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perfect the harmony of his organs with the sentiments of his mind, that his looks always announced, and half expreffed, what he was about to say; and his voice corresponded exactly to the manner and degree in which he was affected. This sensibility had one inconvenience attending it, that it rendered him the very
worst reader of good poetry: a sonnet, or a copy of tame verses, he could manage pretty well; or even improve them in the reading : but a passage of Virgil, Milton, or Shakespeare, would sometimes quite oppress him, that you could hear little else than some ill-articulated sounds, rising as from the bottom of his breast.
He had improved his taste upon the best originals, ancient and modern ; but could not bear to write what was not strictly his own, what had not more immedi. ately struck his imagination, or touched his heart : so that he is not in the least concerned in that queftion about the merit or demerit of imitators. What he horrows from the ancients, he gives us in an avowed faithful paraphrase or translation; as we see in a few passages taken from Virgil, and in that beautiful picture from Pliny the elder, where the course, and gradual increase, of the Nile, are figured by the stages of man's life.
The autumn was his favourite season for poetical composition, and the deep filence of the night, the time he commonly chose for such studies ; so that he would often be heard walking in his library, till near morning, humming over, in his way, what he was to correct and write out next day.
The amusements of his leisure hours were civil and natural history, voyages, and the relations of travellers, the moft authentic he could procure: and, had his situation favoured it, he would certainly have excelled in gardening, agriculture, and every rural improvement and exercise. Although he performed on no instrument, he was passionately fond of music, and would sometimes liften a full hour at his window to the nightingales in Richmond gardens. While abroad, he had been greatly delighted with the regular Italian drama, such as Metastasio writes ; as it is there heightened by the charms of the best voices and inftru
and looked upon our theatrical entertainments as, in one respect, naked and imperfect, when compared with the ancient, or with those of Italy; wishing sometimes that a chorus, at least, and a better recitative, could be introduced.
Nor was his tafte less exquisite in the arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture. In his travels he had
feen all the most celebrated monuments of antiquity, and the best productions of modern art; and studied them fo minutely, and with so true a judgment, that in some of his defcriptions, in the poem of Liberty, we have the master-pieces there mentioned placed in a stronger light perhaps than if we saw them with our eyes; at least more juftly delineated than in any other account extant: so superior is a natural taste of the grand and beautiful, to the traditional leffons of a common virtuoso. His collection of prints, and some drawings from the antique, are now in the possession of his friend Mr. Gray, of Richmond Hill.
As for his more distinguishing qualities of mind and heart, they are better represented in his writings than they can be by the pen of any biographer. There, his love of mankind, of his country and friends, his devotion to the Supreme Being, founded on the most elevated and just conceptions of his operations and providence, shine out in every page. So unbounded was his tenderness of heart, that it took in even the brute creation : judge what it must have been towards his own species. He is not indeed known, through his whole life, to have given any person one moment's pain, by his writings or otherwise. He took no part in the poetical squabbles which happened in his time;
and was respected and left undisturbed by both sides. He would even refuse to take offence when he justly might; by interrupting any personal story that was brought him, with some jeft, or some humorous apology for the offender. Nor was he ever seen ruffled or discomposed, but when he read or heard of some filagrant instance of injustice, oppreffion, or cruelty: then, indeed, the strongest marks of horror and indignation were visible in his countenance.
These amiable virtues, this divine temper of mind, did not fail of their due reward. His friends loved him with an enthusiastic ardor, and lamented his untimely fate in the manner that is still fresh in every
memory; the best and greatest men of his time honored him with their friendship and protection ; the applause of the Public attended every appearance he made ; the actors, of whom the more eminent were his friends and admirers, grudging no pains to do justice to his tragedies. At present, indeed, if we except Tancred, they are feldom called for; the fimplicity of his plots, and the models he worked after, not suiting the reigning taite, nor the impatience of an English theatre. They may hereafter come to be in vogue: but we hazard no comment or conjecture upon them, or upon any part of Mr. Thomson's works;
THE LIFE OF MR. THOMSON.
neither need they any defence or apology, after the reception they have had at home, and in the foreign languages into which they have been translated. We fall only say, that, to judge from the imitations of his manner, which have been following him clofe, from the very first publication of Winter, he seems to have fixed no inconsiderable æra of the English poetry.