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the work was more affectionate than critical, and Thom. son's faults were sometimes mistaken for beauties; but the popularity of the Seasons was a healthy sign, and the poem, a forerunner of Cowper's Task, brought into vigorous life, feelings and sympathies that had been long dormant.

Pope, who is twice mentioned in the poem, took a great interest in its progress through the press. Thomson consulted him frequently, and accepted many of his suggestions, while apparently retaining at all times an independent judgment. To the familiar episode of the lovely young Lavinia’ the following graceful passage is said, but on very doubtful authority to have been added by Pope. The first line, given for the sake of the context, is from Thomson's pen:

Thoughtless of beauty, she was Beauty's self,
Recluse amid the close-embowering woods ;
As in the hollow breast of Apennine,
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills,
A myrtle rises, far from human eye,
And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild ;
So flourished, blooming and unseen by all,
The sweet Lavinia ; till, at length, compelled
By strong necessity's supreme command
With smiling patience in her looks she went
To glean Palemon's fields.'

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Thomson had now gained the highest mark of his fame, and, like Pope, had won it in a few years. Nearly two years of foreign travel followed, the poet having obtained

1 The tradition is founded on a volume in the British Museum containing MS. corrections supposed to be in Pope's handwriting. It is now, however, the opinion of experts that the writing is not Pope’s. If he be the author, it is the only example of blank verse which we have from his pen.

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the post of governor to a son of the Solicitor-General. The fruit of this tour was a long poem in blank verse on Liberty, which probably gave him infinite labour, but his ascent upon this occasion of what he calls “the barren, but delightful mountain of Parnassus,' was labour lost. It is enough to say of Liberty, that it contains more than three thousand lines of unreadable blank verse. Sinecures were the rewards of genius in Thomson's day, and he was made Secretary of Briefs in the Court of Chancery. He took a cottage at Richmond, within an easy walk of Pope, and the two poets met often and lived amicably.

Thomson did not enjoy his official fortune long, for his patron died, and though he might have kept his post had he applied to the Lord Chancellor, in whose gift it was, he appears to have been too lazy to do so. His friend Lyttelton in this emergency introduced him to the Prince of Wales, who, on learning that his affairs “were in a more poetical posture than formerly,' gave him a pension of £100 a year. There was no certainty in a gift of this nature, and in about ten years it was withdrawn.

The Castle of Indolence (1748) was the latest labour of Thomson's life, and in the judgment of many critics takes precedence of The Seasons in poetical merit. This verdict may be questioned, but the poem, written in the Spenserian stanza, has a soothing beauty and an enchanting felicity of expression which show the poet's genius in a new light. It is unlike any poetry of that age, and when compared with The Seasons, the verse, as Wordsworth justly says, “is more harmonious and the diction more pure.' All the imagery of the poem is adopted to the vague and sleepy action of the characters represented in it. It is a veritable poet's dream, which carries the reader in its earliest stanzas into a pleasing land of drowsy-head:'

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'In lowly dale, fast by a river's side,
With woody hill o'er hill encompassed round,
A most enchanting wizard did abide,
Than whom a fiend more fell is nowhere found.
It
was,

I ween, a lovely spot of ground;
And there a season atween June and May
Half prankt with Spring, with Summer half embrowned,

A listless climate made, where, sooth to say, No living wight could work, ne carèd even for play.' There are verbal inspirations in a great poet which satisfy the ear, capture the imagination, and live in the memory for ever. Milton's pages are studded with them like stars ; Gray has a few, Wordsworth many, and Keats some not to be surpassed for witchery. Of such poetically suggestive lines Thomson has his share, and although it seems unfair to remove them from their context, the excision may be made in a few cases, since they show not only that a new poet had appeared in an age of prose, but a poet of a new order, whose inspiration was felt by his successors. How poetically imaginative is Thomson's imagery of the 'meekeyed morn, mother of dews;' of

‘Ships dim discovered dropping from the clouds ;' of

• Autumn nodding o'er the yellow plain ;' of the summer wind

'Sweeping with shadowy gust the fields of corn ;' and of the Hebrid-Isles

* Placed far amid the melancholy main,' a line which may have suggested the lovelier verse of Wordsworth descriptive of the cuckoo :

* Breaking the silence of the seas

Among the farthest Hebrides." Thomson did not live long after the publication of The

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Castle of Indolence. A cold caught upon the river led to a fever, which ended fatally on August 27th, 1748. He had for some years been in love with a Miss Young, the ‘Amanda' of his very feeble love lyrics, and her marriage is said to have hastened his death. Men, however, do not die for love at the mature age of forty-nine, and as Thomson was ' more fat than bard beseems, and was not always temperate in his habits, constitutional causes are more likely to have led to the poet's death than Amanda's cruelty.

Dr. Johnson says somewhere that the further authors keep apart from each other the better, and the literary squabbles of the last century afforded him good ground for the remark. It is to Thomson's credit that, like Goldsmith twenty-six years later, he died, leaving behind him many friends and not a single enemy. His fame rests upon two poems, The Seasons and The Castle of Indolence, and on a song which has gained a national reputation. Apart from Rule Britannia, which appeared originally in the Masque of Alfred and is spirited rather than poetical, his attempts to write lyrical poetry resulted in failure ; but from his own niche in the Temple of Fame time is not likely to dislodge Thomson.

CHAPTER III.

MINOR POETS.

Sir Samuel Garth-Ambrose Philips-John Philips—Nicholas Rowe-Aaron Hill— Thomas Parnell – Thomas Tickell—William Somerville-John Dyer-William Shenstone-Mark AkensideDavid Mallet-Scottish Song-Writers.

In Pope's day even the medical profession was influenced

by party feeling, and Samuel Garth beSir Samuel Garth

came known as the most famous Whig (1660-1717-18).

physician, but his friendships were not confined to one side, and he appears to have been universally beloved.

Garth came of a Yorkshire family, and was born in 1660. He was admitted a Fellow of the College of Physicians in 1693, gained a large practice, and is said to have been very benevolent to the poor. The Dispensary (1699) is a satire called forth by the opposition of the Society of Apothecaries, to an edict of the College, and is a mock-heroic poem, which the quarrel made so effective at the time that it passed through several editions. The merit of achieving what the satirist intended may therefore be granted to the Dispensary. Few modern readers, however, will appreciate the welcome it received, and it is ludicrous to read in Anderson's edition of the poet that the poem •is only inferior in humour, discrimination of character, and poetical ardour to the Rape of the Lock.' It would be far more accurate to say that the Dispensary has not a single merit in common with that poem, and but slight merit of any

kind. The following passage upon death is the most vigorous,

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