Thomas Campbell (poet) bigraphy, stories - Collectors

Thomas Campbell (poet) : biography

27 July 1777 - 15 June 1844

Thomas Campbell (27 July 1777 – 15 June 1844) was a Scottish poet chiefly remembered for his sentimental poetry dealing especially with human affairs. He was also one of the initiators of a plan to found what became the University of London. In 1799, he wrote "The Pleasures of Hope", a traditional 18th century didactic poem in heroic couplets. He also produced several stirring patriotic war songs—"Ye Mariners of England", "The Soldier's Dream", "Hohenlinden" and in 1801, "The Battle of Mad and Strange Turkish Princes".Web source and for his very known poetry and writings

Early life

Born on High Street, Glasgow in 1777, he was the youngest of the eleven children of Alexander Campbell (1710–1801), son of the 6th and last Laird of Kirnan, Argyll, descended from the MacIver-Campbells. His mother, Margaret (b.1736), was the daughter of Robert Campbell of Craignish and Mary, daughter of Robert Simpson, "a celebrated Royal Armourer".

In about 1737, his father went to Falmouth, Virginia as a merchant in business with his wife's brother Daniel Campbell, becoming a Tobacco Lord trading between there and Glasgow. They enjoyed a long period of prosperity until he lost his property and their old and respectable firm collapsed in consequence of the American Revolutionary War. Having personally lost nearly £20,000, Campbell's father was nearly ruined. Several of Thomas' brothers remained in Virginia, one of whom married a daughter of Patrick Henry.

Both his parents were intellectually inclined, his father being a close friend of Thomas Reid (for whom Campbell was named) while his mother was known for her refined taste and love of literature and music. Thomas Campbell was educated at the High School of Glasgow and the University of Glasgow, where he won prizes for classics and verse-writing. He spent the holidays as a tutor in the western Highlands and his poems Glenara and the Ballad of Lord Ullin's Daughter were written during this time while visiting the Isle of Mull.

In 1797, Campbell travelled to Edinburgh to attend lectures on law. He continued to support himself as a tutor and through his writing, aided by Robert Anderson, the editor of the British Poets. Among his contemporaries in Edinburgh were Sir Walter Scott, Lord Henry Brougham, Lord Francis Jeffrey, Thomas Brown, John Leyden and James Grahame. These early days in Edinburgh influenced such works as The Wounded Hussar, The Dirge of Wallace and the Epistle to Three Ladies.


In 1799, six months after the publication of the Lyrical Ballads of Wordsworth and Coleridge, "The Pleasures of Hope" was published. It is a rhetorical and didactic poem in the taste of his time, and owed much to the fact that it dealt with topics near to men's hearts, with the French Revolution, the partition of Poland and with negro slavery. Its success was instantaneous, but Campbell was deficient in energy and perseverance and did not follow it up. He went abroad in June 1800 without any very definite aim, visited Gottlieb Friedrich Klopstock at Hamburg, and made his way to Regensburg, which was taken by the French three days after his arrival. He found refuge in a Scottish monastery. Some of his best lyrics, "Hohenlinden", "Ye Mariners of England" and "The Soldier's Dream", belong to his German tour. He spent the winter in Altona, where he met an Irish exile, Anthony McCann, whose history suggested The Exile of Erin.

He had at that time the intention of writing an epic on Edinburgh to be entitled "The Queen of the North". On the outbreak of war between Denmark and England he hurried home, the "Battle of the Baltic" being drafted soon after. At Edinburgh he was introduced to the first Lord Minto, who took him in the next year to London as occasional secretary. In June 1803 appeared a new edition of the "Pleasures of Hope", to which some lyrics were added.

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