History

Thomas Campbell

History

Poet and writer Thomas Campbell is buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey. He has a life sized white marble statue near Shakespeare's memorial, by sculptor W.Calder Marshall 1848. Campbell is shown in contemporary dress wearing a cloak and holding a book in his left hand while he leans on a pedestal. On this is a relief of a female figure, above clouds, holding aloft a torch. At the foot of the pedestal is a wreathed lyre and a roll of paper. The inscription reads:

"Thomas Campbell Born July XXVII. MDCCLXXVII. Died June XV. MDCCCXLIV. This spirit shall return to Him who gave its heavenly spark: Yet think not, sun, it shall be dim when thou thyself art dark! No! It shall live again, and shine in bliss unknown to beams of thine, By Him recall'd to breath, who captive led captivity, who robb'd the grave of victory, And took the sting from death! (T.Campbell)"

The lines come from his own 'Last Man'.

He was born in Glasgow on 27 July 1777, a son of Alexander, a merchant, and his wife Margaret (Campbell). He was educated in his home city and became a tutor. Later he was associated with the founding of what is now University College London. In 1799 he published The Pleasures of Hope, which was immediately successful. In his day he was extremely popular and he also wrote war songs. In 1803 he married Matilda Sinclair and they had two sons Thomas and Alison who died young. His poem Gertrude of Wyoming was popular in America and he became editor of the New Monthly Magazine. He also championed the cause of the Polish people in their desire for independence. On 15 June 1844 he died in Boulogne and his body was returned to the Abbey for burial.

A photo of the statue can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further reading:

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004.

Engravings of his funeral are in the Illustrated London News.