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fections of so different a kind, and so distract the attention, that they never fail to diminish the force of the pathetic. On these accounts, writers much inferior in respect to the powers of description and imagery, have equalled our poet in elegant and benevolent sentiment, and perhaps excelled him in interesting narration. Of these, it will be sufficient to mention the ingenious author of a French poem on the Seasons; who, though a mere copyist in the defcriptive parts, has made many pleasing additions to the manners and incidents proper for such a com. position.
But there is a strain of sentiment of a higher and more digreffive nature, with which THOMSON has occupied a considerable portion of his poem. The fundamental principles of Moral Philofophy, ideas concerning the origin and progress of government and civilization, historical sketches, and reviews of the characters most famous in ancient and modern history, are interspersed through the various parts of the Seas
The manly, liberal, and enlightened spirit which this writer breathes in all his works, must ever endear him to the friends of truth and virtue ; and, in particular, his genuine patriotism and zeal in the cause of liberty will render his writings always esti
mable to the British reader. But, just and important as his thoughts on these topics may be, there may remain a doubt in the breast of the critic, whether their introduction in a piece like this do not, in some inftances, break in upon that unity of character which every work of art should support. We have seen, from the general plan and tenor of the poem, that it is professedly of the rural caft. The objects it is chiefly conversant with are those presented by the hand of Nature, not the products of human art; and when man himself is introduced as a part of the groupe, it would seem that, in conformity to the reft, he ought to be represented in such a state only, as the simplest forms of society, and most unconstrained situations in it, exhibit, Courts and cities, camps and senates, do not well accord with filvan scenery. From the principle of congruity, therefore, a critic might be induced to reject some of these digressive ornaments, though intrinsically beautiful, and doubtless contributing to the elevation and variety of the piece. His judgment in this respect would be a good deal influenced by the manner of their introduction. In some instances this is so easy and natural, that the mind is scarcely sensible of the deviation ; in others it is more abrupt and unartful.
As examples of both, we may refer to the passages in which various characters from English, and from Grecian and Roman history, are displayed. The former, by a happy gradation, is introduced at the close of a delightful piece, containing the praises of Britann;
which is itself a kind of digression, though a very apt and seasonable one. The latter has no other connexion with the part at which it is inserted, than the very forced and distant one, that, as reading may be reckoned among the amusements appropriated to Winter, such subjects as these will naturally offer themselves to the ftudious mind.
There is another source of sentiment to the Poet of the Seasons, which, while it is superior to the laft in real elevation, is also strictly connected with the nature of his work. The genuine philosopher, while he surveys the grand and beautiful objects every where furrounding him, will be prompted to lift his eye to the great cause of all these wonders; the planner and architect of this mighty fabric, every minute part of which so much awakens his curiosity and admiration. The laws by which this Being acts, the ends which he seems to have pursued, must excite his humble researches ; and in proportion as he discovers infinite power in the means, directed by infi
nite goodness in the intention, his soul must be wrapt in astonishment, and expanded with gratitude. The economy of Nature will, to such an observer, be the perfect scheme of an all-wise and beneficent mind; and every part of the wide creation will appear to proclaim the praise of its great Author. Thus a new connexion will manifest itself between the several parts of the universe; and a new order and design will be traced through the progress of its various revolutions.
Thomson's Seasons is as eminently a religious, as it is a descriptive poem. Thoroughly impressed with sentiments of veneration for the Author of that assemblage of order and beauty which it was his province to paint, he takes every proper occasion to excite similar emotions in the breasts of his readers. Entirely free from the gloom of superstition and the narrowness of bigotry, he every where represents the Deity as the kind and beneficent parent of all his works, always watchful over their best interefts, and from seeming evil ftill educing the greatest poflible good to all his creatures. In nature he beholds the operation of a divine hand; and regards, according to his own emphatical phrase, each change throughout the revolving year as but the “ varied God.” This fpirit, which breaks forth
every appearance of
at intervals in each division of his poem, shines full and concentred in that noble Hymn which crowns the work. This piece, the sublimeft production of its kind fince the days of Milton, should be considered as the winding up of all the variety of matter and design contained in the preceding parts; and thus is not only admirable as a separate composition, but is contrived with masterly skill to strengthen the unity and connexion of the great whole.
Thus is planned and constructed a Poem, which, founded as it is upon the unfading beauties of Nature, will live as long as the language in which it is written shall be read. If the perufal of it be in any respect rendered more interesting or instructive by this im- . perfect Effay, the purpose of the writer will be fully answered.