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A particular regiment becoming vacant, the king (George IV.) said that one of the Conynghams must have it. The duke objected that there were officers of long standing who had the prior claim, and could not be passed over in such a manner without injury to the service. The king replied, “ Never mind, Arthur, let Conyngham have the regiment.” The duke returned to town from Windsor, where the conversation took place, and gazetted Sir Ronald Ferguson.
In April this year Campbell took a journey into Scotland again, although he had been down three months before. The object was to distribute the prizes which it has been already seen, from his address to the students of Glasgow, it was his intention to give them for certain essays upon subjects he had designated. I find that he reached Glasgow on the 6th of April, from the following communication which I have in my possession, stating, as was too frequently the case where business was to be transacted under his arrangement, that some error had taken place :
“ I arrived here this morning, when I learnt to my mortification that the prize exercises for my medals had been sent to London. They must have come to Seymour Street this morning. Will you have the goodness, my dear friend, to get them sent off immediately to me per mail, addressed to me at Wm. Gray's, Esquire, Claremont Place, Glasgow. With best remembrances, I remain, &c. (though with a wretched steel-pen)."
He was occupied until the 17th of the month in Glasgow, about the affairs of the university, during which time he decreed the prizes for the different essays which had been sent to London for his decision, under the idea that he would not have gone down to Scotland for that purpose. His zeal in his office and his attachment to the place of his instruction and of his much-cherished youthful recollections, would not permit him to remain absent on such an occasion as the above letter shows.
On the 17th of the same month, he was still in Glasgow, for he wrote from thence under that date.
“ After a good deal of discussion, I have brought my rectorial matters to a settlement, and am now on the point of leaving this place for Edinburgh, from whence, on Monday next, the 20th, I shall embark for London. I am bringing with me one of the students, whom I have invited to to stop a month with me in town--will you have the kindness to order my servant to have a bed ready for him, &c. I long to tell you all my adventures here."
The first notice I had of his return was a note to the following effect, undated :
“ I have returned sooner than I expected, last night, and am here at your service at as early an hour as you like to come to-day. I have an apology to make to you, which I must make verbally. “P. S.- By an early hour, I mean five or so. I am going out at two.
will have the goodness to say whether you will come at five or later.'
To what the apology related I have now no recollection. I went over and dined. The poet was in excellent spirits, and entered into a detail of his journey and of the high gratification he felt at his reception in the third year of his rectorship. He spoke of the piece of plate he had received as a memento of the most agreeable recollections of his life, and said that he never felt so strongly before the impression made from by
gone years. That he knew it was a delusion of the past which conferred upon them their present value, but that he could hardly overcome by reason the fallacy of their superior worth over existing objects. That as he might not again visit Scotland, he had taken a silent leave of the places to which he had been most attached in early life. I rather wondered this had given no occasion for the use of his pen, that remained invita Minervă. In the former year he had published his “ Lines on Revisiting a Scottish River,” after his return from Glasgow, but now, perhaps, his feelings were too deep to find a vent this way. I remember he dwelt, even with pathos, upon recollections of his early life, as I never heard him do before, for he was exceedingly reserved about all that related to his personal feelings, as if he would fain have it thought he was indifferent to that which most affected mankind in general, or else from natural habit. He spoke of calling upon some friends in Edinburgh, and of Professor Wilson, who was not at home when he came through. He spoke of Sir Walter Scott, and of hearing that he was not in as good health as every body wished ; of the continued changes he observed in the Scottish capital, to which he expressed a great attachment, and wound up all by remarking that he thought the locality of a vast capital like London had this recommendation in its favour, that it made personal changes less visible, and buried in its perpetual round of bustle and anxiety, the acuteness of those feelings which in the country, from their causes being continually present, were sure to be prolonged to no good end. What did it matter, we run the same inevitable round towards age, less perceptibly in London, too, than in the country, here
Tempora labuntur, tacitisque senescimus annis, it was some consideration not to have the continued observation of it before our eyes.
I remarked that he had left the poetical for the philosophical mood, which was rather a strange thing with him.
“ My good friend," he replied, “ a poet is a philosopher ; the world won't think so, because his lessons are not delivered according to the conventional ideas of the philosopher's language. The difference is, that the poet gives the same lessons over sparkling wine, that the dry philosopher gives without even a glass of water to moisten his mouth.
In the spring of this year, as before, Campbell gave, now and then, breakfast-parties to eight or ten literary friends. I cannot recollect whether it was this year or the preceding that, at one of these parties, he played me a trick, which he enjoyed, and to which as late as 1839 he referred in a mode which showed that though his bodily strength had began to exhibit, in no slight degree, syinptoms of that decay which year by year became so much more visible, his memory in no way failed him. Several literary men and others were present. I remember Washington Irving, Thomas Pringle, Leigh Hunt, General Lallemand, and others. I was seated next to the present Bishop of Toronto, then Dr. Strachan, Archdeacon of Canada. I did not know that the doctor was an archdeacon, or of the church of England, but supposed he was a clergyman of the church of Scotland. Campbell perceiving this, slily ran me deep into the error. The church of England came upon the carpet, in consequence of an allusion to some flagrant circumstances that had occurred in the world about that time. I forget now what they were, nor does it matter, as it merely set the subject going. I began to dilate upon the greater
care exercised in respect to moral character in choosing clergymen in Scotland than in England-addressing myself now and then to Dr. Strachan directly. Thence I proceeded to other points, in which I conceived the church of Scotland had an advantage over that of England. Campbell now and then said something in a low tone, for no other end save to prolong the deception I was under. At length, I paid the church of Scotland so many compliments as being more simple in form. I do not know whether I did not speak of apostolic fishermen and purple thrones and mitres being irreconcileable to primitive Christianity. 1 fairly galled the good archdeacon, who soon withdrew solus to the drawing-room. Campbell could contain no longer. He stated to all present that Dr. Strachan was of the church of England, archdeacon of Toronto, in Canada, a very good man, and an old friend of his.
“You have done your own business now,” said Campbell to me. “Why I saw you did not disapprove what I said.”
“ Oh no,” he replied, “the doctor is very good-natured, and to punish one of the orthodox who put faith in prelacy is a virtue in the eyes
of covenanter, as of course I am.”
I felt annoyed ; I would not willingly give any one offence, and I feared I had hurt the archdeacon's feelings. Ten years passed away, when coming up to town from the country in 1839, I went to spend an evening with Campbell and some friends in Lincoln's-inn-fields, where he then had chambers. The third guest that entered the apartment was Dr. Strachan, the self-same individual. Campbell, as the door opened, said,
“How must I address you, as Mr. Archdeacon, or my Lord Bishop?" “ I am not bishop until next week,” replied Dr. Strachan.
Then, advancing further into the room, Campbell archly, and with one of his significant smiles, introduced him by saying,
“ This gentleman I think you must know, Dr. Strachan.”
I confess I felt awkward, until the archdeacon, with perfect goodhumour and in the true spirit of politeness, spoke as if the past had never been, and supported the conversation in a mode that showed, or he wished to have it believed, that he had forgotten the incident. The archdeacon's conduct prevented my apologising for what was unintentionally offensive, which else I should most assuredly have done at that distance of time. Campbell had been fond of speaking of the innocent mischief into which he contributed to run me in the affair, and did not fail afterwards to tell me if he heard any thing of the reverend archdeacon after his return—that I should be glad to hear of him—that he was well, and so on. He did not the less delight at our last meeting, and truly as it was one of the last evenings I enjoyed in the poet's society, so it was an exceedingly pleasant
“ Dr. Strachan is a real and estimable friend of mine,” said Campbell, we are of different political sentiments, but right thinking men never feel a distaste for each other upon that account, if they possess true liberality of feeling.'
I believe Campbell's friendship for the present Bishop of Toronto to have been deep and lasting, and I have no doubt, from what I have seen and heard, that it was reciprocal while the poet lived, on the side of the good bishop.
Catholic Emancipation was at this time the engrossing topic of conversation. The conduct of the Duke of Wellington in yielding to the necessity of the measure, obtained more than one eulogium from the poet.
" See here,” said the poet, showing me a letter from Ireland, in the month of January or February, “there will be serious work in Ireland;
is the greatest ignoramus or unaccountable that ever lived. He wrote to the lord-lieutenant a school-boy letter, most insolent and overbearing, and attributing his recall to his correspondence with Dr. Curtis, though that correspondence was not published till after the recall had arrived here—this is too bad even for Candor himself.'”
“ Soft and fair," said the poet, “parliament is but just opened. If Peel opposes the measure, it will still be carried. I cannot believe he will hold out in opposition."
Some very severe remarks upon Sir Robert Peel's conduct, then Mr. Peel
, in afterwards giving his late assent to that measure, were made in the poet's hearing. It was contended that he had sacrificed his principles, forsaken his friends, and, for the sake of place, cast a stain upon his reputation. Campbell, whose political tenets had never varied through life, and, therefore, might be supposed more likely than individuals of looser political principles to join in the censures thus unsparingly dealt out, on the contrary, vindicated the conduct of Peel. He insisted that there was no reason to suppose one, who was independent in fortune, and allied to a powerful party for so long a period, as Peel had been, would change his opinion without a conviction that he was acting for the public benefit
, giving way not to any alteration effected in his own previous prejudices, but to the consideration that those prejudices, placed in competition with a great public advantage, must not be suffered to contravene its operations. Our honest convictions were not dependent upon our wills
, nor should they be upon our party feelings, and to restrain their effects because they opposed our wishes or attachments, might become those who never acted from honest conviction at all, but could not so operate with those who had better constituted minds, and more enlarged ideas. Peel might have been given to look too little in advance of the moment in judging of a great public question, it might be a constitutional failing, a misfortune, but surely when the moment came that he saw the advantage of a conduct opposite to that he had before pursued, and with boldness and honesty gave it his support—though at a late period, comparatively, he did not merit censure, but praise. He, Campbell
, would not allow that motive was in such a case to be impugned in the precipitate manner which it had been—by too many people. He thought the great preponderance of evidence was in Peel's favour, and he would not suffer the predilections of Whig or Tory to mingle with the examination of the causes of such a change in the minister. He knew, because it was openly shown by the reasons they gave, that bigotry in religion, and a want of right reasoning, were the main springs of the opposition made to complete emancipation-to the removal of every sort of restraint that existed connected with opinion, whether with “Jew or Greek.” Actions, not opinions, were the objects of legal restraint, because the one was dependent upon volition, and the other was not-the one concerned man, was tangible and visible, the other arraigned mental and unseen agencies. good in
The advancement of knowledge caused the growing conviction of this truth. It was operating in all civilised countries, and it was rather hard to censure a British minister for becoining a party to a state of things that, sooner or later, would be inevitable. Peel had nothing to fear from the reproach that he had differed from narrow-minded friends, and incurred their censures for insuring a great benefit to his country. For his, Campbell's, part, he should ever feel happy at the change in Peel's opinions, and concede to him heartfelt thanks for the act, as well as esteem the sacrifice he had made of party, as one made for the public benefit.
Again and again he heard the minister attacked for changing his sentiments, and as often used similar arguments, insisting, too, that Peel was not bound to go out of office unless a majority of the House of Commons were against him. He was rather constrained to remain in place for the purpose of carrying the measure of Emancipation, and not because he had once thought as his friends did--ought he to suffer the tended, to be marred for the sake of his party? The alteration in Peel's policy had been from wrong to right principles, he had not acted as some had done, and gone over from right to wrong, sacrificing liberal and enlarged to narrow and selfish views. Peel, in advocating Emancipation, had done nothing of this kind, and was entitled to be judged fairly on that particular measure, by the good the change in his sentiments would confer upon the community, and not by Whig or Tory partialities. Thus Campbell showed nothing of the spirit of party upon this question, Again and again I heard him allude to it, and almost in the same terms. There can be no doubt that he spoke from his own conviction of the injustice of Peel giving up to party cabal the completion of a measure then deemed necess
essary to the peace of Ireland, as well as essential to the freedom of the citizen. Campbell did not deny that Peel's former party might complain, but that was not the point where a public benefit was the question. Peel's want of foresight might be a constitutional failing; foresight had been denied to many characters of eminence—it was remarkably wanting in numberless instances in the transactions of persons in ordinary life, and might be wanting in a statesman as well as in any similar individual who possessed the other qualifications for office. If so, it was a misfortune, not a crime, and despite the misfortune the good had been done, the true sense of the thing had become visible in time to effect what was wanted. It was singular that Campbell thus strenuously defended this statesman in those days upon the very point on which, since he has been deceased--the statesman has shown more striking lapses. It was singular too that a Whig so zealous as Campbell, should become Peel's champion, when, by so many of the Tory party, his conduct was placed on the list of unquestionable equivocations.