has been ten years translated ; and — would you believe it ?— The Pleasures of Hope was translated into Danish three years ago, and the translator is to sup with me to-night!”
From Vienna Campbell returned to Bonn, where he left his son to be educated under care of Dr. Meyer, and proceeded, with his wife, to England. Having entered on the editorship of Mr. Colburn's magazine, he found it necessary to remove to London, and took lodgings at 62 Margaret-street, till he established himself permanently in a small house in Seymour-street West. With this journal he continued his connection for ten years.
The politics of the New Monthly had been ultra tory, while Campbell was a whig; but this he seemed to think of little importrance. Relying upon the literary superiority which he could give to its pages, he sought at once to procure able contributors among his literary friends. As might have been expected, however, those of them who were implicated in political relations turned a cold shoulder on his enterprise. The witty and reverend Sydney Sunith wrote him a quizzical note of negation, in which great anxiety was expressed to know the line of conduct he intended to “ hold on the subject of religion.” “ Answer my question,” he added, “ and I will take time to consider the matter.” Moore wrote from Sevres that he had been of late giving himself up to pleasure and had dwelt carelessly, and that the few hours the “world” left him were barely sufficient for himself, without “ admitting any works of supererogation for others." His old friend Perry, too, of the Morning Chronicle, was opposed to the magazine, because it had stolen the name of another work for party purposes. In spite of these drawbacks, Campbell succeeded in enlisting a corps of writers, who, by their varied and lively talents, gave the New Monthly a high position in the world of belles-lettres. It maintained a fair rivalry with Blackwood, and far excelled all other competitors in the same field. Talfourd, the Smiths, authors of The Rejected Addresses, Mrs. Hemans, Hazlitt, Foscolo, Miss Landon, Barry Cornwall, Praed, and Mr. Blanco White, the author of Doblado's Letters, were among his contributors; and Mr. Cyrus Redding rendered valuable service to the poet as his assistant editor.