Imatges de pÓgina

certainly more finished, but there are many luxuriances which sober judgment would have removed, and many glittering epithets, and verbal conceits, which proceeded from a memory stored with the ancient poets, and not yet chastened into simplicity by the example and encouragement of the moderns.

The poem on Sickness is the longest, and altogether, perhaps, the most successful effort of his muse. He chose a new subject, and I think discovers considerable powers of invention. Particular lines, indeed, may be censured; and of what poem may not this be said? His ardent imagination and strength of feeling sometimes produce swelling words approaching to bombast; his phraseology, too, is sometimes laboured and pedantic; and he seems in various instances more ambitious of the rapturous and animated, than of the mild and simple graces of expression. But on the other hand, he abounds in original, or at least uncommon thoughts, clothed in vigorous language; he evinces real feeling, the consequence of having suffered what he describes, and having been alternately depressed or elevated by the vicissitudes of a long and dangerous illness. Most of his reflections are natural, and solemnly impressive. In borrowing the language of scripture, he has employed it with less change of its original beauty than might have been expected. The poetical beauties of the Palace of Disease, the Delirious Dreams, and the greater part of the fourth book on the Recovery, are such as prove that he had much of the fire and enthusiasm of true genius. Were this poem printed by itself, it could scarcely fail of popularity among the admirers of Young.

Young's Night Thoughts were, at this time, but just published, and perhaps it would be wrong to suppose that Thompson intended to rival him; yet there are passages which strongly remind us of Young's peculiar phraseology: Thompson had read much, and perhaps was inconscious of applying to his own use what he owed to his memory only. Every one may recollect the origin of—

How many Somersets are lost in thee?

Forbid it reason and forbid it heaven.

Soft pow'r of slumbers, dewy feather'd sleep,

Kind nurse of nature-&c.

The lines expressive of the burning heat of fever, whether he did or did not recollect a similar passage in Shakspeare, do honour to his judgment, for what other exclamation could have been suitable?

O! ye rivers, roll

Your cooling crystal o'er my burning breast,
For Etna rages here! Ye snows, desceud;
Bind me in icy chains, ye northern winds,
And mitigate the furies of the fire.-

We think of coolness, says an excellent critic, when panting under the heat of a summer sun; but in extreme heat we should probably think of extreme cold. When king John is tortured with the burning heat of a mortal poison, Shakspeare does not make him think of coolness, for that was not the proper contrast to his feelings, but puts in his moth the following exclamation.—

Poison'd, ill fare! dead, and forsook, cast off,
And none of you will bid the Winter come,
To thrust his icy fingers in my maw:

Nor let my kingdom's rivers take their course

Through my burn'd bosom: nor entreat the North
To make his bleak winds kiss my parched lips,
And comfort me with cold.

Thompson appears to have been enthusiastically fond of Pope; but the lines in which he characterizes that author are deformed by some extravagant expressions for which no fondness can atone, and are, upon that account, inferior to the poem addressed to Glover. His shorter pieces require little notice; they were mostly juvenile productions, and the wonder is, that the author of The Despairing Maiden, and The Milkmaid, could have reached such strains as The Nativity, The Hymn to May, and Sickness. In a few of them, however, are simple touches of nature, and an easy vein of epigrammatic humour ; but it is on serious and pathetic subjects that his muse rises to dignity, and it is a praise beyond all others, that sacred topics seem to elevate him beyond his usual powers.











I SHOULD not have troubled the reader with any thing by way of preface, if I did not think myself obliged to return my thanks to my goodnatured subscribers for their patience in waiting so long for their books. A bad state of health, and some other intervening accidents, prevented me from publishing the volume sooner, though above half of it has been printed off for some time.

As for the poems themselves, the greater part of them was writen when the author was very young, and without any design of printing them, which is only mentioned with hopes to procure the reader's pardon for the imperfection of some and the lightness of others.


Non ego mordaci distrinxi carmine quemquam,

Nulla venenato litera mista joco est.


I should not have printed the two Latin odes, if they had not given me an opportunity of publishing the translations along with them, which I believe will be thought the best verses in the collection: they are finished in so easy and masterly a manner, that I must own that I had rather have been the author of them than of the originals themselves. The tragedy was likewise chiefly composed when the author was an under-graduate in the university, as an innocent relaxation from those severer and more useful studies for which the college, where he had the benefit of his education, is so deservedly distinguished. I have caused it (with all its juvenile imperfections on its head) to be printed as it was at first written, and have even added the original motto, that it might be all of a piece. The poem called Sickness was republished at the request of several of my subscribers, to which, without regarding the additional expense, I very readily agreed: I have made some alterations, which, in the divisions of the books, I hope will be thought improvements.

I return my most humble thanks to my friends for their many kind offices in the course of the subscription, and shall leave the poems to the candour of the courteous reader with part of a verse from Horace,

Si placeo, tuum est.

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