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The new year was ushered in with prospects of increasing usefulness, congenial labours, another poem, a speculation on court favour, with reflections on passing events.
“Jan. 13.—I feel some comfort in telling you the general state of my affairs. I have a new poem on the anvilor at least, in the fire, if not red-hot enough for the anvil. I have also several small ones lying by ; but not having enough for a volume, I delay publishing them until I can come out in force. I am to lecture again at the Royal Institution next spring. Mr. * * * thinks, as both my fellow-lecturers have been knighted, it is not impossible that, in the course of time, I may be knighted * also! Yet, alas! what shall I do if I cannot afford to keep a footman ? For what is a knight without his squire ? .... There is also a probability that I may lecture at the London Institution, thus belecturing the town like a Colossus, with one foot in Moorfields, and another in Albemarle Street; but the latter point is not yet fixed.
“I have been much agitated on the Whig side of opinion by the merciless aspect of public affairs. What is the danger of Radicalism to what has been extorted from our
* Some time previous to this, it was reported that Campbell was shortly to take his place in parliament; and in answer to an old schoolfellow, he writes :
—“How could the rumour of my being sent to St. Stephen's be got up ? I never wished-never breathed a wish to belong to it.” Some years later, however he thought better of it.
fears ? The subject, however, is wide, and I must honestly confess I have not been without my fears, though sometimes, on reflection, half ashamed of them. My hopes still rest on the indestructible spring of public opinion. On this subject, I cannot help saying I feel a sort of Scottish pride in Kinloch of K.; I don't like the cause, but I admire the dauntless simplicity of his zeal, and feel for his martyrdom ...
An ardent desire to revisit Germany, often indulged, and as hopelessly abandoned, was at length to be realised. With improved circumstances, and important literary objects in view, everything promised an agreeable and profitable tour. He proposed to take his family with him ; to proceed to the Rhine; pass some time at Bonn or Heidelberg; consult the public libraries; make extracts from such works as related to the subject of his lectures ;* and renew his acquaintance with Schlegel. Thence, with the same objects in view, he projected a tour to Vienna, and, on his return to Prussia, meant to confide the education of his son to one of the professors at Bonn. Of the plan thus briefly sketched, he happily accomplished the main object; he
* This very comprehensive subject had long engrossed his attention. As early as April, 1816, we find him writing to Mr. Stevenson in these words :“Though I have a considerable part of the materials ready for my lectures, they will form a large work of two volumes quarto, that will still employ me for some time. They will comprehend an entire view of Greek, Roman, French, Spanish, Italian, and German literature. Having this in contemplation, I had really prepared to set off to the Continent with my family, chiefly for the sake of collecting the books necessary for the subject of Modern Literature, which are not to be brought together from English libraries. But I was prevented by insufficiency of ways and means.
“My labour at modern languages in this undertaking has been Herculean. Of Italian classics, I finished last month (March) a collection amounting to two hundred and fifty volumes. Your sweat of brow at making tea-pots, my dear Potter, is nothing to this.-T. C.”
PREPARING FOR A TOUR IN GERMANY.
collected a large and various fund of information on general literature, the systems of education, and the discipline pursued in the great schools of Germany; and, in conversation with the Professors of Bonn, conceived the first idea of the London University.
Preparations were accordingly made for the tour, which was to commence in May; and in a letter to Mr. Richardson, his German project is thus divulged :
“10, Seymour Street West, March 27, 1820. “I am letting my house furnished, for a year, during which I mean to remove both Matilda and Thomas to Germany. I have thought of Bonn, for my friend Schlegel is there, a resident professor ; but his attraction is counterbalanced by the inclination for Heidelberg, where the idea of the 'great tun' presents a sort of charm to the fancy ! Seriously, however, I am going to Deutschland for a year, and have every prospect of getting my house off my hands, in a way that will keep my mind easy about rent and taxes .... I have much on my thoughts about bills paying off, lists of furniture, and a place for depositing my books in my absence ; but we must meet before we expatriate; and I must make a point of seeing our great, good friend* before he returns north
Arbeit brennt die Sterne feucht,
In the mean time, the circle of his Edinburgh friends was again narrowed by the death of one of its distinguished members ; and in the following letter to Mrs. Fletcher his respect and sympathy are thus expressed :
* Sir Walter Scott, whom he was to have met at Mr. Richardson's.
“LONDON, April, 22, 1820. “ The sensation occasioned by Dr. Brown's death, though not so popularly felt in England, perhaps, as in the country where he was best known, is nevertheless felt by a great number who can understand, more or less, the peculiar value of his mind and heart. It must be a deep blow to every one who possessed his friendship and intimate society; and incalculably sore to those relations who could appreciate him, and who now feel the ties of nature rent by his loss. The event is, altogether, a public calamity. He was one of the finest and best productions of nature ; and besides the purest affections, had an understanding of a mysterious and what it sometimes appeared to mean almost miraculous subtlety. I always honoured him, and showed, I trust, through life that I did so.
“When I received your note I was very ill.* It would pass your comprehension, or that of any person, who has not the exact constitution and infirmities that I have, to know the caution that is indispensable to keep my attacks from gaining ground. My life will be useless without health, and my health is of fearful value, at least to my eventual widow and poor sisters.
"May 11.-I am lecturing at present at the Royal Institution, and shall be in Germany, I trust, in a month. I have received a summons to sign a paper as a trustee for the widow and children of the late Dr. I. of our city, who died at Sicily. He was my old acquaintance and friend ; and it is possible that I may have promised to be his widow's trustee, but I have no recollection of signing an engagement to that effect, and until yesterday no mention was ever made that I was involved in such a responsibility.
* Similar apprehensions as to health enter into most of his letters of this period.
ÆT. 42.] LITERARY ENGAGEMENT-EMBARKS FOR HOLLAND. 357
I waited upon Mrs. I., but she could only refer me to Mr. Lindsay. I frankly told her that as I am going abroad, and not versed in such a business, I should not willingly commence a trusteeship, unless I have happened to pledge myself to it. There is a money business of some amount depending on the form of my name being affixed to it, so that it will be a great favour to all parties, if you will obtain information from Mr. Lindsay as soon as you can.'
On the 20th of May all arrangements were completed for the journey ; and on the 24th an important document was signed, the substance of which is as follows :
“This day an agreement was made and entered into between Mr. Campbell and Mr. Colburn, the publisher, by which the Poet undertakes to edit the New Monthly Magazine 'for the term of three years, commencing with the first day of January next, and to furnish twelve articles, six in prose and six in verse; the prose to contain the whole value and substance of the Lectures on Poetry, now delivering at the Royal Institution; the copyright to revert to the author, in like manner with all his own contributions published in the said Magazine. Mr. Colburn agrees to pay Mr. Campbell five hundred pounds per annum, and to provide a sub-editor ; to pay for all necessary contributions a fair and liberal price, with the exception of the twelve articles mentioned, for which the editor desires no remuneration, unless, from the great increase in the sale of the work, Mr. Colburn should feel it incumbent upon him to make any. All questions, differences, or disputes, connected with the editorship, to be referred to the decision of two persons, to be mutually fixed upon, with power to choose a third as umpire.”
As soon as this agreement was “signed, sealed, and delivered,” Campbell embarked with his family for Holland. The letters, written during the tour to his friends* in England, present a spirited and nearly unbroken series, which I proceed to lay before the reader, with as little commentary as possible. The first of the series announces his arrival in Rotterdam :
* I have again to acknowledge my obligations to the Poet's friends for the kindness with which, in this, as in many former instances, they have yielded to my solicitation.