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LIFE AND LETTERS
HIS MARRIED LIFE. Being now fairly settled in the metropolis, and seated at his own happy hearth, Campbell viewed all the affairs of life under a new and cheering aspect. His friends had increased in number and influence ; his reputation stood high ; literary employment was daily offered him on liberal terms; and he could now, by his own testimony, “ labour from morning to night without a feeling of wonted languor and depression.” His letters of that date are filled with pictures of domestic happiness. He is ready to exclaim with a brother poet
“ The joys of marriage are the heaven on earth,
Life's Paradise, great Princess, the soul's quiet
Sinews of Concord, earth by immortality." From a mass of letters written at this interesting period, I select the following :
TO JOHN RICHARDSON, ESQ.
35, UPPER EATON STREET, PIMLICO, November 3, 1803. MY DEAR JOHN,
I have been in most impatient expectation of meeting you in Scotland, and introducing you to my bride ;
but at last-after some attempts to support a husband's authority—I have been obliged to concede this point to the lady, who will not yet consent to go north. I do not now expect to realise my plan of rustication near Edinburgh before February ; but in spite of my present delay, I can assure you the old plan is nearer my heart than ever. Now that the public astonishment has a little subsided, and the nation at large grown familiar with the idea of contemplating my unhappy marriage, I picture to myself the precincts of Edinburgh ; be sure a cottage as the best compromise we could make between town and country. Edinburgh—John Richardson and Jemmy Grahame shaking their heads like two mandarins at my fireside ! moralising upon the folly of early wedlock !Mocha Coffee—my wife has been in Geneva and makes it to perfection ; she is besides a very mild body, and except in points of any consequence—would give us our own will to make as much, and talk as much as we liked. Such are the scenes, I trust, not in distant perspective. I cannot tax myself with either misapprehending or changing my opinion of the summum bonum. It is precisely what is now before me. I see the book of life opened.—The characters written upon it are-mental employment such as to amount to industry, without swelling to fatigue ; a friend to be always with—and a friend to have for ever-although met with only in the gay moments of leisure.— I have a little too much industry, I own, at present; for the constant consciousness of what I have now to answer for, beats an alarm-bell in my heart, when I detect myself indolent-and my hours of writing are now from morning to night.
The worthy being who stands next on my list of blessings, is such, that if I asked my affections upon oathdid they ever find her match ? they would say upon oath
-Nay-never ! — And now for my friends, John. It was no compliment for a dreary forlorn pilgrim in Germany, to wish for your society—and to think that it would be better than solitude ; but it is now a pledge how dear I hold you, when I think how blest—how supremely blest I should be, if I had the sum of God's gifts made complete by having the friend, who wishes me most happiness, to come and see me happy.
Oh, that I had my doors fortified with all the art of Vauban ! — with drawbridges and covert ways — and chevaux-de-frize to impale my guzzling gossips, who masticate my sweet seed-cake !—and only one gate to admit my far-off Richardson !— Bless us ! we have just a corner at the western end of the rug ready to receive you! We should welcome you, like Adam and Eve sitting down to chat with the facetious Raphael-Vide Milton, Book vi-vii—your own Edition,* page 194 and 1957—We should chat of * * * and his Turkish affairs, smoking most Turkishly!
Dugald Stewart and his dear spouse have seen us. I wish you may get this letter from their hands, and know these great valuables more intimately.
Send me a newspaper from Edinburgh soon—all about Grahame and his cradle, and his lovely babe. Is it of the masc. or fem. gender? If of the latter, will it do for my second son ? the eldest, you know, is bespoken. Give Grahame my heartiest sympathy and condolence upon the awful change of existence which we have both undergone ! —but, “ difficile quod non patientia vincit.”
When you see the Doctor, present my warmest respects to him. Tell him that—upon Dr. Addington's removal from the ministry—it is rumoured in London he is to suc
* The edition here alluded to is that mentioned at page 57, Vol. I. .
ceed. With compliments to Cockburn, I send remembrance of our old happy meetings at your room. I remain, my dearest Richardson, your most attached friend,
In the volunteer corps to which the Poet belonged, some verses were handed about, which show that he lost no occasion for maintaining in all its native vigour, the glorious spirit of independence. “They were suggested,” he said, “by the gallant promise made by our beloved Monarch, that ‘in case of invasion, he would be found in the hour of danger, at the head of his troops !" The stanzas are among the rejected pieces, and, perhaps, long forgotten ;but, as they embrace an interesting point of history, I have ventured to reprint them from the original.
“ON JAMES IV. OF SCOTLAND, WHO FELL AT THE
BATTLE OF FLODDEN.”
With more than royal sway,
And sickened at his stay ;
Was gone for evermore!
Mixing their kindred gore !
And this may proudly show
The Poet was very regular in his attendance at drill ; and, after a great field-day, thus writes to Mr. Richardson: “ December-Out on St. Andrew's Day at the muster of
A VOLUNTEER-EXPENSIVE OUTFIT-BENSLEY.
the North Britons. But oh, what a fagging work this volunteering is ! Eight hours under a musket!” Nor was this all, for he adds, “Bensley, the printer, with all his
devils,' is upon me for an account of 1001., besides boxes, porterage, and Heaven knows what. It gives me the nightmare to think of it. . . I had a debt of 301. from one bookseller alone, when the braw' uniform of the North Britons, first estimated at 101., has swelled to 251., with dress and undress, havresack, accoutrements, &c.; and as I made them a speech I could not be off! . . . I wish earnestly you could save me from Bensley, for he sends me home in low spirits every time I meet him ! . . The sum you stated is a very plentiful production from the Edinburgh payments. Would that I had such treatment in London ! . . I am sea-sick of it...
“I will settle in Edinburgh whenever my quarter of the lodgings is out; in a cottage, or any box such as I spoke of before marriage. I still adhere to one acre, if I can't have more. How happy, happy I should be, to see you and my dear little Matilda smiling like the two cherubim in the temple—one on each side of me. I am sure you will like her, and that is more than admiring. The only bar to our being perpetually together must be, that I am determined—to have my dear one in the country-out of the reach of 'family' interference. . . But a place to your mind may surely be got, and we should always have a spare bed for you and yours... Fortasse hæc olim meminisse juvabit. God bless you, the Hills, and the Grahames !”
T. C. These extracts afford some notion of the cares, hopes, and perplexities alternately passing through his mind ; but anxiety regarding pecuniary matters was soon removed by the active co-operation of his friend. “Bensley and all his devils” were speedily exorcised by a cash remittance