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like manner personified, and apostrophized, and glorified as a beneficent principle, with illustrations drawn from savage life and from civilized life—from the whole range of history and the whole circle of the arts and the sciences. So far there was an intenser personal feeling at the beginning of Campbell's poem, inasmuch as he had little pleasure in life except the pleasure of hope when the subject occurred to him ; but this feeling bad but little shaping influence on the composition. The successive incidents in the poem do not follow in any natural train of excited, impassioned reflection; they might have been treated separately and fitted together by mechanical forces, the principle of arrangement being the rhetorical principle of affording variety to the reader. The versification and the diction imitated the most approved models of the eighteenth century ; there are passages that recall Goldsmith, and passages that recall Pope. Darwin, the author of the “Botanic Garden,” is generally regarded as having carried the style of Pope and Goldsmith to ridiculous
There was sufficient freshness in Campbell's work as a whole to save him from this reproach. The whole work gives an impression of abundant intellectual power and abundant poetic sensibility. Yet bits might be taken from the “Botanic Garden” and bits from the “Pleasures of Hope," and when they were put side by side, a reader familiar with both writers would find it difficult to decide which was Campbell's and which was Darwin's.
Campbell afterward did much better work than the “Pleasures of Hope ”; and there is a story told of his state of mind just before its publication that illustrates better than volumes of commentary how this most approved style in which he wrote was beginning to pall even on those who could not see their way to a better. While he was engaged in revising the proofs of it, he one evening entered the rooms of a friend of his, who
THE POET'S EXCITABLE TEMPERAMENT
has recorded the circumstance, sat down before the fire with a face of angry discontent, and without speaking a word took up the poker and began tracing figures in the soot on the back of the chimney. Presently he turned round and addressed his astonished friend in the most insulting language. Not being answered according to his folly, he turned after a time upon what proved to be the source of his strange behavior, his own poem. He had been reading the proofs of it all day, mending and polishing the lines till all meaning seemed to have gone out of them, and the whole composition struck him as trash. “There are days,” he went on, “when I can't abide to walk in the sunshine, and when I would almost rather be shot than come within the sight of any man, to be spoken to by any mortal. This has been one of those days. How heartily I wished for night.” He spent the evening with his friend, and after some hours the fit of despondency was followed by a fit of wild mirth, in which he proclaimed his assurance that the poem would make him at once a great man, and gravely decided how and where he should live when this greatness was achieved.
It would be easy to make too much of such violent fluctuations of mood in a sensitive youth, unstrung and distempered by overwork as Campbell then was. But we may well contrast this sensitive uncertainty and the steady, assured confidence with which about the same time Wordsworth and Coleridge were putting in execution their definitely conceived poetic ideals. One of them at least, the one who did most solid work, had no alternations between extravagant self-confidence and extravagant despair. With all allowance for Campbell's temperament and circumstances, I should be inclined to attribute a large part of his faltering and misgiving and impatience with his own work to his perceiving by fits and starts that this elaborately contrived fabric of finely ornamented shreds and patches embodied an artificial sentiment, and did not express feelings to which he longed to give vent. He was a man of quick and strong feelings, but in his expression of them he was hampered by respect for the decayed gentility of literary tradition. He was afraid to move freely in the dress of elevated diction sanctioned by Pope's authority as de rigueur the poet's raiment ; he was too self-conscious of it ; the thought of how his feelings would look in it trammelled their natural movements.
The truth is that beneath the smooth and glossy artificial Popian crust of the "Pleasures of Hope" there was more in it of the spirit of the French Revolution than we find either in Wordsworth or in Coleridge. The literary revolution, of which they were recognized leaders, was a thing altogether apart from the political revolution, not in any direct way inspired by it—the result of a quite independent chain of causes ; in fact, as I have tried to show, not, strictly speaking, a revolution at all, but a natural literary development, the roots of which lay chronologically behind the political revolution. But Campbell was directly influenced in the tone of the thoughts that he expressed in verse by the political circumstances of his time. His restless ambitious spirit, by turns discontented and sanguine, and at all times intensely sympathetic, had more in common with the spirit then acting on public affairs than either the hard, self-contained Wordsworth or the dreamy and speculative Coleridge-of imagination and speculation all compact, and comparatively indifferent to the material on which his faculties worked. It is curious to trace the operation of two antagonistic forces in Campbell's mind--the habit of elevated and elaborate expression, formed at the University, in accordance with the literary tradition of Pope, and the tempestuous energy of feeling fostered by the disturbed state of public affairs. He was quite a model student in the University of Glasgow, standing high as a scholar in his
PLEASURES OF HOPE
classes, and winning prizes for English verse with poems that were pronounced by the professors far superior to any thing ever submitted in such competitions. He wrote an “Essay on the Origin of Evil” in the style of Pope's “Essay on Man ” that was considered an incomparable imitation of the great original. But Campbell was also a leader in debating societies outside the regular University course; and there, as was natural, the principles of the political revolution found many enthusiastic supporters. You know, I dare say, that in the nineties of last century attempts to apply the doctrines of liberty, equality, and fraternity were suppressed in Scotland with extraordinary severity. Three gentlemen,-Palmer, Gerald, and Muir,-in whose memory a monument now stands in the Calton Buryingground, were transported to Botany Bay for an offence in the way of agitation which, under the English law, was punishable only with a short term of imprisonment. Campbell, when a boy of sixteen, walked all the way from Glasgow to hear one of these men, Gerald, a man of remarkable eloquence, defend himself on his trial. The speech and the subsequent conviction made a great impression on the sensitive youth-so great an impression that his friends thought it had unsettled his reason, such was the passion with which he spoke against modern society and all its institutions. Now, underneath the smooth couplets and the dignified diction and imagery of the “ Pleasures of Hope” it is not difficult to detect traces of this deep-seated passion, when we know the poet's early history, disguised though it is by the conventional splendor of the expression. There is, for example, the famous passage on the Russian subjugation of Poland, and another, not so familiar, at the close of Part I., where he denounces the plunder of India by Warren Hastings:
“ Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
Degenerate trade ! thy minions could despise
Or, again, the following:
“ Tyrants ! in vain ye trace the wizard ring ;
In vain ye limit mind's unwearied spring :
The literary quality of such verses is not high; in aiming at elevated diction the young poet approaches perilously near to turgid bombast. Yet in these verses the spirit of the French Revolution speaks more plainly than in any of the productions of Wordsworth or Coleridge. They were disenchanted, disillusionized, before they wrote about the French Revolution. If we could recover any of Coleridge's lectures on Pantisocracy, we might find something like the above. Campbell, we must remember, was only twenty-one when he wrote the “Pleasures of Hope"; and, though he pointed his moral specially against Russian tyranny in Poland, there shines through his verse unmistakable evidence of sympathy with the motives and aspirations of revolutionists elsewhere. The dress was the dress of Pope, but the voice was the voice of a later time.
To the force of the habit of expression in which he had been educated I should also be disposed to attribute Campbell's strange distrust of the poems that have been universally recognized as his best and most enduring work—“Ye Mariners of England,” “Hohenlinden,"
“The Soldier's Dream," the Battle of the Baltic," and