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MEMOIR OF THOMAS CAMPBELL
It is not a little singular that the Tyrtæus of modern English poetry should at the same time be one of the most tender as well as original of writers. Campbell owes less than any other Bri. tish poet to his predecessors or contemporaries. He has lived to see his verses quoted like these of earlier poets in the literature of his day, lisped by children, and sung at public festivals. The war-odes of Campbell have nothing to match them in the English language for energy and fire, while their condensation and the felicitous selection of their versification are in remarkable harmony. Campbell, in allusion to Cimon, has been said to have " conquered both on land and sea," from his naval Odes and “Hohenbinden" embracing both scenes of warfare.
Scotland gave birth to Thomas Campbell. He was the son of a second marriage, and born at Glasgow in 1777. His father was born in 1710, and was consequently nearly 70 years of age when the poet his son was ushered into the world. He was sent early to school in his native city, and his instructor was Dr. David Alison, an individual of great celebrity in the practice of education. He had a method of instruction in the classics purely his own, by which he taught with great facility, and at the same time rejected all
harsh discipline, putting kindness in the place of terror, and alluring rather than compelling the pupil to his duty. Campbell began to write verses young. There are some attempts at poetry yet extant among his friends in Scotland, written when he was but nine years old. They natural. ly are childish, but still display that propensity for the muses by which at a remarkably early age, he was so distinguished. For his place of education he had a great respect, as well as for the memory of his masters, of whom he always spoke in terms of great affection. He was twelve years old when he quitted school for the Uni. versity of Glasgow. There he was considered an excellent Latin scholar, and gained high honour by a contest with a candidate twice as old as himself, by which he obtained a bursary. He constantly bore away the prizes, and every fresh success only seemed to stimulate him to more ambitious exertions. In Greek he was considerd the foremost student of his age; and some of his translations were said to be superior to any before offered for competition in the Uni. versity. Campbell thus furnishes an exception to the majority of men of genius, who have seldom been remarkable for diligence and proficiency in their early years, the lofty powers they possessed not being exhibited until mature life. Campbell while at the University made poetical paraphrases of the most celebrated Greek poets; of Eschylus, Sophocles, and Aristophanes, which were thought efforts of extraordinary promise. Dr. Millar at that time gave philosophical lectures in Glasgow. He was a highly gifted teacher and & most excellent man. His
lectures attracted the attention of young Camp. bell, who became his pupil, and studied with eagerness the principles of sound philosophy; he was favoured with the confidence of his teacher, and partook much of his society. To being thus early grounded in the fundamental truths of phi. losophy, and accustomed to analyze correctly, is to be attributed mainly the side in politics which Campbell early embraced, and that love of free. dom and free thought which he has invariably shown upon all questions in which the interests of mankind are concerned.
Campbell quitted Glasgow to remove into Argyleshire, where the situation of tutor in a family of some note was offered and accepted by him. It was in Argyleshire, among the romantic mountains of the North, that the poetical spirit increased in energy, and the charms of verse took entire possession of his mind. Many people now alive remember bim there wandering alone by the torrent, or over the rugged steeps of that wild country, reciting the strains of other poets aloud, or silently composing his own. Several of his pieces which he has rejected in his collected works, are handed about in Scotland in manu. script. The " Dirge of Wallace" (given at page 272.) which will not be found in the London Editions of his works, is one of these wild compositions; and it is difficult to say why he should have rejected it, for the poetry is truly noble. It bas hitherto appeared only in fugitive publica. tions and newspapers.
From Argyleshire, where his residence was not a protracted one, Campbell removed to Edinburgh. There he was very quickly noticed for