THOMSON, JamEs, author of The Seasons, was born on Sept. 11, 1700, at Ednam, in Roxburghshire, of which parish his father was minister. He was put to school at Jed burgh, and afterward sent to complete his education at Edinburgh. His intention was to enter the church, and he went through a full course of study with that object in view. His views, however, changed. From a very early age, he had been wont to express himself in verse; and in 1725 he betook himself to London to seek fame and fortune as a poet. Almost his sole capital for the enterprise seems to have been his manuscript poem of Winter. This, with some little delay and difficulty, he disposed of to a publisher for three guineas; and as its success was not instant, his outlook was by no means brilliant. Gradually, however, the merits of the poem were recognized; successive editions were called for; friends and patrons were not wanting to the young author, and in no long time Thomson found himself as good as a made man and poet. The Winter was fol lowed in 1727 by the poem Summer; Spring was published the year after; and Autumn, completing The Seasons, appeared in 1730, with a re-issue of the previous portions. In 1729, Thomson produced the tragedy of Sophonisba; but though great expectations were formed of it, its success on the stage, was but indifferent. A weak line which occurred in it 0 Sophonisba, Sophonisba, 0, as parodied by a wag in the pit into 0 Jemmy Thomson, Jemmy Thomson, 0, afforded much merriment to the town, and somewhat killed the pathos of the author, otherwise with not much vitality in it. During 1730-1733, Thomson was abroad in Paris and elsewhere with the son of sir Charles Talbot, the chancellor; • and on his return, at the death of his pupil, the comfortable place was bestowed upon him of secretary of the briefs. This he held till it lapsed, on the death of the chancellor in 1737, which left
him once more in considerable straits, which were, however, a little alleviated by a pen sion of PAW a year given him by the prince of Wales. His tragedy of Agamemnon, produced in 1738, was, in Johnson's phrase, "only endured, but not favored ;" and his poem ou Liberty, by himself considered his greatest work, was little relished by the public. His Tattered and Sigisrnunda, produced in 1745, was the only one of his trage dies which had any success, and its success was not of a signal kind. About this time, the accession to power of his friend Mr. Lyttletou secured him the office of surveyor general of the Leeward islands, which, however, he did not long live to enjoy. He died of a neglected cold in Aug., 1745, and was buried in the church of Richmond, without an inscription; but a monument was afterward erected to his memory in Westminster abbey. In the spring before his death he had published his finest poem, The Castle of Indolence. This piece, which is written in the Spenserian stanza, has all the descriptive power and opulence of imagination which distinguish his more popular Seasons, while in tone and diction it is much more chastened and harmonious. Together, they con tinue to maintain for Thomson a somewhat high place in the roll of British poets. Of his other works, with the exception of the song of RuleBritannia, nothing but the names is now remembered. As a man, Thomson was singularly amiable, and his careless, indo lent generosity of disposition seems to have endeared him to all who knew him.