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and the establishment of the House of Hanover in contempt of the claims of hereditary pretenders to the throne, Thomson lived. Thomson was but an indifferent hater; and the most indispensable part of the love of liberty has unfortunately hitherto been the hatred of tyranny. Spleen is the soul of patriotism, and of public good; but you would not expect a man who has been seen eating peaches off a tree, with both hands in his waistcoat pockets, to be ' overrun with the spleen,' or to heat himself needlessly about an abstract proposition.

His plays are liable to the same objection. They are never acted, and seldom read. The author could not, or would not, put himself out of his way to enter into the situations and passions of others, particularly of a tragic kind. The subject of 'Tancred and Sigismunda,' which is taken from a serious episode in 'Gil Blas,' is an admirable one, but poorly handled; the ground may be considered as still unoccupied.

Cowper, whom I shall speak of in this connection, lived at a considerable distance of time after Thomson, and had some advantages over him, particularly in simplicity of style, in a certain precision and minuteness of graphical description, and in a more careful and leisurely choice of such topics only as his genius and peculiar


habits of mind prompted him to treat of. The 'Task' has fewer blemishes than the 'Seasons ;' but it has not the same capital excellence, the ' unbought grace' of poetry, the power of moving and infusing the warmth of the author's mind into that of the reader. If Cowper had a more polished taste, Thomson had beyond comparison a more fertile genius, more impulsive force, a more entire forgetfulness of himself in his subject. If in Thomson you are sometimes offended with the slovenliness of the author by profession, determined to get through his task at all events, in Cowper you are no less dissatisfied with the finicalness of the private gentleman who does not care whether he completes his work or not, and in whatever he does, is evidently more solicitous to please himself than the public. There is an effeminacy about him which shrinks from and repels common and hearty sympathy. With all his boasted simplicity and love of the country, he seldom launches out into general descriptions of Nature he looks at her over his clipped hedges, and from his well-swept garden-walks; or if he makes a bolder experiment now and then, it is with an air of precaution, as if he were afraid of being caught in a shower of rain, or of not being able, in case of any untoward accident, to make good

his retreat home. He shakes hands with Nature with a pair of fashionable gloves on, and leads 'his Vashti ' forth to public view with a look of consciousness and attention to etiquette, as a fine gentleman hands a lady out to dance a minuet. He is delicate to fastidiousness, and glad to get back after a romantic adventure with crazy Kate, a party of gypsies, or a little child on a common, to the drawing-room and the ladies again, to the sofa, and the tea-kettle, no, I beg his pardon, not to the singing, wellscoured tea-kettle, but to the polished and loudhissing urn. His walks and arbours are kept clear of worms and snails with as much an appearance of petit-mattreship as of humanity. He has some of the sickly sensibility and pampered refinements of Pope; but then Pope prided himself in them, whereas Cowper affects to be all simplicity and plainness. He had neither Thomson's love of the unadorned beauties of Nature, nor Pope's exquisite sense of the elegances of art. He was, in fact, a nervous man, afraid of trusting himself to the seductions of the one, and ashamed of putting forward his pretensions to an intimacy with the other; but to be a coward is not the way to succeed either in poetry, in war, or in love. Still, he is a genuine poet, and deserves all his reputation.

His worst vices are amiable weaknesses, elegant trifling. Though there is a frequent dryness, timidity, and jejuneness in his manner, he has left a number of pictures of domestic comfort and social refinement, as well as of natural imagery and feeling, which can hardly be forgotten but with the language itself. Such, among others, are his memorable description of the post coming in, that of the preparations for tea in a winter's evening in the country, of the unexpected fall of snow, of the frosty morning (with the fine satirical transition to the Empress of Russia's palace of ice), and, most of all, the winter's walk at noon. Every one of these may be considered as distinct studies, or highly finished cabinet-pieces, arranged without order or coherence. I shall be excused for giving the last of them, as what has always appeared to me one of the most feeling, elegant, and perfect specimens of this writer's manner :

'The night was winter in his roughest mood;
The morning sharp and clear. But now at noon
Upon the southern side of the slant hills,

And where the woods fence off the northern blast,
The season smiles, resigning all its rage,
And has the warmth of May. The vault is blue
Without a cloud, and white without a speck
The dazzling splendour of the scene below.
Again the harmony comes o'er the vale;

And through the trees I view the embattled tower,
Whence all the music. I again perceive

The soothing influence of the wafted strains,
And settle in soft musings as I tread

The walk, still verdant, under oaks and elms,
Whose outspread branches overarch the glade.
The roof, though movable through all its length
As the wind sways it, has yet well sufficed,
And, intercepting in their silent fall

The frequent flakes, has kept a path for me.
No noise is here, or none that hinders thought.
The redbreast warbles still, but is content

With slender notes, and more than half suppressed:
Pleased with his solitude, and flitting light
From spray to spray, where'er he rests he shakes
From many a twig the pendant drops of ice
That tinkle in the withered leaves below.
Stillness, accompanied with sounds so soft,
Charms more than silence. Meditation here
May think down hours to moments. Here the heart
May give a useful lesson to the head,

And Learning wiser grow without his books.
Knowledge and Wisdom, far from being one,
Have ofttimes no connection. Knowledge dwells
In heads replete with thoughts of other men ;
Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Books are not seldom talismans and spells,
By which the magic art of shrewder wits
Holds an unthinking multitude enthralled.
Some to the fascination of a name

Surrender judgment hoodwinked. Some the style
Infatuates, and through labyrinths and wilds
Of error leads them, by a tune entranced.
While sloth seduces more, too weak to bear

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