Saturday, 27 October 2012

James Archibald Campbell - the connection, case closed

With some excellent research by duncmacg I feel confident that the James Archibald Campbell has been identified as much as possible without access to a time machine.

As I had guessed in my previous post, James Archibald Campbell and Godfrey Blount were at Cambridge University together.  They both attended Pembroke College.  The Cambridge University alumni has James Archibald Campbell as entering Pembroke College in 1874, and being awarded a Bachelor of Arts in 1880.  At six years, this seems to be a longer than an average degree, I wonder why?  The alumni entry gives Campbell the title of "7th of Achandiun and 5th of Barbreck" and also "J.P." presumably standing for Justice of the Peace.  The entry also says "died unmarried Feb. 5, 1926".  Godfrey Blount is at Pembroke College in the 1881 census.

The puzzle of "who was" James Archibald Campbell was emphasized recently when I acquired a copy of George MacDonald and His Wife (MacDonald, Greville, Unwin Brothers, London, 1924) which has the inscription "James A. Campbell with love & gratitude from the writer".

I wonder whether Greville knew Campbell before Campbell met Godfrey Blount?  Either MacDonald and Campbell were old friends through MacDonald's Scottish connections, or MacDonald and Campbell met through Blount.  Whilst the other four main members of the Peasant Arts movement were related (Maude Egerton King and Ethel Blount being sisters, and Greville MacDonald and Joseph King being cousins), Godfrey Blount was the 'outsider' so it is interesting to consider whether it was James A. Campbell's connections with Greville MacDonald that may have brought the most prominent artist of the movement into the fold.  In his book, Greville refers to Campbell's thoughts on his father, George MacDonald, which suggests that Campbell was a family friend, and therefore probably of longer standing than Blount and MacDonald's relationship.

dedication inside a copy of George MacDonald and His Wife
(MacDonald, Greville, Unwin Brothers, London, 1924)

Greville makes a number of references to James Archibald Campbell in this book, although these do not shed much light on Campbell's activities, but they do demonstrate that Greville admired Campbell's explanations of human nature:

"Retribution, according to my friend James A. Campbell of Barbreck, was rather a law of Nature than called for by any instinct of hatred; and he illustrates it by an incident occurring in his family at the beginning of the seventeenth century.  The perpetrator of an accidental death was sought by a rival sept of Campbells to extort the inevitable penalty.  His foster brother, Donald MacCallum, donned his clothes while the fugitive slept and got himself shot in his stead.  The avenging sept showed every honour to the hero and settled a croft upon his family for all time." (p. 40, ibid)

MacDonald writes that "My father might have found an old tartan coat at home and worn it partly for economy, and yet because he liked it", and then expands upon this point "My friend, James A. Campbell of Barbreck, a first authority on such points, writes me that "the tartan coat was often worn in old days, but driven out by tourists and strangers." (p.75, ibid)

Later MacDonald in a chapter upon John Ruskin writes that "Ruskin, like my father, had discarded all Calvinistic doctrine, though the latter was in Ruskin's eyes still orthodox.  My father's unqualified optimism kept strong within him the faith that, when all is revealed, the ignominies of man's industrial progress may yet prove to be comprehended within the creative Will: that man may yet become a greater being than if the forbidden fruit had never been tasted."  MacDonald notes this observation with "A propos of this, James A. Campbell of Barbreck writes thus: "Is this so ?  Does not George MacDonald rather feel that 'Industrialism' may be valuable because, like other oppressions, it may lead to repetance?  And does he believe there is any 'Progress' for the soul through 'Evolution' or indeed in any way, except through repentance?"  I believe my friend is right and that his questions are not in disagreement with the observation expressed above, yet their implicit answers express better what my father would wish to be said.  "Everything," my friend again asks, "assuredly for your father was safe in God's hands; but did he consider that man could grow and go forward at all until he 'came to the Father'?" (p.330, ibid)

Campbell's final appearance in MacDonald's book places Campbell in Italy "In the winter of 1896-7 an incident occurred that stirred the best and deepest feelings of the English colony at Bordighera.  Dr John A. Goodchild, the family's medical adviser and much beloved by my father as a man of unusual poetical gift and strange mystical mind, was infamously attacked in an Italian court of law on the false charge of libelling a practitioner of other nationality, who was scarcely a rival.  One after another of my people were subpoenaed, one as witness for the prosecution.  My father was deeply moved, and spoke in court with such fiery indignation in defence of his friend that his evidence probably had much to do with the withdrawal of the case.  James A. Campbell of Barbreck, also beloved of my father , was watching it with keen interest.  He writes of it to myself: " Endowed with a keenly sensitive temperament, pitiful of all sorrow, he did not perhaps recognize the Fire of Charity in his own soul when it flamed forth in defence of others.  On the occasion when he was summoned as a witness before the court, he spoke in chivalrous and strong defence of his friend.  But afterwards he was much troubled that he should have spoken "inadvisedly"; while to those who heard him it seemed that he has only obeyed the orders of his Master, in reference to such occurrences, by taking no anxious thought, and saying what was given him to say." (p.557, ibid)

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