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High in his faith and hopes, look how he reaches
After the prize in view! and, like a bird
That's homper'd, struggles hard to get away:
Whilst the glad gates of sight are wide expanded
To let new glories in, the first fair fruits
Of the fast coming harvest.-Then, oh, then!
Each earth-born joy grows vile, or disappears,
Shrunk to a thing of nought.-Oh! how he longs
To have his passport sign'd, and be dismiss'd!
'Tis done! and now he's happy!-the glad soul
Has not a wish uncrown'd.

* * * * * *

"Tis but a night, a long and moonless night,
We make the grave our bed, and then are gone.
Thus at the shut of even, the weary bird
Leaves the wide air, and in some lonely brake
Cowers down, and dozes till the dawn of day;
Then claps his well-fledg'd wings, and bears away.


Born 1700-Died 1748.

THOMSON was the son of a minister in Scotland. He was partly educated at the University of Edinburgh, and upon the death of his father, was persuaded by his friends to enter on a course of theological studies. As a previous exercise, one of the Psalms was given him for explanation, and his language is said to have been so splendid, that he was reproved for employing a diction, which none of his future audience would be able to understand. This reproof, united with the dislike which he felt to the profession of divinity, determined him to abandon it, and to seek his fortune in London.

Thither he went in 1725, with his poem of Winter, which was published the following year, and after a short neglect, admired and applauded. Summer appeared in 1727, Spring in 1728, and Autumn in 1730. After this, he travelled on the European continent with the son of the Lord Chancellor of England, and on his return, employed himself in the composition of his various tragedies and his poem on Liberty. In 1746, he published the Castle of Indolence, a poem, which is perhaps the most finished of all his productions.

Thomson is said to have been naturally amiable and benevolent, and perfectly free from all literary jealousies; reserved in mingled company, but cheerful and social with his particular friends, and beloved by them all in a degree quite uncommon and singular. It is no where recorded that he was

religious, though some of his poetical compositions might be supposed to have emanated from a mind impressed with a deep reverence for the Deity, as well as an ardent admiration of his works.

The moral character of his poetry is exalted and excellent; though the declaration of Lord Lyttleton, that his works contained

“No line which, dying, he could wish to blot,”

would not, perhaps, have proceeded from the poet's own lips at that last solemn hour.

In his boyhood he used regularly to burn all his verses, as fast as he composed them-a conduct, which proved the strength of his judgment, and probably contributed to his succeeding eminence. It would be well for the world were it oftener imitated.

Thomson is superior in nature and originality to all the descriptive poets except Cowper. He looked upon nature with a view at once comprehensive and minute. Like a skilful limner of the human countenance, he seized upon some of the expressive features in each Season, and the portraiture of these communicated individuality and verisimilitude to the whole picture. His subject had before been comparatively untouched, and his own delineation of it is rather sparing than full. He displays not only beauty and accuracy, but great sublimity in his description of the torrid and frigid zones; and his sketch of the traveller lost in the snows, is full of pathos. "His diction," Dr. Johnson observes, "is in the highest degree florid and luxuriant, such as may be said to be to his images and thoughts both their lustre and their shade; such as invest them with splendour, through which perhaps they are not always easily discerned. It is too exuberant, and sometimes may be charged with filling the ear more than the mind."

The Castle of Indolence is the finest effort of his genius. In that poem he seems to have imbibed the very spirit of Spenser. His style preserves all its richness and copiousness, without the florid splendour, which marks it in The Seasons, and his versification combines a softness and melody of flow, with a harmony which holds the mind in enchantment. His imagery is remarkable for its luxuriance and adaptation to his subject.


THE north-east spends his rage; he now shut up
Within his iron cave, th' effusive south
Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of Heaven
Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent
At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise,

Scarce staining ether; but by swift degrees,
In heaps on heaps, the doubling vapour sails
Along the loaded sky, and mingling deep,
Sits on th' horizon round a settled gloom:
Not such as wintry-storms on mortals shed,
Oppressing life; but lovely, gentle, kind,
And full of every hope and every joy,
The wish of Nature. Gradual sinks the breeze
Into a perfect calm; that not a breath
Is heard to quiver through the closing woods,
Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves
Of aspin tall. Th' uncurling floods, diffus'd
In glassy breadth, seem through delusive lapse
Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all,
And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks
Drop the dry-sprig, and, mute-imploring, eye
The falling verdure. Hush'd in short suspense,
The plumy people streak their wings with oil,
To throw the lucid moisture trickling off:
And wait th' approaching sign to strike, at once,
Into the general choir. Even mountains, vales,
And forests, seem impatient to demand
The promis'd sweetness. Man superior walks
Amid the glad creation, musing praise,
And looking lively gratitude. At last,
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields;
And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool
Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow,
In large effusion, o'er the freshen'd world.
The stealing shower is scarce to patter heard,
By such as wander through the forest walks,
Beneath the' umbrageous multitude of leaves.
But who can hold the shade, while Heaven descends
In universal bounty, shedding herbs,

And fruits, and flowers, on Nature's ample lap?
Swift Fancy fir'd anticipates their growth;
And, while the milky nutriment distils,
Beholds the kindling country colour round.

Thus all day long the full-distended clouds
Indulge their genial stores, and well-shower'd earth
Is deep enrich'd with vegetable life;
Till, in the western sky, the downward sun
Looks out, effulgent, from amid the flush
Of broken clouds, gay-shifting to his beam.
The rapid radiance instantaneous strikes
Th' illumin'd mountain; through the forest streams,
Shakes on the floods, and in a yellow mist,
Far smoking o'er the interminable plain,
In twinkling myriads lights the dewy gems.
Moist, bright, and green, the landscape laughs around.

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Full swell the woods; their every music wakes,
Mix'd in wild concert with the warbling brooks
Increas'd, the distant bleatings of the hills,
And hollow lows responsive from the vales,
Whence, blending all, the sweeten'd zephyr springs.
Meantime, refracted from yon eastern cloud,
Bestriding earth, the grand ethereal bow
Shoots up immense; and every hue unfolds,
In fair proportion running from the red,
To where the violet fades into the sky.
Here, awful Newton, the dissolving clouds
Form, fronting on the sun, thy showery prism;
And to the sage-instructed eye unfold
The various twine of light, by thee disclos'd
From the white mingling maze. Not so the boy;
He wondering views the bright enchantment bend,
Delightful, o'er the radiant fields, and runs
To catch the falling glory; but, amaz'd,
Beholds th' amusive arch before him fly,
Then vanish quite away.


SHORT is the doubtful empire of the night;
And soon, observant of approaching day,
The meek-ey'd Morn appears, mother of dews,
At first faint gleaming in the dappled east;
Till far o'er ether spreads the widening glow;
And, from before the lustre of her face,

White break the clouds away. With quicken'd step,-
Brown Night retires: young Day pours in apace,
And opens all the lawny prospect wide.
The dripping rock, the mountain's misty top,
Swell on the sight, and brighten with the dawn.

Blue, through the dusk, the smoking currents shine;
And from the bladed field the fearful hare
Limps, awkward: while along the forest-glade
The wild deer trip, and often turning gaze
At early passenger. Music awakes

The native voice of undissembled joy;
And thick around the woodland hymns arise.
Roused by the cock, the soon-clad shepherd leaves
His mossy cottage, where with peace he dwells;
And from the crowded fold, in order drives
His flock, to taste the verdure of the morn.


CONFESS'D from yonder slow extinguish'd clouds, All ether softening, sober evening takes Her wonted station in the middle air; A thousand shadows at her beck. First this She sends on earth; then that of deeper dye, Steals soft behind; and then a deeper still, In circle following circle, gathers round, To close the face of things. A fresher gale Begins to wave the wood, and stir the stream, Sweeping with shadowy gust the fields of corn; While the quail clamours for his running mate. Wide o'er the thistly lawn, as swells the breeze, A whitening shower of vegetable down Amusive floats. The kind impartial care Of nature nought disdains: thoughtful to feed Her lowest sons, and clothe the coming year, From field to field the feather'd seeds she wings.

His folded flock secure, the shepherd home
Hies, merry-hearted; and by turns relieves
The ruddy milk-maid of her brimming pail :
The beauty whom perhaps his witless heart,
Unknowing what the joy-mixt anguish means,
Sincerely loves, by that best language shown
Of cordial glances, and obliging deeds.
Onward they pass, o'er many a panting height,
And valley sunk and unfrequented; where
At fall of eve the fairy people throng,
In various game and revelry, to pass
The summer night, as village stories tell.
But far about they wander from the grave
Of him, whom his ungentle fortune urg'd
Against his own sad breast to lift the hand
Of impious violence. The lonely tower
Is also shunn'd; whose mournful chambers hold,
So night-struck fancy dreams, the yelling ghost.

Among the crooked lanes, on every hedge, The glow worm lights his gein; and, through the dark, A moving radiance twinkles. Evening yields The world to night; not in her winter-robe Of massy stygian woof, but loose array'd In mantle dun. A faint erroneous ray, Glanc'd from th' imperfect surfaces of things, Flings half an image on the straining eye; While wavering woods, and villages, and streams, And rocks, and mountain-tops, that long retain'd Th' ascending gleam, are all one swimming scene, Uncertain if beheld.

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