1808
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas to the Memory of the Spanish Patriots latest killed, in resisting the Regency and the Duke of Angouleme.

New Monthly Magazine NS 8 (1823) 480.

Thomas Campbell


Five bellicose Spenserians composed in 1808 and belatedly published in 1823, after Thomas Campbell had been appointed editor of the New Monthly Magazine. Campbell had presumably become accustomed to composing in Spenserian stanzas while working on Gertrude; the manner owes little to eighteenth-century odes on similar topics. "Stanzas" was published without a signature, though it was listed as Campbell's in the annual index to the New Monthly Magazine.

William Hazlitt: "We should dread to point out (even if we could) a false concord, a mixed metaphor, an imperfect rhyme in any of Mr. Campbell's productions; for we think that all his fame would hardly compensate him for the discovery. He seeks for perfection, and nothing evidently short of it can satisfy his mind. He is a high finisher in poetry, whose every work must bear inspection, whose slightest touch is precious" Spirit of the Age (1825) 187.

Edward Smedley: "One very fervent and furious piece, Stanzas to the Memory of the Spanish Patriots killed in resisting the Regency and the duke of Angouleme, is worthy of preservation for its hard words; it is levelled against 'kings, bigots, and Bourbons,' who 'mangle martyrs with hangman fingers;' of 'cowl'd demons of the Inquisitorial cell,' and 'Autochthones of hell,' who are bid to go and— 'Smile o'er the gaspings of spine-broken men | Preach, perpetrate damnation in your den'" Quarterly Review 31 (March 1825) 348.

George Gilfillan: "As a poet, he is already, what Byron is not — a classic secure of immortality — his works already exalted to the same shelf with those of Goldsmith, Collins, and Thomson" Gallery of Literary Portraits (1845) 250.

Cyrus Redding: "Campbell had engaged to commence the first number of the new series of the magazine on the 1st of January, 1821. He was to perform the usual duty of an editor, and to receive a salary of 600 per annum. He was also to contribute articles to the pages of the work himself, such as he might think suitable. He was an utter stranger, as before observed, to the details of his new duties, and had kept no communion with literary men associated for one common purpose. When not employed in literary composition, he had continually followed up dry desultory studies, led by curiosity or the desire for information. Hence he had acquired a vast store of knowledge for which the world gave him little credit, but the subjects were generally abstruse and of small moment in aid of his new labour, which required a knowledge of existing things and topics of the passing hour" "Life and Reminiscences of Thomas Campbell" New Monthly Magazine 78 (November 1846) 319.

George Saintsbury: "The Spenserians of Gertrude of Wyoming are among the least successful effects in that great metre made by any poet who has elsewhere done really good things. But his lyrics are in quite a different case. When the deadening hand of the long poem — for Campbell seems to have been not merely a slow, but a positively lazy writer — and the obsession of regular metres was off him, he became another man" History of English Prosody (1906-10) 3:90.



Brave men who at the Trocadero fell—
Beside your cannons, conquered not, though slain,
There is a victory in dying well
For Freedom, — and ye have not died in vain,
For come what may, there shall be hearts in Spain
To honour, ay embrace your martyred lot,
Cursing the Bigot's and the Bourbon's chain,
And looking on your graves, though trophied not,
As holier, hallow'd ground than priests could make the spot!

What though your cause be baffled — freemen cast
In dungeons — dragg'd to death, or forced to flee;
Hope is not withered in affliction's blast;—
The patriot's blood's the seed of Freedom's tree:
And short your orgies of revenge shall be,
Cowl'd Demons of the Inquisitorial cell;
Earth shudders at your victory, — for ye
Are worse than common fiends from Heaven that fell,
The baser, ranker sprung, Autochthones of hell!

Go to your bloody rites again; — bring back
The hall of horrors, and the assessor's pen,
Recording answers shriek'd upon the rack;—
Smile o'er the gaspings of spine-broken men:—
Preach, perpetrate damnation in your den;—
Then let your altars, ye blasphemers, peal,
With thanks to Heaven that let you loose again
To practise deeds with torturing fire and steel
No eye may search — no tongue may challenge or reveal.

Yet laugh not in your carnival of crime
Too proudly, ye oppressors — Spain was free,
Her soil has felt the foot-prints, and her clime
Been winnowed by the wings of Liberty;
And these even parting scatter as they flee
Thoughts — influences, to live in hearts unborn,
Opinions that shall wrench the prison-key
From Persecution — show her mask off-torn,
And tramp her bloated head beneath the foot of Scorn.

Glory to them that die in this great cause!
Kings, Bigots, can inflict no brand of shame,
Or shape of death to shroud them from applause:—
No, manglers of the martyr's earthly frame,
Your hangmen-fingers cannot touch his fame.
Still in your prostrate land there shall be some
Proud hearts, the shrines of Freedom's vestal flame;
Long trains of ill may pass unheeded, dumb,
But vengeance is behind, and justice is to come.

[p. 480]