[Rev.] Thomas Campbell (1733-95)


Life
b. Glack, Co Tyrone; MA TCD, 1791; curate of Clogher, 1761-72, collated to prebend of Tyholland, 1772; Chancellor of St. Macartin’s [College], Clogher, 1773; met Archdall, who showed him an illustration of an Irish torque; works on Irish topography and history incl. notably A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland (1778), which contains illustrations among which a plate of Cashel in good repair and several antiquarian treasures; wrote a diary of his visits to England, 1775-92;
 
planned a history of the Revolutions of Ireland, using papers of the Earl of Totnes (George Carew), borrowed from Edmund Burke; wrote part of Bishop Percy’s Memoir of Oliver Goldsmith (1801); his ‘Diary of a visit to England in 1775 was discovered posthumously in Sydney Court House, NSW, Australia, where it was carried by a kinsman, and published in 1854; the ODNB artcile is by D. J. O’Donoghue. ODNB PI FDA OCIL

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Works
  • A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland, in a series of letters to J. Watkinson (London: W. Strahan 1777), xvi, 476pp., 8°.;
  • A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland in a series of letters to John Watkinson MP (Dublin: W. Whitestone 1778) [see details];
  • A Defence, An Examination of the Bishop of Cloyne’s Defence of his Principals with documents of some apologists particularly the Rev. Stock, with a defence of the Church of Scotland from his Lordship’s apologists (Dublin 1788);
  • Strictures on the Ecclesiastical and Literary History of Ireland from the Most Ancient times till the Introduction of the Roman Ritual, and the Establishment of Papal Supremacy by Henry II King of England, to which is added Sketch of the Cconstitution and Government of Ireland Down to 1783 (Dublin 1789);
  • Diary of a Visit to England in 1775 (Sydney 1854).
In translation
  • [anon.], Philosophische Uebersicht von Süd-Irrland in Briefen an Johann Watkinson ... Aus dem Englischen (Breslau: bey Gottlieb Löwe 1779), [12], 380pp. 8o.

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Bibliographical details

A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland (Dublin: for W. Whitestone & et. al [as infra] 1778), xvi, 478pp.; XLV letters whereof the subjects incl. Dublin (Bartholomew Mosse’s Hospital); Tar; Naps; Phoenicians (‘Ireland the ancient Scotia’); Tarah; Ossian an Irish bard; round towers, opinions on; Kilkenny (‘the richest soil and the poorest people, melancholy prospect’); Battles of Aughrim and Boyne; Lord Roscommon; deplorable state of clergy (R.C.); MUTUAL ADVANTAGE of commercial and political Union; Objections to (R.C.) toleration answered; Letter XXXIV summarises - i.e., propagates - William Molyneux’s Case; disputes accounts of massacres of 1641 in William Petty.

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Dublin booksellers: those booksellers listed in COPAC from title page details in Philosophical Survey (1778 Edn.) are Dillon Chamberlaine (fl.1760-1780); J. Potts (d. 1775); William Sleater (fl.1757-89); John Watkinson, M.D.; William Whitestone (fl.1759-78); Thomas Wilkinson (d.1802) [COPAC].

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Criticism
Ann de Valera, ‘Antiquarian and Historical Investigations’ (NUI thesis 1978), pp.188-92; 206-09; see Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish and Fior-Ghael (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins 1986) [see extract].

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Commentary
Thomas Crofton Croker, Researches in the South of Ireland (1824), writes: ‘From its present fallen condition and former greatness, Kilmallock has been called “the Irish Balbeck,” by Dr. Campbell, whose description of the plate in his Philosophical Survey, (which, by the by, has very little if any likeness to Kilmallock,) proves him to be, though an agreeable and intelligent writer, no artist. “There was something,” says that author, “so picturesque in the perspective of this place that I could not help attempting to delineate it; I send you my essay, done, as you see it, in less than an hour; I must, however, remark to you, that I began upon a scale too large for my paper, and was not able to get in the whole town”’. (p.63.)

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James L. Clifford, ed., with intro. by S. C. Roberts, Dr. Campbell’s Diary of a Visit to England in 1755 (Cambridge UP 1949) [1st edn. 1947], Macaulay received a copy of the Sydney printing in 1857 and found Campbell not ‘the blind fanatical worshipper’ of Johnson that Boswell makes him out, and also found some parts indelicate, with ‘odd things coming from a clergyman’. A correspondence between Campbell and Percy is printed in Nicoll’s Literary Illustrations. A younger brother, Charles, wrote to Percy saying that he was embarking for Australia in 1810. The Diary was ‘walled up behind a press’ in a court room in Sidney, NSW, Australia. According to Roberts, in Phil. Survey, Campbell found the Ossian poems to be forgeries, ‘as every Irishman knew’. Campbell also wrote a pamphlet, The first Lines of Ireland’s interest. In a prominent episode of the diary, Campbell confronts Dr. Johnson who he finds ‘vent[ing] his indignation upon Ireland’ for the Volunteer’s ‘rebellion’ against Parliament. [This work listed 1947 1st edn. in Hyland Catl. Dec. 1996].

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Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (John Benjamins Pub. Co., Amsterdam & Philadelphia, 1986), writes of Thomas Campbell that his account of “a young buxom lass from Roscommon, and a country squire from Galway” is a paean to the unaffected sincerity and grace of their “native character” [quoting further:] “I was delighted with it, for it was the original, and I had hitherto seen only the copy.” Campbell refers to “all the Chesterfieldian indecorums of [her] laughter” when the squire speaks Gaelic. Leerssen questions whether Campbell really witnessed the scene he describes (in Philosophical Survey, 1777, p. 297), or whether the little sketch is not as fictitious as the others that it refers to. Bibl., A Philosophical survey of the south of Ireland, in a series of letters to John Wilkison M.D. (London 1777) [chk. errs., date and addressee]; Strictures on the ecclesiastical and literary history of Ireland from the most ancient times till the introduction of the Roman ritual, and the establishment of papal supremacy, by Henry II king of England. (Dublin 1789). [Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (1986). Further, Thomas Campbell’s Philosophical survey (1777) repeatedly takes a unionist stance (p. 334-5, 341-2. 350-1, 359-60) [405]. Also (regarding Chas. Vallancey): ‘Other men, like William Beauford, Charles Ledwich, and Thomas Campbell, who like [Bishop] Percy took a more Nordic and consequently less enthusiastic view of Gaelic antiquity began to deride Vallancey’s ‘wild reveries’ openly in his Collectanea, which consequently became less a forum for Irish antiquarianism than a bear-baiting ground. [403-05]. ALSO, Campbell mentions in 1787 the help of Mr Flanagan [i.e., Theophilus O’Flanagan, a student of Trinity College, greatest adept he [the librarian there] knew in the Irish language’ [Campbell to Percy, 27 Feb. 1787] [c.425]

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Maureen Wall, Catholic Ireland in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Gerard O’Brien (Dublin: Geography Publ. 1989), notes that Thomas Campbell was among those who believed in the lessened influence of the Vatican on the European stage, ‘Let it be considered that the influence of the pope is now lost in some popish countries, and that it is diminished in all. The Jesuits are suppressed, the world is enlightened, France is tolerant.’ [192, n.77] Bibl., A Defence, An Examination of the Bishop of Cloyne’s Defence of his Principals with documents of some apologists particularly the Rev. Stock, with a defence of the Church of Scotland from his Lordship’s apologists (Dublin 1788).

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Robert E. Ward, John F. Wrynn, S.J., & Catherine Coogan Ward, eds., Letters of Charles O’Conor (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1988), contains remarks: ‘A book has been this week published here entitled A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland. It is very well-written and on the most liberal principles; I bought it, and on the perusal I was amazed to find my case particularly mentioned in it as a great hardship flowing from laws which punish without having a criminal for their object. Where the Protestant and English gentleman received his information I know not. I am under the greatest obligation to this learned stranger as in other parts of his work he pronounces very favourable judgement on my Dissertations.’ (Letters, p.363); and note that neither Campbell nor his work are identified by the editors here, though he is identified with just this work at p.412, n.6. Further, O’Conor received from O’Gorman a copy of the ‘Introductory Discourse’ to Campbell’s intended history of the revolutions of Ireland in which ‘he puts a thorough slight on all the transactions of this island anterior to the invasion and revolution under Henry II’ (Letter to Thomas O’Gorman, 14 July 1784); Campbell borrowed from Edmund Burke four folio vols. of the papers of George Carew, Earl of Totnes, which Burke was still trying to get back from him in 1792 (p.443, n.2; ref. P. J. Marshall & J. A. Woods, Burke, Letters, 7.65, 104); ‘My learned friend Dr. Campbell is convinced, and he is now labouring to convince others, that we have no authentic documents relative to the ancient state of Ireland, [and] that those which treat of the times which precede the twelfth century contain little that is valuable. In a memoir I am now employed upon, I labour to show that he is mistaken ... He is a worthy person, and I shall have no direct controversy with him [... &c.] (Letter to O’Gorman, 15 Aug. 1784; Letters, p.447).

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Quotations
Lady Ireland: ‘My picture of Ireland should be mulier formosa superne - a woman exquisitely beautiful, with her head and neck richly attired, her bosom full, but meanly dressed, her lower parts lean and emaciated, half-covered with tattered weeds, her legs and feet bare, with burned shins, and all the squalor of indigent sloth.’ (A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland, 1777, p.138; quoted as epigraph in Constantia Maxwell, Dublin Under the Georges 1714-1830, 1936.)

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Irish civility: ‘If civilisation has not been carried [to the same pitch of ‘perfection’ in Ireland as in England] ... it can only be imputed to a general want of information’ (Philosophical Survey, q.p.).

Dramatists galore: In discussing the ‘strong propensity’ of the Irish to drama, Campbell cites the lesser known playwrights Howard, Dobbs, Havard, and Griffith, and - among the better known - Farquhar, Sheridan, et al., calling Southerne the greatest English dramatist after Shakespeare and Otway.

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References
Dictionary of National Biography cites Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland (1778), and other works addressing ecclesiastical topics; Campbell wrote diary which was discovered in MS behind an old press in Sydney, NSW, which records meetings with Johnson, Boswell, Goldsmith, etc.; enthusiastically Irish; left an unfinished history of Ireland; some info. in Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, May 1795). LONG BML, ed. TCD, curacy at Clogher till 1772, Chanc. St. Macartin’s Clogher, 1773; Phil. Tour supposed to be letters recording Irish tour of Englishman, incl. description of chief towns; advocates commercial and political union’; Boswell styled it ‘very entertaining’; little better than big pamphlet against Valance and O’Conor, antiquarians; Campbell regarded it as an essay only, and sought Burke’s help to launch a larger work; Burke advises him to be brief with everything before the Norman Conquest [i.e., Gaelic Ireland and antiquities.] A Diary, printed in Sydney 1854, and reprinted in Napier’s Johnsoniana, covers visits to London in 1775, ‘76-7, ‘81, ‘86, ‘87, ‘92 [The title page, infra, says 1775 only]. ODNB remarks, ‘shrewd but somewhat contemptuous observer’ of Johnson’s circle; d. London, 1795.

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D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912), b. Glack, Co. Tyrone; ‘A Letter to the Duke of Portland’; the English diary includes meetings with Johnson, Goldsmith, and others; diary found in Sydney, NS Wales; Rector of Gallstown. Enthusiastically Irish and fond of alluding to the achievements of Irishmen.

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, notes that his Philosophical Survey was described by Boswell as ‘a very entertaining book’, and contained for the first time in print Johnson’s epitaph on Goldsmith; Campbell wrote part of the memoir on Goldsmith in Bishop Percy’s work (1801); advocate of political and commercial union. [Works & Criticism as supra.]

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Ulster Libraries: University of Ulster Library (Morris Collection) holds A Philosophical Survey of the South of Ireland in a series of letters to John Watkinson, Dublin (1778), 478pp. [2 copies one of which, now rebound, bears autograph of one Charles Macmillan with pencilled note on title page stating “1st ed. 1777 for Strain and Caudal”; Printed for W. Whetstone and 17 others. Belfast Central Public Library holds History of Ireland (1789).

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Notes
Going naked: A Philosophical Survey ... &c.., contains a defence of nudity, especially among the peasant classes. (See Spurgeon Thompson, ‘Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and the Subject of Eurocentrism’, in Irish University Review, Autumn/Winter 2004, p.261 [ftn.].

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