Imágenes de páginas

Thomson, having been some time entertained in the family 15 of the lord Binning !, was desirous of testifying his gratitude by making him the patron of his Summer ; but the same kindness which had first disposed lord Binning to encourage him determined him to refuse the dedication, which was by his advice addressed to Mr. Doddington ? ; a man who had more power to advance the reputation and fortune of a poet.

Spring was published next year, with a dedication to the 16 countess of Hertford”, whose practice it was to invite every summer some poet into the country to hear her verses and assist her studies. This honour was one summer conferred on. Thomson, who took more delight in carousing with lord Hertford and his friends than assisting her ladyship's poetical operations, and therefore never received another summons *.

Autumn, the season to which the Spring and Summer are 17 preparatory, still remained unsung, and was delayed till he published (1730) his works collected 5. Sir Isaac Newton to Walpole, and Entertainment, speaks of 'a Dodtwo years afterwards his Sophonisba dingtonian smoothness, which does to the Queen. Eng. Poets, lv. 145; not promise any superfluous degree Works, iii. 1.

of sincerity in the fine gentleman who "He was Lady Grisell Baillie's son- has been the occasion of calling so in-law. See Morel's Thomson, and much good

company together.' ante, THOMSON, 6 n. 2.

Lamb's Poems, Plays, &c., 1888, p. • Afterwards Lord Melcombe. Ac

292. cording to Mallet, 'he sent his ser- 3 'In the first edition there was both vices to Thomson by Dr. Young, and a prose dedication to the Countess desired to see him. Spence's Anec. and the poetical dedication. Winter, p. 327. Hawkins had seen a letter 1900, p. 15. from him to Johnson offering him his Her husband in 1748 became friendship. John. Misc. ii. 104. seventh Duke of Somerset. "Her

Pope satirized him under the name only child was married to Sir Hugh of Bubo. Moral Essays, iv, 19; Epil. Smithson, Bart., created (1766) Duke Sat. i. 68, and also in the first draft of Northumberland.' Cunningham's of Prol. Sat. Il. 231-44, in a passage Lives of the Poets, ii. 368. On her afterwards applied to Halifax (ante, death in 1754 Horace Walpole wrote: HALIFAX, 11). He is described as - She is gone to know whether all 'Fed with soft dedication all day her letters from the living to the dead long.'

have been received.' Letters, ii. 395. Pope's Works (E. & C.), iii. 258. She had befriended Savage. Horace Walpole says of him (Works, Ante, SAVAGE, 84. He was probably i. 458):—'Ostentatious in his person,

Johnson's authority. houses, and furniture, he wanted in 5. This volume, published by subhis expence the taste he never wanted scription, 'contains 441 lines more in his conversation.'

than the original texts of Winter, According to Thomson he had Summer and Spring.' Autumn was

social sense

published also separately the same By decency chastis'd.

year, entitled second edition. Winter,

Summer, l. 24. 1900, pp. 6, 8. Lamb, writing of Hogarth's Election In Gent. Mag. July, 1744, p. 400, is


18 He produced in 1727. the tragedy of Sophonisba, which

raised such expectation that every rehearsal was dignified with a splendid audience, collected to anticipate the delight that was preparing for the publick. It was observed, however, that nobody was much affected, and that the company rose as from

a moral lecture ?. 19 It had upon the stage no unusual degree of success. Slight

accidents will operate upon the taste of pleasure. There was a feeble line in the play:

'O Sophonisba, Sophonisba, O!' This gave occasion to a waggish parody:

‘O, Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy Thomson, 0131 which for a while was echoed through the town. 20 I have been told by Savage that of the Prologue to Sophonisba

the first part was written by Pope, who could not be persuaded

to finish it, and that the concluding lines were added by Mallet*. 21 Thomson was not long afterwards, by the influence of Dr.

Rundle, sent to travel with Mr. Charles Talbot, the eldest son of the Chancellor 5. He was yet young enough to receive new

[ocr errors]

announced 'The Seasons.

A new

Oh! Huncamunca, Huncamunca, Edition, corrected, in which are in- Oh!' Works, 1806, i. 472. serted above 1000 new Lines.'

Thomson might have quoted from Lyttelton wrote on May 5, 1744:- Shakespeare's Coriolanus (not his "Thomson's Seasons will be published own), v. 3. 185:in about a week's time, and a most

my mother, mother! Oh!' noble work they will be.' Misc. Thomson's line is not in the pubWorks, 1775, p. 704.

lished play. Works, 1775, iji. Oh! For a translation into French prose Sophonisba,' however, is exclaimed by Madame Bontems see Gibbon's seven times. Autobiographies, p. 204.

'I think it may be observed that · [The Tragedy of Sophonisba. A. the particle O! used at the beginning Millar. 1730. It was first acted at of a sentence always offends. Ante, Drury Lane on Feb. 28, 1729–30. POPE, 422. Genest's Hist. of the Stage, iii. It might all be Mallet's. The 255.)

most telling couplet in the first part According to Davies (Dram. is where the poet says of Britain: Misc. iii. 465) Mrs. Oldfield, as So- When freedom is the cause, 'tis hers phonisba, produced a great effect in to fight, one passage.

And hers, when freedom is the 3 According to Cibber's Lives, v. theme, to write.' Works, iii. 7. 209, 'a smart from the pit cried 5 Then Solicitor-General; he beout :

came Chancellor in Nov. 1733. Thom“Oh! Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy son was in Paris in Dec. 1730. He Thomson, Oh!”

soon left for Italy, and returned to Fielding, in 1730, ridiculed the line England before the end of 1731. in The Life and Death of Tom Thumb (Bolton Corney's Seasons, Pref. pp. (Act ii. sc. 5) :

22 n., 24 n.]

[ocr errors]

impressions, to have his opinions rectified, and his views enlarged; nor can he be supposed to have wanted that curiosity' which is inseparable from an active and comprehensive mind. He may therefore now be supposed to have revelled in all the joys of intellectual luxury; he was every day feasted with instructive novelties; he lived splendidly without expence, and might expect when he returned home a certain establishment.

At this time a long course of opposition to Sir Robert Walpole 22 had filled the nation with clamours for liberty, of which no man felt the want, and with care for liberty, which was not in danger? Thomson, in his travels on the continent, found or fancied so many evils arising from the tyranny of other governments, that he resolved to write a very long poem, in five parts, upon Liberty.

While he was busy on the first book Mr. Talbot died 3, and 23 Thomson, who had been rewarded for his attendance by the place of secretary of the Briefs", pays in the initial lines a decent tribute to his memory 5.

Upon this great poem two years were spent', and the author 24 congratulated himself upon it as his noblest work?; but an author and his reader are not always of a mind & Liberty called in vain upon her votaries to read her praises and reward her encomiast : her praises were condemned to harbour spiders, and to gather dust; none of Thomson's performances were so little regarded

The judgement of the publick was not erroneous; the recur- 25 rence of the same images must tire in time; an enumeration of examples to prove a position which nobody denied, as it was from the beginning superfluous, must quickly grow disgusting.

The poem of Liberty does not now appear in its original state, 26 but when the author's works were collected after his death was

[ocr errors]

Ante, ADDISON, 91 n. 5.

in Feb. 1735, ib. 1735, p. III; the · Ante, SAVAGE, 114. For those third is quoted in the August number, who most loudly clamour for liberty' ib. p. 476; the fourth appeared in see ante, MILTON, 170.

Dec., ib. p. 740; and the fifth in Jan. 3 On Sept. 27, 1733. Gent. Mag. or Feb. 1736, ib. 1736, p. 100. 1733, p. 496.

7 Works, Preface, p. 20. In the Court of Chancery.

Ante, MILTON, 146. 5 Eng. Poets, lv. 5. See also ib. 9 Thomson wrote that he thought

of annulling the bargain I made with 6 It appeared in five separate parts. my bookseller, who would else be a The first part appeared in Dec. 1734, considerable loser.' Tovey's Thomson, Gent. Mag. 1734, p. 708; the second Preface, p. 51.



p. 162.


shortened by Sir George Lyttelton, with a liberty which, as it has a manifest tendency to lessen the confidence of society, and to confound the characters of authors by making one man write by the judgement of another, cannot be justified by any supposed propriety of the alteration or kindness of the friend'.

- I wish to see it exhibited as its author left it. 27 Thomson now lived in ease and plenty, and seems for a while

to have suspended his poetry; but he was soon called back to labour by the death of the Chancellor, for his place then became vacant, and though the lord Hardwicke* delayed for some time to give it away, Thomson's bashfulness, or pride, or some other motive perhaps not more laudable, withheld him from soliciting s; and the new Chancellor would not give him what he would not ask.

* In the library at Hagley there is 232. In Wool's Memoirs of Joseph a copy of The Seasons, corrected by Warton (p. 252) there is a letter to Lyttelton, with the following entry in Millar, the publisher, in which Mur. his hand :- In this edition, con

doch insists that Thomson's poems formably to the intention and will of should be printed as the poet left author, which [sic] have justly been them.] thought too harsh or obscure, or not 3 He died on Feb. 14, 1737. Gent. strictly grammatical, have been cor- Mag. 1737, p. 124. rected, some lines transposed, and a • He succeeded as Chancellor on few others left out.' Phillimore's Feb. 21. Parl. Hist. x. Table of Lyttelton, i. 319.

Contents, p. 6. Lyttelton told Samuel Rogers's 5 'He was so dispirited, so listless elder brother that when a very young to every concern of that kind, that he man' he heard Thomson read aloud never took one step in the affair.' to his father at Hagley 'what he had Works, Preface, p. 21. but just then written of his Autumn. For Smith's loss of a place by On the first line I ventured to remark the same neglect see ante, SMITH, 48. that “crown'd with the wheaten In The Critical Review, 1765, xix. sheaf” was a beautiful image, but 141, it is stated that "Thomson's that I could not understand what was place fell under the cognisance of a meant by “crown'd with the sickle." Commission of the Great Officers of Thomson was evidently confused, and State for enquiring into public offices. said something, in no very clear He made a speech explaining the manner, of a custom the reapers have duty, &c., of his place in terms that, in Scotland of putting their sickles though very concise, were so perround their heads in the intervals of spicuous and elegant, that Lord Chanlabour. H. D. Best's Memorials, cellor Talbot publicly said he pre

ferred that single speech to the best Autumn begins:

of his poetical compositions. The • Crown'd with the sickle and the income of the place was by the Comwheaten sheaf,

missioners reduced from about £300 While Autumn, nodding o'er the to £100 a year; but Mr. Thomson yellow plain,

offered to resign it; nor did he ever Comes jovial on.'

receive a shilling from it during its [This was done by Murdoch in reduced state. We have his own the subscription quarto of 1762. authority for saying that it was not Cunningham's Lives of the Poets, iii. optional to him whether he should

p. 266.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

He now relapsed to his former indigence; but the prince of 28 Wales was at that time struggling for popularity, and by the influence of Mr. Lyttelton professed himself the patron of wit': to him Thomson was introduced, and being gaily interrogated about the state of his affairs, said that they were in a more poetical posture than formerly,' and had a pension allowed him of one hundred pounds a year?

Being now obliged to write he produced (1738) the tragedy 29 of Agamemnon', which was much shortened in the representation. It had the fate which most commonly attends mythological stories“, and was only endured, but not favoured. It struggled with such difficulty through the first night that Thomson, coming late to his friends with whom he was to sup, excused his delay by telling them how the sweat of his distress had so disordered his wig, that he could not come till he had been refitted by a barber 5.

He so interested himself in his own drama that, if I remember 30 right ©, as he sat in the upper gallery he accompanied the players by audible recitation, till a friendly hint frighted him to silence?. Pope countenanced Agamemnon by coming to it the first night, and was welcomed to the theatre by a general clap; he had much regard for Thomson, and once expressed it in a poetical Epistle sent to Italy, of which, however, he abated the value by transplanting some of the lines into his Epistle to Arbuthnot?

remain in the place after his patron's the river's side.” The nobles were death.'

Thomson and Mallet.' Graves's Re'Ante, POPE, 217; post, MALLET, collections of Shenstone, p. 93. 12; LYTTELTON, 6. Smollett de- 3 It is advertised in Gent. Mag. scribes him as 'a munificent patron April, 1738, p. 224. For the attacks of the arts, an unwearied friend to in it on the king and Walpole see merit. Hist. of Eng. iii. 307.

Tovey's Thomson, Preface, p. 59. Post, LYTTELTON, 6. In Britan- Ante, BUTLER, 41. nia he had made the Queen of 5 For Goldsmith's distress at the Nations,' speaking of the Prince, tell Literary Club the night The Good. how

Natured Man was acted see John. 'Yon sail ... wafts the Royal Youth

Misc. i. 311. A freight of future glory to my shore.' Johnson had settled in London

Eng. Poets, liv. 264. in the autumn of 1737. Boswell's Shenstone, on his way to London, Johnson, i. 110. “had taken a tailor of Hales Owen to ? In Cibber's Lives, v. 210, this carry his portmanteau. The trusty story is told of his first play. squire, having walked out to view the 8 In the first edition the paragraph Thames at Maidenhead, returned ended here. saying, “Lord, Sir, what do you Ante, POPE, 212. Mr. Courthope think? I have seen the Prince of thinks the lines may have been those Wales and all his nobles walking by that, on Sept. 3, 1731, he told Hill



« AnteriorContinuar »