1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Campbell

Lady Anne Hamilton, in Epics of the Ton (1807) 11-12 & n.



Or lazy Campbell spin his golden strains,
And have the Hope he nurtures, for his pains—

The first poetical genius of our age; but, unfortunately, more a wit than discreet. With such lagging steps were his first efforts, his Pleasures of Hope, followed up, that we began to look upon it as one of the bright rays which the sun of genius sometimes darts forth at his rising, and afterwards plunges his head in impenetrable clouds, which never leave him till he sets. But the Battle of Hohenlinden proved that the genius of Campbell was still to shine, and to exceed in his noon the promise of his morn. Alas! how men neglect the talents by which they are destined to excel! how they waste their efforts in what they can never achieve! Campbell must needs be a politician, and write a history. — He that could soar to empyreal regions, must needs lay aside his wings, and attempt, at the imminent danger of his neck, to dance on the slack rope!
It is now said he has got a pension. This may relieve his wants, but not retrieve his reputation. It is miserable to see the man, whose talents might procure him opulence with fame, hold out his suppliant hand, and fawn like a courtier for a morsel of bread.