Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Campbell, Archibald (fl.1767)

The ODNB gives baptised 1724, died 1780.

CAMPBELL, ARCHIBALD (fl. 1767), satirist, was a son of Archibald Campbell (d. 1756) [q. v.] His works prove that he was a classical scholar, and he states that he had ‘all his lifetime dabbled in books’ (Lexiphanes, Dedn., p. v); but he became purser of a man-of-war, and remained at sea, leading ‘a wandering and unsettled life.’ In 1745 William Falconer, author of the ‘Shipwreck,’ was serving on board the same ship with him, became his servant, and received some educational help from him (Chalmers, English Poets, xiv. 381). About 1760, being on a long voyage, Campbell read the ‘Ramblers,’ and staying shortly after at Pensacola wrote there his ‘Lexiphanes’ and ‘Sale of Authors;’ the works remained in manuscript for some two years, till he reached England. ‘Lexiphanes, a Dialogue in imitation of Lucian,’ with a subtitle, saying it was ‘to correct as well as expose the affected style ... of our English Lexiphanes, the Rambler,’ was issued anonymously in March 1767, and was attributed by Hawkins to Kenrick (Boswell, Johnson, ii. 55). The ‘Sale of Authors’ followed it in June of the same year. Campbell called Johnson ‘the great corrupter of our taste and language,’ and says, ‘I have endeavour’d to ... hunt down this great unlick’d cub’ (Lexiphanes, preface, p. xxxix). In the ‘Sale of Authors’ the ‘sweetly plaintive Gray’ was put up to auction, with Whitefield, Hervey, Sterne, Hoyle, &c.

‘Lexiphanes’ itself found an imitator in 1770 in Colman, who used that signature to a philological squib (Fugitive Pieces, ii. 92-7); and a fourth edition of the real work, still anonymous, was issued at Dublin in 1774. After this there is no evidence of anything relating to this author. ‘The History of the Man alter God’s own Heart,’ issued anonymously in 1761, generally attributed to Peter Annet [q. v.], is asserted to have been written by Archibald Campbell (Notes and Queries, 1st series, xii. 204, 255), and this view has been adopted in the 1883 edition of Halkett and Laing’s ‘Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous Literature,’ ii. 1160. If so, the ‘Letter to the Rev. Dr. Samuel Chandler, from the Writer of the History of the Man after God’s own Heart,’ is also Campbell’s.

[Lexiphanes and Sale of Authors, Horace Walpole’s copies, Grenville Coll., author’s Prefaces; Walpole’s Letters, Cunningham’s ed. vi. 76 and 80 n.; Boswell’s Johnson, 1823 ed., ii. 55, iv. 359; Anderson’s Life of Johnson, 1815 ed., p. 230 text and note; Chalmers’s English Poets, xiv. 381; Notes and Queries, 1st ser. xii. 204, 255, 3rd ser. iii. 210, 357, xii. 332, 449; Halkett and Laing’s Dict. of Anon. and Pseudon. Lit. ii. 1160, where p. 255 of Notes and Queries (supra) is by error put 205, and p. 1405.]

J. H.