תמונות בעמוד

am a bad correspondent, that I can ever prove an unkind friend and brother. I must do myself the justice to tell you, that my affections are naturally very fixed and constant; and if I had ever reason of complaint against you, (of which, by the by, I have not the least shadow,) I am conscious of so many defects in myself, as dispose me to be not a little charitable and forgiving.

It gives me the truest heartfelt satisfaction to hear you have a good, kind husband, and are in easy, contented circumstances ; but were they .otherwise, that would only awaken and heighten my tenderness towards you. As our good and tender-hearted parents did not live to receive any material testimonies of that highest human gratitude I owed them, (tban which nothing could have given me eqnal pleasure,) the only return I can make them now is by kindness to those they left behind them. Would to God poor Lizy had lived longer, to have been a further witness of the truth of what I say, and that I might have had the pleasure of seeing once more a sister who so truly deserved my esteem and love! But she is happy, while we must toil a little longer here below: let us, however, do it cheerfully and gratefully, supported by the pleasing hope of meeting yet again on a safer shore, where to recollect the storms and difficulties of life will not, perhaps, be inconsistent with that blissful state. You did right to call your daughter by her name ; for you must needs have had a particular tender friendship for one another, endeared as you were by nature, by having passed the affectionate years of your youth together; and by that great softener and engager of hearts, mutual hardship. That it was in my power to ease it a little, I account one of the most exquisite pleasures of my life. But enough of this melancholy, though not unpleasing strain.

“I esteem you for your sensible and disinterested advice to Mr. Bell, as you will see by my letter to him: as I approve entirely of his marrying again, you may readily ask me why I don't marry at all. My circumstances have, hitherto, been so variable and uncertain in this fluctuating

word, as indees keep me from engaging in such a state and 30v. hough they are more settled, and of late (which se vil je sad to hear) considerably improved, I begin

fins a useii so far advanced in life for such youthful anterasings. Bet to mention some other petty reasons that are apt to starde the delicacy of difficult old bachelors

. I am. zoveter, not a little suspicious that, was I to pas a si a Seacand, which I have some thoughts of doing soon. I migic possibly, be tempted to think of a thing not esit repaired if done amiss. I bave always been of opisive chat none make better wives than the ladies of Scotland : and yes, who more forsaken than they, while the gencemen are continually running abroad all the world over! Some of them, it is true, are wise enongh to return for a sie. Toe see I am beginning to make interest alreads with the Scots ladies. But no more of this infectious sabject Pray let me hear from you now and then ; and thoogte I am not a regular correspondent, yet, perhaps, I may mend in that respect. Remember me kindly to your husband, and believe me to be “ Your most affectionate brother,

“ JAMES THOMSON." (Addressed) “To Mrs. Thomson, in Lanark.”

The benevolence of Thomson was fervid, but not active: he would give, on all occasions, what assistance his purse would supply; but the offices of intervention or solicitation he could not conquer bis sluggishness sufficiently to perform. The affairs of others, however, were not more nego lected than his own. He had often felt the inconveniencies of idleness, but he never cured it; and was so conscious of his own character, that he talked of writing an eastern tale of the Man who loved to be in Distress.

Among bis peculiarities was a very unskilful and inarticulate manner of pronouncing any lofty or solemn compo sition. He was once reading to Dodington, who, being himself a reader eminently elegant,

was so much provoked by his odd utterance, that he snatched the paper

from bis


and, and told him that he did not understand his own erses.

The biographer of Thomson has remarked, that an auhor's life is best read in his works: his observation was tot well-timed. Savage, who lived much with Thomson, once told me, he heard a lady remarking that she could gather from his works three parts of bis character, that he was

a great lover, a great swimmer, and rigorously abstinent;" but, said Savage, he knows not any love but that of the sex; he was, perhaps, never in cold water in his life ; and he indulges himself in all the luxury that comes within his reach. Yet Savage always spoke with the most eager praise of his social qualities, his warmth and constancy of friendship, and his adherence to his first acquaintance when the advancement of his reputation had left them behind him.

As a writer he is entitled to one praise of the highest kind : his mode of thinking, and of expressing his thoughts, is original. His blank verse is no more the blank verse of Milton, or of any other poet, than the rhymes of Prior are the rhymes of Cowley. His numbers, his pauses, bis diction, are of his own growth, without transcription, without imitation. He thinks in a peculiar train, and he thinks always as a man of genius; he looks round on nature and on life with the eye which nature bestows only on a poet; the eye that distinguishes, in every thing presented to its view, whatever there is on which imagination can delight to be detained, and with a mind that at once comprehends the vast, and attends to the minute. The reader of the Seasons wonders that he never saw before what Thomson shows him, and that he never yet has felt what Thomson impresses.

His is one of the works in which blank verse seems properly used. Thomson's wide expansion of general views, and his enumeration of circumstantial varieties, would have been obstructed and embarrassed by the frequent intersection of the sense, which are the necessary, effects of rhyme.

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

irs aprannes. I ne suce írni azt ad enlarged by sihseplen TSH as e mur supposed his jedgeest

pi ndes a mi as Des Cerers esteeded us unweige at spexei as prospects. They are, I ains, imposseis general: yet I know not whether they inzese are as part of what Temple calls their “ race;' : word ruci, asiged to wines, in its primitive sense, means the farms of the soil.

• For man interesting osllestase of the various readings of the successive editions of the seasons, see res i. in ad is. of the Censura Literaria. Thomson's own preturn to the second edition of Winter may be found in vol. č. p. 67, ef the above quoted work. En.


Liberty, when it first appeared, I tried to read, and soon isted. I have never tried again, and, therefore, will not card either praise or censure. The highest praise which he has received ought not to suppressed; it is said by lord Lyttelton, in the prologue his posthumous play, that his works contained

No line which, dying, he could wish to blot.

« הקודםהמשך »