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heavier loss of his father, justly stiled the Great Lord Talbot.' *

Such was the noble patron, by whose death Thomsop found himself reduced from a genteel competency to a state of precarious dependence; as he now lost his Secretaryship of Briefs,f a place of little duty or attendance, suited to his retired way of living, and affording an income sufficient for his moderate demands. Yet was not his genius depressed, or 'his temper hurt, by this reverse of fortune. After paying the tribute of grief to the memory of his deceased benefactor, he resumed his natural vivacity: and the profits arising from the sale of his works, with the liberality of new patrons, enabled him not only to continue his simple and elegant mode of living, but also to assist occasionally the narrow circumstances

* Of him it has been recorded, that when his merit and the unanimous suffrage of his country induced his Sovereign to reward him with the Great Seal, his universal affability, his easiness of access, his humanity to the distressed, his impartial administration of justice, and his rapid despatch of business engaged the affection and veneration of all who approached him. By constantly delivering his reasons for every decree he made, the Court of Chancery became an instructive school of equity; and his decisions were generally attended with such conviction to the pare ties, against whose interest they were given, that their acquiescence usually prevented the expense and the trouble of appeals. As no servile expedient raised him to power, his countrymen knew he would make use of none to support himself in it. His private life was the mirror of every virtue : his piety was exalted, rational, and unaffected. In his conversation was united the utmost freedom of debate with the highest good-breeding, and the vivacity of mirth with primitive simplicity of manners.

f The new Chancellor, Lord Hardwicke, after some delay gave it to another; because Thomson either through pride, or modesty, or ignorance did not ask for it.

of his sisters. In 1738, his · Agamemnon' was acted, and produced him a considerable sum. Like most mythological stories, indeed, it was rather endured, than applauded. But the endurers were numerous. Pope, who had favoured the author when in Italy with a poetical epistle, coming to this tragedy on it's first night, was welcomed to the theatre by a general clap. Mr. Quin, likewise, was very kind to him upon all occasions.

But his chief resource he found in the protection of Frederick Prince of Wales, who on the recommendation of his new friend Lyttelton assigned him a pension of 1001. per ann., and always received him with the utmost courtesy. This distinguished patronage, however, proved in one instance prejudicial to it's object. When Thomson's · Edward and Eleonora' was ready for the stage, the Chamberlain withheld his licence. This was, naturally, considered as an affront intended to the Prince; as there was not a single passage in the play, which could render it exceptionable.

His next dramatic performance was the Masque of · Alfred, in which he was assisted by Mr. Mallett. It was composed, by command of his royal patron, for the summer-entertainment of a select party at Cliefden House on the birthday of the Princess Augusta; and was subsequently exhibited, with great success, upon the public stage.

In 1745, his · Tancred and Sigismunda, founded upon a story in Gil Blas, made it's appearance. This was the most successful of all his dramas, and still keeps it's place in the theatre. It wants novelty of character, however, and variety of incident; and the diction is in general, too flowery and sentimental.

Soon afterward, he wrote the following letter to his sister Jean Thomson, the wife of the Master of the Grammar School at Lanark, which affords a pleasing proof of fraternal tenderness :


Hagley in Worcestershire, MY DEAR SISTER,

October the 4th, 1747. • I thought you had known me better than to interpret my silence into a decay of affection; especially as your behaviour has always been such, as rather to increase than diminish it. Don't imagine, because I 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 bye, I have not the least shadow) I am conscious of so many defects in myself, as to 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 circumstances; but, were they otherwise, they would only awaken and heighten my tenderness toward you.

As our good and tender-hearted parents did not live to receive any material testimonies of the highest human gratitude I owed them (than which nothing could have given me equal pleasure) the only return I can make them now is, by kindness to those they left behind them. Would to God poor Lizzy * had lived longer, to have been a farther witness of the truth of what I say, and that I might have had the

* His sister Elizabeth, married to Mr. Bell, had died some time before the date of this letter.


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 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 will readily ask me, “Why I don't marry at all ?' My circumstances have, hitherto, been so variable and uncertain in this fluctuating world, as induce to keep me from engaging in such a state: and now, though they are more settled, and of late (which you will be glad to hear) considerably improved, I begin to think myself too far advanced in life for such youthful undertakings; not to mention some other petty reasons, that are apt to startle the delicacy of difficult old bachelors. I am, however, not a little suspicious that, was I to pay a visit to Scotland (which I have some thought of doing soon) I might possibly be tempted to think of a thing not easily repaired, if done amiss. I have always been of opinion, that none make better wives than the ladies of Scotland; and yet, who more forsaken than they, while the gentlemen are continually running abroad all the world over? Some of them, it is true, are wise enough to return for a wife. You see, I am beginning to make interest already with the Scots ladies. But no more of this infectious subject.-Pray let me hear from you now and then; and, though 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,


His · Castle of Indolence, an allegorical poem in two cantos, esteemed by the best critics the most perfect and pleasing of all his compositions, had appeared in 1746. In the following five stanzas of it's first canto are given the characters of Lyttelton, whom he also gratefully commemorates as the Moralist, the Philosopher, the Patriot, the Poet, and the Husband (in all, most accomplished) in the close of his · Spring,' of Quin, of himself written by Armstrong, and of his friend and eventually his biographer the Rev. Patrick Murdoch, F. R. S.

• Another guest there was of sense refined,

Who felt each worth, for every worth he had :
Serene yet warm, humane yet firm his mind,

As little touch'd as any man's with bad.

Him through their inmost walks the Muses lad,
To him the sacred love of nature lent;

And sometimes would he make our valley glad.
When as we found he would not here be pent,

To him the better sort this friendly message sent: “ Come, dwell with us! True son of Virtue, come!

“ But if alas! we cannot thee persuade “ To lie content beneath our peaceful dome,

“ Ne evermore to quit our quiet glade:

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