THOMSON, JAMES


THOMSON, JAMES
   1) the poet of the "Seasons," born, the son of the parish minister, at Ednam, Roxburghshire; was educated and trained for the ministry at Edinburgh University, but already wooing the muse, he, shortly after his father's death in 1725, went to London to push his fortune; his poem "Winter," published in the following year, had immediate success, and raised up a host of friends and patrons, and what with tutoring and the proceeds of "Summer," "Spring," "Autumn," various worthless tragedies, and other products of his pen, secured a fair living, till a pension of £100 from the Prince of Wales, to whom he had dedicated the poem of "Liberty," and a subsequent £300 a year as non-resident Governor of the Leeward Islands, placed him in comparative affluence; the "Masque of Alfred," with its popular song "Rule Britannia," and his greatest work "The Castle of Indolence" (1748), were the outcome of his later years of leisure; often tediously verbose, not infrequently stiff and conventional in diction and trite in its moralisings, the poetry of Thomson was yet the first of the 18th century to shake itself free of the town, and to lead, as Stopford Brooke says, "the English people into that new world of nature which has enchanted us in the work of modern poetry" (1700-1748).
   2) the poet of pessimism, born, a sailor's son, at Port-Glasgow, and brought up in an orphanage; was introduced to literature by MR. BRADLAUGH (q.v. BRADLAUGH, CHARLES), to whose National Reformer he contributed much of his best poetry, including his gloomy yet sonorous and impressive "The City of Dreadful Night," besides essays (1834-1882).

The Nuttall Encyclopaedia. . 1907.

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