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JAMES THOMSON, the son of a minister well esteemed for his piety and diligence, was born September the 7th, 1700, at Ednam, in the shire of Roxburgh, of which his father was pastor. His mother, whose name was Hume, inherited as coheiress a portion of a small estate. The revenue of a parish in Scotland is seldom large; and it was probably in commiseration of the difficulty with which Mr. Thomson supported his family, having nine children, that Mr. Riccarton, a neighbouring minister, discovering in James uncommon promises of future excellence, undertook to superintend his education, and provide him books.
He was taught the common rudiments of learning at the school of Jedburg, a place which he delights to recollect in his poem of “Autumn ;' but was not considered by his master as superior to common boys; though in those early days he amused his patron and his friends with poetical compositions, with which, however, he so little pleased himself, that on every new-year's day he threw into the fire all the productions of the foregoing year.
From the school he was removed to Edinburgh, where he had not resided two years when his father died, and left all his children to the care of their mother, who raised upon her little estate what money a mortgage could afford, and removing with her family to Edinburgh, lived to see her son rising into eminence.
The design of Thomson's friends was to breed. him a minister. He lived at Edinburgh, as at school, without distinction or expectation, till, at the usual time, he performed a probationary exercise by explaining a psalm. His diction was so poetically splendid, that Mr. Hamilton, the professor of divinity, reproved him for speaking language unintelligible to a popular. audience, and he censured one of his expressions as indecent, if not profane.
This rebuke is reported to have repressed his thoughts of an ecclesiastical character, and he probably cultivated with new diligence his blossoms