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The city of Glasgow has the honour of having given birth to the bard of Hope. Thomas Campbell was born there in the year 1777. He was the son of a second marriage. His father, who was born in the reign of Queen Anne, was sixty-seven years of age at the time of the poet's birth. The early education of young Campbell was intrusted to Dr. David Alison, a gentleman, whose reputation as a teacher of youth, stood deservedly high in Glasgow, a city eminent then, as it has ever since been, for the excellence of its seminaries and the talents of its teachers.
Campbell, like Pope,“ lisped in numbers.” There are yet in possession of some of his friends in Scotland, verses written by him at the age of nine years. They are, no doubt, sufficiently childish; but they show at what an early age he received visits from the muse. At the age of twelve, he was placed at the University of Glasgow, where he soon, with a precocity of ambition as well as talent, became a candidate for the collegiate annuity, conferred on successful competitors for superiority in the classical languages, called a bursary. Campbell carried off the prize from an opponent twice his age. He was indeed extremely industrious; and his ambitious exertions were at once stimulated and rewarded by the obtaining of a variety of prizes in the contests for classical eminence, prescribed to the students at the Glasgow University. In Greek he was an early proficient, and some of the translations from that language, which he made as collegiate exercises, are to be ranked among the best that have yet appeared in our language. It was from Dr. Millar, the eminent lecturer on moral philosophy, in Glasgow, that Campbell acquired his correct habit of analyzation, and the taste for abstract speculation so observable in his best poems.
At about eighteen, Campbell left Glasgow to undertake the duties of a private teacher in a family of distinction in Argyleshire. Amidst the wild scenery which surrounded his new residence, his poetic energies greatly increased, and it was there that he completed some, and planned others, of his most popular productions.
From Argyleshire, Campbell removed to Edinburgh, where at the age of twenty-one, he appeared in full poetical blaze before the world in his first and best production, “ The Pleasures of Hope.” Several of the booksellers to whom the manuscript of this celebrated poem was offered, with that species of sagacity which 80 often characterizes the trade, in their estimate of the value of works offered to them by unknown authors, refused to publish it without a guarantee for the expense. The author was too poor for his own guarantee to be taken, and too modest to solicit that of
person. He happened, however, at this juncture to show his manuscript to a gentleman of true benevolence, and of well-known taste and discernment in poetical literature. This was Dr. Robert Anderson, the editor of an excellent series of the Lives of the British Poets, with a voluminous edition of their works. This gentleman at once perceived the uncommon excellence of the poetry contained in the rejected manuscript. There were many exuberant passages in it, however, which, at his recommendation, the young poet judiciously expunged; and many others were modified and no doubt improved at the suggestion of the friendly critic. The work, thus carefully revised, Dr. Anderson, to whom the author very gratefully inscribed it, not only caused it to be published, but by glowing eulogiums in several of the Edinburgh journals, so recommended it to the public, that its merits became speedily known, and the fame of the poet was at once established. Campbell, however, in his anxiety to remove every obstacle that stood in the way of the publication, had disposed of the copyright for ten pounds; and this small sum was all the direct remuneration which he at first received, for a work which brought for twenty years to the publishers a profit of nearly three hundred pounds a year. It is said, indeed, that afterwards a small additional sum and the profit of the fourth edi