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shew how necessary a more accurate and scientific survey of natural objects than has usually been taken, was to the avoiding the common defects, and attaining the highest beauties of descriptive poetry ; and some of the most striking examples of excellence arising from this source were extracted from the
poem now before us. It will be unnecessary here to recapitulate the substance of these remarks, or to mark out fingly the several passages of our author which display his talents for description to the greatest ad. vantage. Our present design rather requires such a general view of the materials he has collected, and the method in which he has arranged them, as may shew in what degree they forward and coincide with the plan of his work.
The correspondence between certain changes in the animal and vegetable tribes, and those revolutions of the heavenly bodies which produce the viciffitudes of the Seasons, is the foundation of an alliance between Astronomy and Natural History, that equally demands attention, as a matter of curious speculation and of. practical utility. The astronomical calendar, filled up by the Naturalist, is a combination of science at the same time pregnant with important instruction to the husbandman, and fertile in grand and pleasing objects
to the poet and philofopher. THOMSON seems conftantly to have kept in view a combination of this kind; and to have formed from it such an idea of the economy of Nature, as enabled him to preserve a regularity of method and uniformity of design through all the variety of his descriptions. We shall attempt to draw out a kind of historical narrative of his progress through the Seasons, as far as this order is observable.
Spring is characterized as the season of the renovation of nature ; in which animals and vegetables, excited by the kindly influence of returning warmth, Thake off the torpid inaction of Winter, and prepare for the continuance and increase of their several spe. cies. The vegetable tribes, as more independent and felf-provided, lead the way in this progress. The poet, accordingly, begins with representing the reviviscent plants emerging, as soon as genial showers have softened the ground, in numbers “ beyond the power “ of botanists to reckon up their tribes.” The openving blossoms and flowers foon call forth from their winter retreats those industrious insects which derive sustenance from their nectareous juices. As the beams of the fun become more potent, the larger vegetables, shrubs and trees, unfold their leaves; and, as soon as
a friendly concealment is by their means provided for the various nations of the feathered race, they joyfully begin the course of laborious, but pleasing occupations, which are to engage them during the whole season. The delightful series of pictures, so truly expressive of that genial spirit that pervades the Spring, which Thomson has formed on the variety of circumstances attending the Passion of the Groves, cannot escape the notice and admiration of the most negligent eye. Affected by the fame soft influence, and equally indebted to the renewed vegetable tribes for food and shelter, the several kinds of quadrupeds are represented as concurring in the celebration of this charming Season with conjugal and parental rites. Even Man himself, though from his social condition less under the dominion of physical necessities, is properly described as partaking of the general ardour. Such is the order and connexion of this whole book, that it might well pass for a commentary upon a most beautiful passage in the philofophical poet Lucretius ; who certainly wanted nothing but a better fyftem and more circumscribed subject, to have appeared as one of the greatest masters of description in either ancient or modern poetry. Reasoning on the unperishable nature, and perpetual circulation, of the particles of
matter, he deduces all the delightful appearances of Spring from the seeds of fertility which descend in the vernal showers.
pereunt imbres, ubi eos pater Æther
Lib. I. 251, &c.
The rains are lost, when Jove descends in showers
The plenteous udder teems with milky juice;
The period of Summer is marked by fewer and less striking changes in the face of Nature. A soft and pleasing languor, interrupted only by the gradual progression of the vegetable and animal tribes towards their state of maturity, forms the leading character of this Season. The active fermentation of the juices, which the first access of genial warmth had excited, now fubfides ; and the increasing heats rather inspire faintness and inaction than lively exertions. The insect race alone seem animated with peculiar vigour under the more direct influence of the fun; and are therefore with equal truth and advantage introduced by the poet to enliven the filent and drooping scenes presented by the other forms of animal nature. As this source, however, together with whatever else our summers afford, is insufficient to furnish novelty and business enough for this act of the drama of the year, the poet judiciously opens a new field, profusely fertile in objects fuited to the glowing colours of defcriptive poetry. By an easy and natural transition,