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he began to turn his views towards London ; where works of genius may always expect a candid reception and due encouragement; and an accident foon after entirely determined him to try his fortune there.
The divinity-chair at Edinburgh was then filled by the reverend and learned Mr Hamilton; a gentleman universally respected and beloved ; and who had particularly endeared himself to the young divines under his care, by his kind offices, his candour and affability. Our author had attended his lectures for about a year, when there was prescribed to him for the subject of an exercise, a Pfalm, in which the power and majesty of God are celebrated. Of this plalm he gave a pa. raphrafe and illustration, as the nature of the exercise required; but in a style fo highly poetical as surprised the whole audience. Mr Hamilton, as his custom was, complimented the orator upon his performance, and pointed out to the students the most masterly striking parts of it; but at last, turping 'to Mr Thomson, he told him, fimiling, that if he thought of being useful in the ministry, he must keep a stricter rein upon his imagination, and express himself in language more intelli. gible to an ordinary congregation.
This gave Mr Thomson to understand, that his ex. pectations from the study of theology might be very precarious ; even though the church had been more his free choice than probably it was. So that having, soon after, received fome encouragement from a lady of quality, a friend of his mother's, then in London, be quickly prepared himself for his journey. And although this encouragement ended in nothing beneficial, it served, for the present, as a good pretext to cover the imprudence of commisting himself to the wide
world, unfriended and unpatronised, and with the llender stock of money he was then possessed of.
But his merit did not long ly concealed. Mr Fore bes, afterwards Lord President of the Session, then at. tending the service of parliament, having seen a specimen of Mr Thomson's poetry in Scotland, received him very kindly, and recommended him to some of his friends ; particularly to Mr Aikman, who lived in great intimacy with many persons of diftinguished rank and worth. This gentleman, from a conpoiffeur in painting, was become a professed painter; and his taste being no less just and delicate in the kindred art of descriptive poetry, than in his own, no wonder that he foon conceived a friend hip for our author. What a warm return he met with, and how Mr Thomson was affected by his friend's premature death, appears in the •copy
of verses which he wrote on that occasion. In the mean time, our author's reception, whereever he was introduced, emboldened him to risk the publication of his Winter ; in which, as himself was a mere novice in such matters, he was kindly assisted by Mr Mallet, then private tutor to his Grace the Duke of Montrose, and his brother the Lord George Graham, so well known afterwards as an able and gallant seaofficer. - To Mr Mallet he likewise owed his first acquaintance with several of the wits of that time; an exact information of their characters, personal and poetical, and how they stood affected to each other.
The poem of Winter, published in March 1 726, was no sooner read than universally admired : those only excepted who had not been used to feel, or to look for any thing in poetry, beyond a point of satirical or epigrammatic wit, a smart antithesis richly trimmed with rhyme, or the softness of an elegiac complaint
fuch bis manly classical spirit could not readily com. mend itself; til, after a more attentive perusal, they had got the better of their prejudices, and either acquired or affected a truer taste. A few others Rood aloof, merely because they had long before fixed the articles of their poetical creed, and resigned themselves to an abfolute despair of ever seeing any thing new and original. These were fomewhat mortified to find their notions disturbed by the appearance of a poet, who seemed to owe nothing but to nature and his own genius. But, in a short time, the applause became unanimous; every one wondering how so many pictures, and pictures fo familiar, should have moved them but faintly to what they felt in his descriptions. His di. gressions too, the overflowings of a tender benevolent heart, charmed the reader no less ; leaving him in doubt, whether he should more admire the Poet, or love the Man.
From that tine Mr Thomson's 'acquaintance was courted by all men of taste; and several ladies of high rank and distinction became his declared patronelles; the Countess of Hertford, Mifs Drelincourt, afterwards Viscountess Primrose, Mrs Stanley, and others. But the chief happiness which his Winter procured him was, that it brought him acquainted with Dr Rundle, afterwards Lord Bishop of Derry: who, upon converang with Mr Thomson, and finding in him qualities greater still, and of more value, than those of a poet, received him into his intimate confidence and friend. ship; promoted his character everywhere; introduced him to his great friend the Lord Chancellor Tala bot; and, some years after, when the eldest son of that nobleman was to make his tour of travelling, recommended Mr Thomson as a proper companion for
him. His affection and gratitude to Dr Rundle, and his indignation at the treatment that worthy. prelate had met with, are finely expressed in his poem to the memory of Lord Talbot. The true cause of that undeserved treatinent has been secreted from the public, as well as the dark manæuvres that were employed : but Mr Thomson, who had access to the belt informa. tion, places it to the account of
Slanderous zeal, and politics infirm,
Mean-while, our poet's chief care had been, in return. for the public favour, to finish the plan which their wishes laid out for him; and the expectations which his Winter had raised, were fully fatisfied by the fuccessive publications of the other Seasons: of Summer, in the year 1727; of Spring, in the beginning of the follow. ing year; and of Autumn, in a quarto edition of his works, printed in 1730.
In that edition, the Seafons are placed in their natural order; and crowned with that inimitable Hymn, in which we view thens in their beautiful fuccefsion, as one whole, the immediate effect of infinite Power and Goodness. In imitation of the Hebrew bard, all nature is called forth to do homage to the Creator, and the reader is left enraptured in silent adoration and praife.
Besides these, and his tragedy of Sopbonisba, writ. ten, and acted with applause, in the year 1729, Mr Thomson had, in 1727, published his poem to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newtori, then lately deceased; containing a deferved encomium of that incomparable man, with an account of his chief discoveries; fublime. ly poetical ; and yet so just, that an ingenious foreigner, the Count Algarotti, takes a line of it for the text of bis philosophical dialogues, II Neutonianismo per le
dane: this was in part owing to the assistance he had of his friend Mr Grey, a gentleman well versed in the: Newtonian philosophy, who, on that occasion, gave him a very exact, though general, abstract of its principles.
That same year, the resentmeut of our merchants, for the interruption of their trade by the Spaniards in America, running very high; Mr Thomson zealously took part in it; and wrote his poem Britannia, to rouse the nation to revenge. And although this piece is the less read that its subject was but accidental and temporary; the spirited generous sentiments that enrich it, can never be out of season: they will at least remain a monument of that love of his country, that devotion to the publio, which he is ever inculcating as the perfection of virtue, and which none ever felt more pure, or more intense, than himself.
Our author's poetical studies were now to be interrupted, or rather improved, by his attendance on the Honourable Mr Charles Talbot in his travels. A de lightful tak indeed! endowed as that young nobleman was by nature, and accomplished by the care, and ex. ample of the best of fathers, in whatever could adorn humanity: graceful of perfon, elegant in manners and address, pious, humane, generous; with an exquisite tafte in all, the finer arts. · With this amiable companion and friend, Mr Thomfun visited most of the courts and capital cities of Europe; and returned with his views greatly enlarged; not of exterior nature, only, and the works of art, but. of human life and manners, of the constitution and policy of the several states, their connexions, and their religious institutions. How particular and judicious his observations were, we fee in his poem of Liberty, begun soon after his returá to England. We fee, at