Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Campbell, Lewis

1495142Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement, Volume 1 — Campbell, Lewis1912John Burnet

CAMPBELL, LEWIS (1830–1908), classical scholar, born at Edinburgh on 3 Sept. 1830, was son of Commander Robert Campbell, R.N., first cousin to Thomas Campbell the poet, by his wife Eliza Constantia, eldest daughter of Richard Pryce of Gunley, Montgomeryshire. Educated at Edinburgh Academy, he was 'Dux' there in 1847, when he entered Glasgow University. There his principal teachers were Edmund Lushington, to whom he ascribed his love of Greek literature, and William Ramsay. He won the Blackstone medal in Greek, the highest distinction in the subject. In 1849 Campbell matriculated as a scholar at Trinity College, Oxford; but on winning the Snell exhibition at Glasgow he migrated to Balliol, where that exhibition is tenable. He was deeply influenced by Benjamin Jowett, who was his tutor, and whom he regarded with devotion all his life. In 1853 he graduated B.A. with first-class honours in classics, and was elected to a fellowship at Queen's College in 1855. From 1856 to 1858 he was tutor of his college, and always kept in close touch with his pupils. In 1858 he resigned his fellowship on marriage, and having been ordained deacon in 1857 and priest in 1858, was presented to the vicarage of Milford, Hampshire. He held the benefice for five years. This was his only active ministry in the Church of England, but he remained an ardent champion of the liberal theology which he had learned from Jowett. His position is fully explained in a volume of sermons entitled 'The Christian Ideal' (1877) and in his 'Nationalisation of the Old English Universities' (1900). In 1863 Campbell was elected to the Greek chair at St. Andrews, vacated by the translation of William Young Sellar [q. v.] to Edinburgh. His academic life was occasionally troubled by the students' impatience of discipline. But his relations with his own classes were always friendly. He founded a Shakespearean and dramatic society, and successfully directed it along with his wife. With his wife, too, he took an active part in raising the standard of girls' secondary education through the country.

From the first he held that a professor's duty was not confined to his classroom. Jowett had planned a series of editions of the Platonic dialogues, of which the 'Theastetus,' 'Sophistes,' and 'Politicus' were assigned to Campbell. The 'Theaetetus' appeared in 1861 (2nd edit. 1883), the 'Sophistes' and 'Politicus' in 1867. To the problem of the chronology of Plato's dialogues Campbell here applied linguistic tests, of which he learned the value from his Shakespearean studies, distinguished between Plato's earlier and later work, and identified a later group of dialogues which might be presumed to represent Plato's maturer thought. The discovery passed almost unnoticed, and even Jowett, to Campbell's keen disappointment, was sceptical, but Campbell lived to see his conclusions, after a quarter of a century, generally adopted.

Campbell next turned his attention to Sophocles, of whose tragedies he produced a complete edition (vol. i. 1875; 2nd edit. 1879; vol. ii. 1881). This edition was severely criticised by Benjamin Hall Kennedy [q. v.], and was overshadowed by the popularity of Jebb's edition; but Campbell excelled most of his competitors in poetic and dramatic insight. At a later date he returned to the subject, and discussed the main differences between Jebb and himself (Paralipomena Sophoclea, 1907). He translated into English verse Sophocles (completed 1883; 2nd edit. 1896) and Æschylus (1890), and edited the text of Æschylus in the 'Parnassus' series (1897).

From Sophocles Campbell turned to Plato again, and completed the edition of the 'Republic' which Jowett had undertaken for his series of Plato's works. Jowett finished the commentary and prepared some introductory matter; Campbell was responsible for the text and for the greater part of the essays. The edition appeared in 1894 (3 vols.).

In 1889 a parliamentary commission was appointed to reform the Scottish universities, and the consequent discussions to which this gave rise greatly tried Campbell's sensitive nature. In 1891-2 ill-health compelled a long absence, and in the summer of 1892 he resigned his chair. He retired to Alassio, where he built a house, and, acquiring a new lease of life, engaged with greater vigour than before in literary labour. He collaborated with Evelyn Abbott [q. v. Suppl. II] in the 'Life of Jowett' (1897). In 1894 he returned to St. Andrews as Gifford lecturer, during the winters of 1894 and 1895, and he published his lectures under the title of Religion in Greek Literature' (1898). He also issued an edition of Thomas Campbell's poems (1904) and 'Tragic Drama in Æschylus, Sophocles and Shakespeare' (1904), with minor works and articles. At the age of seventy he planned a 'Lexicon Platonicum' on a large scale, and did a great deal of the work, completely revising and rearranging Ast's 'Lexicon,' and verifying all the quotations. The work is still being carried on with a view to publication.

Campbell, who was elected an honorary fellow of Balliol in 1894, and was made an hon. D.Litt. of the university on Lord Goschen's installation as chancellor in 1904, died at Alassio, after a short illness, on 25 Oct. 1908. He married in 1858 Frances Pitt, daughter of Thomas Andrews, serjeant-at-law, who survived him without issue; her practical temperament efficiently balanced Campbell's more nervous and excitable character. The only adequate portrait of Campbell is a medal, by Roty, for which his pupils at St. Andrews subscribed after his resignation in 1892.

Besides the works mentioned, he published a 'Life of James Clerk Maxwell,' in collaboration with W. Garnett (1882; 2nd edit. 1884), and a 'Guide to Greek Tragedy' (1891). He also edited Jowett's 'Letters' (1889) and 'Theological Essays' (1906).

[Personal recollections; communications from Mrs. Campbell; Who's Who, 1908.]

J. B.