Slike strani
PDF
ePub

thetick; and his diffufive and defcriptive ftyle produced declamation rather than dialogue.

His friend Mr. Lyttelton was now in power, and conferred upon him the office of furveyor-general of the Leeward Iflands; from which, when his deputy was paid, he received about three hundred pounds a year.

The last piece that he lived to publish was the "Caftle of Indolence," which was many years under his hand, but was at last finished with great accuracy. The first canto opens a fcene of lazy luxury that fills the imagination.

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 some careless exasperation, 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 Westminster-abbey.

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 felect 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,

66

no actor." The com.

mencement

[ocr errors]

99

mencement of this benevolence is very honourable to Quin; who is reported to have delivered Thomson, 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 raifed, of which part discharged his debts, and the reft was remitted to his fifters, whom, however removed from them by place or condition, he regarded with great tenderness, as will appear by the following Letter, which I communicate with much pleasure, as it gives me at once an opportunity of recording the fraternal kindness of Thomson, and reflecting on the friendly affiftance of Mr. Bofwell, from whom I received it.

"Hagley in Worcestershire, "October the 4th, 1747.

"My dear Sifter,

"I thought you had known me better than to "interpret my filence into a decay of affection, "efpecially as your behaviour has always been fuch "as rather 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 juftice to tell you, that my "affections are naturally very fixed and constant ; “and if I had ever reason of complaint against you 66 (of which by the bye I have not the least shadow), "I am conscious of fo many defects in myself, as "difpofe me to be not a little charitable and forgiving.

"It gives me the trueft heart-felt fatisfaction to "hear you have a good, kind hufband, and are in

“eafy,

Q4

66

"eafy, contented circumftances; but were they "otherwise, that would only awaken and heighten "my tenderness towards you. As our good and "tender-hearted parents did not live to receive any material teftimonies of that highest human gratitude I owed them (than which nothing "could have given me equal pleasure), the "only return I can make them now is by kind"nefs 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 feeing once "more a fifter who fo truly deferved my esteem "and love! But fhe is happy, while we must toil

66

a little longer here below: let us however do it "chearfully and gratefully, fupported by the pleaf"ing hope of meeting you again on a fafer fhore, "where to recollect the ftorms and difficulties

[ocr errors]

of life will not perhaps 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 friendship for one ano"ther, endeared as you were by nature, by having paffed the affectionate years of your youth "together; and by that great softener and engager "of hearts, mutual hardship. That it was in my power to ease it a little, I account one of the "moft exquifite pleasures of my life.-But enough "of this melancholy, though not unpleafing ftrain.

"

"I esteem 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,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

66

66

66

you may readily ask me why I don't marry at all. My circumstances 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 im"proved, I begin to think myself too far advanced "in life for fuch youthful undertakings, not to men❝tion fome other petty reafons that are apt to startle "the delicacy of difficult old batchelors. I am, how"ever, 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 "always been of opinion that none make better "wives than the ladies of Scotland; and yet, who "more forfaken than they, while the gentlemen are

continually running abroad all the world over? "Some of then, it is true, are wife enough to re"turn for a wife. You fee I am beginning to make "intereft 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 regu"lar correfpondent, yet perhaps I may mend in that refpect. Remember me kindly to your husband, and believe me to be,

66

66

[ocr errors]

"Your most affectionate brother,

"JAMES THOMSON.'

(Addreffed)" To Mrs. Thomfon in Lanark."

The

The benevolence of Thoifon was fervid, but not active; he would give on all occafions what affistance his purfe would fupply; but the offices of intervention or folicitation he could not conquer his fluggishnefs fufficiently to perform. The affairs of others, however, were not more neglected than his own. He had often felt the inconveniences of idleness, but he never cured it; and was fo confcious of his own cha ́racter, that he talked of writing an Eastern 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 the paper from his hands, and told him that he did not understand his own verfes.

The biographer of Thomson has remarked, that an author's life is beft read in his works: his obfervation was not well-timed. Savage, who lived much with Thomfon, once told me, how he heard a lady remarking that the could gather from his works three parts of his character, that he was a "great Lover, a great "Swimmer, and rigouroufly abftinent;" but, faid Savage, he knows not any love but that of the fex; he was perhaps 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 friendship, and his adherence to his first 'acquaintance when the advancement of his reputation had left them behind him.

As

« PrejšnjaNaprej »