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of a lady once too-well known. Why the dedi- | splendidly without expense; and might expect cations are, to "Winter" and the other Seasons, when he returned home a certain establishment. contrarily to custom, left out in the collected At this time a long course of opposition to works, the reader may inquire.

Sir Robert Walpole had filled the nation with The next year (1727) he distinguished him- clamours for liberty of which no man felt the self by three publications: of “Summer,” in want; and with care for liberty, which was not pursuance of his plan; of “A Poem on the in danger. Tbcmson, in his travels on the ConDeath of Sir Isaac Newton," which he was en- tinent, found or fancied so many evils arising abled to perform as an exact philosopher by the from the tyranny of other governments, that he instruction of Mr. Gray; and of “ Britannia,” resolved to write a very long poem, in five parts, a kind of poetical invective against the ministry, upon Liserty. whom the nation then thought not forward While he was busy on the first book, Mr. enough in resenting the depredations of the Talbot died; and Thomson, who had been Spaniards. By this piece he declared himself rewarded for his attendance by the place of an adherent to the opposition, and had therefore secretary of the briefs, pays in the initial lines a no favour to expect from the court.

decent tribute to his memory. Thomson, having been some time entertained Upon this great poem two years were spent, in the family of the Lord Binning, was desirous and the author congratulated himself upon it, as of testifying his gratitude by making bim the his noblest work; but an author and his reader patron of his "Summer;" but the same kind are not always of a mind. Liberty called in ness which had first disposed Lord Binning to vain upon her votaries to read her praises and encourage him determined him to refuse the reward her encomiast; her praises were condedication, which was by his advice addressed demned to harbour spiders and to gather dust; to Mr. Doddington, a man who had more power none of Thomson's performances were so litle to advance the reputation and fortune of a poet. regarded.

“Spring” was published next year, with a The judgment of the public was not erroneous; dedication to the Countess of Hertford; whose the recurrence of the same images must tire in practice it was to invite every summer some time; an enumeration of examples to prove a poet into the country, to hear her verses and position which nobody denied, as it was from assist her stv.dies. This honour was one sum- the beginning superfluous, must quickly grow mer conferred on Thomson, who took more de- disgusting. light in carousing with Lord Hertford and his The poem of “Liberty” does not now appear friends than assisting her ladyship's poetical in its original state; but, when the author's operations, and therefore never received another works were collected after his death, was shortsummons.

ened by Sir George Lyttleton, with a liberty “Autumn,” the season to which the "Spring” which, as it has a manifest tendency to lessen and “Summer" are preparatory, still remained the confidence of society, and to confound the unsung, and was delayed till he published (1730) characters of authors, by making one man write his works collected.

by the judgment of another, cannot be justified He produced in 1727 the tragedy of “Sopho- by any supposed propriety of the alteration, or nisba," which raised such expectation, that every kindness of the friend. I wish to see it exhibited rehearsal was dignified with a splendid audience, as its author left it. collected to anticipate the delight that was pre Thomson now lived in ease and plenty, and paring for the public. It was observed, however, seems for a while to have suspended his poetry; that nobody was much affected, and that the but he was soon called back to labour by the company rose as from a moral lecture.

death of the Chancellor, for his place then beIt had upon the stage no unusual degree of came vacant; and though the Lord Hardwicke

Slight accidents will operate upon delayed for some time to give it away, Thomthe taste of pleasure. There is a feeble line in son's bashfulness or pride, or some other motive the play:

perhaps not more laudable, withheld him from O Sophonisba, Sophonisba, O!

soliciting; and the new Chancellor would not

give him what he would not ask. This gave occasion to a waggish parody, He now relapsed to his former indigence; but

O Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy Thomson, o ! the Prince of Wales was at that time struggling which for a while was echoed through the town. tleton professed himself the patron of wit: to

for popularity, and by the influence of Mr. LytI have been told by Savage, that of the pro- him Thomson was introduced, and being gayly logue lo “Sophonisba” the first part was written interrogated about the state of his affairs, said, by Pope, who could not be persuaded to finish that they were in a more poetical posture than it, and that the concluding lines were added by formerly; and had a pension allowed him of Mallet.

one hundred pounds a year. Thomson was not long afterwards, by the influence of Dr. Rundle, sent to travel with Mr. (1738*) the tragedy of “Agamemnon,” which

Being now obliged to write, he produced Charles Talbot, the eldest son of the Chancellor. I was much shortened in the representation. It He was yet young enough to receive new im- had the fate which most commonly attends mypressions, to have his opinions rectified, and his thological stories, and was only endured, but views enlarged; nor can he be supposed to have not favoured. It struggled with such difficulty wanted that curiosity which is inseparable from through the first night, that Thomson, coming an active and comprehensive mind. He may therefore now be supposed to have revelled in all the joys of intellectual luxury; he was every

* It is not generally known that in this year an edition

of Milion's - Areopagitica " was published by Minar, to day feasted with instructive novelties ; he lived I which Thomson wrote a preface.--C.


late to his friends with whom he was to sup, ex-prologue, which Quin, who had long lived with cused his delay by telling them how the sweat Thomson in fond intimacy, spoke in such a of his distress had so disordered his wig, that manner as showed him “to be," on that occa. he could not come till he had been refitted by a sion, “ no actor.” The commencement of this barber.

benevolence is very honourable to Quin; who He so interested himself in his own drama, is reported to have delivered Thomson, then that, if I remember right, as he sat in the upper known to him only for his genius, from an arrest gallery, he accompanied the players by audible by a very considerable present; and its contirecitation, till a friendly hint frighted him to nuance is honourable to both, for friendship is silence. Pope countenanced “Agamemnon,” not always the sequel of obligation. By ihis by coming to it the first night, and was wel- tragedy a considerable sum was raised, of which comed to the theatre by a general clap; he had part discharged his debts, and the rest was remitmuch regard for Thomson, and once expressed ted to his sisters, whom, however removed from it in a poetical epistle sent to Italy, of which them by place or condition, he regarded with however he abated the value, by translating great tenderness, as will appear by the following some of the lines into his epistle to Arbuthnot. letter, which I communicate with much pleasure,

About this time the act was passed forlicensing as it gives me at once an opportunity of recordplays, of which the first operation was the pru- ing the fraternal kindness of Thomson, and hibition of “Gustavus Vasa,” a tragedy of Mr. reflecting on the friendly assistance of Mr. Bos. Brooke, whom the public recompensed hy a very well, from whom I received it. liberal subscription; the next was the refusal of “Edward and Eleonora," offered by Thomson.

“Hagely, in Worcestershire, It is hard to discover why either play should

“October the 4th, 1747. have been obstructed. Thomson likewise en “My dear Sister, deavoured to repair his loss by a subscription, of “I thought you had knowr. me better than to which I cannot now tell the success.

interpret my silence into a decay of affection, When the public murmured at the unkind especially as your behaviour has always been treatment of Thomson, one of the ministerial such as rather to increase than to diminish it. writers remarked, that “ he had taken a liberty Don't imagine, because I am a bad correspondwhich was not agreeable to Britannia in any ent, that I can ever prove an unkind friend and season."

brother. I must do myself the justice to tell He was soon after employed, in conjunction you, that my affections are naturally very fixed with Mr. Mallet, to write the mask of “ Alfred,” and constant; and if I had ever reason of comwhich was acted before the Prince at Cliefden- plaint against you, (of which by-the-by I have House.

not the least shadow,) I am conscious of so His next work (1745) was “Tancred and many defects in myself, as dispose me to be not Sigismunda,” the most successful of all his a little charitable and forgiving. tragedies, for it still keeps its turn upon the “It gives me the truest heartfelt satisfaction stage. It may be doubted whether he was, either to hear you have a good, kind husband, and are by the bent of nature or habits of study, much in easy, contented circumstances; but were they qualified for tragedy. It does not appear that he otherwise, that would only awaken and heighten had much sense of the pathetic; and his diffusive my tenderness towards you. As our good and and descriptive style produced declamation rather tender-hearted parents did not live to receive any than dialogue.

material testimonies of that highest human gratiHis friend Mr. Lyttleton was now in power, tude I owed them, (than which nothing could and conferred upon him the office of surveyor- have given me equal pleasure,) the only return general of the Leeward Islands; from which, I can make them now is by kindness to those when his deputy was paid, he received about they left behind them. Would to God poor three hundred pounds a year.

Lizy had lived longer, to have been a farther The last piece that he lived to publish was the witness of the truth of what I say, and that I “Castle of Indolence,” which was many years might have had the pleasure of seeing once more under his hand, but was at last finished with a sister who so truly deserved my esteem and great accuracy. The first canto opens a scene love! But she is happy, while we must toil a of lazy luxury that fills the imagination. little longer here below; let us, however, do

He was now at ease, but was not long to en- it cheerfully and gratefully, supported by the joy it; for, by taking cold on the water between pleasing hope of meeting, again on a safer London and Kew, he caught a disorder, which, shore, where to recollect the storms and difficulwith some careless exasperation, ended in a fever ties of life will not perhaps be inconsistent with that put an end to his life, August 27, 1748. that blissful state." You did right to call your He was buried in the church of Richmond, with daughter by her name ; for you must needs have out an inscription; but a monument has been had a particular tender friendship for one anerected to his memory in Westminster Abbey. other, endeared as you were by nature, by having

Thomson was of a stature above the middle passed the affectionate years of your youth tosize, and more fat than bard beseems,” of a gether, and by that great softener and engager dull countenance, and a gross, unanimated, un- of hearts, mutual hardship. That it was in my inviting appearance; silent in mingled company, power to ease it a little, I account one of the but cheerful among select friends, and by his most exquisite pleasures of my life.-But enough friends very tenderly and warmly beloved. of this melancholy, though not unpleasing strain.

He left behind him the tragedy of “Coriola “I esteem you for your sensible and disintenus,” which was, by the zeal of his patron, Sir rested advice to Mr. Bell, as you will see by my George Lyttleton, brought upon the stage for letter to him; as I approve entirely of his mare the benefit of his family, and recommended by a rying again, you may readily ask me why I don't

marry at all. My circumstances have hitherto pauses, his diction, are of his own growth, been so variable and uncertain in this fluctuating without transcription, without imitation. Hé world, as induce to keep me from engaging in thinks in a peculiar train, and he thinks always such a state; and now, though they are more as a man of genius : he looks round on Nature settled, and of late (which you will be glad to and on Life with the eye which Nature bestows hear) considerably improved, I begin to think only on a poet; the eye that distinguishes, in myself too far advanced in life for such youthful every thing presented to its view, whatever there undertakings, not to mention some other petty is on which imagination can delight to be dereasons that are apt to startle the delicacy of tained, and with a mind that at once compredifficult old bachelors. I am, however, not a hends the vast and attends to the minute. The little suspicious that, was I to pay a visit to reader of “The Seasons” wonders that he never Scotland, (which I have some thoughts of doing saw before what Thomson shows him, and that soon,) I might possibly be tempted to think of a he never yet has felt what Thomson impresses. thing not easily repaired if done amiss. I have His is one of the works in which blank verse always been of opinion, that none make better seems properly used. Thomson's wide expan. wives than the ladies of Scotland; and yet, who sion of general views, and his enumeration of more forsaken than they, while the gentlemen circumstantial varieties, would have been obare continually running abroad all the world structed and embarrassed by the frequent interover? Some of them, it is true, are wise enough sections of the sense which are the necessary to return for a wife. You see I am beginning effects of rhyme. to make interest already with the Scots ladies. His descriptions of extended scenes and geneBut no more of this infectious subject.-Pray ral effects bring before us the whole magnifilet me hear from you now and then; and though cence of Nature, whether 'pleasing or dreadful. I am not a regular correspondent, yet perhaps I The gayety of Spring, the splendour of Summay mend in that respect Remember me kindly mer, the tranquillity of Autumn, and the horror to your husband, and believe me to be

of Winter, take in their turns possession of the “ Your most affectionate brother, mind. The poet leads us through the appear.

“JAMES THOMSON." ances of things as they are successively varied Addressed “To Mrs. Thomson in Lanark.” by the vicissitudes of the year, and imparts to

us so much of his own enthusiasm, that our The benevolence of Thomson was fervid, but thoughts expand with his imagery and kindle not active; he would give on all occasions what with his sentiments. Nor is the naturalist assistance his purse would supply ; but the of- without his part in the entertainment ; for he is fices of intervention or solicitation he could not assisted to recollect and to combine, to range his conquer his sluggishness sufficiently to perform. discoveries and to amplify the sphere of his conThe affairs of others, however, were not more templation. neglected than his own. He had often felt the The great defect of “The Seasons” is want inconveniences of idleness, but he never cured of method; but for this I know not that there it; and was so conscious of his own character, was any remedy. Of many appearances subthat he talked of writing an eastern tale “ of sisting all at once, no rule can be given why one the Man who loved to be in Distress."

should be mentioned before another ; yet the Among his peculiarities was a very unskilful memory wants the help of order, and the curiand inarticulate manner of pronouncing any osity is not excited by suspense or expectation. lofty or solemn composition. He was once His diction is in the highest degree florid and reading to Dodington, who, being himself a luxuriant, such as may be said to be to hig reader eminently elegant, was so much provoked images and thoughts “both their lustre and their by his odd utterance, that he snatched the paper shade ;" such as invest them with splendour, from his hands, and told him that he did not through which perhaps they are not always understand his own verses.

easily discerned. It is too exuberant, and someThe biographer of Thomson has remarked, times may be charged with filling the ear more that an author's life is best read in his works : than the mind. his observation was not well-timed. Savage, These poems, with which I was acquainted at wbo lived much with Thomson, once told me, their first appearance, I have since found altered he heard a lady remarking that she could gather and enlarged by subsequent revisals, as the from his works three parts of his character, Author supposed his judgment to grow more that he was “a great lover, a great swimmer, exact, and as books or conversation extended and rigorously abstinent ;" but, said Savage, he his knowledge and opened his prospects. They knows not any love but that of the sex; he was are, I think, improved in general; yet I know perhaps never in cold water in his life; and he not whether they have not lost part of what indulges himself in all the kuxury that comes Temple calls their “race;" a word which, apwithin his reach. Yet Savage always spoke plied to wines in its primitive sense, means the with the most eager praise of his social quali- Alavour of the soil. ties, his warmth and constancy of friendship, "Liberty," when it first appeared, I tried to and his adherence to his first acquaintance when read, and soon desisted. I have never tried the advancement of his reputation had left them again, and therefore will not hazard either behind him.

praise or censure. As a writer, he is entitled to one praise of the The highest praise which he has received highest kind his mode of thinking, and of ex- ought not to be suppressed: it is said by Lord pressing his thoughts, is original. His blank Lyttleton, in the prologue to his posthumous verse is no more the blank verse of Milton, or play, that his works contained of any other poet, than the rhymes of Prior

No line which, dying, he could wish to blok. are the rhymes of Cowley. His numbers, bis


The poems of Dr. Watts were by my recom- and in that time particularly devoted himself to mendation inserted in the late Collection; the the study of the Holy Scriptures ; and, being readers of which are to impute to me whatever chosen assistant to Dr. Chauncey, preached the pleasure or weariness they may find in the peru- first time on the birth-day that completed his sal of Blackmore, Watts, Pomfret, and Yalden. twenty-fourth year; probably considering that

as the day of a second nativity, by which he Isaac Watts was born July 17, 1674, at entered on a new period of existence. Southampton, where his father, of the same In about three years he succeeded Dr. Chaunname, kept a boarding-school for young gentle- cey; but soon after his entrance on his charge, men, though common report makes him a shoe- he was seized by a dangerous illness, which maker. He appears, from the narrative of Dr. sunk him to such weakness, that the congregaGibbon, to have been neither indigent nor illi- tion thought an assistant necessary, and appointterate.

ed Mr. Price. His health then returned graduIsaac, the eldest of nine children, was given ally; and he performed his duty till (1712) he to books from his infancy; and began, we are was seized by a fever of such violence and contold, to learn Latin when he was four years old; tinuance, that from the feebleness which it I suppose, at home. He was afterwards taught brought upon him he never perfectly recovered. Latín, Greek, and Hebrew, by Mr. Pinhorn, This calamitous state made the compassion of a clergyman, master of the free-school at South his friends necessary, and drew upon him the ampton, to whom the gratitude of his scholar attention of Sir Thomas Abney, who received afterwards inscribed a Latin ode.

him into his house ; where, with a constancy of His proficiency at school was so conspicuous, friendship and uniformity of conduct not often that a subscription was proposed for his support to be found, he was treated for thirty-six years at the university; but he declared his resolution with all the kindness that friendship could of taking his lot with the dissenters. Such he prompt, and all the attention that respect could was as every Christian church would rejoice to dictate. Sir Thomas died about eight years have adopted.

afterwards; but he continued with the lady and He therefore repaired, in 1690, to an academy her daughters to the end of his life. The lady taught by Mr. Rowe, where he had for his com- died about a year after him. panions and fellow-students Mr. Hughes the A coalition like this, a state in which the popoet, and Dr. Horte, afterwards archbishop of tions of patronage and dependence were overTuam. Some Latin essays, supposed to have powered by the perception of reciprocal benefits, been written as exercises at this academy, show deserves a particular memorial; and I will not a degree of knowledge both philosophical and withhold from the reader Dr. Gibbon's repretheological, such as very few attain by a much sentation ; to which regard is to be paid, as to longer course of study.

the narrative of one who writes what he knows, He was, as he hints in his Miscellanies, a and what is known likewise to multitudes bemaker of verses from fifteen to fifty, and in his sides. youth he appears to have paid attention to Latin “Our next observation shall be made upon poetry. His verses to his brother, in the gly- that remarkably kind Providence which brought conick measure, written when he was seventeen, the Doctor into Sir Thomas Abney's family, and are remarkably easy and elegant. Some of his continued him there till his death, a period of no other odes are deformed by the Pindaric folly less than thirty-six years. In the midst of his then prevailing, and are written with such ne sacred labours for the glory of God, and good of glect of all metrical rules, as is without example his generation, he is seized with a most violent among the ancients; but his diction, though and threatening fever, which leaves him oppressperhaps not always exactly pure, has such copi- ed with great weakness, and puts a stop at least ousness and splendour, as shows that he was but to his public services for four years. In this a very little distance from excellence.

distressing season, doubly so to his active and His method of study was to impress the con- pious spirit, he is invited to Sir Thomas Abney's tents of his books upon his memory by abridging family, nor ever removes from it till he has finishthem, and by interleaving them to amplify one ed his days. Here he enjoyed the uninterrupted system with supplements from another." demonstrations of the truest friendship. Here,

With the congregation of his tutor, Mr. without any care of his own, he had every thing Rowe, who were, I believe, independents, he which could contribute to the enjoyment of life, communicated in his nineteenth year.

and favour the unwearied pursuits of his studies. At the age of twenty he left the academy, and Here he dwelt in a family, which for piety, order, spent two years in study and devotion at the harmony, and every virtue, was an house of God. house of his father, who treated him with great | Here he had the privilege of a country recess, tenderness; and had the happiness, indulged to the fragrant bower, the spreading lawn, the few parents, of living to see his son eminent for flowery garden, and other advantages, to sooth literature, and venerable for piety.

his mind and aid his restoration to health; to He was then entertained by Sir John Har- yield him, whenever he chose them, most grateful lopp five years, as domestic tutor to his son ; l intervals from his laborious studies, iind enablo

him to return to them with redoubled vigour and careful to improve the opportunities which condelight. Had it not been for this most happy versation offered of diffusing and increasing the event, he might, as to outward view, have feebly, influence of religion. it may be painfully, dragged on through many By his natural temper he was quick of resentmore years of languor, and inability for public ment; but by his established and habitual pracservice, and even for profitable study, or perhaps tice he was gentle, modest, and inoffensive. His might have sunk into his grave under the over- tenderness appeared in his attention to children, whelming load of infirmities in the midst of his and to the poor. To the poor, while he lived in days; and thus the church and world would the family of his friend, he allowed the third part have been deprived of those many excellent ser- of his annual revenue, though the whole was not mons and works which he drew up and published a hundred a year; and for children he condeduring his long residence in this family. In a scended to lay aside the scholar, the philosopher, few years after his coming hither, Sir Thomas and the wit, to write little poems of devotion, and Abney dies; but his amiable consort survives, systems of instruction, adapted to their wants who shows the Doctor the same respect and and capacities, from the dawn of reason through friendship as before, and most happily for him its gradations of advance in the morning of life. and great numbers besides; for, as her riches Every man, acquainted with the common princiwere great, her generosity and munificence were ples of human action, will look with veneration in full proportion; her thread of life was drawn on the writer, who is at one time combating out to a great age, even beyond that of the Locke, and at another making a catechism for Doctor's; and thus this excellent man, through children in their fourth year. A voluntary deher kindness, and that of her daughter, the scent from the dignity of science is perhaps the present Mrs. Elizabeth Abney, who in a like hardest lesson that humility can teach. degree esteemed and honoured him, enjoyed all As his mind was capacious, his curiosity erthe benefits and felicities he experienced at his cursive, and his industry continual, his writings first entrance into this family, till his days were are very numerous, and his subjects various. numbered and finished; and, like a shock of corn With his theological works I am only enough in its season, he ascended into the regions of per- acquainted to admire his meekness of opposition fect and immortal life and joy."

and his mildness of censure. It was not only in If this quotation has appeared long, let it be his book, but in his mind, that orthodoxy was considered that it comprises an account of six- united with charity. and-thirty years, and those the years of Dr. Of his philosophical pieces, his “Logic” has Watts.

been received into the universities, and therefore From the time of his reception into this family, wants no private recommendation; if he owes his life was no otherwise diversified than by suc- part of it to Le Clerc, it must be considered that cessive publications. The series of his works I no man, who undertakes merely to methodize or am not able to deduce; their number and their illustrate a system, pretends to be its author. variety show the intenseness of his industry, and In his metaphysical disquisitions, it was obthe extent of his capacity.

served by the late learned Mr. Dyer, that he conHe was one of the first authors that taught founded the idea of space with that of empty space, the dissenters to court attention by the graces of and did not consider that though space might be language. Whatever they had among them without matter, yet matter being extended could before, whether of learning or acuteness, was not be without space. commonly obscured and blunted by coarseness Few books have been perused by me with and inelegance of style. He showed them, that greater pleasure than his "Improveinent of the zeal and purity might be expressed and enforced Mind,” of which the radical principles may indeed by polished diction.

be found in Locke's “Conduct of the UnderHe continued to the end of his life the teacher standing;" but they are so expanded and ramified of a congregation; and no reader of his works by Watts, as to confer upon him the merit of a can doubt his fidelity or diligence. In the pulpit, work in the highest degree useful and pleasing. though his low stature, which very little exceeded Whoever has the care of instructing others may five feet, graced him with no advantages of ap- be charged with deficience in his duty if this book pearance, yet the gravity and propriety of his is not recommended. utterance made his discourses very efficacious. I have mentioned his treatises of theology as I once mentioned the reputation which Mr. Fog- distinct from his other productions; but the truth ter had gained by his proper delivery to my friend is, that whatever he took in hand was, by his inDr. Hawkesworth, who told me, that in the art of cessant solicitude for souls, converted to theology: pronunciation he was far inferior to Dr. Watts. As piety predominated in his mind, it is diffused

Such was his flow of thoughts, and such his over his works; under his direction it may be promptitude of language, that in the latter part of truly said, theologia philosophia ancillatur, philosohis life he did not precompose his cursory ser- phy is subservient to evangelical instruction; it is mons, but having adjusted the heads, and sketch- difficult to read a page without learning, or at ed out some particulars, trusted for success to his least wishing, to be better. The attention is extemporary powers.

caught by indirect instruction, and he that sat He did not endeavour to assist his eloquence down only to reason is on a sudden compelled to by any gesticulations; for, as no corporeal actions pray. have any correspondence with thcological truth, It was therefore with great propriety that, in he did not see how they could enforce it. 1728, he received from Edinburgh and Aberdeen

At the conclusion of weighty sentences he gave an unsolicited diploma, by which he became a ime, by a short pause, for the proper impression. doctor of divinity. Academical honours would

To stated and public instruction he added fa- have more value, if they were always bestowed miliar visits and personal application, and was with equal judgment.

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