1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Wilson

Thomas Campbell to an unnamed correspondent, 15 August 1836; Life and Letters of Thomas Campbell, ed. Beattie (1849) 3:215.



Claremont Place, Aug. 16.

... It is a chequered world — tolerably happy, to be sure, I am; but my happiness, like that of the Sybarite on his bed of roses, is at present disturbed by a small accident.... I have been refused the freedom of the city of Paisley! Observe, I never applied for it; but, before the dinner given to Wilson, the provost and magistrates met to discuss the question, whether John Wilson and "Tammas" Campbell should be offered the high honour of being made burgesses of the town. There were four for us, and five against us. It was decreed that Wilson was ineligible, for being an inveterate Tory; and that I was ineligible for countenancing Wilson! So take care, M.! You Tories are dangerous folks! One cannot think of my misfortune! Who knows that I might not have set up a snuff-shop at Paisley, with a Highlander for the sign-post — called it the "Lochiel snuff-shop" — made lots of money — and become a ballie of Paisley!

In the speech after dinner, sure enough, I spoke enthusiastically of Wilson's personal character, and his celebrity; for he is popular in Scotland beyond conception. When he was going on about the importance of the city of Paisley, and boasting that it now contains 60,000 souls, I leant over to Wilson, on the other side of the chairman, and said — "Ah, but you are counting a soul to every body!"