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exterior was not the most promising ; his make being rather robust than graceful: though it is known that in his youth be had been thought handsome. His worst appearance was when you saw him walking alone, in a thoughtful mood; but let s friend accost him, and enter into conversation, he would instantly brighten into a most amiable aspect, his features no longer the same, and his eye darting a peculiar animated fire. The case was much alike in company; where, if it was mixed, or very numerous, he made but an indifferent figure ; but with a few select friends he was open, sprightly, and entertaining. His wit flowed freely but pertinently, and at due intervals, leaving room for every one to contribute bis share. Such was his extreme sensibility, so perfect the harmony of his organs with the sentiments of his mind, that his looks always announced, and half expressed, what he was about to say; and his voice corresponded exactly to the manner and degree in which he was affected. This sensibility had one inconvenience attending it, that it rendered him the very worst reader of good poetry: a sonnet, or a copy of tame verses, he could manage pretty well, or even improve them in the reading; but a passage of Virgil, Milton, or Shakspeare would sometimes quite oppress him, so that you could hear little else than some ill-articulated sounds, rising as from the bottom of his breast. He had improved his taste upon the best originals, ancient and modern ; but could not bear to write what was not strictly his own, what had not more immediately struck his imagination or touched his heart ; so that he is not in the least concerned in that question about the merit or demerit of imitators. What he borrows from the ancients he gives us in an avowed faithful paraphrase or translation ; as we see in a few passages taken from Virgil, and in that beautiful picture from Pliny the Elder, where the course and gradual increase of the Nile are figured by the stages of man's life. The autumn was his favourite season for poetical composition, and the deep silence of the night the time he commonly chose for such studies; so that he would often be heard walking in his library till near morning, humming over, in his way, what he was to correct and write out next day.-Murdoch. Life of Thomson, 30.
East BARNET, July 20, 1725.-Surgery is, as you cannot but know, the merest drug here in the world. Scotland is really fruitful of surgeons. They come here like flocks of vultures every day; and, by a merciful providential kind of instinct, transport themselves to foreign countries. Sept. - This country I am in is not very entertaining; no variety but
that of woods, and them we have in abundance. But where is the living stream, the airy mountain, and the hanging rock, with twenty other things that elegantly please the lover of nature ? Nature delights me in every form. I am just now painting her in her most lugubrious dress for my own amusement, describing winter as it presents itself. Being only a present amusement, it is ten to one but I drop it whenever another fancy comes across.—Thomson to Cranstoun (Nichols, Notes), 46.
Now from the town, Buried in smoke, and sleep, and noisome damps, Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields, Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops From the beat bush, as through the verdant maze Of sweet-brier hedges I pursue my walk; Or taste the smell of dairy ; or ascend Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains, And see the country, far diffused around, One boundless blush, one white-empurpled shower Of mingled blossoms ; where the raptured eye Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies. -Spring
The north-east spends his rage, and now shut up
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 the approaching sign to strike at once Into the general choir. Even mountains, vales, And forests seem, impatient, to demand The promised 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 fired 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 enriched 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 The illumined 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. Full swell the woods; their every music wakes, Mixed in wild concert with the warbling brooks; . Increased, the distant bleatings of the hills, The hollow lows responsive from the vales, Whence, blending all, the sweeten’d Zephyr springs.-id.
BEHOLD, yon breathing prospect bids the Muse Throw all her beauty forth. But who can paint Like Nature ? Can imagination boast,
Amid its gay creation, hues like bers?
UP springs the lark,
And ceaseless caws amusive ; there, well-pleased,