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were wiser and more public spirited should they, spect for the living and the dead, by prefixing to with part of those sums of money spent that way, the first part of “Liberty” an address which should send persons of genius in architecture, painting, commemorate their worth and his esteem. Mr. and sculpture, to study those arts abroad, and im- Talbot died in his twenty-fourth year, and Thomport them into England. Did they but once take son's eulogy of him is marked by simplicity and root here, how they might flourish in such a gene- tenderness. rous and wealthy country! The nature of the Though the most laboured, and in its author's great painter, architect, and statuary, is the same opinion the best of his productions, “ Liberty" was she ever was; and is no doubt as profuse of beauty, never popular, and perhaps most persons have proportion, lovely forms, and real genius, as former- found it as difficult to read to an end as Dr. Johnly she was to the sunny realms of Greece, did we son did, who eagerly avails himself of the neglect but study the one and exert the other. In England, with which it was treated to indulge in one of those if we can not reach the gracefully superfluous, yet sneers which render his account of Thomson a I hope we shall never lose the substantial neces- memorial of his want of candour and injustice. It sary, and vital arts of life; such as depend on la- was inscribed to Frederick, Prince of Wales, and bour, liberty, and all commanding trade. For my probably enabled Mr. Lyttleton to introduce him part, I, who have no taste for smelling to an old to the notice of his Royal Highness. However musty stone, look upon those "countries with an grieved at the coldness of the public towards his eye to poetry, in regard that the sisters reflect light favourite work, and that he felt it severely is beand images to one another, Now I mention yond a doubt, one at least of his friends gave him poetry, should you inquire after my musé, all every consolation which the most extravagant that I can answer is, that I believe she did not praises can afford: That exquisite flatterer, Aaron cross the channel with me. I know not whether Hill, whose taste and judgment gave zest to his your gardener at Eastbery has heard any thing eulogy, thus wrote to Thomson on the 17th of of her among the woods there; she has not thought February, 1734; and it is amusing to compare the fit to visit me while I have been in this once poetic opinion of a distinguished contemporary with that land, nor do I feel the least presage that she will. of posterity on the same subject. But not to lengthen out a letter that has no pretence to entertain you, give me leave only to add, "DEAR SIR, that I can never lose the pleasing
sense I have of “You have lately given me two pleasures; for your goodness to me; and it is a hope that I must one of them I am indebted to fortune, who brought flatter myself with your continuance of it upon my me near you, though not quite near enough, the return to England; for which my veneration and other night, at the playhoyse. The second I love, I will be vain enough to say, increase every owe to a hand, I am infinitely more proud to be day, even to fondness and devotion.
obliged by; for I received your beautiful present
of Liberty from its author. It will be, in all Thomson returned to England in 1732, with senses, an ornament to my study. It will, also, his general information much increased, and
his We such to my heart and my memory; for I shall opinion of mankind considerably enlarged. New never be able to think of a loveliness in moral, a scenes rather excited than lessented his poetic ar y frankness in social, or a penetrations in political dour; and no sooner was he settled than he re-life, to which you have not, in this inimitable sumed his pen, choosing for his subject “Liberty." masterpiece, both of language and genius, given
It has been erroneously supposed by every bio-wforce, and a delicacy, which few shall be horn grapher of Thomson, that immediatelyaon his .re with a capacity to feel, and none ever with a caturn he obtained the sinecure situation of Secretary pacity to exceed. of Briefs in the Court of Chancery, and that soon "I do not know a pleasure I should enjoy with after he commenced his poem his young friend thore pride than that of filling up the leisure of a Mr. Talbot died. The slightest attention to dates well employed year, in exerting the critic, on your will show the error of these statements. Sir Charles poem; in considering it first, with a view to the Talbot did not become Chancellor until the 29th vastness of its conception, in the general plan; of November, 1733, shortly before which time Mr. secondly, to the grandeur, the depth, the unleanTalbot died; so that in fact "Liberty" must have ing, self-supported richness of the sentiments; been nearly finished before his decease, and he did and thirdly, to the strength, the elegance, the not live to witness the service which his father music, the comprehensive living energy, and close conferred on Thomson by appointing him to the propriety of your expression. I look upon this office alluded to. The truth then appears to be, mighty work as the last stretched blaze of our exthat actuated either by gratitude to his patron, or piring genius. It is the dying effort of despairing by regard for his accomplished son, or probably by and indignant virtue, and will stand, like one of both feelings, the Poet resolved to evince his re- those immortal pyramids, which carry their mag
nificence through times that wonder to see nothing casion he suggested the establishment of a tragie round them but uncomfortable desert!
academy, and asked him if he thought the Prince " Yet you must give me leave, while I but ad- of Wales would give his support to the plan:mire your genius, to love your soul, that has such remark indicative of Thomson's being sufficiently compass of humanity! your poem is not newer connected with the Prince to be aware of his senthan your mind, nor your expression stronger timents. A letter from Hill in May 1736, proves than your virtue. Whatever school-enthusiasm that in consequence of the failure of “Liberty" as has misdreamt of Homer, that he knew all arts, a speculation, the author generously resolved to and that his works have taught their practice, secure the publisher from loss: might be almost said and proved of Mr. Thom- "One of the natural growths of such a mind, son's 'Liberty,' without partiality or flattery; as we see in your writings, is the generosity of whatever has been suffered, done, or thought, your purpose, in favour of the bookseller. I'am through all the revolutions of forgotten time, your in love with the humanity that inspired such a more than magic muse revokes, reacts, and ani- sentiment; but, for the sake of my country, wish mates, till we become cotemporaries of every busy it may never be carried into execution, because age, and see, and feel the changes, which they the beauty of the action would, of necessity, preshone or sunk by.
ventits ever being forgotten; and a kind of na“ It is possible that this devoted nation, irreco- tional infamy, which must disgrace us to posterity, verably lost in luxury, may, like your
will, as infallibly, be a consequence ofits being re- Little artists form,
membered On higher life intent, its silken tomb.
"I confess myself sincerely mortified to hear It may rise to future animation, and, its wealth, that such a poem as 'Liberty,' in such a nation its pride, and commerce lost, lose also its cor- as Great Britain, can have failed to make a bookruption, and retriumph, in the strength of unde- seller as rich as an ungrateful people have been siring poverty. For,
certainly, you have detected made by its invaluable fund of manly sentiments; the sole root of every English evil you deplore so but there are dispositions, in political as well as beautifully:
natural bodies, which have prevalence to help or
hinder the effect of medicines: and I am appreWhenever puff’d with power, and gorged with wealth, Nations, like ours, let trade enormous rise,
hensive, that republican improvements upon monAnd east and south their mingled treasure pour; archical foundations will but spoil two different Then, swell'd impetuous, the corrupting flood orders, either of which, alone, might have had Bursts o'er the city, and devours the land.
strength and gracefulness." “ Think, seriously, upon this observation, and He proceeds to comply with Thomson's request, try if, in all your acquaintance with past ages, you to send
him his criticisms in the event of a second can find a people long at once retaining public edition; and it appears from this letter, that he virtue and extended commerce. Search, too, as had complained that the works of authors were much in vain for one who is, with warmer truth, not secured to them, as Hill says, and better founded zeal, than I am,
Would to God you were in the right, in that Dear sir, your most obedient
part of your letter which wishes, in lieu of state And most humble servant, patronage, in favour of learning, that we had
A. HILL.” only some good act of parliament for securing to
authors the property of their own works. MeIn another letter, dated in the following Janua- thinks if the act would go deep enough to reach ry, Hill pointed out some slight defects in “Liber- the very root of your wish, it should, also, secure ty;" and in September, 1735, after referring to a to the public the education of her gentlemen as copy of " Zara," which he submitted for Thom well as the property of her writers; since, where son's perusal, he observed, "The warmth you the first are unable to taste, the last must write to express against the corruption and degeneracy of no purpose.” our stage is an indignation both natural and ne- Two other paragraphs in this communication cessary in a breast
refer to Thomson's acquaintance with eminent "The bounds of self divinely bursting!
poets of the day:
“I am pleased to hear that Mr. Pope was so yet fain would I hope, it is not in the prophetic kind as to make any inquiries concerning me. spirit of the character, that a poet, like you, as- Your good nature was justly and generously emserts, ' The root of this evil is too deep to be ployed in the mention you make of poor Mr. pluck'd up;'” and he then approves, with the Savage." bitterness of a disappointed author, of the ana- The remarks of Johnson on the alteration and thema which Thomson had pronounced against curtailment made by Lord Lyttelton in “Liberty," the dramatic taste of the time. On the same oc- are too just not to produce conviction, and in this
edition, as well as most others, his wish to see it deputy's hands tomorrow. Petty* came here two exhibited as its author left it is realised. or three days ago; I have not yet seen the round
A letter which the Poet wrote to his friend Mr. man of God to be. He is to be parsonified a few Ross about this period displays the affection which days hence. How a gown and cassock will behe bore to his relations, and proves his readiness come him; and with what a holy leer he will edify to contribute to their support
. The tragedy to the devout females! There is no doubt of his which he alludes was “ Agamemnon.”- having a call, for he is immediately to enter upon
a tolerable living God grant him more, and as "DEAR ROSS, London, No. 6, 1736. fat as himself
. It rejoices me to see some one I own I have a good deal of assurance, after worthy, honest, excellent man raised, at least, to asking one favour of you, never to answer your independence. Pray make my compliments to letter till I ask another. But not to mince the my Lord President, and all friends. I shall be matter, and all apologies apart, - hearken to my glad to hear more at large from you. Just now request.—My sisters have been advised by their I am with the Alderman, who wishes you all hapfriends to set up at Edinburgh a little milliner's piness." shop; and if you can conveniently advance to His sisters and his forthcoming tragedy apthem twelve pounds, on my secount, it will be a pear-still to have
divided his thoughts, for in Feparticular favour. That will set them a-going, bruary
he thus wrote about both to Mr. Gavin and I design from time to time to send them Hamilton: goods from hence. My whole account I will pay “I lately heard from my sisters at Edinburgh, you when you come up here, not in poetical paper that you were so good as to promise to advance credit, but in the solid money of this dirty world, to them, on my account, a trifle of money, which I will not draw upon you, in case you be not pre- (I proposed to allow them yearly. The sum is pared to defend yourself; but if your purse be sixteen pounds sterling, and which I would have valiant, please to inquire for Jean or Elizabeth paid them eight pounds, sterling at Martinmas, Thomson, at the Reverend Mr. Gasthart's,
and and the other eight pounds at Whitsuntide, the if this letter be not a sufficient testimony of the payment to begin from last Martinmas. So that debt, I will send you whatever you desire. the first year will be completed at Whitsunday "It is late, and I would not lose this post. Like next
. Your doing this I shall look upon as a a laconic man of business, therefore, I must here particular favour, and the money shall be paid stop short ; though I have several things to im- here
at your order as you please to direct. Please, part to you, and, through your canal, to the dear- upon receipt of this, to send to them at Mr. Gustest, truest, heartiest youth that treads on Scottish hart's and to advance to them the payment for last ground. The next letter I write you shall be Martinmas, which place to my account. Had I washed clean from business in the Castalian foun-had time this post
, I would have written to them tain.
to wait upon you. I have a tragedy, entitled “I am whipping and.spurring to finish a tra-Agamemnon, to be represented here about three gedy for you this winter, but am still at some dis weeks hence. Please to let me know how many tance from the goal, which makes me fear being copies I shall send to you, and you shall have distanced. "Remember me to all friends, and above them in fulltime. I have some thoughts of printthem all to Mr. Forbes. Though my affection to ing it for myself, but if I do not, I will take care him is not fanned by letters, yet is it as high as you shall have what copies of it you demand. If when I was his brother in the
virtu, and played at I can serve you in any thing else here, I shall be chess with him in a post-chaise.. I am, dear Ross,
In 1936, he was one of the committee of manaMost sincerely and affectionately yours; gers of the Society for the Encouragement of
JAMES THOMSON,9%. Learning, his colleagues being either persons of
high rank or bf considerable literary reputation. On the 12th of the following January, he again
Thomson's next work originated in gratitude. wrote to Ross.
His constant and generous patron, Lord Chan"Having been entirely in the country of late, cellor Talbot, died in February 1737, and soon finishing my play, I did not receive yours till some afterwards, the beautiful poem to his memory apdays ago. It was kind in you not to draw rashly peared. Pieces of this nature, however creditable upon me, which at present had put me into danger; but very soon, that is to say about two months hence, I shall have a golden buckler, and you may
"Petty," thus spoken of, was Dr. Patrick Murdoch, the draw boldly. My play is received in Drury Lane, oily man of God of the Castle of Indolence," and one of
Thomson's biographers and editors. and will be put into my Lord Chamberlain's or his
the feelings may be which inspired them, must might, however, without meanness, have asked to possess extraordinary intrinsic merit to create in- retain what he already possessed, and the other terest when all remembrance of the individual might have had the urbanity to offer to continue whom they celebrate has passed away. This that which it was ungenerous to take away; but claim is possessed by the article in question, and he who, trusting to the merit of his works, suffers the same reader who turns from the cold and for- himself to believe that they will procure him that mal, though elegant versification of “ Liberty,” if courtesy from rank which in England is reserved he commence the tribute to Lord Talbot, will be for those possessed of wealth, birth, or political ininduced to go on; and should he not think himself fluence, will find himself fatally mistaken, and like repaid by any other passage, he will be amply Thomson will have cause to deplore his error. gratified by the description of the delicate species This change in his condition did not however of patronage which it is fit for wealth or greatness impair his energies or depress his spirits, nor did to bestow.
he alter his manner of living, trusting probably to
the sale of his writings to supply bis wants. The "Let learning, arts, let universal worth,
loss of his situation as Secretary of Briefs renders Lament a patron lost, a friend and judge.
it probable that it was about this
period when he Unlike the sons of vanity, that, veil'd
was arrested for debt, and was rescued from a Beneath the patron's prostituted name,
spunging house by Quin, the well known actor. Dare sacrifice a worthy man to pride, And flush confusion o'er an honest cheek.
The anecdote is highly creditable to both parties, When he conferr'd a grace, it seem'd a debt
and is deserving of being recorded, as the origin Which he to merit, to the public, paid,
of a friendship betweeen two distinguished perAnd to the great all-bounteous Source of Good. sons, which ended only with their lives; and beHis sympathising heart itself received
cause it contradicts the aphorism, that'a pecuniary The generous obligation he bestow'd. This, this indeed, is patronising worth
obligation is generally repaid by ingratitude. Their kind protector him the Muses own,
On learning that Thomson was confined for a But scorn with noble pride the boasted aid
debt of about seventy pounds, Quin repaired to Of tasteless Vanity's insulting hand.
the house, and having inquired for, was introThe gracious stream that cheers the lettered world,
duced to him. Thomson was a good deal disconIs not the noisy gift of summer's noon, Whose sudden current, from the naked root,
certed at seeing Quin
in such a place, and his emWashes the little soil which yet remained,
barrassment increased when Quin told him he was And only more dejects the blushing flowers :
come to sup with him, being conscious that all the No, 'tis the soft descending dews at eve,
money he was possessed of would scarce procure The silent treasures of the vernal year,
a good one, and that credit was out of the quesIndulging deep their stores, the still night long; Till, with returning morn, the freshen'd world
tion. His anxiety was however removed upon Is fragrance all, all beauty, joy, and song."
Quin's informing himothat, as he supposed it
would have been inconvenient to have had the sup The opportunity is also taken to defend Bishop per dressed in the place they were in, he had orRundle, his early patron and the confidential dered it from an adjacent taver, and as a prelude friend of the chancellor, who incurred the suspi- half a dozen of claret was introduced. Supper cion of heresy, and it is not too much to say, that being over, Quin said, “ It is time now, Jemmy whilst this piece does honour to the virtues of his Thomson, we should balance accounts.” This heart, it elevates his character as a poet.
not a little astonished the poet, who imagined he His motive for perpetuating the fame of Lord had some demand upon him; but Quin, perceiving Talbot was wholly disinterested:
it was, indeed, a it, continued, " Sir, the pleasure I have had in pure offering to that setting sun on whose rays perusing your works, I can not estimate at less than depended all the brightness of his own prospects. a hundred pounds, and I insist upon taking this With the chancellor he lost the situation which opportunity of acquitting myself of the debt.” On rendered him independent; and though Lord saying this, he put down a note of that value, and Hardwicke, Talbot's successor, is said to have kept hastily took his leave, without waiting for a reply. the office open in expectation that Thomson would The most valuable acquaintance which Thomapply for it, he failed to do so, and it was given to son ever formed was with Mr., afterwards the celeanother. From what this neglect of his interests brated Lord Lyttelton, whom Pope has described arose must be left to conjecture. It is said that he as being was listless and indifferent: but he may perhaps
Still true to virtue and as warm as true, have fancied that his eminence was sufficiently great to have induced the new chancellor to offer but the precise time or manner of its commencewhat his lordship imagined would have been ment is no where mentioned. Murdoch says sought, and possibly the Poet was deprived of the Lyttelton presented him to the Prince of Wales office from a mistaken pride on both sides. He before he was personally known to him; and Johnson states that this occurred after he lost his situa-| acts and scenes, proper turns of passion and sention of Secretary of Briefs, which was early in timents pointed out to him, and the distress made 1737. On being introduced, his Royal Highness as touching and important, as new, and interestinquired into the state of his affairs, and Thomson ing, and regular, as any that was ever introduced having answered that “they were in a more poeti- on the stage at Athens, for the instruction of that cal posture than formerly," the prince granted him polite nation. But, perhaps the delicacy of the a pension of 1001. a year, but of which he lived to subject, and the judgment required in saying bold be deprived.
truths, whose boldness should not make them deIn 1738 Agamemnon appeared, but its reception generate into' offensiveness, deterred him. His was far from favourable; and a ludicrous story is present story is the death of Agamemnon. An told of Thomson's agony at witnessing the repre adulteress, who murders her husband, is but an sentation, on the first night, being so great
, as to odd example to be presented before, and admonish oblige him to excuse his delay in meeting the the beauties of Great Britain. However, if he will friends with whom he had promised to sup, saying be advised, it shall not be a shocking, though it that his wig had been so disordered
by perspiration can not be a noble story. He will enrich it with that he could not appear until he had submitted to a profusion of worthy sentiments and high poetry, the hands of the hair-dresser. It is said, too, that but it will be written in a rough, harsh style, anda such was his excitemente upon the occasion, that in numbers great, but careless. He wants that he audibly accompanied the actors in their recita- neatness and simplicity of diction' which is so nation, until a friend reminded him of the indiscre- tural in dialogue. He can not throw the light of tion. Pope was present at its appearance, and was an elegant ease on his thoughts, which will make honoured by the audience with a general clap, a the sublimest tums of art appear the genuine unmark of approbation which, though not uncommon premeditated dictates of the heart of the speaker. in other countries, is rarely evinced by an English But with all his faults, he will have a thousand audience to a man who is merely a poet. Aga- masterly strokes of a great genitas seen in all the memnon was inscribed to the Princess of Wales, writes; and he will be applanded by those who in a dedication which is good because it is short, most censure him.” and free from the fulsome panegyrics common to In the ensuing year, 1739, his play entitled Edsuch addresses. The prologue was furnished by ward and Eleanora was offered to the stage, but Mallet; the epilogue, which from not being as- was prohibited from being represented. To unsigned to any other author, may in its present form derstand this measure, it is necessary to allude to be considered Thomson's own, is remarkable for the politics of the period. The heir apparent, Frebeing altered after the first representation; and in Jerick, Prince of Wales, livel in open hostility to all the editionis of the play a note occurs, stating his father George the Second ; his
house was the that the whole, excepting the six lines with which rendezvous of the opposition, and as the advocate ít commences, " being very justly disliked by the of liberal opinions he was the idol of the whigs and audience, another was substituted in its place." other dicontented persons. The plot of Edward Whether the original epilogue was written
by him and Eleanora is derived from the well known story ís doubtful, and it would seem from the substituted of Eleanor of Castile, the wife of King Edward lines, that those which gave place to it were ob- the First, having preserved her hushand's life in noxious from their indelicacy. With much tact the Holy Land by sucking the poison from his he hails their rejection as an indication of a better wound. As Edward was then heir apparent to taste:
the crown, he stood in the same position as the “ Thus he began —And you approved the strain;. Prince of Wales; and Thomson availed himself Till the next couplet sunk to lightand vain. of the circumstance to introduce some passages You check'd him there.—
To you, to reason just, calculated to strengthen the prinee's popularity by He owns he triumph'd in your kind disgust. Charm'd by your frown, by your displeasure graced,
encouraging the people to hope for his accession. He hails the rising virtue of your taste;"
Of these the most striking are: and he concluded with congratulating them on the "Edward, return; lose not a day, an hour, improvement.
Before this city. Though your cause be holy, Shortly before Agamemnon was produced, Dr.
Believe me, 'tis a much more pious office,
To save your father's old and broken years, Rundle thus wrote to Mrs. Sandys, whence it ap
His mild and easy temper, from the snares pears that that lady had suggested a subject for a of low, corrupt, insinuating traitors: play, to him, which he once intended to adopt. À nobler office far! on the firm base “My friend Thomson, the poet, is bringing
Of well proportion'd liberty, to build another untoward heroine on the stage, and has
The common quiet, happiness, and glory
Of king and people, England's rising grandeur. deferred writing on the subject you chose for him,
To you, my Prince, this task, of right, belongs though he had the whole scheme drawn out into Has not the royal heir a juster claim