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I thank you ; I have had enough of it. This is just as if you were to ask me, after I had finished a narrative book that had mu
amused meHow should you like to read it over again? Why, possibly, unless the book were Robinson Crusoe, I should say — No, I cannot now read the book with the same curiosity as before. Even so it is with life. Its evils are sweetened by hope, novelty, and curiosity. How can we imagine ourselves animated by these feelings a second time, if we were to enter on a second existence? But why, it may be asked, if the retrospect of life be in the least sad, should I set down to the task of noting its memoranda ? Why, unimportant as I am, I know that some account of me will be written. Dr. Beattie has even volunteered to be my biographer. He is likely to survive me by fifteen years, and a better biographer I could not find, except that he would be too laudatory. I know not, however, what business Dr. Beattie may have on his hands at the time when it may please God to call me away, and to leave my friend to grope his way through letters collected from my correspondents, or through confused memoranda of my own writing, would be but a sorry bequest to my best of friends.
“ I shall leave to you, therefore, my dear niece, * a series of the recollections of my life, as distinctly connected as I can make them, and he and you, after my death, may make what use of them you think most proper.
“ I was born, as our family Bible states (for this is none of my own recollection), in Glasgow, on the 27th of July, 1777, at 7 o'clock in the
* Mary Campbell, now Mrs. W. Alfred Hill.
morning. The house which my father and his family inhabited then, and for fourteen years afterwards, was in the High Street of Glasgow, a little above, and on the opposite side of the Havannah Street, but was pulled down to open a new street crossing the High Street between the new grammar-school and the road east of the Gallowgate, so that the house and room in which I was born is not now an earthly locality, but a place in the empty air, emblematic, perhaps, of my future memory.
“ I have uncommonly early recollections of life; I remember, that is to say, I seem to remember, many circumstances which I was told had occurred when I could not have been quite three years old.
“ In very early years I was boarded, during the summer, in the country near Glasgow, at Pollock Shaws, in the humble house of a stockingweaver, John Stewart, whose wife Janet was as kind to me as my own mother could be.
“ During the winter, in those infantine years, I returned to my father's house, and my youngest sister taught me reading. My reading, of course, was principally in the Bible, and I contracted a liking for the Old Testament which has never left
The recollection of this period makes an exception to the general retrospect of my life, making me somewhat sad. I was then the happiest of young human animals, at least, during the months which I spent under the roof of John and Janet Stewart. It is true I slept on a bed of chaff, and my fare, as may be supposed, was not sumptuous, but life was young within me. Pollock Shaws was at that time rural and delightful. The stocking-weaver's house was on a flat piece of ground, half circularly inclosed by a small running stream, called by the Scotch, a burn. On one side above it were ascending fields which terminated in trees along the high road to Glasgow. I remember no picture by Claude that ever threw me into such dreams of delight as this landscape. I remember leaping over the tallest yellow weeds with ecstasy. I remember seeing beautiful weed-flowers on the opposite side of the burn which I could not approach to pull, and wishing in my very soul to get at them, still I could not cross the burn. There were trouts, too, in the stream, and what a glorious event was the catching a trout. I was happy, however. Once only in my life perfectly happy.
"At eight years old I went to the grammarschool of Glasgow, where, among seventy other boys, I was the pupil of David Alison. He was a severe disciplinarian of the old school, and might be compared to Gil Blas's master, who was the most expert flogger in all Oviedo.' But I was one of his pet scholars, and he told
father that he often spared me, when he ought to have whipt me, because I looked so innocent. He was a noble-looking man. At the periodical examinations by the magistrates, he looked a prince in comparison even with the Provost with his golden chain.
The love he bore to learning was in fault.' “ So that he was popular even among his whippees. I was so early devoted to poetry, that at ten years old, when our master interpreted to us the first Eclogue of Virgil, I was literally thrilled by its beauty. Already we had read bits of Ovid, but he never affected me half so much as the apostrophe of Tityrus to his cottage, from which he had been driven :
“ En unquam patrios longo post tempore fines
Pauperis et tuguri congestum cespite culmen
“ David Alison was, I believe, a very good teacher of Latin, and he attended more to prosody than his predecessors are said to have done. At the same time the whole mode of tuition was barbarous and inefficient. Some seventy boys in each of the four classes were confined in their class rooms, for two hours at a stretch, three times in a day. Out of the seventy, I believe that scarcely seven acquired, during four years, more Latin than a boy of ordinary capacity might have been taught, by proper management, in one year. There was a general and pretty noisy murmur in the room.
When the seven who could say their lessons had been heard, they were, instead of being set at liberty, confined till the sixty-three dunces were examined in divisions, and whipped in a geometrical scale of descent, and loud were the screeches of those who suffered from the leathern thong. I understand that there is now a fifth class, and a rector in the grammar-school of Glasgow ;—that it has even a professor of elocution attached to it, and that great improvement has taken place. thirteenth
I went to the University of Glasgow, and put on the red gown. The joy of the occasion made me unable to eat my breakfast. I am told that race-horses, on the morning of the day when they know they are to be brought to the race, are so agitated that they refuse their oats. Whether it was presentiment,
66 In my
or the mere castle-building of my vanity, I had even then a day-dream that I should be one day Lord Rector of the University. In my own lifetime, Lord Jeffrey and myself have been the only two Rectors who were educated at Glasgow.
“ The Professor of Latin in Glasgow University at that time was William Richardson, somewhat known among our little known poets, and author of a tragedy called “The Indians.' He was a gentlemanlike man, though rather mincing and fribbling in his gait and manner, and a thorough-paced Tory slave, in what he called his principles,
-a mere creature of the Duke of Montrose. Yet he was a very fair teacher, and I ought to remember him with gratitude, for he encouraged and gave me the distinction of a prize for my earliest attempts in poetical translation.”
Here the MS., contained in Campbell's handwriting, which is believed to have been writen in 1842, breaks off, and recommences at another part of his biography
The editor requests the reader, in limine, to glance for a moment at the history of the Poets family, which may be traced for many generations.
From documentary evidence and records of the presbytery of Inverary, it appears that this “ branch of the Campbell's” were long settled in that part of the Argyle frontier, which lies between Lochawe and Lochfyne, bordered by the ducal territory of Inverary.
Archibald, Lord and Knight of Lochawe, was grandson of Sir Neil, chief of the clan, and a contemporary of King Robert Bruce.
This Archibald died A. D. 1360, leaving issue three sons, Tavis, ancestor of Dunardrie, and Iver, from whom sprang the Campbells of Kirnan, the