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of more than a century, during which time great changes have taken place in the theory of versification, and in public taste. Compositions of great variety, and of the most splendid character, have since rendered fastidious the public judgment, yet the Seasons are and will continue to be read with pleasure.

Though the old man-servant, who had jogged along to Edinburgh with little Jemmy Thomson behind him, was astonished on his return to find him at home again, yet another attempt must have been more successful, for at the University of Edinburgh he finished his education. The poetic nature, however, convinced him by that time that it was not his vocation to preach the arid notions of Knox, and palm them off as the grand heart-opening truths of Christianity. His father had died two years after his coming to Edinburgh, leaving his mother with a considerable family, who raised upon her little estate by mortgage what she could, and came to reside in Edinburgh. James resolved not to weigh upon her resources longer than needful; but set out for London with his poem of Winter in his pocket. He had introductions to several influential persons, and one of them to Mr. Mallet, then tutor to the sons of the Duke of líontrose. His great want, Dr. Johnson says, on reaching London, was a pair of shoes. To make his calls these were necessary, and his Winter was his sole resource. wintry one, for he could find no purchaser for it for a long time, and when purchased it did not for a good while sell. At length it fell under the eye of a Mr. Whatley, who instantly perceived its merit, and zealously spread the information. Thomson was quickly a popular author, and from this time resided chiefly in the neighbourhood of London. He made one tour on the continent as companion to Mr. Talbot, the eldest son of the chancellor. The despotism which he saw abroad induced him to write his poem of Liberty, one of his very worst productions, and which lost him much government preferment; and when the public complained of this, a ministerial writer remarked that, “ Thomson had taken a Liberty which was not agreeable to Britannia in any Season."

Government preferment, however, he did receive. The chancellor conferred on him the place of Secretary of the Briefs,

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which made him independent. On the death of the Chancellor Talbot, he lost this post, through being too indolent to make application to Lord Hardwicke for it, though Hardwicke kept it open for some time that he might. For a time he was again reduced by this circumstance to poverty and difficulty. Out of this he was, after a while, permanently raised through the influence of Lord Lyttleton, a pension of a hundred a year being conferred on him. This removed the pressure of utter necessity, but compelled him to work, without which compulsion perhaps no man would have worked less. About three years before his death, Lord Lyttleton, being then in power, made him Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands. Those islands he surveyed from his elevation on Richmond-hill, and very general his survey of course must have been. The particular and actual survey was left to his deputy in the islands themselves, and Thomson netted a yearly balance, the deputy being paid, of three hundred a year; which, with his pension, left him most comfortably at ease in the castle of indolence. Besides his two principal poems he wrote several tragedies, as Sophonisba, in which the unfortunate line,

“O Sophonisba, Sophonisba, 0 !” was parodied by a wag with

“ O Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy Thomson, O!" and was echoed through the town everywhere and for a long time. Agamemnon was another, Edward and Eleonora a third, and Tancred and Sigismunda his last and best ; except a posthumous one-Coriolanus.

Amongst the haunts of Thomson were the country houses of many of the more literary or more tasteful noblemen of the time; as Hagley, the seat of Lord Lyttleton; Bub Doddington's seat in Dorsetshire; Stowe, then the seat of Lord Cobham; the seat of the Countess of Hertford, etc. The last place, however, it seems only received Thomson once. It was the practice, says Johnson, of the Countess of Hertford, to whom Thomson dedicated his poem of Spring, to invite some poet every summer into the country to hear her verses and assist her studies. This honour was once conferred on Thomson, who took more delight in carousing with Lord Hertford and his friends than assisting her ladyship’s poetical operations, and never therefore received another summons.

Thomson was, in fact, the last person to hope for much literary and understrapper service from, though in the shape of a countess, where, on the one hand, bad verses had to be inflicted on him, and on the other there was a good table and good talk. Indolence and self-indulgence were his besetting sins. Every one has heard of the lady who said she had discovered three things concerning the author in reading the Seasons ;—that he was a great lover, a great swimmer, and rigidly abstinent; at all which Savage, who lived much with him, laughed heartily, saying that he believed Thomson was never in cold water in his life, and that the other particulars were just as true. The anecdote of Quin, regarding Thomson's splendid description of sunrise, has been equally diffused. He, like Savage, asserted that he believed Thomson never saw the sun rise in his life, and related that going one day to see him at Richmond, he found him in bed at noon, and asking him why he did not get up earlier, he replied listlessly, that "he had nae motive."

That no man ever lived more completely in a castle of indolence there can be little question, and perhaps as little that it cut his life short. He died at forty-eight, of cold taken on the Thames between Kew and Richmond. He used, it seems, to be in the habit of walking from town to his house at Richmond, and crossed at a boat-house, somewhere here about, which being also a public-house, he there took a rest and refreshment. The place is still shown. Here, it would seem, he came warm from his walk, and crossing in a damp wind took cold; but this susceptibility to cold was the direct result of his indolent, self-indulgent, and effeminate habits. Had he followed those practices of healthy activity so finely described in his poem, how much longer and more useful might his life have been! Yet it must be a fact unquestionable, that Thomson as a boy rose early, saw both sunrises and all the glories of nature, plunged into the summer flood, and braved the severity of winter. No man could so vividly or so accurately describe what he had not experienced, and they who know best the country know

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how exact is his knowledge of it. Every one can feel how masterly are his descriptions of the grandest phenomena of nature in every region of the world, when such descriptions are deducible from books. In those, however, which came under his own eye, there is a life, and there are beauties that attest that personal knowledge. The faults of his Seasons, are those of style. His blank verse is peculiar; you can never mistake it for that of any other poet, but it has not the charm of that of Milton, of Wordsworth, or of various other poets. It is often turgid, and still more often prosaic. There are strange inversions used; and with his adverbs and adjectives he plays the most terrible havoc. Frequently the adjective is tossed behind the substantive, just for the sake of the metre, and regardless of all other effect, as,

“ driving sleets

Deform the day delightless ;" instead of the delightless day. IIis adverbs are continually lopped of their last syllable, and stand like wretched adjectives out of place; as,—the sower “liberal throws the grain," instead of liberally:-clouds, “cheerless, drown the crude unripened year," instead of cheerlessly :--the herb dies though with vital power:-“it is copious blest," instead of copiously. These barbarisms, which greatly deface this poem, abound; but especially in the Spring, which was not published first in its native position, but third, the routine of appearance being Winter, Summer, Spring, and Autumn.

But, above its faults, how far ascend the beauties and excellences of this poem; the finest of which spring out of that firm, glowing, and noble spirit of patriotism and religion, which animated James Thomson. His patriotism bursts forth on all occasions, but more especially in that elaborate description of England, her deeds and worthies, in the Summer, commencing

“Heavens! what a goodly prospect spreads around,

Of hills and dales, of woods and lawns, and spires
And glittering towns, and gilded streams, till all
The stretching landscape into smoke decays.

Happy Britannia !” etc. His piety,—the piety of love and wonder, of that profound admiration which the contemplation of the works of the Divine Creator had inspired him with, and of that grateful love and trust which the manifestations of parental goodness everywhere had impressed upon his heart,—these are, as it were, the living soul of the poem, and the principles of imperishable vitality. These sentiments, diffused throughout the poem itself, concentrate themselves at its conclusion as predominant over all others, and burst forth in that magnificent hymn, which has no rival in the language, except the glorious one of Milton, the morning hymn of our first parents, beginning,

“ These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,

Almighty! Thine this universal frame,

This wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then," etc. The religion, too, of Thomson, was the religion not of creeds and crabbed doctrines of humanity. He had studied nature in the spirit of its Maker, and the fruit of that study was an enlarged and tender sympathy for his fellow-men. This sentiment is everywhere conspicuous as his piety; and in the passage following the fine account of the man perishing in the snow, rises to the power and descriptive eloquence of Shakspeare.

"Ah! little think the gay licentious proud,

Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround;
They who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth,
And wanton, often cruel, riot waste;
Ah ! little think they, while they dance along,
How many feel, this very moment, death,
And all the sad variety of pain :
How many sink in the devouring flood,
Or more devouring flame: how many bleed,
By shameful variance betwixt man and man;
How many pine in want, and dungeon glooms;
Shut from the common air, and common use
Of their own limbs : how many drink the cup
Of baneful grief, or eat the bitter bread
Of misery: sore pierced by wintry winds,
How many shrink into the sordid hut
Of cheerless poverty ! How many shake
With all the fiercer tortures of the mind,
Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse ;
Whence tumbled headlong from the height of life,
They furnish matter for the tragic Muse.
Even in the vale where Wisdom loves to dwell,
With Friendship, Peace, and Contemplation joined,

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