Зображення сторінки

was then) was a jovial bachelor, plump and rosy as an abbot; and no abbot could have presided over a more festive Sunday. The wine flowed merrily and long; the discourse kept pace with it; and next morning, in returning to town, we felt ourselves very thirsty. A pump by the road side, with a plash round it, was a bewitching sight.

Dubois was one of those wits, who, like the celebrated Eachard, have no faculty of gravity. His handsome hawk's-eyes looked blank at a speculation; but set a joke or a piece of raillery in motion, and they sparkled with wit and malice. Nothing could be more trite or commonplace than his serious observations. Acquiescences they should rather have been called for he seldom ventured upon a gravity, but in echo of another's remark. If he did, it was in defence of orthodoxy; of which he was a great advocate. But his quips and cranks were infinite. He was also an excellent scholar. He, Dr. King, and Eachard, would have made a capital trio over a table, for scholarship, mirth, drinking, and religion. He was intimate with Sir Philip Francis, and gave the public a new edition of the Horace of Sir Philip's father. The literary world knew him well also as the writer of a popular novel in the genuine Fielding manner, entitled Old Nick. Mr. Dubois held his editorship of the Monthly Mirror very cheap. He amused himself with writing notes on Athenæus, and was a lively critic on the theatres ; but half the jokes in his Magazine were written for his friends, and must have mystified the uninitiated. His notices to correspondents were often made up of this bye-play ; and made his friends laugh, in proportion to their obscurity to every one else. When I use the past tense in writing these sketches, it is because I speak of past times. Mr. Dubois is living still, to scatter his anonymous pleasantries; and if my eyes did not deceive me the other day, when I met him, he affords another instance of the juvenility of the social. If the bottle does not stand with him, time does : but then, I remember, he was festive in good taste; no gourmand ; and had a strong head withal. I do not know whether such men ever last as long as the unsophisticate; but they certainly last as long, and look a great deal younger, than the carking and severe. Long may my old acquaintance last, to prove the superiority of a lively mixture of the good and ill of this life, over a sulky one! and if the gout must come after all, may he be as learned and pleasant over it, as his friend Lucian!

They who know Mr. Campbell only as the author of “ Gertrude of Wyoming,” and the “ Pleasures of Hope,” would not suspect him to be a merry companion, overflowing with humour and anecdote, and any thing but fastidious.

These Scotch poets have always something in reserve. It is the only point in which the major part of them resemble their countrymen. The mistaken character which the lady formed of Thomson from his “ Seasons,” is well known. He let part of the secret out in his “ Castle of Indolence;” and the more he let out, the more honour it did to the simplicity and cordiality of the poet's nature, though not always to the elegance of it. Allan Ramsay knew his friends Gay and Somerville as well in their writings, as he did when he came to be personally acquainted with them; but Allan, who had bustled up from a barber's shop into a bookseller's, was “a cunning shaver;" and nobody

would have guessed the author of the “Gentle Shepherd” to be penurious. Let none suppose that any

insinuation to that effect is intended against Mr. Campbell. He is one of the few men whom I could at any time walk half-adozen miles through the snow to spend an afternoon with; and I could no more do this with a penurious man, than I could with a sulky one. I know but of one fault he has, besides an extreme cautiousness in his writings; and that one is national, a matter of words, and amply overpaid by a stream of conversation, lively, piquant, and liberal, not the less interesting for occasionally betraying an intimacy with pain, and for a high and somewhat strained tone of voice, like a man speaking with suspended breath, and in the habit of subduing his feelings. No man, I should guess, feels more kindly towards his fellow-creatures, or takes less credit for it. When he indulges in doubt and sarcasm, and speaks contemptuously of things in general, he does it, partly, no doubt, out of actual dissatisfaction, but more perhaps than he suspects, out of a fear of being thought weak and sensitive; which is a blind that the best men very commonly practise. Mr. Campbell professes to be hopeless and sarcastic, and takes pains all the while to set up an university.

When I first saw this eminent person, he gave me the idea of a French Virgil. Not that he is like a Frenchman, much less the French translator of Virgil. I found him as handsome, as the Abbé Delille is said to have been ugly. But he seemed to me to embody a Frenchman's ideal notion of the Latin poet ; something a little more cut and dry than I had looked for; compact and elegant, critical and acute, with a consciousness of authorship upon him; a taste over-anxious not to commit itself, and refining and diminishing nature as in a drawing-room mirror. This fancy was strengthened in the course of conversation, by his expatiating on the greatness of Racine. I think he had a volume of the French Tragedian in his hand. His skull was sharply cut and fine; with plenty, according to the phrenologists, both of the reflective and amative organs : and his poetry will bear them out. · For a lettered solitude, and a bridal properly got up, both according to law and luxury, commend us to

« НазадПродовжити »