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Campbell, during the ten years, furnished some thirty poems, which were printed with his name. Besides his twelve lectures, his chief prose contributions were, a Letter to Mr. Brant, the son of a Mohawk Chief; Letters to the Students of the Glasgow University; an article on the University of London ; a few reviews,- one, of Milton's theological tracts; of the four first volumes of Las Casas' Napoleon ; Hugh's Travels, and Moore's Byron; with articles on the Civilization of Africa, Shakspeare's Sonnets, and Flaxman's Lectures. He wrote, sometimes, a critical notice of a new book, and when a friend died contributed a few lines for the obituary. The magazine, probably, derived more advantage from his name than from his labors ; though a public journal takes its tone and character from the directing mind, which, in this case, was undoubtedly Campbell's.
Among his poetical contributions to the magazine was The Last Man, published in 1823, an effort in the style of his best days. He was not a little troubled lest he should be suspected of stealing the idea of this poem from the Darkness of Lord Byron. It was one, it seems, that he had long cherished,
- as we see many instances in which half a score or more of years elapsed between his conception of a poem and its completion. In this case he had conversed with his brother poet, some fifteen years previously, on the subject; and to this conversation he attributed the similarity of the leading idea in the two poems, though it was original in neither.
On the 16th of November, 1824, Campbell wrote to a friend, “I am to be out in print on Monday; and, if I should not see you on that day, Theodoric will.” The poem appeared, and sorely disappointed a public then accustomed to high achievements in the poetical art, and looking to the mature power of Campbell for something to surpass the productions of his marvellous youth. “I am sorry,” he wrote to his sister, “ that there should be any great expectation excited about the poem, which is not of a nature to gratify such expectation. It is truly a domestic and private story. I know very well what will be its fate; there will be an outcry and regret that there is nothing grand or romantic in the poem, and that it is too humble and familiar. But I am prepared for this; and I also know that, when it recovers from the first buzz of such criticism, it will attain a steady popularity."
Campbell expressed much pleasure when he learned that Jeffrey intended to review his new work. “I think,” said the poet," he has the stuff in him to understand Theodoric.” In a kind and gentle spirit the great critic exercised his censorial functions.
He surveyed the poem in its favorable aspect, and said everything in its behalf that could suggest itself to the ingenious advocate. He said it, too, in that plausible and persuasive style which he knew so well how to employ, and which would induce the belief that he was quietly expressing his own convictions, instead of adroitly seeking to make out his case. But it was all in vain. Campbell's idea of the immediate reception of the poem was certainly realized, but it has not yet attained the “ steady popularity" to which its author thought it was ultimately destined.
The event of most interest in the public life of Campbell was the establishment, through his agency, of the University of London. Of this scheme he was the originator, and, in managing its preliminary arrangements, exhibited uncommon address and energy. From his correspondence of this period, it would seem to be owing mainly to his exertions that the institution escaped, at the outset, a sectarian character, that would have seriously impaired its usefulness. We cite a few extracts from the correspondence to which we refer :
“ SEYMOUR-STREET West, April 30, 1825. I have had a double-quick time of employment since I saw you. In addition to the business of the magazine, I have had that of the university in a formidable shape. Brougham, who must have popularity among dissenters, propounded the matter to them. The delegates of almost all the dissenting bodies in London came to a conference at his summons. At the first meeting, it was decided that there should be theological chairs, partly Church of England and partly Presbyterian. I had instructed all friends of the university to resist any attempt to make us a theological body ; but Brougham, Hume, and John Smith, came away from the first meeting saying, We think, with you, that the introduction of divinity will be mischievous ; but we must yield to the dissenters, with Irving at their head. Wo must have a theological college. I immediately waited on the Church of England men, who had already subscribed to the number of a hundred, and said to them, “You see our paction is broken ; I induced you to subscribe, on the faith that no ecclesiastical interest, English or Scotch, should predominate in our scheme ; but the dissenters are rushing in. What do you say?' They — that is, the Church of England friends of the
scheme - concerted that I should go commissioned from them to say at the conference, that either the Church of England must predominate, or else there must be no church influence. I went with this commission ; I debated the matter with the dissenters. Brougham, Hume, and John Smith, who had before deserted me, changed sides, and came over to me. Irving and his party stoutly opposed me; but I succeeded, at last, in gaining a complete victory.
" A directory of the association for the scheme of the university is to meet in my house on Monday, and everything promises well. You cannot conceive what anxiety I have undergone, whilst I imagined that the whole beautiful project was likely to be reduced to a mere dissenter's university. But I have no more reason to be dissatisfied with the dissenters than with the hundred Church of England subscribers, whose interests I have done my best to support. I regard this as an eventful day in my life.”
A few days afterwards he wrote to a friend who had manifested a deep interest in the enterprise, and whom from the closing sentence of the letter we presume to be Dr. Beattie :
“ You will not grudge postage to be told the agreeable news that Brougham and Hume have reported their having had a conference with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Lord Liverpool ; and that they expressed themselves not unfavorable to the plan of a great college in London. Of course, as ministers had not been asked to pledge themselves to support us, but only to give us a general idea of their disposition, we could only get what we sought - a general
but that being so favorable is much. I was glad also to hear that both Mr. Robinson and Lord Liverpool approved highly of no rival theological chairs having been agreed upon. Mr. R. even differed from Mr. Hume, when the latter said that, of course, getting a charter is not to be thought of. "I beg your pardon,' said Mr. Robinson, • I think it might be thought of; and it is by no means an impossible supposition.'
“A copy of my scheme of education, but much mutilated and abridged, is submitted to their inspection. I mean, however, to transmit to them my scheme in an entire shape, and to publish it afterwards as a pamphlet. In the mean time, I must for a while retire, and leave this business to other hands, now that it seems safe from any mischief which hitherto threatened it. I send you this intelligence, because it is an event to me, or at least a step in a promised event, which will be, perhaps, the only important one in my life's little history; and your correspondence has been a register of my affairs for a long time, and I hope will always be.”'
His plan fairly in the way to be carried out, Campbell revisited Germany, with the view of making himself familiar with the discipline and internal arrangements of her universities. At Hamburg, he met Tony M'Cann, the Esile of Erin, no longer “ lonely and pensive” as in 1801, but as happy as a married gentleman in easy circumstances could well be out of Ireland. His exile had been solaced by the charms and fortune of a wealthy young widow of Altona, whose compassion for the “ heart-broken stranger” may have been first excited by the pathetic strains of the poet. “ I found my Exile of Erin,” says Campbell," as glad to see me as if we had but parted a quarter of a year, instead of a quarter of a century." Under such auspices, Hamburg threatened to be a little too gay for him, and he escaped from an “impending shower of invitations” to Berlin, where he fixed himself at the St. Petersburg hotel. Here he had a slight fever, but applied himself industriously to the object of his journey, and obtained all the information respecting the university, and every book he desired. On his return to Hamburg, in October, he was invited by the English residents, to the number of eighty, to a public dinner.
From the active part which Campbell, as its prime mover, had taken in the establishment of the London university, it was naturally expected that he was to be installed as warden, and, at the same time, occupy some professorship. Why no such appointment was offered him remains to this day unexplained. Dr. Beattie throws no light upon the point. Though he intimates, in a foot-note, that the importance of his services was not acknowledged, he does not tell us who questioned it, or why Campbell was passed over in organizing the college in Gower-street. If the slight was a mortification to the poet, he was presently to be compensated for it by unexpected honors from another quarter.
The academic fame of Campbell would have descended, by tradition, among the students of the university of Glasgow, if it had not been kept alive by his celebrity as a poet. Early in 1826 he received an intimation that it was desired he should become Lord Rector of that institution for the ensuing year. The office had long been considered as the mere medium of a compliment to some gentleman of the neighborhood, and was usually held by a whig and tory in succession. “The election,” says a writer in the London Quarterly Review, “ was with the students in certain classes — those, we presume, of the first foundation : these were all, however, very young students, the majority boys from twelve to sixteen, - and they had for ages voted in their red togas and antique nations as their masters in conclave settled beforehand. The scheme was to make this undergraduate-poll a real one; to have Lord Rectors of their own free choice; and it was very natural and honorable for the Glasgow lads to think first of the originator of the London novelty, and greatest literary name connected with their own college within living memory. Campbell was delighted when he heard of this rebellion against the Senatus Academicus, then mostly composed of tories. He and his whig friends in the north exerted every energy; the ancient solitary reign' of the dignitaries fell at the first assault, and was (apparently) abolished forever.” This triumph was the more gratifying from the fact that it was achieved over two other candidates, Sir Thomas Brisbane and Mr. Canning.
In consequence of his delicate state of health, Campbell was not installed as Lord Rector until the 12th of April, when he delivered his inaugural address to an overflowing assembly of professors, students and citizens. “I was a student then," says a reminiscent, “ and, like others, was charmed. We have had the most distinguished men of the day successively elected to the office of Rector, - Sir Robert Peel, Lord Stanley, Lord Brougham, Lord Jeffrey, Sir James Mackintosh, and many more celebrated in oratory, science and general literature. I have heard all their addresses, but none of them came up to that of Thomas Campbell.”
On the 14th of November Campbell was reëlected Lord Rector for the year 1828, without a dissentient voice. During his second year of office, he lost his wife. She died on the 9th of May, and on the 15th of the same month the poet thus writes : “* I am alone; and I feel that I shall need to be some time alone, prostrated in heart before that Great Being who can alone forgive my errors; and in addressing whom, alone, I can frame resolutions in my heart to make my remaining life as pure as nature's infirmities may permit a soul to be that believes in His existence and goodness and mercy.” As his grief subsided, we find him in communication with Lord Aber