Home >> Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 26 >> Thacher to The Cualnge Tam B6 >> Thomson_3

Thomson

play, published, seasons and edition

THOMSON, James, Scottish poet: b. Ednam, Roxburghshire, 11 Sept. 1700; d. Rich mond, Surrey, 27 Aug. 1748. He was educated at the University of Edinburgh in 1715 and at first intended to enter the ministry, but in 1725 went to London to devote himself to literature. His poem on (Winter' was published in the following year, in 1727 it was followed by (Summer,' (Spring) appeared in 1728 and in 1730 the series was completed and published as 'The Seasons.' It was very successful and was followed by his play (Sophonisba,) pro duced at Drury Lane in 1730. For two years he was on the Continent as traveling tutor to the son of Charles Talbot, afterward Lord Chan cellor, and on the death of his pupil in 1733 was appointed by the young man's father to a sinecure office with a salary of L300 a year. He published a patriotic poem entitled (Liberty) (1734-36), included in 1736 in the volume with (Sophonisba) and 'Britannia.' His famous song, (Rule Britannia,' formed part of (The Masque of Alfred' (1740), written by him with his friend, David Mallet, to music composed by Dr. Arrie. In 1744 Lord Lyttelton conferred upon him the sinecure office of surveyor-gen-. eral of the Leeward Islands, worth f300 a year. In the same year he issued a new edition of 'The Seasons> with extensive additions and alterations, and in 1748 appeared (The Castle of Indolence: An Allegoncal Poem,' a fine imitation of Spenser. He was buried in the

parish church of Richmond. Among his works not already mentioned are (Agamemnon) (1738), a play; (Edward and Eleanora> (1739), a play which was published but rejected by the censor; (Tancred and Sigismunda,) a tragedy (1745), his most successful play, and (Conola nus' (1749), a posthumously acted play. (The Seasons' marks the dawn of a new era in English poetry, an era characterized by a de parture from the formation and artificiality of Pope and his school in favor of simplicity and truthfulness to nature. The impulse gathered strength in Gray and Cowper, and reached its fullest expression in Wordsworth. The work found warm admirers in France and other coun tries and is still read. A good recent edition of Thomson's works is the 'Aldine' (1897) by Tovey. (See SEASONS, THE). Consult Morel, L., 'James Thomson, sa Vie et ses CEuvres) (Pans 1895) ; (Life) in Tovey's edition; Bayne, (Thomson' ((Famous Scots Series,' 1898) ; Macaulay, G. C, (James Thomson' (New York 1908).