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TO WHICH 18 PREFIXED,
BY PATRICK MURDOCH, D.D. F.R.S.
AND AN ESSAY ON
THE PLAN AND MANNER OF THE POEM:
BY J. AIKIN,
IT is commonly said, that the life of a good writer is best read in his works; which can scarce fail to receive a peculiar tincture from his temper, manners, and habits; the difinguishing character of his mind, his ruling passion, at least, will there appear undirguised. But however just this observation may be, and although we might safely rest Mr. Thomson's fame, as a good man, as well as a man of genius, on this fole footing; yet the desire which the Public always thew of being more particularly acquainted with the history of an eminent author, ought not to be disappointed; as it proceeds not from mere curiosity, but chiefly from affection and gratitude to those by whom they have been entertained and inftructed.
To give some account of a deceased friend is often a piece of justice likewise, which ought not to be refused to his memory; to prevent or efface the imper. tinent fi&tions which officious Biographers are so apt to collect and propagate. And we may add, that the circumstances of an author's life will sometimes throw the best light upon his writings; instances whereof we shall meet with in the following pages.
Mr. Thomson was born at Ednam, in the shire of Roxburgh, on the 11th of September, in the year 1700. His father, minister of that place, was but little known beyond the narrow circle of his co-presbyters, and to a few gentlemen in the neighbourhood; but highly respected by them, for his piety, and his diligence in the pastoral duty: as appeared afterwards, in their kind offices to his widow and orphan family.
The Reverend Messrs. Riccarton and Gusthart particularly, took a most affectionate and friendly part in all their concerns. The former, a man of uncommon penetration and good taste, had very early discovered, through the rudeness of young Thomson's puerile