Campbell was a native of the "East-neuk of Fife,"
where his father possessed an estate which yielded, some eighty years
ago, a very comfortable income of nearly £500 per annum; but the
wholesale hospitality maintained by the laird, and an extravagant
indulgence in the luxury of foreign wines, which were then landed
without molestation at all the little bays on the east coast of
Scotland, at last brought the "mailing" to the hammer. Claret could then
be had for £15 a hhd.
Mr. Campbell entered the army, and shared in all the
harassing campaigns of the first American war, in which he had been
frequently and severely wounded. While on service there, it is said he
received an injury which totally altered the original form of the most
prominent feature in his countenance, having received a blow in the face
with a musket from a soldier of his own regiment, whom he had been
reprimanding. According to Kay's MS., the man was immediately tried by a
court-martial, and condemned to be shot; but the Major stayed the
execution of the sentence, and subsequently applied for and obtained a
free pardon for the offender.
Although this anecdote
is by no means inconsistent with the amiable character of Major
Campbell, it is rendered somewhat apocryphal by the fact that he was too
much beloved by the soldiers of his company, who rejoiced in his
eccentricities, to be injured by any of them.
Major Campbell was a gentleman of very peculiar
manners. His speech, like the Baron of Bradwardine's, was usually
interlarded with scraps of Latin. He had studied at St Andrews,—a
circumstance which he delighted to refer to. A very slight and casual
allusion instantly furnished him with an opportunity for introducing his
favourite remark—"at the College of St Andrews, where I was taught
languages, sciences, and various sorts of particulars, my dear."
My dear he used indiscriminately in addressing persons of
whatever rank—whether General O'Hara, the stern governor, or a drum-boy.
At Gibraltar, on one occasion, the General ordered a
regiment, which had newly arrived to replace another about to embark on
different service, to be inspected by several of the field-officers—each
private to step six paces in front of the line for that purpose. The
corps thus to be scrutinized was a battalion of the Scots Brigade, which
had been raised in Edinburgh in 1794, by the late Lieut-General Ferrier,
and of such a diminutive size were the men, that they were called " the
Garvies " by the inhabitants. Major Campbell was one of the inspectors,
and he patiently endured the tedious process of overhauling this very
indifferent sample of his countrymen, till at length one peculiarly
coarse-visaged, short, cross-made, elderly little fellow stepped out his
six paces. Unable longer to contain himself, and ruuniug up to the
soldier, he stooped to the level of the ill-favoured " militaire," then
grinning, or rather girning in his face, he bawled out—"Well,
doubly d------n me! (his usual exclamation), but you are an ugly
b------! my dear." Then turning to a fellow-officer (Lieut.-General
Ainslie) who stood by—"He seems conglomerated, my dear; from con
and glomeo, as we used to say at St Andrews, my dear."
Major Campbell remained with his regiment until a
very old man, and so worn out that he could not poise his sword without
the assistance of both his hands.
He married Miss Macalister, sister to Lieut.-Colonel
Macalister, 85th regiment, by whom he had one son, Henry Fletcher.