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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Leigh Hunt on Thomas Campbell


THE poet Campbell, whose monumental statue stands as a companion to that of Robert Burns in George Square of this, the first-named bardís native city, has been appreciatively and felicitously described by Leigh Hunt in the following terms :ó "They who knew Mr. Campbell only as the author of

Gertrude of Wyoming, and the Pleasures of Hope, would not have suspected him to be a merry companion, overflowing with humour and anecdote, and anything but fastidious. The Scotch poets have always something in reserve. It is the only point in which the major part of them resemble their countrymen. Campbell was one of the few men whom I could at any time have walked half-a-dozen miles through the snow to spend an evening with.

"No man felt more kindly towards his fellow-creatures, or took less credit for it. When he indulged in doubt and sarcasm, and spoke contemptuously of things in general, he did it partly out of actual dissatisfaction, but more, perhaps, than he suspected, out of a fear of being thought weak and sensitive, which is a blind that the best men very commonly practice.

"When I first saw this eminent person, he gave me the idea of a French Virgil. I found him as handsome as the Abbe Delille is said to have been ugly. But he seemed to me to embody a Frenchmanís ideal of the Latin poet: something a little more cut and dry than I had looked for; compact and elegant, critical and acute, with a consciousness of authorship upon him; a taste over anxious not to commit itself, and refining and diminishing nature, as in a drawing-room mirror.

"This fancy was strengthened, in the course of conversation, by his expatiating on the greatness of Racine. I think he had (at the time) a volume of the French poet in his hand.

"Campbellís skull was sharply cut and fine, with a full share, according to the phrenologists, both of the reflective and amative organs; and his poetry will bear them out. His face and person were rather on a small scale, his features regular, his eye lively and penetrating, and, when he spoke, dimples played about his mouth, which, nevertheless, had something restrained and close in it. Some gentle Puritan seemed to have crossed the breed, and to have left a stamp on his face such as we often see in the female Scotch face rather than the male."


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