« AnteriorContinuar »
does Young advert to the quiet retirement of his And fondly dream each wind and star our friend; country life
Blest be that hand divine, which gently laid
My heart at rest beneath this humble shade!
The world's a stately bark, on dangerous seas,
With pleasure seen, but boarded at our peril;
Here, on a single plank, thrown safe ashore,
I hear the tumult of the distant throng,
As that of seas remote, or dying storns;
And meditate on scenes more silent still;
Pursue my theme, and fight the fear of death.
Here like a shepherd, gazing from his hut,
Touching his reed, or leaning on his staff,
Eager ambition's fiery chase I see;
I see the circling hunt of noisy men
Burst law's enclosure, leap the mounds of right,
Pursuing and pursued, each other's prey;
As wolves for rapine; as the fox for wiles;
Till death, that mighty hunter, earths them all.
Why all this toil for triumphs of an hour?
What though we wade in wealth, or soar in fame,
Earth's highest station ends in 'here he lies,'
And dust to dust' concludes her noblest song.
And when he argues in favour of the immortality of
man from the analogies of nature, with what ex-
quisite taste and melody does he characterise the
changes and varied appearances of creation—
Look nature through, 'tis revolution all;
All change, no death; day follows night, and night
The dying day; stars rise and set, and set and rise:
Earth takes the example. See, the Summer gay,
With her green chaplet and ambrosial flowers,
Droops into pallid Autumn: Winter gray,
Horrid with frost and turbulent with storm,
Blows Autumn and his golden fruits away,
Then melts into the Spring: soft Spring, with breath
Favonian, from warm chambers of the south,
Recalls the first. All, to reflourish, fades:
As in a wheel, all sinks to reascend:
Emblems of man, who passes, not expires.
He thus moralises on human life-
From point to point, though seeming to stand still.
The cunning fugitive is swift by stealth,
Too subtle is the movement to be seen;
Yet soon man's hour is up, and we are gone.
Warnings point out our danger; gnomons, time;
As these are useless when the sun is set,
So those, but when more glorious reason shines.
Reason should judge in all; in reason's eye
That sedentary shadow travels hard.
But such our gravitation to the wrong,
So prone our hearts to whisper that we wish,
'Tis later with the wise than he's aware:
A Wilmington1 goes slower than the sun :
And all mankind mistake their time of day;
Even age itself. Fresh hopes are hourly sown
In furrowed brows. To gentle life's descent
We shut our eyes, and think it is a plain.
We take fair days in winter for the spring,
And turn our blessings into bane. Since oft
Man must compute that age he cannot feel,
He scarce believes he's older for his years.
Thus, at life's latest eve, we keep in store
One disappointment sure, to crown the rest-
The disappointment of a promised hour.
And again in a still nobler strain, where he compares human life to the sea
Self-flattered, unexperienced, high in hope,
All in some darling enterprise embarked:
But where is he can fathom its event?
Amid a multitude of artless hands,
Ruin's sure perquisite, her lawful prize!
Some steer aright, but the black blast blows hard,
And puffs them wide of hope: with hearts of proof
Full against wind and tide, some win their way,
And when strong effort has deserved the port,
And tugged it into view, 'tis won! 'tis lost!
Though strong their oar, still stronger is their fate :
They strike and while they triumph they expire.
In stress of weather most, some sink outright:
O'er them, and o'er their names the billows close;
To-morrow knows not they were ever born.
Others a short memorial leave behind,
Like a flag floating when the bark's ingulfed;
It floats a moment, and is seen no more.
One Cæsar lives; a thousand are forgot.
How few beneath auspicious planets born
(Darlings of Providence! fond Fate's elect !)
With swelling sails make good the promised port,
With all their wishes freighted! yet even these,
Freighted with all their wishes, soon complain;
Free from misfortune, not from nature free,
They still are men, and when is man secure?
As fatal time, as storm! the rush of years
Beats down their strength, their numberless escapes
In ruin end. And now their proud success
But plants new terrors on the victor's brow:
What pain to quit the world, just made their own,
Their nest so deeply downed, and built so high!
Too low they build, who build beneath the stars.
With such a throng of poetical imagery, bursts of
sentiment, and rays of fancy, does the poet-divine
clothe the trite and simple truths, that all is vanity,
and that man is born to die!
These thoughts, O Night! are thine;
From thee they came like lovers' secret sighs,
While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,
In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere,
Her shepherd cheered; of her enamoured less
Than I of thee. And art thou still unsung,
Beneath whose brow, and by whose aid, I sing?
Immortal silence! where shall I begin?
Where end? or how steal music from the spheres
To soothe their goddess?
Nature's great ancestor ! Day's elder born!
And fated to survive the transient sun!
By mortals and immortals seen with awe!
A starry crown thy raven brow adorns,
An azure zone thy waist; clouds, in heaven's loom
Wrought through varieties of shape and shade,
In ample folds of drapery divine,
Thy flowing mantle form, and, heaven throughout,
Voluminously pour thy pompous train:
Thy gloomy grandeurs-Nature's most august,
Inspiring aspect !—claim a grateful verse;
And, like a sable curtain starred with gold,
Drawn o'er my labours past, shall clothe the scene.
This magnificent apostrophe has scarcely been
equalled in our poetry since the epic strains of
On Life, Death, and Immortality.
Tired Nature's sweet restorer, balmy Sleep!
He, like the world, his ready visit pays
Where Fortune smiles; the wretched he forsakes:
Swift on his downy pinion flies from wo,
When young, with sanguine cheer and streamers gay, And lights on lids unsullied with a tear.
We qut our cable, launch into the world,
From short (as usual) and disturbed repose
I wake: how happy they who wake no more!
Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.
With antic shapes, wild natives of the brain?
I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams
Tumultuous; where my wrecked desponding thought Her ceaseless flight, though devious, speaks her nature
From wave to wave of fancied misery
At random drove, her helm of reason lost.
Though now restored, 'tis only change of pain
(A bitter change!), severer for severe:
T'he day too short for my distress; and night,
E'en in the zenith of her dark domain,
Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.
Night, sable goddess! from her ebon throne,
In rayless majesty, now stretches forth
Her leaden sceptre o'er a slumbering world.
Silence how dead! and darkness how profound!
Nor eye nor listening ear an object finds;
Creation sleeps. 'Tis as the general pulse
Of life stood still, and Nature made a pause;
An awful pause! prophetic of her end.
And let her prophecy be soon fulfilled:
Fate drop the curtain; I can lose no more.
Silence and Darkness! solemn sisters! twins
From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought To reason, and on reason build resolve
(That column of true majesty in man),
Assist me: I will thank you in the grave;
The grave your kingdom: there this frame shall fall A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.
But what are ye?
Thou, who didst put to flight
Primeval Silence, when the morning stars,
Exulting, shouted o'er the rising ball;
Oh Thou! whose word from solid darkness struck
That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from my soul;
My soul, which flies to thee, her trust, her treasure,
As misers to their gold, while others rest.
Through this opaque of nature and of soul,
This double night, transmit one pitying ray,
To lighten and to cheer. Oh lead my mind
(A mind that fain would wander from its wo),
Lead it through various scenes of life and death,
And from each scene the noblest truths inspire.
Nor less inspire my conduct than my song;
Teach my best reason, reason; my best will
Teach rectitude; and fix my firm resolve
Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear:
Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, poured
On this devoted head, be poured in vain.
How poor, how rich, how abject, how august, How complicate, how wonderful is man! How passing wonder He who made him such! Who centered in our make such strange extremes, From different natures marvellously mixed, Connexion exquisite of distant worlds! Distingushed link in being's endless chain! Midway from nothing to the Deity! A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt! Though sullied and dishonoured, still divine! Dim miniature of greatness absolute! An heir of glory! a frail child of dust: Helpless immortal! insect infinite! A worm! a god! I tremble at myself, And in myself am lost. At home, a stranger, Thought wanders up and down, surprised, aghast, And wondering at her own. How reason reels! Oh what a miracle to man is man! Triumphantly distressed! what joy! what dread! Alternately transported and alarmed! What can preserve my life! or what destroy! An angel's arm can't snatch me from the grave; Legions of angels can't confine me there.
Tis past conjecture; all things rise in proof: While o'er my limbs sleep's soft dominion spread, What though my soul fantastic measures trod O'er fairy fields; or mourned along the gloom Of silent woods; or, down the.craggy steep Hurled headlong, swam with pain the mantled pool; Or scaled the cliff; or danced on hollow winds,
Of subtler essence than the common clod: * *
Even silent night proclaims my soul immortal! *
Why, then, their loss deplore that are not lost? * *
This is the desert, this the solitude:
How populous, how vital is the grave!
This is creation's melancholy vault,
The vale funereal, the sad cypress gloom;
The land of apparitions, empty shades!
All, all on earth, is shadow, all beyond
Is substance; the reverse is folly's creed;
How solid all, where change shall be no more!
This is the bud of being, the dim dawn,
The twilight of our day, the vestibule ;
Life's theatre as yet is shut, and death,
Strong death alone can heave the massy bar,
This gross impediment of clay remove,
And make us embryos of existence free
From real life; but little more remote
Is he, not yet a candidate for light,
The future embryo, slumbering in his sire.
Embryos we must be till we burst the shell,
Yon ambient azure shell, and spring to life,
The life of gods, oh transport! and of man.
Yet man, fool man! here buries all his thoughts;
Inters celestial hopes without one sigh.
Prisoner of earth, and pent beneath the moon,
Here pinions all his wishes; winged by heaven
To fly at infinite: and reach it there
Where seraphs gather immortality,
On life's fair tree, fast by the throne of God.
What golden joys ambrosial clustering glow
In his full beam, and ripen for the just,
Where momentary ages are no more!
Where time, and pain, and chance, and death expire!
And is it in the flight of threescore years
To push eternity from human thought,
And smother souls immortal in the dust?
A soul immortal, spending all her fires,
Wasting her strength in strenuous idleness,
Thrown into tumult, raptured or alarmed,
At aught this scene can threaten or indulge,
Resembles ocean into tempest wrought,
To waft a feather, or to drown a fly.
The bell strikes one. We take no note of time
But from its loss: to give it then a tongue
Is wise in man. As if an angel spoke,
I feel the solemn sound. If heard aright,
It is the knell of my departed hours.
Where are they? With the years beyond the flood.
It is the signal that demands despatch:
How much is to be done? My hopes and fears
Start up alarmed, and o'er life's narrow verge
Look down-on what? A fathomless abyss.
A dread eternity! how surely mine!
And can eternity belong to me,
Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour?
O time! than gold more sacred; more a load
Than lead to fools, and fools reputed wise.
What moment granted man without account?
What years are squandered, wisdom's debt unpaid!
Our wealth in days all due to that discharge.
Haste, haste, he lies in wait, he's at the door,
Insidious Death; should his strong hand arrest,
No composition sets the prisoner free.
Eternity's inexorable chain
Fast binds, and vengeance claims the full arrear.
Youth is not rich in time; it may be poor;
Part with it as with money, sparing; pay
No moment, but in purchase of its worth;
And what it's worth, ask death-beds; they can tell.
Part with it as with life, reluctant; big
With holy hope of nobler time to come;
Time higher aimed, still nearer the great mark
Of men and angels, virtue more divine.
On all important time, through every age,
Though much, and warm, the wise have urged, the man
Is yet unborn who duly weighs an hour.
'I've lost a day-the prince who nobly cried,
Had been an emperor without his crown.
Of Rome? say, rather, lord of human race:
He spoke as if deputed by mankind.
So should all speak; so reason speaks in all:
From the soft whispers of that God in man,
Why fly to folly, why to frenzy fly,
For rescue from the blessings we possess?
Time, the supreme!-Time is eternity;
Pregnant with all that makes archangels smile.
Who murders Time, he crushes in the birth
A power ethereal, only not adored.
Ah! how unjust to nature and himself
Is thoughtless, thankless, inconsistent man!
Like children babbling nonsense in their sports,
We censure Nature for a span too short;
That span too short we tax as tedious too;
Torture invention, all expedients tire,
To lash the lingering moments into speed,
And whirl us (happy riddance) from ourselves.
Time, in advance, behind him hides his wings,
And seems to creep, decrepit with his age.
Behold him when passed by; what then is seen
But his broad pinions swifter than the winds?
And all mankind, in contradiction strong,
Rueful, aghast, cry out on his career.
We waste, not use our time; we breathe, not live;
Time wasted is existence; used, is life:
And bare existence man, to live ordained,
Wrings and oppresses with enormous weight.
And why? since time was given for use, not waste,
Enjoined to fly, with tempest, tide, and stars,
To keep his speed, nor ever wait for man.
Time's use was doomed a pleasure, waste a pain,
That man might feel his error if unseen,
And, feeling, fly to labour for his cure;
Not blundering, split on idleness for ease.
We push time from us, and we wish him back;
Life we think long and short; death seek and shun.
Oh the dark days of vanity! while
Here, how tasteless! and how terrible when gone! Gone they ne'er go; when past, they haunt us still:
The spirit walks of every day deceased,
And smiles an angel, or a fury frowns.
Nor death nor life delight us. If time past,
And time possessed, both pain us, what can please?
That which the Deity to please ordained,
Time used. The man who consecrates his hours
By vigorous effort, and an honest aim,
At once he draws the sting of life and death:
He walks with nature, and her paths are peace.
'Tis greatly wise to talk with our past hours,
And ask them what report they bore to heaven,
And how they might have borne more welcome news.
Their answers form what men experience call;
If wisdom's friend her best, if not, worst foe.
All-sensual man, because untouched, unseen,
He looks on time as nothing. Nothing else
Is truly man's; 'tis fortune's. Time's a god.
Hast thou ne'er heard of Time's omnipotence?
For, or against, what wonders can he do !
And will: to stand blank neuter he disdains.
Not on those terms was time (heaven's stranger!) sent
On his important embassy to man.
Lorenzo! no: on the long destined hour,
From everlasting ages growing ripe,
That memorable hour of wondrous birth,
When the Dread Sire, on emanation bent,
And big with nature, rising in his might,
Called forth creation (for then time was born)
By Godhead streaming through a thousand worlds;
Not on those terms, from the great days of heaven,
From old eternity's mysterious orb
Was time cut off, and cast beneath the skies;
The skies, which watch him in his new abode,
Measuring his motions by revolving spheres,
That horologe machinery divine.
Hours, days, and months, and years, his children play,
Like numerous wings, around him, as he flies;
Or rather, as unequal plumes, they shape
His ample pinions, swift as darted flame,
To gain his goal, to reach his ancient rest,
And join anew eternity, his sire:
In his immutability to nest,
When worlds that count his circles now, unhinged,
(Fate the loud signal sounding) headlong rush
To timeless night and chaos, whence they rose.
But why on time so lavish is my song:
On this great theme kind Nature keeps a school
To teach her sons herself. Each night we die-
Each morn are born anew; each day a life;
And shall we kill each day? If trifling kills,
Sure vice must butcher. O what heaps of slain
Cry out for vengeance on us! time destroyed
Is suicide, where more than blood is spilt.
Throw years away?
Throw empires, and be blameless: moments seize;
Heaven's on their wing: a moment we may wish,
When worlds want wealth to buy. Bid day stand still,
Bid him drive back his car and re-impart
The period past, re-give the given hour.
Lorenzo! more than miracles we want.
Lorenzo! O for yesterdays to come!
[The Man whose Thoughts are not of this World.]
Some angel guide my pencil, while I draw,
What nothing less than angel can exceed,
A man on earth devoted to the skies;
Like ships in seas, while in, above the world.
With aspect mild, and elevated eye,
Behold him seated on a mount serene,
Above the fogs of sense, and passion's storm;
All the black cares and tumults of this life,
Like harmless thunders, breaking at his feet,
Excite his pity, not impair his peace.
Earth's genuine sons, the sceptred and the slave,
A mingled mob! a wandering herd! he sees,
Bewildered in the vale; in all unlike!
His full reverse in all! what higher praise?
What stronger demonstration of the right?
The present all their care, the future his.
When public welfare calls, or private want,
They give to Fame; his bounty he conceals.
Their virtues varnish Nature, his exalt.
Mankind's esteem they court, and he his own.
Theirs the wild chase of false felicities;
His the composed possession of the true.
Alike throughout is his consistent peace,
All of one colour, and an even thread;
While party-coloured shreds of happiness,
With hideous gaps between, patch up for them
A madman's robe; each puff of Fortune blows
The tatters by, and shows their nakedness.
He sees with other eyes than theirs: where they Behold a sun, he spies a Deity.
What makes them only smile, makes him adore. Where they see mountains, he but atoms sees. An empire in his balance weighs a grain.
They things terrestrial worship as divine;
His hopes, immortal, blow them by as dust
That dims his sight, and shortens his survey,
Which longs, in infinite, to lose all bound.
Titles and honours (if they prove his fate)
He lays aside to find his dignity;
No dignity they find in aught besides.
They triumph in externals (which conceal
Man's real glory), proud of an eclipse:
Himself too much he prizes to be proud,
And nothing thinks so great in man as man.
Too dear he holds his interest to neglect
Another's welfare, or his right invade:
Their interest, like a lion, lives on prey.
They kindle at the shadow of a wrong;
Wrong he sustains with temper, looks on heaven,
Nor stoops to think his injurer his foe.
Nought but what wounds his virtue wounds his peace.
A covered heart their character defends;
A covered heart denies him half his praise.
With nakedness his innocence agrees,
While their broad foliage testifies their fall.
Their no-joys end where his full feast begins;
His joys create, theirs murder future bliss.
To triumph in existence his alone;
And his alone triumphantly to think
His true existence is not yet begun.
His glorious course was yesterday complete ;
Death then was welcome, yet life still is sweet.
Be wise to-day; 'tis madness to defer:
Next day the fatal precedent will plead;
Thus on, till wisdom is pushed out of life.
Procrastination is the thief of time;
Year after year it steals, till all are fled,
And to the mercies of a moment leaves
The vast concerns of an eternal scene.
If not so frequent, would not this be strange?
That 'tis so frequent, this is stranger still.
Of man's miraculous mistakes, this bears
The palm, That all men are about to live,'
For ever on the brink of being born:
All pay themselves the compliment to think
They one day shall not drivel, and their pride
On this reversion takes up ready praise;
At least their own; their future selves applaud;
How excellent that life they ne'er will lead !
Time lodged in their own hands is Folly's vails;
That lodged in Fate's to wisdom they consign;
The thing they can't but purpose, they postpone.
"Tis not in folly not to scorn a fool,
And scarce in human wisdom to do more.
All promise is poor dilatory man,
And that through every stage. When young, indeed,
In full content we sometimes nobly rest,
Unanxious for ourselves, and only wish,
As duteous sons, our fathers were more wise.
At thirty man suspects himself a fool;
Knows it at forty, and reforms his plan;
At fifty chides his infamous delay,
Pushes his prudent purpose to resolve;
In all the magnanimity of thought
Resolves, and re-resolves; then dies the same.
And why? because he thinks himself immortal.
All men think all men mortal but themselves;
Themselves, when some alarming shock of fate
Strikes through their wounded hearts the sudden dread:
But their hearts wounded, like the wounded air,
Soon close; where past the shaft no trace is found,
As from the wing no scar the sky retains,
The parted wave no furrow from the keel,
So dies in human hearts the thought of death:
E'en with the tender tear which nature sheds
O'er those we love, we drop it in their grave.
Not all on books their criticism waste; The genius of a dish some justly taste, And eat their way to fame! with anxious thought The salmon is refused, the turbot bought. Impatient Art rebukes the sun's delay, And bids December yield the fruits of May. Their various cares in one great point combine The business of their lives, that is, to dine; Half of their precious day they give the feast, And to a kind digestion spare the rest. Apicius here, the taster of the town, Feeds twice a-week, to settle their renown.
These worthies of the palate guard with care
The sacred annals of their bills of fare;
In those choice books their panegyrics read,
And scorn the creatures that for hunger feed;
If man, by feeding well, commences great,
Much more the worm, to whom that man is meat.
Belus with solid glory will be crowned;
He buys no phantom, no vain empty sound,
But builds himself a name; and to be great,
Sinks in a quarry an immense estate;
In cost and grandeur Chandos he'll outdo;
And, Burlington, thy taste is not so true;
The pile is finished, every toil is past,
And full perfection is arrived at last;
When lo my lord to some small corner runs,
And leaves state-rooms to strangers and to duns.
The man who builds, and wants wherewith to pay,
Provides a home, from which to run away.
In Britain what is many a lordly seat,
But a discharge in full for an estate?
Some for renown on scraps of learning dote, And think they grow immortal as they quote. To patch-work learned quotations are allied; Both strive to make our poverty our pride.
Let high birth triumph! what can be more great?
Nothing but merit in a low estate.
To Virtue's humblest son let none prefer
Vice, though descended from the Conqueror.
Shall men, like figures, pass for high or base,
Slight or important only by their place?
Titles are marks of honest men, and wise;
The fool or knave that wears a title, lies.
They that on glorious ancestors enlarge,
Produce their debt instead of their discharge.
[The Emptiness of Riches.]
Can gold calm passion, or make reason shine?
Can we dig peace or wisdom from the mine?
Wisdom to gold prefer, for 'tis much less
To make our fortune than our happiness:
That happiness which great ones often see,
With rage and wonder, in a low degree,
Themselves unblessed. The poor are only poor.
But what are they who droop amid their store?
Nothing is meaner than a wretch of state.
The happy only are the truly great.
Peasants enjoy like appetites with kings,
And those best satisfied with cheapest things.
Could both our Indies buy but one new sense,
Our envy would be due to large expense;
Since not, those pomps which to the great belong,
Are but poor arts to mark them from the throng.
See how they beg an alms of Flattery:
They languish! oh, support them with a lie!
A decent competence we fully taste;
It strikes our sense, and gives a constant feast;
More we perceive by dint of thought alone;
The rich must labour to possess their own,
To feel their great abundance, and request
Their humble friends to help them to be blest;
To see their treasure, hear their glory told,
And aid the wretched impotence of gold.
But some, great souls! and touched with warmth
Give gold a price, and teach its beams to shine;
All hoarded treasures they repute a load,
Nor think their wealth their own, till well bestowed.
Grand reservoirs of public happiness,
Through secret streams diffusively they bless,
JAMES THOMSON was born at Ednam, near Kelso, county of Roxburgh, on the 11th of September, 1700. His father, who was then minister of the parish of Ednam, removed a few years afterwards to that of Southdean in the same county, a primitive and
And, while their bounties glide, concealed from view, retired district situated among the lower slopes of Relieve our wants, and spare our blushes too.
The publication of the Seasons was an important era in the history of English poetry. So true and beautiful are the descriptions in the poem, and so entirely do they harmonise with those fresh feelings and glowing impulses which all would wish to cherish, that a love of nature seems to be synonymous with a love of Thomson. It is difficult to conceive a person of education in this country, imbued
the Cheviots. Here the young poet spent his boyish
The gift of poesy came early, and some
lines written by him at the age of fourteen, show
how soon his manner was formed :-
Now I surveyed my native faculties,
And traced my actions to their teeming source:
Now I explored the universal frame,
Gazed nature through, and with interior light
Conversed with angels and unbodied saints
That tread the courts of the Eternal King!
Gladly I would declare in lofty strains
The power of Godhead to the sons of men,
But thought is lost in its immensity:
Imagination wastes its strength in vain,
And fancy tires and turns within itself,
Struck with the amazing depths of Deity!
Ah! my Lord God! in vain a tender youth,
Unskilled in arts of deep philosophy,
Attempts to search the bulky mass of matter,
To trace the rules of motion, and pursue
The phantom Time, too subtle for his grasp:
Yet may I from thy most apparent works
Form some idea of their wondrous Author.1
In his eighteenth year, Thomson was sent to Edinburgh college. His father died, and the poet proceeded to London to push his fortune. His college friend Mallet procured him the situation of tutor to the son of Lord Binning, and being shown some of his descriptions of Winter,' advised him to connect them into one regular poem. This was done, and Winter' was published in March 1726, the poet having received only three guineas for the copyright. A second and a third edition appeared the same year. Summer' appeared in 1727. In 1728 he issued proposals for publishing, by subscription, the 'Four Seasons;' the number of subscribers, at a guinea each copy, was 387; but many took more than one, and Pope (to whom Thomson had been introduced by Mallet) took three copies. The tragedy of Sophonisba was next produced; and in 1731 the poet accompanied the son of Sir Charles Talbot, afterwards lord chancellor, in the capacity of tutor or travelling companion, to the continent. They visited France, Switzerland, and Italy, and it is easy to conceive with what pleasure Thomson must have passed or sojourned among scenes which he had often viewed in imagination. In November of the same year the poet was at Rome, and no doubt indulged the wish expressed in one of his letters, to see the fields where Virgil gathered his immortal honey, and tread the same ground where men have thought and acted so greatly. On his return next year he published his poem of Liberty, and obtained the sinecure situation of Secretary of Briefs in the Court of Chancery, which he held till the death of Lord Talbot, the chancellor. The succeed
with an admiration of rural or woodland scenery, not entertaining a strong affection and regard for that delightful poet, who has painted their charms with so much fidelity and enthusiasm. The same features of blandness and benevolence, of simplicity of design and beauty of form and colour, which we recognise as distinguishing traits of the natural landscape, are seen in the pages of Thomson, conveyed by his artless mind as faithfully as the lights and shades on the face of creation. No criticism or change of style has, therefore, affected his popularity. We may smile at sometimes meeting with a heavy monotonous period, a false ornament, or tumid expression, the result of an indolent mind working itself up to a great effort, and we may wish the subjects of his description were sometimes more select and dignified; but this drawback does not affect our permanent regard or general feeling; our first love remains unaltered; and Thomson is still 1 This curious fragment was first published in 1841, in a life the poet with whom some of our best and purest of Thomson by Mr Allan Cunningham, prefixed to an illusassociations are indissolubly joined. In the Seasonstrated edition of the Seasons."