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was at last finished with great accuracy. The fir canto opens a scene of lazy luxury, that fills the ima gination.
He was now at ease, but was not long to enjoy it; for, by taking cold on the water between London and Kew, he caught a disorder, which, with fome careless exafperation, ended in a fever that put an end to his life, August 27, 1748. He was buried in the church of Richmond, without an infcription; but a monument has been erected to his memory in Westminsterabbey.
Thomfon was of ftature above the middle fize, and more fat than bard befeems, of a dull countenance, and a grofs, unanimated, uninviting appearance; filent in mingled company, but chearful among select friends, and by his friends very tenderly and warmly beloved.
He left behind him the tragedy of Coriolanus, which was, by the zeal of his patron Sir George Lyttelton, brought upon the ftage for the benefit of his family, and recommended by a Prologue, which Quin, who had long lived with Thomfon in fond intimacy, fpoke in fuch a manner as fhewed him to be, on that occafion, no actor. The commencement of this benevolence is very honourable to Quin; who is reported to have delivered Thomfon, then known to him only for his genius, from an arreft, by a very confiderable prefent; and its continuance is honourable to both; for friendship is not always the fequel of obligation. By this tragedy a confiderable fum was raised, of which part difcharged his debts, and the reft was remitted to his fifters, whom, however removed from them by place or condition, he regarded with great tendernefs, as will appear by the follow
ing Letter, which I communicate with much pleasure, as it gives me at once an opportunity of recording the fraternal kindness of Thomfon, and reflecting on the friendly affiftance of Mr. Bofwell, from whom I received it.
"My dear Sifter,
"I thought you had known me better than to interpret my filence into a decay of affection, espe❝cially as your behaviour has always been fuch as ra"ther to increase than diminish it. Don't imagine, "because I am a bad correfpondent, that I can ever "prove an unkind friend and brother. I must do "myself the justice to tell you, that my affections are "naturally very fixed and conftant; and if I had ever "reafon of complaint against you (of which by the "bye I have not the leaft fhadow), I am confcious of "fo many defects in myself, as dispose me to be not a "little charitable and forgiving.
"It gives me the trueft heart-felt fatisfaction to "hear you have a good kind husband, and are in easy " contented circumftances; but were they otherwife, "that would only awaken and heighten my tender"nefs towards you. As our good and tender-hearted parents did not live to receive any material tefti"monies of that higheft human gratitude I owed "them (than which nothing could have given me equal pleasure), the only return I can make them 66 now is by kindness to those they left behind them: "would to God poor Lizy had lived longer, to have "been a farther witness of the truth of what I fay, and that I might have had the pleasure of seeing once 66 more
"Hagley in Worcestershire, "October the 4th, 1747
<< more a fifter, who fo truly deferved my esteem and "love. But fhe is happy, while we must toil a little "longer here below: let us however do it chearfully "and gratefully, fupported by the pleafing hope of "meeting yet again on a fafer fhore, where to recol"lect the ftorms and difficulties of life will not per"haps be inconfiftent with that blissful ftate. You "did right to call your daughter by-her name; for << you must needs have had a particular tender friend"fhip for one another, endeared as you were by na64 ture, by having paffed the affectionate years of your "youth together; and by that great foftner and enga60 ger of hearts, mutual hardship. That it was in my power to ease it a little, I account one of the most "exquifite pleasures of my life.-But enough of this "melancholy, though not unpleafing strain,
"I efteem you for your fenfible and difinterested "advice to Mr. Bell, as you will fee by my Letter to him: as I approve entirely of his marrying again, you may readily ask me why I don't marry at all. "My circumftances have hitherto been fo variable "and uncertain in this fluctuating world, as induce "to keep me from engaging in such a state: and now, "though they are more fettled, and of late (which you will be glad to hear) confiderably improved, I begin to think myself too far advanced in life for "fuch youthful undertakings, not to mention fome "other petty reasons that are apt to ftartle the deli
cacy of difficult old batchelors, I am, however, "not a little fufpicious that, was I to pay a vifit to "Scotland (which I have fome thought of doing "foon), I might poffibly be tempted to think of a "thing not eafily repaired if done amifs. I have al
ways been of opinion that none make better wives "than the ladies of Scotland; and yet, who more for"faken than they, while the gentlemen are conti"nually running abroad all the world over? Some of "them, it is true, are wife enough to return for a "wife. You fee I am beginning to make interest "already with the Scots ladies.-But no more of this
infectious fubject.-Pray let me hear from you now "and then; and though I am not a regular correspondent, yet perhaps I may mend in that respect. "Remember me kindly to your husband, and believe Le me to be,
"Your moft affectionate brother,
(Addressed) "To Mrs. Thomfon in Lanark.”
The benevolence of Thomfon was fervid, but not active; he would give, on all occafions, what affiftance his purfe would fupply; but the offices of intervention or folicitation he could not conquer his fluggishness fufficiently to perform. The affairs of others, however, were not more neglected than his own. He had often felt the inconveniences of idlenefs, but he never cured it; and was fo confcious of his own character, that he talked of writing an Eaftern Tale of the Man who loved to be in Diftrefs.
Among his peculiarities was a very unfkilful and inarticulate manner of pronouncing any lofty or folemn compofition. He was once reading to Dodington, who, being himself a reader eminently elegant, was fo much provoked by his odd utterance, that he fnatched paper from his hands, and told him that he did not understand his own verfes.
The biographer of Thomfon has remarked, that an author's life is beft read in his works: his obfervation was not well-timed. Savage, who lived much with Thomson, once told me, how he heard a lady remarking that she could gather from his works three parts of his character, that he was a great Lover, a great Swimmer, and rigorously abflinent; but, faid Savage, he knows not any love but that of the fex; he was pers haps never in cold water in his life; and he indulges himself in all the luxury that comes within his reach. Yet Savage always fpoke with the most eager praise of his focial qualities, his warmth and conftancy of friendfhip, and his adherence to his firft acquaintance when the advancement of his reputation had left them behind him.
As a writer, he is entitled to one praife of the highest kind: his mode of thinking, and of expreffing his thoughts, is original. His blank verse is no more the blank verfe of Milton, or of any other poet, than the rhymes of Prior are the rhymes of Cowley. His numbers, his pauses, his diction, are of his own growth, without tranfcription, without imitation, He thinks in a peculiar train, and he thinks always as a man of genius; he looks round on Nature and on Life, with the eye which Nature beftows only on a poet; the eye that diftinguishes, in every thing prefented to its view, whatever there is on which imagi nation can delight to be detained, and with a mind that at once comprehends the vast, and attends to the minute. The reader of the Seafons wonders that he never faw before what Thomson fhews him, and that he never yet has felt what Thomson impreffes.