1815 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Campbell

George Ticknor, Journal Entry, 25 June, 1815; Life, Letters, and Journals of George Ticknor (1876) 1:65-66.



June 25. — Mr. Campbell asked me to come out and see him to-day, and make it a long day's visit. So, after the morning service, I drove out, and stayed with him until nearly nine this evening. He lives in a pleasant little box, at Sydenham, nine miles from town, a beautiful village, which looks more like an American village than any I have seen in England. His wife is a bonny little Scotchwoman, with a great deal of natural vivacity; and his only child, a boy of about ten, an intelligent little fellow, but somewhat injured by indulgence, I fear.... They seem very happy, and have made me so, for there was no one with them but myself, except an old schoolmate of Campbell's, now a barrister of considerable eminence.... Campbell had the same desire to amuse everybody about him; but still I could see, as I partly saw then, that he labors under the burden of an extraordinary reputation, too easily acquired, and feels too constantly that it is necessary for him to make an exertion to satisfy expectation. The consequence is, that, though he is always amusing, he is not always quite natural.

He showed me the biographical and critical sketches of the English Poets which he is now printing.... They will form three volumes, and consist, I imagine, chiefly of the lectures he delivered at the Institution, newly prepared with that excessive care which is really a blemish in his later works, and which arises, I suppose, in some degree from a constitutional nervousness which often amounts to disease.

Lord Byron told me that he had injured his poem of "Gertrude," by consulting his critical friends too much, and attempting to reconcile and follow all their advice. His lectures at the Institution, from the same cause, though extremely popular at first, gradually became less so, though to the last they were remarkably well attended.