I Love a Lassie

Scottish Life Magazine

Thomas Campbell,
page 11 of 11

identified with the district. He pointed out this house to others and myself as the birthplace of Campbell. As to the statement quoted by “T. L.,” if he knows anything of the locality, or will take the trouble to visit it, he will see that it is without value. Campbell’s house could not have been cleared away for the opening up of George Street. George Street was opened up in 1772, five years before his birth. Previous to that there were only cots and cabbage gardens in what was called “The Lang Craft.” The first house built in it was the town residence of John Bogle. It stood alone in the field for years.
Even supposing the statement quoted by “T. L.” had been made by Campbell, it is to be remembered that he had been in London for many years and was in his old age. His recollection of the streets and names in Glasgow was dim. The statement that he was born in a house above the Havannah, pulled down to make way for the road east of the Gallowgate, shows that he was in confusion about it, or that his niece had not correctly understood him The words, however, show that he, with a dim memory of street names, was trying to describe the tenement at the corner of High Street and Nicholas Street, stated as his birthplace by Dr. Macleod, Mr. Burnet, and others. But it was not pulled down as contemplated when Nicholas Street was opened through to George Street. It was left standing, and still stands, with its gable end to High Street, in a very rickety and uncared for condition. The N. B. Railway passes close to it, and every train shakes it. There is a tobacconist shop in the parlour where the poet was born. All our buildings of any historic interest have been swept away. I have often wondered if this could not be patched up a little and preserved. It is to be regretted that the Corporation did not acquire it when they were securing other properties in the district. If left in its present condition it will soon be out of sight, like Scott’s birthplace in Edinburgh, and the Blythswood Mansion, the Sillercraigs Land, Donald’s Land (where Moore was born), and other interesting Glasgow houses — I am, etc.,

                                                            THOMAS SOMERVILLE.

                                            1 OAKVALE, HILLHEAD, 17th July, 1891.

SIR,—The suggestion made by Mr. Somerville in your issue of date, that the house in which the author of “Pleasures of Hope” and “Ye Mariners of England” first saw the light might be “patched up a little and preserved” is one well worthy of support. We have been hitherto as a community far too neglectful in this matter of preserving places of historic association in our city. The cultivation of this spirit would help greatly to remove the impression made on visitors that we are too exclusively absorbed in the pursuit of material gain. We are, I believe, as proud of our city having been the birthplace of men of genius, such as Thomas Campbell, as we are of its trade and manufactures, but somehow we do not make this evident to outsiders. What, again, could be more inspiring to coming generations than to have the places associated with such great names, either through birth or residence, indicated in some way, by preserving the building, or, where that is not possible, by the simple yet effective means of a memorial plate? London and Edinburgh have shown us an example in this matter which we ought to emulate. Could an association, with committee of representative citizens, not be formed to take this important work in hand?—I am, etc.,

                                                            WM. MARTIN.


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