Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 2


BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 95 Mr. John Campbell died in 1795. He was succeeded in the precentorship by his son, Mr. Charles Campbell, who held the situation during forty years. He resided in the Canongate, where he long taught a respectable school for writing, arithmetic, and other branches of education. No. CCIV. A MEDLEY OF MUSICIANS. THIS curious Print is one of the artist’s retaliatory pieces. It appears that MR. ALEXANDECRA NPBELLo, ffended at the etching of his brother the precentor, and having some skill in the art of drawing, produced, by way of revenge, a caricature of Kay-in which John Dow was represented as dragging him by the ear to the Town Guard, while Bailie Duff brought up the rear, in the attitude of administering a forcible admonition with his foot. The caricature, although rudely executed, afforded considerable amusement to Mr. Campbell’s friends, among whom it was chiefly circulated. Kay retaliated by producing the “ Medley of Musicians,” in which Mr. Alexander Campbell, then organist in a non-juring chapel, appears with a hand-organ on his back-his brother of the Canongate Church is straining his vocal powers in the centre-Bailie Duff, to the right, is chanting it on the great Highland bagpipe-while behind, MEEK, the blind Irish piper, and the city FISH-HORNB LOWERa,r e lending their “ sweet sounds ” to aid the general harmony. The figure sharping a saw in the background, whose labours may be supposed to afford an excellent counter *or tenor to the deep bass of the two long-eared amateurs, is in allusion to Mr. John Campbell’s former occupation. The scene altogther is not an inapt illustration of the couplet quoted from Hudibras- “ Let puppies bark and asses bray- Each dog and cur will have his day.” The early history of Mr. Alexander Campbell is already partially known from the sketch of his brother. Of a warm and somewhat romantic temper, he was attached to the small body of Jacobites, who still brooded over the fate of the young Chevalier-enthusiastic in his national prepossessions-and passionateIy fond of the music of his country. In addition to vocal music he taught the harpsicord, for which many of the Scottish airs are peculiarly adapted.1 Mr, Campbell was known as a poet and prose writer as well as musician. In Chanders’s Sed. Bwg. Diet. it is stated that “Mr, Campbell was music-master to Sir Walter Scott, with whom, however, he never made any progress, owing, as he used to say, to the total destitution of that great man in the requisite of an ear.”
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96 B I0 GRAPH I C AL S ICE T C HE S. His first literary productionl--“An Introduction to the History of Poetry in Scotland,” quarto ; to which were added the “ Songs of the Lowlands,” illustrated by David Allan, and dedicated to Fuseli-appeared in 1798, A Dialogue on Scottish Music, prefixed to this work, is said to have first conveyed to foreigners a correct idea of the Scottish scale ; for which he was highly complimented by several eminent German and Italian composers. His next and best work--“ A Tour from Edinburgh, through parts of North Britain,” etc., embellished with forty-four beautiful aquatint drawings by his own hand, 2 vols. 4to. -was published in 1802. Written in a lighter and purer style than is characteristic of the author’s other literary efforts, his “ Journey,” describes the then state of an interesting portion of the country, and displays no ordinary degree of research in reference to general history and local antiquities, while the drawings present a variety of sketches, taken on the spot, illustrative of the most admired lake, river, and mountain scenery in Scotland. In 1804 Mr. Campbell first appeared as a poet by the publication of his “Grampians Desolate”-a work which, in his own words on a subsequent occasion, “fell. dead from the press.” The notes-forming nearly half the volume, a goodly octavo-contain much interesting information ; but the poem posesses little merit, although here and there a few pretty enough lines occur. The work, however, is honourable to his feelings and his patriotism. He reverts with enthusiasm to the days “When every glen, and hill, and mountain side, A hardy race possessed-proud Albion’s pride ! ” The reverse of the picture claims his most intense regard :- “ The times are altered-desolation reigns Amid the Alpine wilds and narrow plains ! The morlrnful muse recounts those recent ills Which swept along the hoary Grampian hills ! And dost thon, stranger from afar, inquire Where stood the Chieftain’s hall, whose evening fire Saluted oft the weary traveller’s gaze, As onward hastening to the social blaze? Where stood each lowly cottage, ranged around, Within the cultured in-fild’s ancient bound. Beside the streamletnear the sheltering hill, Where stood the smithy, where the hamlet’s mill, Whose ringing anvil, and whose clapper told Their cheering tales of toil to young and old P i i He had previously published-“ Twelve Songs, set to Music, by Alexander Campbell, Edinburgh.” A paraphrase of the Maniac’s Song in the Xan of RzZing- The words of only one of these appear to have been written by himself. ‘‘ Light be the turf on Billy’s breast ”- forms the last in the collection. Cordon, Hamilton, etc. In the list of subscriben appear the names of Argyle, Balcamas,
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