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ÆT. 36.7 RECOLLECTIONS OF HIS VISIT. . 39
Of the impressions received by Campbell during his visit to Paris, the preceding letters offer a short but animated picture; and of the same impressions, as they dwelt upon his mind after many long years, the following extracts present a still glowing recollection. Drawing from these hoarded stores of memory, he thus writes in 1832; and the scene he has described, retained its freshness to the very close of life :
“I was one of the many English who availed themselves of the first short peace to get a sight of the Continent. The Louvre was at that time in possession of its fullest wealth. In the Statuary-hall of that place I had the honor of giving Mrs. Siddons my arm the first time she walked through it, and the first in both our lives that we saw the Apollo Belvidere. From the farthest end of that spacious room, the god seemed to look down like a president on the chosen assembly of sculptured forms; and his glowing marble, unstained by time, appeared to my imagination as if he had stepped freshly from the sun. I had seen casts of the glorious statue with scarcely any admiration; and I must undoubtedly impute that circumstance, in part, to my inexperience in art, and to my taste having till then lain torpid. But still I prize the recollected impressions of that day too dearly to call them fanciful. They seemed to give my mind a new sense of the harmony of Art-a new visual power of enjoying beauty. Nor is it mere fancy that makes the difference between the Apollo himself and his plaster-casts. The dead whiteness of the stucco copies is glaringly monotonous ; whilst the diaphanous surface of the original seems to soften the light which it reflects.
“ Every particular of that hour is written indelibly on my memory. I remember entering the Louyre with a latent suspicion on my mind, that a good deal of the rapture expressed at the sight of superlative sculptures was exaggerated or affected; but as we passed through the vestibule of the hall, there was a Greek figure, 1 think that of Pericles, with a chlamys and helmet, which John Kemble desired me to notice; and it instantly struck me with wonder at the gentleman-like grace which Art could give to a human form, with so simple a vesture. It was not, however, until we reached the grand saloon, that the first sight of the god overawed my incredulity. Every step of approach to his presence added to my sensations; and all recollections of his name in classic poetry swarmed on my mind as spontaneously as the associations that are conjured up by the sweetest music. ..
“Engrossed as I was with the Apollo, I could not forget the honor of being before him in the company of so august a worshipper, and it certainly increased my enjoyment to see the first interview between the paragon of Art and that of Nature. Mrs. Siddons was evidently much struck, and remained a long time before the statue ; but, like a true admirer, she was not loquacious. I remember she said—What a great idea it gives us of God to think that he has made a human being capable of fashioning so divine a form! When we walked round to other sculptures, I observed that almost every eye in the Hall was fixed upon her and followed her; yet I could perceive that she was not known, as I heard the spectators say— Who is she? Is she not an English woman? At this time, though in her fifty-ninth year, her looks were so noble, that she made you proud of English beauty-even in the presence of Grecian sculpture.”
In his retrospective notes, twenty years after this period, he thus reverts to it :-“Mrs. Siddons was a great simple being, who was not shrewd in her knowledge of the world, and was not herself well understood, in some particulars, by the majority of the world. The universal feeling towards her was respectful, but she was thought austere ; but with all her apparent haughtiness, there was no person more humble when humility became her. From intense devotion to her profession she derived a peculiarity of manner—the habit of attaching dramatic tones and emphasis to common-place colloquial subjects, but of which she was not in the least conscious, unless reminded of it. I know not what others felt; but I own that I loved her all the better for this unconscious solemnity of manner. . . She was more than a woman of genius; for the additional benevolence of her heart made her an honor to her sex and to human nature." . " In the following passage,” he adds, " Joanna Baillie has left a perfect picture of Mrs. Siddons :"
Page. Madam, there is a lady in your hall,
Lady. Is it not one of our invited friends ?
Page. So queenly, so commanding, and so noble,
Lady. Is she young or old ?
PICTURE OF MRS. SIDDONS.
Page. I cannot well describe the fashion of it-
Lady. Thine eyes deceive thee, boy,
Friberg. It is an apparition he has seen,
JANE DE MONTFORT, Act II., Scene 1. CHAPTER III.
RETURN TO ENGLAND.
A SOJOURN of nearly two months in the French capital furnished Campbell with a rich and varied fund of materials for reflection. The daily opportunities he enjoyed of seeing and conversing with the best society enlarged his views, matured his taste, and gave a healthy impetus to that spirit of inquiry which animated all his studies. With Cuvier and the elder Schlegel, he contracted a lasting intimacy : for, although strongly opposed to the German professor on certain questions, a difference in philosophy made no difference in their friendship. At the university of Bonn, where they met six years afterwards, the pleasure derived from their first intercourse in Paris was the subject of mutual congratulation. To Baron Cuvier and his accomplished daughter, Campbell had the pleasure of returning, at his own house in London, the kindness and hospitality they had shown him in Paris. In a circle which comprised so many illustrious names, now embalmed in history, he would have gladly lingered another month ; but, his literary furlough having expired, and his finances becoming low, he took a parting glance at the wonders of the Louvre, and then started for Calais.
Alighting from the coupée of the “old grotesque diligence that brought him to Dessin's—Sterne's Dessin-he sauntered on towards the pier, where the Dover packet had just come in, and directed the mate to call for him in the evening. Any regret he might have felt on quitting Paris, and the new world it had thrown open to his inquisitive mind, was softened, if not obliterated, by the proud associations of home. The first glimpse of Britannia's bulwarks— the flag that braved a thousand years, the battle and the breeze"-called forth all his patriotism; and never, perhaps, was the sentiment of his hero
43 Theodric* more present to his mind than when he stepped on board the crowded packet for England.
“ Neptune, however, was not to be cajoled by poetry;" and a storm, then brewing in the east, burst upon them soon after leaving the harbor. This caused some confusion on board ; and the alarm of the passengers was not diminished by any skill or activity in the captain. The result was a tardy and tempestuous passage, attended in the first instance with loss of life ; and latterly with imminent danger to all on board. At last, the packet got safe into Dover ; and, soon after his return home, Campbell thus adverts to the perils of the voyage, and his own personal share in it:
SYDENHAM, November 7, 1814. “I had been knocked about in the packet, and got such smashing falls on the slippery deck, in the desperate efforts of the passengers to help the poor exhausted seamen, that I am all over green and blue, and still stiff and sore, but wonderfully better. . . . Our escape was considerably more narrow than that of the Wellington packet. One unhappy passenger was washed overboard. An ignorant captain—who was neither captain nor seaman—ran us within a few hundred yards of the Shakspeare cliff. A Dutch skipper, a passenger on board, discovered our danger, gave the alarm, and took the command from the stupefied creature who had misguided us. For at least four terrible hours, it was quite a moot point whether we should get off or not. The shrieks of the women, the insane panic of several men, who stripped to swim-and, of course, to be dashed to pieces on the rocks, if they had persisted to do so—the whole scene, with the total darkness and roaring of the waves, that drowned our voices, and literally washed over us, was horrible beyond description. The men, a feeble crew, who had been exhausted by walking through Calais all day, were so overcome, that my own two arms, at one period, accomplished drawing in the main-sail, which otherwise they could not do. I lay down at four in the morning in blankets and salt-water, yet I have recovered wonderfully. . . . .