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The genial meads, assign'd to bless
Thy life, shall mourn thy early doom:
With simple hands, thy rural tomb.
Shall melt the musing Briton's eyes:
“ In yonder grave your Druid lies !”.* His person, as he himself acknowledges, though above the middle size, was not the most promising : he was, indeed, rather robust than graceful, “ more fat (according to Armstrong) than bard beseems,” and of a countenance far from being pleasing. His worst appearance was, when he was seen walking alone in
* To this may, not unfitly, be attached in a note the following address to the shade of Thomson by his highly-gifted and wretchedly-fated countryman, Burns:
• While virgin Spring, by Eden's flood,
Unfolds her tender mantle green;
Or tunes Æolian strains between :
Retreats to Dryburgh's cooling shade;
The progress of the spiky blade:
By Tweed erects her aged head;
Each creature on her bounty fed :
The hills, where classic Yarrow flows;
Or sweeping wild a waste of snows-
year, Shall bloom that wreath thou well hast won; While Scotia, with exulting tear,
Proclaims that Thomson was her son.'
a pensive mood; but when his friends accosted him, and entered into conversation, he would instantly assume a more amiable aspect. His taste in poetry had improved upon the best originals, ancient and modern. What he borrows from his classical
predecessors, he gives us in an avowed and faithful paraphrase; as may be observed in a few Virgilian passages of his · Seasons,' and in his beautiful picture from the Elder Pliny, where the course and gradual increase of the Nile are figured by the successive stages of human life:
• The treasures these, hid from the bounded search
The autumn was his favourite season for poetical composition; and the deep silence of the night the time, which he commonly chose for such studies : so
* The eloquent parallel occurs in Pliny, N. H. V. ix.
that he was frequently heard walking in his study till near morning, humming over what he was to correct and transcribe the next day. The amusements of his leisure-hours were, civil and natural history, voyages, and the best relations of travellers; and had his situation favoured it, he would certainly have excelled in gardening, agriculture, and every rural improvement and exercise.
Although he did not perform upon any instrument, he was passionately fond of music, and would sometimes listen a full hour at his window to the nightingales in Richmond Gardens. Nor was his taste less exquisite in the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. In his travels he had seen many of the most celebrated monuments of antiquity, and the best productions of modern art; and had studied them so minutely, and with so true a judgement, that some of the descriptions in his · Liberty' place the masterpieces in a stronger light, perhaps, than if we saw the originals.
As for the more distinguishing qualities of his mind and heart, they are better represented in his writings, than they can be by the pen of any biographer. There his love of mankind, of his country, and of his friends, and his devotion to the Supreme Being, founded on the most elevated and just conceptions of his operations and providence, shine out in every page. His tenderness of heart comprehended even the brute creation; and to his fellow-mortals he was so uniformly affectionate, that he never intentionally inflicted pain by either his compositions or his conduct. His benevolence however, though fervent, was not active. He would bestow, upon all
occasions, what his purse could supply; but offices of intervention and solicitation he was too sluggish to perform. Of such indolence his own affairs sen, sibly felt the effect : yet he could never shake it off. He was so conscious, indeed, of this part of his character, that he meditated writing an Eastern Tale, to be entitled · The Man who loved to be in Distress.'
By Savage, if we may trust his suspicious evidence, he was represented to Johnson, as possessing little of the delicacy of sentiment diffused over his writings.' But that he was susceptible of the purest love, is evident as well from his strong attachment to his ó Amanda’ (Miss Young), as from his de scription of the effect of the tender passion in his
Spring,' and the pathetic commemoration of Miss Stanley in his . Summer:' and Savage himself always recorded the constancy of his friendship, even for those of his early acquaintance whom the advancement of his reputation had left far behind him, with the most eager and deserved praise.
Among his peculiarities was, a very inarticulate manner of reciting lofty or solemn composition. Doddington, himself a most accomplished reader, proyoked by his strange utterance, once snatched a poem out of his hand, telling him that he did not understand his own compositions. His mode of thinking, and of expressing his thoughts (says Johnson) 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, his diction, are of his own growth; without transcription, without imitation. He thinks in a peculiar strain, and he thinks, always, as a man of genius. And blank verse seemed especially adapted to his subject, which would have been embarrassed by the frequent intersection of the sense necessarily arising out of rhyme. His diction is, in the highest degree, fluid and luxuriant, though from it's exuberance it may sometimes be charged with filling the ear more than the mind.
He took no part in literary disputes, and was therefore respected and unmolested, even by rival poets. This divine temper of mind did not fail of it's due reward. The best and greatest men of his time honoured him with their friendship and protection : their applause attended all his productions : his friends loved him with an enthusiastic ardor, and the public sincerely lamented his premature death.
His works, particularly · The Seasons,' have been frequently reprinted; and in 1762, an edition of them both in quarto and in octavo, with his last corrections and improvements, was published by the Rev. Patrick Murdoch, who prefixed an Account of his Life and Writings.