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mitted to an inferior artist, who erected a monument, not indeed destitute of merit, but from which neither our anthor, nor the abbey, nor the present age, will derive
It is pretty strange, that, upon the death of Mr. Thomson, his brother poets did not at all exert themselves, as they had lately done for one who had been the terror of poets all his life time.
This silence furnished matter to one of his friends for an excellent satirical epigram, „which we are sorry we cannot give the reader. Only one gentleman, Mr. Collins, who had lived some time at Richmond, but forsook it when Mr. Thomson died, wrote an ode to his memory. This, for the dirge-like melancholy it breathes, and for the warmth of affection that seems to have dictated it, we shall subjoin to the present account.
Our author himself hints somewhere in his works, that his exterior was not the most promising. His make was indeed rather robust than graceful ; though it is known, that in his youth, he had been thought handsome. His worst appearance was, when you saw him walking alone in a thoughtful mood : But let a 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 the same 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 his 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 de
gree 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 reading ; but a passage of Virgil, Milton, or Shakespeare, would sometimes quite oppress him, that you could hear little else than some ill-articulated sounds, rising, as from the bottom of his breast.
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 have been heard walking in his library till near morning, humming over, in his way, what he was to correct and write out next day.
The amusements of his leisure hours were civil and natural history, voyages, and the relations of travellers, the most authentic he could procure : and had his situation favoured it, he would certainly have excelled in -gardening, agriculture, and every rural employment and exercise. Although he performed on no instrument, he was passionately fond of music, and would sometimes Listen a full hour at his window to the Nightengales in in Richmond gardens. Nor was his taste less exquisite in the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. In in his travels he had seen all the most celebrated monuments of antiquity, and the best productions of modern art; and studied them so minutely, and with so true a judgment, that in some of his descriptions in the poem of Liberty, we have the master-pieces there mentioned, placed in a stronger light perhaps than if we saw them with our eyes. His collection of prints, and some drawings from the antique, came afterwards into the possession of his friend Mr. Gray, of Richmond Hill.
As for his more distinguishing qualities of mind and heart, they are better represented in his writings
than they can be by the pen of any biographer. There, his love of mankind, of his country and friends ; his devotion to the Supreme Being, founded on the most elevated and just conceptions of his operations and providence, shine out in every page. His tenderness of heart was unbounded, extending even to the brute creation. He had a grateful soul, always ready to acknowledge a favour received : Nor did he ever forget his old benefactors, notwithstanding a long abscence, new acquaintance, or additional eminence ; of which the following instance cannot be unacceptable to the reader :
Some time before Mr. Thomson's fatal illness, a gentleman inquired for him at his house in Kewlane, near Richmond, where he then lived. This gentleman had been his acquaintance when very young, and proved to be Dr. Gusthart, the son of the Rev. Mr. Gusthart, formerly mentioned, who had been Mr. Thomson's patron in the early part of his life. The visitor sent not his name, but only intimated to the servant, that an old acquaintance desired to see Mr. Thomson. Mr. Thomson came forward to receive him ; and looking steadfastly at him (for they had not seen one another for many years) said, “Troth, Sir, I cannot say I ken your countenance “ well. Let me, therefore, crave your name.” Which the gentleman no sooner mentioned, than the tears gushed from Mr. Thomson's eyes. He could only reply, “Good God! are you the son of my dear friend, my old “ benefactor ?" and then rushing to his arms, he tenderly embraced him, rejoicing at so unexpected a meeting. Such was the heart of Mr. Thomson, whose life was as inoffensive as his page was moral: For of all our Poets, he is the farthest removed from whatever has even the appearance of indecency ; and, as my Lord Lyttleton happily expresses it in his prologue to Coriolanus :
:> His chaste muse employed her heaven-taught lyre 66 None but the noblest passions to inspire ; « Not one immoral, one corrupted thought, « One line which dying he could wish to blot.”