Glasgow Pocket Guide

Glasgow Girls

Thomas Campbell,
page 7 of 11

beauty as cannot be looked upon without lively emotions of pleasure and surprise.” During the period of his sojourn the country was alive with contending troops. To the horrors of war which he witnessed there is due one of his finest war odes, beginning—

                    “On Linden, when the sun was low,
                    All bloodless lay the untrodden snow,”

and ending with the sad requiem—

                    “Few, few shall part where many meet,
                    The snow shall be their winding slicet,
                    And every turf beneath their feet
                    Shall be a soldier’s sepulchre.”

This formed the most important epoch in his life, in point of impressions, too horrible in many cases to relate.

Among other poems composed on the Continent were “The Exile of Erin,” “Ye Mariners of England,” and the beautiful “Soldier’s Dream.” The scene of the latter was the field between Ratisbon and Ingoldstadt, where he witnessed the conflict between the French and Austrians. The harvest was on the ground, the battle had ceased,

                    “And thousands had sunk on the ground overpowered,
                    The weary to sleep and the wounded to die.“

An amusing incident occurred to Campbell on his return to Leith. A warrant of “arrest” awaited him on the information of a Hamburg spy! A search for papers, which resulted in unearthing “Ye Mariners of England,” ended in a friendly symposium with the sheriff.

In the year after his return he published “Hohenlinden” and “Lochiel’s Warning,” one of the most spirited of his war-ballads.

                    “Lochiel, Lochiel, beware of the day
                    When the Lowlands shall meet thee in battle array,
                    For a field of the dead rushes red on my sight,
                    And the clans of Culloden are scattered in flight.”

In September, 1803, he was married to his early lady-love of Greenock, Miss Matilda Sinclair, a beautiful, lively and charming woman. At this time he had nothing but literature to live on, all hope of a professorship or lectureship (the best position he could have filled) having gone. He retired to realise love in a cottage among the furzes of Sydenham, on the outskirts of London. The idyllic picture in his letters is very pretty, the young wife sitting beside him all day at her sewing, he busy at his literary work and experiencing to the full all the hopes and fears that alternately sway the heart of a literary man.

He resided 17 years at Sydenham, which, in after life, was the scene of his happiest recollections. In 1805 he was much gratified by receiving a pension of £200 from the king, a sum he enjoyed for nearly 40 years, and one half of which, greatly to his credit, he devoted to his mother and sister. In 1809 was published “Gertrude of Wyoming,” in which, though the narrative is obscure and imperfect, quiet pastoral life in America is well depicted.

                    “Delightful Wyoming! beneath thy skies
                    The happy shepherd swains had nought to do
                    But feed their flocks on green declivities,
                    Or skim perchance thy lake with light canoe.”

In 1820 he accepted an offer from Mr. Colburn to edit the New Monthly Magazine, at a salary of £500 a year. For the next four or five years he wrought assiduously at this editorship and published several poems. The “Last Man” the “Ritter Bann,” “Reullura,” and “Theodric,” the latter a well-told pathetic story, and, though vague, clearer than “Wyoming.”

It is to Campbell that Britain owes the London University. In the establishment of this he was ably seconded by Lord Brougham.


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