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A MEMOIR OF HIS LIFE, AND AN ESSAY ON
HIS GENIUS AND WRITINGS.
346 & 348 BROADWAY.
The following spirited and evidently truthful account of the Life of Thomas Campbell, appeared in Fraser's Magazine for November 1844.
I wish to write about Thomas Campbell in the spirit of impartial friendship : I cannot say that I knew him long, or that I knew him intimately. I have stood, when a boy, between his knees; he has advised me in my literary efforts, and lent me books. I have met him in mixed societies-have supped with him in many of his very many lodgings—have drunk punch of his own brewing from his silver bowl-have mingled much with those who knew and understood him, and have been at all times a diligent inquirer, and, I trust, recorder of much that came within my immediate knowledge about him. But let me not raise expectation too highly. Mr. Campbell was not a communicative man; he knew much, but was seldom in the mood to tell what he knew. He preferred a smart saying, or a seasoned or seasonable story ; he trifled in his table-talk, and you might sound
him about his contemporaries to very little purpose Lead the conversation as you liked, Campbell was sure to direct it in a different way. He had no arrow-flights of thought. You could seldom awaken a recollection of the dead within him ; the mention of no eminent contemporary's name called forth a sigh, or an anecdote, or a kind expression. He did not love the past-he lived for to-day and for to-morrow, and fed on the pleasures of hope, not the pleasures of memory. Spence, Boswell, Hazlitt, or Henry Nelson Coleridge, had made very little of his conversation ; old Aubrey, or the author of Polly Peacham's jests, had made much more, but the portrait in their hands had only been true to the baser moments of his mind; we had lost the poet of Ilope and Hohenlinden in the coarse sketches of anecdote and narrative which they told and drew so truly.
Thomas Campbell was born in Glasgow, on the 27th of July, 1777, the tenth and youngest child of his parents. His father was a merchant in that city, and in his sixty-seventh year when the poet (the son of his second marriage) was born. He died, as I have heard Campbell say, at the great age of ninety-two. His mother's maiden name was Mary Campbell:
Mr. Campbell was entered a student of the High School at Glasgow, on the 10th of October, 1785. How long he remained there no one has told us. In his thirteenth year he carried off a bursary from a competitor twice his age, and took a prize for a translation of “ The Clouds” of Aristophanes, pronounced unique among college exercises. Two other poems of this period were " The Choice of Paris,” and “The Dirge of Wallace."
When Galt, in 1833, drew up his autobiography,