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86

PURITY OF THOMSON'S WORKS.

fects, bring before us the whole magnificence of Nature, whether pleasing or dreadful. The gaiety of Spring, the splendour of Summer, the tranquillity of Autumn, and the horror of Winter, take, in their turns, possession of the mind.

“ The poet leads us through the appearances of things as they are successively varied by the vicissitudes of the year, and imparts to us so much of his own enthusiasm, that our thoughts expand with his imagery, and kindle with his sentiments. Nor is the Naturalist without his part in the entertainment; he is assisted to recollect and to combine, to arrange his discoveries, and to amplify the sphere of his contemplation.”

The purity of Thomson's Works is entitled to special commendation; for, according to Lord Lyttelton, it may be strictly said, that he wrote

for

No line which dying he could wish to blot!

And it is remarked by Johnson, who read the Seasons as they came out, that the Author afterwards made considerable corrections, which, though it may have diminished the race or flavour of them, yet added to their general improvement.

Dr. Joseph Warton's character, also, of Thomson and his Writings is well worth transcription : -"THOMSON was blessed with a strong and copious fancy; he hath enriched Poetry with a variety of new and original images, which he painted from Nature itself, and from his own actual observations: his descriptions, there

THOMSON'S IMAGES FROM NATURE.

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fore, have a distinctness and truth which are utterly wanting to those of poets who have only copied from each other, and have never looked abroad on the objects themselves. Thomson was accustomed to wander away into the country for days and for weeks, attentive to each rural sight, each rural sound;' while many a poet, who has dwelt for years in the Strand, has attempted to describe fields and rivers, and generally succeeded accordingly. Hence that nauseous repetition of the same circumstances, hence that disgusting impropriety of introducing what may be called a set of hereditary images, without proper regard to the age, or climate, or occasion, in which they were formerly used. Though the diction of the Seasons is sometimes harsh and inharmonious, and sometimes turgid and obscure, and though in many instances the numbers are not sufficiently diversified by different pauses, yet is this Poem, on the whole, from the numberless strokes of Nature in which it abounds, one of the most captivating and amusing in our language; and which, as its beauties are not of a transis tory kind, as depending on particular customs and manners, will ever be perused with delight. The scenes of THOMSON are frequently as wild and romantic as those of Salvator Rosa, varied with preci. pices and torrents, and castled cliffs,' and deep valleys, with piny mountains, and the gloomiest caverns!"

Thomson took up his abode at Rossdale House, Kew-foot Lane, now in the possession of the Hon. Mrs. Boscawen. This lady repaired the Poet's fa

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THOMSON'S BENEVOLENCE.

vourite seat in the garden, and placed there the Table upon which he wrote his verses. Over the entrance is this inscription :

Here Thomson sung the Seasons and their change! Within this kind of bower are suitable quotations from Authors who have eulogized his talents; and in the centre appears the following paragraph:

“ Within this pleasing retirement, allured by the music of the nightingale, which warbled in soft unison to the melody of his soul, in unaffected cheerfulness and genial, though simple elegance, lived JAMES Thomson. Sensibly alive to all the beauties of Nature, he painted their images as they rose in review, and poured the whole profusion of them into his inimitable Seasons. Warmed with intense devotion to the Sovereign of the Universe, its flame glowing through all his compositions, animated with unbounded benevolence, with the tenderest social sensibility, he never gave one moment's pain to any of his fellow-creatures, save by his death, which happened at this place, on the 22nd of August, 1748.” A cold, caught réturning from Hammersmith to Kew, by water, brought on a fever, which quickly terminated in his dissolution. The following document shews how much he was lamented by his contemporaries; and we know how much he is admired by posterity.

A Letter I met with in the recently published Culloden Papers speaks volumes in his praise; it is quite 'new and shall be transcribed :

MURDOCH ON THOMSON'S DEATH.

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The Rev. Mr. Murdoch to Mr. John FORBES,

of Culloden.

“ Ipswich, 8 Sept. 1748. “My dearest Forbes,

I know you to be oppressed with the deepest melancholy, and in need of all the consolation your friends can lend. But, alas! what can I say, who myself stand in need of a comforter? We have lost, my

dear Forbes, our old, tried, amiable, open, honesthearted Thomson, whom we never parted from but unwillingly, and never met but with fresh transport; whom we found ever the same delightful companion, the same faithful depositary of our inmost thoughts, and the same sensible, sympathizing adviser. To pretend to be stoical on such a loss, would be an impertinent belying our characters; our tears must flow, and Time alone can dry them! Yet we ought not entirely to abandon ourselves, nor overlook such' considerations as may be useful on this occasion, and which ought, indeed, to have very great weight with us; such as the happiness which our dear friend now enjoys. To doubt of it-of a soul like his-would, I think, be little less than arraigning the Divine Goodness. We may likewise rest persuaded that this so early period of his life (alas ! too early for us) was yet for hini the

very fittest and best. Infinite Wisdom does nothing in vain; and, without prying too curiously into its designs, it is easy to imagine a variety of events that

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PRESENT EVIL RESULTING IN GOOD.

inight have rendered his life uncomfortable. Now he is risen from the banquet of life, not cloyed nor disgusted-his fame unsullied his spirit unbrokenwithout tasting the distress and misery of old age ; and, perhaps, it were too selfish, as well as impious, in us, to murmur at what Heaven has undoubtedly ordered for his good. Think, likewise, on his own behaviour on the like occasions. He lost Charles Talbot, as we have lost him; and, though he retained to his latest hour a most devout veneration of that excellent person, yet he did not consume himself in unavailing grief.

He remembered and commemorated him in that pious and affectionate manner, that we shall ever remember them both. At the same time, he acquiesced in the sovereign will of Providence, and bore his loss (the greatest, in all respects, that could possibly befall him) with a manly fortitude. Think, likewise, that if any thing earthly could disturb the happiness of our departed Friend, it would be to see an unbecoming excess of grief in those he loved. I think I hear him kindly chide us, and point to a passage in his Seasons that admirably suits our case:

- Ye good distress'd,
Ye noble few, who here unbending stand
Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up a while,
And what your bounded view, which only saw
A little part, deem'd evil, is no more!
The storms of wint'ry Time will quickly pass,
And one unbounded SPRING encircle all!""

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