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LIFE OF THE AUTHOR, AND INDEX,
BY GEORGE KENT.
From the London edition of 1780, compared with the
For the use of Schools and Academies.
CONCORD, N. H.
PUBLISHED BY JOHN F. BROWN.
Entered according to an Act of Congress, in the year 1840, By JOHN F. BROWN,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of New Hampshire.
Ir is related of a lover of poetry and of nature, that, on being asked which of the Seasons he liked best, he replied, "If you mean the natural seasons, I prefer the Spring—but if Thomson's, all." This production, now republished, of one of the best standard British poets, is so complete as a whole, although written at different times and under different circumstances, that one is greatly at a loss which portion to prefer, and is very certain that no part could be omitted, without marring the symmetry of a most perfect work. Some passages are, indeed, more highly wrought than others—some descriptions more true than others to nature and to life; but, as a whole, the united poem, "The Seasons," is so chaste and beautiful, that it may be said of the author and the work, with as much truth as in almost any case whatever, that there is in it "no line which, dying, he might wish to blot." What is not a little remarkable, such was the character of Thomson, that the bathing scene, and the exhortation to this duty and
privilege, in his Summer, was written by one who is said never himself to have ventured into the water, and the exhortation in the same, to the "falsely luxu rious," to awake and spring from the bed of sloth, by one who was himself so indolent as often not to rise until mid-day. So true it is, that we can all preach much better than we practise.
The Author of the Seasons was born in 1700, at Ednam, near Kelso, in Scotland, being one of nine children of the minister of that place. He was sent to the school of Jedburgh, where he early discovered a propensity to poetry, which drew the attention of the neighboring gentry. He was removed to the uni versity of Edinburgh, and induced, by the wishes of his friends, to study divinity; but he soon gave up theological studies, and paid an exclusive attention to literature. After acting for some time as a private tutor to Lord Binning, he quitted the university, and went to London, where his Winter was purchased by Millar for a very trifling consideration, and published in 1726, with a dedication to Sir Spencer Compton. Its merits, however, were not discovered until it accidentally caught the eye of Mr. Whately, who brought it into general notice. It led to the author's introduction to Pope. In 1727, he published his Summer, which he addressed to Bubb Doddington, his poem to the memory of Sir Isaac Newton, his Britannia, and, in 1728, his Spring, and in 1730, his Autumn He had previously brought on the stage his tragedy of Sophonista; and, not long after, he was selected as the travelling associate of Mr. Talbot, with whom
LIFE OF THOMSON.
he visited the continent. On his return, he was rewarded with the post of secretary of briefs by the Lord Chancellor Talbot, which was merely a sinecure. About this time, he published his poem of Liberty, with the cool reception of which he was much disappointed.
Soon after, the death of Lord Chancellor Talbot vacated Thomson's office, and Lord Hardwick, who succeeded to the seals, gave it to another. An introduction to Frederic, prince of Wales, produced him a pension from that prince of £100 per annum. In 1738, he produced a second tragedy, entitled Agamemnon, which was coldly received, and a third, entitled Edward and Eleonora. In 1740, he composed the masque of Alfred, in conjunction with Mallet; but which of them wrote the song, since become national, of "Rule Britannia," has not been ascertained. In 1745, his most successful tragedy, entitled Tancred and Sigismunda, was brought out, and warmly applauded. The following year produced his Castle of Indolence.
He now obtained the place of surveyor-general of the Leeward Islands, but soon after (1748) died of a cold caught on the Thames, in the forty-eighth year of his age. He was buried at Richmond, and a monument was erected to him in Westminster Abbey, in 1762, with the profits of an edition of his works He left a tragedy entitled Coriolanus, which was acted for the benefit of his family.
Thomson was large and ungainly in person, and somewhat heavy in deportment, except among inti