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were closeted, as I suppose correcting for the press, respect to the scribblers of politics and poetry. As and I used to see loose pages of the manuscript for news you never want too many of them, they lying interlined with my father's hand, who always increase proportionally to their distance from their expressed as great a value for Mr. Thomson's source, like rivers, or, since I am in the way of sipersonal merit as for his poetical talents.” miles, like Discord, as she
person is to her small at first, but in a short time Thomson's next letter to Cranston, dated from her body reaches from the zenith to the nadir, and East Barnet, on the 20th of July, 1725, is of great her arms from one pole to the other, which is the value, from the information which it affords of his case of fame. To sound as fame is, when great situation. It fixes the date of his mother's death; actions make a great noise. So news are a noise it proves when he was a tutor in Lord Binning's commonly about nothing. As for poetry, she is family;* and it shows that his views were then now a very strumpet, and so has lost all her life strongly fixed upon the church.
and spirit, or rather a common strumpet, passes
herself upon the world for the chaste heaven-bom DEAR DOCTOR, East Barnet, July 20, 1725. virgin. All my other letters from this, if you will
I can not imagine the meaning of this long si- favour me with an answer, shall smell of the counlence, unless my last letter has not come to your try. I need not tell you, I have a most affectionhand, which was written two or three months ate regard for you, and it will give me as real a sasince. I would have seconded it before now, but tisfaction to hear from you as any man: it will be one thing and another, particularly the severe af- a great pleasure to me likewise to hear of Mr. fliction of my mother's death, incapacitated me for Rickerton's welfare, who deserves encouragement entertaining my friend. Now I am pretty much as much as any preacher in Scotland. Misjohn at ease in the country, ten miles from London, and his horse also would make a very good parateaching Lord Binning's son to read, a low task, graph: give my service to them both; to Mrs. and you know, not so suitable to my temper, but I must Miss Cranston, John, &c. Yours sincerely, learn that necessary lesson of suiting my mind
J. THOMSON. and temper to my state. I hope I shall not pass I can not be certain whether Sir William Benmy time here without improvement, the great de- net has lost post or not. Your country news, sign of my coming hither, and then in due time, though they may seem triling, yet will be acceptI resolve, through God's assistance, to consummate able to me. My brother will readily wait upon my original study of divinity; for you know the you, who is just now setting up at Kelso. business of a tutor is only precarious and for the present. I approve, every day more and more, of The letter to Dr. Cranston in the Memoir,* to your advice to your brother John, as to the direc- which the date September 1726 is assigned, was tion of his study; if well pursued it is as honour- evidently the next communication to him, and must able, useful, and certain a method of living as one, have been written in September 1725.“ Winter" in his or my circumstances, could readily fall into appeared in the March following, that is, March
con- 1726, instead of March 1726-7.7 temptible notions of things at home, and to Notwithstanding that Thomson himself says mantic ones of things abroad; perhaps I was too that the idea of writing "Winter" was suggested much affected that way, but I hope in the issue it by another poem on the same subject, # yet Warshall not be worse for me
ton states, in one of his notes on Pope, "My what he secmed to be fond of, viz. surgery. It is, friend Mr. William Collins, author of the Persian as you can not but know, the merest drug here in Eclogues and Odes, assured me that Thomson inthe world. Scotland is really fruitful of surgeons, formed him that he took the first hint and idea of they come here like flocks of vultures every day, writing his Seasons from the titles of Pope's four and, by a merciful providential kind of instinct, Pastorals." Warton adds, in another place, “when transport themselves to foreign countries. The Thomson published his Winter in 1726, it lay a Change is quite full of them, they peruse the ship- long time neglected, till Mr. Spence made honourbills and meet the sea captains. Pray let John able mention of it in his Essay on the Odyssey; know my sentiments in this matter, because through which, becoming a popular book, made the poem a giddy discontent I spoke too slightly to him of universally known. Thomson always acknowthe study which he has now so happily espoused ledged the use of this recommendation; and from I am not now in London, so can not acquaint you this circumstance an intimacy commenced between with any thing that passes there within my nar- the critic and the poet, which lasted till the larow observation. Being there on Sunday last, I mented death of the latter, who was of a most heard that every thing was very dead both with amiable and benevolent temper. I have before me
Memoir, p. vii
Memoir, p. v.
| Ibid. p. vi.
Ibid. p. vi.
a letter of Mr. Spence to Pitt, earnestly begging dies. But then one ought at the same time to dishim to subscribe to the quarto edition of Thom- tinguish betwixt the fair star of hope, and that son's Seasons, and mentioning a design which meteor, court-expectation. With regard to the Thomson had formed of writing a descriptive po- last, I subscribe to a new Beatitude of Pope's or em on Blenheim; a subject that would have shone Swift's I think it is—Blessed is he who expecteth in his hands."
nothing, for he shall never be disappointed. A letter from Thomson to Cranston corrobo- You will see by the three first parts of a poem rates the statement that his brother John came to called Liberty, which I send you, that I still atLondon, but that being attacked by a consumption tempt the barren but delightful mountain of Parhe returned for the benefit of his native air.* It naşsus. I have poured into it several of those appears that he arrived in London before 1734, re- ideas which I gathered in my travels and particuturned early in August 1735, and died in Septem-larly from classic ground. It is to consist of two ber following. That letter is of interest, not only parts more, which I design to publish next winter. from the fraternal kindness which it evinces, but Not quite to tantalize you, I send you likewise from the notice of his pecuniary affairs and expec- some of the best things that have been printed here tations, and of his poem of “Liberty," three parts of late, among which Mr. Pope's second volume of which were at that time published. His ac- of miscellanies is eminent, and in it his Essay on quaintance with Mr. Lyttelton seems to have been Man. The first volume of his Miscellany Poems ther very slight, even if he was at alle known to was printed long ago, and is every where. His
Letters were piratically printed by the infamous. London, August the 7th, 1735.
Curl. Though Mr. Pope be much concerned at The bearer hereof, my brother, was seized last their being printed, yet are they full of wit, huspring with a severe cold, which seems to have mour, good sense, and what is best of all, a good fallen upon his lungs, and has reduced him to such heart. One Mr. Lyttelton, a young gentleman, a low condition, that his physician here advises him and member of parliament, wrote the Persian Letto try what his native air can do, as the only re
ters. They are reckoned prettily done. The book maining means of recovery. In his present me
on the Sacrament is writ by Hoadly, Bishop of lancholy circumstances, it gives me no small satis- Winchester. All bigots roar against it, consefaction to think that he will have the benefit of quently it will work your Misjohns. I wish I your directions: and for me to spend more words could send you more entertainment of this kind : in recommending him to your care were, I hatter but a new gothic night seems approaching, the myself
, a superfluous formality. Your old ac- great year, the millenium of dulness. quaintance Anderson attends him; and besides
Believe me most affectionately yours,
J. THOMSON. what is necessary to defray the expenses of their journey, I have only given my brother five guineas; Remember me kindly to friends, and direct to choosing rather to remit hin the money he will me, should you favour me with a letter, at the afterwards want, which shall be done upon the Lancaster Coffee House, Lancaster Court, in the
Strand, London. My brother's illness puts me in mind of that which afflicted you some years ago; and it is with
Dr. Cranston informed him of the death of his the sincerest pleasure that I reflect on your re-brother, in a letter dated on the 23d of September, covery: your health I hope is perfectly establish- but he did not reply to it until the 20th of October, ed; health being the life of life. I will not make as it did not come to his hands sooner, in conseyou the compliments which I justly could upon quence of being on a visit to Mr. Bubb Dolington, that subject; the sentiments of the heart are ge- to whom he dedicated his “Spring,” at Eastbury, nerally plain, and mine rejoices in your welfare. in Dorsetshire. His reflections on death are well
Should you inquire into my circumstances : expressed, and the allusion to his own ideas of They blossomed pretty well of late, the Chancel- a future state of happiness, that it consists in a lor having given me the office of Secretary of the progressive increase of beatitude, is deserving of Briefs under him: but the blight of an idle inquiry attention. This letter is valuable also, because it into the fees and offices of the courts of justice, contains some lines on the death of his young which arose of late, seems to threaten its destruc- friend, Mr. Talbot, * which were intended for intion. In that case I am to hope amends: to be sertion in “Liberty," instead of those which occur. reduced, however, from enjoyment to hope, will be but an awkward affair-awkward or not, hope and DEAR SIR, ! (I hope) shall never part. Hope is the breath Being but lately returned from Mr. Dodington's in the nostrils of happiness, when that goes this seat, in Dorsetshire, I only received yours of Sep
tember the 23d, a few days ago. The account it of Minto, since he, I hear, desires it. Very likely brought me of my brother's death, I was pretty he took it amiss that my brother was not lodged much prepared against, considering the almost with him, but my aunt of Chesters I thought more hopeless condition he had for some time been in. proper to tend and soften his sickness, she being What you mention is the true point of view a very good tender-hearted woman. Let her son wherein to place the death of relations and friends. Thomas therefore have all his effects, except it be They then are past our regret: the living are to the aforesaid jockey coat. I shall be glad besides be lamented, and not the dead. And this is so to render them all other service. true and natural, that people when they grieve for Please to let me know to whom I shall pay what the death of those they love, from a principle of is due upon my brother's account. Your goodcompassion for the departed, without a return up- ness on this occasion gives me no new sentiment on themselves, they envisage them in the article of satisfaction; it is what I have been long acof death, and under the pains both real and ina- quainted with. If you would still add to your gined thereof; that is to say, they grieve for them obligations, lay freely your commands upon me whilst they were alive. Death is a limit which whenever I can be of any service to you. human passions ought not, but with great caution There are no news here. The king is expectand reverence to pass. Nor, indeed, can they ed this week, A battle likewise is by some exeasily pass that limit; since beyond it things are pected; we hungered, and thirsted after .. not clearly and distinctly enough perceived for- Seckendorf and Belle-Isle. But the French and mally to excite them. This, I think, we may be Germans seem to have fought enough last camsure of, that a future statet must be better than paign in Italy, to excuse them for this. The galthis; and so on through the never-ceasing succes- lant French this year have made war upon the sion of future states; every one rising upon the Germans, I beg their politeness's pardon, like verlast, an everlasting new display of infinite good- min-eat them up. Hang them all. If they ness ! But hereby hangs a system, not calculated make war it is to rob, if peace to cheat one anoperhaps for the meridian where you live, though ther. Such are the noble dispositions of mankind for that of your own mind, and too long to be ex- at presenti .But before I fall into a bad humour I plained in a letter. I will conclude these thoughts will take my leave of you, being always, by giving you some lines of a copy of verses I
My dear friend, wrote on my friend, Mr. Talbot's death, and de- Your most affectionate humble servant, signed at first to be prefixed to Liberty, but after
JAMES THOMSON, wards reduced to those you see stand there. Per- London, Oct. 20th, 1735. haps some time or other I may publish the whole.
Pray remember me kindly to all friends.
Be then the starting tear,
To the remark,* that a material difference exOr selfish, or mistaken, wiped away,
ists between “ The Seasons” as they first appearBy death the good, froin reptile matter raised, And upward soaring to superior day,
ed and as they now stand, it ought to have been With pity hear our plaints, with pity sce
added that Dr. Bell, Thomson's nephew, mediOur ignorance of tears; if e'er indeed,
tated a variorum edition of that work. In a letter Amid the woes of life, they quench their joys. to Lord Buchan, in June 1791, he says, Why should we cloud a friend's exalted state
"In the improved edition of Spring are added With idle grief, tenaciously prolonged Beyond the lovely drope that frailty sheds,
85 lines, in Summer 599, in Autumn 96, and in Surprised ? No, rather thence less fond of life,
Winter 188, making a total of 968 lines." Yet still the lot enjoying heaven allows,
In another letter to Lord Buchan, written in Attend we, cheerful, the rejoining hour,
September, 1791, Dr. Bell observes: Children of nature! let us not reject,
"I have begun to collate the Seasons—the Froward, the good we have for what we want. Since all by turns must spread the sable sail,
cdition 1730 with that of 1744. As I proceed in Driven to the coast that never makes return,
the work, I have more and more reason to think But where we happy hope to meet again;
that my labour will not be unworthy the attenSooner or later, a few anxious years,
tion of the public. A great many beautiful pasStill Nuttering on the wing, not much imports. Eternal Goodness reigns: be this our stay;
sages in the edition of 1730 are entirely struck A subject for the past of grateful song,
out of all subsequent editions, and the other alterAnd for the future of undrooping hope.
ations made are considerable, far more than I
had any conception of previous to collating them Every thing, it seems, is a subject of contention with accuracy. The improvements made on the in this interested world. Let his effects be all edition 1744 will be taken notice of; they are given to his cousin, Thomas Turnbull, who so highly important." kindly attended him in his illness. Only his great coal, jockey coat, I mean, may be given to David
Memoir, p. viii.
Dr. Bell did not execute his design, but a duo- of that gentleman will be able to ascertain the decimo edition of the Seasons was published by fact; and to put it in my power, if they are worSibbald, at Edinburgh, in 1789, containing, at thy of Thomson's character, to give them to the the end, the variations between the last and pre-public. Your lordship has taken so much trouble vious impressions.
in this little plan of mine, that I am ashamed to Johnson's remark on the alteration and curtail-throw out this hint." ment made by Lord Lyttelton in “Liberty' was Elizabeth, the Poet's second sister, who married too hastily repeated in the Memoir,* for it was the Reverend Robert Bell,* was, according to her afterwards discovered that there is not the slight- son, Dr. Bell," the favourite and best beloved sisest ground for it. This had also occurred to Dr. ter of Caledonia's bard." Bell, who says, in one of his letters to Lord An original picture of Thomson, by Slaughter, Buchan;
is preserved at Dryburgh Abbey, the seat of Lord “I am at a loss to understand what Dr. John-Buchan. It belonged to the Poet, and hung in son means by saying, in his Life of Thonison, the room he used at Slaughter's Coffee-house. that Sir George Lyttelton shortened the poem of On the back is this inscription, in his Lordship’s Liberty. I have just now before me the edition hand writing: of Liberty, printed by Millar, 1735-1736, and, instead of abridgments after this, find that above " Procured for the Earl of Buchan by his friend, two dozen of lines have been added, twelve to Richard Cooper, Esq., engraver. Thomson and part first, ten to part second, and one to part his friends, Dr. Anderson, Peter Murdoch, &c. third. Your lordship might, perhaps, be able to used to frequent old Slaughter's Coffee-house, detect whether that arch-hypercritic be right or London, and his portrait was painted at that time wrong. I suspect he is in a mistake, but have no by Slaughter, a kinsman of old Slaughter. good reason for saying so, save the opinion 1 Dec 3, 1812.
BUCHAN." have of the presumption and arrogance of the man."
His Lordship's seal is added. This portrait An edition of Milton's "" Areopagitica" was has been engraved. published about 1740, to which Thomson wrote A monument to Thomson has been at length the preface.
erected on an eminence, about half way between The “ Amanda” of Thomson was Miss Eliza- Kelso and Ednam, but the only admiration it is beth Young, who married Vice Admiral John likely to excite is for the motives of those to whoin Campbell; and the late Mr. Coutts, in reply to it owes its existence. Taste is rarer even than an inquiry of Lord Buchan in 1792, stated, that money; and it is lamentable to reflect that, howthe late Admiral Canıpbell was his “most inti- ever calculated the monuments in this country, to mate and worthy friend," adding, “Mrs. Camp- departed greatness, may be to exalt the fame of bell was certainly the Amanda of Thomson, and the deceased, they have a contrary effect upon he wished to have married her, but his want of the reputation of the person who superintended fortune proved a bar in the way of their union.”+ their erection.
There is reason to believe that a fragment of a poem was found amongst Thomson's papers, as Dr. Bell remarks, in his letter to Lord Buchan,
PREFACE, in September, 1791:
" I remember to have heard my aunt, Mrs. BY THOMSON, PREFIXED TO THE SECOND EDITION Thomson, say, that the outlines of a fine poem
OF WINTER, 1726. were found among her brother's papers after his I am neither ignorant nor concerned how much death. If this was the case, Mr. Gray, of Rich-one may suffer in the opinion of several persons mond Hill, got possession of them. The heirs of great gravity and character by the study and
pursuit of poctry. • P. xi.
Although there may seem to be some appearance t In the same letter Mr. Coutts thus speaks of Thomson's of reason for the present contempt of it, as manintimate friend, Dr. Armstrong: “Mr. Dundas can find no- aged by the most part of our modern writers, yet thing of Dr. Armstrong. What a pity almost all that worthy that any man should, seriously, declare against man and elegant judicious poet's works have been lost, or fallen a sacrifice in the fire to his delicacy of mind. He had that divine art is really amazing. It declaring so correct a taste, and so clear a judgment, that he was never against the most charming power of imagination, pleased in the morning with what he had written over the most exalting force of thought, the most affectnight. And when he went to Germany, in the army, he ing touch of sentiment; in a word, against the very packed up a number of things in a portmanteau, which he left in careless hands, and it was lost: als in Germany, upon
soul of all learning and politeness. It is affronting some alarm from the enemy, he lost another portmanteau, which, I am persuaded, contained many valuable things.”
· Memoir, p. xxii.
the uwversal taste of mankind, and declaring serious subjects, such as at once amuse the fancy, against what has charmed the listening world from enlighten the head, and warm the heart. These Moses down to Milton. In fine, it is even de- give a weight and dignity to the poem, nor is the claring against the sublimest passages of the in- pleasure, I should say rapture, both the writer and spired writings themselves, and what seems to be the reader feels, unwarranted by reason, or folthe peculiar language of Heaven.
lowed by repentant disgust. To be able to writo The truth of the case is this: these weak-sighted on a dry, barren theme, is looked upon by some gentlemen can not bear the strong light of poetry, as the sign of a happy, fruitful, genius-fruitful and the finer and more amusing scene of things it indeed! like one of the pendent gardens in Cheapdisplays; but must those, therefore, whom Heaven side, watered every morning by the hand of the has blessed with the discerning eye, shut it to keep alderman himself. And what are we commonly them company?
entertained with on these occasions, save forced, It is pleasant enough, however, to observe, fre- unaffecting fancies, little glittering prettinesses, quently, in these enemies of poetry, an awkward mixed turns of wit and expression, which are as imitation of it. They sometimes have their little widely different from native poetry as buffoonery brightnesses, when the opening glooms will per. is from the perfection of human thinking. A mit. Nay, I have seen their heaviness, on some genius fired with the charms of truth and nature occasions, deign to turn friskish and witty, in is tuned to a sublimer pitch, and scorns to 2880 which they make just such another figure as ciate with such subjects. Æsop's Ass, when he began to fawn. To com- I can not more emphatically recommend this plete the absurdity they would, even in their efforts poetical ambition than by the four following lines against poetry, fain be poetical; like those gentle from Mr. Hill's poem, called The Judgment Day, men that reason with a great deal of zeal and se- which is so singular an instance of it. verity against reason. That there are frequent and notorious abuses for me, suffice it to have taught my muse
The tuneful triflings of her tribe to shun; of poetry is as true as that the best things are most
And raised her warmth such heavenly themes to choose, liable to that misfortune; but is there no end of thạt. As in past ages, the best garlands won. clamorous argument against the use of things from the abuse of them? And yet I hope that no man, I know no subject more elevated, more amusing, who has the least sense of shame in him, will fall more ready to awake the poetical enthusiasm, the into it after the present sulphureous attacker of the philosophical relection, and the moral sentiment stage.
than the works of Nature. Where can we meet To insist no further on this head, let poetry with such variety, such beauty, such magnificence ? once more be restored to her ancient truth and All that enlarges and transports the soul? What purity; let her be inspired from heaven; and, in more inspiring than a calm, wide survey of them? return, her incense ascend thither: let her exchange in every dress Nature is greatly charming! whether her low, venal, trifling subjects for such as are she puts on the crimson robes of the morning! the fair, useful, and magnificent; and let her execute strong effulgence of noon! the sober suit of the these so as at once to please, instruct, surprise, and evening! or the deep sables of blackness and temastonish; and then, of necessity, the most invete- pest! How gay looks the Spring! how glorious the rate ignorance and prejudice shall be struck dumb, Summer! how pleasing the Autumn! and how and poets yet become the delight, and wonder of venerable the Winter -But there is no thinking mankind.
of these things without breaking out into poetry, But this happy period is not to be expected till which is, by the by, a plain and undeniable argusome long-wished illustrious man, of equal power ment of their superior excellence.*** and beneficence, rise on the wintry world of let- For this reason the best, both ancient and moters; one of a genuine and unbounded greatness dern, poets have been passionately fond of retireand generosity of mind; who, far above all the ment and solitude. The wild romantic country pomp and pride of fortune, scorns the little, ad- was their delight. And they seem never to have dressful flatterer, pierces through the disguised de- been more happy than when lost in unfrequented signing villain, discountenances all the reigning fields, far from the little busy world, they were at fopperies of a tasteless age, and who, stretching leisure to meditate, and sing the works of Nature. his views into late futurity, has the true inter- The Book of Job, that noble and ancient poem, est of virtue, learning, and mankind entirely at which even strikes so forcibly through a mangling heart. A character, so nobly desirable! that, to translation, is crowned with a description of the an honest heart, it is almost incredible so few grand works of Nature, and that, too, from the should have the ambition to deserve it.
mouth of their Almighty Author. Nothing can have a better influence towards the It was this devotion to the works of Nature, that, revival of poetry than the choosing of great and in his Georgics, inspired the rural Virgil to write