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of poetry, which, however, were in some danger of a blast ; for, submitting his productions to some who thought themselves qualified to 'criticise, he heard of nothing but faults : but, finding other judges more favourable, he did not suffer himself to sink into despondence.

He easily discovered that the only stage on which a poet could appear, with any hope of advantage, was London; a place too wide for the operation of petty competition and private malig. nity; where merit might soon become conspicuous, and would find friends as soon as it became reputable to befriend it. A lady, who was acquainted with his mother, advised him to the journey, and promised some countenance or assistance, which at last he never received ; however, he justified his adventure by her encouragement, and came to seek in London patronage and fame.

At his arrival in town, he found his way to Mr. Mallet, then tutor to the sons of the duke of Montrose. He had recommendations to several persons of consequence, which he had tied up carefully in his handkerchief; but as he passed along the street, with the gaping curiosity of a new-comer, his attention was upon every thing rather than his pocket, and his magazine of credentials was stolen from him.

His first want was a pair of shoes. For the supply of all his necessities, his whole fund was his · Winter,' which for a time could find no purchaser ; till, at last, Mr. Millar was persuaded to buy it at a low price ; and this low price he had for some time reason to regrét : but, by accident, Mr. Whatley, a man not wholly unknown among authors, happening to turn his eye upon it, was so delighted, that he ran from place to place celebrating its excellence. Thomson obtained likewise the notice of Aaron Hill, whom (being friendless and indigent, and glad of kindness) he courted with every expression of servile adulation.

;- Winter was dedicated to Sir Spencer Compton, but attracted no regard from him to the author ; till Aaron Hill awakened his attention by some verses addressed to Thomson, and published in one of the newspapers, which censured the great for their neglect of ingenious 'men. Thomson then received a present of twenty guineas, of zwhich he gives this account to Mr. Hill :

I hinted to you in my låst, that on Saturday morning I was with Sir Spencer Compton. A certain ģentlemán, without my desire, spoke to him concerning me: his answer was, that I had never come near him. Then the gentleman put the question, if he desired that I should wait on him ? he returned, he did. On this the gentleman gave me an introductory letter to him. He reèeived me in what they commonly call a civil manner; asked me some common-place questions ;; and made me a present of twenty guineas, I am very ready to own that the present was larger than my performance deserved ; and shall ascribe it to his generosity, or any other cause, rather than the merit of the address.'

The poem, which, being of a new kind, few would venture at first to like, by degrees gained upon the public; and one edition was very speedily succeeded by another.

Thomson's credit was now high, and every day brought him new friends ; 'among others, Dr. Rundle, a man afterwards unfortunately famous, sought his acquaintance, and found his qualities such that he recommended him to the Lord Chancellor Talbot.

Winter' was accompanied, in many editions, not only with a preface and dedication, but with poetical praises, by Mr. Hill, Mr. Mallet (then Malloch), and Mira, the fictitious name of a lady once too well known. Why the dedications are to · Winter and the other Seasons, contrarily to custom, left out in the collected works, the reader may enquire.

The next year 1727 he distinguished himself by three publications : of Summer,' in pursuance of his plan ; of A Poem on the Death of Sir

Isaac Newton, which he was enabled to perform as an exact philosopher by the instruction of Mr. Gray; and of “Britannia,' a kind of poetical invective against the ministry, whom the nation then thought not forward enough in resenting the depredations of the Spaniards. By this piece he declared himself an adherent to the opposition, and had therefore no favour to expect from the court.

Thomson, baving been some time entertained in the fainily of 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. Dodington, a man who had more power to advance the reputation and fortune of the poet.

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

• Autumn,' the season to which the : Spring'

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and : Summer' are preparatory, still remained unsung, and was delayed till he published 1730 his works collected.

He produced 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 public. It was observed, however, that nobody was much affected, and that the company rose as from a moral lecture.

Thomson was not long afterwards, by the influence of Dr. Rundle, sent to travel with Mr. Charles Talbot, the eldest son of the Chancellor. He was yet young enough to receive new 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 expense; and might expect when he returned home a certain establishment.

At this time a long course of opposition to Sir Robert Walpole 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,


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