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Cfarenion (J>reee 










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THOMSON has special recommendations as a British classic 
for the use of youth. Not only does he look upon Nature 
with the eye of a poet and there is hardly an aspect of 
Nature that he has failed to note but his descriptions possess 
such a power of freshness and fidelity, conveyed for the 
most part in language of astonishing felicity, that the heart 
must be dull indeed which they cannot inspire with interest 
and even rouse to enthusiasm. It is not too much to say 
that a love for Thomson's poetry in early life implies a 
permanent delight in the phenomena of rural Nature and an 
unfailing response to her restorative influences. It might be 
added that Thomson furnishes in The Seasons the best 
introduction to the study of Wordsworth's poetry, if indeed 
the heart that has felt the charm of the earlier and more 
ingenuous poet be not satisfied to rest content with his 
teaching and to seek no farther. In The Castle of Indolence 
the same love of Nature and rural life which animates The 
Seasons is continually revealed in passages of exquisite 
beauty, and in the second Canto there is, more particularly, 
much sympathetic writing on the advantages of an open-air 
life of active industry which is surely very capable of in- 
spiring and directing the energies of healthy youth. 

The text of The Seasons adopted in the present edition is 
of course that of the year 1746, which was the last to receive 
the author's personal revision. At the same time the earlier 


texts have been examined, and it is believed that all the 
alterations of real interest, made in the first and subsequent 
texts before the completed poem at last settled into the shape 
in which we now have it, have been carefully recorded in the 
Notes certainly to a much greater extent than will be found 
in any previous edition. For The Castle of Indolence the 
text of the second edition, published in octavo in 1748, the 
last year of Thomson's life, has been faithfully followed in the 
present edition. 

Very special care has been taken in the preparation of the 
Notes. They have been written independently of, and are 
fuller and it is hoped not more diffuse than, those of any 
previous edition. Amongst other purposes they aim at 
making the author illustrate himself, by citing from his other 
poems passages parallel to those which happen to be under 
consideration. They are further intended to reveal the 
nature and extent of his indebtedness to his predecessors and 
contemporaries, and they at least indicate the manner in 
which he in his turn has influenced or suggested the poetical 
thought and work of others. 

In regard to The Castle of Indolence, it may fairly be 
claimed that it is here for the first time fully annotated. 

In writing the Biographical Notice I have had occasion to 
correct many faults which, having found their way into the 
early Lives of Thomson, have continued to infest his biography 
ever since. In this part of my task, more especially in dealing 
with the home life and youthful training of Thomson, I have 
received valuable aid most courteously and generously 
given, and here gratefully acknowledged from the Rev. 
John Mair, D.D., minister of the parish of Southdean, Rox- 



1th July, 1891. 























4 2 3-432 



15, 1. 17, for Sir read Mr. 

31, 1. 14, for ravished read ravaged 

61, 1. i no, for flames read aims 

98, 1. 1232, for and nature smiles revived read yet weeping 

from distress 

101, 1. 1338, for fury read hurry 
119, 1. 164, for stated read sated 
124, 1. 338, for bank read banks 
129, 1. 525, for dull prefer grave 
141, 1. 949, for known read felt 
168, 1. 569, for virtue mia? virtues 
1 86, 1. 107, for breathes read spreads 
242, 1. 5 from bottom, for Miller read Millar 
357> ! 6, for up read from 1730 

357, 1. 7 from bottom, for (till 1738) /wrf (1730-1738) 

358, 1. 20, after earlier insert (1738) 

359, 1. 9 from bottom, add (1730-1738) 

361, 1. 5, for the original text read the first edition of The 

Seasons, and indeed from 1724 

361, 1. 12, for till after that of read from 1730 to 1738 
361, 1. 17, for the early text read the first edition of The 


361, 1. 19, after earlier text insert (1730-1738) 
390, 1. 3 from bottom, for 1726 read 1730 

Thomson's Season* 


Page 353, line 15, delete Addison, 

Thomson's Seasons. 


IN July of the year 1692, 'Mr. Thomas Thomson, son of 
a gardener in the employment of Mr. Edmonston of Ednam, 
was appointed minister of the parish of Ednam, an outlying 
district occupying the north-eastern corner of the pastoral county 
of Roxburgh. The law of patronage was then in abeyance, 
but the appointment was probably procured through the influence 
of Mr. Edmonston. The minister-elect was somewhere about 
twenty-five years of age. He seems to have entered upon the 
duties of the ministry with a mind entirely devoted to piety and 
the spiritual welfare of his people. His piety was not untinged 
with the terror of superstition a dark feature of the religious 
feeling of his time ; but in the execution of his sacred office he 
Was undaunted by the powers of evil, seen or unseen, and earned 
a reputation for ' diligence in pastoral duty.' He was a man of 
quiet life, little, if at all, known beyond the bounds of his presby- 
tery, and finding sufficient society in his flock, his family, and 
among a few of the local gentry. Long afterwards his illustrious 
son wrote of him as * a good and tender-hearted parent.' Fifteen 
months after his settlement at Ednam, he married Beatrix, one 
of the daughters of Mr. Alexander Trotter, proprietor of the 
small estate of Widehope, or Wideopen, in the neighbouring 
parish of Morebattle. From her the poet inherited his sociality, 

rmagination, and his natural piety. To him, without any 
cal exaggeration, she was ' the kindest, best of mothers.' 


The Thomson household was a large one, including nine children 
in all, of whom four were born before the end of the century, 
and while the father was still in his first charge as minister of 
Ednam. Of these James was the fourth. Before him were 
born Andrew, in 1695; Alexander, in 1697; and Issobell, in 
1699. The birth of the poet, which almost certainly occurred in 
the manse of Ednam, is believed to have taken place on the 7th 
his baptism was on the I5th of September, 1700. About the 
time of his birth, his father's name for ' piety and diligence in 
pastoral duty' was so well established, that no fewer than three 
parishes, Southdean, Castleton, and Morebattle, were coveting 
the services of the minister of Ednam. Southdean, as repre- 
sented by its Kirk-session and heritors, 'called' him to use 
the Scots phrase of invitation to an ecclesiastical charge on the 
7th of August ; the invitation was accepted, and on the 6th of 
November, 1700, just two months to a day after the poet's birth, 
the Rev. Thomas Thomson was admitted minister of Southdean, 
a pastoral parish of more importance than Ednam, situated on 
the lower slopes of the Cheviots, among the southern uplands of 
Roxburgh. Thither the Thomson household was transferred ; 
and here, from the time of his tenderest infancy to his sixteenth 
year, the youth of the future poet was nursed, and educated, and 
found a home. The interest which attaches to Ednam as the 
birthplace of a great British poet, is thus of the slightest is, in 
fact, merely nominal. It is to Southdean the admirer of Thom- 
son must go if he would make acquaintance with those natural 
influences commonly, but not quite correctly, described as ' the 
scenery ' which were the first to salute the senses, and awaken 
the interest and imagination of the young poet. I am indebted 
to the present incumbent of Southdean, the venerable and 
learned Dr. John Mair, for the following graphic description of 
the old manse, and the view from the manse door : ' His father's 
straw-thatched manse, in rustic simplicity, and clinging with a 
nestling snugness to the base of Southdean Law, is placed at a 
point in the vale where the eye can drink " the pure pleasures of 


the rural life." Around the garden, like a belt of quicksilver, 
sweeps the " sylvan Jed." Looking out from that vale is seen in 
the distance, but not so distant as not to be a part of it, the 
clear-cut sky-line of Carter Fell, whose huge ridge rose as a 
natural bulwark against English covetousness, and whose high 
heathland slopes retain the eye of the spectator above surround- 
ing objects, as the storm-drift careers along them, or as the 
sunbeam reddens their purple beauty.' Much of the scenery 
and poetical spirit of The Seasons were imported from Jed vale ; 
Winter is especially rich in recollections of Thomson's early 
home. He tells us himself that it was from the manse doorway 
or parlour-window at Southdean that he heard the winds roar 
and the big torrent burst, and saw the deep-fermenting tempest 
brewed in the grim evening sky. The shepherd perishing in 
the snow-drift, the winter spate, the visit of the redbreast, are 
evidently all transcripts from the poet's recollection of real 
life at Southdean. Here it was that once for all, in the words 
of Burns, 

'grim Nature's visage hoar 
Struck [his] young eye.' 

When he was about twelve he began his attendance at a 
Grammar School which was kept in St. Mary's Chapel in Jed- 
burgh Abbey. The distance from his home was some eight miles, 
down the Jed. Here he read Latin and Greek. He may not 
have been what is known as a clever pupil, but there is clear 
proof that he early felt the soft and reposeful charm of Virgil's 
verse, and sought to reproduce it in metrical essays of his own 
composition. There was residing at this time, as farmer at 
Earlshaugh, about four miles from Southdean, a Mr. Robert 
Riccaltoun, who, being himself college-bred, and fresh from 
academical studies, volunteered to assist and direct the reading 
of the young scholar. Riccaltoun was a man of considerable 
learning and originality of thought, and occasionally tried his 
hand at versification. He was Thomson's senior by nine years. 
About a year after the Thomsons had left Southdean he became 

B 2 


a clergyman ; and in 1725, when James Thomson had already 
been six months in England, and was now at work upon his 
poem of Winter, Riccaltoun entered upon the duties of an 
ordained minister at Hobkirk, in the same district of Roxburgh in 
which he had been a farmer. Years afterwards, when the fame 
of the author of The Seasons was fully established, he modestly 
acknowledged that he had been among the first to discover the 
poetical talent of Thomson, and that his influence in encouraging 
and directing it had been considerable. His influence did not 
cease with the exercises of the schoolboy ; it accompanied 
Thomson to England, and inspired the idea of The Seasons. 
Thomson's own testimony is express on this point : ' Nature 
delights me in every form ; I am just now painting her in her 
most lugubrious dress for my own amusement, describing Winter 
as it presents itself. . . . Mr. Riccaltoun's poem on Winter, 
which I still have, first put the design into my head in it are 
some masterly strokes which awakened me.' (Letter to Dr. 
Cranston, written at Barnet, near London, September 1725.) 
Among others who looked favourably upon young Thomson's 
essays in verse during his school days were Sir William Bennet 
of Chesters, and Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto. It was probably 
through his uncle and cousin, who were gardeners at Minto 
House, about four miles due west from Jedburgh, that young 
Thomson made the acquaintance of Sir Gilbert Elliot ; but he 
was a more frequent visitor at Chesters, a couple of miles down 
the Teviot from Minto, where indeed he used to spend part of 
his summer vacations, and write a good deal of juvenile poetiy. 
Bennet was of a liberal disposition and frank manners, wrote 
verses himself, and courted the society of the wits and poets of 
Edinburgh Allan Ramsay among the rest. Here is part of a 
juvenile poem descriptive of Sir William Bennet's house and 
grounds, which will serve to show Thomson's poetical attainment 
as a schoolboy : 

'What is the task that to the muse belongs? 
What but to deck in her harmonious songs 


The beauteous works of nature and of art, 
Rural retreats that cheer the heavy heart. 
Then Marlefield begin, my muse, and sing; 
With Marlefield the hills and vales shall ring. 
O what delight and pleasure 'tis to rove 
Through all the walks and alleys of this grove, 
Where spreading trees a checkered scene display, 
Partly admitting and excluding day, . . . 
Where little birds employ their narrow throats 
To sing its praises in unlaboured notes. 
To it adjoined a rising fabric stands, 
Which with its state our silent awe cbmmands; 
Its endless beauties mock the poet's pen, 
So to the garden I'll return again. 
Pomona makes the trees with fruit abound, 
And blushing Flora paints the enamelled ground. 
Here lavish nature does her stores disclose, 
Flowers of all hue, their queen the bashful rose.' 

In these lines may be detected traces of the influence of Virgil 
and Milton, and echoes of the fine old Scots ballad of Leader 
Haitghs and Yarrow. Little of Thomson's juvenile poetry is in 
existence, the youthful scribbler having included as part of the 
festivities of each New Year's Day of his boyhood, regularly as 
it came round, a holocaust of the verses he had produced during 
the preceding twelve months. As a boy young Thomson seems to 
have been natural, healthy, and happy ; well and sympathetically 
acquainted with the rustic life and rural scenery of the whole of his 
native county ; of active and enterprising habits ; and animated 
by a quiet love of fun and good-humoured joking, similar to that 
which marked the youth-time of Walter Scott. 

Towards the end of 1715 he was despatched to Edinburgh 
University, the design of his parents being, as Johnson expresses 
it, to breed him a minister. It was a sore trial to the boy to sur- 
render the freedom of country Jife for the strict discipline and 
confinement of college and town. It was at first, indeed, beyond 
his endurance ; and he returned to Southdean not many hours 


after the servant behind whom he had ridden into Edinburgh, 
declaring that ' he could study as well, or better, on the haughs 
of Sudan' (Southdean). His father did not see it in that light ; 
and he returned to college. Here he had not been many months 
when the news reached him that his father was dead. This event 
occurred on the 9th of February, 1716. The cause of death seems 
to have been an apoplectic fit, which seized the minister of South- 
dean as he was in the act of exorcising what was believed to be an 
evil spirit, known in the parish as 'the Woolie Ghost.' The tragic 
event produced a great sensation in the neighbourhood, having 
been, as was then common in such cases, attributed to super- 
natural agency. It threw young Thomson into such a state of 
terror, that for some years afterwards he had more than a child's 
dread of solitude and darkness. He lived to conquer the terror, 
but the feeling of the supernatural remained in his mind to the 
last, and finds expression in various passages of his poetry. Thus 
in Summer, written in 1726, the lines occur 

' Shook sudden from the bosom of the sky, 
A thousand shapes or glide athwart the dusk, 
Or stalk majestic on. Deep-roused I feel 
A sacred terror, a severe delight, 
Creep through my mortal frame ; and thus, methinks, 
A voice, than human more, the abstracted ear 
Of Fancy strikes : "Be not of us afraid, 
Poor kindred man ! Thy fellow-creatures, we 
From the same Parent-Power our beings drew, 
The same our Lord, and laws, and great pursuit." ' 

(11- 538-47.) 

The home of the Thomsons was now transferred to Edinburgh, 
and the mother made shift to support herself and her children, 
and keep James at college, by mortgaging her interest in the little 
property of Widehope, of which she was co-heiress, and by prac- 
tising a strict economy. The struggles of the family to maintain 
the gentility of their station are implied in the poem On the Death 
of his Mother : 


' No more the widow's lonely state she feels, 
The shock severe that modest want conceals, 
The oppressor's scourge, the scorn of wealthy pride, 
And poverty's unnumbered ills beside.' 

Thomson was in attendance upon classes at the University 
for eight or nine years in all, and though he did not distinguish 
himself as a student not being of a nature to absorb the 
spirit of competition he took congenially to philosophical specu- 
lations on the phenomena of external nature and the human 
mind. Natural philosophy was at this time the principal study 
in the Faculty of Arts at Edinburgh, constituting along with 
Ethics with which it was taught conjointly the subject of the 
fourth or final year of the curriculum. Scottish latinity had 
declined, and the study of English literature had not yet received 
academical recognition. Edinburgh had caught the Baconian 
and Newtonian impulse more fully than the English Universities, 
and the study of mathematical science was beginning to be 
actively pursued. There are numerous proofs in Thomson's 
poetry of his interest in the general subject. See, for example, 
his 'inquiry into the rise of fountains and rivers' in Autumn 
(11. 735-834), and his proposed scheme of future poetical study 
as sketched in the same poem (11. 1351-65). There is also a 
significant reference bearing directly on the point in the first 
letter of his published correspondence, of the nth December, 
1 720 : ' There are some come from London here lately that teach 
natural philosophy by way of shows, by the beat of drum ; but 
more of this afterwards.' At the same time he was by private 
study extending his acquaintance with literature reading 
Shakespeare, Milton, and Pope, and sharing in the interest, now 
beginning to be felt beyond Edinburgh, in the writings of Allan 
Ramsay. He still kept up his practice of versifying, and in 
conjunction with Malloch, and probably Hamilton of Bangour, 
was contributing a poem now and again to the collections of 
verse which were beginning to mark the rise of periodical litera- 
ture in Edinburgh. These verse exercises of Thomson while he 


was still a student include the lines On a Country Life, in heroic 
couplets, in which some see the germ of The Seasons ; a poem 
On Happiness, interesting as containing several ideas and images 
which afterwards reappeared in the Castle of Indolence ; and 
two shorter pieces, also in the heroic couplet, Morning in the 
Cottntry, and On Beauty, the former of which betrays the 
influence, while the latter makes special mention, of Allan Ram- 
say. From the Morning in the Country I extract the following 
lines : 

' The herd his plaid around his shoulders throws, 
Grasps his dear crook, calls on his dog, and goes 
Around the fold: he walks with careful pace, 
And fallen clods sets in their wonted place ; 
Then opes the door, unfolds his fleecy care, 
And gladly sees them crop their morning fare; 
Down upon easy moss his limbs he lays, 
And sings some charming shepherdess's praise/ 

Thomson became a student of divinity in 1719 or 1720, having 
finished his Arts course as was then the general custom with- 
out proceeding to graduation. He figures, it is true, as M.A. 
on the title-page of the first edition of Winter ; but the mistake 
was probably not his, and was cancelled in the second and 
subsequent editions. It is remarkable that, while in 1705 as 
many as 105 students graduated M.A. at Edinburgh, the number 
had fallen in 1749 to 3 ! Sir Alexander Grant, in his history of 
the University, explains that after 1708, when the Arts Faculty 
was re-modelled on its present basis, it ceased to be the interest 
of any Professor to promote graduation (except the Professor of 
Natural Philosophy, who got fees for laureating his class) ; that 
public laureation was abandoned ; and that, in consequence, the 
degree fell into disregard. Thomson's career as a student of 
theology is marked in his continued poetical exercises by several 
pieces of little merit, mainly a few hymns and paraphrases of 
portions of Scripture, the most ambitious being a version in 
heroic couplets of Psalm civ. The only interest of this version 


is its diction, in which one finds such tumid phrases (e. g. l the 
bleating kind,' * the feathered nation,' ' genial moisture,' ' vital 
juice' &c.) as were afterwards to offend the ear in The Seasons. 
In 1724 Thomson arrived at the turning-point of his life. He 
had prepared, as an exercise in connection with the class of 
divinity of which he was a member, a lecture on Psalm cxix, 
which was severely criticised, if not condemned, by Professor 
Hamilton for its floridity of style. If he meant to be of any 
service in the ministry, he was told, he must learn to use a plainer 
language. The censure which the Professor's criticism implied 
determined Thomson to a step which he had probably been for 
some time already meditating. He seems to have been feeling a 
growing dislike to what he called ' the thorny paths of systems 
and school divinity ; ' and he was undoubtedly under the impulse 
of poetical ambition. Suddenly he resolved to try his fortune in 
London. What his plans were is not definitely known, and he 
communicated them to few. He refers to them vaguely in letters 
to confidential friends as 'the business you know I design.' 
Some have thought that he went up to London merely as a 
literary adventurer ; others that his intention was to join, and 
seek preferment in, the Church of England. More probably his 
expectation was to fill some minor post in the political service of 
the Government, which would secure him an independency, and 
afford him an opportunity of cultivating his poetical talents. 
His resolution was at least a noble one : writing to one of his 
many friends in Teviotdale with which county he had kept up 
a close and constant connection during the whole period of his 
studentship he declares, ' I will do all that is in my power, act, 
hope, and so either make something out, or be buried in 
obscurity.' He set about preparations for his departure, 
collected recommendations and letters of introduction, and took 
farewell of his friends. It is noteworthy that the indolence 
which certainly overtook Thomson before he was middle-aged, 
was no characteristic of his youth and early manhood. At this 
time he was of active habits ; an early riser, who had seen the 


dawns he was afterwards to describe so gloriously ; a keen and 
accurate observer of the whole phenomena of nature within his 
range ; no great lover of the town, and by no means averse to 
solitude, yet fond of society, and with a strong relish for humour 
and fun. He was healthy and strong ; of a fresh complexion, 
and frank open countenance which made him friends wherever he 
went ; above the middle height, and without that studious stoop 
and slovenliness of dress which struck Shenstone some twenty 
years later as indicative of vulgarity. The following extract from 
one of his farewell letters will show better than description the 
geniality and brave hopefulness of his nature in the spring of 
1725 : ' My spirits have gotten such a serious turn by these re- 
flections, that, although I be thinking on Misjohn, I declare 
I shall hardly force a laugh before we part for this I think will 
be my last letter from Edinburgh (I expect to sail every day). 
Well ! since I am speaking of that merry soul, I hope he is as 
bright, as easy, as degagt, as susceptible of an intense laugh 
as he used to be. Tell him when you see him that I laugh 
in imagination with him ha! ha ! ha ! Mass John, how in 
the name of wonder dragged you so much good humour 
along with you through the thorny paths of systems and school 

divinity ? May wit, humour, and everlasting joy surround 

you both ! ' 

He embarked at Leith, and arrived in London before the end 
of March, 1725. Here his first experience was the loss of his 
letters of introduction, of which a pickpocket with little ad- 
vantage to himself relieved him, as with bewildered looks he 
journeyed along the crowded streets of the great capital. The 
inconvenience was soon got over, and he presented himself to 
the influential persons from whom he expected some aid in the 
furtherance of the design which had brought him to England. 
Among others he saw Duncan Forbes of Culloden, afterward 
Lord President of the Court of Session ; Mr. Elliot, a member 
of the Minto family ; and relatives of Lady Grizcl Baillie, a 
friend of his mother, and not unknown to himself. The inter- 


views were disappointing, and almost made him confess regret 
at the bold step he had taken in breaking away from Scotland 
and the ministry of the Scottish Kirk. Here is part of his own 
report of one of those interviews : * I went and delivered it 
[letter of introduction to Mr. Elliot] ; he received me affably 
enough, and promised me his assistance, though at the same 
time he told me what every one tells me that it will be 
prodigiously difficult to succeed in the business you know I 
design. However, come what will come, I will make an effort 
and leave the rest to providence. There is, I am persuaded, a 
necessary fixed chain of things, and I hope my fortune, whatever 
it be, shall be linked to diligence and honesty. If I should not 
succeed, in your next advise me what I should do. Succeed or 
not, I firmly resolve to pursue divinity as the only thing now 
I am fit for. Now if I cannot accomplish the design on which 
I came up, I think I had best make interest and pass my trials 
here, so that if I be obliged soon to return to Scotland again, I 
may not return no better than I came away. And, to be deeply 
serious with you, the more I see of the vanity and wickedness 
of the world, the more I am inclined to that sacred office. I was 
going to bid you suppress that rising laugh, but I check myself 
severely again for suffering such an unbecoming thought of you 
to enter into my mind.' (Letter to Dr. Cranston, Ancrum, in 
Roxburghshire, of date yd April, 1725.) Thomson waited on 
in London for the promised assistance, which did not come, 
and meanwhile fell in with his former college companion David 
Malloch, who had come up to London to act as tutor to the two 
sons of the Duke of Montrose. Malloch proved a kind friend, 
and Thomson was grateful. More than a year afterwards, 
taking a retrospect of his experiences since his arrival in 
England, Thomson wrote to Malloch, in friendly criticism of 
some MS. verses of the latter, that 'the comprehensive com- 
pound-epithet All-shunned was a beauty he had had too good 
reason to relish.' ' Thank heaven,' he added, ' there was one 
exception 'meaning that Malloch had stood by him when all 


others neglected him. He had been only six weeks in London 
when the sad news reached him that his mother was dead. It 
was probably on receipt of the news that he penned the 
affectionate lines On the Death of his Mother. They have the 
ring of genuine sorrow. They suggest so irresistibly another 
and more famous poem on a similar subject, that one is tempted 
to think that Thomson's tribute was in the mind of Cowper 
when he wrote those ineffably pathetic lines On the Receipt of 
my Mothers Picture. The loss of a home seems to have 
determined Thomson to pursue his fortune in London. Partly 
through the influence of Lady Grizel Baillie, and partly through 
the services of Malloch, he received a tutorship in the family of 
Lord Binning some time in July. The family were resident at 
Barnet, about ten miles from London, and here Thomson 
utilised his leisure by composing his poem of Winter. It was 
here he first felt, as a personal thing, the pressure of poverty. 
He was by no means, at any time of his life, in absolute want, 
but he was improvident enough on several occasions to incur 
debts which he could not always meet just when payment was 
demanded. About this time the share of the little property at 
Widehope which had belonged to his mother was realised, and 
the balance that remained, after the claim of the mortgagee was 
satisfied, was divided among the family. Thomson was now 
dependent upon his own efforts for his maintenance. Winter 
was published in March, 1726, and may fairly be said to have 
been successful from the first. Its publication brought him 
many friends and patrons among others the Countess of 
Hertford, Mr. Bubb Dodington, Mrs. Stanley, and Dr. Thomas 
Rundle, afterwards Bishop of Derry ; besides the approval 
and active services of such influential critics of the time as 
Aaron Hill, the Rev. Joseph Spence, and the Rev. Robert 
Whatley. A second edition was in preparation within about a 
year, and before the end of 1728 the fifth edition was out. 
Thomson took full advantage of the tide that was rising in his 
favour. He gave up his tutorship at East Barnet ; and, coming 


into London where he was still obliged to devote part of his 
time to teaching he set about the composition of Summer with 
the utmost enthusiasm. By this time he had planned the series 
of The Seasons, a work which he had not thought of when 
writing Winter, and was in haste to accomplish his task. He 
was cheered with the friendship and encouragement of Malloch 
and Hill. Hill was fond of flattery, and Thomson submitting 
his better judgment probably to the dictation of Malloch did 
not stint or spare. In any case, the young friendless Scotsman, 
' all-shunned ' where he had looked for aid, and feeling with keen 
delight the first sunshine of fame, was, as Johnson charitably 
allows, naturally glad of Hill's kindness, and may be excused 
for some phrases of unusual warmth, the blame of which, 
indeed, rests as much upon Hill as upon Thomson. Thomson 
was to be far more famous, was to number among his friends 
men of higher standing than Hill, and was to approve himself 
in his relation to them, at all points a gentleman. Summer, 
preceded by a poem To the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, was 
published in 1727. In the same year he wrote Britannia, in the 
interest of English commerce against the action of Spain, but 
the poem was not published till early in 1729. Spring, which 
fully maintained the credit of the new poet, followed in 1728 ; 
and in 1730 the publication of the collected Seasons, including 
Autumn and the Hymn for the first time, brought the task 
which he had set himself, and in which the interest of so many 
admirers was enlisted, gloriously to a close. Meanwhile his 
poetical energy was finding a new channel. From the first 
week of his arrival in London he had been attracted to the 
theatre, and his interest in the drama at last took the form of 
a tragedy of his own composition, Sophonisba, which was pro- 
duced at Drury Lane in February, 1730. This was a department 
of poetry in which Thomson was to work for some time 
assiduously, but in which the peculiar nature of his genius 
forbade him to excel. Voltaire's temperate opinion of Thomson's 
eloquent but frigid tragedies is now whatever temporary sue- 


cess they achieved generally endorsed, even by his most 
enthusiastic admirers : ' Mr. Thomson's tragedies seem to me 
wisely intricated, and elegantly writ ; they want perhaps some 
fire, and it may be that his heroes are neither moving nor busy 

In 1730, through the friendship of Dr. Rundle, Thomson was 
appointed tutor to Mr. Charles Richard Talbot, eldest son of the 
Solicitor-General, and future Lord Chancellor, and travelled 
with his pupil on the Continent for nearly two years. They 
visited France and Italy, staying at Paris and at Rome for con- 
siderable periods. During his absence Thomson kept up a 
correspondence with Dodington, which shows that he enjoyed 
a complete holiday from literary work of every kind, but that, 
while apparently idle, he was receiving many new and important 
impressions. He writes : ' Travelling has long been my fondest 
wish. . . The storing one's imagination with ideas of all-beautiful, 
all-great, and all-perfect nature these are the true materia 
poetica, the light and colours with which fancy kindles up her 
whole creation, paints a sentiment, and even embodies an ab- 
stracted thought. I long to see the fields where Virgil gathered 
his immortal honey, and tread the same ground where men 
have thought and acted so greatly. 5 In the same letter occurs 
the significant remark : ' I resolve not to neglect the more 
prosaic advantages [of travel], for it is no less my ambition to be 
capable of serving my country in an active than in a contem- 
plative way.' This remark should be read along with the 
Dedication of Autumn (11. 18-22). It seems to show that Thom- 
son had still in his mind the original design for an independent 
settlement in life which brought him up to London in 1725. 
In a later letter to his big patron he makes a charming con- 
fession : ' Now I mention poetry, should you inquire after my 
muse, all that I can answer is, that I believe she did not cross 
the channel with me. 3 

In the end of 1731 Thomson was back again in England, and 
immediately set about the composition of an epic poem, in five 


parts, on the subject of Liberty. The first part was published 
in 1734 ; the next two parts in 1735 ; an d in 1736 the con- 
cluding parts made their appearance. It is usual to condemn 
this poem as blighted, and many critics have done so without 
having read it and without having confessed the neglect. It 
is, notwithstanding, a great poem, full of learning, eloquence, 
imagination, and occasionally rising to altitudes of rare poetical 
vision ; but the subject, and more especially the length at which 
it is treated, was a mistake. Liberty is a lyrical theme; to 
treat it didactically the proper form to use is prose. This, 
however, may be said, that, given the subject and the method 
of treatment, no poet of his century could have done better than 

In September, 1733, while Thomson was busy with the first 
part of Liberty, Charles Talbot the younger died, and a grace- 
ful tribute to his memory was paid in the opening lines of 
the poem. Two months later Sir Charles Talbot became Lord 
Chancellor, and appointed Thomson to the office of Secretary of 
Briefs in the Court of Chancery. This office he occupied till 
the death of the Chancellor in the spring of 1737, and might 
still have held it but for his own neglect in making application : 
the new Chancellor conferred it upon another. Meanwhile 
Thomson had settled in a garden-house in Kew-foot Lane at 
Richmond, where he spent the remainder of his life in com- 
parative luxury, and a retirement that was far from unsocial. 
Here he entertained Pope, Hammond, Collins, and Quin ; 
Lyttelton was no infrequent visitor ; and he made many friends 
in the neighbourhood. In the first flush of prosperity he did 
not forget his Scottish friends and relatives. He invited one of 
his brothers to stay with him, allowed his sisters a small annuity, 
and by and by two of his kinsmen, gardeners by occupation, 
were pensioners upon his bounty at Richmond. His brother, 
after acting for some time as his amanuensis, fell into ill health, 
and returned to Scotland, where he died. The news of his 
death called forth the following reflections from Thomson, in a 


letter to his old Roxburgh friend Cranston : * The living are to 
be lamented, not the dead. . . Death is a limit which human 
passions ought not, but with great caution and reverence, to 
pass. . . This I think we may be sure of, that a future state 
must be better than this ; and so on through the never-ceasing 
succession of future states every one rising upon the last, an 
everlasting new display of infinite goodness. But hereby hangs 
a system, not calculated perhaps for the meridian in which you 
live.' After the loss of the Secretaryship, Thomson was for a 
little in somewhat embarrassed circumstances, in the midst of 
which he was arrested for a debt, which Quin the actor most 
generously insisted on paying ; his fortunes, however, to use his 
own phrase, blossomed again, and a pension of ^100 a year 
from the Prince of Wales, to whom he had been introduced by 
Lyttelton, secured him against want. He again turned his 
attention to dramatic writing, and in April 1738, Agamemnon 
was brought out in the presence of a large and distinguished 
house at Drury Lane. The same year he published a new 
edition of The Seasons. Next year he was ready with another 
play, Edward and Eleanora, but the Lord Chamberlain sup- 
pressed it on account of its political allusions. In 1740 he wrote 
a Preface for Milton's Areopagitica ; and, conjointly with Malloch, 
composed The Masque of Alfred the gem of the produc- 
tion, the welt-known national lyric 'Rule, Britannia,' being his. 
In 1743 he paid his first visit to his best friends, the Lytteltons, at 
Hagley in Worcestershire ; and in the following year, Lyttelton 
being then a Lord of the Treasury, he was appointed to the 
sinecure office of Surveyor-General of the Leeward Islands. 
After paying a deputy to discharge the active duties of the post, 
he found himself benefited to the extent of about ^300 a year. 
This year a new edition of The Seasons was published. About 
this time Thomson, who all his life was very susceptible of the 
charms of female beauty, had serious thoughts of marrying. 
The object of his affections was a Miss Young, sister of the first 
wife of his friend Robertson, a surgeon at Kew, and identified 


with the Amanda of his later poetry. ' It was Mrs. Young,' 
wrote John Ramsay of Ochtertyre (Scotland and Scotsmen in the 
Eighteenth Century, edited by Alex. Allardyce), ' a coarse, vulgar 
woman, who constantly opposed the poet's pretensions to her 
daughter ; saying to her one day, " What ! would you marry 
Thomson ? He will make ballads, and you will sing them ! " ' 
Thomson seems not to have been ignorant of the maternal dis- 
like to his suit : ' If I am so happy as to have your heart,' he 
writes on one occasion to Miss Young, * I know you have spirit 
to maintain your choice. 7 The refusal of the lady she after- 
wards became the wife of Admiral Campbell was the great 
disappointment of Thomson's life. His humour remained with 
him to the last, but all his gaiety left him ; he sjipt into pro- 
foundly indolent habits, became careless of his appearance 
and of fortune, and seemed utterly indifferent to life. 

In 1745 his best drama, Tancred and Sigismunda, was 
enacted at Drury Lane, with Garrick as Tancred. Part of the 
summer or autumn of this and the next two years he spent at 
Hagley. Lyttelton was affectionately concerned at his listless- 
ness, and strove by various means to divert his attention and 
rouse his energies. In 1746 the poet made way for his old 
friend, and deputy, Paterson, in the office of Surveyor-General. 
The same year was published the last edition of The Seasons 
that had the benefit of the author's revision. 1748 was marked 
by three occurrences the discontinuance of his pension, owing 
to a quarrel between the Prince of Wales and Lyttelton ; the 
appearance of The Castle of Indolence, which had been long 
on the way; and his lamented death from a neglected cold, 
on the 27th of August. About four months before his death we 
find him expressing himself, in a letter to Paterson, in the 
following melancholy strain on the disappointments and vexa- 
tions of life: 'Let us have a little more patience, Paterson; 
nay, let us be cheerful. At last all will be well, at least all will 
be over; here, I mean God forbid it should be so hereafter. 
But, as sure as there is a God, that will not be so.' It is to be 



regretted that he did not carry out the intention, which he had 
half formed the year before his death, of visiting Scotland, 
The change would have done him good, and the visit might 
have originated a personal regard for him among his country- 
men, the only thing wanting to make his poetical reputation 
almost as dear to the national memory as that of Burns 
or of Scott. 


1692. In July, Mr. Thomas Thomson, son of a gardener in the employ- 

ment of Mr. Edmonston of Ednam, is appointed being then 
about twenty-five years of age minister of the parish of Ednam, 
in the north-east of Roxburghshire. 

1693. In October, marries Beatrix, one of the daughters of Mr. Alexander 

Trotter of Widehope, in the parish of Morebattle, Roxburgh- 

1700. Their fourth child, who was also their third son, JAMES, born 
(it is believed) on the 7th, baptized on the I5th September. 
In the November following, the Rev. Thomas Thomson 
inducted into the parish of Southdean, in the south of 
Roxburghshire, his son James being then just two months old. 
[This year Dry den died.] 

1712. Young Thomson in attendance at a Grammar School kept in the 
aisle of Jedburgh Abbey, some eight miles or so distant 
from his home at Southdean. His acquaintance with Mr. 
Robert Riccaltoun, farmer at Earlshaugh, begins about this 
time. First attempts at poetizing a year or two later. 

1715. Towards the end of the year Thomson becomes a student at 

Edinburgh University. Still writing verse blank, and heroic 
couplets, on the model of Dryden. 

1716. Unexpected death of his father, on 9th February. Home transferred 

to Edinburgh some time after. 
1720. Now a student of Divinity. Continues to write verse, chiefly on 

rural subjects contributed to The Edinburgh Miscellany. 
1724. Still at college. Adverse criticism, by the Professor of Divinity, 

of one of his college exercises. The turning-point and middle 

of his life. [This year Allan Ramsay published his Evergreen, 

and his Tea- Table Miscellany^} 
C 2 


1725. In March Thomson embarks at Leith for London, not again to 

see Scotland. In May, death of his mother. In July, tutor 
to Lord Binning's son, at Barnet, near London. Composition 
of Winter. [The Gentle Shepherd in complete form was 
published this year.] 

1 726. In March, publication of Winter. Thomson acting as tutor in an 

academy in London. Acquaintance with Aaron Hill. 

1727. Poem To the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton. Summer published. 

Wrote Britannia, A Poem. Relying on literature for his 

1728. Publication of Spring. [Goldsmith born.] 

1729. In Jamiary, Britannia published. A poem To the Memory of 

Congreve also published, anonymously, but undoubtedly 

i 730. In February, Sophonisba produced at Drury Lane. Publication 

of The Seasons (including Autumn and The Hymn for the first 

time). Appointed travelling tutor to Charles Richard Talbot, 

eldest son of the Solicitor-General, with whom he visits France 

and Italy. 
1731. Correspondence with Dodington. Collecting material for his 

projected poem on Liberty. Returns from the Continent at 

the close of the year. [Birth of Cowper.] 
1 7 33- In September, death of Mr. C. R. Talbot. In November, Thomson 

appointed Secretary of Briefs in the Court of Chancery. 

1734. In December, publication of Liberty, Part First. 

1735. Liberty, Parts Second and Third. Death of a brother in 


1736. Liberty, Parts Fourth and Fifth. In May, Thomson settles in a 

garden-house in Kew-foot Lane, Richmond. Sends assistance 
to his sisters in Edinburgh. 

1737. In June, -poem to The Memory of Lord Chancellor Talbot. Loss 

of Secretaryship. Acquaintance with George (afterwards Lord) 
Lyttelton. Pension of i oo a year from the Prince of Wales, 
about this time. [Shenstone's The Schoolmistress appeared 
this year; in its complete form in 1742.] 

1738. Agamemnon at Drury Lane, in April. A new edition of 77ie 

Seasons published. 


1739. Tragedy of Edward and Eleanora suppressed on account of its 

political allusions. 

1740. Preface to Milton's Areopagitica. Conjointly with Malloch, The 

Masque of Alfred performed ist August, in Clifden gardens, 
before the Prince of Wales containing the lyric, ' Rule, 
Britannia,' by Thomson. 

1743. In August, visits the Lytteltons at Hagley, in Worcestershire. 

1744. Appointed to the sinecure office of Surveyor-General of the 

Leeward Islands, through Lyttelton's influence. A new edition 
of The Seasons. [Armstrong's Art of Preserving Health 
published in this year. Death of Pope.] 

1745. Tancred and Sigismunda at Drury Lane, with Garrick as Tancred. 

Spends part of the summer at Hagley. 

1 746. Thomson makes way for his friend and deputy, Paterson, in the 

office of Surveyor- General. Part of the autumn at Hagley. 
Publication of the last of the author's editions of The 

1747. Thomson at Hagley in the autumn. Visits Shenstone at the 

Leasowes, probably not for the first time. 

1748. Pension of 100 discontinued, early in this year. The Castle of 

Indolence, in May. Death, in his house at Richmond, on the 
27th of August. Buried at Richmond. [Collins's Ode on 
Thomson's Death, .] 

1749. Coriolanus produced the prologue by Lyttelton. 

1762. Monument in Westminster Abbey, between those of Shakespeare 

and Rowe. 
1791. In the autumn of this year Burns wrote his Address to the Shade 

of Thomson. 


WHEN Thomson came up to London from Scotland in March 
1725, he brought with him no MS. poetry of his own composi- 
tion at least none that was of sufficient value for publication. 
All his published poems of any merit, including of course The 
Seasons, from beginning to end, were planned and produced in 
England. What he did bring with him was a consciousness of 
poetical power, a strong ambition to manifest it, and a predilec- 
tion for some great and serious subject which should involve 
a description of the works of nature. He had not been many 
months in England when he found such a subject in Winter. 
His management of this stormy theme was his warrant for the 
opinion he had formed of his poetical genius, and justified the 
ambition which had brought him to London. He encountered 
Winter in the course of an exercise in blank verse, and in the 
words of Cowden Clarke ' rose instantly as if on the wings of 
the blast ' to his full altitude. It looked at first, indeed, as if the 
subject was to have no better fate at his hands than its prede- 
cessors 1 , which had only served him for the exercise of rhyming. 
In September, when he had already made some progress in the 
work, he could still only speak of it as a study in blank verse, 
which was amusing him, but which he might drop at any moment. 
Erelong, as he was drawn into living touch with his subject, he 
perceived its magnitude and capabilities; the memories of 
Scottish winters rose up in dread magnificence before him ; he 

1 Such as the verses On a Country Life, written before he was twenty, 
and of no great interest in respect of matter or style. The subject, how- 
ever, was significant. 


applied himself enthusiastically to his task, and, before his first 
winter in England was well over, he had dashed off a succession 
of descriptions and reflections which, when pieced together, made 
up the poem of Winter. It is to be noted that the subject was 
defined and clearly before him so early as September, 1725, and 
that the title was no afterthought, and no suggestion of his friend 
Malloch's. The very first draught of the poem opened with the 
explicit boldness of the old epic style : 

' I sing of Winter and his gelid reign ; 
Nor let a rhyming insect of the Spring 
Deem it a barren theme : to me 'tis full 
Of manly charms, to me who court the shade, 
Whom the gay Season suits not, and who shun 
The glare of Summer. Welcome, kindred glooms ! 
Drear, awful Wintry horrors, welcome all ! ' 

Winter was published in March, 1726. It was so far imme- 
diately successful, that a second edition was printed off by the end 
of June. The Seasons, which had not been contemplated in the 
production of Winter, grew out of its success. In a significant 
preface which was prefixed to the second edition of Winter, and 
which may be regarded as Thomson's Defence of Poesy, he first 
unfolded his scheme by announcing to the public his purpose of 
describing the various appearances of nature in the other seasons 
as well. When he made this announcement he had already 
begun Summer, which he had selected as being the antithesis of 
Winter, and by the month of August he was so far advanced as 
to have three-fourths of it written. It was published in 1727. 
Spring followed in 1728 ; and in 1730 Autumn appeared in its 
regular place in the first edition of The Seasons, where it formed, 
with the final Hymn, the new feature of the completed and 
collected work. 

The Seasons, singly and collectively, passed through many 
editions in their author's lifetime ; and the changes he made in 
the text, especially in the later editions, were very numerous. 
Here he introduced, there he struck out ; this he condensed, 
that he expanded ; he was never done substituting a new word or 
phrase for an old one, and he carried his passion for correcting, 


or rather for altering, so far as to shift whole passages from one 
Season to another. In short, he practised upon the original text 
all the methods of arithmetic adding, subtracting, multiplying, 
and distributing to an extent unknown in the practice of any 
other author. Shortly before his death, he even delegated a 
continuance of this kind of work to his literary executor, Lord 
Lyttelton. These textual changes in The Seasons are compar- 
atively few and slight down to the edition of 1738. Some idea 
of the changes afterwards made in the text may be gathered 
from an arithmetical comparison of the impression of that year 
with the edition of 1746, the last to be issued in the author's 
lifetime. In the earlier of these editions Spring consisted of 
1089 numbered lines; Summer, of 1205; Autumn, of 1274; 
Winter, of 787 ; and The Hymn, of 1214476 verses in all. If 
now we turn to the edition of 1746, we find the numbers to be 
for Spring, 1176; for Summer, 1805; for Autumn, 1372; 
for Winter, 1069; and for The Hymn, 1185540 in all. The 
numerical increase in the later edition is thus shown to be con- 
siderably over a thousand lines. These thousand and odd lines 
do not, of course, represent the total amount of new matter 
incorporated with the earlier text, but the surplus of the new 
matter over and above what was required to balance the matter 
withdrawn. The withdrawn matter was not only of very con- 
siderable amount, but was largely made up of innumerable 
isolated words and phrases abstracted from every quarter of the 
text. A variorum edition of The Seasons would doubtless be 
a boon to students of the art of Thomson, but it would demand 
a Hercules to accomplish it. It would probably reveal that kind 
of development of the poetic art in which refinement and repose 
are gained, not without some expense of vigour and vitality. 
There is sound criticism in the judgment of Johnson, who 
thought that The Seasons were improved in general by the poet's 
alterations, but suspected that in the process they had lost part 
of their original race or flavour. The suspicion was a shrewd 
one. The keenness, for example, of Thomson's colour-sense, 
was a more pronounced feature of the original Seasons than of 
the later editions. It was in deference to English taste that he 


economized his reds and yellows, and toned down those glowing 
tints, a love for which he had inherited from the Scottish school 
of poetry. His Scotticisms too were expressive. But the loss 
of raciness is chiefly seen in the substitution, for example, of so 
comparatively tame a line as 

' Then scale the mountains to their woody tops, ' 

' Then snatch the mountains by their woody tops,' 

in the description of the fox-hunt in the third Season ; or in the 
exchange of ' shook from the corn ' for ' scared from the corn ' in 
the hare-hunt ; or by the clean withdrawal from Winter of 
so characteristic a passage as the following : 

' Tempted, vigorous, o'er the marble waste, 
On sleds reclined, the furry Russian sits ; 
And, by his reindeer drawn, behind him throws 
A shining kingdom in a winter's day.' 

( In his choice of subject Thomson made a new departure in 
/English poetry of great historical importance. He introduced, 
or more properly re-introduced into literature, from which they 
had been banished for at least two generations, the wild pagan 
graces and savage grandeur of external nature. And this he did 
with such imaginative pomp, such romantic charm, as to secure 
the permanence of a sympathetic study of nature, and the 
vitality of naturalism in our literature to the present day. He 
had even the honour of being followed by a school of French 
writers : ' Ce poeme [Des Saisons] a e"te imite chez nous par 
Saint Lambert, et ne fut pas sans influence sur 1'ecole descriptive 
de Delille.' Nouv. Biog. Gen. (1877). His choice of subject 
was deliberate, and made with full consciousness of the prevailing 
taste, so successfully developed by Dryden and Pope, for artificial 
poetry. \^itiijhaijta^tehjym^ In his preface 

to the second edition of Winter^ cries out for the restoration of 
poetry to her ancient purity and truth : * Let her be inspired 
from heaven,' he exclaims ; ' let her exchange her low, venal, 
1 trifling subjects for such as are fair, useful, and magnificent.' 
'He further characterizes the popular subjects as 'the reigning 


fopperies of a tasteless age ' ; and he goes on to declare that 
'nothing can have a better influence towards the revival of 
poetry than the choosing of great and serious subjects, such as 
at once amuse the fancy, enlighten the head, and warm the 
heart.' * What,' he asks, * are we commonly entertained with, 
save forced unaffecting fancies, little glittering prettinesses, 
mixed terms of wit and expression, which are as widely different 
from native poetry as buffoonery is from the perfection of human 
thinking ? ' His practical suggestions for the much desiderated 
restoration and revival of poetry are valuable for their signifi- 
cance : ' I know no subject more elevating, more amusing, more \\J 
ready to awake the poetical enthusiasm, the philosophical ~/r* 
reflection, and the moral sentiment, than the works of Nature. 
Where can we meet with such variety, such beauty, such 
magnificence all that enlarges and transports the soul ? What 
more inspiring than a calm wide survey of them? In every j 
dress Nature is greatly charming, whether she puts on the crimson 
robes of the morning, the strong effulgence of noon, the sober 
suit of the evening, or the deep sables of blackness and tempest. 
How gay looks the Spring! how glorious the Summer! how" 
pleasing the Autumn ! and how venerable the Winter ! But 
there is no thinking of these things without breaking out into 
poetry.' Thomson's mind was directed to the study of nature 
from the very first. Rural life and the varied scenery of the 
open country as affected by the changing seasons, were the 
themes even of his boyish verse. Nature was his first love, and | 
remained a passion with him to the end. It was a passion I 
entirely Scottish in its origin, born of the scenery of his native 
Teviotdale, and fostered by the ballad poetry of the Border. 
But the influence of Virgil's Georgics helped to confirm it ; and 
it found encouragement in the poetry of Milton and the later 
Elizabethans, and even drew some sustenance from the arid 
pastorals of Pope. If he did not invent, Thomson was the first 
in England to invest with national interest that class of poetry 
which Dryden, referring to Denham's Cooper's Hill^ regarded 
as a variety of the epic, and for which Johnson proposed the 
name of local poetry. Local poems, that is, poems directly 


devoted to the description of some particular region of country, 
and better defined as topographical poems, had already, before 
the publication of the first section of the Seasons, been written 
and received with more or less favour in England. They were, 
however, both few and comparatively short, and none of them 
not even the best known can be said to have been really 
popular. Of these, beginning with Cooper's Hill, published in 
1642 'the first of the new species of composition,' according to 
Johnson we have next, in 1645, following the order of publica- 
tion, L? Allegro and // Penseroso, which may be regarded as an 
idealized description, with sunlight and moonlight effects, of the 
landscape around Horton ; then Windsor Forest ', published 
in 1713; and then Garth's Claremont, published in 1715, said 
to have been directly suggested by Denham's poem. Dyer's 
Grongar Hill appeared in 1726, the year of Thomson's Winter. 
But Winter and the other Seasons are something more than 
a series of topographical poems. They include an imaginative 
survey of almost every variety of landscape, under almost every 
conceivable variety of weather, ranging all round the globe in 
circles that widen gradually and grandly to the horizon of a 
hemisphere, and again contract and close to the narrow dimen- 
sions of a Scottish dale. They are geographical rather than 
topographical. Their range and scope are wide enough to 
warrant the larger connotative term. 

The blank verse -oTJu Seasons is Thomson's own. It is 
distinct from Milton's, with which it is most likely to be com- 
pared, yet there is now and again in its flowing and sonorous 
lines a suggestion of the statelier and more sustained music 
of the great master. The highest praise of Thomson's style is 
that it suits the general subject. He moves through a vast 
variety of scenes with a lofty sedateness, a serene moral dignity, 
which sometimes, but rarely, verges on pomposity. With such 
a style it is really remarkable how varied his verse can be, and 
with what sedate ease he can make his transitions from homeli- 
ness to sublimity, from humour to tenderness. He is never 
at a loss for suggestive words, and is often indeed copious to 
redundancy. This copiousness of language is the result of an 


enthusiastic love for his subject, and will be pardoned by those who 
have caught from it the enthusiasm it conveys. Campbell finely 
compares it to ' the flowing vesture of the Druid.' His diction 
is not free from the cmiy^nj:ipjial_rjhrases which were the 
common stock-in-trade of the Augustan poets : upon these he is 
constantly falling back when he is in a reflective, or speculative, 
or preaching mood ; but in his descriptions, especially when the 
theme is more than usually familiar and congenial to him, he 
readily finds a language which is at once natural and original, 
and either picturesque or melodious, often both. Before the 
publication of Winter the heroic couplet had for over half a 
century been the fashionable verse, and had come to be regarded 
as the indispensable vehicle of all serious poetry. It had been 
brought to such a pitch of perfection by Pope, that at last the 
younger poets, in despair at his excellence, ceased to practise it. 
Of these Thomson was one, and indeed the chief. In his youth 
he had exercised himself in the composition of the heroic 
measure, but with extremely indifferent success. He had also 
made a few trivial efforts in blank verse, with no better result. 
He adopted blank verse in the composition of Winter as the 
measure which best suited the nature of his subject, and which, 
besides leaving his natural genius free from the restraints of 
rhyme, protected him from comparison with Pope. It was with 
just a touch of contempt in his tone that he took almost 
complete farewell of the heroic couplet in 1725, and ventured 
daringly upon a form of verse which had only once before been 
used in a great way for other than dramatic purposes, and which 
was probably beginning to be considered as sacred to the 
epical genius of Milton : 

' I sing of Winter and his gelid reign ; 
Nor let a rhyming insect of the Spring 
Deem it a barren theme ! ' 

Thomson_was a great, innovator : his introduction of blank 
verse as a form of popular poetry in the year 1726 was no 
inconsiderable part of his innovations. Almost equally with his 
choice of subject, his blank verse was a blow to the artificial 


school. He was speedily followed in his use of it by many 
imitators, some of whom notably Savage 1 , Somerville, and 
Dyer, and such minor poets among his own countrymen as 
Malloch, Armstrong, and Michael Bruce copied his style with 
remarkable but mostly unmeritorious fidelity. His use of blank 
verse for non-heroic natural subjects was approved not only by 
the popular voice, but by the influential practice of Cowper and 
Wordsworth. One feature of the blank verse of The Seasons 
remains to be noted, its wonderful homogeneity. Thomson 
seems to have attained his peculiar mastery of the measure at 
a bound. 

1 In The Wanderer (1729), an anticipation of Goldsmith's Traveller. 



COME, gentle Spring, ethereal mildness, come ; 
And from the bosom of yon dropping cloud, 
While music wakes around, veiled in a sjiower 
Of shadowing roses, on our plains descend. 

O Hertford, fitted or to shine in courts 5 

With unaffected grace, or walk the plain 
With innocence and meditation joined 
I n_soft_ .assemblage, listen to my song, 
Which thy own Season paints, when Nature all 
Is blooming and benevolent like thee. 10 

And see where surly Winter passes off 
Far to the north, and calls his ruffian blasts: 
His blasts obey, and quit the howling hill, 
The shattered forest, and the ravished vale; 
While softer gales succeed, at whose kind touch, 15 

Dissolving snows in livid torrents lost, 
The mountains lift their green heads to the sky. 

As yet the trembling year is unconfirmed, 
And Winter oft at eve resumes the breeze, 
Chills the pale morn, and bids his driving sleets 20 

Deform the day delightless, so that scarce 
The bittern knows his time with bill ingulfed 
To shake the sounding marsh, or from the shore 
The plovers when to scatter o'er the heath, 
And sing their wild notes to the listening waste. 25 


(At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun, 
And the bright Bull receives him. Then no more 
The expansive atmosphere is cramped with cold, 
But, full of life and vivifying soul, 
Lifts"~th'e light clouds ^sublime, and spreads them thin, 30 
Fleecy, and white o'er all surrounding heaven. 

Forth fly the tepid airs ; and unconfmed, 
Unbinding earth, the^moying. softness strays. 
Joyous the impatient husbandman perceives 
Relenting nature, and his lusty steers 35 

Drives from their stalls to where the well-used plough 
Lies in the furrow loosened from the frost. 
There, unrefusing, to the harnessed yoke 
They lend their shoulder, and begin their toil, 
Cheered by the simple song and soaring lark. 40 

Meanwhile incumbent o'er the shining share 
The master leans, removes the obstructing clay, 
Winds the whole work, and sidelong lays the glebe. 

White through the neighbouring fields the sower stalks, 
With measured step, and liberal throws the grain 45 

Into the faithful bosom of the ground. 
The harrow follows harsh, and shuts the scene. 

Be gracious, Heaven, for now laborious man 
Has done his part. Ye fostering breezes, blow; 
Ye softening dews, ye tender showers, descend ; 50 

And temper all, thou world-reviving sun, 
Into the perfect year. Nor, ye who live 
In luxury and ease, in pomp and pride, 
Think these lost themes unworthy of your ear. 
Such themes as these the rural Maro sung 55 

To wide-imperial Rome, in the full height 
Of elegance and taste, by Greece refined. 
In ancient times the sacred plough employed 
The kings and awful fathers of mankind ; 
And some, with whom compared your insect tribes 60 
Are but the beings of a summer's day, 
Have held the scale of empire, ruled the storm 


Of mighty war, then with victorious hand, 

Disdaining little delicacies, seized 

The plough, and greatly independent lived. 65 

Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough ; 
And o'er your hills and long withdrawing vales 
Let Autumn spread his treasures to the sun, 
Luxuriant and unbounded. As the sea, 
Far through his azure turbulent domain, 70 

Your empire owns, and from a thousand shores 
Wafts all the pomp of life into your ports, 
So with superior boon may your rich soil, 
Exuberant, Nature's better blessings pour 
O'er every land, the naked nations clothe, 75 

And be the exhaustless granary of a world ! 

Nor only through the lenient air this change 
Delicious breathes : the penetrative sun, 
His force deep-darting to the dark retreat 
Of vegetation, sets the steaming power 80 

At large, to wander o'er the vernant earth, 
In various hues, but chiefly thee, gay green, 
Thou smiling Nature's universal rob"e, 
United light and shade, where the sight dwells 
With growing strength and ever-new delight. 85 

From the moist meadow ta the withered hill, 
Led by the breeze, the vivid verdure runs, 
And swells, and deepens to the cherished eye. 
The hawthorn whitens; and the juicy groves 
Put forth their buds, unfolding by degrees, 9 

Till the whole leafy forest stands displayed 
In full luxuriance to the sighing gales ; 
Where the deer rustle through the twining brake, 
And the birds sing concealed. At once, arrayed 
In all the colours of the flushing year 95 

By Nature's swift and secret-working hand, 
The garden glows, and fills the liberal air 
With lavishlragrance ; while the promised fruit 
Lies yet a little embryo, unperceived, 



Within its crimson folds. Now from the town 100 

Buried in smoke, and sleep, and noisome damps, 
Oft let me wander o'er the dewy fields . 
Where freshness breathes, and dash the trembling drops 
From the bent bush, as through the verdant maze 
Of sweet-briar hedges I pursue my .walk ; 105 

Or taste the smell of dairy; or ascend 
Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains, 
And see the country far diffused around 
One boundless blusfr, one white-empurpled shower 
Of mingled blossoms, where the raptured eye 1 1 o 

Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath 
The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies 
If, brushed from Russian wilds, a cutting gale 
Rise not, and scatter from his humid wings 
The clammy mildew ; or, dry-blowing, breathe 1 1 5 

Untimely frost, before whose baleful blast 
The full-blown Spring through all her foliage shrinks, 
Joyless and dead, a wide-dejected waste. 
For oft, engendered by the hazy north, 
Myriads on myriads, insect armies warp 120 

Keen in the poisoned breeze ; and wasteful eat 
Through buds and bark into the blackened core 
Their eager way. A feeble race, yet oft 
The sacred sons of vengeance ; on whose course 
Corrosive famine waits, and kills the year. 125 

To check this plague, the skilful farmer chaff 
And blazing straw before his orchard burns, 
Till, all involved in smoke, the latent foe 
From every cranny suffocated falls; 

Or scatters o'er the blooms the pungent dust 130 

Of pepper, fatal to the frosty tribe ; 
Or, when the envenomed leaf begins to curl, 
With sprinkled water drowns them in their nest ; 
Nor, while they pick them up with busy bill, 
The little trooping birds unwisely scares. 135 

Be patient, swains ; these cruel-seeming winds 


Blow not in vain. Far hence they keep repressed 
Those deepening clouds on clouds, surcharged with rain, 
That, o'er the vast Atlantic hither borne 
In endless train, would quench the summer blaze, 140 

And cheerless drown the crude unripened year. 

The north-east spends his rage, and now shut up 
Within his iron cave, the effusive south 
Warms the wide air, and o'er the void of heaven 
Breathes the big clouds with vernal showers distent. 145 
At first a dusky wreath they seem to rise, 
Scarce staining ether ; but by fast degrees, 
In heaps on heaps, the doubling vapour sails 
Along the loaded sky, and mingling deep 
Sits on the horizon round, a settled gloom, 150 

Not such as wintry storms on mortals shed, 
Oppressing life, but lovely, gentle, kind, 
And full of every hope and every joy, 
The wish of Nature. Gradual sinks the breeze 
Into a perfect calm, that not a breath 155 

Is heard to quiver through the closing woods, 
Or rustling turn the many-twinkling leaves 
Of aspen tall. The uncurling floods, diffused 
In glassy breadth, seem through delusive lapse 
Forgetful of their course. 'Tis silence all, 160 

And pleasing expectation. Herds and flocks 
Drop the dry sprig, and mute-imploring eye 
The falling verdure. Hushed in short suspense, 
The plumy people streak their wings with oil, 
To throw the lucid moisture trickling off, 165 

And wait the approaching sign to strike at once 
Into the general choir. Even mountains, vales, 
And forests seem impatient to demand 
The promised sweetness. Man superior walks 
Amid the glad creation, musing praise, 170 

And looking lively gratitude. At last 
The clouds consign their treasures to the fields, 
And, softly shaking on the dimpled pool 



Prelusive drops, let all their moisture flow 
In large effusion o'er the freshened world. 175 

The stealing shower is scarce to patter heard 
By such as wander through the forest walks 
Beneath the umbrageous multitude of leaves. 
' But who can hold the shade while heaven descends 
In universal bounty, shedding herbs . 1 80 

And fruits and flowers on Nature's ample lap? 
Swift fancy fired anticipates their growth, 
And, while the milky nutriment distils, 
Beholds the kindling country colour round. 

Thus all day long the full-distended clouds 185 

Indulge their genial stores, and well-showered earth 
Is deep enriched with vegetable life; 
Till, in the western sky, the downward sun 
Looks out effulgent from amid the flush 
Of broken clouds gay-shifting to his beam. 190 

The rapid radiance instantaneous strikes 
The illumined mountain ; through the forest streams ; 
Shakes on the floods ; and in a yellow mist, 
Far smoking o'er the interminable plain, 
In twinkling ^yriads lights the dewy gems. 195 

Moist, bright, and green, the landscape laughs around. 
Full swell the woods"; their every music wakes, 
Mixed in wild concert with the warbling brooks 
Increased, the distant bleatings of the hills, 
And hollow lows responsive from the vales, 200 

Whence blending all the sweetened zephyr springs. 
Meantime, refracted from yon eastern cloud, 
Bestriding earth, the grand ethereal bow 
Shoots tip immense, and every hue unfolds, 
In fair proportion running from the red 205 

To where the violet fades into the sky. 
Here, awful Newton, the dissolving clouds 
Form, fronting on the sun, thy showery prism ; 
And to the sage-instructed eye unfold 
The various twine of light, by thee disclosed 210 


From the white mingling maze. Not so the swain : 

He wondering views the bright enchantment bend 

Delightful o'er the radiant fields, and runs 

To catch the falling glory; but "amazed 

Beholds the amusive arch before him fly, 215 

Then vanish quite away. Still night succeeds, 

A softened shade ; and saturated earth 

Awaits the morning beam, to give to light, 

Raised through ten thousand different plastic tubes, 

The balmy treasures of the former day. . 220 

Then spring the living herbs, profusely wild, 
O'er^all the deep-green earth, beyond the power 
Of botanist to number up their tribes, 
Whether he steals along the lonely dale 
In silent search ; or through the forest, rank 225 

With what the dull incurious weeds account, 
Bursts his blind way ; or climbs the mountain-rock, 
Fired by the nodding verdure of its brow : 
With such a liberal hand has Nature flung 
Their seeds abroad, blown them about in winds, 230 

Innumerous mixed them with the nursing mould, 
The moistening current, and prolific rain. 

But who their virtues can declare? who pierce /> * A 
With_yision pure into these secret stores ^ 

OTTife, and health, and joy? the food of man 235 

While yet he lived in innocence, and told 
A length of golden years, unfleshed in blood, 
A stranger to the savage arts of life, 
Death, rapine, carnage, surfeit, and disease, 
The lord, and not the tyrant, of the world. 240 

The first fresh dawn then waked the gladdened race 
Of uncorrupted man, nor blushed to see 
The sluggard sleep beneath its sacred beam ; 
For their light slumbers gently fumed away, 
And up they rose as vigorous as the sun, 245 

Or to the culture of the willing glebe, 
Or to the cheerful tendance of the flock. 


Meantime the song went round; and dance and sport, 

Wisdom and friendly talk, successive stole 

Their hours away ; while in the rosy vale 250 

Love breathed his infant sighs, from anguish free, 

And full replete with bliss, save the sweet pain, 

That, inly thrilling, but exalts it more. 

Nor yet injurious act, nor surly deed, 

Was known among those happy sons of heaven; 255 

For reason and benevolence were law. 

Harmonious Nature too looked smiling on. 

Clear shone the skies, cooled with eternal gales, 

And balmy spirit all. The youthful sun 

Shot his best rays, and still the gracious clouds t 260 

Dropped fatness down, as o'er the swelling mead 

The herds and flocks commixing played secure. 

This when, emergent from the gloomy wood, 

The glaring lion saw, his horrid heart 

Was meekened, and he joined his sullen joy, 265 

For music held the whole in perfect peace : 

Soft sighed the flute ; the tender voice was heard, 

Warbling the varied heart ; the woodlands round 

Applied their quire ; and winds and waters flowed 

In consonance. Such were those prime of days. 270 

But now those white unblemished minutes, whence 
The fabling poets took their golden age, 
Are found no more amid these iron times, 
These dregs of life ! Now the distempered mind 
Has lost that concord of harmonious powers, 275 

Which forms the soul of happiness ; and all 
Is off the poise within : the passions all 
Have burst their bounds ; and reason half extinct, 
Or impotent, or else approving, sees t 

The foul disorder. Senseless and deformed, ^J 280 

Convulsive anger storms at large ; or, pale 
And silent, settles into fell revenge. 
Base envy withers at another's joy, 
And hates that excellence it cannot reach. 



Desponding fear, of feeble fancies full, 285 

Weak and unmanly, loosens every power. 

Even love itself is bitterness of soul, 

A pensive anguish pining at the heart ; 

Or, sunk to sordid interest, feels no more 

That noble wish, that never-cloyed desire, 290 

Which, selfish joy disdaining, seeks alone 

To bless the dearer object of its flame. 

Hope sickens with extravagance ; and grief, 

Of life impatient, into madness swells, 

Or in dead silence wastes the weeping hours. 295 

These, and a thousand mixed emotions more, 

From ever-changing views of good and ill 

Formed infinitely various, vex the mind 

With endless storm ; whence, deeply rankling, grows 

The partial thought, a listless unconcern 300 

Cold, and averting from our neighbour's good, 

Then dark disgust, and hatred, winding wiles, 

Coward deceit, and ruffian violence. 

At last, extinct each social feeling, fell 

And joyless inhumanity pervades 35 

And petrifies the heart. Nature disturbed 

Is deemed vindictive to have changed her course. 

Hence, in old dusky time, a deluge came ; 
When the deep-cleft disparting orb, that arched 
The central waters round, impetuous rushed 310 

With universal burst into the gulf, 
And o'er the high-piled hills of fractured earth 
Wide dashed the .waves in undulation vast, 
Till from the centre to the streaming clouds 
A shoreless ocean tumbled round the globe. 315 

The Seasons since have with severer sway 
Oppressed a broken world ; the Winter keen 
Shook forth his waste of snows, and Summer shot 
His pestilential heats. Great Spring before 
Greened all the year; and fruits and blossoms blushed 320 
In social sweetness on the self-same bough. 


Pure was the temperate air ; an even calm 
Perpetual reigned, save what the zephyrs bland 
Breathed o'er the blue expanse ; for then nor storms,/ 
Were taught to blow nor hurricanes to rage ; 3 2 5 

Sound slept the waters ; no sulphureous glooms 
Swelled in the sky, and sent the lightning forth ; 
While sickly damps and cold autumnal fogs 
Hung not, relaxing, on the springs of life. 
But now, of turbid elements the sport, 330 

From clear to cloudy tossed, from hot to cold, 
And dry to moist, with inward-eating change, 
Our drooping days are dwindled down to nought, 
Their period finished ere 'tis well begun. 

And yet the wholesome herb neglected dies ; 335 

Though with the pure exhilarating soul 
Of nutriment, and health, and vital powers, 
Beyond the search of art, 'tis copious blest. 
For, with hot ravin fired, ensanguined man 
Is now become the lion of the plain, 340 

And worse. The wolf, who from the nightly fold 
Fierce drags the bleating prey, ne'er drunk her milk, 
Nor wore her warming fleece ; nor has the steer, 
At whose strong chest the deadly tiger hangs, 
E'er ploughed for him. They too are tempered high, 345 
W 7 ith hunger stung and wild necessity ; 
Nor lodges pity in their shaggy breast. 
But man, whom Nature formed of milder clay, 
With every kind emotion in his heart, 
And taught alone to weep while from her lap 350 

She pours ten thousand delicacies, herbs 
And fruits, as numerous as the drops of rain 
Or beams that gave them birth shall he, fair form ! 
Who wears sweet smiles, and looks erect on heaven, 
E'er stoop to mingle with the prowling herd, 355 

And dip his tongue in gore ? The beast of prey, 
Blood-stained, deserves to bleed ; but you, ye flocks, 
What have ye done ? ye peaceful people, what, 


To merit death? you, who have given us milk 

In luscious streams, and lent us your own coat 360 

Against the Winter's cold? And the plain ox, 

That harmless, honest, guileless animal, 

In what has he offended ? he, whose toil, 

Patient and ever-ready, clothes the land 

With all the pomp of harvest shall he bleed, 365 

And struggling groan beneath the cruel hands 

Even of the clowns he feeds? and that, perhaps, 

To swell the riot of the autumnal feast 

Won by his labour. Thus the feeling heart 

Would tenderly suggesffBut 'tis enough 370 

In this late age adventurous to have touched 

Light on the numbers of the Samian sage. 

High Heaven forbids the bold presumptuous strain, 

Whose wisest will has fixed us in a state 

That must not yet to pure perfection rise : 375 

Besides, who knows how, raised to higher life, 

From stage to stage the vital scale ascends ? 

Now when the first foul torrent of the brooks, 
Swelled with the vernal rains, is ebbed away, 
And whitening down their mossy-tinctured stream 380 

Descends the billowy foam now is the time, 
While yet the dark-brown water aids the guile, 
To tempt the trout. The well-dissembled fly, 
The rod fine-tapering with elastic spring, 
Snatched from the hoary steed the floating line, 385 

And all thy slender watery stores prepare. 
But let not on thy hook the tortured worm | 

Convulsive twist in agonizing folds ; 
Which, by rapacious hunger swallowed deep, 
Gives, as you tear it from the bleeding breast 390 

Of the weak, helpless, uncomplaining wretch, 
Harsh pain and horror to the tender hand. 

When with his lively ray the potent sun 
Has pierced the streams, and roused the finny race, 


Then, issuing cheerful, to thy sport repair; 395 

Chief should the western breezes curling play, 

And light o'er ether bear the shadowy clouds. 

High to their fount, this day, amid the hills 

And woodlands warbling round, trace up the brooks ; 

The next, pursue their rocky-channelled maze 400 

Down to the river, in whose ample wave 

Their little naiads love to sport at large. 

Just in the dubious point where with the pool 

Is mixed the trembling stream, or where it boils 

Around the stone, or from the hollowed bank 405 

Reverted plays in undulating flow, 

There throw, nice-judging, the delusive fly ; 

And, as you lead it round in artful curve, 

"With eye attentive mark the springing game. 

Straight as above the surface of the flood 410 

They wanton rise, or urged by hunger leap, 

Then fix, with gentle twitch, the barbed hook, 

Some lightly tossing to the grassy bank, 

And to the shelving shore slow-dragging some, 

With various hand proportioned to their force. 415 

If yet too young, and easily deceived, 

A worthless prey scarce bends your pliant rod, 

Him, piteous of his youth and the short space 

He has enjoyed the vital light of heaven, 

Soft disengage, and back into the stream 420 

The speckled infant throw. But should you lure 

From his dark haunt beneath the tangled roots 

Of pendent trees the monarch of the brook, 

Behoves you then to ply your finest 'art. 

Long time he, following cautious, scans the fly; 425 

And oft attempts to seize it, but as oft 

The dimpled water speaks his jealous fear. 

At last, while haply o'er the shaded sun 

Passes a cloud, he desperate takes the death 

With sullen plunge. At once he darts along, 430 

Deep-struck, and runs out all the lengthened line ; 


Then seeks the farthest ooze, the sheltering weed, 

The caverned bank, his old secure abode ; 

And flies aloft, and flounces round the pool, 

Indignant of the guile. With yielding hand, 435 

That feels him still, yet to his furious course 

Gives way, you, now retiring, following now 

Across the stream, exhaust his idle rage; 

Till, floating broad upon his breathless side, 

And to his fate abandoned, to the shore 440 

You gaily drag your unresisting prize. 

Thus pass the temperate hours; but when the sun 
Shakes from his noon-day throne the scattering clouds, 
Even shooting listless languor through the deeps, 
Then seek the bank where flowering elders crowd, 445 
Where scattered wild the lily of the vale 
Its balmy essence breathes, where cowslips hang 
The dewy head, where purple violets lurk 
With all the lowly children of the shade ; 
Or lie reclined beneath yon spreading ash 450 

Hung o'er the steep, whence borne on liquid wing 
The sounding culver shoots ; or where the hawk 
High in the beetling cliff his eyry builds. 
There let the classic page thy fancy lead 
Through rural scenes, such as the Mantuan swain 455 
Paints in the matchless harmony of song; 
Or catch thyself the landscape, gliding swift 
Athwart imagination's vivid eye ; 
Or, by the vocal woods and waters lulled, 
And lost in lonely musing, in a dream 4 6 

Confused of careless solitude, where mix 
Ten thousand wandering images of things, 
Soothe every gust of passion into peace- 
All but the swellings of the softened heart, 
That waken, not disturb, the tranquil mind. 465 

Behold, yon breathing prospect bids the muse 


Throw .all her beauty forth. But who can paint 

Like Nature ? Can imagination boast, 

Amid its gay creation, hues like hers ? 

Or can it mix them with that matchless skill, 470 

And lose them in each other, as appears 

In every bud that blows? If fancy then, 

Unequal, fails beneath the pleasing task, 

Ah what shall language do ? ah, where find words 

Tinged with so many colours, and whose power, 475 

To life approaching, may perfume my lays 

With that fine oil, those aromatic gales, 

'iat ineshaustive flow continual round? 

Yet, thougsncc'essleiJsr^wili the toil delight. 
Come then, ye virgins and ye youths whose hearts 480 
Have felt the raptures of refining love ! 
And thou, Amanda, come, pride of my song ! 
Formed by the Graces, loveliness itself! 
Come with those downcast eyes, sedate and sweet, 
Those looks demure, that deeply pierce the soul, 485 

Where, with the light of thoughtful reason mixed, 
Shines lively fancy, and the feeling heart 
O come! and while the rosy-footed May 
Steals blushing on, together let us tread 
The morning dews, and gather in their prime 490 

Fresh-blooming flowers to grace thy braided hair, 
And thy loved bosom that improves their sweets. 

See where the winding vale its lavish stores, 
Irriguous, spreads. See how the lily drinks 
The latent rill, scarce oozing through the grass 495 

Of growth luxuriant ; or the humid bank, 
In fair profusion, decks. Long let us walk 
Where the breeze blows from yon extended field 
Of blossomed beans. Arabia cannot boast 
A fuller gale of joy than liberal thence 500 

Breathes through the sense, and takes the ravished soul. 
Nor is the mead unworthy of thy foot, 
Full of fresh verdure, and unnumbered flowers, 


The negligence of Nature, wide and wild ; 

Where, undisguised by mimic Art, she spreads 'Jm 505 

Unbounded beauty to the roving eye. 

Here their delicious task the fervent bees 

In swarming millions tend ; around, athwart, 

Through the soft air the busy nations fly, 

Cling to the bud, and with inserted tube 510 

Suck its pure essence, its ethereal soul ; 

And oft with bolder wing they soaring dare 

The purple heath, or where the wild-thyme grows, 

And yellow load them with the luscious spoil. 

At length the finished garden to the view 515 

Its vistas opens, and its alleys green. 
Snatched through the verdant maze, the hurried eye 
Distracted wanders ; now the bowery walk 
Of covert close, where scarce a speck of day 
Falls on the lengthened gloom, protracted sweeps; 520 
Now meets the bending sky ; the river now, 
Dimpling along, the breezy-ruffled lake, 
The forest darkening round, the glittering spire, 
The ethereal mountain, and the distant main. 
But why so far excursive ? when at hand, 525 

Along these blushing borders bright with dew, 
And in yon mingled wilderness of flowers, 
Fair-handed Spring unbosoms every grace ; 
Throws out the snowdrop and the crocus first, 
The daisy, primrose, violet darkly blue, 53 

And polyanthus of unnumbered dyes, 
The yellow wallflower, stained with iron brown, 
And lavish stock that scents the garden round; 
From the soft wing of vernal breezes shed, 
Anemones ; auriculas, enriched 535 

With shining meal o'er all their velvet leaves ; 
And full ranunculus of glowing red. 
Then comes the tulip race, where beauty plays 
Her idle freaks : from family diffused 
To family, as flies the father-dust, 54 


The varied colours run ; and, while they break 
1 On the charmed eye, the exulting florist marks 
With secret pride the wonders of his hand. 
No gradual bloom is wanting, from the bud 
First-born of Spring to Summer's musky tribes ; 545 

Nor hyacinths, of purest virgin white, 
Low-bent, and blushing inward ; nor jonquils, 
Of potent fragrance ; nor narcissus fair, 
As o'er the fabled fountain hanging still ; 
Nor broad carnations ; nor gay-spotted pinks ; 550 

Nor, showered from every bush, the damask-rose : 
Infinite numbers, delicacies, smells, 
With hues on hues expression cannot paint, 
The breath of Nature, and her endless bloom ! 

Hail, Source of Being! Universal Soul 555 

Of heaven and earth, Essential Presence, hail ! 
To Thee I bend the knee ; to Thee my thoughts 
Continual climb; who, with a master-hand, 
Hast the great whole into perfection touched. 
By Thee the various vegetative tribes, 560 

Wrapt in a filmy net, and clad with leaves, 
Draw the live ether, and imbibe the dew. 
By Thee disposed into congenial soils 
Stands each attractive plant, and sucks and swells 
The juicy tide a twining mass of tubes. 565 

At Thy command the vernal sun awakes 
The torpid sap, detruded to the root 
v By wintry winds, that now in fluent dance 
And lively fermentation, mounting, spreads 
All this innumerous-coloured scene of things. 570 

i As rising from the vegetable world - 

' My theme ascends, with equal wing ascend, / 

My panting muse ; and hark, how loud the woods 

Invite you forth in all your gayest trim. 

Lend me your song, ye nightingales ; oh pour 575 


The mazy-running soul of melody 

Into my varied verse; while I deduce, 

From the first note the hollow cuckoo sings, 

The symphony of Spring, and touch a theme 

Unknown to fame the passion of the groves. 580 

When first the soul of love is sent abroad 
Warm through the vital air, and on the heart 
Harmonious seizes, the gay troops begin 
In gallant thought to plume the painted wing ; 
And try again the long-forgotten strain, 585 

At first faint- warbled. But no sooner grows 
The soft infusion prevalent and wide, 
Than, all alive, at once their joy o'erflows 
In music unconfmed. Up springs the lark, 
Shrill-voiced and loud, the messenger of morn : 590 

Ere yet the shadows fly, he mounted sings 
Amid the dawning clouds, and from their haunts 
Calls up the tuneful nations. Every copse 
Deep-tangled, tree irregular, and bush 
Bending with dewy moisture, o'er the heads 595 

Of the coy quiristers that lodge within, 
Are prodigal of harmony. The thrush 
And woodlark, o'er the kind-contending throng 
Superior heard, run through the sweetest length 
Of notes ; when listening Philomela deigns 600 

To let them joy, and purposes, in thought 
Elate, to make her night excel their day. 
The blackbird whistles from the thorny brake; 
The mellow bullfinch answers from the grove; 
Nor are the linnets, o'er the flowering furze 605 

Poured out profusely, silent. Joined to these, 
Innumerous songsters, in the freshening shade 
Of new-sprung leaves, their modulations mix 
Mellifluous. The jay, the rook, the daw. 
And each harsh pipe, discordant heard alone, 610 

Aid the full concert; while the stockdove breathes 
A melancholy murmur through the whole. 


'Tis love creates their melody, and all 
This waste of music is the voice of love ; 
That even to birds and beasts the tender arts 615 

Of pleasing teaches. Hence the glossy kind 
Try every winning way inventive love 
Can dictate, and in courtship to their mates 
Pour forth their little souls. First, wide around, 
With distant awe, in airy rings they rove, 620 

Endeavouring by a thousand tricks to catch 
The cunning, conscious, half-averted glance 
Of their regardless charmer. Should she seem, 
Softening, the least approvance to bestow, 
Their colours burnish, and, by hope inspired, 625 

They brisk advance ; then, on a sudden struck, 
Retire disordered ; then again approach ; 
In fond rotation spread the spotted wing, 
And shiver every feather with desire. 

Connubial leagues agreed, to the deep woods 630 

They haste away, all as their fancy leads, 
Pleasure, or food, or secret safety prompts ; 
That Nature's great command may be obeyed, 
Nor all the sweet sensations they perceive 
Indulged in vain. Some to the holly-hedge 635 

Nestling repair, and to the thicket some ; 
Some to the rude protection of the thorn 
Commit their feeble offspring. The cleft tree 
Offers its kind concealment to a few, 

Their food its insects, and its moss their nests. 640 

Others, apart, far in the grassy dale 
Or roughening waste, their humble texture weave. 
But most in woodland solitudes delight, 
In unfrequented glooms, or shaggy banks, 
Steep, and divided by a babbling brook, 645 

Whose murmurs soothe them all the live-long day, 
When by kind duty fixed. Among the roots 
Of hazel, pendent o'er the plaintive stream, 
They frame the first foundation of their domes, 



Dry sprigs of trees, in artful fabric laid, 650 

And bound with clay together. Now 'tis nought 

But restless hurry through the busy air, 

Beat by unnumbered wings. The swallow sweeps 

The_slimy_ pool, to build his hanging house 

Intent. And often, from the careless back 655 

Of herds and flocks, a thousand tugging bills 

Pluck hair and wool ; and oft, when unobserved, 

Steal from the barn a straw ; till soft and warm, 

Clean and complete their habitation grows. 

As thus the patient dam assiduous sits, 660 

Not to be tempted from her tender task 
Or by sharp hunger or by smooth delight, 
Though the whole loosened Spring around her blows, . 
Her sympathizing lover takes his stand 
High on the opponent bank, and ceaseless sings 665 

The tedious time away ; or else supplies 
Her place a moment, while she sudden flits 
To pick the scanty meal. The appointed time 
With pious toil fulfilled, the callow young, 
Warmed and expanded into perfect life, 670 

Their brittle bondage break, and come to light, 

A helpless family, demanding food 

With constant clamour. O what passions then, 

What melting sentiments of kindly care, 

On the new parents seize! Away they fly, 675 

Affectionate, and undesiring bear 

The most delicious morsel to their young; 

Which equally distributed, again 

The search begins. Even so a gentle pair, 

By fortune sunk, but formed of generous mould, 680 

And charmed with cares beyond the vulgar breast, 

In some lone cot amid the distant woods, 

Sustained alone by providential Heaven, 

Oft, as they weeping eye their infant train, 

Check their own appetites and give them all. 
Nor toil alone they scorn : exalting love, 


By the great Father of the Spring inspired, 

Gives instant courage to the fearful race, 

And to the simple art. With stealthy wing, 

Should some rude foot their woody haunts molest, 690 

Amid a neighbouring bush they silent drop, 

And whirring thence, as if alarmed, deceive 

The unfeeling school-boy. Hence, around the head 

Of wandering swain, the white-winged plover wheels 

Her sounding flight, and then directly on 695 

In long excursion skims the level lawn 

To tempt him from her nest. The wild-duck, hence, 

O'er Ihe rough moss, and o'er the trackless waste 

The heath-hen flutters, pious fraud ! to lead 

The hot pursuing spaniel far astray. 700 

Be not the muse ashamed, here to bemoan 
Her brothers of the grove, by tyrant man 
Inhuman caught, and in the narrow cage 
From liberty confined and boundless air. 
Dull are the pretty slaves, their plumage dull, 705 

Ragged, and all its brightening lustre lost; 
Nor is that sprightly wildness in their notes, 
Which, clear and vigorous, warbles from the beech. 
Oh then, ye friends of love and love-taught song, 
Spare the soft tribes, this barbarous act forbear! 710 

If on your bosom innocence can win, 
Music engage, or piety persuade. 

But let not chief the nightingale lament 
Her ruined care, too delicately framed 

To brook the harsh confinement of the cage. 715 

Oft when, returning with her loaded bill, 
The astonished mother finds a vacant nest, 
By the hard hand of unrelenting clowns 
Robbed, to the ground the vain provision falls; 
Her pinions ruffle, and, low-drooping, scarce 720 

Can bear the mourner to the poplar shade, 
Where, all abandoned to despair, she sings 
Her sorrows through the night, and, on the bough 


Sole-sitting, still at every dying fall 

Takes up again her lamentable strain 725 

Of winding woe, till wide -around the woods 

Sigh to her song and with her wail resound. 

But now the feathered youth their former bounds, 
Ardent, disdain ; and, weighing oft their wings, 
Demand the free possession of the sky. 730 

This one glad office more, and then dissolves 
Parental love at once, now needless grown : 
Unlavish Wisdom never works in vain. 
'Tis on some evening, sunny, grateful, mild, 
When nought but balm is breathing through the woods, 735 
With yellow lustre bright, that the new tribes 
Visit the spacious heavens, and look abroad 
On nature's common, far as they can see 
Or wing, their range and pasture. O'er the boughs 
Dancing about, still at the giddy verge 74 

Their resolution fails ; their pinions still, 
In loose libration stretched, to trust the void 
Trembling refuse ; till down before them fly 
The parent-guides, and chide, exhort, command, 
Or push them off. The surging air receives 745 

The plumy burden ; and their self-taught wings 
Winnow the waving element. On ground 
Alighted, bolder up again they lead, 
Farther and farther on, the lengthening flight ; 
Till, vanished every fear, and every power 75<> 

Roused into life and action, light in air 
The acquitted parents see their soaring race, 
And, once rejoicing, never know them more. 

High from the summit of a craggy cliff 
Hung o'er the deep, such as amazing frowns 755 

On utmost Kilda's shore, whose lonely race 
Resign the setting sun to Indian worlds, 
The royal eagle draws his vigorous young, 
Strong-pounced, and ardent with paternal fire. 
Now fit to raise a kingdom of their own, 
E 2 


He drives them from his fort, the towering seat 
For ages of his empire ; which, in peace, 
Unstained he holds, while many a -league to sea 
He wings his course, and preys in distant isles. 

Should JLjny steps turn to the rural seat 7 6 5 

Whose lofty elms and venerable oaks 
Invite the rook, who high amid the boughs, 
In early Spring, his airy city builds, 
And ceaseless caws amusive ; there, well-pleased, 
I might the various polity survey 770 

Of the mixed household kind. The careful hen 
Calls all her chirping family around, 
Fed and defended by the fearless cock; 
Whose breast with ardour flames, as on he walks 
Graceful, and crows defiance. In the pond 775 

The finely-checkered duck before her train 
Rows garrulous. The stately-sailing swan 
Gives out his snowy plumage to the gale; 
And, arching proud his neck, with oary feet 
Bears forward fierce, and guards his osier-isle, 780 

Protective of his young. The turkey nigh, 
Loud-threatening, reddens ; while the peacock spreads 
His every-coloured glory to the sun, 
Arid swims in radiant majesty along. 

O'er the whole homely scene, the cooing dove 785 

Flies thick in amorous chase, and wanton rolls 
The glancing eye, and turns the changeful neck- 
While thus the gentle tenants of the shade 
Indulge their purer loves, the rougher world 
Of brutes, below, rush furious into flame' 790 

And fierce desire. Through all his lusty veins 
The bull, deep-scorched, the raging passion feels. 
Of pasture sick, and negligent of food, 
Scarce seen he wades among the yellow broom, 
While o'er his ample sides the rambling sprays 795 

Luxuriant shoot ; or through the mazy wood 
Dejected wanders, nor the enticing bud 


Crops, though it presses on his careless sense. 

And oft, with jealous maddening fancy rapt, 

He seeks the fight ; and, idly-butting, feigns Soo 

His rival gored in every knotty trunk. 

Him should he meet, the bellowing war begins : 

Their eyes flash fury ; to the hollowed earth, 

Whence the sand flies, they mutter bloody deeds, 

And groaning deep the impetuous battle mix; 805 

While the fair heifer, balmy-breathing near, 

Stands kindling up their rage. The trembling steed. 

With this hot impulse seized in every nerve, 

Nor heeds the rein, nor hears the sounding thong ; 

Blows are not felt; but, tossing high his head, 810 

And by the well-known joy to distant plains 

Attracted strong, all wild he bursts away; 

O'er rocks, and woods, and craggy mountains flies; 

And neighing, on the aerial summit takes 

The exciting gale ; then, deep-descending, cleaves . 815 

The headlong torrents foaming down the hills, 

Even where the madness of the straitened stream 

Turns in black eddies round : such is the force 

With which his frantic heart and sinews swell. 

Nor undelighted by the boundless Spring 820 

Are the broad monsters of the foaming deep : 
From the deep ooze and gelid cavern roused, 
They flounce and tumble in unwieldy joy. 
Dire were the strain and dissonant, to sing 
The cruel raptures of the savage kind; 825 

How, by this flame their native wrath sublimed, 
They roam, amid the fury of their heart, 
The far-resounding waste in fiercer bands, 
And growl their horrid loves. But this the theme 
1 sing, enraptured, to the British fair 830 

Forbids ; and leads me to the mountain-brow, 
Where sits the shepherd on the grassy turf, 
Inhaling healthful the descending sun. 
Around him feeds his many-bleating flock, 


Of various cadence; and his sportive lambs, 835 

This way and that convolved, in friskful glee 

Their frolics play. And now the sprightly race 

Invites them forth ; when swift, the signal given, 

They start away, and sweep the massy mound 

That 'runs around the hill the rampart once 840 

Of iron war, in ancient barbarous times, 

When disunited Britain ever bled, 

Lost in eternal broil ; ere yet she grew 

To this deep-laid indissoluble state, 

Where wealth and commerce lift their golden heads, 845 

And o'er our labours liberty and law 

Impartial watch the wonder of a world ! 

What is this mighty breath, ye curious, say, 
That in a powerful language, felt not heard, 
, Instructs the fowls of heaven, and through their breast 
These arts of love diffuses ? What but God? 851 

Inspiring God ! who, boundless spirit all, 
And unremitting energy, pervades, 
Adjusts, sustains, and agitates the whole. 
He ceaseless works alone, and yet alone 855 

Seems not to work ; with such perfection framed 
Is this complex stupendous scheme of things. 
But, though concealed, to every purer eye 
The informing Author in his works appears : 
Chief, lovely Spring, in thee and thy soft scenes 860 

The smiling God is seen ; while water, earth, 
And air attest his bounty which exalts 
The brute creation to this finer thought, 
And annual melts their lindesigning hearts 
Profusely thus in tenderness and joy. 865 

Still let my song .a nobler note assume, 
And sing tin- infusive force of Spring on man ; 
When heaven and earth, as if contending, vie 
To raise his being, and serene his soul. 
Can he forbear to join the general smile 870 


Of Nature ? Can fierce passions vex his breast, 
While every gale is peace, and every grove 
Is melody? Hence! from the bounteous walks 
Of flowing Spring, ye sordid sons of earth, 
Hard, and unfeeling of another's woe, 875 

Or only lavish to yourselves ; away ! 
But come, ye generous minds, in whose wide thought, 
Of all his works, creative Bounty burns 
With warmest beam, and, on your open front 
And liberal eye, sits, from his dark retreat 880 

Inviting modest want. Nor till invoked 
Can restless goodness wait : your active search 
Leaves no cold wintry corner unexplored ; 
Like silent-working heaven, surprising oft 
The lonely heart with unexpected good. 885 

For you the roving spirit of the wind 
Blows Spring abroad ; for you the teeming clouds 
Descend in gladsome plenty o'er the world ; 
And the sun sheds his kindest rays for you, 
Ye flower of human race ! In these green days 890 

Reviving sickness lifts her languid head ; 
Life flows afresh; and young-eyed health exalts 
The whole creation round. Contentment walks 
The sunny glade, and feels an inward bliss 
Spring o'er his mind, beyond the power of kings 895 

To purchase. Pure serenity apace 
Induces thought and contemplation still. 
By_. swift degrees the love of nature works, 
And warms the bosom ; till at last, sublimed 
To rapture and enthusiastic heat, 900 

We feel the present Deity, and taste 
\__JThe joy of God to see a happy world. 

These are the sacred feelings of thy heaftj \ 
Thy heart informed by reason's purer ray, 
O Lytteiton, the friend! thy passions thus 905 

And meditations vary, as at large, 
Courting the muse, through Hagley-park you stray 


Thy British Tempe ! There along the dale 

With woods o'er-hung, and shagged with mossy rocks, 

Whence on each hand the gushing waters play, 910 

And down the rough cascade white-dashing fall, 

Or gleam in lengthened vista through the trees, 

You silent steal ; or sit beneath the shade 

Of solemn oaks, that tuft the swelling mounts 

Thrown graceful round by Nature's careless hand, 915 

And pensive listen to the various voice 

Of rural peace the herds, the flocks, the birds, 

The hollow-whispering breeze, the plaint of rills 

That, purling down amid the twisted roots 

Which creep around, their dewy murmurs shake 920 

On the soothed ear. From these abstracted oft 

You wander through the philosophic world, 

Where in bright train continual wonders rise 

Or to the curious or the pious eye. 

And oft, conducted by historic truth, "925 

You tread, the long extent of backward time, 

Planning with warm benevolence of mind 

And honest zeal, unwarped by party-rage, 

Britannia's weal, how from the venal gulf 

To 'raise her virtue, and her arts revive. 930 

Or, turning thence thy view, these graver thoughts 

The muses charm, while with sure taste refined 

You draw the inspiring breath of ancient song, 

Till nobly rises emulous thy own. 

Perhaps thy loved Lucinda shares thy walk, 935 

With soul to thine attuned. Then Nature all 

Wears to the lover's eye a look of love ; 

And all the tumult of a guilty world, 

Tossed by ungenerous passions, sinks away. 

The tender heart is animated peace, 940 

And, as it pours its copious treasures forth 

In varied converse, softening every theme, 

You frequent-pausing turn, and from her eyes, 

Where meekened sense and amiable grace 


And lively sweetness dwell, enraptured drink 945 

That nameless spirit of ethereal joy, 

Inimitable happiness ! which love 

Alone bestows, and on a favoured few. 

Meantime you gain the height, from whose fair brow 

The bursting prospect spreads immense around ; 950 

And, snatched o'er hill and dale, and wood and lawn, 

And verdant field, and darkening heath between, 

And villages embosomed soft in trees, 

And spiry towns by surging columns marked 

Of household smoke, your eye excursive roams, 955 

Wide-stretching from the hall, in whose kind haunt 

The hospitable genius lingers still,. 

To where the broken landscape, by degrees 

Ascending, roughens into rigid hills 

O'er which the Cambrian mountains, like far clouds 960 

That skirt the blue horizon, dusky rise. 

Flushed by the spirit of the genial year, 
Now from the virgin's cheek a fresher bloom 
Shoots less and less the live carnation round ; 
Her lips blush deeper sweets; she breathes of youth; 965 
The shining moisture swells into her eyes 
In brighter flow; her wishing bosom heaves 
With palpitations wild ; kind tumults seize 
Her veins, and all her yielding soul is love. 
From the keen gaze her lover turns away, 970 

Full of the dear ecstatic power, and sick 
With sighing languishment. Ah then, ye fair ! 
Be greatly cautious of your sliding hearts ; 
Dare not the infectious sigh, the pleading look 
Downcast and low, in meek submission dressed, 975 

But full of guile. Let not the fervent tongue, 
Prompt to deceive, with adulation smooth, 
Gain on your purposed will. Nor in the bower, 
Where woodbines flaunt and roses shed a couch, 
While evening .draws her crimson curtains round, 980 

Trust your soft minutes with betraying man. 


And let the aspiring youth beware of love, 
Of the smooth glance beware ; for 'tis too late 
When on his heart the torrent softness pours. 
Then wisdom prostrate lies, and fading fame 985 

Dissolves in air away ; while the fond soul, 
Wrapt in gay visions of unreal bliss, 
Still paints the illusive form, the kindling grace, 
The enticing smile, the modest-seeming eye. 
Beneath whose beauteous beams, belying heaven, 990 

Lurk searchless cunning, cruelty, and death : 
And still, false-warbling in his cheated ear, 
Her syren voice, enchanting, draws him on 
To guileful shores, and meads of fatal joy. 

Even present, in the very lap of love 995 

Inglorious laid, while music flows around, 
Perfumes, and oils, and wines, and wanton hours, 
^Amid the roses fierce repentance rears 
Her snaky crest ; a quick-returning pang 
Shoots through the conscious heart, where honour stilt 1000 
And great design against the oppressive load 
Of luxury by fits impatient heave. 

But absent, what fantastic woes aroused 
Rage in each thought, by restless musing fed, 
Chill the warm cheek, and blast the bloom of life ! 1005 
Neglected fortune flies ; and, sliding swift, 
Prone into ruin fall his scorned affairs. 
'Tis nought but gloom around. The darkened sun 
Loses his light. The rosy-bosomed Spring 
To weeping fancy pines; and yon bright arch roio 

Contracted bends into a dusky vault. 
All nature fades extinct ; and she alone 
Heard, felt, and seen, possesses every thought, 
Fills every sense, and pants in every vein. 
Books are but formal dulness, tedious friends; 1015 

And sad amid the social band he sits 
Lonely and inattentive. From the tongue 
The unfinished period falls ; while, borne away 



On swelling thought, his wafted spirit flies 

To the vain bosom of his distant fair, 1020 

And leaves the semblance of a lover, fixed 

In melancholy site, with head declined 

And love-dejected eyes. Sudden he starts, 

Shook from his tender trance, and restless runs 

To glimmering shades and sympathetic glooms, 1025 

Where the dun umbrage o'er the falling stream 

Romantic hangs; there through the pensive dusk 

Strays, in heart-thrilling meditation lost, 

Indulging all to love ; or on the bank 

Thrown, amid drooping lilies, swells the breeze 1030 

With sighs unceasing, and the brook with tears. 

Thus in soft anguish he consumes the day; 

Nor quits his deep retirement, till the moon 

Peeps through the chambers of the fleecy east, 

Enlightened by degrees, and in her train 1035 

Leads on the gentle hours ; then forth he walks, 

Beneath the trembling languish of her beam, 

With softened soul, and woos the bird of eve 

To mingle woes with his ; or, while the world 

And all the sons of care lie hushed in sleep, 1040 

Associates with the midnight shadows drear, 

And, sighing to the lonely taper, pours 

His idly-tortured heart into the page 

Meant for the moving messenger of love 

Where rapture burns on rapture, every line 1045 

With rising frenzy fired. But if on bed 

Delirious flung, sleep from his pillow flies. 

All night he tosses, nor the balmy power 

In any posture finds ; till the grey morn 

Lifts her pale lustre on the paler wretch, 1050 

Exanimate by love ; and then perhaps 

Exhausted nature sinks a while to rest, 

Still interrupted by distracted dreams, 

That o'er the sick imagination rise, 

And in black colours paint the mimic scene. 1055 


Oft with the enchantress of his soul he talks ; 

Sometimes in crowds distressed ; or, if retired 

To secret-winding flower-enwoven bowers 

Far from the dull impertinence of man, 

Just as he, credulous, his endless cares 1060 

Begins to lose in blind oblivious love, 

Snatched from her yielded hand, he knows not how, 

Through forest huge, and long untravelled heaths 

With desolation brown, he wanders waste, 

In night and tempest wrapt ; or shrinks aghast 1065 

Back from the bending precipice ; or wades 

The turbid stream below, and strives to reach 

The farther shore, where succourless and sad 

She with extended arms his aid implores, 

But strives in vain : borne by the outrageous flood 1070 

To distance down, he rides the ridgy wave, 

Or whelmed beneath the boiling eddy sinks. 

TJiese are the charming agonies of Jove, 
Whose misery delights. But through the heart 
Should jealousy its venom once diffuse, 1075 

3 Tis then delightful misery no more, 
But agony unmixed, incessant gall, 
Corroding every thought, and blasting all 
Love's paradise. Ye fairy prospects, then, 
Ye beds of roses, and ye bowers of joy, 1080 

Farewell ! Ye gleamings of departed peace, 
Shine out your last ! The yellow-tingeing plague 
Internal vision taints, and in a night 
Of livid gloom imagination wraps. 

Ah ! then, instead of love-enlivened cheeks, 1085 

Of sunny features, and of ardent eyes 
With flowing rapture bright, dark looks succeed, 
Suffused and glaring with untender fire, 
A clouded aspect, and a burning cheek, 
Where the whole poisoned soul malignant sits ioyo 

And frightens love away. Ten thousand fears 
Invented wild, ten thousand frantic views 

SPRING^ 6 1 

Of horrid rivals, hanging on the charms 

For which he melts in fondness, eat him up 

With fervent anguish, and consuming rage. 1095 

In vain reproaches lend their idle aid, 

Deceitful pride, and resolution frail, 

Giving false peace a moment. Fancy pours 

Afresh her beauties on his busy thought, 

Her first endearments twining round the soul noo 

With all the witchcraft of ensnaring love. 

Straight the fierce storm involves- his mind anew, 

Flames through the nerves, and boils along the veins ; 

While anxious doubt distracts the tortured heart, 

For even the sad assurance of his fears 1105 

Were peace to what he feels. Thus the warm youth, 

Whom love deludes into his thorny wilds 

Through flowery-tempting paths, or leads a, life 

Of fevered rapture or of cruel care, 

His brightest flames extinguished all, and all mo 

His lively moments running down to waste. 

But happy they, the happiest of their kind ! 
Whom gentler stars unite, and in one fate 
Their hearts, their fortunes, and their beings blend. 
'Tis not the coarser tie of human laws, 1115 

Unnatural oft, and foreign to the mind, 
That binds their peace, but harmony itself, 
Attuning all their passions into love ; 
Where friendship full-exerts her softest power, 
Perfect esteem enlivened by desire 1120 

Ineffable, and sympathy of soul ; 
Thought meeting thought, and will preventing will, 
With boundless confidence, for nought but love 
Can answer love, and render bliss secure. 
Let him, ungenerous, who, alone intent 1125 

To bless himself, from sordid parents buys 
The loathing virgin, in eternal care, 
Well-merited, consume his nights and days ; 
Let barbarous nations, whose inhuman love 


Is wild desire, fierce as the suns they feel; 1130 

Let eastern tyrants from the light of heaven 

Seclude their bosom slaves, meanly possessed 

Of a mere lifeless violated form : 

While those, whom love cements in holy faith 

And equal transport, free as Nature live, 1135 

Disdaining fear. What is the world to them, 

. Its pomp, its pleasure, and its nonsense all, 

; Who in each other clasp whatever fair 
High fancy forms, and lavish hearts can wish ; . 
Something than beauty dearer, should they look 1140 

Or on the mind, or mind-illumined face 
Truth, goodness, honour, harmony, and love, 
The richest bounty of indulgent Heaven. 
Meantime a smiling offspring rises round, 
And mingles both their graces. By degrees 1145 

The human blossom blows, and every day, 
Soft as it rolls along, shows some new charm, 
The father's lustre and the mother's bloom. 
Then infant reason grows apace, and calls 
For the kind hand of an assiduous care. 1 1 50 

Delightful task! to rear the tender thought, 
To teach the young idea how to shoot, 
To pour the fresh instruction o'er the mind, 
To breathe the enlivening spirit, and to fix 
The generous purpose in the glowing breast. Ir 55 

Oh speak the joy ! ye whom the sudden tear 
Surprises often while you look around 
And nothing strikes your eye but sights of bliss, 
All various Nature pressing on the heart ; 
An elegant sufficiency, content, 1160 

Retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, 
Ease and alternate labour, useful life, 
Progressive virtue, and approving Heaven. 
These are the matchless joys of virtuous love, 
And thus their moments fly. The Seasons thus, 1165 

As ceaseless round a jarring world they roll, 


Still find them happy ; and consenting Spring 

Sheds, her own rosy garland on their heads : 

Till evening comes at last, serene and mild ; 

When after the long vernal day of life, 1170 

Enamoured more, as more remembrance swells 

With many a proof of recollected love, 

Together down they sink in social sleep ; 

Together freed, their gentle spirits fly 

To scenes where love and bliss immortal reign. 1175 



FROM brightening fields of ether fair disclosed, 

Child of the Sun, refulgent Summer comes 

In pride of youth, and felt through Nature's depth ! 

He comes, attended by the sultry hours 

And ever-fanning breezes on his way ; 5 

While from his ardent look the turning Spring 

Averts her blushful face, and earth and skies 

All-smiling to his hot dominion leaves. 

Hence let me haste into the mid-wood shade 
Where scarce a sunbeam wanders through the gloom, 10 
And on the dark green grass, beside the brink 
Of haunted stream that by the roots of oak 
Rolls o'er the rocky channel, lie at large, 
And sing the glories of the circling year. 

Come, Inspiration! from thy hermit seat, 15 

By mortal seldom found : may Fancy dare, 
From thy fixed serious eye, and raptured glance 
Shot on surrounding Heaven, to steal one look 
Creative of the poet, every power 
Exalting to an ecstasy of soul ! 20 

And thou, my youthful muse's early friend, 
In whom the human graces all unite 
Pure light of mind, and tenderness of heart, 
Genius and wisdom, the gay social sense 
By decency chastised, goodness and wit 25 

In seldom-meeting harmony combined, 


Unblemished honour, and an active zeal 
For Britain's glory, liberty, and man 
O Dodington ! attend my rural song, 
Stoop to my theme, inspirit every line, 
And teach me to deserve thy just applause. 

(With what an awful world-revolving power 
Were first the unwieldy planets launched along 
The illimitable void ! thus to remain 
Amid the flux of many thousand years, 35 

That oft has swept the toiling race of men 
And all their laboured monuments away 
Firm, unremitting, matchless in their course; 
To the kind-tempered change of night and day 
And of the Seasons ever stealing round 4 

Minutely faithful : such the all-perfect Hand 
That poised, impels, and rules the steady whole. 

I When now no more the alternate Twins are fired, 
/And Cancer reddens with the solar blaze, 
(Short is the doubtful empire of the night; 45 

And soon, observant of approaching day, 
The meek-eyed morn appears, mother of dews, 
At first faint-gleaming in the dappled east ; 
Till far o'er ether spreads the widening glow, 
And from before the lustre of her face 50 

White break the clouds away. With quickened step 
Brown night retires. Young day pours in apace, 
And opens all the lawny prospect wide. 
The dripping rock, the mountain's misty top 
Swell on the sight, and brighten with the dawn. 55 

Blue through the dusk the smoking currents shine ; 
And from the bladed field the fearful hare 
Limps awkward ; while along the forest glade 
The wild deer trip, and often turning gaze 
At early passenger. Music awakes, 60 


The native voice of undissembled joy ; 

And thick around the woodland hymns arise. 

Roused by the cock, the soon-clad shepherd leaves 

His mossy cottage, where with peace he dwells ; 

And from the crowded fold in order drives 65 

His flock to taste the verdure of the morn. 

Falsely luxurious, will not man awake, 
And, springing from the bed of sloth, enjoy 
The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour, 
To meditation due and sacred song? 70 

For is there aught in sleep can charm the wise? 
To lie in dead oblivion, losing half 
The fleeting moments of too short a life, 
Total extinction of the enlightened soul ! 
Or else to feverish vanity alive, 75 

Wildered, and tossing through distempered dreams ! 
Who would in such a gloomy state remain 
Longer than Nature craves, when every muse 
And every blooming pleasure wait without 
To bless the wildly-devious morning-walk ? 80 

But yonder comes the powerful king of day 
Rejoicing in the east. The lessening cloud, 
The kindling azure, and the mountain's brow 
Illumed with fluid gold, his near approach 
Betoken glad. Lo ! now, apparent all, 85 

Aslant the dew-bright earth and coloured air 
He looks in boundless majesty abroad, 
And sheds the shining day, that burnished plays 
On rocks, and hills, and towers, and wandering streams, 
High-gleaming from afar. Prime cheerer, Light! 90 

Of all material beings first and best ; 
Efflux divine ; nature's resplendent robe, 
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt 
In unessential gloom ! and thou, O Sun ! 
Soul of surrounding worlds, in whom best seen 95 

Shines out thy Maker, may I sing of thee ! 

'Tis by thy secret strong attractive force, 
F 2 


As with a chain indissoluble bound, 

Thy system rolls entire, from the far bourn 

Of utmost Saturn, wheeling wide his round 100 

Of thirty years, to Mercury, whose disk 

Can scarce be caught by philosophic eye, 

Lost in the near effulgence of thy blaze. 

Informer of the planetary train, 

Without whose quickening glance their cumbrous orbs 105 
Were brute unlovely mass, inert and dead, 
And not as now the green abodes of life 
How many forms of being wait on thee 
Inhaling spirit, from the unfettered mind, 
By thee sublimed, down to the daily race, no 

The mixing myriads of thy setting beam. 

The vegetable world is also thine, 
Parent of Seasons ! who the pomp precede 
That waits thy throne, as through thy vast domain, 
Annual, along the bright ecliptic-road, 115 

In world-rejoicing state it moves sublime. 
Meantime the expecting nations, circled gay 
With all the various tribes of foodful earth, 
Implore thy bounty, or send grateful up 
A common hymn; while round thy beaming car 120 

High-seen the Seasons lead, in sprightly dance 
Harmonious knit, the rosy-fingered hours, 
The zephyrs floating loose, the timely rains, 
Of bloom ethereal the light-footed dews, 
And, softened into joy, the surly storms. 125 

These in successive turn with lavish hand 
Shower every beauty, every fragrance shower, 
Herbs, flowers, and fruits ; till, kindling at thy touch, 
From land to land is flushed the vernal year. 

Nor to. the surface of enlivened earth, 130 

Graceful with hills and dales, and leafy woods 
Her liberal tresses is thy force confined ; 
But, to the bowelled cavern darting dee'p, 
The mineral kinds confess thy mighty power. 

SUMMER. 6.9 

Effulgent hence the veiny marble shines ; 135 

Hence labour draws his tools ; hence burnished war 
Gleams on the day ; the nobler works of peace 
Hence bless mankind ; and generous commerce binds 
The round of nations in a golden chain. 

The unfruitful rock itself, impregned by thee, 140 

In dark retirement forms the lucid stone. 
The lively diamond drinks thy' purest rays, 
Collected light compact! that, polished bright, 
And all its native lustre let abroad, 

Dares, as it sparkles on the fair one's breast, 145 

With vain ambition emulate her eyes. 
At thee the ruby lights its deepening glow, 
And with a waving radiance inward flames. 
From thee the sapphire, solid ether, takes 
Its hue cerulean; and, of evening tinct, 150 

The purple-streaming amethyst is thine. 
With thy own smile the yellow topaz burns ; 
Nor deeper verdure dyes the robe of Spring 
When first she gives it to the southern gale 
Than the green emerald shows. But, all combined, 155 
Thick through the whitening opal play thy beams ; 
Or, flying several from its surface, form 
A trembling variance of revolving hues 
As the site varies in the gazer's hand. 

The very dead creation from thy touch 160 

Assumes a mimic life. By thee refined, 
In brighter mazes the relucent stream 
Plays o'er the mead. The precipice abrupt, 
Projecting horror on the blackened flood, 
Softens at thy return. The desert joys 165 

Wildly through all his melancholy bounds. 
Rude ruins glitter ; and the briny deep, 
Seen from some pointed promontory's top, 
Far to the blue horizon's utmost verge 
Restless reflects a floating gleam. But this, 170 

And all the much-transported muse can sing, 


Are to thy beauty, dignity, and use, 
Unequal far, great delegated source 
Of light, and life, and grace, and joy below ! 

How shall I then attempt to sing of Him, 175 

Who, Light Himself, in uncreated light 
Invested deep, dwells awfully retired 
From mortal eye or angels' purer ken ? 
Whose single smile has, from the first of time, 
Filled overflowing all those lamps of heaven, 180 

That beam for ever through the boundless sky : 
But, should He hide His face, the astonished sun, 
And all the extinguished stars, would loosening reel 
Wide from their spheres, and chaos come again. 

And yet was every faltering tongue of man, 185 

Almighty Father! silent in Thy praise, 
Thy works themselves would raise a general voice ; 
Even in the depth of solitary woods, 
By human foot untrod, proclaim Thy power ; 
And, to the quire celestial, Thee resound, 190 

The eternal cause, support, and end of all ! 

To me be Nature's volume broad-displayed ; 
And to perase its all-instructing page, 
Or, haply catching inspiration thence, 

Some easy passage raptured to translate, 195 

My sole delight, as through the falling glooms 
Pensive I stray, or with the rising dawn 
On fancy's eagle-wing excursive soar. 

Now flaming up the heavens, the potent sun 
Melts into limpid air the high-raised clouds 200 

And morning fogs that hovered round the hills 
In party-coloured bands, till wide unveiled 
The face of Nature shines, from where earth seems, 
Far-stretched around, to meet the bending sphere. 

Half in a blush of clustering roses lost, 205 

Dew-dropping Coolness to the shade retires, 
There, on the verdant turf or flowery bed, 

SUMMER. - 71 

By gelid founts and careless rills to muse ; 

While tyrant Heat, dispreading through the sky 

With rapid sway, his burning influence darts 210 

On man, and beast, and herb, and tepid stream. 

Who can unpitying see the flowery race, 
Shed by the morn, their new-flushed bloom resign 
Before the parching beam? So fade the fair 
When fevers revel through their azure veins. 215 

But one, the lofty follower of the sun, 
Sad when he sets, shuts up her yellow leaves, 
Drooping all night ; and, when he warm returns, 
Points her enamoured bosom to his ray. 

Home from his morning task the swain retreats, 220- 
His flock before him stepping to the fold ; 
While the full-uddered mother lows around 
The cheerful cottage, then expecting food, 
The food of innocence and health. The daw, 
The rook, and magpie, to the grey-grown oaks 225 

That the calm village in their verdant arms 
Sheltering embrace, direct their lazy flight ; 
Where on the mingling boughs they sit embowered 
All the hot noon, till cooler hours arise. 
Faint underneath the household fowls convene; 230 

And in a corner of the buzzing shade 
The housedog, with the vacant greyhound, lies 
Out-stretched and sleepy. In his slumbers one 
Attacks the nightly thief, and one exults 
O'er hill and dale ; till, wakened by the wasp, 235 

They starting snap. Nor shall the muse disdain 
To let the little noisy summer-race 
Live in her lay and flutter through her song ; 
Not mean though simple, to the sun allied, 
From him they draw their animating fire. 240 

Waked by his warmer ray, the reptile young 
Come winged abroad; by the light air upborne, 
Lighter, and full of soul. From every chink 
And secret corner, where they slept away 


The wintry storms, or rising from their tombs 245 

To higher life,) by myriads forth at once 
Swarming they pour, of all the varied hues 
Their beauty-beaming parent can disclose.] 
Ten thousand forms, ten thousand different tribes 
People the blaze. To sunny waters some 250 

By fatal instinct fly ; where on the pool 
They sportive wheel, or sailing down the stream 
Are snatched immediate by the quick-eyed trout 
Or darting salmon. Through the greenwood glade 
Some love to stray, there lodged, amused, and fed 255 
In the fresh leaf. Luxurious, others make 
, The meads their choice, and visit every flower 
And every latent herb ; for the sweet task 
To propagate their kinds, and where to wrap 
In what soft beds their young, yet undisclosed, 260 

Employs their tender care. Some to the house, 
The fold, the dairy, hungry bend their flight, 
Sip round the pail, or taste the curdling cheese : 
Oft, inadvertent, from the milky stream 
They meet their fate; or, weltering in the bowl, 265 

With powerless wings around them wrapt, expire. 

But chief to heedless flies the window proves 
A constant death ; where gloomily retired 
The villain spider lives, cunning and fierce, 
Mixture abhorred! Amid a mangled heap 270 

Of carcases in eager watch he sits, 
O'erlooking all his waving snares around. 
Near the dire cell the dreadless wanderer oft 
Passes : as oft the ruffian shows his front. 
The prey at last ensnared, he dreadful darts 275 

With rapid glide along the leaning line, 
And, fixing in the wretch his cruel fangs, 
Strikes backward, grimly pleased : the fluttering wing 
And shriller sound declare extreme distress, 
And ask the helping hospitable hand. 280 

Resounds the living surface of the ground. 


Nor undelightful is the ceaseless hum 

To him who muses through the woods at noon; 

Or drowsy shepherd, as he lies reclined 

With half-shut eyes beneath the floating shade 285 

Of willows grey, close- crowding o'er the brook. 

Gradual from these what numerous kinds descend, 
Evading even the microscopic eye! 
Full nature swarms with life ; one wondrous mass 
Of animals, or atoms organised, 290 

Waiting the vital breath, when Parent-Heaven 
Shall bid his spirit blow. The hoary fen 
In putrid streams emits the living cloud 
Of pestilence. Through subterranean cells, 
Where searching sunbeams scarce can find a way, 295 
Earth animated heaves. The flowery leaf 
Wants not its soft inhabitants. Secure 
Within its winding citadel the stone 
Holds multitudes. But chief the forest-boughs, 
That dance unnumbered to the playful breeze, 300 

The downy orchard, and the melting pulp 
Of mellow fruit the nameless nations feed 
Of evanescent insects. Where the pool 
Stands mantled o'er with green, invisible 
Amid the floating verdure, millions stray. 305 

Each liquid too, whether it pierces, soothes, 
Inflames, refreshes, or exalts the taste, 
With various forms abounds. Nor is the stream 
Of purest crystal, nor the lucid air, 

Though one transparent vacancy it seems, 310 

Void of their unseen people. These, concealed 
By the kind art of forming Heaven, escape 
The grosser eye of man ; for, if the worlds 
In worlds enclosed should on his senses burst, 
From cates ambrosial and the nectared bowl 315 

He would abhorrent turn, and in dead night, 
When silence sleeps o'er all, be stunned with noise. 

Let no presuming impious railer tax 


Creative Wisdom, as if aught was formed 

In vain, or not for admirable ends. 320 

Shall little haughty Ignorance pronounce 

His works unwise, of which the smallest part 

Exceeds the narrow vision of her mind ? 

As if, upon a full proportioned dome 

On swelling columns heaved the pride of art, 325 

A critic-fly, whose feeble ray scarce spreads 

An inch around, with blind presumption bold 

Should dare to tax the structure of the whole. 

And lives the man whose universal eye 

Has swept at once the unbounded scheme of things, 330 

Marked their dependence so, and firm accord, 

As with unfaltering accent to conclude 

That this availeth nought? Has any seen 

The mighty chain of beings, lessening down 

From infinite perfection to the brink 335 

Of dreary nothing, desolate abyss ! 

From which astonished thought recoiling turns ? 

Till then, alone let zealous praise ascend 

And hymns of holy wonder to that Power 

Whose wisdom shines as lovely on our minds 340 

As on our smiling eyes his servant-sun. 

Thick in yon stream of light, a thousand ways 
Upward and downward thwarting and convolved, 
The quivering nations sport ; till, tempest-winged, 
Fierce Winter sweeps them from the face of day. 345 

Even so luxurious men unheeding pass 
An idle summer life in fortune's shine, 
A season's glitter ! Thus they flutter on 
From toy to toy, from vanity to vice ; 

Till, blown away by death, oblivion comes 350 

Behind, and strikes them from the book of life. 

Now swarms the village o'er the jovial mead, 
The rustic youth, brown with meridian toil, 
Healthful and strong ; full as the summer rose 


Blown by prevailing suns, the ruddy maid, 355 

Half naked, swelling on the sight, and all 

Her kindling graces burning o'er her cheek. 

Even stooping age is here ; and infant hands 

Trail the long rake, or, with the fragrant load 

O'ercharged, amid the kind oppression roll. 3 6 

Wide flies the tedded grain ; all in a row 

Advancing broad, or wheeling round the field, 

They spread their breathing harvest to the sun, 

That throws refreshful round a rural smell ; 

Or, as they rake the green-appearing ground, 365 

And drive the dusky wave along the mead, 

The russet haycock rises thick behind, 

In order gay ; while, heard from dale to dale, 

Waking the breeze, resounds the blended voice 

Of happy Jabour, love, and social glee. 370 

Or, rushing thence in one diffusive band, 
They drive the troubled flocks, by many a dog 
Compelled, to where the mazy-running brook 
Forms a deep pool, this bank abrupt and high, 
And that fair-spreading in a pebbled shore. 375 

Urged to the giddy brink, much is the toil, 
The clamour much, of men, and boys, and dogs, 
Ere the soft fearful people to the flood 
Commit their woolly sides ; and oft the swain, 
On some impatient seizing, hurls them in. 380 

Emboldened then, nor hesitating more, 
Fast, fast they plunge amid the flashing wave, 
And panting labour to the farthest shore. 
Repeated this, till deep the well-washed fleece 
Has drunk the flood, and from his lively haunt 385 

The trout is banished by the sordid stream, 
Heavy and dripping to the breezy brow 
Slow move the harmless race ; where, as they spread 
Their swelling treasures to the sunny ray, 
Inly disturbed, and wondering what this wild 390 

Outrageous tumult means, their loud complaints 


The country fill, and, tossed from rock to rock, 

Incessant bleatings run around the hills. 

At last of snowy white, the gathered flocks 

Are in the wattled pen innumerous pressed, 395 

Head above head ; and, ranged in lusty rows, 

The shepherds sit, and whet the sounding shears. 

The housewife waits to roll her fleecy stores, 

With all her gay-drest maids attending round. 

One, chief, in gracious dignity enthroned, 400 

Shines o'er the rest the pastoral queen, and rays 

Her smiles sweet-beaming on her shepherd-king ; 

While the glad circle round them yield their souls 

To festive mirth, and wit that knows no gall. 

Meantime their joyous task goes on apace. 405 

Some mingling stir the melted tar, and some 

Deep on the new-shorn vagrant's heaving side 

To stamp his master's cipher ready stand ; 

Others the unwilling wether drag along ; 

And, glorying in his might, the sturdy boy 410 

Holds by the twisted horns the indignant ram. 

Behold where bound, and of its robe bereft 

By needy man, that all-depending lord, 

How meek, how patient the mild creature lies ! 

What softness in its melancholy face, 4 1 5 

What dumb-complaining innocence appears ! 

Fear not, ye gentle tribes, 'tis not the knife 

Of horrid slaughter that is o'er you waved ; 

No, 'tis the tender swain's well-guided shears, 

Who having now, to pay his annual care, 420 

Borrowed your fleece, to you a cumbrous load, 

Will send you bounding to your hills again. 

A simple scene! Yet hence Britannia sees 
Her solid grandeur rise : hence she commands 
The exalted stores of every brighter clime, 425 

The treasures of the sun without his rage ; 
Hence, fervent all with culture, toil, and arts, 
Wide glows her land ; her dreadful thunder hence 


Rides o'er the waves sublime, and now, even now, 
Impending hangs o'er Gallia's humbled coast ; 430 

Hence rules the circling deep, and awes the world. 

'Tis raging noon ; and, vertical, the sun 
Darts on the head direct his forceful rays. 
O'er heaven and earth, far as the ranging eye 
Can sweep, a dazzling deluge reigns; and all 435 

From pole to pole is undistinguished blaze. 
In vain the sight, dejected to the ground, 
Stoops for relief; thence hot-ascending steams 
And keen reflection pain. Deep to the root 
Of vegetation parched, the cleaving fields 440 

And slippery lawn an arid hue disclose, 
Blast fancy's bloom, and wither even the soul. 
Echo no more returns the cheerful sound 
Of sharpening scythe ; the mower, sinking, heaps 
O'er him the humid hay, with flowers perfumed; 445 

And scarce a chirping grasshopper is heard 
Through the dumb mead. Distressful nature pants. 
The very streams look languid from afar ; 
Or, through the unsheltered glade, impatient, seem 
To hurl into the covert of the grove. 450 

All-conquering heat ! oh intermit thy wrath, 
And on my throbbing temples potent thus 
Beam not so fierce. Incessant still you flow, 
And still another fervent flood succeeds, 
Poured on the head profuse. In vain I sigh, 455 

And restless turn, and look around for night. 
Night is far off; and hotter hours approach. 
Thrice happy he, who on the sunless side 
Of a romantic mountain, forest- crowned, 
Beneath the whole collected shade reclines ; 460 

Or in the gelid caverns, woodbine-wrought, 
And fresh bedewed with ever-spouting streams, 
Sits coolly calm, while all the world without, 
Unsatisfied and sick, tosses in noon, 


Emblem instructive of the virtuous man, 465 

Who keeps his tempered mind serene and pure 
And every passion aptly harmonized 
Amid a jarring world with vice inflamed. 

Welcome, ye shades ! ye bowery thickets, hail ! 
Ye lofty pines ! ye venerable oaks ! 470 

Ye ashes wild, resounding o'er the steep ! 
Delicious is your shelter to the soul, 
As to the hunted hart the sallying spring 
Or stream full-flowing, that his swelling sides 
Laves as he floats along the herbaged brink. 475 

Cool through the nerves your pleasing comfort glides; 
The heart beats glad ; the fresh expanded eye 
And ear resume their watch ; the sinews knit ; 
And life shoots swift through all the lightened limbs. 

Around the adjoining brook that purls along 480 

The vocal grove, now fretting o'er a rock, 
Now scarcely moving through a reedy pool, 
Now starting to a sudden stream, and now 
Gently diffused into a limpid plain, 

A various group the herds and flocks compose. 485 

Rural confusion ! On the grassy bank 
Some ruminating lie ; while others stand 
Half in the flood, and often bending sip 
The circling surface. In the middle droops 
The strong laborious ox, of honest front, 490 

Which incomposed he shakes ; and from his sides 
The troublous insects lashes with his tail, 
Returning still. Amid his subjects safe 
Slumbers the monarch-swain, his careless arm 
Thrown round his head on downy moss sustained, 495 
Here laid his scrip with wholesome viands filled, 
And there his sceptre-crook and watchful dog. 

Light fly his slumbers, if perchance a flight 
Of angry gadflies fasten on the herd, 

That startling scatters from the shallow brook 500 

In search of lavish stream. Tossing the foam, 


They scorn the keeper's voice, and scour the plain 
Through all the bright severity of noon, 
While from their labouring breasts a hollow moan 
Proceeding runs low-bellowing round the hills. 505 

Oft in this season too the horse provoked, 
While his big sinews full of spirits swell, 
Trembling with vigour, in the heat of blood 
Springs the high fence ; and, o'er the field effused, 
Darts on the gloomy flood with stedfast eye 510 

And heart estranged to fear: his nervous chest, 
Luxuriant and erect, the seat of strength, 
Bears down the opposing stream ; quenchless his thirst, 
He takes the river at redoubled draughts ; 
And with wide nostrils snorting skims the wave. 515 

Still let me pierce into the midnight depth 
Of yonder grove of wildest largest growth, 
That, forming high in air a woodland quire, 
Nods o'er the mount beneath. At every step 
Solemn and slow the shadows blacker fall, 520 

And all is awful listening gloom around. 

These are the haunts of meditation, these 
The scenes where ancient bards the inspiring breath 
Ecstatic felt, and, from this world retired, 
Conversed with angels and immortal forms 525 

On gracious errands bent, to save the fall 
Of virtue struggling on the brink of vice ; 
In waking whispers and repeated dreams 
To hint pure thought and warn the favoured soul 
For future trials fated to prepare; 530 

To prompt the poet, who devoted gives 
His muse to better themes; to soothe the pangs 
Of dying worth, and from the patriot's breast 
(Backward to mingle in detested war, 

But foremost when engaged) to turn the death; 535 

And numberless such offices of love, 
Daily and nightly, zealous to perform. 
Shook sudden from the bosom of the sky 


A thousand shapes or glide athwart the dusk 

Or stalk majestic on. Deep-roused I feel 540 

A sacred terror, a severe delight, 

Creep through my mortal frame; and thus, methinks, 

A voice, than human more, the abstracted ear 

Of fancy strikes : ' Be not of us afraid, 

Poor kindred man! thy fellow- creatures we 545 

From the same Parent-Power our beings drew ; 

The same our Lord, and laws, and great pursuit. 

Once some of us, like thee, through stormy life 

Toiled tempest-beaten ere we could attain 

This holy calm, this harmony of mind, 550 

Where purity and peace immingle charms. 

Then fear not us ; but with responsive song, 

Amid these dim recesses, undisturbed 

By noisy folly and discordant vice, 

Of Nature sing with us, and Nature's God. 555 

Here frequent, at the visionary hour 

When musing midnight reigns or silent noon, 

Angelic harps are in full concert heard, 

And voices chanting from the wood-crowned hill, 

The deepening dale, or inmost sylvan glade, 560 

A privilege bestowed by us alone 

On contemplation, or the hallowed ear 

Of poet swelling to seraphic strain.' 

And art thou, Stanley, of that sacred band? 
Alas, for us too soon ! Though raised above 565 

The reach of human pain, above the flight 
Of human joy, yet with a mingled ray 
Of sadly pleased remembrance must thou feel 
A mother's love, a mother's tender woe, 
Who seeks thee still in many a former scene, 570 

Seeks thy fair form, thy lovely beaming eyes, 
Thy pleasing converse, by gay lively sense 
Inspired, where moral wisdom mildly shone 
Without the toil of art, and virtue glowed 
In all her smiles without forbidding pride. 575 

SUMMER. 8 1 

But, O thou best of parents, wipe thy tears ; 

Or rather to parental Nature pay 

The tears of grateful joy, who for a while 

Lent thee this younger self, this opening bloom 

Of thy enlightened mind and gentle worth. 580 

Believe the muse, the wintry blast of death 

Kills not the buds of virtue ; no, they spread 

Beneath the heavenly beam of brighter suns 

Through endless ages into higher powers. 

Thus up the mount, in airy vision rapt, 585 

I stray, regardless whither, till the sound 
Of a near fall of water every sense 

Wakes from the charm of thought : swift-shrinking back, 
I check my steps, and view the broken scene. 

Smooth to the shelving brink a copious flood 590 

Rolls fair and placid; where, collected all, 
In one impetuous torrent down the steep 
It thundering shoots, and shakes the country round. 
At first an azure sheet it rushes broad ; 
Then whitening by degrees as prone it falls, 595 

And from the loud-resounding rocks below 
Dashed in a cloud of foam, it sends aloft 
A hoary mist, and forms a ceaseless shower. 
Nor can the tortured wave here find repose, 
But, raging still amid the shaggy rocks, 600 

Now flashes o'er the scattered fragments, now 
Aslant the hollowed channel rapid darts, 
And, falling fast from gradual slope to slope 
With wild infracted course and lessened roar, 
It gains a safer bed, and steals at last 605 

Along the mazes of the quiet vale. 

Invited from the cliff, to whose dark brow 
He clings, the steep-ascending eagle soars 
With upward pinions through the flood of day, 
And, giving full his bosom to the blaze, 610 

Gains on the sun; while all the tuneful race, 
Smote with afflictive noon, disordered droop 



Deep in the thicket, or, from bower to bower 

Responsive, force an interrupted strain. 

The stockdove only through the forest coos, 615 

Mournfully hoarse ; oft ceasing from his plaint 

(Short interval of weary woe !) again 

The sad idea of his murdered mate, 

Struck from his side by savage fowler's guile, 

Across his fancy comes, and then resounds 620 

A louder song of sorrow through the grove. 

Beside the dewy border let me sit, 
All in the freshness of the humid air, 
There, in that hollowed rock grotesque and wild, 
An ample chair, moss-lined and overhead, 625 

By flowering umbrage shaded, where the bee 
Strays diligent, and with the extracted balm 
Of fragrant woodbine loads his little thigh. 

Now, while I taste the sweetness of the shade, 
While Nature lies around deep lulled in noon, 630 

Now come, bold Fancy! spread a daring flight, 
And view the wonders of the torrid zone 
Climes unrelenting ! with whose rage compared 
Yon blaze is feeble and yon skies are cool. 

See how at once the bright-effulgent sun, 635 

Rising direct, swift chases from the sky 
The short-lived twilight; and with ardent blaze 
Looks gaily fierce through all the dazzling air. 
He mounts his throne ; but kind before him sends, 
Issuing from out the portals of the morn, 640 

The general breeze to mitigate his fire 
And breathe refreshment on a fainting world. 
Great are the scenes, with dreadful beauty crowned 
And barbarous wealth, that see, each circling year, 
Returning suns and double seasons pass, 645 

Rocks rich in gems ; and mountains big with mines, 
That on the high equator ridgy rise, 
Whence many a bursting stream auriferous plays ; 


Majestic woods of every vigorous green, 

Stage above stage high waving o'er the hills, 650 

Or to the far horizon wide diffused, 

A boundless deep immensity of shade. 

Here lofty trees, to ancient song unknown, 

The noble sons of potent heat and floods 

Prone-rushing from the clouds, rear high to heaven 655 

Their thorny stems, and broad around them throw 

Meridian gloom. Here in eternal prime 

Unnumbered fruits, of keen delicious taste 

And vital spirit, drink amid the cliffs 

And burning sands that bank the shrubby vales 660 

Redoubled day; yet in their rugged coats 

A friendly juice to cool its rage contain. 

Bear me, Pomona, to thy citron groves, 
To where the lemon and the piercing lime 
With the deep orange glowing through the green 665 

Their lighter glories blend. Lay me reclined 
Beneath the spreading tamarind, that shakes, 
Fanned by the breeze, its fever-cooling fruit. 
Deep in the night the massy locust sheds 
Quench my hot limbs ; or lead me through the maze, 670 
Embowering endless, of the Indian fig; 
Or, thrown at gayer ease on some fair brow, 
Let me behold, by breezy murmurs cooled, 
Broad o'er my head the verdant cedar wave, 
And high palmettos lift their graceful shade. 675 

Oh, stretched amid these orchards of the sun, 
Give me to drain the cocoa's milky bowl, 
And from the palm to draw its freshening wine, 
More bounteous far than all the frantic juice 
Which Bacchus pours. Nor, on its slender twigs 680 

Low-bending, be the full pomegranate scorned ; 
Nor, creeping through the woods, the gelid race 
Of berries. Oft in humble station dwells 
Unboastful worth, above fastidious pomp. 
Witness, thou best anana, thou the pride 685 

G 2 


Of vegetable life, beyond whate'er 
The poets imaged in the golden age! 
Quick let me strip thee of thy tufty coat, 
Spread thy ambrosial stores, and feast with Jove ! 

From these the prospect varies. Plains immense 690 
Lie stretched below, interminable meads 
And vast savannahs, where the wandering eye, 
Unfixed, is in a verdant ocean lost. 
Another Flora there, of bolder hues 

And richer sweets beyond our garden's pride, 695 

Plays o'er the fields, and showers with sudden hand 
Exuberant Spring ; for oft these valleys shift 
Their green-embroidered robe to fiery brown, 
And swift to green again, as scorching suns 
Or streaming dews and torrent rains prevail. 700 

Along these lonely regions where, retired 
From little scenes of art, great Nature dwells 
In awful solitude, and nought is seen 
But the wild herds that own no master's stall, 
Prodigious rivers roll their fattening seas ; 705 

On whose luxuriant herbage, half-concealed, 
Like a fallen cedar, far diffused his train, 
Cased in green scales, the crocodile extends. 
The flood disparts behold ! in plaited mail 
Behemoth rears his head. Glanced from his side, 710 
The darted steel in idle shivers flies. 
He fearless walks the plain, or seeks the hills, 
Where, as he crops his varied fare, the herds 
In widening circle round forget their food, 
And at the harmless stranger wondering gaze. 715 

Peaceful beneath primeval trees that cast 
Their ample shade o'er Niger's yellow stream, 
And where the Ganges rolls his sacred wave, 
Or 'mid the central depth of blackening woods 
High-raised in solemn theatre around, 720 

Leans the huge elephant, wisest of brutes ! 
O truly wise! with gentle might endowed, 


Though powerful not destructive. Here he sees 

Revolving ages sweep the changeful earth, 

And empires rise and fall, regardless he 725 

Of what the never-resting race of men 

Project ; thrice happy, could he 'scape their guile 

Who mine from cruel avarice his steps; 

Or with his towery grandeur swell their state, 

The pride of kings; or else his strength pervert, 730 

And bid him rage amid the mortal fray, 

Astonished at the madness of mankind. 

Wide o'er the winding umbrage of the floods, 
Like vivid blossoms glowing from afar, 
Thick-swarm the brighter birds; for Nature's hand, 735 
That with a sportive vanity has decked 
The plumy nations, there her gayest hues 
Profusely pours. But if she bids them shine 
Arrayed in all the beauteous beams of day r 
Yet, frugal still, she humbles them in song. 740 

Nor envy we the gaudy robes they lent 
Proud Montezuma's realm, whose legions cast 
A boundless radiance waving on the sun, 
While Philomel is ours, while in our shades 
Through the soft silence of the listening night 745 

The sober-suited songstress trills her lay. 

But come, my muse ! the desert-barrier burst, 
A wild expanse of lifeless sand and sky, 
And, swifter than the toiling caravan, 

Shoot o'er the vale of Sennar, ardent climb 750 

The Nubian mountains, and the secret bounds 
Of jealous Abyssinia boldly pierce. 
Thou art no ruffian who beneath the mask 
Of social commerce com'st to rob their wealth ; 
No holy fury thou, blaspheming heaven, 755 

With consecrated steel to stab their peace, 
And through the land, yet red from civil wounds, 
To spread the purple tyranny of Rome. 
Thou, like the harmless bee, mayst freely range 


From mead to mead bright with exalted flowers, 760 

From jasmine grove to grove ; mayst wander gay 

Through palmy shades and aromatic woods 

That grace the plains, invest the peopled hills, 

And up the more than Alpine mountains wave. 

There, on the breezy summit spreading fair 765 

For many a league, or on stupendous rocks 

That from the sun-redoubling valley lift 

Cool to the middle air their lawny tops, 

Where palaces and fanes and villas rise, 

And gardens smile around and cultured fields, 770 

And fountains gush, and careless herds and flocks 

Securely stray, a world within itself 

Disdaining all assault there let me draw 

Ethereal soul ; there drink reviving gales 

Profusely breathing from the spicy groves 775 

And vales of fragrance ; there at distance hear 

The roaring floods and cataracts that sweep 

From disembowelled earth the virgin gold, 

And o'er the varied landscape restless rove, 

Fervent with life of every fairer kind. 780 

A land of wonders ! which the sun still eyes 

With ray direct, as of the lovely realm 

Enamoured, and delighting there to dwell. 

How changed the scene ! In blazing height of noon, 
The sun, oppressed, is plunged in thickest gloom. 785 

Still horror reigns, a dreary twilight round 
Of struggling night and day malignant mixed ; 
For to the hot equator crowding fast, 
Where highly rarefied the yielding air 

Admits their stream, incessant vapours roll, 790 

Amazing clouds on clouds continual heaped, 
Or whirled tempestuous by the gusty wind, 
Or silent borne along, heavy and slow, 
With the b:g stores of steaming oceans charged. 
Meantime, amid these upper seas, condensed 795 

Around the cold aerial mountain's brow, 


And by conflicting winds together dashed, 

The thunder holds his black tremendous throne. 

From cloud to cloud the rending lightnings rage ; 

Till, in the furious elemental war 800 

Dissolved, the whole precipitated mass 

Unbroken floods and solid torrents pours. 

The treasures these, hid from the bounded search 
Of ancient knowledge ; whence with annual pomp, 
Rich king of floods, o'erflows the swelling Nile. 805 

From his two springs, in Gojam's sunny realm, 
Pure- welling out, he through the lucid lake 
Of fair Dambea rolls his infant stream. 
There, by the Naiads nursed, he sports away 
His playful youth amid the fragrant isles 8 TO 

That with unfading verdure smile around. 
Ambitious thence the manly river breaks, 
And gathering many a flood, and copious fed 
With all the mellowed treasures of the sky, 
Winds in progressive majesty along. 815 

Through splendid kingdoms now devolves his maze ; 
Now wanders wild o'er solitary tracts 
Of life-deserted sand ; till, glad to quit 
The joyless desert, down the Nubian rocks 
From thundering steep to steep he pours his urn, 820 

And Egypt joys, beneath the spreading wave. 

His brother Niger too, and all the floods 
In which the full-formed maids of Afric lave 
Their jetty limbs, and all that from the tract 
Of woody mountains stretched through gorgeous Ind 825 
Fall on Cormandel's coast or Malabar, 
From Menam's orient stream, that nightly shines 
With insect-lamps, to where Aurora sheds 
On Indus' smiling banks the rosy shower 
All at this bounteous season ope their urns, 850 

And pour untoiling harvest o'er the land. 

Nor less thy world, Columbus, drinks refreshed 
The lavish moisture of the melting year. 


Wide o'er his isles the branching Oronoque ' 

Rolls a brown deluge, and the native drives 835 

To dwell aloft on life-sufficing trees, 

At once his dome, his robe, his food, and -arms. 

Swelled by a thousand streams impetuous hurled 

From all the roaring Andes, huge descends 

The mighty Orellana. Scarce the Muse 840 

Dares stretch her wing o'er this enormous mass 

Of rushing water ; scarce she dares attempt 

The sea-like Plata, to whose dread expanse, 

Continuous depth, and wondrous length of course, 

Our floods are rills. With unabated force 845 

In silent dignity they sweep along, 

And traverse realms unknown and blooming wilds 

And fruitful deserts, worlds of solitude, 

Where the sun smiles and seasons teem in vain, 

Unseen and unenjoyed. Forsaking these, 850 

O'er peopled plains they fair-diffusive flow, 

And many a nation feed, and circle safe 

In their soft bosom many a happy isle, 

The seat of blameless Pan, yet undisturbed 

By Christian crimes and Europe's cruel sons. 855 

Thus pouring on they proudly seek the deep, 

Whose vanquished tide, recoiling from the shock, 

Yields to the liquid weight of half the globe ; 

And ocean trembles for his green domain. 

But what avails this wondrous waste of wealth, 860 

This gay profusion of luxurious bliss, 
This pomp of Nature ? what their balmy meads, 
Their powerful herbs, and Ceres void of pain ? 
By vagrant birds dispersed, and wafting winds, 
What their unplanted fruits ? what the cool draughts, 865 
The ambrosial food, rich gums, and spicy health, 
Their forests yield ? their toiling insects what, 
Their silky pride, and vegetable robes ? 
Ah ! what avail their fatal treasures, hid 
Deep in the bowels of the pitying earth, 870 



Golconda's gems, and sad Potosi's mines 
Where dwelt the gentlest children of the sun ? 
What all that Afric's golden rivers roll, 
Her odorous woods, and shining ivory stores ? 
Ill-fated race! the softening arts of peace, 875 

Whate'er the humanizing muses teach ; 
The godlike wisdom of the tempered breast ; 
Progressive truth, the patient force of thought ; 
Investigation calm, whose silent powers 
Command the world ; the light that leads to heaven ; 880 
Kind equal rule, the government of laws, 
And all-protecting freedom, which alone 
Sustains the name and dignity of man 
These are not theirs. The parent-sun himself 
Seems o'er this world of slaves to tyrannize; 885 

And, with oppressive ray, the roseate bloom 
Of beauty blasting, gives the gloomy hue 
And feature gross ; or worse, to ruthless deeds, 
Mad jealousy, blind rage, and fell revenge, 
Their fervid spirit fires. Love dwells not there ; 890 

The soft regards, the tenderness of life, 
The heart-shed tear, the ineffable delight 
Of sweet humanity these court the beam 
Of milder climes ; in selfish fierce desire 
And the wild fury of voluptuous sense 895 

There lost. The very brute creation there 
This rage partakes, and burns with horrid fire. 
Lo ! the green serpent, from his dark abode, 
Which even imagination fears to tread, 
At noon forth-issuing, gathers up his train 900 

In orbs immense, then, darting out anew, 
Seeks the refreshing fount, by which diffused 
He throws his folds ; and while, with threatening tongue 
And deathful jaws erect, the monster curls 
His flaming crest, all other thirst appalled 905 

Or shivering flies, or checked at distance stands, 
Nor dares approach. But still more direful he, 


The small close-lurking minister of fate, 
Whose high-concocted venom through the veins 
A rapid lightning darts, arresting swift 910 

The vital current. Formed to humble man, 
This child of vengeful Nature ! There, sublimed 
To fearless lust of blood, the savage race 
Roam, licensed by the shading hour of guilt 
And foul misdeed, when the pure day has shut 9*5 

His sacred eye. The tiger darting fierce 
Impetuous on the prey his glance has doomed ; 
The lively-shining leopard, speckled o'er 
With many a spot, the beauty of the waste ; 
And, scorning all the taming arts of man, 920 

The keen hyasna, fellest of the fell 
These, rushing from the inhospitable woods 
Of Mauritania, or the tufted isles 
That verdant rise amid the Libyan wild, 
Innumerous glare around their shaggy king, 925 

Majestic stalking o'er the printed sand ; 
And with imperious and repeated roars 
Demand their fated food. The fearful flocks 
Crowd near the guardian swain ; the nobler herds, 
Where round their lordly bull in rural ease 930 

They ruminating lie, with horror hear 
The coming rage. The awakened village starts ; 
And to her fluttering breast the mother strains 
Her thoughtless infant. From the pirate's den 
Or stern Morocco's tyrant fang escaped, 935 

The wretch half- wishes for his bonds again; 
While, uproar all, the wilderness resounds, 
From Atlas eastward to the frighted Nile. 
Unhappy he, who from the first of joys, 
Society, cut off, is left alone 940 

Amid this world of death. Day after day, 
Sad on the jutting eminence he sits, 
And views the main that ever toils below, 
Still fondly forming in the farthest verge, 


Where the round ether mixes with the wave, 945 

Ships, dim-discovered, dropping from the clouds. 

At evening to the setting sun he turns 

A mournful eye, and down his dying heart 

Sinks helpless, while the wonted roar is up 

And hiss continual through the tedious night. 950 

Yet here, even here, into these black abodes 

Of monsters unappalled, from stooping Rome 

And guilty Caesar Liberty retired, 

Her Cato following through Numidian wilds, 

Disdainful of Campania's gentle plains 955 

And all the green delights Ausonia pours 

When for them she must bend the servile knee, 

And fawning take the splendid robber's boon. 

Nor stop the terrors of these regions here. 
Commissioned demons oft, angels of wrath, 960 

Let loose the raging elements. Breathed hot 
From all the boundless furnace of the sky 
And the wide glittering waste of burning sand, 
A suffocating wind the pilgrim smites 

With instant death. Patient of thirst and toil, 965 

Son of the desert, even the camel feels, 
Shot through his withered heart, the fiery blast. 
Or, from the black-red ether bursting broad, 
Sallies the sudden whirlwind. Straight the sands, 
Commoved around, in gathering eddies play ; 970 

Nearer and nearer still they darkening come ; 
Till, with the general all-involving storm 
Swept up, the whole continuous wilds arise ; 
And, by their noonday fount dejected thrown, 
Or sunk at night in sad disastrous sleep, 975 

Beneath descending hills the caravan 
Is buried deep. In Cairo's crowded streets 
The impatient merchant, wondering, waits in vain, 
And Mecca saddens at the long delay. 

But chief at sea, whose every flexile wave 980 

Obeys the blast, the aerial tumult swells. 


In the dread ocean, undulating wide 

Beneath the radiant line that girts the globe, 

The circling Typhon, whirled from point to point, 

Exhausting all the rage of all the sky, 985 

And dire Ecnephia reign. Amid the heavens, 

Falsely serene, deep in a cloudy speck 

Compressed, the mighty tempest brooding dwells. 

Of no regard save to the skilful eye, 

Fiery and foul the small prognostic hangs 990 

Aloft, or on the promontory's brow 

Musters its force. A faint deceitful calm, 

A fluttering gale, the demon sends before 

To tempt the spreading sail. Then down at once 

Precipitant descends a mingled mass 995 

Of roaring winds and flame and rushing floods. 

In wild amazement fixed the sailor stands. 

Art is too slow ; by rapid fate oppressed, 

His broad-winged vessel drinks the whelming tide, 

Hid in the bosom of the black abyss. 1000 

With such mad seas the daring Gama fought 

For many a day and many a dreadful night 

Incessant, labouring round the stormy Cape, 

By bold ambition led and bolder thirst 

Of gold. For then from ancient gloom emerged 1005 

The rising world of trade : the genius, then, 

Of navigation, that in hopeless sloth 

Had slumbered on the vast Atlantic deep 

For idle ages, starting, heard at last 

The Lusitanian Prince, who, heaven-inspired, 1010 

To love of useful glory roused mankind, 

And in unbounded commerce mixed the world. 

Increasing still the terrors of these storms, 
His jaws horrific armed with threefold fate, 
Here dwells the direful shark. Lured by the scent 1015 
Of steaming crowds, of rank disease, and death, 
Behold he rushing cuts the briny flood 
Swift as the gale can bear the ship along, 


And from the partners of that cruel trade 

Which spoils unhappy Guinea of her sons 1020 

Demands his share of prey, demands themselves. 

The stormy fates descend : one death involves 

Tyrants and slaves ; when straight, their mangled limbs 

Crashing at once, he dyes the purple seas 

With gore, and riots in the vengeful meal. 1025 

When o'er this world, by equinoctial rains 
Flooded immense, looks out the joyless sun, 
And draws the copious steam from swampy fens 
Where putrefaction into life ferments 

And breathes destructive myriads, or from woods, 1030 
Impenetrable shades, recesses foul, 
In vapours rank and blue corruption wrapt, 
Whose gloomy horrors yet no desperate foot 
Has ever dared to pierce then wasteful forth 
Walks the dire power of pestilent disease. 1035 

A thousand hideous fiends her course attend, 
Sick nature blasting, and to heartless woe 
And feeble desolation casting down 
The towering hopes and all the pride of man ; 
Such as of late at Carthagena quenched 1040 

The British fire. You, gallant Vernon, saw 
The miserable scene ; you pitying saw 
To infant weakness sunk the warrior's arm ; 
Saw the deep-racking pang, the ghastly form, 
The lip pale-quivering, and the beamless eye 1045 

No more with ardour bright ; you heard the groans 
Of agonizing ships from shore to shore ; 
Heard, nightly plunged amid the sullen waves, 
The frequent corse, while, on each other fixed,. 
In sad presage the blank assistants seemed 1050 

Silent to ask whom Fate would next demand. 

What need I mention those inclement skies 
Where frequent o'er the sickening city Plague, 
The fiercest child of Nemesis divine, 
Descends? From Ethiopia's poisoned woods, 1055 


From stifled Cairo's filth, and fetid fields 
With locust-armies putrefying heaped, 
This great destroyer sprung. Her awful rage 
The brutes escape : man is her destined prey, 
Intemperate man, and o'er his guilty domes 1060 

She draws a close incumbent cloud of death, 
Uninterrupted by the living winds, 
Forbid to blow a wholesome breeze, and stained 
With many a mixture by the sun, suffused, 
Of angry aspect. Princely wisdom then 1065 

Dejects his watchful eye ; and from the hand 
Of feeble justice ineffectual drop 
The sword and balance. Mute the voice of joy, 
And hushed the clamour of the busy world. 
Empty the streets, with uncouth verdure clad ; 1070 

Into the worst of deserts sudden turned 
The cheerful haunt of men, unless, escaped 
From the doomed house where matchless horror reigns, 
Shut up by barbarous fear, the smitten wretch 
With frenzy wild breaks loose, and, loud to heaven 1075 
Screaming, the dreadful policy arraigns 
Inhuman and unwise. The sullen door, 
Yet uninfected, on its cautious hinge 
Fearing to turn, abhors society. 

Dependants, friends, relations, love himself, 1080 

Savaged by woe, forget the tender tie, 
The sweet engagement of the feeling heart. 
But vain their selfish care : the circling sky, 
The wide enlivening air is full of fate ; 
And, struck by turns, in solitary pangs 1085 

They fall unblest, untended, and unmourned. 
Thus o'er the prostrate city black despair 
Extends her raven wing; while, to complete 
The scene of desolation, stretched around 
The grim guards stand, denying all retreat, 1090 

And give the flying wretch a better death. 
Much yet remains unsung, the rage intense 


Of brazen-vaulted skies, of iron fields 

Where drought and famine starve the blasted year ; 

Fired by the torch of noon to tenfold rage, 1095 

The infuriate hill that shoots the pillared flame ; 

And, roused within the subterranean world, 

The expanding earthquake, that resistless shakes 

Aspiring cities from their solid base, 

And buries mountains in the flaming gulf. noo 

But 'tis enough ; return, my vagrant muse, 

A nearer scene of horror calls thee home. 

Behold, slow-settling o'er the lurid grove, 
Unusual darkness broods, and growing gains 
The full possession of the sky, surcharged 1105 

With wrathful vapour, from the secret beds 
Where sleep the mineral generations drawn. 
Thence nitre, sulphur, and the fiery spume 
Of fat bitumen, steaming on the day, 

With various-tinctured trains of latent flame, mo 

Pollute the sky, and in yon baleful cloud 
A reddening gloom, a magazine of fate, 
Ferment; till, by the touch ethereal roused, 
The dash of clouds, or irritating war 

Of fighting winds, while all is calm below, 1115 

They furious spring. A boding silence reigns 
Dread through the dun expanse, save the dull sound 
That from the mountain, previous to the storm, 
Rolls o'er the muttering earth, disturbs the flood, 
And stirs the forest-leaf without a breath. 1120 

Prone to the lowest vale the aerial tribes 
Descend; the tempest-loving raven scarce 
Dares wing the dubious dusk. In rueful gaze 
The cattle stand, and on the scowling heavens 
Cast a deploring eye, by man forsook 1125 

Who to the crowded cottage hies him fast, 
Or seeks the shelter of the downward cave. 

'Tis listening fear and dumb amazement all, 


When to the startled eye the sudden glance 

Appears far south eruptive through the cloud, 1130 

And following slower in explosion vast 

The thunder raises his tremendous voice. 

At first, heard solemn o'er the verge of heaven, 

The tempest growls; but, as it nearer comes 

And rolls its awful burden on the wind, JI 35 

The lightnings flash a larger curve, and more 

The noise astounds, till over head a sheet 

Of livid flame discloses wide, then shuts 

And opens wider, shuts and opens still 

Expansive, wrapping ether in a blaze. 1140 

Follows the loosened aggravated roar, 

Enlarging, deepening, mingling, peal on peal 

Crushed horrible, convulsing heaven and earth. 

Down comes a deluge of sonorous hail, 
Or prone-descending rain. Wide-rent, the clouds 1145 

Pour a whole flood ; and yet, its flame unquenched, 
The inconquerable lightning struggles through, 
Ragged and fierce or in red whirling balls, 
And fires the mountains with redoubled rage. 
Black from the stroke, above, the smouldering pine 1150 
Stands a sad shattered trunk ; and, stretched below, 
A lifeless group the blasted cattle lie, 
Here the soft flocks, with that same harmless look 
They wore alive, and ruminating still 

In fancy's eye, and there the frowning bull, 1155 

And ox half-raised. Struck on the castled cliff, 
The venerable tower and spiry fane 
Resign their aged pride. The gloomy woods 
Start .at the flash, and from their deep recess, 
Wide-flaming out, their trembling inmates shake. 1160 

Amid Carnarvon's mountains rages loud 
The repercussive roar; with mighty crush, 
Into the flashing deep, from the rude rocks 
Of Penmanmaur heaped hideous to the sky, 
Tumble the smitten cliffs; and Snowdon's peak, 1165 


Dissolving, instant yields his wintry load. 
Far seen the heights of heathy Cheviot blaze, 
And Thule bellows through her utmost isles. 

Guilt hears appalled, with deeply troubled thought. * 
And yet not always on the guilty head 1170 

Descends the fated flash. Young Celadon 
And his Amelia were a matchless pair, 
With equal virtue formed and equal grace 
The same, distinguished by their sex alone : 
Hers the mild lustre of the blooming morn, 1175 

And his the radiance of the risen day. 

They loved ; but such their guileless passion was 
As in the dawn of time informed the heart 
Of innocence and undissembling truth. 
'Twas friendship heightened by the mutual wish, 1180 

The enchanting hope, and sympathetic glow 
Beamed from the mutual eye. Devoting all 
To love, each was to each a dearer self, 
Supremely happy in the awakened power 
Of giving joy. Alone amid the shades 1185 

Still in harmonious intercourse they lived 
The rural day, and talked the flowing heart, 
Or sighed and looked unutterable things. 

So passed their life, a clear united stream, 
By care unruffled; till, in evil hour, 1190 

The tempest caught them on the tender walk, 
Heedless how far and where its mazes strayed, 
While, with each other blest, creative love 
Still bade eternal Eden smile around. 

Presaging instant fate, her bosom heaved 1195 

Unwonted sighs, and stealing oft a look 
Of the big gloom, on Celadon her eye 
Fell tearful, wetting her disordered cheek. 
In vain assuring love and confidence 

In Heaven repressed her fear; it grew, and shook 1203 
Her frame near dissolution. He perceived 
The unequal conflict, and, as angels look 


On dying saints, his eyes compassion shed, 
With love illumined high. ' Fear not,' he said, 
'Sweet innocence! thou stranger to offence, 1205 

And inward storm ! He who yon skies involves 
In frowns of darkness ever smiles on thee 
With kind regard. O'er thee the secret shaft, 
That wastes at midnight or the undreaded hour 
Of noon, flies harmless ; and that very voice 1210 

Which thunders terror through the guilty heart, 
With tongues of seraphs whispers peace to thine. 
. 'Tis safety to be near thee, sure, and thus 
To clasp perfection ! ' From his void embrace 
(Mysterious Heaven!) that moment to the ground, 1215 
A blackened corse, was struck the beauteous maid. 
But who can paint the lover, as he stood, 
Pierced by severe amazement, hating life, 
Speechless, and fixed in all the death of woe ? 
So (faint resemblance) on the marble tomb 1220 

The well-dissembled mourner stooping stands, 
For ever silent and for ever sad. 

As from the face of heaven the shattered clouds 
Tumultuous rove, the interminable sky 
Sublimer swells, and o'er the world expands 1225 

A purer azure. Nature from the storm 
Shines out afresh ; and through the lightened air 
A higher lustre and a clearer calm 
Diffusive tremble ; while, as if in sign 

Of danger past, a glittering robe of joy, 1230 

Set off abundant by the yellow ray, 
Invests the fields, and nature smiles revived. 

'Tis beauty all, and grateful song around, 
Joined to the low of kine and numerous bleat 
Of flocks thick-nibbling through the clovered vale. 1235 
And shall the hymn be marred by thankless man, 
Most-favoured, who with voice articulate 
Should lead the chorus of this lower world ? 


Shall he, so soon forgetful of the hand 

That hushed the thunder, and serenes the sky, 1240 

Extinguished feel that spark the tempest waked, 

That sense of powers exceeding far his own, 

Ere yet his feeble heart has lost its fears? 

Cheered by the milder beam, the sprightly youth 
Speeds to the well-known pool whose crystal depth 1245 
A sandy bottom shows. Awhile he stands 
Gazing the inverted landscape, half afraid 
To meditate the blue profound below ; 
Then plunges headlong down the circling flood. V 
His ebon tresses and his rosy cheek 1250 

Instant emerge ; and through the obedient wave, 
At each short breathing by his lip repelled, 
With arms and legs according well, he makes, 
As humour leads, an easy winding path ; 
While from his polished sides a dewy light 1255 

Effuses on the pleased spectators round. 

This is the purest exercise of health, 
The kind refresher of the summer heats ; 
Nor, when cold Winter keens the brightening flood, 
Would I weak-shivering linger on the brink. 1260 

Thus life redoubles ; and is oft preserved 
By the bold swimmer in the swift illapse 
Of accident disastrous. Hence the limbs 
Knit into force ; and the same Roman arm 
That rose victorious o'er the conquered earth 1265 

First learned while tender to subdue the wave. 
Even from the body's purity the mind 
Receives a secret sympathetic aid. 

Close in the covert of a hazel copse, 

Where winded into pleasing solitudes 1270 

Runs out the rambling dale, young Damon sat, 
Pensive, and pierced with love's delightful pangs. 
There to the stream that down the distant rocks 
Hoarse-murmuring fell, and plaintive breeze that played 
H 2 


Among the bending willows, falsely he 1275 

Of Musidora's cruelty complained. 

She felt his flame; but deep within her breast, 

In bashful coyness or in maiden pride, 

The soft return concealed, save when it stole 

In sidelong glances from her downcast eye, 1280 

Or from her swelling soul in stifled sighs. 

Touched by the scene, no stranger to his vows, 

He framed a melting lay to try her heart, 

And, if an infant passion struggled there, 

To call that passion forth. Thrice happy swain! 1285 

A lucky chance, that oft decides the fate 

Of mighty monarchs, then decided thine. 

For lo ! conducted by the laughing loves, 

This cool retreat his Musidora sought. 

Warm in her cheek the sultry season glowed: 1290 

And, robed in loose array, she came to bathe 

Her fervent limbs in the refreshing stream. 

What shall he do ? In sweet confusion lost, 

And dubious flutterings, he awhile remained. 

A pure ingenuous elegance of soul, 1295 

A delicate refinement, known to few, 

Perplexed his breast and urged him to retire : 

But love forbade. Ye prudes in virtue, say, 

Say, ye severest, what would you have done ? 

Meantime, this fairer nymph than ever blest 1300 

Arcadian stream, with timid eye around 

The banks surveying, stripped her beauteous limbs 

To taste the lucid coolness of the flood. 

Ah ! then, not Paris on the piny top 

Of Ida panted stronger, when aside 1305 

The rival goddesses the veil divine 

Cast unconfined, and gave him all their charms, 

Than, Damon, thou, as from the snowy leg 

And slender foot the inverted silk she drew ; 

As the soft touch dissolved the virgin zone, 1310 

And through the parting robe the alternate breast. 

SUMMER. i c i 

With youth wild-throbbing, on thy lawless gaze 

In full luxuriance rose. But, desperate youth ! 

How durst thou risk the soul-distracting view, 

As from her naked limbs of glowing white, 1 3 1 5 

Harmonious swelled by Nature's finest hand, 

In folds loose floating fell the fainter lawn, 

And fair-exposed she stood, shrunk from herself, 

With fancy blushing, at the doubtful breeze 

Alarmed, and starting like the fearful fawn? 1320 

Then to the flood she rushed ; the parted flood 

Its lovely guest with closing waves received; 

And every beauty softening, every grace 

Flushing anew a mellow lustre shed, 

As shines the lily through the crystal mild, 1325 

Or as the rose amid the morning dew, 

Fresh from Aurora's hand, more sweetly glows. 

While thus she wantoned, now beneath the wave 

But ill-concealed, and now with streaming locks, 

That half-embraced her in a humid veil, 13 3 

Rising again, the latent Damon drew 

Such maddening draughts of beauty to the soul, 

As for awhile o'erwhelmed his raptured thought 

With luxury too daring. Checked at last 

By love's respectful modesty, he deemed 13 35 

The theft profane, if aught profane to love 

Can e'er be deemed, and struggling from the shade 

With headlong fury fled; but first these lines, 

Traced by his ready pencil, on the bank 

With trembling hand he threw : 'Bathe on, my fair, 134 

Yet unbeheld save by the sacred eye 

Of faithful love ; I go to guard thy haunt, 

To keep from thy recess each vagrant foot 

And each licentious eye.' With wild surprise, 

As if to marble struck, devoid of sense, 13 45 

A stupid moment motionless she stood: 

So stands the statue that enchants the world, 

So bending tries to veil the matchless boast, 


The mingled beauties of exulting Greece. 

Recovering, swift she flew to find those robes 1350 

Which blissful Eden knew not ; and, arrayed 

In careless haste, the alarming paper snatched. 

But, when her Damon's well-known hand she saw, 

Her terrors vanished, and a softer train 

Of mixed emotions, hard to be described, 13 55 

Her sudden bosom seized, shame void of guilt, 

The charming blush of innocence, esteem 

And admiration of her lover's flame, 

By modesty exalted ; even a sense 

Of self-approving beauty stole across 1360 

Her busy thought. At length a tender calm 

Hushed by degrees the tumult of her soul ; 

And on the spreading beech, that o'er the stream 

Incumbent hung, she with the sylvan pen 

Of rural lovers this confession carved, 1365 

Which soon her Damon kissed with weeping joy : 

' Dear youth ! sole judge of what these verses mean, 

By fortune too much favoured, but by love 

Alas! not favoured less, be still as now, 

Discreet ; the time may come you need not fly.' 137 

The sun has lost his rage: his downward orb 
Shoots nothing now but animating warmth 
And vital lustre, that with various ray 
Lights up the clouds, those beauteous robes of heaven, 
Incessant rolled into romantic shapes, 1375 

The dream of waking fancy. Broad below, 
Covered with ripening fruits, and swelling fast 
Into the perfect year, the pregnant earth 
And all her tribes rejoice. Now the soft hour 
Of walking comes, for him who lonely loves 1380 

To seek the distant hills, and there converse 
With Nature there to harmonize his heart, 
And in pathetic song to breathe around 
The harmony to others. Social friends, 

SUMMER. 103 

Attuned to happy unison of soul, 

To whose exalting eye a fairer world, 

Of which the vulgar never had a glimpse, 

Displays its charms, whose minds are richly fraught 

With philosophic stores, superior light, 

And in whose breast enthusiastic burns 139 

Virtue the sons of interest deem romance, 

Now called abroad enjoy the falling day ; 

Now to the verdant portico of woods, 

To Nature's vast Lyceum, forth they walk, 

By that kind School where no proud master reigns, 1395 

The full free converse of the friendly heart 

Improving and improved. Now from the world, 

Sacred to sweet retirement, lovers steal, 

And pour their souls in transport, which the sire 

Of love approving hears, and calls it good. 1400 

Which way, Amanda, shall we bend our course ? 

The choice perplexes. Wherefore should we choose ? 

All is the same with thee. Say, shall we wind 

Along the streams ? or walk the smiling mead ? 

Or court the forest-glades? or wander wild 1405 

Among the waving harvests ? or ascend, 

While radiant Summer opens all its pride, 

Thy hill, delightful Shene? Here let us sweep 

The boundless landscape, now the raptured eye, 

Exulting swift, to huge Augusta send, i4 10 

Now to the sister-hills that skirt her plain, 

To lofty Harrow now, and now to where 

Majestic Windsor lifts his princely brow. 

In lovely contrast to this glorious view 

Calmly magnificent, then will we turn 1415 

To where the silver Thames first rural grows. 

There let the feasted eye unwearied stray ; 

Luxurious there rove through the pendent woods 

That nodding hang o'er Harrington's retreat; 

And, stooping thence to Ham's embowering walks, 1420 

Beneath whose shades, in spotless peace retired, 


With her, the pleasing partner of his heart, 

The worthy Queensberry yet laments his Gay, 

And polished Cornbury woos the willing muse, 

Slow let us trace the matchless vale of Thames 1425 

Fair-winding up to where the muses haunt 

In Twickenham's bowers, and for their Pope implore 

The healing god, to royal Hampton's pile, 

To Clermont's terraced height, and Esher's groves, 

Where in the sweetest solitude, embraced 1430 

By the soft windings of the silent Mole, 

From courts and senates Pelham finds repose. 

Enchanting vale ! beyond whate'er the muse 

Has of Achaia or Hesperia sung. 

O vale of bliss! O softly swelling hills! J 435 

On which the power of cultivation lies, 

And joys to see the wonders of his toil. 

Heavens ! what a goodly prospect spreads around, 
Of hills and dales and woods and lawns and spires 
And glittering towns and gilded streams, till all 1440 

The stretching landscape into smoke decays ! 
Happy Britannia ! where the Queen of Arts, 
Inspiring vigour, LIBERTY, abroad 
Walks unconfined even to thy farthest cots, 
And scatters plenty with unsparing hand. 1445 

Rich is thy soil, and merciful thy clime; 
Thy streams unfailing in the Summer's drought ; 
Unmatched thy guardian-oaks; thy valleys float 
With golden waves ; and on thy mountains flocks 
Bleat numberless, while, roving round their sides, 1450 
Bellow the blackening herds in lusty droves. 
Beneath, thy meadows glow, and rise unquelled 
Against the mower's scythe. On every hand 
Thy villas shine. Thy country teems with wealth ; 
And Property assures it to the swain, 1455 

Pleased, and unwearied in his guarded toil. 

Full are thy cities with the sons of art, 
And trade and joy in every busy street 

SUMMER. 1 05 

Mingling are heard ; even Drudgery himself, 

As at the car he sweats, or dusty hews 1460 

The palace-stone, looks gay. Thy crowded ports, 

Where rising masts an endless prospect yield, 

With labour burn, and echo to the shouts 

Of hurried sailor, as he hearty waves 

His last adieu, and, loosening every sheet, 1465 

Resigns the spreading vessel to the wind. 

Bold, firm, and graceful, are thy generous youth, 
By hardship sinewed, and by danger fired, 
Scattering the nations where they go, and first 
Or on the listed plain or stormy seas. 1470 

Mild are thy glories too, as o'er the plans 
Of thriving peace thy thoughtful sires preside ; 
In genius and substantial learning high ; 
For every virtue, every worth, renowned ; 
Sincere, plain- hearted, hospitable, kind ; 1475 

Yet like the mustering thunder when provoked, 
The dread of tyrants, and the sole resource 
Of those that under grim impression groan. 

Thy sons of glory many ! Alfred thine, 
In whom the splendour of heroic war 1480 

And more heroic peace, when governed well, 
Combine ; whose hallowed name the virtues saint, 
And his own muses love ; the best of kings. 
With him thy Edwards and thy Henrys shine, 
Names dear to fame ; the first who deep impressed 1485 
On haughty Gaul the terror of thy arms, 
That awes her genius still. In statesmen thou, 
And patriots, fertile. Thine a steady More, 
Who with a generous though mistaken zeal 
Withstood a brutal tyrant's useful rage; 1490 

Like Cato firm, like Aristides just, 
Like rigid Cincinnatus nobly poor ; 
A dauntless soul erect, who smiled on death. 
Frugal and wise, a Walsingham is thine ; 
A Drake, who made thee mistress of the deep 1495 


And bore thy name in thunder round the world. 

Then flamed thy spirit high ; but who can speak 

The numerous worthies of the maiden-reign ? 

In Raleigh mark their every glory mixed, 

Raleigh, the scourge of Spain ! whose breast with all 1500 

The sage, the patriot, and the hero burned. 

Nor sunk his vigour when a coward reign 

The warrior fettered, and at last resigned 

To glut the vengeance of a vanquished foe. 

Then, active still and unrestrained, his mind 1505 

Explored the vast extent of ages past, 

And with his prison-hours enriched the world ; 

Yet found no times in all the long research 

So glorious or so base as those he proved, 

In which he conquered, and in which he bled. 1510 

Nor can the muse the gallant Sidney pass, 

The plume of war ! with early laurels crowned, 

The lover's myrtle, and the poet's bay. 

A Hampden too is thine, illustrious land ! 

Wise, strenuous, firm, of unsubmitting soul, I 5 I 5 

Who stemmed the torrent of a downward age 

To slavery prone, and bade thee rise again 

In all thy native pomp of freedom bold. 

Bright at his call thy age of men effulged, 

Of men on whom late time a kindling eye 152 

Shall turn, and tyrants tremble while they read. 

Bring every sweetest flower, and let me strew 

The grave where Russell lies ; whose tempered blood, 

With calmest cheerfulness for thee resigned, 

Stained the sad annals of a giddy reign 1525 

Aiming at lawless power, though meanly sunk 

In loose inglorious luxury. With him 

His friend, the British Cassius, fearless bled; 

Of high determined spirit, roughly brave, 

By ancient learning to the enlightened love 153 

Of ancient freedom warmed. Fair thy renown 

In awful sages and in noble bards, 

SUMMER. 107 

Soon as the light of dawning science spread 

Her orient ray, and waked the muses' song. 

Thine is a Bacon, hapless in his choice, 15 35 

Unfit to stand the civil storm of state, 

And through the smooth barbarity of courts 

With firm but pliant virtue forward still 

To urge his course. Him for the studious shade 

Kind Nature formed, deep, comprehensive, clear, 1540 

Exact, and elegant ; in one rich soul 

Plato, the Stagyrite, and Tully joined. 

The great deliverer he, who from the gloom 

Of cloistered monks and jargon-teaching schools 

Led forth the true philosophy, there long 1545 

Held in the magic chain of words and forms 

And definitions void : he led her forth, 

Daughter of heaven, who slow-ascending still, 

Investigating sure the chain of things, 

With radiant finger points to heaven again. T 55 

The generous Ashley thine, the friend of man, 

Who scanned his nature with a brother's eye, 

His weakness prompt to shade, to raise his aim, 

To touch the finer movements of the mind, 

And with the moral beauty charm the heart. 1555 

Why need I name thy Boyle, whose pious search 

Amid the dark recesses of His works 

The great Creator sought? And why thy Locke, 

Who made the whole internal world his own ? 

Let Newton, pure intelligence, whom God 1560 

To mortals lent to trace his boundless works 

From laws sublimely simple, speak thy fame 

In all philosophy. For lofty sense, 

Creative fancy, and inspection keen 

Through the deep windings of the human heart, 1565 

Is not wild Shakespeare thine and Nature's boast ? - 

Is not each great, each amiable muse 

Of classic ages in thy Milton met? 

A genius universal as his theme, 


Astonishing as chaos, as the bloom 157 

Of blowing Eden fair, as Heaven sublime. 

Nor shall my verse that elder bard forget, 

The gentle Spenser, fancy's pleasing son, 

Who, like a copious river, poured his song 

O'er all the mazes of enchanted ground; 15? 5 

Nor thee, his ancient master, laughing sage, 

Chaucer, whose native manners-painting verse, 

Well moralized, shines through the Gothic cloud 

Of time and language o'er thy genius thrown. 

May my song soften, as thy daughters I, 158 

Britannia, hail ; for beauty is their own, 
The feeling heart, simplicity of life, 
And elegance, and taste ; the faultless form, 
Shaped by the hand of harmony ; the cheek, 
Where the live crimson, through the native white 1585 
Soft-shooting, o'er the face diffuses bloom 
And every nameless grace ; the parted lip, 
Like the red rosebud moist with morning dew, 
Breathing delight ; and, under flowing jet, 
Or sunny ringlets, or of circling brown, !59 

The neck slight-shaded, and the swelling breast ; 
The look resistless, piercing to the soul, 
And by the soul informed, when dressed in love 
She sits high-smiling in the conscious eye. 

Island of bliss! amid the subject seas, 1595 

That thunder round thy rocky coast, set up 
At once the wonder, terror, and delight 
Of distant nations, whose remotest shore 
Can soon be shaken by thy naval arm 
Not to be shook thyself, but all assaults 1600 

Baffling, as thy hoar cliffs the loud sea- wave. 

O Thou by whose almighty nod the scale 
Of empire rises or alternate falls, 
Send forth the saving virtues round the land 
In bright patrol, white peace, and social love ; 1605 

The tender-looking charity, intent 

SUMMER. 109 

On gentle deeds, and shedding tears through smiles ; 

Undaunted truth, and dignity of mind ; 

Courage, composed and keen ; sound temperance, 

Healthful in heart and look; clear chastity, 1610 

With blushes reddening as she moves along, 

Disordered at the deep regard she draws ; 

Rough industry ; activity untired, 

With copious life informed, and all awake ; 

W T hile in the radiant front superior shines 1615 

That first paternal virtue, public zeal, 

That throws o'er all an equal wide survey, 

And, ever musing on the common weal, 

Still labours glorious with some great design. 

Low walks the sun, and broadens by degrees 1620 

Just o'er the verge of day. The shifting clouds 
Assembled gay, a richly gorgeous train, 
In all their pomp attend his setting throne. 
Air, earth, and ocean smile immense. And now, 
As if his weary chariot sought the bowers 1625 

Of Amphitrite and her tending nymphs. 
(So Grecian fable sung) he dips his orb; 
Now half immersed ; and now, a golden curve, 
Gives one bright glance, then total disappears. . 

For ever running an enchanted round, 1630 

Passes the day, deceitful, vain, and void ; 
As fleets the vision o'er the formful brain, 
This moment hurrying wild the impassioned soul, 
The next in nothing lost : 'tis so to him, 
The dreamer of this earth, an idle blank. 1635 

A sight of horror to the cruel wretch 
Who, all day long in sordid pleasure rolled, 
Himself a useless load, has squandered vile 
Upon his scoundrel train what might have cheered 
A drooping family of modest worth. 1640 

But to the generous still-improving mind, 
That gives the hopeless heart to sing for joy, 


Diffusing kind beneficence around 

Boastless, as now descends the silent dew, 

To him the long review of ordered life 1645 

Is inward rapture, only to be felt. 

Confessed from yonder slow-extinguished clouds, 
All ether softening, sober evening takes 
Her wonted station in the middle air, 

A thousand shadows at her beck. First this 1650 

She sends on earth ; then that of deeper dye 
Steals soft behind ; and then a deeper still, 
In circle following circle, gathers round 
To close the face of things. A fresher gale 
Begins to wave the wood and stir the stream, 1655 

Sweeping with shadowy gust the fields of corn, 
While the quail clamours for his running mate. 
Wide o'er the thistly lawn, as swells the breeze, 
A whitening shower of vegetable down 
Amusive floats. The kind impartial care 1660 

Of nature nought disdains ; thoughtful to feed 
Her lowest sons, and clothe the coming year, 
From field to field the feathered seeds she wings. 

His folded flock secure, the shepherd home 
Hies merry-hearted; and by turns relieves 1665 

The ruddy milkmaid of her brimming pail, 
The beauty whom perhaps his witless heart, 
Unknowing what the joy-mixed anguish means, 
Sincerely loves, by that best language shown 
Of cordial glances and obliging deeds. 1670 

Onward they pass o'er many a panting height 
And valley sunk and unfrequented, where 
At fall of eve the fairy people throng, 
In various game and revelry to pass 

The summer-night, as village- stories tell. 1675 

But far about they wander from the grave 
Of him whom his ungentle fortune urged 
Against his own sad breast to lift the hand 
Of impious violence. The lonely tower 



Is also shunned, whose mournful chambers hold 1680 

(So night-struck fancy dreams) the yelling ghost. 

Among the crooked lanes, on every hedge, 
The glow-worm lights his lamp, and through the dark 
Twinkles a moving gem. On Evening's heel 
Night follows fast; not in her winter robe 1685 

Of massy Stygian woof, but loose arrayed 
In mantle dun. A faint erroneous ray, 
Glanced from the imperfect surfaces of things, 
Flings half an image on the straining eye, 
While wavering woods and villages and streams 1690 

And rocks and mountain-tops, that long retained 
The ascending gleam, are all one swimming scene, 
Uncertain if beheld. Sudden to heaven 
Thence weary vision turns ; where, leading soft 
The silent hours of love, with purest ray 1695 

Sweet Venus shines, and from her genial rise, 
When daylight sickens, till it springs afresh, 
Unrivalled reigns the fairest lamp of night. 
As thus the effulgence tremulous I drink 
With cherished gaze, the lambent lightnings shoot 1700 
Across the sky, or horizontal dart 
In wondrous shapes, by fearful murmuring crowds 
Portentous deemed. Amid the radiant orbs 
That more than deck, that animate the sky, 
The life-infusing suns of other worlds, i75 

Lo ! from the dread immensity of space 
Returning, with accelerated course 
The rushing comet to the sun descends ; 
And, as he sinks below the shading earth, 
With awful train projected o'er the heavens, 1710 

The guilty nations tremble. But, above 
Those superstitious horrors that enslave 
The fond sequacious herd, to mystic faith 
And blind amazement prone, the enlightened few, 
Whose godlike minds philosophy exalts, 1715 

The glorious stranger hail. They feel a joy 


Divinely great ; they in their power exult, 

That wondrous force of thought which mounting spurns 

This dusky spot and measures all the sky, 

While from his far excursion through the wilds 1720 

Of barren ether, faithful to his time, 

They see the blazing wonder rise anew, 

In seeming terror clad, but kindly bent 

To work the will of all-sustaining Love, 

From his huge vapoury train perhaps to shake 1725 

Reviving moisture on the numerous orbs 

Through which his long ellipsis winds, perhaps 

To lend new fuel to declining suns, 

To light up worlds, and feed the eternal fire. 

With thee, serene Philosophy ! with thee 1730 

And thy bright garland let me crown my song. 
Effusive source of evidence and truth ! 
A lustre shedding o'er the ennobled mind 
Stronger than summer noon, and pure as that 
Whose mild vibrations soothe the parted soul 1735 

New to the dawning of celestial day. 
Hence through her nourished powers, enlarged by thee, 
She springs aloft with elevated pride 
Above the tangling mass of low desires 
That bind the fluttering crowd, and, angel- winged, 1740 
The heights of science and of virtue gains 
Where all is calm and clear, with nature round, 
Or in the starry regions or the abyss, 
To reason's and to fancy's eye displayed, 
The first up-tracing from the dreary void 1745 

The chain of causes and effects to Him, 
The world-producing Essence, who alone 
Possesses being ; while the last receives 
The whole magnificence of heaven and earth, 
And every beauty, delicate or bold, 17 5 

Obvious or more remote, with livelier sense, 
Diffusive painted on the rapid mind. 

Tutored by thee, hence poetry exalts 

SUMMER. 113 

Her voice to ages, and informs the page 

With music, image, sentiment, and thought, !755 

Never to die, the treasure of mankind, 

Their highest honour, and their truest joyj | 

Without thee what were unenlightened man ? 
A savage roaming through the woods and wilds 
In quest of prey ; and with the unfashioned fur 1760 

Rough-clad ; devoid of every finer art 
And elegance of life. Nor happiness 
Domestic, mixed of tenderness and care, 
Nor moral excellence, nor social bliss, 

Nor guafdian law were his ; nor various skill 1765 

To turn the furrow, or to guide the tool 
Mechanic ; nor the heaven-conducted prow 
Of navigation bold, that fearless braves 
The burning line or dares the wintry pole, 
Mother severe of infinite delights ! 1770 

Nothing save rapine, indolence, and guile, 
And woes on woes, a still-revolving train, 
Whose horrid circle had made human life 
Than non-existence worse ; but, taught by thee, 
Ours are the plans of policy and peace *775 

To live like brothers, and conjunctive all 
Embellish life. While thus laborious crowds 
Ply the tough oar, philosophy directs 
The ruling helm ; or, like the liberal breath 
Of potent heaven, invisible, the sail 1780 

Swells out, and bears the inferior world along. 

Nor to this evanescent speck of earth 
Poorly confined, the radiant tracts on high 
Are her exalted range; intent to gaze 
Creation through, and, from that full complex 1785 

Of never-ending wonders, to conceive 
Of the Sole Being right, who spoke the word, 
And Nature moved complete. With inward view, 
Thence on the ideal kingdom swift she turns 
Her eye, and instant at her powerful glance 1790 


The obedient phantoms vanish or appear, 

Compound, divide, and into order shift, 

Each to his rank, from plain perception up 

To the fair forms of fancy's fleeting train ; 

To reason then, deducing truth from truth, 1795 

And notion quite abstract; where first begins 

The world of spirits, action all, and life 

Unfettered and unmixed. But here the cloud 

(So wills Eternal Providence) sits deep. 

Enough for us to know that this dark state, 1800 

In wayward passions lost and vain pursuits, 

This infancy of being, cannot prove 

The final issue of the works of God, 

By boundless love and perfect wisdom formed, 

And ever rising with the rising mind. 1805 



CROWNED with the sickle and the wheaten sheaf, 
While Autumn, nodding o'er the yellow plain, 
Comes jovial on, the Doric. reed once more, 
Well pleased, I tune. Whate'er the wintry frost 
Nitrous prepared, the various-blossomed Spring 5 

Put in white promise forth, and Summer suns 
Concocted strong rush boundless now to view, 
Full, perfect all, and swell my glorious theme. 

Onslow ! the muse, ambitious of thy name 
To grace, inspire, and dignify her song, 10 

Would from the public voice thy gentle ear 
Awhile engage. Thy noble cares she knows, 
The patriot virtues that distend thy thought, 
Spread on thy front, and in thy bosom glow, 
While listening senates hang upon thy tongue 15 

Devolving through the maze of eloquence 
A roll of periods sweeter than her song. 
But she too pants for public virtue; she, 
Though weak of power yet strong in ardent will, 
Whene'er her country rushes on her heart, 20 

Assumes a bolder note, and fondly tries 
To mix the patriot's with the poet's flame. 

When the bright Virgin gives the beauteous days, 
And Libra weighs in equal scales the year, 
From heaven's high cope the fierce effulgence shook 25 
Of parting Summer, a serener blue, 
With golden light enlivened, wide invests 
I 2 


The happy world. Attempered suns arise, 

Sweet-beamed, and shedding oft through lucid clouds 

A pleasing calm ; while broad and brown below 30 

Extensive harvests hang the heavy head. 

Rich, silent, deep they stand ; for not a gale 

Rolls its light billows o'er the bending plain. 

A calm of plenty ! till the ruffled air 

Falls from its poise, and gives the breeze to ,blow. 35 

Rent is the fleecy mantle of the sky ; 

The clouds fly different ; and the sudden sun 

By fits effulgent gilds the illumined field, 

And black by fits the shadows sweep along. 

A gaily-chequered heart-expanding view, 40 

Far as the circling eye can shoot around 

Unbounded tossing in a flood of corn, 
i These are thy blessings, Industry ! rough power 
\ Whom labour still attends and sweat and pain, 

Yet the kind source of every gentle art 45 

And all the soft civility of life, 

Raiser of human kind, by Nature cast 

Naked and helpless out amid the woods 

And wilds to rude inclement elements, 

With various seeds of art deep in the mind 50 

Implanted, and profusely poured around 

Materials infinite, but idle all. 

Still unexerted, in the unconscious breast 

Slept the lethargic powers ; corruption still 

Voracious swallowed what the liberal hand 55 

Of bounty scattered o'er the savage year ; 

And still the sad barbarian roving mixed 

With beasts of prey, or for his acorn meal 

Fought the fierce tusky boar. A shivering wretch ! 

Aghast and comfortless when the bleak north, 60 

With Winter charged, let the mixed tempest fly, 

Hail, rain, and snow, and bitter-breathing frost. 

Then to the shelter of the hut he fled, 

And the wild season, sordid, pined away ; 

AUTUMN. 117 

For home he had not : home is the resort 65 

Of love, of joy, of peace and plenty, where, 

Supporting and supported, polished friends 

And dear relations mingle into bliss. 

But this the rugged savage never felt, 

Even desolate in crowds ; and thus his days 70 

Rolled heavy, dark, and unenjoyed along, 

A waste of time ! till Industry approached 

And roused him from his miserable sloth, 

His faculties unfolded, pointed out 

Where lavish Nature the directing hand 75 

Of art demanded, showed him how to raise 

His feeble force by the mechanic powers, 

To dig the mineral from the vaulted earth, 

On what to turn the piercing rage of fire, 

On what the torrent and the gathered blast ; 80 

Gave the tall ancient forest to his axe, 

Taught him to chip the wood and hew the stone 

Till by degrees the finished fabric rose ; 

Tore from his limbs the blood-polluted fur 

And wrapt them in the woolly vestment warm, 85 

Or bright in glossy silk and flowing lawn ; 

With wholesome viands filled his table, poured 

The generous glass around inspired to wake 

The life-refining soul of decent wit ; 

Nor stopped at barren bare necessity, 9 

But, still advancing bolder, led him on 

To pomp, to pleasure, elegance and grace ; 

And, breathing high ambition through his soul, 

Set science, wisdom, glory, in his view, 

And bade him be the lord of all below. 95 

Then gathering men their natural powers combined 
And formed a public, to the general good 
Submitting, aiming, and conducting all. 
For this the patriot-council met, the full, 
The free, and fairly represented whole; 100 

For this they planned the holy guardian laws, 


Distinguished orders, animated arts, 

And, with joint force oppression chaining, set 

Imperial justice at the helm, yet still 

To them accountable ; nor slavish dreamed 105 

That toiling millions must resign their weal 

And all the honey of their search to such 

As for themselves alone themselves have raised. 

Hence every form of cultivated life, 

In order set, protected, and inspired, no 

Into perfection wrought. Uniting all, 
Society grew numerous, high, polite, 
And happy. Nurse of art, the city reared 
In beauteous pride her tower-encircled head ; 
And, stretching street on street, by thousands drew, 115 
From twining woody haunts, or the tough yew 
To bows strong-straining, her aspiring sons. 

Then commerce brought into the public walk 
The busy merchant ; the big warehouse built ; 
Raised the strong crane; choked up the loaded street 120 
With foreign plenty; and thy stream, O Thames, 
Large, gentle, deep, majestic, king of floods ! 
Chose for his grand resort. On either hand, 
Like a long wintry forest, groves of masts 
Shot up their spires; the bellying sheet between 125 

Possessed the breezy void ; the sooty hulk 
Steered sluggish on; the splendid barge along 
Rowed regular to harmony; around, 
The boat light-skimming stretched its oary wings ; 
While deep the various voice of fervent toil 130 

From bank to bank increased, whence, ribbed with oak 
To bear the British thunder, black and bold 
The roaring vessel rushed into the main. 

Then too the pillared dome magnific heaved 
Its ample roof, and luxury within 135 

Poured out . her glittering stores : the canvas smooth, 
With glowing life protuberant, to the view 
Embodied rose ; the statue seemed to breathe 

AUTUMN. 119 

And soften into flesh beneath the touch 

Of forming art, imagination-flushed. 14 

\ All is the gift of Industry, whate'er 
\ Exalts, embellishes, and renders life 

Delightful. Pensive Winter, cheered by him, 
J Sits at the social fire, and happy hears 

The excluded tempest idly rave along; 145 

His hardened fingers deck the gaudy Spring ; 

Without him Summer were an arid waste ; 

Nor to the Autumnal months could thus transmit 

Those full, mature, immeasurable stores 

That, waving round, recal my wandering song. 150 

Soon as the morning trembles o'er the sky 
And unperceived unfolds the spreading day, 
Before the ripened field the reapers stand 
In fair array, each by the lass he loves 
To bear the rougher part and mitigate 155 

By nameless gentle offices her toil. 
At once they stoop and swell the lusty sheaves : 
While through their cheerful band the rural talk, 
The rural scandal, and the rural jest, 

Fly harmless, to deceive the tedious time 160 

And steal unfelt the sultry hours away. 
Behind the master walks, builds up the shocks, 
And conscious, glancing oft on every side 
His stated eye, feels his heart heave with joy. 
The gleaners spread around, and here and there, 165 

Spike after spike, their scanty harvest pick. 
Be not too narrow, husbandmen ! but fling 
From the full sheaf with charitable stealth 
The liberal handful. Think, oh ! grateful think 
How good the God of harvest is to you, 170 

Who pours abundance o'er your flowing fields 
While these unhappy partners of your kind 
Wide-hover round you like the fowls of heaven, 
And ask their humble dole. The various turns 


Of fortune ponder, how your sons may want 175 

What now with hard reluctance faint ye give. 

The lovely young Lavinia once had friends : 
And fortune smiled deceitful on her birth ; 
For, in her helpless years deprived of all, 
Of every stay save innocence and heaven, 180 

She with her widowed mother feeble, old, 
And poor lived in a cottage far retired 
Among the windings of a woody vale, 
By solitude and deep surrounding shades 
But more by bashful modesty concealed. 185 

Together thus they shunned the cruel scorn 
Which virtue, sunk to poverty, would meet 
From giddy fashion and low-minded pride ; 
Almost on nature's common bounty fed ; 
Like the gay birds that sung them to repose, 190 

Content and careless of to-morrow's fare. 
Her form was fresher than the morning rose 
When the dew wets its leaves, unstained and pure 
As is the lily or the mountain snow. 

The modest virtues mingled in her eyes, 195 

Still on the ground dejected, darting all 
Their humid beams into the blooming flowers ; 
Or, when the mournful tale her mother told 
Of what her faithless fortune promised once 
Thrilled in her thought, they, like the dewy star 200 

Of evening, shone in tears. A native grace 
Sat fair-proportioned on her polished limbs, 
Veiled in a simple robe, their best attire, 
Beyond the pomp of dress ; for loveliness 
Needs not the foreign aid of ornament, 205 

But is when unadorned adorned the most. 
Thoughtless of beauty, she was beauty's self, 
Recluse amid the close-embowering woods. 
As in the hollow breast of Apennine, 
Beneath the shelter of encircling hills, 210 

AUTUMN. 121 

A myrtle rises far from human eye 

And breathes its balmy fragrance o'er the wild, 

So flourished blooming and unseen by all 

The sweet Lavinia ; till, at length, compelled 

By strong necessity's supreme command, 215 

With smiling patience in her looks she went 

To glean Palemon's fields. The pride of swains 

Palemon was, the generous and the rich, 

Who led the rural life in all its joy 

And elegance, such as Arcadian song 220 

Transmits from ancient uncorrupted times 

When tyrant custom had not shackled man 

But free to follow nature was the mode. 

He then, his fancy with autumnal scenes 

Amusing, chanced beside his reaper- train 225 

To walk, when poor Lavinia drew his eye, 

Unconscious of her power, and turning quick 

With unaffected blushes from his gaze. 

He saw her charming, but he saw not half 

The charms her downcast modesty concealed. 230 

That very moment love and chaste desire 

Sprung in his bosom, to himself unknown ; 

For still the world prevailed and its dread laugh, 

Which scarce the firm philosopher can scorn, 

Should his heart own a gleaner in the field; 235 

And thus in secret to his soul he sighed: 

'What pity that so delicate a form, 
By beauty kindled, where enlivening sense 
And more than vulgar goodness seem to dwell, 
Should be devoted to the rude embrace 240 

Of some indecent clown ! She looks, methinks, 
Of old Acasto's line ; and to my mind 
Recals that patron of my happy life 
From whom my liberal fortune took its rise, 
Now to the dust gone down, his houses, lands, 245 

And once fair-spreading family dissolved. 
'Tis said that in some lone obscure retreat, 


Urged by remembrance sad, and decent pride, 

Far from those scenes which knew their better days, 

His aged widow and his daughter live, 250 

Whom yet my fruitless search could never find. 

Romantic wish, would this the daughter were ! ' 

When, strict inquiring, from herself he found 
She was the same, the daughter of his friend, 
Of bountiful Acasto, who can speak 255 

The mingled passions that surprised his heart 
And through his nerves in shivering transport ran? 
Then blazed his smothered flame, avowed and bold ; 
And, as he viewed her ardent o'er and o'er, 
Love, gratitude, and pity wept at once. 260 

Confused, and frightened at his sudden tears, 
Her rising beauties flushed a higher bloom, 
As thus Palemon, passionate and just, 
Poured out the pious rapture of his soul : 

'And art thou then Acasto's dear remains? 265 

She whom my restless gratitude has sought 
So long in vain ? O heavens ! the very same, 
The softened image of my noble friend, 
Alive his every look, his every feature 
More elegantly touched. Sweeter than Spring ! 270 

Thou sole-surviving blossom from the root 
That nourished up my fortune, say, ah where, 
In what sequestered desert, hast thou drawn 
The kindest aspect of delighted Heaven, 
Into such beauty spread, and blown so fair, 275 

Though poverty's cold wind and crushing rain 
Beat keen and heavy on thy tender years? 
Oh ! let me now into a richer soil 
Transplant thee safe, where vernal suns and showers 
Diffuse their warmest, largest influence ; 280 

And of my garden be the pride and joy ! 
It ill befits thee, oh ! it ill befits 
Acasto's daughter, his whose open stores, 
Though vast, were little to his ample heart, 

AUTUMN. 123 

The father of a country, thus to pick 285 

The very refuse of those harvest-fields 

Which from his bounteous friendship I enjoy. 

Then throw that shameful pittance from thy hand, 

But ill applied to such a rugged task ; 

The fields, the master, all, my fair, are thine, 290 

If to the various blessings which thy house 

Has on me lavished thou wilt add that bliss, 

That dearest bliss, the power of blessing thee.' 

Here ceased the youth; yet still his speaking eye 
Expressed the sacred triumph of his soul, 295 

With conscious virtue, gratitude, and love 
Above the vulgar joy divinely raised. 
Nor waited he reply. Won by the charm 
Of goodness irresistible, and all 

In sweet disorder lost, she blushed consent. 300 

The news immediate to her mother brought, 
While, pierced with anxious thought, she pined away 
The lonely moments for Lavinia's fate, 
Amazed, and scarce believing what she heard, 
Joy seized her withered veins, and one bright gleam 305 
Of setting life shone on her evening-hours, 
Not less enraptured than the happy pair; 
Who flourished long in tender bliss, and reared 
A numerous offspring, lovely like themselves, 
And good, the grace of all the country round. 3 1 o 

Defeating oft the labours of the year, 
The sultry south collects a potent blast. 
At first, the groves are scarcely seen to stir 
Their trembling tops, and a still murmur runs 
Along the soft-inclining fields of corn; 315 

But, as the aerial tempest fuller swells, 
And in one mighty stream, invisible, 
Immense, the whole excited atmosphere 
Impetuous rushes o'er the sounding world, 
Strained to the root, the stooping forest pours 320 


A rustling shower of yet untimely leaves. 

High-beat, the circling mountains eddy in 

From the bare wild the dissipated storm, 

And send it in a torrent down the vale. 

Exposed and naked to its utmost rage, 325 

Through all the sea of harvest rolling round 

The billowy plain floats wide ; nor can evade, 

Though pliant to the blast, its seizing force, 

Or whirled in air, or into vacant chaff 

Shook waste. And sometimes too a burst of rain, 330 

Swept from the black horizon, broad descends 

In one continuous flood. Still overhead 

The mingling tempest weaves its gloom, and still 

The deluge deepens, till the fields around 

Lie sunk and flatted in the sordid wave. 335 

Sudden the ditches swell ; the meadows swim. 

Red from the hills innumerable streams 

Tumultuous roar, and high above its bank 

The river lift, before whose rushing tide, 

Herds, flocks, and harvests, cottages, and swains, 34 

Roll mingled down, all that the winds had spared 

In one wild moment ruined, the big hopes 

And well-earned treasures of the painful year. 

Fled to some eminence, the husbandman 

Helpless beholds the miserable wreck ' 345 

Driving along ; his drowning ox at once 

Descending with his labours scattered round 

He sees ; and instant o'er his shivering thought 

Comes Winter unprovided, and a train 

Of clamant children dear. Ye masters, then, 35 

Be mindful of the rough laborious hand 

That sinks you soft in elegance and ease ; 

Be mindful of those limbs, in russet clad, 

Whose toil to yours is warmth and graceful pride ; 

And oh ! be mindful of that sparing board 355 

Which covers yours with luxury profuse, 

Makes your glass sparkle, and your sense rejoice ; 

AUTUMN. 125 

Nor cruelly demand what the deep rains 
And all-involving winds have swept away. 

Here the rude clamour of the sportsman's joy, 360 

The gun fast-thundering and the winded horn, 
Would tempt the muse to sing the rural game, 
How, in his mid- career, the spaniel, struck 
Stiff by the tainted gale, with open nose 
Outstretched and finely sensible, draws full, 365 

Fearful and cautious, on the latent prey ; 
As in the sun the circling covey bask 
Their varied plumes, and, watchful every way, 
Through the rough stubble turn the secret eye. 
Caught in the meshy snare, in vain they beat 370 

Their idle wings, entangled more and more : 
Nor on the surges of the boundless air, 
Though borne triumphant, are they safe ; the gun, 
Glanced just and sudden from the fowler's eye, 
O'ertakes their sounding pinions, and again 375 

Immediate brings them from the towering wing 
Dead to the ground, or drives them wide-dispersed, 
Wounded, and wheeling various, down the wind. 

These are not subjects for the peaceful muse, 
Nor will she stain with such her spotless song, 380 

Then most delighted when she social sees 
The whole mixed animal- creation round 
Alive and happy. 'Tis not joy to her, 
This falsely-cheerful barbarous game of death, 
This rage of pleasure, which the restless youth 385 

Awakes impatient with the gleaming morn, 
When beasts of prey retire, that all night long, 
Urged by necessity, had ranged the dark, 
As if their conscious ravage shunned the light 
Ashamed. Not so the steady tyrant man, 390 

Who with the thoughtless insolence of power 
Inflamed, beyond the most infuriate wrath 
Of the worst monster that e'er roamed the waste, 


For sport alone pursues the cruel chase, 

Amid the beamings of the gentle days. 395 

Upbraid, ye ravening tribes, our wanton rage, 

For hunger kindles you, and lawless want ; 

But, lavish fed, in Nature's bounty rolled, 

To joy at anguish and delight in blood 

Is what your horrid bosoms never knew. 400 

Poor is the triumph o'er the timid hare, 
Scared from the corn, and now to some lone seat 
Retired the rushy fen, the ragged furze 
Stretched o'er the stony heath, the stubble chapt, 
The thistly lawn, the thick entangled broom, 405 

Of the same friendly hue the withered fern, 
The fallow ground laid open to the sun 
Concoctive, and the nodding sandy bank 
Hung o'er the mazes of the mountain brook. 
Vain is her best precaution, though she sits 410 

Concealed with folded ears, unsleeping eyes 
By Nature raised to take the horizon in, 
And head couched close betwixt her hairy feet, 
In act to spring away. The scented dew 
Betrays her early labyrinth ; and deep, 4 1 5 

In scattered sullen openings, far behind, 
With every breeze she hears the coming storm. 
But, nearer and more frequent as it loads 
The sighing gale, she springs amazed, and all 
The savage soul of game is up at once 420 

The pack full-opening various, the shrill horn 
Resounded from the hills, the neighing steed 
Wild for the chase, and the loud hunter's shout, 
O'er a weak harmless flying creature, all 
Mixed in mad tumult and discordant joy. 425 

The stag too, singled from the herd, where long 
He ranged the branching monarch of the shades, 
Before the tempest drives. At first in speed 
He, sprightly, puts his faith, and, roused by fear, 
Gives all his swift aerial soul to flight. 43 

AUTUMN. 127 

Against the breeze he darts, that way the more 

To leave the lessening murderous cry behind. 

Deception short ! though, fleeter than the winds 

Blown o'er the keen-aired mountain by the north, 

He bursts the thickets, glances through the glades, 435 

And plunges deep into the wildest wood ; 

If slow, yet sure, adhesive to the track 

Hot-steaming, up behind him come again 

The inhuman rout, and from the shady depth 

Expel him, circling through his every shift. 440 

He sweeps the forest oft, and sobbing sees 

The glades mild-opening to the golden day, 

Where in kind contest with his butting friends 

He wont to struggle, or his loves enjoy. 

Oft in the full-descending flood he tries 445 

To lose the scent, and lave his burning sides ; 

Oft seeks the herd : the watchful herd, alarmed, 

With selfish care avoid a brother's woe. 

What shall he do ? His once so vivid nerves, 

So full of buoyant spirit, now no more 450 

Inspire the course ; but fainting breathless toil, 

Sick, seizes on his heart : he stands at bay, 

And puts his last weak refuge in despair. 

The big round tears run down his dappled face; 

He groans in anguish ; while the growling pack, 455 

Blood-happy, hang at his fair jutting chest, 

And mark his beauteous chequered sides with gore. 

Of this enough. But if the sylvan youth 
Whose fervent blood boils into violence 
Must have the chase, behold ! despising flight, 460 

The roused-up lion, resolute and slow, 
Advancing full on the protended spear 
And coward-band that circling wheel aloof. 
Slunk from the cavern and the troubled wood, 
See the grim wolf : on him his shaggy foe 465 

Vindictive fix, and let the ruffian die ; 
Or, growling horrid, as the brindled boar 


Grins fell destruction, to the monster's heart 
Let the dart lighten from the nervous arm. 

These Britain knows not. Give, ye Britons, then 470 
Your sportive fury, pitiless, to pour 
Loose on the nightly robber of the fold. 
Him, from his craggy winding haunts unearthed, 
Let all the thunder of the chase pursue. 
Throw the broad ditch behind you ; o'er the hedge 475 
High bound resistless ; nor the deep morass 
Refuse, but through the shaking wilderness 
Pick your nice way ; into the perilous flood 
Bear fearless, of the raging instinct full ; 
And, as you ride the torrent, to the banks 480 

Your triumph sound sonorous, running round 
From rock to rock, in circling echoes tossed ; 
Then snatch the mountains by their woody tops ; 
Rush down the dangerous steep ; and o'er the lawn, 
In fancy swallowing up the space between, 485 

Pour all your speed into the rapid game. 
For happy he who tops the wheeling chase ; 
Has every maze evolved, and every guile 
Disclosed ; who knows the merits of the pack ; 
Who saw the villain seized and dying hard, 490 

Without complaint though by a hundred mouths 
Relentless torn. Oh ! glorious he beyond 
His daring peers, when the retreating* horn 
Calls them to ghostly halls of grey renown 
With woodland honours graced, the fox's fur, 495 

Depending decent from the roof, and, spread 
Round the drear walls, with antic figures fierce, 
The stag's large front : he then is loudest heard, 
When the night staggers with severer toils, 
With feats Thessalian Centaurs never knew, 500 

And their repeated wonders shake the dome. 

But first the fuelled chimney blazes wide ; 
The tankards foam ; and the strong table groans 
Beneath the smoking sirloin stretched immense 

AUTUMN. 129 

From side to side, in which with desperate knife 505 

They deep incision make, talking the while 

Of England's glory ne'er to be defaced 

While hence they borrow vigour, or, amain 

Into the pasty plunged, at intervals 

If stomach keen can intervals allow 510 

Relating all the glories of the chase. 

Then sated Hunger bids his brother Thirst 

Produce the mighty bowl ; the mighty bowl, 

Swelled high with fiery juice, steams liberal round 

A potent gale, delicious as the breath 515 

Of Maia to the love-sick shepherdess, 

On violets diffused, while soft she hears 

Her panting shepherd stealing to her arms. 

Nor wanting is the brown October, drawn 

Mature and perfect from his dark retreat 520 

Of thirty years ; and now his honest front 

Flames in the light refulgent, not afraid 

Even with the vineyard's best produce to vie. 

To cheat the thirsty moments, Whist a while 

Walks his dull round, beneath a cloud of smoke 525 

Wreathed fragrant from the pipe ; or the quick dice, 

In thunder leaping from the box, awake 

The sounding gammon ; while romp-loving miss 

Is hauled about in gallantry robust. 

At last, these puling idlenesses laid 530 

Aside, frequent and full the dry divan 
Close in firm circle, and set ardent in 
For serious drinking. Nor evasion sly 
Nor sober shift is to the puking wretch 
Indulged apart ; but earnest brimming bowls 535 

Lave every soul, the table floating round, 
And pavement, faithless to the fuddled foot. 
Thus as they swim in mutual swill, the talk, 
Vociferous at once from twenty tongues, 
Reels fast from theme to theme from horses, hounds, 
To church or mistress, politics or ghost 541 



In endless mazes intricate, perplexed. 

Meantime, with sudden interruption loud, 

The impatient catch bursts from the joyous heart. 

That moment touched is every kindred soul ; 545 

And, opening in a full-mouthed cry of joy, 

The laugh, the slap, the jocund curse go round, 

While, from their slumbers shook, the kennelled hounds 

Mix in the music of the day again. 

As when the tempest, that has vexed the deep 550 

The dark night long, with fainter murmurs falls, 

So gradual sinks their mirth. Their feeble tongues, 

Unable to take up the cumbrous word, 

Lie quite dissolved. Before their maudlin eyes, 

Seen dim and blue the double tapers dance, 555 

Like the sun wading through the misty sky. 

Then, sliding soft, they drop. Confused above, 

Glasses and bottles, pipes and gazetteers, 

As if the table even itself was drunk, 

Lie a wet broken scene ; and wide below 560 

Is heaped the social slaughter, where, astride, 

The lubber power in filthy triumph sits 

Slumbrous, inclining still from side to side, 

And steeps them drenched in potent sleep till morn. 

Perhaps some doctor of tremendous paunch 565 

Awful and deep, a black abyss of drink, 

Outlives them all ; and from his buried flock 

Retiring, full of rumination sad, 

Laments the weakness of these latter times. 

But if the rougher sex by this fierce sport 570 

Is hurried wild, let not such horrid joy 
E'er stain the bosom of the British fair. 
Far be the spirit of the chase from them, 
Uncomely courage, unbeseeming skill 
To spring the fence, to rein the prancing steed 575 

The cap, the whip, the masculine attire, 
In which they roughen to the sense, and all 
The winning softness of their sex is lost ! 

AUTUMN. 131 

In them 'tis graceful to dissolve at woe ; 

With every motion, every word, to wave 580 

Quick o'er the kindling cheek the ready blush ; 

And from the smallest violence to shrink 

Unequal, then the loveliest in their fears ; 

And by this silent adulation soft 

To their protection more engaging man. 585 

Oh ! may their eyes no miserable sight, 

Save weeping lovers, see a nobler game, 

Through love's enchanting wiles pursued, yet fled, 

In chase ambiguous. May their tender limbs 

Float in the loose simplicity of dress ; 590 

And, fashioned all to harmony, alone 

Know they to seize the captivated soul, 

In rapture warbled from love-breathing lips; 

To teach the lute to languish ; with smooth step, 

Disclosing motion in its every charm, 595 

To swim along and swell the mazy dance ; 

To train the foliage o'er the snowy lawn ; 

To guide the pencil, turn the tuneful page; 

To lend new flavour to the fruitful year 

And heighten Nature's dainties ; in their race 600 

To rear their graces into second life; 

To give society its highest taste ; 

Well-ordered home, man's best delight, to make ; 

And by submissive wisdom, modest skill, 

With every gentle care-eluding art, 605 

To raise the virtues, animate the bliss, 

Even charm the pains to something more than joy, 

And sweeten all the toils of human life : 

This be the female dignity, and praise. 

Ye swains, now hasten to the hazel bank, 610 

Where, down yon dale, the wildly-winding brook 
Falls hoarse from steep to steep. In close array, 
Fit for the thickets and the tangling shrub, 
Ye virgins, come. For you their latest song 

K 2 


The woodlands raise; the clustering nuts for you 615 

The lover finds amid the secret shade, 

And, where they burnish on the topmost bough, 

With active vigour crushes down the tree, 

Or shakes them ripe from the resigning husk, 

A glossy shower, and of an ardent brown, 620 

As are the ringlets of Melinda's hair 

Melinda, formed with every grace complete, 

Yet these neglecting, above beauty wise, 

And far transcending such a vulgar praise. 

Hence from the busy joy-resounding fields, 625 

In cheerful error let us tread the maze 

Of Autumn unconfined, and taste revived 

The breath of orchard big with bending fruit. 
Obedient to the breeze and beating ray, 

From the deep-loaded bough a mellow shower 630 

Incessant melts away. The juicy pear 

Lies in a soft profusion scattered round. 

A various sweetness swells the gentle race, 

By Nature's all-refining hand prepared, 

Of tempered sun, and water, earth, and air, 635 

In ever-changing composition mixed. 

Such, falling frequent through the chiller night, 

The fragrant stores, the wide-projected heaps 

Of apples, which the lusty-handed year 

Innumerous o'er the blushing orchard shakes. 640 

A various spirit, fresh, delicious, keen, 

Dwells in their gelid pores, and active points 

The piercing cider for the thirsty tongue 

Thy native theme, and boon inspirer too, 

Phillips, Pomona's bard ! The second thou 645 

Who nobly durst, in rhyme-unfettered verse, 

With British freedom sing the British song, 

How from Silurian vats high-sparkling wines 

Foam in transparent floods, some strong to cheer 

The wintry revels of the labouring hind, 650 

And tasteful some to cool the summer hours. 

, AUTUMN. 133 

In this glad season, while his sweetest beams 
The sun sheds equal o'er the meekened day, 
Oh ! lose me in the green delightful walks 
Of, Dodington, thy seat, serene and plain, 655 

Where simple Nature reigns, and every view 
Diffusive spreads the pure Dorsetian downs 
In boundless prospect yonder shagged with wood, 
Here rich with harvest, and there white with flocks. 
Meantime the grandeur of thy lofty dome 660 

Far-splendid seizes on the ravished eye. 
New beauties rise with each revolving day ; 
New columns swell ; and still the fresh Spring finds 
New plants to quicken, and new groves to green. 
Full of thy genius all ! the muses' seat, 665 

Where, in the secret bower and winding walk, 
For virtuous Young and thee they twine the bay. 
Here wandering oft, fired with the restless thirst 
Of thy applause, I solitary court 

The inspiring breeze, and meditate the book 670 

Of Nature ever open, aiming thence 
Warm from the heart to learn the moral song. 
Here, as I steal along the sunny wall, 
Where Autumn basks, with fruit empurpled deep, 
My pleasing theme continual prompts my thought 675 
Presents the downy peach, the shining plum 
With a fine bluish mist of animals 
Clouded, the ruddy nectarine, and dark 
Beneath his ample leaf the luscious fig. 
The vine too here her curling tendrils shoots, 680 

Hangs out her clusters glowing to the south, 
And scarcely wishes for a warmer sky. 

Turn we a moment fancy's rapid flight 
To vigorous soils and climes of fair extent. 
Where, by the potent sun elated high, 685 

The vineyard swells refulgent on the day, 
Spreads o'er the vale, or up the mountain climbs 


Profuse, and drinks amid the sunny rocks, 

From cliff to cliff increased, the heightened blaze. 

Low bend the gravid boughs. The clusters clear, 690 

Half through the foliage seen, or ardent flame 

Or shine transparent ; while perfection breathes 

White o'er the turgent film the living dew. 

As thus they brighten with exalted juice, 

Touched into flavour by the mingling ray, 695 

The rural youth and virgins o'er the field 

Each fond for each to cull the autumnal prime 

Exulting rove, and speak the vintage nigh. 

Then comes the crushing swain : the country floats 

And foams unbounded with the mashy flood, 700 

That, by degrees fermented and refined, 

Round the raised nations pours the cup of joy 

The claret smooth, red as the lip we press 

In sparkling fancy while we drain the bowl ; 

The mellow- tasted burgundy ; and, quick 705 

As is the wit it gives, the gay champagne. 

Now, by the cool declining year condensed, 
Descend the copious exhalations, checked 
As up the middle sky unseen they stole, 
And roll the doubling fogs around the hill. 710 

No more the mountain, horrid, vast, sublime, 
Who pours a sweep of rivers from his sides, 
And high between contending kingdoms rears 
The rocky long division, fills the view 
With great variety ; but, in a night 715 

Of gathering vapour, from the baffled sense 
Sinks dark and dreary. Thence expanding far, 
The huge dusk gradual swallows up the plain. 
Vanish the woods. The dim- seen river seems 
Sullen and slow to roll the misty wave. 720 

Even in the height of noon oppressed, the sun 
Sheds weak and blunt his wide-refracted ray ; 

AUTUMN. 135 

Whence glaring oft, with many a broadened orb, 

He frights the nations. Indistinct on earth, 

Seen through the turbid air, beyond the life 7 2 5 

Objects appear; and wildered o'er the waste 

The shepherd stalks gigantic ; till at last, 

Wreathed dun around, in deeper circles still 

Successive closing, sits the general fog 

Unbounded o'er the world; and, mingling thick, 730 

A formless grey confusion covers all : 

As when of old (so sung the Hebrew bard) 

Light, uncollected, through the chaos urged 

Its infant way ; nor order yet had drawn 

His lovely train from out the dubious gloom. 735 

These roving mists, that constant now begin 
To smoke along the hilly country, these, 
With weighty rains and melted Alpine snows, 
The mountain-cisterns fill, those ample stores 
Of water, scooped among the hollow rocks, 74 

Whence gush the streams, the ceaseless fountains play, 
And their unfailing wealth the rivers draw. 
Some sages say that, where the numerous wave 
For ever lashes the resounding shore, 

Sucked through the sandy stratum every way, 745 

The waters with the sandy stratum rise ; 
Amid whose angles infinitely strained 
They joyful leave their jaggy salts behind, 
And clear and sweeten as they soak along. 
Nor stops the restless fluid, mounting still, 75 

Though oft amidst the irriguous vale it springs ; 
But to the mountain courted by the sand, 
That leads it darkling on in faithful maze, 
Far from the parent main it boils again 
Fresh into day, and all the glittering hill 755 

Is bright with spouting rills. But hence ! this vain 
Amusive dream. Why should the waters love 
To take so far a journey to the hills, 
When the sweet valleys offer to their toil 


Inviting quiet and a nearer bed ? 760 

' ; Or if, by blind ambition led astray, 

They must aspire, why should they sudden stop 

Among the broken mountain's rushy dells, 

And, ere they gain its highest peak, desert 

The attractive sand that charmed their course so long ? 

Besides, the hard agglomerating salts, . 766 

The spoil of ages, would impervious choke 

Their secret channels, or by slow degrees 

High as the hills protrude the swelling yales. 

Old ocean too, sucked through the porous globe, 770 

Had long ere now forsook his horrid bed, 

And brought Deucalion's watery times again. 

Say then where lurk the vast eternal springs 
That, like creating Nature, lie concealed 
From mortal eye, yet with their lavish stores 775 

Refresh the globe and all its joyous tribes? 
O thou pervading genius, given to man, 
To trace the secrets of the dark abyss, 
Oh! lay the mountains bare, and wide display 
Their hidden structure to the astonished view. 780 

Strip from the branching Alps their piny load ; 
The huge incumbrance of horrific woods 
From Asian Taurus, from Imaiis stretched 
Athwart the roving Tartar's sullen bounds; 
Give opening Hemus to my searching eye, 785 

And high Olympus pouring many a stream. 
Oh ! from the sounding summits of the north, 
The Dofrine 'Hills, through Scandinavia rolled 
To farthest Lapland and the frozen main ; 
From lofty Caucasus, far-seen by those 790 

Who in the Caspian and black Euxine toil ; 
From cold Riphean rocks, which the wild Russ 
Believes the stony girdle of the world ; 
And all the dreadful mountains, wrapt in storm, 
Whence wide Siberia draws her lonely floods 795 

Oh ! sweep the eternal snows. Hung o'er the deep, 

AUTUMN. 137 

That ever works beneath his sounding base, 

Bid Atlas, propping heaven, as poets feign, 

His subterranean wonders spread. Unveil 

The miny caverns, blazing on the day, 800 

Of Abyssinia's cloud-compelling cliffs, 

And of the bending Mountains of the Moon. 

O'ertopping all these giant sons of earth, 

Let the dire Andes, from the radiant line 

Stretched to the stormy seas that thunder round 805 

The southern pole, their hideous deeps unfold. 

Amazing scene ! behold, the glooms disclose ! 

I see the rivers in their infant beds ; 

Deep, deep I hear them, labouring to get free. 

I see the leaning strata, artful ranged, 810 

The gaping fissures to receive the rains, 

The melting snows, and ever-dripping fogs. 

Strowed bibulous above, I see the sands, 

The pebbly gravel next, the layers then 

Of mingled moulds, of more retentive earths, 815 

The guttered rocks and mazy- running clefts, 

That, while the stealing moisture they transmit, 

Retard its motion, and forbid its waste. 

Beneath the incessant weeping of these drains, 

I see the rocky siphons stretched immense, 820 

The mighty reservoirs, of hardened chalk 

Or stiff compacted clay capacious formed. 

O'erflowing thence, the congregated stores, 

The crystal treasures of the liquid world, 

Through the stirred sands a bubbling passage burst, 825 

And, welling out, around the middle steep, 

Or from the bottoms of the bosomed hills, 

In pure effusion flow. United thus 

The exhaling sun, the vapour-burdened air, 

The gelid mountains that, to rain condensed, 830 

These vapours in continual current draw, 

And send them o'er the fair-divided earth 

In bounteous rivers to the deep again, 


A social commerce hold, and firm support 

The full-adjusted harmony of things. 835 

When Autumn scatters his departing gleams, 
Warned of approaching Winter, gathered play 
The swallow-people, and, tossed wide around, 
O'er the calm sky in convolution swift 
The feathered eddy floats, rejoicing once, 840 

Ere to their wintry slumbers they retire, 
In clusters clung, beneath the mouldering bank, 
And where unpierced by frost the cavern sweats ; 
Or rather into warmer climes conveyed, 
With other kindred birds of season : there 845 

They twitter cheerful till the vernal months 
Invite them welcome back. For, thronging, now 
Innumerous wings are in commotion all. 

Where the Rhine loses his majestic force 
In Belgian plains, won from the raging deep 850 

By diligence amazing and the strong 
Unconquerable hand of liberty, 
The stork-assembly meets, for many a day 
Consulting deep and various ere they take 
Their arduous voyage through the liquid sky. 855 

And now, their route designed, their leaders chose, 
Their tribes adjusted, cleaned their vigorous wings, 
And many a circle, many a short essay, 
Wheeled round and round, in congregation full 
The figured flight ascends, and, riding high 860 

The aerial billows, mixes with the clouds. 

Or, where the Northern Ocean in vast whirls 
Boils round the naked melancholy isles 
Of farthest Thule, and the Atlantic surge 
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides 865 

Who can recount what transmigrations there 
Are annual made ? what nations come and go ? 
And how the living clouds on clouds arise ? 
Infinite wings ! till all the plume-dark air 

AUTUMN. 139 

And rude resounding shore are one wild cry. 870 

Here the plain harmless native his small flock 

And herd diminutive of many hues 

Tends on the little island's verdant swell, 

The shepherd's seagirt reign ; or, to the rocks 

Dire-clinging, gathers his ovarious food ; 873 

Or sweeps the fishy shore; or treasures up 

The plumage, rising full, to form the bed 

Of luxury. And here awhile the muse, 

High-hovering o'er the broad cerulean scene, 

Sees Caledonia in romantic view 880 

Her airy mountains, from the waving main 

Invested with a keen diffusive sky 

Breathing the soul acute ; her forests huge, 

Incult, robust, and tall, by Nature's hand 

Planted of old ; her azure lakes between, 885 

Poured out extensive, and of watery wealth 

Full ; winding deep and green, her fertile vales, 

With many a cool translucent brimming flood 

Washed lovely, from the Tweed (pure parent stream 

Whose pastoral banks first heard my Doric reed, 890 

With, sylvan Jed, thy tributary brook) 

To where the north- inflated tempest foams 

O'er Orca's or Berubium's highest peak 

Nurse of a people, in misfortune's school 

Trained up to hardy deeds, soon visited 895 

By learning, when before the Gothic rage 

She took her western flight, a manly race, 

Of unsubmitting spirit, wise and brave, 

Who still through bleeding ages struggled hard 

(As well unhappy Wallace can attest, 900 

Great patriot hero ! ill-requited chief !) 

To hold a geiierous undiminished state, 

Too much in vain ! Hence, of unequal bounds 

Impatient, and by tempting glory borne 

O'er every land, for evenp' land their life 905 

Has flowed profuse, their piercing genius planned, 


And swelled the pomp of peace their faithful toil : 
As from their own clear north in radiant streams 
Bright over Europe bursts the Boreal morn. 

Oh! is there not some patriot, in whose power 910 

That best, that godlike luxury is placed, 
Of blessing thousands, thousands yet unborn, 
Through late posterity ? some, large of soul, 
To cheer dejected industry ? to give 

A double harvest to the pining swain, 915 

And teach the labouring hand the sweets of toil? 
How by the finest art the native robe 
To weave ; how, white as hyperborean snow, 
To form the lucid lawn ; with venturous oar 
How to dash wide the billow, nor look on 920 

Shamefully passive while Batavian fleets 
Defraud us of the glittering finny swarms 
That heave our friths and crowd upon our shores; 
How all-enlivening trade to rouse, and wing 
The prosperous sail from every growing port 925 

Uninjured round the sea-encircled globe ; 
And thus, in soul united as in name, 
Bid Britain reign the mistress of the deep? 

Yes, there are such. And full on thee, Argyle, 
Her hope, her stay, her darling, and her boast, 930 

From her first patriots and her heroes sprung, 
Thy fond-imploring country turns her eye ; 
In thee with all a mother's triumph sees 
Her every virtue, every grace combined, 
Her genius, wisdom, her engaging turn, 935 

Her pride of honour, and her courage tried, 
Calm, and intrepid, in the very throat 
Of sulphurous war, on Tenier's dreadful field. 
Nor less the palm of peace inwreathes thy brow ; 
For, powerful as thy sword, from thy rich tongue 940 

Persuasion flows, and wins the high debate ; 
While, mixed in thee, combine the charm of youth, 
The force of manhood, and the depth of age. 

AUTUMN. 141 

Thee, Forbes, too, whom every worth attends, 

As truth sincere, as weeping friendship kind, 945 

Thee truly generous, and in silence great, 

Thy country feels through her reviving arts, 

Planned by thy wisdom, by thy soul informed ; 

And seldom has she known a friend like thee. 

But see, the fading many-coloured woods, 950 

Shade deepening over shade, the country round 
Imbrown, a crowded umbrage, dusk, and dun, 
Of every hue from wan declining green 
To sooty dark. These now the lonesome muse, 
Low- whispering, lead into their leaf-strown walks ; 955 

And give the season in its latest view. 

Meantime, light-shadowing all, a sober calm 
Fleeces unbounded ether, whose least wave 
Stands tremulous, uncertain where to turn 
The gentle current : while, illumined wide, 960 

The dewy- skirted clouds imbibe the sun, 
And through their lucid veil his softened force 
Shed o'er the peaceful world. Then is the time 
For those whom wisdom and whom nature charm 
To steal themselves from the degenerate crowd, 965 

And soar above this little scene of things ; 
To tread low-thoughted vice beneath their feet, 
To soothe the throbbing passions into peace, 
And woo lone quiet in her silent walks. 

Thus solitary and in pensive guise 970 

Oft let me wander o'er the russet mead 
And through the saddened grove, where scarce is heard 
One dying strain to cheer the woodman's toil. 
Haply some widowed songster pours his plaint 
Far in faint warblings through the tawny copse ; 975 

While congregated thrushes, linnets, larks, 
And each wild throat whose artless strains so late 
Swelled all the music of the swarming shades, 
Robbed of their tuneful souls, now shivering sit 


On the dead tree, a dull despondent flock, 980 

With not a brightness waving o'er their plumes, 

And nought save chattering discord in their note. 

Oh ! let not, aimed from some inhuman eye, 

The gun the music of the coming year 

Destroy, and harmless, unsuspecting harm, 985 

Lay the weak tribes, a miserable prey, 

In mingled murder fluttering on the ground. 

The pale descending year, yet pleasing still, 
A gentler mood inspires ; for now the leaf 
Incessant rustles from the mournful grove, 990 

Oft startling such as studious walk below, 
And slowly circles through the waving air. 
But, should a quicker breeze amid the boughs 
Sob, o'er the sky the leafy ruin streams, 
Till, choked and matted with the dreary shower, 995 

The forest-walks at every rising gale 
Roll wide the withered waste, and whistle bleak. 
Fled is the blasted verdure of the fields, 
And, shrunk into their beds, the flowery race 
Their sunny robes resign. Even what remained 1000 

Of stronger fruits falls from the naked tree ; 
And woods, fields, gardens, orchards, all around 
A desolated prospect thrills the soul. 

He comes ! he comes ! in every breeze the power 
Of philosophic Melancholy comes ! 1005 

His near approach the sudden-starting tear, 
The glowing cheek, the mild dejected air, 
The softened feature, and the beating heart 
Pierced deep with many a virtuous pang declare. 
O'er all the soul his sacred influence breathes, 1010 

Inflames imagination, through the breast 
Infuses every tenderness, and far 
Beyond dim earth exalts the swelling thought. 
Ten thousand thousand fleet ideas, such 
As never mingled with the vulgar dream, 1015 

Crowd fast into the mind's creative eye. 

AUTUMN. 143 

As fast the correspondent passions rise, 

As varied, and as high, devotion raised 

To rapture and divine astonishment ; 

The love of Nature unconfined, and chief 1020 

Of human race ; the large ambitious wish 

To make them blest ; the sigh for suffering worth 

Lost in obscurity ; the noble scorn 

Of tyrant pride ; the fearless great resolve ; 

The wonder which the dying patriot draws, 1025 

Inspiring glory through remotest time ; 

The awakened throb for virtue and for fame ; 

The sympathies of love and friendship dear, 

With all the social offspring of the heart. 

Oh ! bear me then to vast embowering shades, 1030 

To twilight groves and visionary vales, 
To weeping grottos and prophetic glooms, 
Where angel-forms athwart the solemn dtisk 
Tremendous sweep, or seem to sweep, along, 
And voices more than human, through the void 1035 

Deep-sounding, seize the enthusiastic ear. 

Or is this gloom too much? Then lead, ye powers 
That o'er the garden and the rural seat 
Preside, which shining through the cheerful land 
In countless numbers blest Britannia sees 1040 

Oh ! lead me to the wide-extended walks, 
The fair majestic paradise of Stowe. 
Not Persian Cyrus on Ionia's shore 
E'er saw such sylvan scenes, such various art 
By genius fired, such ardent genius tamed 1045 

By cool judicious art, that in the strife 
All-beauteous Nature fears to be outdone. 
And there, O Pitt, thy country's early boast, 
There let me sit beneath the sheltered slopes, 
Or in that temple where in future times 1050 

Thou well shalt merit a distinguished name, 
And, with thy converse blest, catch the last smiles 
Of Autumn beaming o'er the yellow woods. 


While there with thee the enchanted round I walk, 

The regelated wild, gay fancy then 1055 

Will tread in thought the groves of Attic land, 

Will from thy standard taste refine her own, 

Correct her pencil to the purest truth 

Of Nature, or, the unimpassioned shades 

Forsaking, raise it to the human mind. 1060 

Or if hereafter she with juster hand 

Shall draw the tragic scene, instruct her thou 

To mark the varied movements of the heart, 

What every decent character requires, 

And every passion speaks. Oh ! through her strain 1065 

Breathe thy pathetic eloquence, that moulds 

The attentive senate, charms, persuades, exalts, 

Of honest zeal the indignant lightning throws, 

And shakes corruption on her venal throne. 

While thus we talk, and through Elysian vales 1070 

Delighted rove, perhaps a sigh escapes 

What pity, Cobham, thou thy verdant files 

Of ordered trees should st here inglorious range, 

Instead of squadrons flaming o'er the field, 

And long embattled hosts! when the proud foe, 1075 

The faithless vain disturber of mankind, 

Insulting Gaul, has roused the world to war ; 

When keen once more within their bounds to press 

Those polished robbers, those ambitious slaves, 

The British youth would hail thy wise command, 1080 

Thy tempered ardour, and thy veteran skill. 

The western sun withdraws the shortened day ; 
And humid evening, gliding o'er the sky, 
In her chill progress to the ground condensed 
The vapours throws. Where creeping waters ooze, 1085 
Where marshes stagnate, and where rivers wind, 
Cluster the rolling fogs, and swim along 
The dusky-mantled lawn. Meanwhile the moon, 
Full-orbed, and breaking through the scattered clouds, 

AUTUMN. 145 

Shows her broad visage in the crimsoned east. 1090 

Turned to the sun direct, her spotted disk 

Where mountains rise, umbrageous dales descend, 

And caverns deep, as optic tube descries 

A smaller earth, gives us his blaze again 

Void of its flame, and sheds a softer day. 1095 

Now through the passing cloud she seems to stoop, 

Now up the pure cerulean rides sublime. 

Wide the pale deluge floats, and, streaming mild 

O'er the skied mountain to the shadowy vale, 

While rocks and floods reflect the quivering gleam, noo 

The whole air whitens with a boundless tide 

Of silver radiance trembling round the world. 

But when, half-blotted from the sky, her light 
Fainting permits the starry fires to burn 
With keener lustre through the depth of heaven, 1105 

Or near extinct her deadened orb appears, 
And scarce appears, of sickly beamless white, 
Oft in this season, silent from the north 
A blaze of meteors shoots : ensweeping first 
The lower skies, they all at once converge mo 

High to the crown of heaven, and, all at once 
Relapsing quick, as quickly reascend, 
And mix, and thwart, extinguish, and renew, 
All ether coursing in a maze of light. 

From look to look, contagious through the crowd, 1 1 1 5 
The panic runs, and into wondrous shapes 
The appearance throws armies in meet array, 
Thronged with aerial spears, and steeds of fire, 
Till, the long lines of full-extended war 
In bleeding fight commixed, the sanguine flood 1120 

Rolls a broad slaughter o'er the plains of heaven. 
As thus they scan the visionary scene, 
On all sides swells the superstitious din 
Incontinent, and busy frenzy talks 

Of blood and battle; cities overturned, 1125 

And late at night in swallowing earthquake sunk, 


Or hideous wrapt in fierce ascending flame ; 

Of sallow famine, inundation, storm ; 

Of pestilence, and every great distress; 

Empires sub versed, when ruling fate has struck 1130 

The unalterable hour : even Nature's self 

Is deemed to totter on the brink of time. 

Not so the man of philosophic eye 

And inspect sage ; the waving brightness he 

Curious surveys, inquisitive to know 1135 

The causes and materials, yet unfixed, 

Of this appearance beautiful and new. 

Now black and deep the night begins to fall, 
A shade immense. Sunk in the quenching gloom, 
Magnificent and vast, are heaven and earth. 1140 

Order confounded lies ; all beauty void ; 
Distinction lost ; and gay variety 
One universal blot : such the fair power 
' Of light to kindle and create the whole. 
Drear is the state of the benighted - wretch 1145 

Who then bewildered wanders through the dark, 
Full of pale fancies and chimeras huge, 
Nor visited by one directive ray 
From cottage streaming or from airy hall. 
Perhaps, impatient as he stumbles on, 1150 

Struck from the root of slimy rushes, blue 
The wild-fire scatters round, or gathered trails 
A length of flame deceitful o'er the moss ; 
Whither decoyed by the fantastic blaze, 
Now lost and now renewed, he sinks absorpt, 1155 

Rider and horse, amid the miry gulf; 
While still, from day to day, his pining wife 
And plaintive children his return await, 
In wild conjecture lost. At other times, 
Sent by the better genius of the night, 1160 

Innoxious gleaming on the horse's mane 
The meteor sits, and shows the narrow path 

AUTUMN. 147 

That winding leads through pits of death, or else 
Instructs him how to take the dangerous ford. 

The lengthened night elapsed, the morning shines 1165 
Serene, in all her dewy beauty bright, 
Unfolding fair the last autumnal day. 
And now the mountain sun dispels the fog ; 
The rigid hoar-frost melts before his beam ; 
And, hung on every spray, on every blade 1170 

Of grass, the myriad dewdrops twinkle round. 

Ah! see where, robbed and murdered, in that pit 
Lies the still-heaving hive, at evening snatched 
Beneath the cloud of guilt-concealing night, 
And fixed o'er sulphur; while, not dreaming ill, H75 

The happy people in their waxen cells 
Sat tending public cares, and planning schemes 
Of temperance for Winter poor, rejoiced 
To mark, full-flowing round, their copious stores. 
Sudden the dark oppressive steam ascends; 1180 

And, used to milder scents, the tender race 
By thousands tumble from their honeyed domes, 
Convolved, and agonizing in the dust. 
And was it then for this ye roamed the Spring, 
Intent from flower to flower? for this ye toiled 1185 

Ceaseless the burning Summer-heats away? 
For this in Autumn searched the blooming waste, 
Nor lost one sunny gleam? for this sad fate? 
O man ! tyrannic lord ! how long, how long 
Shall prostrate Nature groan beneath your rage 1190 

Awaiting renovation ? When obliged, 
Must you destroy ? Of their ambrosial food 
Can you not borrow, and in just return 
Afford them shelter from the wintry winds ; 
Or, as the sharp year pinches, with their own i*95 

Again regale them on some smiling day? 
See where the stony bottom of their town 
L 2 


Looks desolate and wild, with here and there 

A helpless number, who the ruined state 

Survive, lamenting weak, cast out to death. 1200 

Thus a proud city populous and rich, 

Full of the works of peace and high in joy 

At theatre or feast, or sunk in sleep 

(As late, Palermo, was thy fate) is seized 

By some dread earthquake, and convulsive hurled 1205 

Sheer from the black foundation, stench-involved, 

Into a gulf of blue sulphureous flame. 

Hence every harsher sight ! for now the day, 
O'er heaven and earth diffused, grows warm and high, 
Infinite splendour! wide investing all. 1210 

"How still the breeze ! save what the filmy threads 
Of dew evaporate brushes from the plain. 
How clear the cloudless sky! how deeply tinged 
With a peculiar blue ! the ethereal arch 
How swelled immense ! amid whose azure throned 1215 
The radiant sun how gay! how calm below 
The gilded earth! the harvest-treasures all 
Now gathered in beyond the rage of storms 
Sure to the swain, the circling fence shut up, 
And instant Winter's utmost rage defied; 1220 

While, loose to festive joy, the country round 
Laughs with the loud sincerity of mirth, 
Shook to the wind their cares. The toil-strung youth, 
By the quick sense of music taught alone, 
Leaps wildly graceful in the lively dance. 1225 

Her every charm abroad, the village toast, 
Young, buxom, warm, in native beauty rich, 
Darts not unmeaning looks ; and, where her eye 
Points an approving smile, with double force 
The cudgel rattles, and the wrestler twines. 1230 

Age too shines out, and garrulous recounts 
The feats of youth. Thus they rejoice ; nor think 

AUTUMN. 149 

That with to-morrow's sun their annual toil 

Begins again the never-ceasing round. 


Oh! knew he but his happiness, of men 1235 

The happiest he who far from public rage, 
Deep in the vale, with a choice few retired, 
Drinks the pure pleasures of the rural life. 
What though the dome be wanting, whose proud gate 
Each morning vomits out the sneaking crowd 1240 

Of flatterers false, and in their turn abused ? 
Vile intercourse ! What though the glittering robe, 
Of every hue reflected light can give, 
Or floating loose or stiff with mazy gold, 
The pride and gaze of fools, oppress him not? 1245 

What though, from utmost land and sea purveyed, 
For him each rarer tributary life 
Bleeds not, and his insatiate table heaps 
With luxury and death ? What though his bowl 
Flames not with costly juice; nor sunk in beds, 1250 

Oft of gay care, he tosses out the night, 
Or melts the thoughtless hours in idle state ? 
What though he knows not those fantastic joys 
That still amuse the wanton, still deceive 
A face of pleasure, but a heart of pain 1255 

Their hollow moments undelighted all ? 
Sure peace is his ; a solid life, estranged 
To disappointment and fallacious hope ; 
Rich in content, in Nature's bounty rich, 
In herbs and fruits ; whatever greens the Spring 1260 

When heaven descends in showers, or bends the bough 
W T hen Summer reddens and when Autumn beams, 
Or in the wintry glebe whatever lies 
Concealed, and fattens with the richest sap 
These are not wanting; nor the milky drove, 1265 

Luxuriant spread o'er all the lowing vale ; 
Nor bleating mountains ; nor the chide of streams 
And hum of bees, inviting sleep sincere 


Into the guiltless breast, beneath the shade, 

Or thrown at large amid the fragrant hay; 1270 

Nor aught besides of prospect, grove, or song, 

Dim grottos, gleaming lakes, and fountain clear. 

Here too dwells simple truth ; plain innocence ; 

Unsullied beauty ; sound unbroken youth, 

Patient of labour, with a little pleased; 1275 

Health ever blooming ; unambitious toil ; 

Calm contemplation, and poetic ease. 

Let others brave the flood in quest of gain, 
And beat for joyless months the gloomy wave. 
Let such as deem it glory to destroy 1280 

Rush into blood, the sack of cities seek, 
Unpierced exulting in the widow's wail, 
The virgin's shriek, and infant's trembling cry. 
Let some, far distant from their native soil, 
Urged or by want or hardened avarice, 1285 

Find other lands beneath another sun. 
Let this through cities work his eager way 
By legal outrage and established guile, 
The social sense extinct ; and that ferment 
Mad into tumult the seditious herd, 1290 

Or melt them down to slavery. Let these 
Insnare the wretched in the toils of law, 
Fomenting discord and perplexing right, 
An iron race ! and those, of fairer front 
But equal inhumanity, in courts, 1295 

Delusive pomp, and dark cabals delight, 
Wreathe the deep bow, diffuse the lying smile, 
And tread the weary labyrinth of state ; 
While he, from all the stormy passions free 
That restless men involve, hears, and but hears, 1 300 

At distance safe, the human tempest roar, 
Wrapped close in conscious peace. The fall of kings, 
The rage of nations, and the crush of states 
Move not the man who, from the world escaped, 
In still retreats and flowery solitudes 1305 

AUTUMN. 151 

To Nature's voice attends from month to month 

And day to day through the revolving year, 

Admiring sees her in her every shape, 

Feels all her sweet emotions at his heart, 

Takes what she liberal gives, nor thinks of more. 1310 

He, when young Spring protrudes the bursting gems, 

Marks the first bud, and sucks the healthful gale 

Into his freshened soul; her genial hours 

He full enjoys ; and not a beauty blows, 

And not an opening blossom breathes in vain. 1315 

In Summer he, beneath the living shade, 

Such as o'er frigid Tempe wont to wave, 

Or Hemus cool, reads what the muse, of these 

Perhaps, has in immortal numbers sung; 

Or what she dictates writes; and, oft an eye 1320 

Shot round, rejoices in the vigorous year. 

When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world 

And tempts the sickled swain into the field, 

Seized by the general joy, his heart distends 

With gentle throes, and, through the tepid gleams 1325 

Deep musing, then he best exerts his song. 

Even Winter wild to him is full of bliss. 

The mighty tempest, and the hoary waste 

Abrupt and deep, stretched o'er the buried earth, 

Awake to solemn thought. At night the skies, 1330 

Disclosed and kindled by refining frost, 

Pour every lustre on the exalted eye. 

A friend, a book, the stealing hours secure, 

And mark them down for wisdom. With swift wing, 

O'er land and sea imagination roams; J335 

Or truth, divinely breaking on his mind, 

Elates his being and unfolds his powers ; 

Or in his breast heroic virtue burns. 

The touch of kindred too and love he feels, 

The modest eye whose beams on his alone !34 

Ecstatic shine, the little strong embrace 

Of prattling children twined around his neck 


And emulous to please him, calling forth 

The fond parental soul. Nor purpose gay, 

Amusement, dance, or song he sternly scorns; 1345 

For happiness and true philosophy 

Are of the social still and smiling kind. 

This is the life which those who fret in guilt 

And guilty cities never knew, the life 

Led by primeval ages uncorrupt, 1350 

When angels dwelt, and God himself, with man. 

O Nature all-sufficient ! over all ! 
Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works. 
Snatch me to heaven, thy rolling wonders there, 
World beyond world, in infinite extent 1355 

Profusely scattered o'er the blue immense, 
Shew me ; their motions, periods, and their laws 
Give me to scan. Through the disclosing deep 
Light my blind way, the mineral strata there, 
Thrust blooming thence the vegetable world, 1360 

O'er that the rising system, more complex, 
Of animals, and, higher still, the mind, 
The varied scene of quick-compounded thought 
And where the mixing passions endless shift, 
These ever open to my ravished eye 1365 

A search the flight of time can ne'er exhaust. 
But if to that unequal, if the blood, 
In sluggish streams about my heart, forbid 
That best ambition, under closing shades 
Inglorious lay me by the lowly brook, 1370 

And whisper to my dreams. From thee begin, 
Dwell all on thee, with thee conclude my song; 
And let me never, never stray from thee ! 



SEE, Winter comes to rule the varied year, 

Sullen and sad, with all his rising train 

Vapours, and clouds, and storms. Be these my theme, 

These, that exalt the soul to solemn thought 

And heavenly musing. Welcome, kindred glooms ! 5 

Congenial horrors, hail ! With frequent foot, 

Pleased have I in my cheerful morn of life, 

When nursed by careless solitude I lived 

And sung of Nature with unceasing joy, 

Pleased have I wandered through your rough domain; 10 

Trod the pure virgin-snows, myself as pure ; 

Heard the winds roar, and the big torrent burst ; 

Or seen the deep-fermenting tempest brewed 

In the grim evening sky. Thus passed the time, 

Till through the lucid chambers of the south 1 5 

Looked out the joyous Spring looked out and smiled. 

To thee, the patron of this first essay, 
The muse, O Wilmington ! renews her song. 
Since has she rounded the revolving year: 
Skimmed the gay Spring; on eagle-pinions borne, 20 

Attempted through the Summer blaze to rise ; 
Then swept o'er Autumn with the shadowy gale ; 
And now among the wintry clouds again, 
Rolled in the doubling storm, she tries to soar, 
To swell her note with all the rushing winds, 25 

To suit her sounding cadence to the floods, 
As is her theme, her numbers wildly great. 
Thrice happy, could she fill thy judging ear 


With bold description and with manly thought ! 

Nor art thou skilled in awful schemes alone, 30 

And how to make a mighty people thrive; 

But equal goodness, sound integrity, 

A firm unshaken uncorrupted soul 

Amid a sliding age, and burning strong, 

Not vainly blazing, for thy country's weal, 35 

A steady spirit, regularly free 

These, each exalting each, the statesman light 

Into the patriot ; these, the public hope 

And eye to thee converting, bid the muse 

Record what envy dares not flattery call. 40 

Now when the cheerless empire of the sky 
To Capricorn the Centaur Archer yields, 
And fierce Aquarius stains the inverted year 
Hung o'er the farthest verge of heaven, the sun 
Scarce spreads o'er ether the dejected day. 45 

Faint are his gleams, and ineffectual shoot 
His struggling rays in horizontal lines 
Through the thick air, as, clothed in cloudy storm, 
Weak, wan, and broad, he skirts the southern sky, 
And, ' soon-descending, to the long dark night, 50 

Wide-shading all, the prostrate world resigns. 
Nor is the night unwished, while vital heat, 
Light, life, and joy, the dubious day forsake. 
Meantime in sable cincture shadows vast, 
Deep-tinged, and damp, and congregated clouds 55 

And all the vapoury turbulence of heaven 
Involve the face of things. Thus Winter falls 
A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world, 
Through Nature shedding influence malign, 
And rouses up the seeds of dark disease. 60 

The soul of man dies in him, loathing life, 
And black with more than melancholy views. 
The cattle droop ; and o'er the furrowed land, 
Fresh from the plough, the dun-discoloured flocks, 

WINTER. 155 

Untended spreading, crop the wholesome root. 65 

Along the woods, along the moorish fens, 

Sighs the sad genius of the coming storm ; 

And up among the loose disjointed cliffs 

And fractured mountains wild, the brawling brook 

And cave presageful send a hollow moan, 70 

Resounding long in listening fancy's ear. 

Then comes the father of the tempest forth, 
Wrapt in black glooms. First, joyless rains obscure 
Drive through the mingling skies with vapour foul, 
Dash on the mountain's brow, and shake the woods 75 
That grumbling wave below. The unsightly plain 
Lies a brown deluge, as the low-bent clouds 
Pour flood on flood, yet unexhausted still 
Combine, and deepening into night shut up 
The day's fair face. The wanderers of heaven, 80 

Each to his home, retire, save those that love 
To take their pastime in the troubled air, 
Or skimming flutter round the dimply pool. 
The cattle from the untasted fields return, 
And ask with meaning low their wonted stalls, 85 

Or ruminate in the contiguous shade. 
Thither the household feathery people crowd 
The crested cock with all his female train, 
Pensive and dripping: while the cottage hind 
Hangs o'er the enlivening blaze, and taleful there 90 

Recounts his simple frolic ; much he talks, 
And much he laughs, nor recks the storm that blows 
Without, and rattles on his humble roof. 

Wide o'er the brim, with many a torrent swelled, 
And the mixed ruin of its banks o'erspread, 95 

At last the roused-up river pours along 
Resistless, roaring; dreadful down it comes 
From the rude mountain and the mossy wild, 
Tumbling through rocks abrupt, and sounding far ; 
Then o'er the sanded valley floating spreads, 100 

Calm, sluggish, silent ; till, again constrained, 


Between two meeting hills it bursts away, 

Where rocks and woods o'erhang the turbid stream : 

There gathering triple force, rapid and deep, 

It boils, and wheels, and foams, and thunders through. 105 

Nature, great parent ! whose unceasing hand 
Rolls round the seasons of the changeful year, 
How mighty, how majestic are thy works ! 
With what a pleasing dread they swell the soul, 
That sees astonished, and astonished sings! no 

Ye too, ye winds ! that now begin to blow 
With boisterous sweep, I raise my voice to you. 
Where are your stores, ye powerful beings ! say, 
Where your aerial magazines, reserved 
To swell the brooding terrors of the storm ? 115 

In what far-distant region of the sky, 
Hushed in deep silence, sleep ye when 'tis calm? 

When from the pallid sky the sun descends, 
With many a spot, that o'er his glaring orb 
Uncertain wanders, stained red fiery streaks 120 

Begin to flush around. The reeling clouds 
Stagger with dizzy poise, as doubting yet 
Which master to obey ; while rising slow, 
Blank in the leaden-coloured east, the moon 
Wears a wan circle round her blunted horns. 125 

Seen through the turbid fluctuating air, 
The stars obtuse emit a shivering ray ; 
Or frequent seem to shoot athwart the gloom, 
And long behind them trail the whitening blaze. 
Snatched in short eddies, plays the withered leaf; 130 

And on the flood the dancing feather floats. 
With broadened nostrils to the sky upturned, 
The conscious heifer snuffs the stormy gale. 
Even, as the matron at her nightly task 
With pensive labour draws the flaxen thread, 135 

The wasted taper and the crackling flame 
Foretell the blast. But chief the plumy race, 

The t< 

WINTER. 157 

The tenants of the sky, its changes speak. 

Retiring from the downs, where all day long 

They picked their scanty fare, a blackening train 140 

Of clamorous rooks thick-urge their weary flight, 

And seek the closing shelter of the grove. 

Assiduous in his bower the wailing owl 

Plies his sad song. The cormorant on high 

Wheels from the deep and screams along the land. 145 

Loud shrieks the soaring hern ; and with wild wing 

The circling sea-fowl cleave the flaky clouds. 

Ocean, unequal pressed, with broken tide 

And blind commotion heaves ; while from the shore, 

Eat into caverns by the restless wave, 150 

And forest-rustling mountain, comes a voice 

That solemn-sounding bids the world prepare. 

Then issues forth the storm with sudden burst, 

And hurls the whole precipitated air 

Down in a torrent. On the passive main 155 

Descends the ethereal force, and with strong gust 

Turns from its bottom the discoloured deep. 

Through the black night that sits immense around, 

Lashed into foam, the fierce conflicting brine 

Seems o'er a thousand raging waves to burn. 160 

Meantime the mountain-billows, to the clouds 

In dreadful tumult swelled, surge above surge, 

Burst into chaos with tremendous roar, 

And anchored navies from their stations drive 

Wild as the winds across the howling waste 165 

Of mighty waters : now the inflated wave 

Straining they scale, and now impetuous shoot 

Into the secret chambers of the deep, 

The wintry Baltic thundering o'er their head; 

Emerging thence again, before the breath 170 

Of full-exerted heaven they wing their course, 

And dart on distant coasts, if some sharp rock 

Or shoal insidious break not their career, 

And in loose fragments fling them floating round. 


Nor less at land the loosened tempest reigns. 175 

The mountain thunders ; and its sturdy sons 
Stoop to the bottom of the rocks they shade. 
Lone on the midnight steep, and all aghast, 
The dark wayfaring stranger breathless toils, 
And, often falling, climbs against the blast. 180 

Low waves the rooted forest, vexed, and sheds 
What of its tarnished honours yet remain, 
Dashed down and scattered by the tearing wind's 
Assiduous fury its gigantic limbs. 

Thus struggling through the dissipated grove, 185 

The whirling tempest raves along the plain ; 
And, on the cottage thatched or lordly roof 
Keen-fastening, shakes them to the solid base. 
Sleep frighted flies ; and round the rocking dome 
For entrance eager howls the savage blast. 190 

Then too, they say, through all the burdened air 
Long groans are heard, shrill sounds, and distant sighs, 
That, uttered by the demon of the night, 
Warn the devoted wretch of woe and death. 

Huge uproar lords it wide. The clouds, commixed 195 
With stars swift-gliding, sweep along the sky. 
All nature reels : till Nature's King, who oft 
Amid tempestuous darkness dwells alone, 
And on the wings of the careering wind 
Walks dreadfully serene, commands a calm ; 200 

Then straight air, sea, and earth are hushed at once. 

As yet 'tis midnight deep. The weary clouds, 
Slow-meeting, mingle into solid gloom. 
Now, while the drowsy world lies lost in sleep, 
Let me associate with the serious night, 205 

And contemplation, her sedate compeer ; 
Let me shake off the intrusive cares of day, 
And lay the meddling senses all aside. 

i- Where now, ye lying vanities of life ! 

Ye ever-tempting, ever-cheating train! 210 

Where are you now ? and what is your amount ? 

WINTER. 159 

Vexation, disappointment, and remorse. 

Sad, sickening thought ! and yet deluded man, 

A scene of crude disjointed visions past, 

And broken slumbers, rises still resolved , 215 

With new-flushed hopes to run the giddy round. 

Father of light and life ! thou Good Supreme ! 
O teach me what is good ; teach me Thyself ! 
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice, 

From every low pursuit ; and feed my soul 220 

With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure 
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss ! 

The keener tempests come ; and fuming dun 
From all the livid east or piercing north 
Thick clouds ascend, in whose capacious womb 225 

A vapoury deluge lies, to snow congealed. 
Heavy they roll their fleecy world along ; 
And the sky saddens with the gathered storm. 
Through the hushed air the whitening shower descends, 
At first thin-wavering; till at last the flakes 230 

Fall broad and wide and fast, dimming the day 
With a continual flow. The cherished fields 
Put on their winter-robe of purest white. 
'Tis brightness all, save where the new snow melts 
Along the mazy current. Low the woods 235 

Bow their hoar heads ; and, ere the languid sun 
Faint from the west emits his evening ray, 
Earth's universal face, deep-hid and chill, 
Is one wild dazzling waste, that buries wide 
The works of man. Drooping, the labourer-ox 240 

Stands covered o'er with snow, and then demands 
The fruit of all his toil. The fowls of heaven, 
Tamed by the cruel season, crowd around 
The winnowing store, and claim the little boon 
Which Providence assigns them. One alone, 245 


The redbreast, sacred to the household gods, 

Wisely regardful of the embroiling sky, 

In joyless fields and thorny thickets leaves 

His shivering mates, and pays to trusted man 

His annual visit. Half-afraid, he first 250 

Against the window beats ; then, brisk, alights 

On the warm hearth ; then, hopping o'er the floor, 

Eyes all the smiling family askance, 

And pecks, and starts, and wonders where he is ; 

Till, more familiar grown, the table-crumbs 255 

Attract his slender feet. The foodless wilds 

Pour forth their brown inhabitants. The hare, 

Though timorous of heart, and hard beset 

By death in various forms dark snares, and dogs, 

And more unpitying men the garden seeks, 260 

Urged on by fearless want. The bleating kind 

Eye the bleak heaven, and next the glistening earth, 

With looks of dumb despair ; then, sad dispersed, 

Dig for the withered herb through heaps of snow. 

Now, shepherds, to your helpless charge be kind; 265 
Baffle the raging year, and fill their pens 
With food at will ; lodge them below the storm, 
And watch them strict : for from the bellowing east, 
In this dire season, oft the whirlwind's wing 
Sweeps up the burden of whole wintry plains 270 

In one wide waft, and o'er the hapless flocks, 
Hid in the hollow of two neighbouring hills, 
The billowy tempest whelms ; till, upward urged, 
The valley to a shining mountain swells, 
Tipt with a wreath high-curling in the sky. 275 

As thus the snows arise, and foul and fierce 
All Winter drives along the darkened air, 
In his own loose-revolving fields the swain 
Disastered stands ; sees other hills ascend, 
Of unknown joyless brow; and other scenes, 280 

Of horrid prospect, shag the trackless plain ; 
Nor finds the river nor the forest, hid 



Beneath the formless wild ; but wanders on 
From hill to dale still more and more astray, 
Impatient flouncing through the drifted heaps, 285 

Stung with the thoughts of home. The thoughts of home 
Rush on his nerves, and call their vigour forth 
In many a vain attempt. How sinks his soul ! 
What black despair, what horror fills his heart 
When, for the dusky spot which fancy feigned 290 

His tufted cottage rising through the snow, 
He meets the roughness of the middle waste, 
Far from the track and blest abode of man, 
While round him night resistless closes fast, 
And every tempest, howling o'er his head, 295 

Renders the savage wilderness more wild ! 
Then throng the busy shapes into his mind 
Of covered pits unfathomably deep, 
A dire descent ! beyond the power of frost ; 
Of faithless bogs ; of precipices huge, 300 

Smoothed up with snow ; and what is land unknown, 
What water of the still unfrozen spring, 
In the loose marsh or solitary lake, 
Where the fresh fountain from the bottom boils. 
These check his fearful steps ; and down he sinks 305 

Beneath the shelter of the shapeless drift, 
Thinking o'er all the bitterness of death, 
Mixed with the tender anguish Nature shoots 
Through the wrung bosom of the dying man 
His wife, his children, and his friends unseen. 310 

In vain for him the officious wife prepares 
The fire fair-blazing and the vestment warm ; 
In vain his little children, peeping out 
Into the mingling storm, demand their sire 
With tears of artless innocence. Alas! 315 

Nor wife nor children more shall he behold, 
Nor friends nor sacred home. On every nerve 
The deadly Winter seizes, shuts up sense, 
And, o'er his inmost vitals creeping cold, 



Lays him along the snows a stiffened corse, 320 

Stretched out, and bleaching in the northern blast. 

Ah ! little think the gay licentious proud, 
Whom pleasure, power, and affluence, surround, 
They, who their thoughtless hours in giddy mirth, 
And wanton, often cruel, riot waste, 325 

Ah ! little think they, while they dance along, 
How many feel this very moment death, 
And all the sad variety of pain : 
How many sink in the devouring flood 
Or more devouring flame; how many bleed 330 

By shameful variance betwixt man and man ; 
How many pine in want and dungeon-glooms, 
Shut from the common air, and common use 
Of their own limbs ; how many drink the cup 
Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread 335 

Of misery ; sore pierced by wintry winds, 
How many shrink into the sordid hut 
Of cheerless poverty ; how many shake 
With all the fiercer tortures of the mind, 
Unbounded passion, madness, guilt, remorse, 340 

Whence tumbled headlong from the height of life 
They furnish matter for the tragic muse ; 
Even in the vale, where wisdom loves to dwell 
With friendship, peace, and contemplation joined, 
How many, racked with honest passions, droop 345 

In deep retired distress; how many stand 
Around the deathbed of their dearest friends, 
And point the parting anguish. Thought fond man 
Of these and all the thousand nameless ills 
That one incessant struggle render life, 350 

One scene of toil, of suffering, and of fate, 
Vice in his high career would stand appalled, 
And heedless rambling impulse learn to think ; 
The conscious heart of charity would warm, 
And her wide wish benevolence dilate ; 355 



The social tear would rise, the social sigh ; 
And into clear perfection, gradual bliss, 
Refining still, the social passions work. 

And here can I forget the generous band, 
Who, touched with human woe, redressive searched 360 
Into the horrors of the gloomy jail, 
Unpitied and unheard where misery moans, 
Where sickness pines, where thirst and hunger burn, 
And poor misfortune feels the lash of vice? 
While in the land of liberty, the land 365 

Whose every street and public meeting glows 
With open freedom, little tyrants raged, 
Snatched the lean morsel from the starving mouth, 
Tore from cold wintry limbs the tattered weed, 
Even robbed them of the last of comforts sleep, 370 

The free-born Briton to the dungeon chained, 
Or, as the lust of cruelty prevailed, 
At pleasure marked him with inglorious stripes ; 
And crushed out lives by secret barbarous ways 
That for their country would have toiled or bled. 375 

O great design ! if executed well, 
With patient care and wisdom- tempered zeal. 
Ye sons of mercy ! yet resume the search ; 
Drag forth the legal monsters into light, 
Wrench from their hands oppression's iron rod, 380 

And bid the cruel feel the pains they give. 
Much still untouched remains ; in this rank age, 
Much is the patriot's weeding hand required. 
The toils of law (what dark insidious men 
Have cumbrous added to perplex the truth 385 

And lengthen simple justice into trade) 
How glorious were the day that saw these broke, 
And every man within the reach of right ! 

By wintry famine roused, from all the tract 
Of horrid mountains which the shining Alps, 
M 2 



And wavy Apennines and Pyrenees 

Branch out stupendous into distant lands 

Cruel as death, and hungry as the grave, 

Burning for blood, bony, and gaunt, and grim, 

Assembling wolves in raging troops descend ; 395 

And, pouring o'er the country, bear along, 

Keen as the north-wind sweeps the glossy snow. 

All is their prize. They fasten on the steed, 

Press him to earth, and pierce his mighty heart. 

Nor can the bull his awful front defend, 400 

Or shake the murdering savages away. 

Rapacious at the mother's throat they fly, 

And tear the screaming infant from her breast. 

The godlike face of man avails him nought. 

Even beauty, force divine ! at whose bright glance 405 

The generous lion stands in softened gaze, 

Here bleeds, a hapless undistinguished prey. 

But if, apprized of the severe attack, 

The country be shut up lured by the scent, 

On churchyards drear (inhuman to relate !) 410 

The disappointed prowlers fall, and dig 

The shrouded body from the grave ; o'er which, 

Mixed with foul shades and frighted ghosts, they howl. 

Among those hilly regions, where embraced 
In peaceful vales the happy Orisons dwell, 415 

Oft, rushing sudden from the loaded cliffs, 
Mountains of snow their gathering terrors roll. 
From steep to steep, loud-thundering, down they come, 
A wintry waste in dire commotion all ; 
And herds, and flocks, and travellers, and swains, 420 

And sometimes whole brigades of marching troops, 
Or hamlets sleeping in the dead of night, 
Are deep beneath the smothering ruin whelmed. 

Now, all amid the rigours of the year, 
In the wild depth of Winter, while without 425 

WINTER. 165 

The ceaseless winds blow ice, be my retreat 

Between the groaning forest and the shore 

Beat by a boundless multitude of waves, 

A rural, sheltered, solitary scene, 

Where ruddy fire and beaming tapers join 430 

To cheer the gloom. There studious let me sit, 

And hold high converse with the mighty dead, 

Sages of ancient time, as gods revered, 

As gods beneficent, who blessed mankind 

With arts and arms, and humanized a world. 435 

Roused at the inspiring thought, I throw aside 

The long-lived volume ; and deep-musing hail 

The sacred shades, that slowly-rising pass 

Before my wondering eyes. First Socrates, 

Who, firmly good in a corrupted state, 440 

Against the rage of tyrants single stood, 

Invincible, calm reason's holy law, 

That voice of God within the attentive mind, 

Obeying fearless or in life or death : 

Great moral teacher! wisest of mankind! 445 

Solon the next, who built his commonweal 

On equity's wide base, by tender laws 

A lively people curbing, yet undamped 

Preserving still that quick peculiar fire 

Whence, in the laurelled field of finer arts 450 

And of bold freedom, they unequalled shone 

The pride of smiling Greece and human-kind. 

Lycurgus then, who bowed beneath the force 

Of strictest discipline, severely wise, 

All human passions. Following him, I see, 455 

As at Thermopylae he glorious fell, 

The firm devoted chief, who proved by deeds 

The hardest lesson which the other taught. 

Then Aristides lifts his honest front, 

Spotless of heart, to whom the unflattering voice 460 

Of freedom gave the noblest name of Just, 

In pure majestic poverty revered ; 


Who, even his glory to his country's weal 
Submitting, swelled a haughty rival's fame. 
Reared by his care, of softer ray appears 465 

Cimon sweet-souled, whose genius, rising strong, 
Shook off the load of young debauch ; abroad 
The scourge of Persian pride, at home the friend 
Of every worth and every splendid art ; 
Modest and simple in the pomp of wealth. 470 

Then the last worthies of declining Greece, 
Late-called to glory in unequal times, 
Pensive appear. The fair Corinthian boast, 
Timoleon, tempered happy, mild and firm, 
Who wept the brother while the tyrant bled. 475 

And, equal to the best, the Theban pair, 
Whose virtues, in heroic concord joined, 
Their country raised to freedom, empire, fame. 
He too, with whom Athenian honour sunk, 
And left a mass of sordid lees behind, 480 

Phocion the Good, in public life severe, 
To virtue still inexorably firm ; 
But when, beneath his low illustrious roof, 
Sweet peace and happy wisdom smoothed his brow, 
Not friendship softer was, nor love more kind. 485 

And he, the last of old Lycurgus' sons, 
The generous victim to that vain attempt 
To save a rotten state, Agis, who saw 
Even Sparta's self to servile avarice sunk. 
The two Achaean heroes close the train, 490 

Aratus, who awhile relumed the soul 
Of fondly lingering liberty in Greece ; 
And he, her darling as her latest hope, 
The gallant Philopcemen, who to arms 
Turned the luxurious pomp he could not cure, 495 

Or toiling in his farm a simple swain, 
Or bold and skilful thundering in the field. 
Of rougher front, a mighty people come ! 
A race of heroes ! in those virtuous times 

WINTER. 167 

Which knew no stain, save that with partial flame 500 

Their dearest country they too fondly loved. 

Her better founder first, the light of Rome, 

Numa, who softened her rapacious sons. 

Servius, the king who laid the solid base 

On which o'er earth the vast republic spread. 505 

Then the great consuls venerable rise, 

The public father who the private quelled, 

As on the dread tribunal sternly sad ; 

He whom his thankless country could not lose, 

Camillus, only vengeful to her foes; 510 

Fabricius^ scorner of all-conquering gold ; 

And Cincinnatus, awful from the plough ; 

Thy willing victim, Carthage, bursting loose 

From all that pleading Nature could oppose, 

From a whole city's tears, by rigid faith 515 

Imperious called, and honour's dire command ; 

Scipio, the gentle chief, humanely brave, 

Who soon the race of spotless glory ran, 

And warm in youth to the poetic shade 

With friendship and philosophy retired; 520 

Tully, whose powerful eloquence awhile 

Restrained the rapid fate of rushing Rome; 

Unconquered Cato, virtuous in extreme ; 

And thou, unhappy Brutus, kind of heart, 

Whose steady arm, by awful virtue urged, 525 

Lifted the Roman steel against thy friend. 

Thousands besides the tribute of a verse 

Demand ; but who can count the stars of heaven ? 

Who sing their influence on this lower world? 

Behold who yonder comes in sober state, 530 

Fair, mild, and strong, as is a vernal sun 
'Tis Phoebus' self, or else the Mantuan swain ! 
Great Homer too appears, of daring wing, 
Parent of song ! and equal by his side 
The British muse ; joined hand in hand they walk 535 
Darkling full up the middle steep to fame. 
Nor absent are those shades whose skilful touch 


Pathetic drew the impassioned heart, and charmed 

Transported Athens with the moral scene ; 

Nor those who tuneful waked the enchanting lyre. 540 

First of your kind ! society divine ! 
Still visit thus my nights, for you reserved, 
And mount my soaring soul to thoughts like yours. 
Silence, thou lonely power ! the door be thine ; 
See on the hallowed hour that none intrude 545 

Save a few chosen friends, who sometimes deign 
To bless my humble roof, with sense refined, 
Learning digested well, exalted faith, 
Unstudied wit, and humour ever gay. 

Or from the muses' hill will Pope descend, 550 

To raise the sacred hour, to bid it smile, 
And with the social spirit warm the heart, 
For though not sweeter his own Homer sings 
Yet is his life the more endearing song. 

Where art thou, Hammond? thou the darling pride, 555 
The friend and lover of the tuneful throng ! 
Ah! why, dear youth, in all the blooming prime 
Of vernal genius, where disclosing fast 
Each active worth, each manly virtue lay, 
Why wert thou ravished from our hope so soon ? 560 

What now avails that noble thirst of fame 
Which stung thy fervent breast? that treasured store 
Of knowledge early gained ? that eager zeal 
To serve thy country, glowing in the band 
Of youthful patriots who sustain her name ? 565 

What now, alas! that life-diffusing charm 
Of sprightly wit ? that rapture for the muse, 
That heart of friendship, and that soul of joy, 
Which bade with softest light thy virtue smile ? 
Ah ! only showed to check our fond pursuits, 570 

And teach our humbled hopes that life is vain! 

Thus in some deep retirement would I pass 
The winter-glooms with friends of pliant soul, 
Or blithe or solemn as the theme inspired ; 

WINTER. 169 

With them would search if Nature's boundless frame 575 

Was called late- rising from the void of night, 

Or sprung eternal from the Eternal Mind, 

Its life, its laws, its progress, and its end. 

Hence larger prospects of the beauteous whole 

Would gradual open on our opening minds, 580 

And each diffusive harmony unite 

In full perfection to the astonished eye. 

Then would we try to scan the moral world, 

Which, though to us it seems embroiled, moves on 

In higher order, fitted and impelled 585 

By wisdom's finest hand, and issuing all 

In general good. The sage historic muse 

Should next conduct us through the deeps of time 

Show us how empire grew, declined, and fell 

In scattered states ; what makes the nations smile, 590 

Improves their soil, and gives them double suns ; 

And why they pine beneath the brightest skies 

In Nature's richest lap. As thus we talked 

Our hearts would burn within us would inhale 

That portion of divinity, that ray 595 

Of purest heaven, which lights the public soul 

Of patriots and of heroes. But if doomed 

In powerless humble fortune to repress 

These ardent risings of the kindling soul, 

Then, even superior to ambition, we 600 

Would learn the private virtues how to glide 

Through shades and plains along the smoothest stream 

Of rural life ; or, snatched away by hope 

Through the dim spaces of futurity, 

With earnest eye anticipate those scenes 605 

Of happiness and wonder, where the mind* 

In endless growth and infinite ascent 

Rises from state to state and world to world. 

But, when with these the serious thought is foiled, 

We, shifting for relief, would play the shapes 610 

Of frolic fancy, and incessant form 


Those rapid pictures, that assembled train 

Of fleet ideas never joined before, 

Whence lively wit excites to gay surprise, 

Or folly-painting humour, grave himself, 615 

Calls laughter forth deep-shaking every nerve. 

Meantime the village rouses up the fire ; 
While, well attested and as well believed, 
Heard solemn, goes the goblin story round, 
Till superstitious horror creeps o'er all ; 620 

Or frequent in the sounding hall they wake 
The rural gambol : rustic mirth goes round, 
The simple joke that takes the shepherd's heart, 
Easily pleased ; the long loud laugh sincere ; 
The kiss, snatched hasty from the sidelong maid 625 

On purpose guardless, or pretending sleep ; 
The leap, the slap, the haul ; and, shook to notes 
Of native music, the respondent dance. 
Thus jocund fleets with them the winter night. 

The city swarms intense. The public haunt, 630 

Full of each theme and warm with mixed discourse, 
Hums indistinct. The sons of riot flow 
Down the loose stream of false enchanted joy 
To swift destruction. On the rankled soul 
The gaming fury falls ; and in one gulf 635 

Of total ruin honour, virtue, peace, 
Friends, families, and fortune headlong sink. 
Up springs the dance along the lighted dome, 
Mixed and evolved a thousand sprightly ways. 
The glittering court effuses every pomp ; 640 

The circle deepens ; beamed from gaudy robes, 
Tapers, and sparkling gems, and radiant eyes, 
A soft effulgence o'er the palace waves, 
While, a gay insect in his summer shine, 
The fop light-fluttering spreads his mealy wings. 645 

Dread o'er the scene the ghost of Hamlet stalks ; 

WINTER. 171 

Othello rages ; poor Monimia mourns ; 

And Belvidera pours her soul in love : 

Terror alarms the breast ; the comely tear 

Steals o'er the cheek. Or else the comic muse 650 

Holds to the world a picture of itself, 

And raises sly the fair impartial laugh. 

Sometimes she lifts her strain, and paints the scenes 

Of beauteous life, whate'er can deck mankind, 

Or charm the heart, in generous Bevil showed. 655 

O thou whose wisdom, solid yet refined, 
Whose patriot virtues, and consummate skill 
To touch the finer springs that move the world, 
Joined to whate'er the Graces can bestow 
And all Apollo's animating fire, 660 

Give thee with pleasing dignity to shine 
At once the guardian, ornament, and joy 
Of polished life permit the rural muse, 
O Chesterfield, to grace with thee hef song! 
Ere to the shades again she humbly flies, 665 

Indulge her fond ambition, in thy train 
(For every muse has in thy train a place) 
To mark thy various full-accomplished mind ; 
To mark that spirit, which with British scorn 
Rejects the allurements of corrupted power; 670 

That elegant politeness, which excels 
Even in the judgment of presumptuous France 
The boasted manners of her shining court ; 
That wit, the vivid energy of sense, 

The truth of nature, which with Attic point 675 

And kind well-tempered satire, smoothly keen, 
Steals through the soul, and without pain corrects. 
Or, rising thence with yet a brighter flame, 
O let me hail thee on some glorious day 
When to the listening senate ardent crowd 680 

Britannia's sons to hear her pleaded cause. 
Then dressed by thee, more amiably fair, 


Truth the soft robe of mild persuasion wears ; 

Thou to assenting reason giv'st again 

Her own enlightened thoughts ; called from the heart, 685 

The obedient passions on thy voice attend ; 

And even reluctant party feels awhile 

Thy gracious power as through the varied maze 

Of eloquence, now smooth, now quick, now strong, 

Profound and clear, you roll the copious flood. 690 

To thy loved haunt return, my happy muse ; 
For now, behold, the joyous winter-days 
Frosty succeed, and through the blue serene, 
1 For sight too fine, the ethereal nitre flies, 
filling infectious damps, and the spent air 695 

Storing afresh with elemental life. 
Close crowds the shining atmosphere, and binds 
Our strengthened bodies in its cold embrace 
Constringent ; feeds and animates our blood ; 
Refines our spirits, through the new-strung nerves 700 

In swifter sallies darting to the brain, 
Where sits the soul, intense, collected, cool, 
Bright as the skies, and as the season keen. 
All Nature feels the renovating force 

Of Winter, only to the thoughtless eye 75 

In ruin seen. The frost-concocted glebe 
Draws in abundant vegetable soul, 
And gathers vigour for the coming year. 
A stronger glow sits on the lively cheek 
Of ruddy fire; and luculent along 710 

The purer rivers flow. Their sullen deeps 
Transparent open to the shepherd's gaze, 
And murmur hoarser at the fixing frost. 

What art thou, frost ? and whence are thy keen stores 
Derived, thou secret all-invading power, 715 

Whom even the illusive fluid cannot fly ? 
Is not thy potent energy, unseen, 




Myriads of little salts, or hooked, or shaped 

Like double wedges, and diffused immense 

Through water, earth, and ether? Hence at eve, 720 

Steamed eager from the red horizon round, 

With the fierce rage of Winter deep suffused. 

An icy gale, oft shifting, o'er the pool 

Breathes a blue film, and in its mid career 

Arrests the bickering stream. The loosened ice, 725 

Let down the flood and half dissolved by day, 

Rustles no more, but to the sedgy bank 

Fast grows, or gathers round the pointed stone 

A crystal pavement by the breath of heaven 

Cemented firm; till, seized from shore to shore, 730 

The whole imprisoned river growls below. 

Loud rings the frozen earth and hard reflects 

A double noise, while at his evening watch 

The village dog deters the nightly thief, 

The heifer lows, the distant waterfall 735 

Swells in the breeze, and with the hasty tread 

Of traveller the hollow-sounding plain 

Shakes from afar. The full ethereal round, 

Infinite worlds disclosing to the view, 

Shines out intensely keen and all one cope 740 

Of starry glitter glows from pole to pole. 

From pole to pole the rigid influence falls 

Through the still night incessant, heavy, strong, 

And seizes Nature fast. It freezes on, 

Till morn late rising o'er the drooping world 745 

Lifts her pale eye unjoyous. Then appears 

The various labour of the silent night 

Prone from the dripping eave and dumb cascade, 

Whose idle torrents only seem to roar, 

The pendent icicle ; the frost-work fair, 750 

Where transient hues and fancied figures rise ; 

Wide-spouted o'er the hill the frozen brook, 

A livid tract cold-gleaming on the morn ; 

The forest bent beneath the plumy wave ; 


And by the frost refined the whiter snow, 755 

Incrusted hard, and sounding to the tread 
Of early shepherd as he pensive seeks 
His pining flock, or from the mountain top, 
Pleased with the slippery surface, swift descends. 

On blithesome frolics bent, the youthful swains, 760 

While every work of man is laid at rest, 
Fond o'er the river crowd, in various sport 
And revelry dissolved ; where mixing glad, 
Happiest of all the train, the raptured boy 
Lashes the whirling top. Or, where the Rhine 765 

Branched out in many a long canal extends, 
From every province swarming, void of care 
Batavia rushes forth ; and, as they sweep 
On sounding skates a thousand different ways 
In circling poise swift as the winds along, 770 

The then gay land is maddened all to joy. 
Nor less the northern courts wide o'er the snow 
Pour a new pomp. Eager on rapid sleds 
Their vigorous youth in bold contention wheel 
The long-resounding course. Meantime, to raise 775 

The manly strife, with highly blooming charms 
Flushed by the season, Scandinavia's dames 
Or Russia's buxom daughters glow around. 

Pure, quick, and sportful is the wholesome day ; 
But soon elapsed. The horizontal sun 780 

Broad o'er the south hangs at his utmost noon, 
And ineffectual strikes the gelid cliff. 
His azure gloss the mountain still maintains, 
Nor feels the feeble touch. Perhaps the vale 
Relents awhile to the reflected ray; 785 

Or from the forest falls the clustered snow 
Myriads of gems, that in the waving gleam 
Gay-twinkle as they scatter. Thick around 
Thunders the sport of those who with the gun, 
And dog impatient bounding at the shot, 790 

Worse than the season, desolate the fields, 

WINTER. 175 

And, adding to the ruins of the year, 
Distress the footed or the feathered game. 

But what is this? Our infant Winter sinks 
Divested of his grandeur, should our eye 795 

Astonished shoot into the frigid zone, 
Where for relentless months continual night 
Holds o'er the glittering waste her starry reign. 

There through the prison of unbounded wilds, 
Barred by the hand of Nature from escape, 800 

Wide roams the Russian exile. Nought around 
Strikes his sad eye but deserts lost in snow, 
And heavy loaded groves, and solid floods 
That stretch athwart the solitary vast 

Their icy horrors to the frozen main, 805 

And cheerless towns far-distant never blessed, 
Save when its annual course the caravan 
Bends to the golden coast of rich Cathay, 
With news of human-kind. Yet there life glows ; 
Yet cherished there beneath the shining waste 8 1 o 

The furry nations harbour tipped with jet, 
Fair ermines, spotless as the snows they press ; 
Sables, of glossy black ; and dark-embrowned, 
Or beauteous freaked with many a mingled hue, 
Thousands besides, the costly pride of courts. 815 

There, warm together pressed, the trooping deer 
Sleep on the new-fallen snows ; and, scarce his head 
Raised o'er the heapy wreath, the branching elk 
Lies slumbering sullen in the white abyss. 
The ruthless hunter wants nor dogs nor toils, 820 

Nor with the dread of sounding bows he drives 
The fearful flying race : with ponderous clubs, 
As weak against the mountain-heaps they push 
Their beating breast in vain, and piteous bray, 
He lays them quivering on the ensanguined snows, 825 
And with loud shouts rejoicing bears them home. 
There through the piny forest half-absorpt, 


Rough tenant of these shades, the shapeless bear, 

With dangling ice all horrid, stalks forlorn : 

Slow-paced, and sourer as the storms increase, 830 

He makes his bed beneath the inclement drift, 

And with stern patience, scorning weak complaint, 

Hardens his heart against assailing want. 

Wide o'er the spacious regions of the north 
That see Bootes urge his tardy wain, 835 

A boisterous race, by frosty Caurus pierced, 
Who little pleasure know and fear no pain, 
Prolific swarm. They once relumed the flame 
Of lost mankind in polished slavery sunk, 
Drove martial horde on horde, with dreadful sweep 840 
Resistless rushing o'er the enfeebled south, 
And gave the vanquished world another form. 
Not such the sons of Lapland : wisely they 
Despise the insensate barbarous trade of war ; 
They ask no more than simple Nature gives ; 845 

They love their mountains and enjoy their storms. 
No false desires, no pride-created wants, 
Disturb the peaceful current of their time, 
And, through the restless ever-tortured maze 
Of pleasure or ambition, bid it rage. _ 850 

Their reindeer form their riches. These their tents, 
Their robes, their beds, and all their homely wealth 
Supply, their wholesome fare, and cheerful cups. 
Obsequious at their call, the docile tribe 
Yield to the sled their necks, and whirl them swift 855 
O'er hill and dale, heaped into one expanse 
Of marbled snow, as far as eye can sweep 
With a blue crust of ice unbounded glazed. 
By dancing meteors then, that ceaseless shake 
A waving blaze refracted o'er the heavens, 860 

And vivid moons, and stars that keener play 
With doubled lustre from the radiant waste, 
Even in the depth of polar night they find 

WINTER. 177 

A wondrous day enough to light the chase, 

Or guide their daring steps to Finland fairs. 865 

Wished Spring returns ; and from the hazy south, 

While dim Aurora slowly moves before, 

The welcome sun, just verging up at first, 

By small degrees extends the swelling curve ; 

Till, seen at last for gay rejoicing months, 870 

Still round and round his spiral course he winds, 

And, as he nearly dips his flaming orb, 

Wheels up again and reascends the sky. 

In that glad season, from the lakes and floods 

Where pure Niemi's fairy mountains rise, 875 

And fringed with roses Tenglio rolls his stream, 

They draw the copious fry. With these at eve 

They cheerful loaded to their tents repair ; 

Where, all day long in useful cares employed, 

Their kind unblemished wives the fire prepare. 880 

Thrice happy race ! by poverty secured 

From legal plunder and rapacious power ; 

In whom fell interest never yet has sown 

The seeds of vice ; whose spotless swains ne'er knew 

Injurious deed ; nor, blasted by the breath 885 

Of faithless love, their blooming daughters woe. 

Still pressing on, beyond Tornea's lake, 
And Hecla flaming through a waste of snow, 
And farthest Greenland, to the pole itself, 
Where, failing gradual, life at length goes out, 890 

The muse expands her solitary flight ; 
And, hovering o'er the wild stupendous scene, 
Beholds new seas beneath another sky. 
Throned in his palace of cerulean ice, 

Here Winter holds his unrejoicing court; 895 

And through his airy hall the loud misrule 
Of driving tempest is for ever heard. 
Here the grim tyrant meditates his wrath ; 
Here arms his winds with all-subduing frost ; 
Moulds his fierce hail, and treasures up his snows, 900 


With which he now oppresses half the globe. 

Thence winding eastward to the Tartar's coast, 
She sweeps the howling margin of the main, 
Where undissolving from the first of time 
Snows swell on snows amazing to the sky, 905 

And icy mountains high on mountains piled 
Seem to the shivering sailor from afar, 
Shapeless and white, an atmosphere of clouds. 
Projected huge and horrid o'er the surge 
Alps frown on Alps; or rushing hideous down, 910 

As if old chaos was again returned, 
Wide rend the deep, and shake the solid pole. 
Ocean itself no longer can resist 
The binding fury ; but, in all its rage 
Of tempest taken by the boundless frost, 915 

Is many a fathom to the bottom chained, 
And bid to roar no more, a bleak expanse 
Shagged o'er with wavy rocks, cheerless and void 
Of every life, that from the dreary months 
Flies conscious southward. Miserable they, 920 

Who, here entangled in the gathering ice, 
Take their last look of the descending sun ; 
While, full of death, and fierce with tenfold frost, 
The long long night, incumbent o'er their heads, 
Falls horrible. Such was the Briton's fate, 925 

As with first prow (what have not Britons dared ?) 
He for the passage sought, attempted since 
So much in vain, and seeming to be shut 
By jealous Nature with eternal bars. 

In these fell regions, in Arzina caught, 930 

And to the stony deep his idle ship 
Immediate sealed, he with his hapless crew, 
Each full exerted at his several task, 
Froze into statues, to the cordage glued 
The sailor, and the pilot to the helm. 935 

Hard by these shores, where scarce his freezing stream 
Rolls the wild Oby, live the last of men ; 



And, half enlivened by the distant sun 

(That rears and ripens man as well as plants), 

Here human nature wears its rudest form. 940 

Deep from the piercing season sunk in caves, 

Here by dull fires and with unjoyous cheer 

They waste the tedious gloom ; immersed in furs 

Doze the gross race ; nor sprightly jest, nor song, 

Nor tenderness they know, nor aught of life 945 

Beyond the kindred bears that stalk without ; 

Till morn at length, her roses drooping all, 

Sheds a long twilight brightening o'er the fields. 

And calls the quivered savage to the chase. 

What cannot active government perform, 950 

New-moulding man ? Wide-stretching from these shores, 
A people savage from remotest time, 
A huge neglected empire one vast mind, 
By Heaven inspired, from Gothic darkness called. 
Immortal Peter, first of monarchs ! he 955 

His stubborn country tamed, her rocks, her fens, 
Her floods, her seas, her ill-submitting sons ; 
And, while the fierce barbarian he subdued, 
To more exalted soul he raised the man. 
Ye shades of ancient heroes, ye who toiled 960 

Through long successive ages to build up 
A labouring plan of state, behold at once 
The wonder done ! Behold the matchless prince 
Who left his native throne, where reigned till then 
A mighty shadow of unreal power; 965 

Who greatly spurned the slothful pomp of courts ; 
And, roaming every land in every port 
(His sceptre laid aside) with glorious hand 
Unwearied plying the mechanic tool 
Gathered the seeds of trade, of useful arts, 970 

Of civil wisdom, and of martial skill. 
Charged with the stores of Europe, home he goes : 
Then cities rise amid the illumined waste ; 
O'er joyless deserts smiles the rural reign ; 

N 2 


Far-distant flood to flood is social joined; 975 

The astonished Euxine hears the Baltic roar; 

Proud navies ride on seas that never foamed 

With daring keel before ; and armies stretch 

Each way their dazzling files, repressing here 

The frantic Alexander of the north, 980 

And awing there stern Othman's shrinking sons. 

Sloth flies the land, and ignorance, and vice, 

Of old dishonour proud : it glows around, 

Taught by the royal hand that roused the whole, 

One scene of arts, of arms, of rising trade ; 985 

For what his wisdom planned and power enforced 

More potent still his great example showed. 

Muttering, the winds at eve with blunted point 
Blow hollow-blustering from the south. Subdued, 
The frost resolves into a trickling thaw. 990 

Spotted, the mountains shine ; loose sleet descends, 
And floods the country round. The rivers swellj 
Of bonds impatient. Sudden from the hills, 
O'er rocks and woods, in broad brown cataracts, 
A thousand snow-fed torrents shoot at once ; 995 

And, where they rush, the wide-resounding plain 
Is left one slimy waste. Those sullen seas, 
That wash the ungenial pole, will rest no more 
Beneath the shackles of the mighty north ; 
But, rousing all their waves, resistless heave 1000 

And hark ! the lengthening roar continuous runs 
Athwart the rifted deep: at once it bursts, 
And piles a thousand mountains to the clouds. 
Ill fares the bark with trembling wretches charged, 
That, tossed amid the floating fragments, moors 1005 

Beneath the shelter of an icy isle, 
While night o'erwhelms the sea, and horror looks 
More horrible. Can human force endure 
The assembled mischiefs that besiege them round, 



Heart-gnawing hunger, fainting weariness, 1010 

The roar of winds and waves, the crush of ice, 

Now ceasing, now renewed with louder rage, 

And in dire echoes bellowing round the main ? 

More to embroil the deep, Leviathan 

And his unwieldy train in dreadful sport 1015 

Tempest the loosened brine ; while through the gloom, 

Far from the bleak inhospitable shore, 

Loading the winds, is heard the hungry howl 

Of famished monsters, there awaiting wrecks. 

Yet Providence, that ever- waking eye, 1020 

Looks down with pity on the feeble toil 

Of mortals lost to hope, and lights them safe 

Through all this dreary labyrinth of fate. 

'Tis done ! dread Winter spreads his latest glooms, 
And reigns tremendous o'er the conquered year. 1025 

How dead the vegetable kingdom lies ! 
How dumb the tuneful ! Horror wide extends 
His desolate domain. Behold, fond man ! 
See here thy pictured life : pass some few years, 
Thy flowering Spring, thy Summer's ardent strength, 1030 
Thy sober Autumn fading into age, 
And pale concluding Winter comes at last 
And shuts the scene. Ah ! whither now are fled 
Those dreams of greatness, those unsolid hopes 
Of happiness, those longings after fame, 1035 

Those restless cares, those busy bustling days, 
Those gay-spent festive nights, those veering thoughts, 
Lost between good and ill, that shared thy life ? 
All now are vanished! Virtue sole survives, 
Immortal, never-failing friend of man, 1040 

His guide to happiness on high. And see ! 
'Tis come, the glorious morn ! the second birth 
Of heaven and earth ! Awakening Nature hears 
The new-creating word, and starts to life 


In every heightened form, from pain and death 1045 

For ever free. The great eternal scheme 

Involving all, and in a perfect whole 

Uniting, as the prospect wider spreads, 

To reason's eye refined clears up apace. 

Ye vainly wise ! ye blind presumptuous ! now, 1050 

Confounded in the dust, adore that Power 

And Wisdom oft arraigned : see now the cause 

Why unassuming worth in secret lived, 

And died neglected ; why the good man's share 

In life was gall and bitterness of soul ; 1055 

Why the lone widow and her orphans pined 

In starving solitude, while luxury 

In palaces lay straining her low thought 

To form unreal wants ; why heaven-born truth 

And moderation fair wore the red marks 1060 

Of superstition's scourge ; why licensed pain, 

That cruel spoiler, that embosomed foe, 

Embittered all our bliss. Ye good distressed ! 

Ye noble few ! who here unbending stand 

Beneath life's pressure, yet bear up awhile ; 1065 

And, what your bounded view which only saw 

A little part deemed evil, is no more : 

The storms of wintry time will quickly pass, 

And one unbounded Spring encircle all. 



THESE, as they change, Almighty Father ! these 
Are but the varied God. The rolling year 
Is full of Thee. Forth in the pleasing Spring 
Thy beauty walks, Thy tenderness and love. 
Wide flush the fields ; the softening air is balm ; 
Echo the mountains round ; the forest smiles ; 
And every sense, and every heart, is joy. 
Then comes Thy glory in the summer months, 
With light and heat refulgent. Then Thy sun 
Shoots full perfection through the swelling year ; 
And oft Thy voice in dreadful thunder speaks, 
And oft at dawn, deep noon, or falling eve, 
By brooks and groves, in hollow-whispering gales. 
Thy bounty shines in Autumn unconfined, 
And spreads a common feast for all that lives. 
In Winter, awful Thou! with clouds and storms 
Around Thee thrown, tempest o'er tempest rolled, 
Majestic darkness ! On the whirlwind's wing 
Riding sublime, Thou bidd'st the world adore, 
And humblest Nature with thy northern blast. 

Mysterious round ! what skill, what force divine, 
Deep felt, in these appear! a simple train, 
Yet so delightful mixed, with such kind art, 
Such beauty and beneficence combined, 
Shade unperceived so softening into shade, 
And all so forming an harmonious whole 
That, as they still succeed, they ravish still. 
But wondering oft with brute unconscious gaze 
Man marks Thee not, marks not the mighty hand 



1 84 A HYMN. 

That ever-busy wheels the silent spheres, 30 

Works in the secret deep, shoots steaming thence 

The fair profusion that o'erspreads the Spring, 

Flings from the sun direct the flaming day, 

Feeds every creature, hurls the tempest forth, 

And, as on earth this grateful change revolves, 35 

With transport touches all the springs of life. 

Nature, attend ! join, every living soul 
Beneath the spacious temple of the sky, 
In adoration join, and ardent raise 

One genera] song. To Him, ye vocal gales, 40 

Breathe soft, whose Spirit in your freshness breathes ; 
Oh talk of Him in solitary glooms 
[Where, o'er the rock, the scarcely waving pine 
iFills the brown shade with a religious awe. 
And ye, whose bolder note is heard afar, 45 

Who shake the astonished world, lift high to heaven 
The impetuous song, and say from whom you rage. 
His praise, ye brooks, attune, ye trembling rills, 
And let me catch it as I muse along. 

Ye headlong torrents, rapid and profound; 50 

Ye softer floods, that lead the humid maze 
Along the vale; and thou, majestic main, 
A secret world of wonders in thyself, 
Sound His stupendous praise whose greater voice 
Or bids you roar, or bids your roarings fall. 55 

Soft roll your incense, herbs, and fruits, and flowers, 
In mingled clouds to Him whose sun exalts, 
WJiose breath perfumes you, and whose pencil paints. 
Ye forests bend, ye harvests wave, to Him ; 
Breathe your still song into the reaper's heart, 60 

As home he goes beneath the joyous moon. 
Ye that keep watch in heaven, as earth asleep 
Unconscious lies, effuse your mildest beams, 
Ye constellations, while your angels strike 
Amid the spangled sky the silver lyre. 65 

Great source of day, best image here below 

A HYMN. 185 

Of thy Creator, ever pouring wide, 

From world to world, the vital ocean round, 

On Nature write with every beam His praise. 

The thunder rolls : be hushed the prostrate world ; 70 

While cloud to cloud returns the solemn hymn. 

Bleat out afresh, ye hills ; ye mossy rocks, 

Retain the sound; the broad responsive low, 

Ye valleys, raise; for the Great Shepherd reigns, 

And his unsuffering kingdom yet will come. 75 

Ye woodlands all, awake : a boundless song 

Burst from the groves ; and when the restless day, 

Expiring, lays the warbling world asleep, 

Sweetest of birds, sweet Philomela, charm 

The listening shades, and teach the night His praise. 80 

Ye chief, for whom the whole creation smiles, 

At once the head, the heart, and tongue of all, 

Crown the great hymn ; in swarming cities vast, 

Assembled men, to the deep organ join 

The long- resounding voice, oft-breaking clear 85 

At solemn pauses through the swelling bass ; 

And, as each mingling flame increases each, 

In one united ardour rise to heaven. 

Or, if you rather choose the rural shade, 

And find a fane in every sacred grove 90 

There let the shepherd's flute, the virgin's lay, 

The prompting seraph, and the poet's lyre 

Still sing the God of Seasons, as they roll. 

For me, when I forget the darling theme, 

Whether the blossom blows, the Summer ray 95 

Russets the plain, inspiring Autumn gleams, 

Or Winter rises in the blackening east, 

Be my tongue mute, my fancy paint no more, 

And, dead to joy, forget my heart to beat ! 

Should fate command me to the farthest verge 100 

Of the green earth, to distant barbarous climes, 
Rivers unknown to song, where first the sun 
Gilds Indian mountains, or his setting beam 

1 86 A HYMN, 

Flames on the Atlantic isles 'tis nought to me ; 

Since God is ever present, ever felt, 105 

In the void waste as in the city full ; 

And where He vital breathes there must be joy. 

When even at last the solemn hour shall come, 

And wing my mystic flight to future worlds, 

I cheerful will obey; there, with new powers, no 

Will rising wonders sing. I cannot go 

Where Universal Love not smiles around, 

Sustaining all yon orbs, and all their sons ; 

From seeming evil still educing good, 

And better thence again, and better still, 115 

In infinite progression. But I lose 

Myself in Him, in light ineffable ! 

Come then, expressive silence, muse His praise. 




The Castle hight of Indolence, 

And its false luxury ; 
Where for a little time, alas ! 

We lived right jollily. 


O MORTAL man, who livest here by toil, 
Do not complain of this thy hard estate ; 
That like an emmet thou must ever moil 
Is a sad sentence of an ancient date : 

And, certes, there is for it reason great ; 5 

For, though sometimes it makes thee weep and wail, 
And curse thy stars, and early drudge and late, 
Withouten that would come an heavier bale, 
Loose life, unruly passions, and diseases pale. 


In lowly dale, fast by a river's side, 10 

With woody hill o'er hill encompassed round, 
A most enchanting wizard did abide, 
Than whom a fiend more fell is nowhere found. 
It was, T ween, a lovely spot of ground ; 
And there a season atween June and May, 15 

Half prankt with spring, with summer half imbrowned, 
A listless climate made, where, sooth to say, 
No living wight could work, ne cared ev'n for play. 



Was nought around but images of rest : 
Sleep-soothing groves, and quiet lawns between ; 20 

And flowery beds that slumbrous influence kest, 
From poppies breathed ; and beds of pleasant green, 
Where never yet was creeping creature seen. 
Meantime, unnumbered glittering streamlets played, 
And hurled everywhere their waters sheen ; 25 

That, as they bickered through the sunny glade, 
Though restless still themselves, a lulling murmur made. 


Joined to the prattle of the purling rills 
Were heard the lowing herds along the vale, 
And flocks loud bleating from the distant hills, 30 

And vacant shepherds piping in the dale ; 
And now and then sweet Philomel would wail, 
Or stockdoves 'plain amid the forest deep, 
That drowsy rustled to the sighing gale; 
And still a coil the grasshopper did keep: 35 

Yet all these sounds yblent inclined all to sleep. 


Full in the passage of the vale, above, 
A sable, silent, solemn forest stood ; 
Where nought but shadowy forms were seen to move, 
As Idless fancied in her dreaming mood. 40 

And up the hills, on either side, a wood 
Of blackening pines, aye waving to and fro, 
Sent forth a sleepy horror through the blood; 
And where this valley winded out, below, 
The murmuring main was heard, and scarcely heard, to flow. 

CANTO I. 189 


A pleasing land of drowsyhed it was : 46 

Of dreams that wave before the half-shut eye ; 
And of gay castles in the clouds that pass, 
Forever flushing round a summer sky : 

There eke the soft delights, that witchingly 50 

Instil a wanton sweetness through the breast, 
And the calm pleasures always hovered nigh ; 
But whate'er smacked of 'noyance, or unrest, 
Was far far off expelled from this delicious nest. 


The landskip such, inspiring perfect ease, 55 

Where INDOLENCE (for so the wizard hight) 
Close hid his castle 'mid embowering trees, 
That half shut out the beams of Phoebus brigtit, 
And made a kind of checkered day and night. 
Meanwhile, unceasing at the massy gate, 60 

Beneath a spacious palm, the wicked wight 
Was placed ; and, to his lute, of cruel fate 
And labour harsh complained, lamenting man's estate. 


Thither continual pilgrims crowded still, 
From all the roads of earth that pass there by : 65 

For, as they chaunced to breathe on neighbouring hill, 
The freshness of this valley smote their eye, 
And drew them ever and anon more nigh, 
Till clustering round th' enchanter false they hung, 
Ymolten with his syren melody ; 70 

While o'er th' enfeebling lute his hand he flung, 
And to the trembling chord these tempting verses sung : 



* Behold ! ye pilgrims of this earth, behold ! 
See all but man with unearned pleasure gay. 
See her bright robes the butterfly unfold, 75 

Broke from her wintry tomb in prime of May. 
What youthful bride can equal her array? 
Who can with her for easy pleasure vie? 
From mead to mead with gentle wing to stray, 
From flower to flower on balmy gales to fly, 80 

Is all she has to do beneath the radiant sky. 


' Behold the merry minstrels of the morn, 
The swarming songsters of the careless grove, 
Ten thousand throats ! that, from the flowering thorn, 
Hymn their good God, and carol sweet of love, 85 

Such grateful kindly raptures them emove : 
They neither plough, nor sow; ne, fit for flail, 
E'er to the barn the nodding sheaves they drove ; 
Yet theirs each harvest dancing in the gale, 
Whatever crowns the hill, or smiles along the vale. 90 


1 Outcast of nature, man ! the wretched thrall 
Of bitter-dropping sweat, of sweltry pain, 
Of cares that eat away thy heart with gall, 
And of the vices, an inhuman train, 

That all proceed from savage thirst of gain : 95 

For when hard-hearted Interest first began 
To poison earth, Astrsea left the plain; 
Guile, Violence, and Murder seized on man ; 
And, for soft milky streams, with blood the rivers ran. 

CANTO 7. 191 


'Come, ye, who still the cumbrous load of life 100 

Push hard up hill; but, as the farthest steep 
You trust to gain, and put an end to strife, 
Down thunders back the stone with mighty sweep, 
And hurls your labours to the valley deep, 
Forever vain : come, and withouten fee 105 

I in oblivion will your sorrows steep, 
Your cares, your toils ; will steep you in a sea 
Of full delight : O come, ye weary wights, to me ! 


'With me, you need not rise at early dawn, 
To pass the joyless day in various stounds ; no 

Or, louting low, on upstart fortune fawn, 
And sell fair honour for some paltry pounds ; 
Or through the city take your dirty rounds, 
To cheat, and dun, and lie, and visit pay, 
Now flattering base, now giving secret wounds; 115 

Or prowl in courts of law for human prey, 
In venal senate thieve, or rob on broad highway. 


1 No cocks, with me, to rustic labour call, 
From village on to village sounding clear ; 
To tardy swain no shrill- voiced matrons squall; 120 

No dogs, no babes, no wives, to stun your ear; 
No hammers thump; no horrid blacksmith sear, 
Ne noisy tradesman your sweet slumbers start 
With sounds that are a misery to hear : 
But all is calm as would delight the heart 125 

Of Sybarite of old, all nature, and all art. 



{ Here nought but candour reigns, indulgent ease, 
Good-natured lounging, sauntering up and down : 
They who are pleased themselves must always please ; 
On others' ways they never squint a frown, 130 

Nor heed what haps in hamlet or in town. 
Thus, from the source of tender indolence, 
With milky blood the heart is overflown, 
Is soothed and sweetened by the social sense ; 
For interest, envy, pride, and strife are banished hence. 


'What, what is virtue, but repose of mind? 136 

A pure ethereal calm that knows no storm, 
Above the reach of wild ambition's wind, 
Above those passions that this world deform, 
And torture man, a proud malignant worm! 140 

But here, instead, soft gales of passion play, 
And gently stir the heart, thereby to form 
A quicker sense of joy ; as breezes stray 
Across th' enlivened skies, and make them still more gay. 


'The best of men have ever loved repose : 145 

They hate to mingle in the filthy fray, 
Where the soul sours, and gradual rancour grows, 
Imbittered more from peevish day to day. 
Even those whom fame has lent her fairest ray, 
The most renowned of worthy wights of yore, 150 

From a base world at last have stolen away : 
So Scipio, to the soft Cumasan shore 
Retiring, tasted joy he never knew before. 

CANTO /. 193 


c But if a little exercise you choose, 

Some zest for ease, 'tis not forbidden here. 155 

Amid the groves you may indulge the muse, 
Or tend the blooms, and deck the vernal year ; 
Or softly stealing, with your watery gear, 
Along the brooks, the crimson-spotted fry 
You may delude: the whilst, amused, you hear 160 

Now the hoarse stream, and now the zephyr's sigh, 
Attuned to the birds, and woodland melody. 


' O grievous folly ! to heap up estate, 
Losing the days you see beneath the sun ; 
When, sudden, comes blind unrelenting fate, 165 

And gives th' untasted portion you have won 
With ruthless toil, and many a wretch undone, 
To those who mock you gone to Pluto's reign, 
There with sad ghosts to pine, and shadows dun : 
But sure it is of vanities most vain, 170 

To toil for what you here untoiling may obtain.' 


He ceased. But still their trembling ears retained 
The deep vibrations of his 'witching song ; 
That, by a kind of magic power, constrained 
To enter in, pell-rriell, the listening throng. 175 

Heaps poured on heaps, and yet they slipt along 
In silent ease : as when,, beneath the beam 
Of summer moons, the distant woods among, 
Or by some flood all silvered with the gleam, 
The soft-embodied fays through airy portal stream. 180 




By the smooth demon so it ordered was, 
And here his baneful bounty first began ; 
Though some there were who would not further pass, 
And his alluring baits suspected han. 

The wise distrust the too fair-spoken man. 185 

Yet through the gate they cast a wishful eye : 
Not to move on, perdie, is all they can ; 
For do their very best they cannot fly, 
But often each way look, and often sorely sigh. 


* i 

When this the watchful wicked wizard saw, 190 

With sudden spring he leaped upon them straight ; 
And, soon as touched by his unhallowed paw, 
They found themselves within the cursed gate; 
Full hard to be repassed, like that of fate. 
Not stronger were of old the giant crew, 195 

Who sought to pull high Jove from regal state ; 
Though feeble wretch he seemed, of sallow hue : 

Certes, who bides his grasp will that encounter rue. 


For, whomsoe'er the villain takes in hand, 

Their joints unknit, their sinews melt apace ; 200 

As lithe they grow as any willow-wand, 

And of their vanished force remains no trace. 





Waked by the crowd, slow from his bench arose 
A comely full-spread porter, swoln with sleep : 
His calm, broad, thoughtless aspect breathed repose; 210 
And in sweet torpor he was plunged deep, 
Ne could himself from ceaseless yawning keep ; 
While o'er his eyes the drowsy liquor ran, 
Through which his half-waked soul would faintly peep. 
Then, taking his black staff, he called his man, 215 

And roused himself as much as rouse himself he can. 


The lad leapt lightly at his master's call. 
He was, to weet, a little roguish page, 
Save sleep and play who minded nought at all, 
Like most the untaught striplings of his age. 
This boy he kept each band to disengage, 
Garters and buckles, task for him unfit, 
But ill becoming his grave personage, 
And which his portly paunch would not permit. 
So this same limber page to all performed it. 



Meantime the master-porter wide displayed 
Great store of caps, of slippers, and of gowns, 
Wherewith he those who entered in arrayed, 
Loose as the breeze that plays along the downs, 
And waves the summer woods when evening frowns. 
O fair undress, best dress! it checks no vein, 
But every flowing limb in pleasure drowns, 
And heightens ease with grace. This done, right fain, 
Sir Porter sat him down, and turned to sleep again. 

O 2 




Thus easy-robed, they to the fountain sped 235 

That in the middle of the court up-threw 
A stream, high spouting from its liquid bed, 
And falling back again in drizzly dew : 
There each deep draughts, as deep he thirsted, drew. 
It was a fountain of nepenthe rare ; 240 

Whence, as Dan Homer sings, huge pleasaunce grew, 
And sweet oblivion of vile earthly care, 
Fair gladsome waking thoughts, and joyous dreams more fair. 


This rite performed, all inly pleased and still, 
Withouten trump, was proclamation made : 245 

' Ye sons of Indolence, do what you will, 
And wander where you list, through hall or glade : 
Be no man's pleasure for another's stayed; 
Let each as likes him best his hours employ, 
And cursed be he who minds his neighbour's trade! 250 
Here dwells kind ease, and unreproving joy : 
He little merits bliss who others can annoy. 3 


Straight of these endless numbers, swarming round, 
As thick as idle motes in sunny ray, 

Not one eftsoons in view was to be found, 255 

But every man strolled off his own glad way. 
Wide o'er this ample court's blank area, 
With all the lodges that thereto pertained, 
No living creature could be seen to stray; 
While solitude and perfect silence reigned : 260 

So that to think you dreamt, you almost was constrained. , 

CANTO I. 197 


As when a shepherd of the Hebrid Isles, 
Placed far amid the melancholy main, 
(Whether it be lone fancy him beguiles, 
Or that aerial beings sometimes deign 265 

To stand, embodied, to our senses plain) 
Sees on the naked hill, or valley low, 
The whilst in ocean Phcebus dips his wain, 
A vast assembly moving to and fro ; 
Then all at once in air dissolves the wondrous show. 270 


Ye gods of quiet, and of sleep profound, 
Whose soft dominion o'er this castle sways, 
And all the widely silent places round, 
Forgive me, if my trembling pen displays 
What never yet .was sung in mortal lays. 275 

But how shall I attempt such arduous string? 
I, who have spent my nights- and nightly days, 
In this soul-deadening place loose-loitering : 
Ah ! how shall I for this uprear my moulted wing ? 


Come on, my muse, nor stoop to low despair, 280 

Thou imp of Jove, touched by celestial fire ! 
Thou yet shalt sing of war, and actions fair, 
Which the bold sons of Britain will inspire ; 
Of ancient bards thou yet shalt sweep the lyre ; 
Thou yet shalt tread in tragic pall the stage, 285 

Paint love's enchanting woes, the hero's ire, 
The sage's calm, the patriot's noble rage, 
Dashing corruption down through every worthless age. 



The doors, that knew no shrill alarming bell, 
Ne cursed knocker plied by villain's hand, 290 

Self-opened into halls, where, who can tell 
What elegance and grandeur wide expand 
The pride of Turkey and of Persia land? 
Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread, 
And couches stretch around in seemly band, 295 

And endless pillows rise to prop the head, 
So that each spacious room was one full-swelling bed. 


And everywhere huge covered tables stood, 
With wines high-flavoured and rich viands crowned ; 
Whatever sprightly juice or tasteful food 300 

On the green bosom of this earth are found, 
And all old ocean genders in his round : 
Some hand unseen these silently displayed, 
Even undemanded by a sign or sound; 
You need but wish, and, instantly obeyed, 305 

Fair-ranged the dishes rose, and thick the glasses played. 


Here freedom reigned, without the least alloy ; 
Nor gossip's tale, nor ancient maiden's gall, 
Nor saintly spleen durst murmur at our joy, 
And with envenomed tongue our pleasures pall. 310 

For why ? There was but one great rule for all ; 
To wit, that each should work his own desire, 
And eat, drink, study, sleep, as it may fall, 
Or melt the time in love, or wake the lyre, 
And carol what, unbid, the muses might inspire. 315 

CANTO 7. 199 


The rooms with costly tapestry were hung, 
Where was inwoven many a gentle tale, 
Such as of old the rural poets sung 
Or of Arcadian or Sicilian vale : 

Reclining lovers, in the lonely dale, 320 

Poured forth at large the sweetly tortured heart 
Or, looking tender passion, swelled the gale, 
And taught charmed echo to resound their smart ; 
While flocks, woods, streams around, repose and peace 


Those pleased the most, where, by a cunning hand, 325 
Depeinten was the patriarchal age; 
What time Dan Abraham left the Chaldee land, 
And pastured on from verdant stage to stage, 
Where fields and fountains fresh could best engage. 
Toil was not then. Of nothing took they heed, 330 

But with wild beasts the silvan war to wage, 
And o'er vast plains their herds and flocks to feed : 
Blessed sons of nature they ! true golden age indeed ! 


Sometimes the pencil, in cool airy halls, 
Bade the gay bloom of vernal landskips rise, 335 

Or Autumn's varied shades imbrown the walls : 
Now the black tempest strikes the astonished eyes ; 
Now down the steep the flashing torrent flies ; 
The trembling sun now plays o'er ocean blue, 
And now rude mountains frown amid the skies ; 340 

Whate'er Lorrain light-touched with softening hue, 
Or savage Rosa dashed, or learned Poussin drew. 



Each sound, too, here to languishment inclined, 
Lulled the weak bosom, and induced ease. 
Aerial music in the warbling wind, 345 

At distance rising oft, by small degrees, 
Nearer and nearer came, till o'er the trees 
It hung, and breathed such soul-dissolving airs, 
As did, alas ! with soft perdition please : 
Entangled deep in its enchanting snares, 350 

The listening heart forgot all duties and all cares. 


A certain music, never known before, 
Here soothed the pensive, melancholy mind ; 
Full easily obtained. Behoves no more, 
But sidelong, to the gently waving wind, 355 

To lay the well-tuned instrument reclined ; 
From which, the airy flying fingers light, 
Beyond each mortal touch the most refined, 
The god of winds drew sounds of deep delight : 
Whence, with just cause, The Harp of ^Eolus it hight. 360 


Ah me ! what hand can touch the string so fine ? 
Who up the lofty diapason roll 
Such sweet, such sad, such solemn airs divine, 
Then let them down again into the soul ? 
Now rising love they fanned ; now pleasing dole 365 

They breathed, in tender musings, thro' the heart ; 
And now a graver sacred strain they stole, 
As when seraphic hands an hymn impart : 
Wild warbling nature all, above the reach of art. 

CANTO I. 201 


Such the gay splendour, the luxurious state, 37 

Of Caliphs old, who on the Tygris' shore, 
In mighty Bagdat, populous and great, 
Held their bright court, where was of ladies store ; 
And verse, love, music still the garland wore : 
When sleep was coy, the bard, in waiting there, 375 

Cheered the lone midnight with the muse's lore ; 
Composing music bade his dreams be fair, 
And music lent new gladness to the morning air. 


Near the pavilions where we slept, still ran 
Soft-tinkling streams, and dashing waters fell, 380 

And sobbing breezes sighed, and oft began 
(So worked the wizard) wintry storms to swell, 
As heaven and earth they would together mell : 
At doors and windows, threatening, seemed to call 
The demons of the tempest, growling fell; 3 8 5 

Yet the least entrance found they none at all ; 
Whence sweeter grew our sleep, secure in massy hall. 


And hither Morpheus sent his kindest dreams, 
Raising a world of gayer tinct and grace ; 
O'er which were shadowy cast Elysian gleams, 390 

That played, in waving lights, from place to place, 
And shed a roseate smile on nature's face. 
Not Titian's pencil e'er could so array, 
So fleece with clouds the pure ethereal space ; 
Ne could it e'er such melting forms display, 395 

As loose on flowery beds all languishingly lay. 



No, fair illusions ! artful phantoms, no ! 
My muse will not attempt your fairy-land : 
She has no colours that like you can glow ; 
To catch your vivid scenes too gross her hand. 400 

But sure it is, was ne'er a subtler band 
Than these same guileful angel-seeming sprights, 
Who thus in dreams voluptuous, soft, and bland, 
Poured all th' Arabian heaven upon our nights, 
And blessed them oft besides with more refined delights. 405 


They were, in sooth, a most enchanting train, 
Even feigning virtue ; skilful to unite 
With evil good, and strew with pleasure pain. 
But for those fiends, whom blood and broils delight, 
Who hurl the wretch, as if to hell outright, 410 

Down, down black gulfs, where sullen waters sleep, 
Or hold him clambering all the fearful night 
On beetling cliffs, or pent in ruins deep, 
They, till due time should serve, were bid far hence to keep. 


Ye guardian spirits, to whom man is dear, 415 

From these foul demons shield the midnight gloom! 
Angels of fancy and of love, be near, 
And o'er the wilds of sleep diffuse a bloom ; 
Evoke the sacred shades of Greece and Rome, 
And let them virtue with a look impart ! 420 

But chief, a while, oh lend us from the tomb 
Those long lost friends for whom in love we smart, 
And fill with pious awe and joy-mixed woe the heart ! 




Or are you sportive ? bid the morn of youth 
Rise to new light, and beam afresh the days 425 

Of innocence, simplicity, and truth, 
To cares estranged, and manhood's thorny ways ! 
What transport to retrace our boyish plays, 
Our easy bliss, when each thing joy supplied, 
The woods, the mountains, and the warbling maze 430 
Of the wild brooks ! But, fondly wandering wide, 
My muse, resume the task that yet doth thee abide. 


One great amusement of our household was 
In a huge crystal magic globe to spy, 
Still as you turned it, all things that do pass 435 

Upon this ant-hill earth ; where constantly 
Of idly busy men the restless fry 
Run bustling to and fro with foolish haste 
In search of pleasures vain, that from them fly, 
Or which, obtained, the caitiffs dare not taste : 440 

When nothing is enjoyed, can there be greater waste? 

Of Vanity the Mirror this was called. 
Here you a muckworm of the town might see 
At his dull desk, amid his ledgers stalled, 
Eat up with carking care and penurie, 445 

Most like to carcase parched on gallow-tree. 
'A penny saved is a penny got' 
Firm to this scoundrel maxim keepeth he, 
Ne of its rigour will he bate a jot, 
Till it has quenched his fire, and banished his pot. 450 



Straight from the filth of this low grub, behold, 
Comes fluttering forth a gaudy spendthrift heir, 
All glossy gay, enamelled all with gold, 
The silly tenant of the summer air ! 

In folly lost, of nothing takes he care ; 455 

Pimps, lawyers, stewards, harlots, flatterers vile, 
And thieving tradesmen him among them share : 
His father's ghost from limbo lake, the while, 
Sees this, which more damnation does upon him pile. 


This globe pourtrayed the race of learned men, 460 

Still at their books, and turning o'er the page 
Backwards and forwards : oft they snatch the pen 
As if inspired and in a Thespian rage, 
Then write and blot as would your ruth engage. 
Why, authors, all this scrawl and scribbling sore? 465 

To lose the present, gain the future age, 
Praised to be when you can hear no more, 
And much enriched with fame when useless worldly store. 


Then would a splendid city rise to view, 
With carts, and cars, and coaches roaring all : 47 

Wide-poured abroad behold the .prowling crew ! 
See how they dash along from wall to wall! 
At every door hark how they thundering call! 
Good lord ! what can this giddy rout excite ? 
Why, each on each to prey by guile or gall, 475 

With flattery these, with slander those to blight, 
And make new tiresome parties for the coming night. 

CANTO I. 205 


The puzzling sons of party next appeared, 
In dark cabals and nightly juntos met; 
And now they whispered close, now shrugging reared 480 
The important shoulder ; then, as if to get 
New light, their twinkling eyes were inward set. 
No sooner Lucifer recalls affairs, 
Than forth they various rush in mighty fret ; 
When lo ! pushed up to power, and crowned their cares, 485 
In c6mes another set, and kicketh them down stairs. 


But what most showed the vanity of life, 
Was to behold the nations all on fire, 
In cruel broils engaged, and deadly strife : 
Most Christian kings, inflamed by black desire, 490 

With honourable ruffians in their hire, 
Cause war to rage, and blood around to pour. 
Of this sad work when each begins to tire, 
They sit them down just where they were before, 
Till for new scenes of woe peace shall their force restore. 495 


To number up the thousands dwelling here, 
An useless were, and eke an endless task, 
From kings, and those who at the helm appear, 
To gipsies brown in summer-glades who bask. 
Yea, many a man, perdie, I could unmask, 500 

Whose desk and table make a solemn show, 
With tape-tied trash, and suits of fools that ask 
For place or pension, laid in decent row ; 
But these I passen by, with nameless numbers moe. 



Of all the gentle tenants of the place, 505 

There was a man of special grave remark : 
A certain tender gloom o'erspread his face, 
Pensive, not sad ; in thought involved, not dark. 
As soot this man could sing as morning lark, 
And teach the noblest morals of the heart ; 510 

But these his talents were yburied stark ; 
Of the fine stores he nothing would impart, 
Which or boon nature gave, or nature-painting art. 


To noontide shades incontinent he ran, 
Where purls the brook with sleep-inviting sound ; 515 

Or, when Dan Sol to slope his wheels began, 
Amid the broom he basked him on the ground, 
Where the wild thyme and camomil are found : 
There would he linger, till the latest ray 
Of light sat quivering on the welkin's bound; 520 

Then homeward through the twilight shadows stray, 
Sauntering and slow. So had he passed many a day. 


Yet not in thoughtless slumber were they past ; 
For oft the heavenly fire, that lay concealed 
Emongst the sleeping embers, mounted fast, 525 

And all its native light anew revealed. 
Oft as he traversed the cerulean field, 
And marked the clouds that drove before the wind, 
Ten thousand glorious systems would he build, 
Ten thousand great ideas filled his mind; 530 

But with the clouds they fled, and left no trace behind. 

CANTO I. 207 

- LX. 

With him was sometimes joined, in silent walk, 
(Profoundly silent, for they never spoke) 
One shyer still, who quite detested talk : 
Oft, stung by spleen, at once away he broke 535 

To groves of pine and broad o'ershadowing oak ; 
There, inly thrilled, he wandered all alone, 
And on himself his pensive fury wroke, 
Ne ever uttered word, save when first shone 
The glittering star of eve ' Thank heaven ! the day is done.' 


Here lurked a wretch, who had not crept abroad 541 

For forty years, ne face of mortal seen, 
In chamber brooding like a loathly toad ; 
And sure his linen was not very clean. 
Through secret loophole, that had practised been 545 

Near to his bed, his dinner vile he took; 
Unkempt, and rough, of squalid face and mien, 
Our castle's shame ! whence, from his filthy nook, 
We drove the villain out for fitter lair to look. 


One day there chanced into these halls to rove 550 

A joyous youth, who took you at first sight ; 
Him the wild wave of pleasure hither drove, 
Before the sprightly tempest tossing light : 
Certes, he was a most engaging wight, 
Of social glee, and wit humane though keen, 555 

Turning the night to day and day to night : 
For him the merry bells had rung, I ween, 
If, in this nook of quiet, bells had ever been. 



But not even pleasure to excess is good : 
What most elates, then sinks the soul as low ; 560 

When springtide joy pours in with copious flood, 
The higher still the exulting billows flow, 
The farther back again they flagging go, 
And leave us groveling on the dreary shore: . 
Taught by this son of joy, we found it so ; 565 

Who, whilst he staid, kept in a gay uproar 
Our maddened castle all, the abode of sleep no more. 


As when in prime of June a burnished fly, 
Sprung from the meads, o'er which he sweeps along, 
Cheered by the breathing bloom and vital sky, 570 

Tunes up amid these airy halls his song, 
Soothing at first the gay reposing throng ; 
And oft he sips their bowl ; or, nearly drowned, 
He, thence recovering, drives their beds among, 
And scares their tender sleep, with trump profound ; 575 
Then out again he flies, to wing his mazy round. 


Another guest there was, of sense refined, 
Who felt each worth, for every worth he had ; 
Serene yet warm, humane yet firm his mind, 
As little touched as any man's with bad. 580 

Him through their inmost walks the Muses lad, 
To him the sacred love of nature lent ; 
And sometimes would he make our valley glad. 
Whenas we found he would not here be pent, 
To him the better sort this friendly message sent : 585 




' Come, dwell with us ! true son of virtue, come ! 
But if, alas ! we cannot thee persuade 
To lie content beneath our peaceful dome, 
Ne ever more to quit our quiet glade ; 
Yet when at last thy toils, but ill apaid, 
Shall dead thy fire, and damp its heavenly spark, 
Thou wilt be glad to seek the rural shade, 
There to indulge the muse, and nature mark : 
We then a lodge for thee will rear in Hagley Park.' 



Here whilom ligged th' Esopus of the age; 595 

But, called by fame, in soul ypricked deep, 
A noble pride restored him to the stage, 
And roused him like a giant from his sleep. 
Even from his slumbers we advantage reap : 
With double force the astonished scene he wakes, 600 

Yet quits not nature's bounds. He knows to keep 
Each due decorum : now the heart he shakes, 
And now with well-urged sense the enlightened judgment takes. 


A bard here dwelt, more fat than bard beseems ; 
Who, void of envy, guile, and lust of gain, 605 

On virtue still, and nature's pleasing themes, 
Poured forth his unpremeditated strain, 
The world forsaking with a calm disdain: 
Here laughed he careless in his easy seat ; 
Here quaffed, encircled with the joyous train ; 6rc 

Oft moralizing sage; his ditty sweet 
He loathed much to write, ne cared to repeat. 



Full oft by holy feet our ground was trod ; 
Of clerks good plenty here you mote espy. 
A little, round, fat, oily man of God, 615 

Was one I chiefly marked among the fry : 
He had a roguish twinkle in his eye, 
And shone all glittering with ungodly dew, 
If a tight damsel chanced to trippen by; 
Which when observed, he shrunk into his mew, 620 

And straight would recollect his piety anew. 


Nor be forgot a tribe, who minded nought 
(Old inmates of the place) but state-affairs : 
They looked, perdie, as if they deeply thought ; 
And on their brow sat every nation's cares. 625 

The world by them is parcelled out in shares, 
When in the Hall of Smoke they congress hold, 
And the sage berry sun-burnt Mocha bears 
Has cleared their inward eye : then, smoke-enrolled. 
Their oracles break forth, mysterious as of old. 630 


Here languid Beauty kept her pale-faced court : 
Bevies of dainty dames, of high degree, 
From every quarter hither made resort ; 
Where, from gross mortal care and business free, 
They lay, poured out in ease and luxury. 635 

Or should they a vain shew of work assume, 
Alas and well-a-day ! what can it be ? 
To knot, to twist, to 'range the vernal bloom ; 
But far is cast the distaff, spinning-wheel, and loom. 

CANTO I. 211 


Their only labour was to kill the time ; 640 

And labour dire it is, and weary woe. 
They sit, they loll, turn o'er some idle rhyme ; 
Then, rising sudden, to the glass they go, 
Or saunter forth, with tottering step and slow : 
This soon too rude an exercise they find ; 645 

Straight on the couch their limbs again they throw, 
Where hours on hours they sighing lie reclined, 
And court the vapoury god soft-breathing in the wind. 


Now must I mark the villany we found, 
But ah ! too late, as shall eftsoons be shewn. 650 

A place here was, deep, dreary, under ground ; 
Where still our inmates, when unpleasing grown, 
Diseased, and loathsome, privily were thrown. 
Far from the light of heaven, they languished there, 
Unpitied uttering many a bitter groan ; 655 

For of these wretches taken was no care : 
Fierce fiends and hags of hell their only nurses were. 


Alas the change ! from scenes of joy and rest 
To this dark den, where sickness tossed alway. 
Here Lethargy, with deadly sleep opprest, 660 

Stretched on his back a mighty lubbard lay, 
Heaving his sides, and snored night and day: 
To stir him from his traunce it was not eath, 
And his half-opened eyne he shut straightway ; 
He led, I wot, the softest way to death, 665 

And taught withouten pain and strife to yield the breath. 

P 2 



Of limbs enormous, but withal unsound, 
Soft-swoln and pale, here lay the Hydropsy : 
Unwieldy man! with belly monstrous round, 
For ever fed with watery supply ; 670 

For still he drank, and yet he still was dry. 
And moping here did Hypochondria sit, 
Mother of spleen, in robes of various dye, 
Who vexed was full oft with ugly fit ; 
And some her frantic deemed, and some her deemed a wit. 


A lady proud she was, of ancient blood, 676 

Yet oft her fear her pride made crouchen low : 
She felt, or fancied in her fluttering mood, 
All the diseases which the spittles know, 
And sought all physic which the shops bestow, 680 

And still new leeches and new drugs would try, 
Her humour ever wavering to and fro : 
For sometimes she would laugh, and sometimes cry, 
Then sudden waxed wroth, and all she knew not why. 


Fast by her side a listless maiden pined, 685 

With aching head, and squeamish heart-burnings ; 
Pale, bloated, cold, she seemed to hate mankind, 
Yet loved in secret all forbidden things. 
And here the Tertian shakes his chilling wings ; 
The sleepless Gout here counts the crowing cocks, 690 
A wolf now gnaws him, now a serpent stings ; 
Whilst Apoplexy crammed Intemperance knocks 
Down to the ground at once, as butcher felleth ox. 




Tke Knight of Art and Industry, 
And his achievements fair ; 

That, by this Castle's overthrow, 
Seciircd, and crowned were. 

ESCAPED the castle of the sire of sin, 
Ah ! where shall I so sweet a dwelling find ? 
For all around without, and all within, 
Nothing save what delightful was and kind, 
Of goodness savouring and a tender mind, 
E'er rose to view. But now another strain, 
Of doleful note, alas ! remains behind : 
I now must sing of pleasure turned to pain, 
And of the false enchanter INDOLENCE complain. 


Is there no patron to protect the Muse, 
And fence for her Parnassus' barren soil? 
To every labour its reward accrues, 
And they are sure of bread who swink and moil ; 
But a fell tribe the Aonian hive despoil, 
As ruthless wasps oft rob the painful bee : 
Thus while the laws not guard that noblest toil, 
Ne for the Muses other meed decree, 
They praised are alone, and starve right merrily. 



I care not, Fortune, what you me deny : 
You cannot rob me of free nature's grace ; 20 

You cannot shut the windows of the sky, 
Through which Aurora shows her brightening face ; 
You cannot bar my constant feet to trace 
The woods and lawns by living stream at eve: 
Let health my nerves and finer fibres brace, 25 

And I their toys to the great children leave : 
Of fancy, reason, virtue, nought can me bereave. 


Come then, my Muse, and raise a bolder song ; 
Come, lig no more upon the bed of sloth, 
Dragging the lazy languid line along, 30 

Fond to begin, but still to finish loth, 
Thy half- writ scrolls all eaten by the motl>: 
Arise, and sing that generous imp of fame, 
Who, with the sons of softness nobly wroth, 
To sweep away this human lumber came, 35 

Or in a chosen few to rouse the slumbering flame. 


In Fairyland there lived a knight of old, 
Of feature stern, Selvaggio well ycleped, 
A rough unpolished man, robust and bold, 
But wondrous poor: he neither sowed nor reaped, 40 

Ne stores in summer for cold winter heaped; 
In hunting all his days away he wore ; 
Now scorched by June, now in November steeped, 
Now pinched by biting January sore, 
He still in woods pursued the libbard and the boar. 45 



As he one morning, long before the dawn, 
Pricked through the forest to dislodge his prey, 
Deep in the winding bosom of a lawn, 
With wood wild fringed, he marked a taper's ray, 
That from the beating rain and wintry fray 50 

Did to a lonely cot his steps decoy : 
There, up to earn the needments of the day, 
He found dame Poverty, nor fair nor coy ; 
And she became his wife, the mother of his boy. 


Amid the greenwood shade this boy was bred, 55 

And grew at last a knight of muchel fame, 
Of active mind and vigorous lustyhed, 
Earth was his bed, the boughs his roof did frame ; 
He knew no beverage but the flowing stream ; 6c 

His tasteful well earned food the sylvan game, 
Or the brown fruit with which the woodlands teem : 
The same to him glad summer or the winter breme. 


So passed his youthly morning, void of care, 
Wild as the colts that through the commons run : 65 

For him no tender parents troubled were ; 
He of the forest seemed to be the son, 
And certes had been utterly undone 
But that Minerva pity of him took, 

With all the gods that love the rural wonne, 70 

That teach to tame the soil and rule the crook; 
Ne did the sacred Nine disdain a gentle look. 



Of fertile genius him they nurtured well 
In every science and in every art 

By which mankind the thoughtless brutes excel, 75 

That can or use, or joy, or grace impart, 
Disclosing all the powers of head and heart. 
Ne were the goodly exercises spared 
That brace the nerves or make the limbs alert, 
And mix elastic force with firmness hard : 80 

Was never knight on ground mote be with him compared. 


Sometimes with early morn he mounted gay 
The hunter-steed, exulting o'er the dale, 
And drew the roseate breath of orient day ; 
Sometimes, retiring to the secret vale, 85 

Yclad in steel, and bright with burnished mail, 
He strained the bow, or tossed the sounding spear, 
Or darting on the goal outstript the gale, 
Or wheeled the chariot in its mid career, 
Or strenuous wrestled hard with many a tough compeer. 90 


At other times he pried through nature's store, 
Whate'er she in the ethereal round contains, 
Whate'er she hides beneath her verdant floor 
The vegetable and the mineral reigns ; 
Or else he scanned the globe those small domains 95 
Where restless mortals such a turmoil keep, 
Its seas, its floods, its mountains, and its plains; 
But more he searched the mind, and roused from sleep 
Those moral seeds whence we heroic actions reap. 



Nor would he scorn to stoop from high pursuits 100 

Of heavenly truth, and practise what she taught. 
Vain is the tree of knowledge without fruits. 
Sometimes in hand the spade or plough he caught, 
Forth calling all with which boon earth is fraught ; 
Sometimes he plied the strong mechanic tool, 105 

Or reared the fabric from the finest draught ; 
And oft he put himself to Neptune's school, 
Fighting with winds and waves on the vexed ocean pool. 


To solace then these rougher toils he tried 
To touch the kindling canvas into life; no 

With nature his creating pencil vied, 
With nature joyous at the mimic strife : 
Or to such shapes as graced Pygmalion's wife 
He hewed the marble ; or with varied fire 
He roused the trumpet and the martial fife, 115 

Or bade the lute sweet tenderness inspire, 
Or verses framed that well might wake Apollo's lyre. 


Accomplished thus he from the woods issued, 
Full of great aims and bent on bold emprise ; 
The work which long he in his breast had brewed 120 
Now to perform he ardent did devise, 
To wit, a barbarous world to civilize. 
Earth was till then a boundless forest wild 
Nought to be seen but savage wood and skies ; 
No cities nourished arts, no culture smiled, 125 

No government, no laws, no gentle manners mild. 



A rugged wight, the worst of brutes, was man ; 
On his own wretched kind he ruthless preyed : 
The strongest still the weakest over-ran ; 
In every country mighty robbers swayed, 130 

And guile and ruffian force were all their trade. 
Life was not life, but rapine, want, and woe ; 
Which this brave knight, in noble anger, made 
To swear he would the rascal rout o'erthrow; 
For, by the powers divine, it should no more be so ! 135 


It would exceed the purport of my song 
To say how this best sun, from orient climes, 
Came beaming life and beauty all along, 
Before him chasing indolence and crimes. 
Still as he passed, the nations he sublimes, 140 

And calls forth arts and virtue with his ray : 
Then Egypt, Greece, and Rome their golden times 
Successive had ; but now in ruins grey 
They lie, to slavish sloth and tyranny a prey. 


To crown his toils, Sir INDUSTRY then spread 145 

The swelling sail, and made for Britain's coast. 
A silvan life till then the natives led, 
In the brown shades and green-wood forest lost, 
All careless rambling where it liked them most : 
Their wealth the wild deer bouncing through the glade, 150 
They lodged at large, and lived at nature's cost, 
Save spear and bow, withouten other aid ; 
Yet not the Roman steel their naked breast dismayed. 

CANTO II. 219 


He liked the soil, he liked the clement skies, 
He liked the verdant hills and flowery plains : 155 

* Be this my great, my chosen isle ! (he cries) 
This whilst my labours liberty sustains 
This queen of ocean all assault disdains.' 
Nor liked he less the genius of the land, 
To freedom apt and persevering pains, 160 

Mild to obey, and generous to command, 
Tempered by forming Heaven with kindest firmest hand. 


Here by degrees his master-work arose, 
Whatever arts and industry can frame, 
Whatever finished agriculture knows, 165 

Fair Queen of Arts ! from heaven itself who came, 
When Eden flourished in unspotted fame ; 
And still with her sweet innocence we find, 
And tender peace, and joys without a name, 
That, while they rapture, tranquillize the mind; 170 

Nature and art at once, delight and use combined. 


Then towns he quickened by mechanic arts, 
And bade the fervent city glow with toil ; 
Bade social commerce raise renowned marts, 
Join land to land, and marry soil to soil, 175 

Unite the poles, and without bloody spoil 
Bring home of either Ind the gorgeous stores ; 
Or, should despotic rage the world embroil, 
Bade tyrants tremble on remotest shores, 
While o'er the encircling deep Britannia's thunder roars. 180 



The drooping muses then he westward called, 
From the famed city by Propontis sea, 
What time the Turk th' enfeebled Grecian thralled ; 
Thence from their cloistered walks he set them free, 
And brought them to another Castalie, 185 

Where I sis many a famous nursling breeds, 
Or where old Cam soft-paces o'er the lea 
In pensive mood, and tunes his doric reeds, 
The whilst his flocks at large the lonely shepherd feeds. 


Yet the fine arts were what he finished least. 19 

For why ? They are the quintessence of all, 
The growth of labouring time, and slow increased ; 
Unless, as seldom chances, it should fall 
That mighty patrons the coy sisters call 
Up to the sunshine of uncumbered ease, 195 

Where no rude care the mounting thought may thrall, 
And where they nothing have to do but please 
Ah, gracious God ! thou know'st they ask no other fees. 


But now alas ! we live too late in time : 
Our patrons now even grudge that little claim, 200 

Except to such as sleek the soothing rhyme ; 
And yet, forsooth, they wear Maecenas' name, 
Poor sons of puft-up vanity, not fame. 
Unbroken spirits, cheer! still, still remains 
The eternal patron, Liberty ; whose flame, 205 

While she protects, inspires the noblest strains. 
The best and sweetest far, are toil-created gains. 

CANTO II. 221 


Whenas the knight had framed in Britain-land 
A matchless form of glorious government, 
In which the sovereign laws alone command, 210 

Laws stablished by the public free consent, 
Whose majesty is to the sceptre lent, 
When this great plan, with each dependent art, 
Was settled firm, and to his heart's content, 
Then sought he from the toilsome scene to part, 215 

And let life's vacant eve breathe quiet through the heart. 


For this he chose a farm in Deva's vale, 
Where his long alleys peeped upon the main. 
In this calm seat he drew the healthful gale, 
Commixed the chief, the patriot, and the swain, 220 

The happy monarch of his silvan train ! 
Here, sided by the guardians of the fold, 
He walked his rounds, and cheered his blest domain ; 
His days, the days of unstained nature, rolled, 
Replete with peace and joy, like patriarch's of old. 225 


Witness, ye lowing herds, who lent him milk ; 
Witness, ye flocks, whose woolly vestments far 
Exceed soft India's cotton, or her silk ; 
Witness, with Autumn charged, the nodding car, 
That homeward came beneath sweet evening's star, 2 
Or of September moons the radiance mild. 
O hide thy head, abominable war ! 
Of crimes and ruffian idleness the child ! 
From Heaven this life ysprung, from hell thy glories vild ! 



Nor from his deep retirement banished was 235 

The amusing cares of rural industry. 
Still, as with grateful change the seasons pass, 
New scenes arise, new landskips strike the eye, 
And all the enlivened country beautify : 
Gay plains extend where marshes slept before ; 240 

O'er recent meads the exulting streamlets fly ; 
Dark frowning heaths grow bright with Ceres' store, 
And woods imbrown the steep, or wave along the shore. 


As nearer to his farm you made approach, 
He polished nature with a finer hand: 245 

Yet on her beauties durst not art encroach ; 
'Tis art's alone these beauties to expand. 
In graceful dance immingled, o'er the land, 
Pan, Pales, Flora, and Pomona played : 
Even here, sometimes, the rude wild common fand 250 
A happy place; where, free and unafraid, 
Amid the flowering brakes each coyer creature strayed. 


But in prime vigour what can last for aye ? 
That soul-enfeebling wizard, INDOLENCE, 
I whilom sung, wrought in his works decay: 255 

Spread far and wide was his cursed influence ; 
Of public virtue much he dulled the sense, 
Even much of private ; eat our spirit out, 
And fed our rank luxurious vices : whence 
The land was overlaid with many a lout ; 260 

Not, as old fame reports, wise generous, bold, and stout. 




A rage of pleasure maddened every breast ; 
Down to the lowest lees the ferment ran : 
To his licentious wish each must be blest, 
With joy be fevered, snatch it as he can. 265 

Thus vice the standard reared ; her arrier-ban 
Corruption called, and loud she gave the word. 
' Mind, mind yourselves ! why should the vulgar man, 
The lacquey, be more virtuous than his lord ? 
Enjoy this span of life! 'tis all the gods afford. 3 270 


The tidings reached to where in quiet hall 
The good old knight enjoyed well earned repose : 
1 Come, come, Sir Knight ! thy children on thee call ; 
Come, save us yet, ere ruin round us close ! 
The demon INDOLENCE thy toils o'erthrows.' 
On this the noble colour stained his cheeks, 
Indignant glowing through the whitening snows 
Of venerable eld ; his eye full-speaks 
His ardent soul, and from his couch at once he breaks. 



'I will (he cried), so help me God! destroy 280 

That villain Archimage.' His page then strait 
He to him called, a fiery-footed boy 
Benempt Dispatch. ' My steed be at the gate ; 
My bard attend ; quick, bring the net of fate.' 
This net was twisted by the sisters three ; 2.85 

Which, when once cast o'er hardened wretch, too late 
Repentance comes : replevy cannot be 
From the strong iron grasp of vengeful destiny. 



He came, the bard, a little Druid wight 
Of withered aspect ; but his eye was keen, 290 

With sweetness mixed. In russet brown bedight, 
As is his sister of the copses green, 
He crept along, unpromising of mien. 
Gross he who judges so. His soul was fair, 
Bright as the children of yon azure sheen. 295 

True comeliness, which nothing can impair, 
Dwells in the mind : all else is vanity and glare. 


' Come ! (quoth the Knight) a voice has reached mine ear, 
The demon INDOLENCE threats overthrow 
To all that to mankind is good and dear : 300 

Come, Philomelus ! let us instant go, 
O'erturn his bowers, and lay his castle low. 
Those men, those wretched men, who will be slaves, 
Must drink a bitter wrathful cup of woe ; 
But some there be, thy song, as from their graves, 305 
Shall raise. Thrice happy he who without rigour saves !' 


Issuing forth, the Knight bestrode his steed 
Or ardent bay, and on whose front a star 
Shone blazing bright ; sprung from the generous breed 
That whirl of active day the rapid car, 310 

He pranced along, disdaining gate or bar. 
Meantime, the bard on milk-white palfrey rode, 
An honest sober beast, that did not mar 
His meditations, but full softly trode. 
And much they moralized as thus yfere they yode. 315 

CANTO 77. 225 


They talked of virtue, and of human bliss. 
What else so fit for man to settle well ? 
And still their long researches met in this, 
This truth of truths^ which nothing can refel : 
'From virtue's fount the purest joys outwell, 
Sweet rills of thought that cheer the conscious soul ; 
While vice pours forth the troubled streams of hell, 
The which, howe'er disguised, at last with dole 
Will through the tortured breast their fiery torrent roll.' 


At length it dawned, that fatal valley gay, 325 

O'er which high wood-crowned hills their summits rear. 
On the cool height awhile our palmers stay, 
And spite even of themselves their senses cheer ; 
Then to the wizard's wonne their steps they steer. 
Like a green isle it broad beneath them spread, 330 

With gardens round, and wandering currents clear, 
And tufted groves to shade the meadow-bed, 
Sweet airs and song; and without hurry all seemed glad. 


' As God shall judge me, Knight ! we must forgive 
(The half-enraptured Philomelus cried) 335 

The frail good man deluded here to live, 
And in these groves his musing fancy hide. 
Ah, nought is pure ! It cannot be denied 
That virtue still some tincture has of vice, 
And vice of virtue. What should then betide, 340 

But that our charity be not too nice ? 
Come, let us those we can to real bliss entice.' 




'Ay, sicker (quoth the Knight), all flesh is frail, 
To pleasant sin and joyous dalliance bent; 
But let not brutish vice of this avail, 345 

And think to 'scape deserved punishment. 
Justice were cruel weakly to relent ; 
From mercy's self she got her sacred glaive : 
Grace be to those who can and will repent ; 
But penance long and dreary to the slave, 350 

Who must in floods of fire his gross foul spirit lave. 3 


Thus holding high discourse, they came to where 
The cursed carle was at his wonted trade, 
Still tempting heedless men into his snare 
In witching wise, as I before have said. 355 

But when he saw, in goodly geer arrayed, 
The grave majestic Knight approaching nigh, 
And by his side the bard so sage and staid, 
His countenance fell; yet oft his anxious eye 
Marked them, like wily fox who roosted cock doth spy. 360 


Nathless with feigned respect he bade give back 
The rabble rout, and welcomed them full kind. 
Struck with the noble twain, they were not slack 
His orders to obey, and fall behind. 

Then he resumed his song ; and unconfined 365 

Poured all his music, ran through all his strings : 
With magic dust their eyne he tries to blind, 
And virtue's tender airs o'er weakness flings. 
What pity base his song who so divinely sings! 

CANTO If. 227 

( XLII. 

Elate in thought, he counted them his own, 370 

They listened so intent with fixed delight : 
But they instead, as if transmewed to stone, 
Marvelled he could with such sweet art unite 
The lights and shades of manners, wrong and right. 
Meantime the silly crowd the charm devour, 375 

Wide pressing to the gate. Swift on the Knight 
He darted fierce to drag him to his bower, 
Who backening shunned his touch, for well he knew its power. 


As in thronged amphitheatre of old 

The wary retiarius trapped his foe, 380 

Even so the Knight, returning on him bold, 
At once involved him in the net of woe, 
Whereof I mention made not long ago. 
Enraged at first, he scorned so weak a jail, 
And leaped, and flew, and flounced to and fro; 385 

But when he found that nothing could avail 
He sat him felly down, and gnawed his bitter nail. 


Alarmed, the inferior demons of the place 
Raised rueful shrieks and hideous yells around ; 
Black ruptured clouds deformed the welkin's face, 390 

And from beneath was heard a wailing sound, 
As of infernal sprights in cavern bound ; 
A solemn sadness every creature strook, 
And lightnings flashed, and horror rocked the ground: 
Huge crowds on crowds outpoured, with blemished look, 395 
As if on Time's last verge this frame of things had shook. 




Soon as the short-lived tempest was yspent 
Steamed from the jaws of vexed Avernus' hole 
And hushed the hubbub of the rabblement, 
Sir INDUSTRY the first calm moment stole : 400 

'There must (he cried) amid so vast a shoal 
Be some who are not tainted at the heart, 
Not poisoned quite by this same villain's bowl : 
Come then, my bard, thy heavenly fire impart; 
Touch soul with soul, till forth the latent spirit start.' 405 


The bard obeyed ; and taking from his side, 
Where it in seemly sort depending hung, 
His British harp, its speaking strings he tried, 
The which with skilful touch he deftly strung, 
Till tinkling in clear -symphony they rung. 410 

Then, as he felt the Muses come along, 
Light o'er the chords his raptured hand he flung, 
And played a prelude to his rising song : 
The whilst, like midnight mute, ten thousands round him 


Thus ardent burst his strain: 'Ye hapless race, 415 

Dire labouring here to smother reason's ray, 
That lights our Maker's image in our face, 
And gives us wide o'er earth unquestioned sway, 
What is the adored Supreme Perfection, say? 
What but eternal never-resting soul, 4 20 

Almighty power, and all-directing day, 
By whom each atom stirs, the planets roll, 
Who fills, surrounds, informs, and agitates the whole? 

CANTO II. 229 


' Come, to the beaming God your hearts unfold ! 
Draw from its fountain life ! 'Tis thence alone 425 

We can excel. Up from unfeeling mould 
To seraphs burning round the Almighty's throne, 
Life rising still on life in higher tone 
Perfection forms, and with perfection bliss. 
In universal nature this clear shown 430 

Not needeth proof : to prove it were, I wis, 
To prove the beauteous world excels the brute abyss. 


4 Is not the field with lively culture green 
A sight more joyous than the dead morass ? 
Do not the skies with active ether clean, 435 

And fanned by sprightly zephyrs, far surpass 
The foul November fogs and slumbrous mass 
With which sad nature veils her drooping face ? 
Does not the mountain stream, as clear as glass, 
Gay-dancing on, the putrid pool disgrace? 440 

The same in all holds true, but chief in human race. 

' It was not by vile loitering in ease 
That Greece obtained the brighter palm of art ; 
That soft yet ardent Athens learned to please, 
To keen the wit, and to sublime the heart, 445 

In all supreme ! complete in every part ! 
It was not thence majestic Rome arose, 
And o'er the nations shook her conquering dart : 
For sluggard's brow the laurel never grows ; 
Renown is not the child of indolent repose. 450 



' Had unambitious mortals minded nought 
But in loose joy their time to wear away, 
Had they alone the lap of dalliance sought, 
Pleased on her pillow their dull heads to lay, 
Rude nature's state had been our state to-day ; 455 

No cities e'er their towery fronts had raised, 
No arts had made us opulent and gay, 
With brother brutes the human race had grazed, 
None e'er had soared to fame, none honoured been, none 


{ Great Homer's song had never fired the breast 460 

To thirst of glory and heroic deeds ; 
Sweet Maro's muse, sunk in inglorious rest, 
Had silent slept amid the Mincian reeds ; 
The wits of modern time had told their beads, 
The monkish legends been their only strains; 465 

Our Milton's Eden had lain wrapt in weeds, 
Our Shakespeare strolled and laughed with Warwick swains, 
Ne had my master Spenser charmed his Mulla's plains. 


'Dumb too had been the sage historic muse, 
And perished all the sons of ancient fame ; 470 

Those starry lights of virtue, that diffuse 
Through the dark depth of time their vivid flame, 
Had all been lost with such as have no name. 
Who then had scorned his ease for others' good? 
Who then had toiled rapacious men to tame? 475 

Who in the public breach devoted stood, 
And for his country's cause been prodigal of blood ? 

CANTO II. 231 


' But should to fame your hearts impervious be, 
If right I read, you pleasure all require : 
Then hear how best may be obtained this fee, 480 

How best enjoyed this nature's wide desire. 
Toil and be glad ! let Industry inspire 
Into your quickened limbs her buoyant breath ! 
Who does not act is dead ; absorpt entire 
In miry sloth, no pride, no joy he hath : 485 

O leaden-hearted men, to be in love with death! 


* Better the toiling swain, oh happier far ! 
Perhaps the happiest of the sons of men ! 
Who vigorous plies the plough, the team, or car, 
Who houghs the field, or ditches in the glen, 490 

Delves in his garden, or secures his pen : 
The tooth of avarice poisons not his peace ; 
He tosses not in sloth's abhorred den ; 
From vanity he has a full release ; 
And, rich in nature's wealth, he thinks not of increase. 495 


' Good Lord ! how keen are his sensations all ! 
His bread is sweeter than the glutton's cates ; 
The wines of France upon the palate pall 
Compared with what his simple soul elates, 
The native cup whose flavour thirst creates; 500 

At one deep draught of sleep he takes the night ; 
And for that heart-felt joy which nothing mates, 
Of the pure nuptial bed the chaste delight, 
The losel is to him a miserable wight. 



'But what avail the largest gifts of Heaven, 505 

When sickening health and spirits go amiss ? 
How tasteless then whatever can be given! 
Health is the vital principle of bliss, 
And exercise of health. In proof of this, 
Behold the wretch who slugs his life away, 510 

Soon swallowed in disease's sad abyss ; 
While he whom toil has braced, or manly play, 
Has light as air each limb, each thought as clear as day. 


' O who can speak the vigorous joys of health ! 
Unclogged the body, unobscured the mind; 515 

The morning rises gay, with pleasing stealth 
The temperate evening falls serene and kind. 
In health the wiser brutes true gladness find. 
See how the younglings frisk along the meads, 
As May comes on and wakes the balmy wind ; 520 

Rampant with life, their joy all joy exceeds : 
Yet what save high-strung health this dancing pleasaunce 
breeds ? 


' But here instead is fostered every ill 
Which or distempered minds or bodies know. 
Come then, my kindred spirits ! do not spill 525 

Your talents here. This place is but a show, 
Whose charms delude you to the den of woe. 
Come, follow me ! I will direct you right 
Where pleasure's roses void of serpents grow, 
Sincere as sweet ; come, follow this good Knight, 530 
And you will bless the day that brought him to your sight. 

CANTO II. 233 


' Some he will lead to courts, and some to camps ; 
To senates some, and public sage debates, 
Where, by the solemn gleam of midnight lamps, 
The world is poised, and managed mighty states; 535 

To high discovery some, that new creates 
The face of earth ; some to the thriving mart ; 
Some to the rural reign, and softer fates ; 
To the sweet muses some, who raise the heart : 
All glory shall be yours, all nature, and all art. 540 


' There are, I see, who listen to my lay, 
Who wretched sigh for virtue, but despair. 
"All may be done (methinks I hear them say), 
Even death despised by generous actions fair; 
All, but for those who to these bowers repair, 545 

Their every power dissolved in luxury, 
To quit of torpid sluggishness the lair, 
And from the powerful arms of sloth get free 
'Tis rising from the dead ! Alas it cannot be ! " 


'Would you then learn to dissipate the band 550 

Of these huge threatening difficulties dire 
That in the weak man's way like lions stand, 
His soul appal, and damp his rising fire? 
Resolve ! resolve ! and to be men aspire ! 
Exert that noblest privilege, alone 555 

Here to mankind indulged ; control desire ; 
Let godlike reason from her sovereign throne 
Speak the commanding word / will ! and it is done. 



1 Heavens ! can you then thus waste in shameful wise 
Your few important days of trial here ? 560 

Heirs of eternity, yborn to rise 
Through endless states of being, still more near 
To bliss approaching and perfection clear, 
Can you renounce a fortune so sublime, 
Such glorious hopes, your backward steps to steer, 565 
And roll, with vilest brutes, through mud and slime ? 
No ! no ! Your heaven-touched hearts disdain the piteous 
crime ! ' 


' Enough ! enough ! ' they cried. Straight from the crowd 
The better sort on wings of transport fly, 
As, when amid the lifeless summits proud 570 

Of Alpine cliffs, where to the gelid sky 
Snows piled on snows in wintry torpor lie, 
The rays divine of vernal Phcebus play, 
The awakened heaps, in streamlets from on high, 
Roused into action, lively leap away, 575 

Glad warbling through the vales, in their new being gay. 


Not less the life, the vivid joy serene, 
That lighted up these new-created men 
Than that which wings the exulting spirit clean 
When, just delivered from this fleshly den, 580 

It soaring seeks its native skies agen : 
How light its essence ! how unclogged its powers, 
Beyond the blazon of my mortal pen ! 
Even so we glad forsook these sinful bowers ; 
Even such enraptured life, such energy was ours. 585 

CANTO II. 235 



But far the greater part, with rage inflamed, 
Dire muttered curses, and blasphemed high Jove. 
' Ye sons of hate ! (they bitterly exclaimed) 
What brought you to this seat of peace and love ? 
While with kind nature here amid the grove 590 

We passed the harmless sabbath of our time, 
What to disturb it could, fell men ! emove 
Your barbarous hearts ? Is happiness a crime ? 
Then do the fiends of hell rule in yon Heaven sublime.' 


'Ye impious wretches, (quoth the Knight in wrath) 595 
Your happiness behold ! ' Then straight a wand 
He waved, an anti-magic power that hath 
Truth from illusive falsehood to command. 
Sudden the landskip sinks on every hand ; 
The pure quick streams are marshy puddles found ; 600 
On baleful heaths the groves all blackened stand ; 
And o'er the weedy foul abhorred ground, 
Snakes, adders, toads, each loathly creature crawls around. 


And here and there, on trees by lightning scathed, 
Unhappy wights who loathed life yhung ; 605 

Or in fresh gore and recent murder bathed 
They weltering lay ; or else, infuriate flung 
Into the gloomy flood, while ravens sung 
The funeral dirge, they down the torrent rolled : 
These, by distempered blood to madness stung, 610 

Had doomed themselves ; whence oft, when night con- 
The world, returning hither their sad spirits howled. 


Meantime a moving scene was open laid. 
That lazar-house I whilom in my lay 

Depeinten have its horrors deep displayed, 615 

And gave unnumbered wretches to the day, 
Who tossing there in squalid misery lay. 
Soon as of sacred light the unwonted smile 
Poured on these living catacombs its ray, 
Through the drear caverns stretching many a mile, 620 
The sick upraised their heads, and dropped their woes awhile. 


' O Heaven ! (they cried) and do we once more see 
Yon blessed sun, and this green earth so fair? 
Are we from noisome damps of pest-house free ? 
And drink our souls the sweet ethereal air ? 625 

O thou or Knight or God! who boldest there 
That fiend, oh keep him in eternal chains ! 
But what for us, the children of despair, 
Brought to the brink of hell, what hope remains ? 
Repentance does itself but aggravate our pains.' 630 


The gentle Knight, who saw their rueful case, 
Let fall adown his silver beard some tears. 
* Certes (quoth he) it is not even in grace 
To undo the past, and eke your broken years : 
Nathless to nobler worlds repentance rears 635 

With humble hope her eye ; to her is given 
A power the truly contrite heart that cheers; 
She quells the brand by which the rocks are riven ; 
She more than merely softens she rejoices Heaven. 

CANTO II. 237 


'Then patient bear the sufferings you have earned, 640 
And by these sufferings purify the mind ; 
Let wisdom be by past misconduct learned : 
Or pious die, with penitence resigned ; 
And to a life more happy and refined 
Doubt not you shall new creatures yet arise. 645 

Till then, you may expect in me to find 
One who will wipe your sorrow from your eyes, 
One who will soothe your pangs, and wing you to the skies.' 


They silent heard, and poured their thanks in tears. 
' For you (resumed the Knight with sterner tone) 650 

Whose hard dry hearts th' obdurate demon sears, 
That villain's gifts will cost you many a groan ; 
In dolorous mansion long you must bemoan 
His fatal charms, and weep your stains away ; 
Till, soft and pure as infant goodness grown, 655 

You feel a perfect change : then, who can say 
What grace may yet shine forth in Heaven's eternal day ' 


This said, his powerful wand he waved anew : 
Instant a glorious angel-train descends, 
The charities, to wit, of rosy hue : 660 

Sweet love their looks a gentle radiance lends, 
And with seraphic flame compassion blends. 
At once delighted to their charge they fly : 
When lo! a goodly hospital ascends, 
In which they bade each human aid be nigh, 665 

That could the sick-bed smooth of that unhappy fry. 



It was a worthy edifying sight, 
And gives to human kind peculiar grace, 
To see kind hands attending day and night 
With tender ministry from place to place. 670 

Some prop the head ; some from the pallid face 
Wipe off the faint cold dews weak nature sheds ; 
Some reach the healing draught : the whilst, to chase 
The fear supreme, around their softened beds, 
Some holy man by prayer all opening Heaven dispreds. 675 


Attended by a glad acclaiming train 
Of those he rescued had from gaping hell, 
Then turned the Knight ; and, to his hall again 
Soft-pacing, sought of peace the mossy cell, 
Yet down his cheeks the gems of pity fell 680 

To see the helpless wretches that remained, 
There left through delves and deserts dire to yell ; 
Amazed, their looks with pale dismay were stained, 
And, spreading wide their hands, they meek repentance 


But ah ! their scorned day of grace was past : 685 

For (horrible to tell !) a desert wild 
Before them stretched, bare, comfortless, and vast, 
With gibbets, bones, and carcases defiled. 
There nor trim field nor lively culture smiled ; 
Nor waving shade was seen, nor fountain fair; 690 

But sands abrupt on sands lay loosely piled, 
Through which they floundering toiled with painful care, 
Whilst Phoebus smote them sore, and fired the cloudless 

CANTO II. 239 


Then, varying to a joyless land of bogs, 
The saddened country a gray waste appeared, 695 

Where nought but putrid streams and noisome fogs 
For ever hung on drizzly Auster's beard ; 
Or else the ground, by piercing Caurus seared, 
Was jagged with frost or heaped with glazed snow : 
Through these extremes a ceaseless round they steered, 700 
By cruel fiends still hurried to and fro, 
Gaunt beggary and scorn, with many hell-hounds moe. 


The first was with base dunghill rags yclad, 
Tainting the gale, in which they fluttered light ; 
Of morbid hue his features, sunk and sad ; 705 

His hollow eyne shook forth a sickly light ; 
And o'er his lank jawbone, in piteous plight, 
His black rough beard was matted rank and vile ; 
Direful to see ! a heart-appalling sight ! 
Meantime foul scurf and blotches him defile ; 710 

And dogs, where'er he went, still barked all the while. 


The other was a fell despightful fiend: 
Hell holds none worse in baleful bower below ; 
By pride, and wit, and rage, and rancour keened ; 
Of man, alike if good or bad, the foe : 7*5 

With nose upturned, he always made a show 
As if he smelt some nauseous scent ; his eye 
Was cold and keen, like blast from boreal snow ; 
And taunts he casten forth most bitterly. 
Such were the twain that off drove this ungodly fry. 720 



Even so through Brentford town, a town of mud, 
A herd of bristly swine is pricked along ; 
The filthy beasts, that never chew the cud, 
Still grunt, and squeak, and sing their troublous song ; 
And oft they plunge themselves the mire among: 725 

But aye the ruthless driver goads them on, 
And aye of barking dogs the bitter throng 
Makes them renew their unmelodious moan, 
Ne ever find they rest from their unresting fone. 




Placed in its natural order in the collected seasons, Spring came third 
in the order of composition. It was published in 1728, with a dedi- 
cation in prose to the Countess of Hertford, whom Thomson describes 
as a lady of ' fine imagination ' and having ' intimate acquaintance 
with rural nature.' He adds the interesting information that the poem 
grew up under her encouragement, and had therefore a natural claim to 
her patronage. Johnson offers a peculiar view of the nature of this 
encouragement : it was this lady's practice, he says, ' to invite every 
summer some poet into the country, to hear her verses and assist her 
studies. This honour was one summer conferred on Thomson, who took 
more delight in carousing with Lord Hertford and his friends than 
assisting her ladyship's poetical operations, and therefore never received 
another summons.' The scene of those carousals was Marlborough 
Castle, in Wiltshire, where, probably in 1727, notwithstanding the 
alleged dissipations, time was found to write the larger portion, if not the 
whole, of Spring. ' Here Mr. Thomson composed one of his Seasons' is 
the testimony of Stephen Duck, the Wiltshire thresher-poet, a contem- 
porary of Thomson, and only some five years his junior. Lady Hertford's 
manner of life at Marlborough may be inferred from the following 
verses of her own composition : 

' We sometimes ride, and sometimes walk, 

We play at chess, or laugh, or talk ; 

Sometimes beside the crystal stream 

We meditate some serious theme ; 

Or in the grot beside the spring 

We hear the feathered warblers sing. 


Shakspeare perhaps an hour diverts, 

Or Scott directs to mend our hearts, 

With Clarke God's attributes explore 

And taught by him admire them more. 

Gay's pastorals sometimes delight us, 

Or Tasso's grisly spectres fright us ; 

Sometimes we trace Armida's bowers 

And view Rinaldo chained with flowers. 

Often from thoughts sublime as these 

I sink at once and make a cheese ; 

Or see my various poultry fed 

And treat my swans with scraps of bread.' 
Sometimes upon the smooth canal they go boating till sundown ; 
' Then tolls the bell, and all unite 

In prayer that God would bless the night.' 
From this 

' To cards we go till ten has struck, 

And then, however bad our luck, 

Our stomachs ne'er refuse to eat 

Eggs, cream, fresh-butter, or calves'-feet, 

And cooling fruit, or savoury greens, 

'Sparagus, peas, or kidney beans. 

Our supper past, an hour we sit 

And talk of history, Spain, or wit.' 

One may imagine Thomson joining occasionally in some part of all this. 
The prose dedication of Spring was not repeated. In the second 
edition appeared the greater compliment of those half-dozen lines at the 
commencement of the poem which rendered it unnecessary. Lady Hert- 
ford, if she did not again invite Thomson to her country seat, did not 
cease to admire and praise his genius. Twenty years after the publica- 
tion of Spring she promised to a correspondent 'much entertainment 
in. Mr. Thomson's Castle of Indolence,' and recommended ' the many 
pretty paintings in it.* 

The publisher of Spring was one Andrew Miller, who did business at 
the sign of Buchanan's Head, and who seems to hare favoured, or been 
favoured by, Scottish authors. He paid Thomson fifty guineas for 
copyright. It was not till 1731 that he brought otit the second edition, 
but in the interval, more particularly in 1730, the first edition of the 


collected Seasons had appeared. Spring, The Dunciad, and Theli 
Beggars' Opera were the chief London publications of 1728. 

In Spring, Thomson's imagination does not carry him beyond the 
British Isles. He found at home all that was needful for a poetical 
representation of that delightful season. Nowhere, indeed, is nature 
lovelier in springtime. ' My genius spreads her wing,' sang Goldsmith, 
in 1764, in the character of the Traveller 

'And flies where Britain courts the western spring, 
Where lawns extend that scorn Arcadian pride, 
And brighter streams than famed Hydaspes glide : 
There all around the gentlest breezes play, 
There gentle music melts on every spray ; 
Creation's mildest charms are there combined.' 

And the wish of Browning among Italian scenery was *O to be in 
England now that April's there ! ' 

Spring was augmented in the later editions by about one-tenth. The 
lines on angling are a charming addition. It is a question, however, 
whether the description of Hagley Park and its people greatly improves 
the poem. It is only right to say that the Lytteltons deserved the 
tribute of that description. 

The Argument of the poem, as given in the edition of 1738, offers the 
following summary : 

' The subject proposed. Inscribed to Lady Hertford. This Season 
is described as it affects the various parts of nature, ascending from the 
lower to the higher, and mixed with digressions arising from the subject. 
Its influence on inanimate matter, on vegetables, on brute animals, and 
last on man ; concluding with a dissuasive from the wild and irregular 
passion of love, opposed to that of a purer and more reasonable kind.' 

The finest descriptive passages in Spring include a series of views 
not all original that almost exhaust the poetical aspects of bird-life. 
Of these the fullest and most striking are the bird concert, bird court- 
ship, teaching the young birds to fly, the mother bird's return to her 
harried nest, and the St. Kilda eagle. Of equal power and fidelity to 
nature are the glimpses of the swan on the river, the dove, and the 
parading peacock. One misses, however, the return of the swallows 
a theme on which Thomson should have had something good to say. 
The capture of the big trout and the bull in the broom are drawn with 
as firm and faithful a touch as Thomson has anywhere shown, even in 

R 2 


Winter ; while the description of the deluge, compressed into eight 
wonderful lines, ending in a climax that awes the imagination, reveals 
the advance which the poet had made in imaginative force since the 
publication of Winter. There is a tendency to indulge the preaching 
vein in the panegyric on nuptial love ; but the most prolix part of the 
poem is the description of the woes of the lover, especially the jealous 
lover. The idea of love enters the poet's mind when he is about half 
through the poem, and a description of the effects of that passion on 
bird, beast, and man follows and continues to the end. Before 
Tennyson, Thomson knew that 

' In the Spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.' 
The poem opens with a rapid but graphic account of the transition 
from Winter to Spring, none of the essential phenomena that mark the 
change being omitted. We are introduced to a scene of snow-clad hills, 
livid torrents, and cloud-laden skies, and before the poem closes we find 
ourselves on the threshold of Summer. The work of the farm occupies 
but a small portion of the poem. It is not merely, nor even mainly, 
cultivated nature as transformed by the advancing season that forms 
the subject of the poem. The range is wider ; it is rather over nature 
unmodified by the arts and influence of man. The presence of man 
is lost in the all- pervading presence of nature. The poet never once 
follows Spring into village street or town. Even within the flower- 
garden he looks beyond, as if impatient of its confining wall, to the 
ethereal mountain or the distant main. The freshness and freedom of 
\J 'the air of the open wilderness are everywhere about him. It is the 
musical expression of these qualities, so admirably caught from the poem, 
that recommends Haydn's setting of Spring to every admirer of 

Lines 1-4. This invocation is simply the poet's way of announcing his 
choice of subject. Instead of saying, in a prosaic way, that he means to 
describe the mild winds and refreshing rains, the song-birds and flowers, 
and other features of the Spring season, he imagines a goddess de- 
scending from heaven in response to his call, garlanded with roses and 
surrounded with music. The image of the goddess is purposely obscured 
with the cloud and the veil, to harmonize with the shy graces of early 
Spring-time. For the same reason there is a blending of figure and 
feeling in the first line, which, though evasively bewildering to one's 

NOTES, 1-22. 245 

imagination, admirably suggests a sense of the presence of Spring. 
Thomson attempted to alter these lines, but never succeeded to his 

3, 4. veiled in a shower Of shadowing roses. Cp. Milton's descrip- 
tion of Eve in the garden of Eden 

' Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood 
Half-spied, so thick the roses bushing round 
About her glowed.' Par. Lost, Bk. IX. 11. 425-7. 

5. Hertford, &c. P'rances Thynne, granddaughter of Viscount 
Weymouth, and wife of the Earl of Hertford, afterwards Duke of 
Somerset. She was a lady of considerable literary taste and many 
acquirements. Her knowledge of history is said to have been par- 
ticularly extensive. She was fond of the society of poets l , and made 
some figure herself as a verse-writer. A specimen of her talent has 
already been given in the Introductory Note to this poem. To her, in 
1750, Shenstone inscribed his ode on Rural Elegance. Watts also 
inscribed his Miscellanies to her. She is described by Horace Walpole 
as affable, yet dignified, affectionately devoted to her husband in his long 
illness, and careful in training her children in virtue and religion. John- 
son speaks rather contemptuously of her 'poetical operations.' Walpole, 
without characterizing her verses, gives her credit for having ' as much 
taste for the writings of others, as modesty about her own.' Thomson 
alludes to her fitness for ' shining in courts ' a fitness which Queen 
Caroline rewarded by making her one of the ladies of the bed-chamber. 
She died in 1754, f ur years after the death of her husband. 

21, 22. scarce The bittern knows his time. The time here referred to 
is the breeding season. The bittern, or more correctly the bitour or 
bittor (from the French butor), is a genus, or sub-genus, of the heron 
family of wading birds. It is somewhat less than the heron, and differs 
from it in building its nest on the ground. It haunts marshy places on 
upland moors, lies close by day, and wakens up towards evening to fill 
the air with that peculiar booming cry from which its name seems to be 
derived. In some localities in England it is familiarly called, from the 
same peculiarity, the mire-drum, the bull-of-the-bog, &c. Owing to the 
modern system of drainage it is not now so common in our country as 
it was in the time of Thomson. The breeding season of this bird is in 
February or March. It used to be believed that its peculiar cry was 
produced by the bird inserting its four-inch long bill into a reed, or into 
the marsh ; but it is now known that its cries are uttered in the air, 
often while the bird is making its lofty spiral ascent. The bittern is of 

1 It was by her intercession with the Queen that a pardon was procured in 1727 
for the unfortunate Savage, who had killed a man in a tavern brawl. 


a dull yellow colour irregularly marked with black, has a long bare 
neck, and when wounded is dangerous to approach, as it fights 
desperately and strikes at the eye of its assailant. 

23, 24. from the shore The plovers. Crested lapwings, or peewits, are 
meant. They are a genus of the plover family of wading birds, and 
well-known in Britain wherever there are moors or marshy tracts. They 
live in flocks, in the Winter season, chiefly at the seaside : in the early 
Spring they fly inland to upland moors and waste lands, where they pair, 
and build their nests on the ground. Their artifices to prevent people 
from discovering their eggs are described in lines 693-7 infra. Plovers 
are named from the circumstance of their being especially restless, and 
therefore most seen, in rainy weather (Lat. pluvialis, rainy). In Germany 
the plover is the rain-piper (Regenpfeiffer). It is worth noting that 
Goldsmith also brings the bittern and the lapwing together in poetry, 
but with a purpose different from that of Thomson : the later poet's 
object is to accentuate the desolation of the deserted village 
'Along thy glades, a solitary guest, 

The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest; 

Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies 

And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.' 
Tennyson makes 

' The tufted plover pipe along the fallow lea.' 
26, 27. At last from Aries rolls the bounteous sun, And the bright Bull 
receives him. In plain English poetry, or pedantry, apart it is now 
about the end of April. The sun enters the sign (not now the constella- 
tion) of Aries at the vernal equinox. The precession of the equinoxes 
has quite disarranged the Zodiac. Thomson rather affects the old- 
fashioned poetical way of marking the advance of the year. So in 
Winter, lines 42, 43 

* To Capricorn the Centaur- Archer yields, 

And fierce Aquarius stains th' inverted year.' 

These references to the position of the sun in the Zodiac, as indicative of 
the time of the year, are as old in our literature as the age of Chaucer, 
the author of the Astrolabe. To take a familiar example 

' the yonge sonne 
Hath in the Ram his halfe cours i-ronne.' 

Prologue to Tales, 11. 7, 8. 

This was a mere display of learning, but Chaucer had the humanity to 
surround it with natural images suggestive of the progress of the season 
which everybody could understand. It was rather late in the day for 
Thomson seriously to adopt the old method of marking time. The 
lines are sonorous enough, but they are nothing more. 

NOTES, 23-54. 247 

34-36. JoyoTis, the impatient husbandman, &c. Compare and 

' Ac neque jam stabulis gaudet pecus aut arator igni.' 

Hor. Car. I. 4. 

The ox in this country, even in Scotland, is now all but superseded as 
a beast of burden and of draught by the horse. Dunbar has a kindly 
notice of the plough-ox in the Thistle and the Rose 

' And lat no bowgle, with his busteous hornis, 
The meik pluch ox oppress, for all his pryd, 
Bot in the yok go peciable him besyd.' 11. 110-112. 

The bowgle is the bugle, or wild ox. Milton's notice in Comus of ' the 
laboured ox ' returning in loose traces from the furrow, will occur to 
every one. So late as the time of Burns, who lived two generations 
after Thomson, the ox was still in common use on Scottish farms as a 
beast of draught. The ploughman-poet sings in The Lea-rig of ' owsen 
frae the furrow'd field ' returning ' dowf an' weary,' but he writes also of 
small horses, or ' pownies,' reeking before the plough or harrows. In 
the end of last century an ox and a horse were often to be seen on low- 
land farms dragging the same plough. Thomson's knowledge of the 
work of the farm, it may be noted here, was altogether drawn from the 
Scottish lowlands. 

40. the simple song. Of the ploughman. It is still happily his 
practice to sing at the plough. For the song of Thomson's ' husband- 
man ' one may reasonably consult such a collection of old songs, 
Scottish and English, as Allan Ramsay brought together in his Tea- 
Table Miscellany in 1724. 

42. The master. The ploughman proper. The attendance of a boy 
or young man as gadsman, or goadsman, to walk at the head or side of 
the oxen and keep them going with his goad, appears to be implied. 

removes the obstriicting clay. From the mould-board. This is 
done with the pottle or plough-spade. It is the mould-board that 
throws the furrow, and it is essential to good ploughing that this should 
be done cleanly. 

43. Winds the whole work. Plans the method and order of the cul- 
tivation of the field ; or directs the progress of the whole work, first 

feering, and then gathering the furrows into ridges. Or cleaving, a 
process the reverse of gathering, may be adopted. The modern method 
of laying out a field with the plough is casting. Cp. ' to wind a watch,' 
i. e. to set a-going and keep in continual motion. 

52-54. Nor ye who live in luxury, &c. Cp. the lines of Gray in the 
well-known Elegy (published 1751) 

'Let not ambition mock their' useful toil,' &c. 


55. the rural Maro, Virgil, the author of the Georgics. The first 
of the four Georgics treats of agriculture. The whole work, undertaken 
at the instance of Maecenas, occupied the poet seven years from his 
34th to his 41 st year ; it was mostly written at Naples and is the best 
specimen of his verse. His descriptions of life and work at the farm 
are singularly vivid, and are beautifully illustrated with many poetical 
episodes. He was born, 70 B.C., on his father's farm or estate near 
Mantua ; lived mainly a country life, uninfluenced by personal ex- 
perience of Rome, till he was thirty; and died 19 B.C., and was buried 
near his beloved Naples. The ^Eneid is, of course, regarded as his 
greatest poem. 

Traces of Thomson's study of the first two Georgics may be found in 
the foregoing passage commencing 'Forth fly the tepid airs' (1. 32) 
more especially in those parts of it which suggest the feeling of Spring 
in the air, and express sympathy with the hopes and fears of the 

59. awful fathers of mankind. Such as Cincinnatus 'awful from 
the plough' (see Winter, 1. 512) ; and Philopcemen 'toiling in his farm 
a simple swain ' or ' thundering in the field ' of battle (Winter, 1. 494). 

60. your insect tribes. Thomson is not often so severe. He is of 
course addressing those ' who live in luxury and ease ' and think agri- 
culture, and external nature generally, unworthy of their attention or 
of poetical treatment. (See 11. 52-54 supra.} 

65. and greatly independent lived. So in the early editions ; ex- 
panded and weakened in the later thus 

' and greatly independent scorned 
All the vile stores corruption can bestow.' 

66. venerate the plough. In the original version, ' cttltivate the 

69-75. The commerce, agriculture, and manufactures of Britain are 
briefly noticed in these lines, and the wish is expressed that greater 
national interest were directed to the production of corn and wool. 
The use of the comparatives, ' superior ' and ' better,' shows that Thom- 
son believed in the establishment of the British power upon rural 
industry at home rather than upon trade and traffic abroad. In various 
parts of Liberty, a noble and eloquent historical poem strangely 
neglected ever since Johnson condemned without having read it, the 
same preference for an agricultural to a commercial basis as the first 
foundation of national strength and welfare is expressed or implied. 
Britannia is thus described 

' Great nurse of fruits, of flocks, of commerce, she ! 
Great nurse of men ! ' Part V. 11. 81-2. 

NOTES, $5-11$. 249 

In the same Part occurs the following passage 

' She, whitening o'er her downs, diffusive pours 
Unnumber'd flocks ; she weaves the fleecy robe 
That wraps the nations; she to lusty droves 
The richest pasture spreads ; and, hers, deep wave 
Autumnal seas of pleasing plenty round,' &c. 

11. 38-42, et seqq. 

80. the steaming Power. The sap which had retreated to the roots, 
' the dark retreat of vegetation.' It is now ' set at large,' and ' wanders ' 
again through stems and stalks all over the spring landscape, giving 
their ' various hues ' to the purpling buds and green unfolding leaves of 
trees and bushes, ' its vivid verdure ' to ' the wither'd hill,' its white 
blossoms to the hawthorn, &c. all as described in the succeeding 
lines. See also 11. 566-570 infra. 

84. United light and shade. Neither so brilliant as to dazzle, nor 
yet sombre, but an intermediate cheerful tint that soothes and strengthens 
the eye. 

86, 87. ' The hounds of Spring are on Winter's traces.' (Swinburne.) 
89. But the whitening of the hawthorn comes considerably later than 
the budding of trees even of the ash. 

100-106. Thomson mentions the town in Spring only to leave it. 
Compare with this passage Milton's fine simile 

'As one who, long in populous city pent, 
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air, 
Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe 
Among the pleasant villages and farms 
Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight 
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine, 
Or dairy,' 8cc.Par. Lost, Bk. IX. 11. 445-451. 
107. Some eminence, Augusta, in thy plains. Richmond Hill will 
answer, and is probably intended. Thomson went to live at Richmond 
in 1736. The surname of Augusta was first given to London in the 
time of Constantine the Great, in the early part of the fourth century. 
It was then a large and important town, no longer confined to the south 
bank of the Thames, but extending along the north bank as well, and on 
the latter side defended by a wall. 

in, 112. hid beneath The fair prof tisi on yellorv Autumn spies. Anti- 
cipates a good crop of fruit from the abundance of blossom. Note the 
colouring, from 1. 109 to the reference to ' yellow autumn.' 

113. If, brushed from Russian wilds, &c. The east winds which 
visit us in Spring are part of the polar current which then descends 
upon Europe through Russia. The clause expresses the condition 


upon which the poet's expectation of a 'yellow Autumn' will be 

115. The clammy mildew. Mildew, as it is commonly understood, is 
not ' clammy,' and does not appear upon plants till the end of summer. 
The literal meaning of the word is 'honey-dew,' not 'meal-dew' ; and 
the vegetable disease known by this name, which chiefly appears in 
Spring, is probably what Thomson here refers to. The word comes 
from the Anglo-Saxon mele or mil, allied to the Latin mel, honey ; and 
dedzu, dew. Honey-dew is a sugary exudation of certain plants and 
trees caused, it is supposed, either by the punctures of such insects as the 
aphides, or by the rupture of the vegetable tissues from some such 
cause as dry weather. The exudation coats the leaves or stalks with a 
clammy film, which, if not washed off by a squirt, produces fungi, or at 
least catches whatever the air brings to it, and thus clogs the pores of 
the plant, and injures its growth. Some, however, believe that honey- 
dew is an exudation of the aphides themselves. Thomson here attri- 
butes it to a ' humid,' or as he first put it a 'foggy' east wind. To 
a dry east wind, or north wind, he attributes the blight of leaf and 
blossom in springtime through the instrumentality of aphides (1. 119 
et seqq^. 

1 20. insect armies warp. Advance with a wavering motion. Cp. 
Milton's ' cloud of locusts warping on the eastern wind ' (Par. Lost, 
Bk. I. 1. 341). Shakespeare, in As You Like It, uses the word causa- 
tively * Though thou [the winter wind] the waters warp.' 

125. Corrosive famine. An insatiable hunger. Famine is not used 
here in its ordinaiy sense of scarcity of food. 

127. before his orchard. An orchard is no uncommon appendage of 
an English farm, but on Scottish farms it is far from common. 

130, 131. Scatters o'er the blooms The pungent dust of pepper. In 
the early editions Thomson had instead ' onions, steaming hot, beneath 
his trees exposes.' 

135. Here in the early editions followed a passage of thirty-three 
lines, afterwards transferred with a few alterations to Summer, 11. 289- 


141. drown the crttde unripened year. See, for a description of a 
wet summer, A Midsummer-Night's Dream, Act II, Sc. i. 11. 89-114 
'Therefore the winds .... 
.... have sucked up from the sea 
Contagious fogs,' &c. 
151, 152. ivintry storms . . . Oppressing life. Cp. Winter 

' Thus Winter falls 
A heavy gloom oppressive o'er the world.' 11. 57, 58. 

NOTES, 115-227. 251 

156. the closing woods. The innumerable leaves of the forest, 
no longer stirred by the wind, fall into their natural places, and 
remaining motionless, give the idea of a closed tent or curtained 

157. many -twinkling leaves. Gray, in The Progress of Poesy, has the 
same expression, but applied to dancers ' glance their many-twinkling 
feet ' (1.35,). 

168. forests seem, impatient, to demand. In the early editions 
' expansive ' had the place of ' impatient.' The change is no improve- 

1 76. This line at first stood ' 'Tis scarce to patter heard, the stealing 
shower,' a common Scottish inversion. 

182. This line explains the bold metaphor of the three preceding 

1 86. Indulge their genial stores. Here 'indulge' means 'freely 
bestow,' or ' set no check or restraint upon.' 

191, 192. strikes the illumined mountains. Cp. Tennyson's 

' wildly dash'd on tower and tree 

The sunbeam strikes along the world.' In Memoriam, XV. 
195. Increased; i.e. with rain. 

207. Here, awful Newton. Shortly after Newton's death, at the 
age of 84, in March 1727, Thomson wrote and published his poem, 
To the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton. The following passage from that 
poem describes Newton's discovery of the composition of the white or 
colourless ray 

' Even light itself, which every thing displays, 
Shone undiscovered till his brighter mind 
Untwisted all the shining robe of day, 
And from the whitening undistinguished blaze, 
Collecting every ray into his kind, 
To the charmed eye educed the gorgeous train 
Of parent colours. First the flaming Red/ &c. 

11. 1 02, et seqq. 
An enumeration of the seven primitive rays follows. 

218-2 20. to give to light, &c. There is some obscurity of meaning here. 
By the ' balmy treasures ' are probably meant both the bloom and the 
fragrance, which were produced by the refreshing rain of the previous 
day. The lines ran originally 

'to give again, 

Transmuted soon by nature's chemistry 
The blooming blessings of the former day.' 
227. Construe ' what dull and incurious people account as weeds.* 


244. their light slumbers gently filmed aivay. Cp. Milton 
'Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime 
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl, 
When Adam waked, so 'customed ; for his sleep 
Was aery light, from pure digestion bred, 
And temperate vapours bland, which the only sound 
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan 
Lightly dispersed,' &c.Par. Lost, Bk. V. 11. 1-7. 
2 70. Sttch "were those prime of days. Thomson's description of the 
age of primeval innocence may have been partly suggested by a passage 
in Virgil's first Georgic, commencing (1. 125) c Ante Jovem nulli subi- 
gebant arva coloni ' ; but it bears a closer and fuller resemblance to 
Ovid's beautiful lines on the golden age in the first book of the Meta- 
morphoses. Part of Dryden's translation of those lines may be given 
' The golden age was first, when men, yet new 
No rule but uncorrupted reason knew. . . . 
The mountain -trees in distant prospect please, 
Ere yet the pine descended to the seas ; 
And happy mortals, unconcerned for more, 
Confined their wishes to their native shore. . . . 
Nor swords were forged ; but void of care and crime, 
The soft creation slept away their time. . . . 
Content with food, which nature freely bred, 
On wildings and on strawberries they fed. . . . 
The flowers unsown in fields and meadows reigned, 
And western winds immortal spring maintained. . . 
From veins of valleys, milk and nectar broke, 
And honey sweating through the pores of oak.' 
Long though Thomson's account of the Age of primeval innocence 
is, it was yet longer in the early editions by some twenty-eight lines. 
Tn the edition of 1 738 these lines still found a place ; and, though it 
was a proof of Che growing refinement of his taste to withdraw them at 
last, they are so characteristic, in a certain wild and even grotesque 
luxuriance of imagination, that they may be reproduced here 
' This to the poets 1 gave the Golden Age, 
When, as they sung in elevated phrase, 
The sailor-pine had not the nations yet 
In commerce mixed ; for every country teemed 
With everything. Spontaneous harvest waved 
Still in a sea of yellow plenty round. 

* Virgil and Ovid. 

NOTES, 244-305. 253 

The forest was the vineyard, where, untaught 
To climb, unpruned and wild, the juicy grape 
Burst into floods of wine. The knotted oak 
Shook from his boughs the long transparent streams 
Of honey, creeping through the matted grass. 
Th' uncultivated thorn a ruddy shower 
Of fruitage shed on such as sat below 
In blooming ease, and from brown labour free 
Save what the copious gathering grateful gave. 
The rivers foamed with nectar; or diffuse, 
Silent and soft the milky maze devolved. 
Nor had the spongy full-expanded fleece 
Yet drunk the Tyrian dye: the stately ram 
Shone through the mead in native purple clad 
Or milder saffron ; and the dancing lamb 
The vivid crimson to the sun disclosed. 
Nothing had power to hurt : the savage soul, 
Yet untransfused into the tiger's heart, 
Burned not his bowels, nor his gamesome paw 
Drove on the fleecy partners of his play ; 
While from the flowery brake the serpent rolled 
His fairer spires, and played his pointless tongue.' 
Some of this is grotesque enough to be ridiculous, but there is also 
much of that raciness which Johnson missed in the later editions. 
The warmth and variety of colouring should be noted. 

271, 272. whence the fabling poets took Their golden age. Contrast 

'Would I had fallen upon those happier days 
That poets celebrate, those golden times 
And those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings . . . 
Vain wish ! those days were never : airy dreams 
Sat for the picture.' The Task, Bk. IV. 
279. or else approving. This can hardly be said of reason. 
304, 305. extinct each social feeling, fell And joyless inhumanity, &c. 
' social love is of quite another nature [from self-love] ; the just and 
free exercise of which, in a particular manner, renders one amiable and 
divine. The accomplished man I admire, the honest man I trust ; but 
it is only the truly generous man I entirely love. Humanity is the very 
smile and consummation of virtue ; it is the image of that fair perfection 
in the supreme Being, which while he was infinitely happy in himself, 
moved him to create a world of beings to make them so.' Letter to 
Aaron Hill, April, 18, 1726. 


313, 314. Cp. the lines in Burns' s Brigs of Ayr which revealed 
to Carlyle ' a world of rain and ruin ' : 

4 Then down ye'll hurl 

And dash the gumlie jaups up to the pouring skies.* 
The criticism will apply more fitly to the lines of Thomson. 
316, 317. These lines originally stood 

' The Seasons since, as hoar tradition tells, 

Have kept their constant chase/ &c. 

This explanation of the phenomenon of the Seasons, as due to the deluge, 
has no scientific value : it is purely fanciful. 

319, 320. fruits and blossoms blushed . . . on the selfsame bough. So 

' trees loaden with fairest fruit, 
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 147, 8. 

334. Originally ' The fleeting shadow of a Winter's sun.' 
341. And -worse. In respect that he acts in a manner contrary to his 
better knowledge and better nature. He is therefore more cruel ; and is 
ungrateful in addition. 

350-352. Cp. Milton's Comus 

' did Nature pour her bounties forth 
With such a full and unwithdrawing hand, 
Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks.' 

11. 710-13. 

361, 362. the plain ox . . . that guileless animal. * The meik pluch 
ox.' Dunbar. 

367. The downs he feeds. I. e., with the harvest with which he toiled 
to clothe the land, by preparing the furrows for the seed, and by harrowing 
and othenvise dressing the ground after sowing was over. 

368. the riot of the Autumnal feast. Such as the Lady describes in 

' Methought it was the sound 
Of riot and ill-managed merriment, 
Such as the jocund flute or gamesome pipe 
Stirs up among the loose unlettered hinds 
AY hen, for their teeming flocks and granges full, 
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,' &c. 

11. 171-6. 

372. the numbers of the Samicm Sage. The doctrine of the trans- 
migration of souls was taught by Pythagoras, and as a consequence 
abstention from animal food was required. The supposed transmigration 
was both into human bodies and the bodies of brutes. Pythagoras himself 

NOTES, 313-377. 255 

professed to recollect having passed through former stages of existence. 
It is also said that he pretended to recognise in the cries of a dog that 
\vas being beaten the voice of a friend whose soul he believed to be 
imprisoned in the body of that animal. Pythagoras was born about 
570 B. c. in the isle of Samos ; travelled a great deal in the East in search 
of knowledge ; made important discoveries in geometry, music, and 
astronomy ; settled at Crotona in Italy, where, besides founding a 
philosophical sect, he organised a political order, which, at first suc- 
cessful, was afterwards suppressed ; and died, it is generally supposed, 
t at Metapontum, 504 B. c. (See Liberty, Part III. 1. 32.) 

Thomson's line of argument, commencing at line 271, and running 
not always clearly through the hundred following lines, seems to be 
that the wickedness of mankind, after the age of primeval innocence 
was past, was punished by the Flood, which brought about a great 
climatic change still visible in the succession of the Seasons. * Great 
Spring before greened all the year.' This climatic change acting upon 
vitiated human nature which had become * fired with hot ravin ' and 
' ensanguined 'has enfeebled the health of mankind, and greatly 
shortened the term of human life. And yet there is a remedy for the 
imperfections of ill-health and shortness of life, in a return to vegetable 

' the food of man 

While yet he lived in innocence, and told 
A length of golden years, unfleshed in blood.' 

It is, however, now too late in the history of the world to propose 
a universal return to vegetable food. The attempt of Pythagoras more 
than two thousand years ago did not succeed ; there is less likelihood of 
success now. (See Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 331, et seqq.} 

373. High Heaven forbids. Here Thomson throws up the argument : 
it is the will of Heaven, for wise ends, that we remain in our present 
state of imperfection. 

376, 377- Besides, he seems to add, the slaughter of the lower animals 
may mean their admission into a higher life ! There seems to be here 
a theory of evolution of a peculiar kind the evolution of the indestructible 
spirit or principle of life in every animate individual into a higher state 
of existence. These lines were added in the later editions. A passage 
in his Liberty, Part III, well illustrates Thomson's adaptation of the 
Pythagorean doctrine of metempsychosis 

' He even into his tender system took 
"Whatever shares the brotherhood of life : 
He taught that life's indissoluble flame 
From brute to man, and man to brute again, 


For ever shifting, runs th' eternal round ; 
Thence tried against the blood polluted meal, 
And limbs yet quivering with some kindred soul 
To turn the human heart. Delightful trttth, 
Had he beheld the living chain ascend, 
And not a circling form, but raising whole /' 11. 61-70. 
With this compare Blake's theory as set forth in Night, one of the Songs 
of Innocence (published 1789). 

378-465. These exquisite lines, descriptive of an angling excursion, 
were a happy afterthought. They were not yet ready for the edition of 
1738. The scene is apparently the poet's native Teviotdale, and the 
brooks and streams of the description, their undulating currents and 
dusky pools, still entice the angler to the moors and glens of the Cheviots. 
The whole passage is clearly a recollection of a day's fishing on the Upper 
Jed, or some one or other of its tributaries, which the poet enjoyed, let 
us say, when he was free from college in the long vacation in the early 
part of his student life. He has returned from his first experience of 
a town life with a new zest for the beauty and abandon of country 
life ; and he carries with him, in addition to the ' fine tapering rod ' 
and ' the slender watery stores,' a pocket-copy of Virgil. The book 
may be unsportsmanlike, but it is rather for companionship than 
serious study. And, indeed, the whole excursion is planned rather as 
a device for surprising nature than a serious attempt to secure a big 

387. ' Around the steel no tortured worm shall twine.' 

Gay's Rural Sports, Canto I. (published 1713). 

391. the weak helpless uncomplaining wretch. The trout. Fishing 
with worm is discredited on two grounds it is cruelty to both worm and 
fish. Fly-fishing is preferred : the fly is not swallowed, but fastens in the 
trout's mouth in some cartilage which is almost, or altogether, insensible 
to pain. It was chiefly for upholding the use of live-bait that Byron 
characterized Izaak Walton as cruel, and angling as a solitary vice (vide 
Don Juan, Canto XIII. st. cvi). ' They may talk,' says Lord Byron, 
' about the beauties of nature, but the angler merely thinks of his dish of 
fish ; he has no leisure to take his eyes from off the streams, and a single 
bite is to him worth more than all the scenery around.' Thomson 
at least was no such angler. Neither indeed was Walton insensible to 
the scenery of the riverside. But there was a great advance in the 
humanity of Thomson upon that of Walton. Not only does Thomson 
deprecate the use of live-bait 1 , but he ' softly disengages ' the young 

1 When he was a minor he had perhaps no such scruples. See his poem, in heroic 
couplets, On a Country Life, first published in The Edinburgh Miscellany of 1720. 

NOTES, 378-423. 257 

trout from his hook and returns them to the water. To circumvent the 
'monarch of the brook,' however, is in his opinion fair sport. It is 
noticeable that this is the only form of sport he favours which can be 
said to expose him to a charge of cruelty. He approves of fox-hunting, 
and the destruction of beasts of prey generally ; but his sympathies are 
with the flying hare (see Autumn, 11. 401-425), and the murdered deer 
(Autumn, 11. 426-457). His tenderness, indeed, to the peaceful lower 
creation is a principal feature of his character and his poetry. An 
advance upon his tenderness is, however, very perceptible in the teaching 
of Burns and Wordsworth. The latter has taught us 

'Never to blend our pleasure or our pride 
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels,' 

Hart-Leap Well, Pt. II ; 

while the former can find it in his heart to say of the fox 
'The blood-stained roost, and sheep-cote spoil'd, 

My heart forgets, 
While pitiless the tempest wild 

Sore on you beats.' A Winter Night. 

420, 421. Some annotators see in these lines an acquaintance on the 
part of Thomson with the long Latin poem (in ten books, afterwards 
enlarged to sixteen) of The Country Farm, written by the Jesuit Vaniere 
(Jacobi Vanierii e Societate Jesu Pracdium Rusticitin). The first 
edition of this elaborate work was published at Toulouse in 1706, and 
a copy may have found its way into Thomson's possession. This 
is indeed more likely than that any portion of it inspired a single idea 
or suggested a single expression in Thomson's description of angling. 
Natural benevolence, and not Vaniere, taught Thomson to return the 
little fish to the water : besides, Vaniere's action is prompted by a 
different motive from that which actuates Thomson ; his motive is 
prudence, Thomson's pity. Vaniere writes : 

' We percat gens tota, vagae miserere juventae 
Pisciculumque vadis haerentem tolle ; futurae 
Spem sobolis, vivumque novae demitte paludi.' 
Thomson has no such ulterior end in view. But 

' Him, piteous of his youth, and the short space 
He has enjoyed the vital light of heaven, 
Soft disengage, and back into the stream 
The speckled infant throw.' 

423. The monarch of the brook ; or rather of the pool ' his old secure 
abode' (1. 433). Such a trout is called in Scotland 'a linn-lier.' Vaniere's 
trout, like the more interesting linn-lier, also occupies ' uninhabited 



waters,' and ' lacubus dominatur avitis.' The similarity between 
Vaniere's description and that of Thomson is of the slightest, and the 
points at which they make their nearest approach to each other are such 
as Thomson could discover for himself, and indeed could hardly avoid 
in a detailed account of angling. It is more likely that Thomson was 
indebted to Gay's Ritral Sports, Canto I. 

434. flounces round the pool. In his minor poem On a Country Life 
(1720) we find in a description of the capture of a pike 
'And, being struck, in vain he flies at last; 
He rages, storms, and flounces through the stream.' 

444. And, in angler's phrase, the trout are no longer ' taking.' 

452. sounding culver. A. S. culfre, a pigeon. The rock-pigeon, the 
original of all varieties of the domestic dove, is probably meant. When 
startled into flight, the pigeon makes a noisy flapping, or clapping, with 
its wings, but when fairly launched in the air it can glide noiselessly 
along on ' liquid wing.' 

454. the classic page. Such as Virgil's. Even Walton made 
provision of ' a book 'as he ' loitered long days by Shawford brook,' 
and 'angled on.' Thomson's admiration of Virgil is repeated in 
Winter (11. 530-532). 

45 7 > 458- catch thyself the landscape, &c. I. e. laying aside the book, 
conjure up in your own imagination, the 'rural scenes' through which 
' the classic page ' has just been ' leading your fancy.' ' The land- 
scape' is clearly not the scene around him. Thomson seems here to 
distinguish for a moment between fancy and imagination, allotting to 
the latter faculty a more sustained creative power, and a larger and 
freer range. 

459-465. These lines describe a further stage in the indulgence of the 
imaginative mood, the condition, namely, of reverie. The mind escapes 
into a solitude filled with a succession of tranquillizing images, where it 
is free from the cares and passions of waking life, and enjoys the con- 
sciousness of being or rather of beginning to be at peace with the 
whole world. 

466, 467. At these lines the poet takes leave of the angler, and enters 
upon a new subject a description of the beauty and fragrance of Spring 
vegetation. The loveliness of the living and fragrant landscape, he says 
in effect, demands description, but will tax the highest descriptive talent 
to do it justice. Yet (1. 479) he will try. 

470, 471. with that matchless skill . . . as appears. ' That ' and ' as ' 
are not true correlatives. But the appearance of as ' is explained by 
restoring a line which the poet struck out of the later editions. The 
passage ran originally 

NOTES, 434-497- 259 

' Or can he [Imagination] mix them with that matchless skill, 
And lay them on so delicately fine, 
And lose them in each other, as appears 
In every bud that blows ? ' 

The construction, though the line be restored, is loose and even 
slovenly, and the grammar faulty. 

482-487. These lines appear in no edition till after 1738. Amanda 
was a Miss Young, one of the daughters of Captain Gilbert Young, a 
gentleman belonging to Dumfriesshire. Thomson made her acquaint- 
ance, probably at Richmond, about the year 1740, through her brother- 
in-law, James Robertson, who was then surgeon to the Household at 
Kew, and with whom Thomson had been in friendly relation so early 
1726. Thomson was deeply in love with her. No fewer than seven of 
his minor poems are addressed to her, and all of them display the 
sincerity of his passion. A letter of his, directed to Miss Young from 
Hagley, of date August 29th, 1 743, has also been published : it is 
interesting in many ways : in the course of it he says ' You mix with 
all my thoughts, even the most studious, and, instead of disturbing, 

as give them greater harmony and spirit You so fill my mind with 

all ideas of beauty, so satisfy my soul with the purest and most sincere 
delight, I should feel the want of little else.' Amanda has been 
described by Robertson as ' a fine, sensible woman ' ; by Ramsay of 
Ochtertyre as ' not a striking beauty, but gentle-mannered and elegant- 
minded, worthy the love of a man of taste and virtue.' ' Thomson,' 
says Robertson, ' was never wealthy enough to marry ' ; and, says 
Ramsay {Scotland and Scotsmen in the Eighteenth Century, from the 
Ochtertyre MSS.), ' it was Mrs. Young, a coarse, vulgar woman, who 
constantly opposed the poet's pretensions to her daughter, saying to 
her one day, " What ! would you marry Thomson ? He will make 
ballads, and you will sing them!"' Amanda afterwards became the 
wife of Admiral Campbell. 

484, 485. Come with those downcast eyes sedate . . . Those looks demure. 

' Come, pensive nun, devout and pure, 

Sober, steadfast, and demure, 

With even step and musing gait, . . 

thine eyes . . 

With a sad leaden downward cast.' 

// Penseroso, 11. 31-43. 

497. In fair profiision decks. In the early editions, ' profusely 
climbs/ followed by the following passage 

' Turgent in every pore 

The gummy moisture shines, new lustre lends, 
S 2 


And feeds the Spirit that diffusive round 
Refreshes all the dale.' 
499. Arabia cannot boast. Cp. Milton 

' Sabe'an odours from the spicy shore 
Of Araby the Elest.'Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 162, 163. 
501. Breathes throtigh the sense. Enters the nostrils. 
505. undisgiiised by mimic art. Growing wild having their forms 
unaltered by domestication. Contrast, for example, the wild daisy with 
the garden daisy. 

512, 513. they soaring dare The purple heath. This is a flight out of 
Spring into Autumn. 

516. Us alleys green. 'I know each lane and every alley green.' 
Comus, \. 311. 

517-524. The scene is perhaps laid in Wiltshire (see Introductory 
Note to Spring). It is characteristic of Thomson's love of uncultivated 
nature and a wide landscape, that he is no sooner in the flower-garden 
than his eyes are beyond its enclosing walls, sweeping the distant horizon. 
Contrast Cowper's love of nature not less genuine, but quieter and 
more fastidious. To him a garden was ' a blest seclusion,' and when he 
walked abroad it was to see ' nature in her cultivated trim.' (See The 
Task, Bk. III.) His description of an English landscape may be 
profitably compared with Thomson's : 

' Far beyond, and overthwart the stream, 
That, as with molten glass, inlays the vale, 
The sloping land recedes into the clouds ; 
Displaying on its varied side the grace 
Of hedge-row beauties numberless, square tower, 
Tall spire, from which the sound of cheerful bells 
Just undulates upon the listening ear, 
Groves, heaths, and smoking villages remote.' 

The Task, Bk. I. 11. 169-176. 

529. Here begins a poetical catalogue of garden flowers. It is worth 
noting that Thomson was early familiar with gardens and gardening 
work. His paternal grandfather, at least one uncle also on the father's 
side and some of his cousins, all followed the occupation of a gardener. 
It was one of those cousins that latterly kept the poet's own garden at 
Richmond in proper trim. Crocus, Gr. KPOKOS, from its saffron colour. 
Violet, dimin. of Fr. viole, ' a gilliflower ' according to Cotgrave, Gr. iov f 
a violet. Polyanthus, Gr. iro\v-, many, and avOos, flower. Anemone, 
lit. wind-flower, from Gr. avfpos, wind. Auricula, lit. the lobe of the ear, 
used to name the ' bear's ear ' flower, a double dimin., from Lat. attris, the 
ear. Ranunculus, lit. a little frog, a double dimin., from Lat. rana, a frog. 

1VOTS, 499-612. 261 

tulip, originally from Pers. or Hind, dulband, a turban, through Turk. 
tiilbend, and last from Fr. tulippe or tulipan, a tulip, a turban-like flower 
(early forms of turban in English are turbant (Par. Regained), tulibant, 
and tulipant). Hyacinth, Gr. vaftii>9os (according to Prof. Skeat, not 
our hyacinth, but) an iris, larkspur. Jonquil, from Yr.jonquilie, named 
from its rushlike leaves (Lat. jimcus, a rush). Narcissus, Gr. vdpKiaaos, 
a flower so called from its narcotic property (Gr. va.pna.oj, I grow numb). 
Carnation, named from its flesh colour, Lat. earn- stem of caro, flesh. 
Pink, named from the peaked edges of the petals. 

540. the father-dust. The- fertilising pollen. 

541. while they break. 'Break' is printed in the early editions in 
small capitals, as if it were a technical term of gardening. It means 
' blossom ' or ' burst into colour.' Cp. ' daybreak.' 

549. the fabled fountain. For the story of Narcissus, who, falling in 
love with his own shadow in the water, pined and died on the fountain- 
brink, see Ovid's Metam. Bk. III. 

' As his own bright image he surveyed 
He fell in love with the fantastic shade ; 
And o'er the fair resemblance hung unmoved, 
Nor knew, fond youth ! it was himself he loved. 

For him the Naiads and the Dryads mourn, . . 
And now the sister-nymphs prepare his urn ; 
When, looking for his corpse, they only found 
A rising stalk with yellow blossoms crown'd.' 

Addison's translation. 

555-570. It has been remarked that, while Cowper's gloomy views 
of religion drove him for relief and solace to the study of nature, 
Thomson's love of nature inspired him with a cheerful religious 
sentiment and a robust belief in the bounty and benevolence of deity. 
Here he traces the beauty of vegetable nature to the benevolence of God. 
In the remaining part of the poem he traces the joy of animal life to the 
same source. 

566-570. These lines furnish an explanatory commentary on lines 
78-82 supra. 

578. From the first note the hollow cuckoo sings. In the well-known 
and much-admired Ode to the Cuckoo by Michael Bruce (born 1 746) 
the cuckoo is correctly described as ' attendant on the spring.' 

585. the long-forgotten strain. Referring to the silence of the birds 
during winter. 

600. listening Philomela. The nightingale (literally the night- 
singer) is mostly silent by day. 


609-612. The jay, the rook, the daw, &c. Cp. Cowper 
' Ten thousand warblers cheer the day, and one 
The livelong night ; nor these alone .... 
But cawing rooks, and kites that swim sublime 
In still repeated circles, screaming loud, 
The jay, the pie, and e'en the boding owl, 
That hails the rising moon, have charms for me.' 

The Task, Bk. I. 11. 197-203. 

The jay is named from its showy plumage (Fr. gai, gay). It dwells in 
woods, and seldom flies into the open country. Indeed it is rarely seen, 
though its note which, when the bird is alarmed, is extremely harsh 
is often enough heard. It is a smaller bird and more predatory than 
the magpie, and has a much shorter tail, broadening at the tip. By the 
jay, however, Thomson probably means the magpie, which is much 
commoner in Scotland, and often called the jay-pyot (pied). See 
Summer, 11. 224, 225. The daw, or jackdaw, is named from its cry ; 
it is a lively and noisy bird, almost impudently familiar. It haunts 
steeples, ruined castles, and such inaccessible places. The stockdove 
is the ringdove, or cushat. 
624. approvance. Approval. 
627. After this line in the earlier editions 

'And, throwing out the last efforts of love.' 
652. In the earlier editions 

' But hurry, hurry through the busy air.' 
694. The white-winged plover. See note, line 24 supra. 
699. pioiis fraud ! A deceit prompted by their love for their young. 
Cp. piiis Aeneas. 

701, 702. the irnise . . . Her brothers of the grove. See Castle of 
Indolence, Canto II. st. xxxiii : 

Philomelus 'in russet brown bedight 
As is his sister of the copses green.' 
710. this barbarous act forbear. Cp. Shenstone 
' I have found out a gift for my fair, 

I have found where the wood-pigeons breed ; 
But let me that plunder forbear, 

She will say 'twas a barbarous deed.' 

Pastoral Ballad, Pt. II. (date I743\ 

714. Her ruined care. Her young, stolen from the nest. The 
objects of her defeated care. 

719. The pause after the word ' robbed' is peculiarly effective. The 
strain suddenly modulates into the minor key. This is a favourite 
pause of Tennyson's. The picture of Philomela mourning in the 

NOTES, 624-806. 


.poplar shade for the loss of her young is copied from Virgil's Fourth 

724. Sole-sitting. Originally ' sad-sitting.' Wordsworth's use of this 
compound is well-known 

'Lady of the mere, 
Sole-sitting by the shores of old romance.' 

Poems on the Naming of Places, IV. 
at every dying fall. Cp. Shakespeare 

'That strain again! it had a dying fall.' 

Twelfth Night, Act I. sc. i. 1. 4. 
729. weighing . . . their ^vings. In the sense of balancing themselves. 

738. Nature s common. The air. Cp. Burns 

' Commoners of air 
We wander out, we know not where.' 

Epistle to Dame. 

739. Wing. Fly. Construe ' Nature's common, the air, their 
range and pasture as far as they can see or fly.' 

752. 7"he acquitted parents. In the first text 'the exonered parents' 
a Scotticism for ' exonerated.' 

754-764. These lines graphically describe a striking scene. In the 
original version (scarcely less vigorous, but cancelled, probably because 
of the somewhat ridiculous image of the last line) the passage stood : 
' High from the summit of a craggy cliff 
Hung o'er the green sea, grudging at its base, 
The royal eagle draws his young, resolved 
To try them at the sun. Strong-pounced, and bright 
As burnished day, they up the blue sky wind, 
Leaving dull sight below, and with fixed gaze 
Drink in their native noon : the father-king 
Claps his glad pinions, and approves the birth.' 
The colouring of the first draught should be noted. 

765-787. Probably at least in part a recollection of Marlborough 
in Wiltshire. (See Lady Hertford's verses in the Introduction to 
Spring, supra.} 

766-769. Whose lofty elms . . . Invite the rook who . . . ceaseless caws. 
' The building rook 'ill caw from the windy tall elm-tree.' 


779. with oary feet. The expression is Milton's : Par. Lost. Bk. VII. 
1. 440. 

806. balmy breathing near. ' Redolent in view,' in the early 
editions. Much of this description is copied from the Third Georgic, 
from 1. 215 onwards. 


815. exciting gale. In the first version, 'informing gale.' 'Notas 
auras ' in the Third Georgic, 1. 251. 

818, 819. Such is the force, &c. Cp. the courser of Adonis in Shake- 
speare ; and Virgil's description in the Third Georgic, 11. 250-254. 
825. Following this line, appeared in the earlier editions 
' How the red lioness, her whelps forgot 
Amid the thoughtless fury of her heart ; 
The lank rapacious wolf, the unshapely bear; 
The spotted tiger, fellest of the fell ; 
And all the terrors of the Libyan swain, 
By this new flame their native warmth sublimed, 
Roam the resounding waste in fiercer bands.' 

830. the British fair. 'British' and 'Britons' seem to have been 
commoner expressions in the last century for the United Kingdom and 
its inhabitants than they are now. Cp. Rule, Britannia ' Britons never 
will be slaves.' In Goldsmith's Traveller it is Britons that are ' the 
lords of human kind.' ' English ' and ' Englishmen ' have almost super- 
seded the words. 

832. The same scene is described in similar language in Liberty, 
1. 3 20 of Part III. 

852-854. boundless spirit all, &c. Cp. Pope 

' All are but parts of one stupendous whole, 
Whose body nature is, and God the soul.' 

Essay on Man, Ep. I. 11. 267, 268. (Published 1732-4.) 
860. Instead of this line the earlier editions had 

' His grandeur in the heavens : the sun and moon, 
Whether that fires the day or, falling, this 
Pours out a lucid softness o'er the night, 
Are but a beam from him. The glittering stars, 
By the deep ear of meditation heard, 
Still in their midnight watches sing of him. 
He nods a calm. The tempest blows his wrath, 
Roots up the forest, and o'erturns the main. 
The thunder is his voice ; and the red flash 
His speedy sword of justice. At his touch 
The mountains flame. He shakes the solid earth, 
And rocks the nations. Nor in these alone, 
In every common instance God is seen ; 
And to the man who casts his mental eye 
Abroad, unnoticed wonders rise. But chief 
In thee, boon Spring, and in thy softer scenes.' 
Then followed 1. 861 of the present text. 

NOTES, 815-902. 265 

864. undcsigning hearts. I.e. actuated by instinct. 

874. flowing Spring. A repetition of the idea contained in ' boun- 
teous ' in 1. 873. 

875-880. See note to 11. 304, 305, supra. 

890. these green days. Of Spring. 

892. yoimg-eyed. This beautiful compound is Shakespeare's 'the 
young-eyed cherubins ' (Merchant of Venice, Act V. Sc. i.). 

901. the present Deity. The phrase occurs in Dryden's Alexander's 
Feast ' A present deity ! they shout around.' 

902. A noble image, seldom absent from the religious thought of 
Thomson. After this line in the earlier text came a passage which 
anticipates something of the teaching, and even reminds one of the 
style of Wordsworth : 

' 'Tis harmony, that world-attuning power, 
By which all beings are adjusted, each 
To all around, impelling and impelled 
In endless circulation, that inspires 
This universal smile. Thus the glad skies, 
The wide-rejoicing earth, the woods, the streams, 
With every life they hold, down to the flower 
That paints the lowly vale, or insect-wing 
Waved oer the shepherd's shimber, touch the mind 
To nature tuned, with a light-flying hand 
Invisible ; quick-urging through the nerves 
The glittering spirits in a flood of day.' 

These are lines of the utmost significance to the student of Wordsworth 
considered in historical relation to his predecessors. They were 
followed by the passage commencing at 1. 963 of the present text, to 
which they were joined by the word ' Hence ' ' Hence from the 
virgin's cheek,' &c. The intervening lines (from 903-962) were 
inserted after the year 1738, and constitute a compliment to Lord 
Lyttelton, no small part of which is the description of his lordship's 
Worcestershire seat. Indeed it was not till the autumn of 1743 that 
Thomson saw Hagley Park. He was then engaged in the preparation 
of a corrected and enlarged edition of The Seasons, and the invita- 
tions to Hagley Park came at a time singularly favourable to the 
poetical fame of the place and its inhabitants. The poet's letter of 
acceptance is of date July 14, 1743, and part of it is in the following 
terms : 

' Hagley is the place in England I most desire to see ; I imagine it to 
be greatly delightful in itself, and I know it to be so to the highest 
degree by the company it is animated with. Some reasons prevent me 


waiting upon you immediately, but, if you will be so good as to let me 
know how long you design to stay in the country, nothing shall hinder 
me from passing three weeks or a month with you before you leave it. 
As this will fall in autumn I shall like it the better, for I think that 
season of the year the most pleasing and the most poetical. The spirits 
are not then dissipated with the gaiety of spring, and the glaring light of 
summer, but composed into a .serious and tempered joy. The year is 
perfect. In the meantime I will go on with correcting The Seasons, 
and hope to carry down [from London] more than one of them with me. 
The Muses whom you obligingly say I shall bring along with me, I 
shall find with you the muses of the great simple country, not the 
little fine-lady muses of Richmond Hill. I have lived so long in the 
noise (or at least its distant din) of the town, that I begin to forget what 
retirement is.' 

905. Lyttelton, the friend ! Here ' the ' is a superlative. Cp. simi- 
lar use of ilk in Latin. Burns has 'O Henderson, the man, the 
brother ! ' 

George, eldest son of Sir Thomas Lyttelton of Hagley Park, in 
Worcestershire, was born in 1709, and, after studying at Eton and 
Oxford, and travelling in France and Italy, entered political life as a Tory 
in 1730. He had already made some name as an author. His poem 
of Blenheim Palace was published when he was only nineteen. He 
afterwards published The Progress of Love, 1732 ; Letters from a 
Persian in England, 1735 ; The Conversion of St. Paul, written in 1746, 
to confirm the wavering Christianity of Thomson ; Dialogues of the 
Dead, 1760-1765 ; and a History of King Henry II, 1767. He also 
wrote a Monody on the death of his wife, who died at the age of twenty- 
eight some five years after marriage ; and the Prologue to Thomson's 
posthumous tragedy, Coriolanus. The Monody is written with much 
tenderness ; and the Prologue when spoken by Quin brought tears to 
the eyes of a large audience. Of his friendship for Thomson and other 
men of letters he gave many convincing proofs. To him both Thomsyn 
and Fielding indeed owed the ease and independence of the latter part 
of their lives. In politics he was a vigorous opponent of Walpole. 
When Walpole was at last ousted from office, Lyttelton, who had 
previously been principal Secretary to Frederic, Prince of Wales, was, 
in 1744, made one of the lords of the Treasury. In 1755 he was Chan- 
cellor of the Exchequer, and was raised to the peerage on a change of 
administration in 1757. He died in 1773. 

907, 908. Hagley Park . . . thy British Tempt. Lyttelton had himself 
compared the park surrounding Blenheim, in his poem on that historic 
house, to the vale of Tempe. Tempe was the name of a singularly 

NOTES, 905-962. 267 

beautiful valley in the north of Thessaly between Olympus and Ossa. 
Xenophon's is one of many famous descriptions of its pastoral beauty 
and fertility. Thomson has described Hagley Park in prose : ' After a 
disagreeable stage-coach journey .... I am come to the most agree- 
able place and company in the world. The park, where we pass a great 
part of our time, is thoroughly delightful, quite enchanting. It consists 
of several little hills, finely tufted with wood, and rising softly one above 
another, from which are seen a great variety of at once beautiful and 
grand extensive prospects ; but I am most charmed with its sweet 
embowered retirements, and particularly with a winding dale that runs 
through the middle of it. This dale is overhung with deep woods, and 
enlivened by a stream that, now gushing from mossy rocks, now falling 
in cascades, and now spreading into a calm length of water, forms the 
most natural and pleasing scene imaginable. At the source of this water, 
composed of some pretty rills, that purl from beneath the roots of oaks, 

there is as fine a retired seat as lover's heart could wish Nor is 

the society here inferior to the scene. . . . This is the truly happy life, 
the union of retirement and choice society. It gives an idea of that 
which the patriarchal or golden age is supposed to have been, when 
every family was a little state of itself, governed by the mild laws of 
reason, benevolence and love.' (See Spring, 1. 256). From a Letter to 
Miss Young (Amanda), dated Aug. 29, 1743. 

925. conducted by historic truth. Both Thomson and Lyttelton were 
great readers of history. Witness Liberty, which may fairly be called a 
historical poem ; witness also the hundred lines of Winter commencing 
1. 431. Lyttelton's Dialogues and Reign of Henry II give proof of his 
researches in history. 

930. Lyttelton's political honesty cannot, be impeached. He was a 
virtuous politician a phenomenon rare in his day. 

935. Lucinda. See note to 1. 904 supra. Mrs. Lyttelton's maiden 
name was Lucy Fortescue, of Filleigh in Devonshire. A large number 
of Lord Lyttelton's poetical compositions consist of Verses to Lucy. 
His Monody in nineteen irregular stanzas, written to soothe his grief for 
her loss, is probably his best as it is his tenderest composition. The 
first line of her epitaph at Hagley describes her as ' Made to engage 
all hearts and charm all eyes.' 

949-961. See note to 11. 517-524 supra. 

953. embosomed soft in trees. Cp. Milton, describing Windsor: 
' Towers and battlements it sees 
Bosomed high in tufted trees.' V Allegro. 

960. Hereford is the march county between Worcester and Wales. 

962. Having described 'the sacred feelings of the heart' (1. 903), the 


poet now proceeds to describe ' the infusive force of Spring ' (1. 867) on 
the animal nature of man. 

993, 994. The Sirens of classical story are here referred to. They had 
the power of charming by their songs all that listened to them. Their 
charms were fatal. The mermaid, or lorelei, is the modern form of 
the siren. 

1 01 1. bends into a dusky vault. Cp. Shakespeare: 'This brave 
o'erhanging firmament . . . why, it appears no other thing to me than 
a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.' Hamlet, Act II. Sc. ii. 

1016, 1017. Sad amid the social band . . . inattentive. Cp. Burns: 

' Yestreen when to the stentit string 

The dance gaed thro' the lightit ha', 
To thee my fancy took its wing 

I sat but neither heard nor saw.' Mary Morison. 

1017, 1018. From the tongue TJi imfi nishcd period falls. Cp. Horace: 

' Cur facunda parum decoro 

Inter verba cadit lingua silentio ? ' Car, IV. i. 
1034. the chambers of the fleecy east. Blake (b. 1757, < 1827) has 

' The chambers of the East, 
The chambers of the sun, that now 

From ancient melody has ceast.' 

In Winter, 1. 15, Thomson speaks of 'the lucid chambers of the South.' 
1036. Leads on the gentle hours. An echo of Milton 

' The hours in dance 
Led on the eternal spring." 

Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 267, 268. 
1060-1072. Cp. Horace: 

* Nocturnis ego somniis 

Jam captam teneo, jam volucrem sequor 
Te per gramina Martii 

Campi, te per aquas, dura, volubiles.' 

Car. I, i. 11. 37-40- 

1069. In the early text ' Wild as a Bacchanal she spreads her arms.' 
1082. the yello^v-tingeing plague. Jealousy. 
1113. gentler stars. A happier fortune. 

1115. tie of human laws. The marriage laws of the country. 

1116. Unnattiral oft. The reference is to the 'tie ' of the preceding 
line. The poet alludes to ' marriages of convenience,' made for the sake 
of wealth, or rank. 

1 1 22. Preventing. Anticipating: the word is taken in its literal 

NOTES, 993-1122. 269 


Encouraged by the success of Winter, which, published in March, 
1726, was in its second edition by the middle of June following, 
Thomson enthusiastically set about the composition of Summer, and 
had indeed made a good start with his new subject when the proofs of 
the second edition of Winter were passing through his hands. The 
second of the Seasons seems to have been entirely written in London, 
and to have been the work of the summer and autumn months of 1726. 
The poet was then maintaining himself by teaching in the Academy 
of a Mr. Watts, in Little Tower Street. Writing to Aaron Hill, from 
Oldman's Coffee House, on the 24th of May, ' I go,' he says, ' on 
Saturday next, to reside at Mr. Watts' Academy in Little Tower Street, 
in quality of tutor to a young gentleman there.' And on the 2Oth of 
October following he begs Hill, ' if your business will allow me one line,' 
to direct the one line to him < at the Academy in Little Tower Street.' 
During the composition of Summer he was gradually losing that feeling 
of loneliness which threatened to chill his youthful ambition in England 
before Winter brought friends around him, and to which he refers with 
some bitterness in a letter, written i ith August, 1726, to his countryman 
and fellow-adventurer in England, David Malloch. ' Let me, however,' 
he says, in criticism of some verses of Malloch's, '"mention that compre- 
hensive compound epithet, all-shunned, as a beauty I have had too good 
reason to relish. Thank Heaven there was one exception ' (meaning 
Malloch X His principal literary friends and correspondents of the year 
1726 were Malloch and Hill. Part of his correspondence with them has 
happily been preserved, and from it we have interesting glimpses of the 
progress of the poem. ' Shall I languish out a whole summer in the 
same city with you,' he asks Hill, in a letter of nth June, ' and not 
once be re-inspired with your company. Such a happiness would much 
brighten my description of that Season from which, to fill out this 
letter, I venture to transcribe the following lines.' (The lines referred to 
are from 506 to 515.) Two days thereafter he writes to Malloch, with 
whom in the early part of his career he was in the habit of exchanging 
verses- 4 If my beginning of Summer please you, I am sure it is good. I 


have writ more, which I'll send you in due time.' He had, it would 
appear, already drawn out the plan of his poem, according to which it 
was his design to describe the various phenomena of Summer as these 
follow each other in the order of nature within the limits of one typical 
day. By the 2nd of August he is able to inform Malloch ' that he has 
now raised the sun to nine or ten o'clock, touched lightly on the drooping 
of flowers in the forenoon heat, given a group of natural images, made 
an incursion into the insect kingdom, and rounded off that part of his 
subject with some suitable reflections.' On the i ith of August he again 
communicates with Malloch, who had apparently suggested to him a 
change of plan probably because he found Thomson's plan for 
Summer resemble too closely his own plan for a poem on a similar 
subject upon which he was then engaged. The letter is pretty long, and 
of particular interest in several ways : it contains some simple but 
extremely generous criticism of Malloch's submitted verses, and the 
following remonstrance 'Why did you not object against my method 
with regard to Summer when I first gave you an account of it ? I told 
you then expressly that I resolved to contract the Season into a day : the 
uniform appearances of nature in Summer easily allow of it. But, not 
to dispute which of the schemes is most preferable, I am so far advanced, 
having writ three parts of four, that I cannot without the most painful 
labour alter mine. Let me tell you besides that we entirely agree from 
the noonday retreat to the evening. I have already written of shade and 
gloom, and woodland spirits, &c. exactly as you hint, more than a 
week ago. . . I design towards the end of my poem to take one short 
glance of cornfields ripe for the sickle as the limit of my performance.' 
Later in the year, probably in October though the date is not given 
he sends to Malloch another parcel of Summer verses, accompanied by a 
letter from which we learn that the parcel contains the panegyric on 
England and the English (commencing at line 1442), and that ' what re- 
mains of my poem is a description of thunder and the evening. Thunder 
I have writ, and am just now agreeably engaged with the evening.' 

The poem upon which Malloch was at work in the country at 
Twyford, on the Hampshire Downs, a seat of the Duke of Montrose, in 
whose family he was tutor while Thomson was busy in London with 
Summer, was afterwards published with the title (which a later and 
more important poet has appropriated) of The Excursion. It is in 
blank verse, consists of two cantos, and runs altogether to somewhere 


about one thousand lines. The second canto is astronomical. The 
first, so far as it goes, though it comprises a period of two days, reads like 
a dwarfed and fainter version of Summer. It describes the face of nature 
under the various lights of dawn, sunrise, noon, evening, and night. It 
includes a general prospect of the globe, more particularly a geographical 
survey of the deserts of Tartary and the midlands, or rather Mediterranean 
shores, of Europe ; and ends with a display of earthquake and volcanic 
fireworks. While writing their poems the young Scotsmen kept up 
an active correspondence of mutual criticism and encouragement. 

Summer was published by John Millan, a bookseller at Charing Cross, 
some time in the first half of 1727. In the same year Thomson wrote 
Verses to the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton, published in June ; and 
Britannia, which, however, was not published till January, 1/29. A 
third edition of Summer, ' with additions V was issued in 1730, the price 
is. 6d. a copy : the poem then comprised 1205 lines; and this was still 
the extent of the poem in the edition of The Seasons issued in 1738. In 
the final edition published in the author's lifetime that of 1746 the 
poem was enlarged to 1805 lines. The principal additions to the text 
of 1738 were the passage racily descriptive of the washing and shearing 
of sheep ; the lines in memory of Miss Stanley ; much of that long 
digression in which the poet expatiates on the phenomena of tropical 
summer ; and the view of the Thames Valley. From its first appearance 
in 1727 to the publication of the settled text in 1746 the poem underwent 
at the hand of its author so many alterations that at last it looked almost 
like a new production. The minuter verbal changes were innumerable, 
ideas were expanded, transpositions made, new matter thrown in, old 
matter struck out, and, if greater clearness of expression was secured by 
these processes, it was sometimes at the expense of force and picturesque- 
ness of effect. The whole poem, in short, was stirred about, without 
any very sensible gain of coherence among its parts. 

Thomson's original intention was to dedicate Summer to Lord Binning, 
who had engaged him in the summer of 1725 as a tutor to his son ; but 
his lordship generously waived the honour, advising the author to 
bestow it upon some one who could better advance his interests ; and the 
poet accordingly fixed upon the Right Honourable Mr. Dodington, then 
a lord of the Treasury, himself a dabbler in verse, and known to be 
ambitious of enacting the part of a Maecenas. To Dodington, who has 
1 One of the additions was the haymaking scene, 11. 352-370. 


appropriately been called the last of the Patrons, the poem was in- 
scribed at first in a prose address, which was, in the third and subsequent 
editions, displaced by the tributary lines incorporated with the text near 
the commencement of the poem. The prose dedication is chiefly 
remarkable for the warmth and frankness of its professions. There is 
good reason to doubt their sincerity, and in truth Dodington little 
deserved them. ' What reader, 'says the extravagant poet, 'need be told 
of those great abilities in the management of public affairs, and those 
amiable accomplishments in private life, which you so eminently possess ? 
The general voice is loud in the praise of so many virtues, though 
posterity alone will do them justice. But may you, sir, live long 
to illustrate your own fame by your own actions, and by them be trans- 
mitted to future times as the British Maecenas ! Your example has 
recommended poetry, with the greatest grace, to the admiration of those 
who are engaged in the highest and most active scenes of life ; and this, 
though confessedly the least considerable of those exalted qualities that 
dignify your character, must be particularly pleasing to me, whose only 
hope of being introduced to your regard is through the recommendation 
of an art in which you are a master. But I forget what I have been 
declaring above, and must therefore turn my eyes to the following sheets. 
I am not ignorant, that, when offered to your perusal, they are put into the 
hands of one of the finest, and consequently the most indulgent judges of 
this age ; but, as there is no mediocrity in poetry, so there should be no 
limits to its ambition. I venture directly on the trial of my fame. If 
what I here present you has any merit to gain your approbation, I am 
not afraid of its success ; and if it fails of your notice, I give it up to its 
just fate.' 

The Argument of the enlarged poem as given in the edition of 1746 
is as follows : ' The subject proposed. Invocation. Address to Mr. 
Dodington. An introductory reflection on the motion of the heavenly 
bodies whence the succession of the seasons. As the face of Nature in 
this season is almost uniform, the progress of the poem is a descrip- 
tion of a summer's day. The dawn. Sun rising. Hymn to the sun. 
Forenoon. Summer insects described. Haymaking. Sheep-shearing. 
Noon-day. A woodland retreat. Group of hefdTand flocks. A solemn 
grove how it affects a contemplative mind. A cataract, and rude 
scene. View of summer in the Torrid Zone.) Storm of thunder and 
lightning. A tale. The storm over. A serene afternoon. Bathing. 

NOTES, I, 2. 273 

The hour of walking. Transition to the prospect of a rich well- 
cultivated country; which introduces a panegyric on Great Britain. 
Sunset. Evening. Night. Summer meteors. A comet. The whole 
concluding with the praise of Philosophy.' 

The most poetical passages of Summer are the descriptions of dawn 
and sunrise ; the dogs wakened by the wasp ; the field of hay-makers ; 
noontide ; the horse stung by the gadfly ; the sheep-shearing scene ; the 
solitary bather ; and the transition from evening to the darkness of 
summer night. The long digression to the imagined fervours and 
phenomena of tropical summer contains many magnificent lines, but one 
is glad when it is ended, and the poet returns from his wide geographical 
wanderings in torrid tracts to the June aspects and associations of tem- 
perate climes. The tale of young Celadon and his Amelia is somewhat 
conventionally treated, but is effective in its way, and marked by a 
restraint of pathos almost classical. The episode of Damon and Musidora, 
which has been generally regarded as a characteristic example of 
Thomson's bad taste in the treatment of the passion of love, is presented 
with much of the warmth of colouring and breadth of handling which we 
find in pagan poetry and the works of the old masters. It has been 
much altered from the original draught : Damon, as he appears in the 
early editions, professes insensibility to female charms, and, instead of 
Musidora alone, three l nymphs of different types of loveliness are 
represented as bathing in the pool . 

Thomson's Summer, Gay's Fables, Malloch's Ballad of William and 
Margaret, and Spence's Essay on the Odyssey were the chief publications 
in London of the year 1727. It was in his Essay on the Odyssey that 
Spence made favourable allusion to the new poet, the author of Winter, 
published just the year before. 

Lines i, 2. The first edition opened less melodiously, and less pic- 
turesquely : 

' From southern climes, where unremitting day 
Burns overhead, illustrious Summer comes.' 

1 In Millar's edition of the Seasons, published in 1738, W. Kent's illustration of 
Summer represents Time sitting aloft with his chin in his hand and his scythe across 
his knee, looking at the arrival of Summer in his place in the Zodiac. Below are 
four nymphs bathing in a pool, or reclining on its brink, while a swain, with his hand 
on a cumbrous quarto, ventures to take a half-length look from behind a small tree. 



3. and felt through Nature s depth. The words disturb the figure, by 
submitting a feeling for a person. Cp. the first line of Spring. 

12. haunted stream. Haunted by nymphs or naiads, or by fairies, 
or by legendary associations. Cp. Horace's fabulosiis Hydaspes. Cp. 
also Milton's lines 

(a) ' Such sights as youthful poets dream 
On summer eves by haunted stream ' ; 

L" Allegro, 11. 129, 130; 

and, in regard to the general meaning of 11. 9-13 
(b} ' When the sun begins to fling 

His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring 
To arched walks of twilight groves, 
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves, 
Of pine, or monumental oak, 
Where the rude axe with heaved stroke 
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt 
Or fright them from their hallowed haunt. 
There, in close covert, by some brook, 
Where no profaner eye may look, 
Hide me from day's garish eye.' 

// Penseroso, 11. 131-141. 

14. the glories of the circling year ; i. e. the grandest phenomena of 
the whole year, viz. the glories of Summer. 

15. Come, Inspiration ! ' I thank you heartily for your hint about 
personizing of Inspiration ; it strikes me.' Letter to Malloch, nth Aug., 

15, 1 6. from thy hermit seat, By mortal seldom found. Inspiration 
here means the muse of poetry. Burns has 

' The muse nae poet ever fand her 
Till by himseF he learnt to wander 
Adown some trotting burn's meander 

And no' think lang ' (i. e. not become weary}. 

17, 1 8. raptured glance Shot on surrounding heaven. Cp. Shake- 

' The poet's eye in a fine frenzy rolling 
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven.' 

Midsummer Night's Dream, Act V. sc. i. 

21-31. First appeared in the second edition., taking the place of the 
prose dedication. 

21. my youthful muse s early friend. When Thomson wrote these 
words it was hardly possible for him to have known Dodington for more 

NOTES, 3-21. 275 

than a year. The whole passage which they introduce, down to 1. 31, is 
charged with the grossest flattery. If the lines were meant ironically they 
would fit perfectly. Dodington throughout the whole of his career 
however Thomson may have been anticipating it in 1726-7 had neither 
the 'genius and wisdom,' nor ' the gay social sense chastised by decency,' 
nor the ' unblemished honour/ nor the ' active zeal for Britain's glory, 
liberty, and man,' with which, in addition to ' all the human graces,' the 
poet accredits him. Thomson was either desperately determined on a 
patron, or, which is more likely, singularly charitable in his estimate of 
character. George Bubb, who afterwards (in his 29th year) took the 
surname of Dodington, and ultimately (in his 7th) became Lord Mel- 
combe, was born in the year 1691. He was the son of Jeremias Bubb 
who has been variously designated an apothecary and an Irish adventurer; 
was educated at Oxford, and, through the influence of his mother's 
family, began his political life in 1715 as the representative of the 
borough of Winchelsea. In 1720, by the death of his maternal uncle, he 
fell heir to the fine estate of East bury, in Dorsetshire. It was on this 
occasion that he changed his name. He was member for Bridgewater 
from 1722 to 1754. In 1724 he became a lord of the Treasury, and was 
holding the office when Thomson first knew him, in 1726 or 1727, and 
dedicated to him his poem of Summer on its publication in the latter of 
these years. In politics he was a place-hunter, shifting from side to 
side with undisguised meanness. As he commanded five or six votes in. 
the House of Commons he could generally make interest for himself with 
parties by the offer of his influence. His worthiest action as a politician 
was his defence of the unfortunate Admiral Byng. In 1761, under Lord 
Bute's administration, he received at last the title for which he had so 
long shuffled and shifted. He died the year after. He was a good 
scholar, had a reputation for wit, wrote passable verses, and posed as a 
patron of letters. He has been called the last of ' the patrons.' Young, 
Thomson, Fielding, Glover, and Lyttelton all made court to him. He 
was vain, pompous, affected, and unscrupulous ; fond of surrounding 
himself with showy splendour, and of arraying his large person in 
embroidery and brocade ; coarse in the execution of his rehearsed jokes, 
and in the display of his premeditated wit ; and by no means restrained, 
even in the society of ladies, by any very refined sense of decency. His 
Diary gives a full disclosure of his. vanity and selfishness. Two years, 
after his death, Foote figured him in the burlesque drama, The Patron, 
as Sir Thomas Lofty. 

After the dedication of Summer to Dodington, Thomson was an 
occasional guest at Eastbury, and, as his correspondence reveals, was 
apparently for some years on intimate terms with his patron, and highly 

T 2 


satisfied with the intimacy. His published letters to Dodington were 
written in 1 730 and 1 731, during his visit to the Continent. He says in one 
of them : ' Should you inquire after my muse, all that I can answer is, 
that I believe she did not cross the channel with me. I know not 
whether your gardener at Eastbury has heard anything of her among the 
woods there ; she has not thought fit to visit me while I have been in 
this once poetic land [Italy], nor do I feel the least presage that she will.' 
(Dated ' Nov. 28th, 1731.') Thomson spent part of the autumn of 
1735 at Eastbury, and was still on the most friendly footing with his 
patron of the year 1727. 

32-42. There is probably a reference here to the two texts of 
Scripture: (i) 'Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to 
divide the day from the night, and let them be for signs, and for 
seasons, and for days and years' (Gen. i. 14) ; and (2) ' While the earth 
remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer 
and winter, and day and night shall not cease ' (Gen. viii. 22). 

43, 44. the alternate Twins are fired. . . Cancer reddens. Thomson's 
plan for Summer is thus stated in a letter to Malloch : ' I resolve(d) 
to contract the season into a day : the uniform appearances of nature in 
summer easily allow of it.' (Aug. nth, 1726.) The typical day is a 
day in Midsummer. The sun is at the northern tropic (of Cancer) on the 
22nd of June. (See Notes, Spring, 11. 26, 27.) Alternate ' is for ' both,' 

* the one and the other ' ; it is, of course, redundant, the idea of ' two ' 
being in the word ' twins.' The sun is in the sign Gemini from 2ist May 
till the solstice. 

46. observant. The idea here is that of a sentinel set to watch and 
give warning. Cp. but note also the difference 
' Ere the blabbing eastern scout, 
The nice Morn on the Indian steep, 
From her cabined loop-hole peep, 
And to the tell-tale sun descry 
Our concealed solemnity.' Comus, 11. 138-142. 
48. dappled. Prof. Skeat gives the following interesting note on 
this word : ' Dapple, a spot on an animal (Scand.). Icel. depill, a spot, 
dot. . . . The original sense is " a little pool," from Norweg. dapi, a pool. 
Allied to our " dub," and to " deep" and " dip." ' In the first edition 

* streaky ' was used. 

52-56. The landscape here depicted in the twilight of a calm summer 
morning is the creation of genuine art, utterly faithful in its copy of the 
natural scene. Cp. the lines of the Marquis of Montrose 
* The misty mount, the smoking lake, 
The rock's resounding echo, 

NOTES, 32-96. 277 

The whistling winds, the woods that shake 
Shall all with me sing hey- ho, ,' &c. 

An Excellent New Ballad, Pt. IT. st. 12. 

57, 58. the fearful hare Limps awkward. This also is part of a 
summer morning scene. The Scottish word ' hirple ' well expresses the 
awkward limping here noted. See Burns 

' The rising sun ower Galston muir 
Wi' glorious light was glintin', 
The hare was hirplin' down the fur, 
The laverocks they were chantinV 

Holy Fair. 

65, 66. from the crowded fold in order drives His flock. The touch 
of minute fidelity in the phrase ' in order ' is apt to be overlooked. 
Cowper gives the same idea an idea that suggests the repose of 
pastoral life due prominence : 

* The sheepfold here 

Pours out its fleecy tenants o'er the glebe. 
And first, progressive as a stream they seek 
The middle field ; but, scattered by degrees 
Each to his choice, soon whiten all the land.' 

The Task, Bk. I. 11. 282-6. 

67-80. Thomson's knowledge of the beauties and benefits of early 
rising had little influence on his practice, at least after he left Scotland. 
His favourite ' hour ' for ' meditation ' and ' song ' was the midnight and 
not the morning hour. (Contrast this passage with 11. 204-6 of 

72. losing half \ i. e. twelve of the four-and-twenty hours of each day ! 
A liberal proportion. 

81-96. This description of sunrise may be compared with Malloch's: 
the quotation will serve as a specimen of Malloch's style : 
'But see, the flushed horizon flames intense 
With vivid red, in rich profusion streamed 
O'er heaven's pure arch. At once the clouds assume 
Their gayest liveries ; these with silvery beams 
Fringed lovely, splendid those with liquid gold : 
And speak their sovereign's state. He comes, behold ! 
Fountain of light and colour, warmth and life! 
The king of glory ! Round his head divine, 
Diffusive showers of radiance circling flow, 
As o'er the Indian wave up-rising fair 
He looks abroad on nature, and invests, 
Where'er his universal eye surveys,. 


Her ample bosom, earth, air, sea and sky, 

In one bright robe, with heavenly tinctures gay.' 

The Excursion, Canto I. 

These lines are cold and common place beside Thomson's, which yet they 
resemble in certain phrases and tricks of style. Very much the same 
features of sunrise are noted, but Malloch's representation wants the breadth 
and colouring of Thomson's. It should be remembered that Thomson 
was at work upon Summer while Malloch was busy with The Excursion, 
and that they submitted their verses in MS. to each other from time 
to time in the course of composition, for mutual encouragement and 

82. Rejoicing in the east. A recollection of the nineteenth Psalm: 
' In them [the heavens] hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as 
a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man 
to run a race.' (Verses 4, 5.) 

88. the shining day. ' Full lowns the shynand day.' Hardyknute. 
This (supposed) ' fragment of an old heroic ballad ' was published in 
1724 in Ramsay's Tea-Table Miscellany, where Thomson may have seen 
it. His romantic views of nature are certainly those of the old Scots 

89, 90. wandering streams High-gleaming from afar. The scene is 
apparently Cheviot side. 

91. Of all material beings first and best. Light, however, is not a 
material substance, but a mode of motion. In Thomson's day it was 
regarded as matter by ' natural philosophers ' who, because of its extreme 
rarity, ranked it as one of the ' imponderables.' Cp. Milton 
'Hail, holy Light! offspring of heaven firstborn.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. III. 

94. Unessential gloom. Hiding the existence of objects within it. 
97-103. 'Tis by thy secret strong attractive force, &c. The attraction 
of gravitation, the discovery of Newton, by which the solar system 
exists. See for a glowing poetical eulogium of Sir Isaac Newton the 
Verses which Thomson inscribed to his memory (published in June, 
1727). Natural Philosophy was a favourite study of Thomson's. 
He had contracted a liking for it at Edinburgh University, and it 
remained to the end of his life a subject of great interest to him. In the 
verses to the memory of Newton, he asks, apostrophising ' the Sons 
of Light ' 

' Have ye not listened while he bound the Suns 
And Planets to their spheres? 

Our solar round 

NOTES, 82-115. 279 

First gazing through, he, by the blended power 
Of 'gravitation and projection, saw 
The whole in silent harmony revolve. 

The heavens are all his own ; from the wild rule 

Of whirling vortices and circling spheres 

To their first great simplicity restored.' 

TOO. utmost Saturn. This planet was thought to be the outermost 
member of the solar system in Thomson's day. Since then two additional 
planets of greater distance from the sun have been discovered Uranus in 
1781, and Neptune in 1846. Neptune takes more than five times the 
number of years required by Saturn to complete one revolution round 
the sun. 

101. Mercury is the nearest planet to the sun, and the smallest, the 
Planetoids excepted. It is seldom distinctly visible to the unaided eye, 
partly because of its small size, and partly from the circumstance to 
which Thomson here refers that it is never above the horizon more than 
two hours after sunset or the same time before sunrise. (For a detailed 
poetical description of the planets as popularly known in Thomson's 
time, see Malloch's Excursion, Canto II.) 

104. Informer of the planetary train. The sun. ' Inform' is used 
in its poetical sense of ' animate.' The idea is repeated in the next line 
'quickening,' i.e. 'animating.' Cp. 'the quick and the dead.' See 
also 1. 109, ' inhaling spirit.' 

1 06. brute . . . mass. Dead matter. 

107. the green abodes of life. The idea is fanciful. Saturn, at least, 
was believed in Thomson's day to be incapable of supporting life, as we 
understand it, through excessive cold : Malloch describes it as 

'An endless desert, where extreme of cold 
Eternal sits, as in his native seat, 
On wintry hills of never-thawing ice.' 

Excursion, Canto II. 

109, 1 10. from the unfettered mind . . . down to the daily race. From 
angelic beings, or even archangels, to ephemeral insects. 

112-135. These lines are a splendid improvement upon the first text. 
Thomson's imagination rises here with commanding force and ease ' to 
the highth of his great argument.' 

11.3. Parent of Seasons. See 1. 2 ' child of the sun.' The ante- 
cedent of ' who ' is ' the vegetable world ' in the preceding line. 

114. thy throne. The orb or sphere of the sun as distinct from the 
personified Power of Influence which lodges in it. 

115. the bright ecliptic road. The sun's apparent path round the 


earth ; more correctly, the great circle which the earth's centre describes 
among the fixed stars in its yearly revolution round the sun. It is the 
middle line of the zodiacal belt, bright with constellations. ' Ecliptic,' 
because it is the line in which eclipses occur. Gr. (Kteiireiv, to leave out. 
117, 1 18. nations circled gay with .... tribes of foodful earth. The 
various human communities surrounded with their farms and cultivated 

119, 1 20. This is not idolatry of the sun; but a poetical way of 
expressing the hope of having fine weather to ripen the crops, or thank- 
fulness for having had it. Harvest-home is thus, in Milton's words, 
a ' praising of bounteous Pan.' 

121-123. The imagery is classical. Cp., e. g., Horace 
'Jam Cytherea chores ducit Venus .... 

Junctaeque Nymphis Gratiae decentes,' &c. Car. i. 4. 
122. rosy-fingered Hours. Said of the morning by Homer 
' The Lady of the Light, the rosy-fingered Morn.' 

Chapman's Translation. 

1 24. light-footed Dews. Referring to the silence with which dew is 

formed. ' Of bloom ethereal ' is apparently ' of pearly, or crystalline, 

lustre.' Malloch has ' the silver-footed dews ' in The Hermit, Canto I. 

126-129. The same idea of bounty is expressed in similar words in 

Spring, 11. 180-184. 

133-159. To attribute to the influence of the sun the formation of 
the various minerals, notably of the precious stones, is purely fanciful. 
George Stephenson, indeed, called coal ' bottled sunshine,' but Thomson 
makes no explicit reference to coal. (See Par. Lost. III. 608-612.) 

1 S^- 1 39- Iron in its various forms tools, weapons of war, parts of 
the structure of buildings, bridges, ships, &c. is here chiefly alluded to. 
Metal in the form of money, as wages, the price of commodities, &c. is 
probably included. 

140. imfregned by thee. Milton has the word 

' As Jupiter 

On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds 
That shed May flowers.' Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 499-501, 

142. Diamond. Another form of ' adamant.' Gr. a, priv., Sa/zdetv, 
to tame. From its hardness. 

143. collected light, compact. Solidified light. See below, 1. 149, 
where sapphire is called solid ether.' For the idea, cp. Malloch 

' The sparkling gem 

From thy unfailing source of splendour draw(s).' 

Excursion t II. 

NOTES, 117-212. 281 

145, 146. Dares, as it sparkles, &c. See Winter 'sparkling gems 
and radiant eyes ' 1. 642. 

147. ruby. From its red colour. Lat. ruber, red. 

149. sapphire. Persian, saffir. 

150. tinct. Older form of tint.' Spenser uses ' tinct ' as a participle 
= ' tinged.' Lat. tinctus, dyed. ' Taint ' and ' stain ' are cognates. 

151. amethyst. Gr. d, priv., and pfOvftv, to be drunken. As an 
amulet this stone was supposed to prevent intoxication. 

152. topaz. Gr. roirafrs ; from its brightness. Allied probably to 
the Sanskrit tap, to shine ; whence ' taper.' 

154. gives it. Presents or exposes it. The meaning is ' in the first 
freshness of the spring season.' 

155. emerald. Old Fr, esmeraude; Gr. ffpapaySos, emerald. 'Your 
hint of the sapphire, emerald, ruby strike my imagination .... and 
shall not be neglected.' Letter to Malloch, 2 Aug. 1726. 

156. thick. In numerous flashes. Opal. Gr. 6nd\\ios, opal. 
159. As the site varies. As you keep turning it in your hand. 

161. Assumes a mimic life. Inanimate nature the stream, the pre- 
cipice, the desert, ruins, and the deep seem to grow animate, and to 
feel the joy of life. 

162, 163. In brighter mazes . . . Plays. In some of the earlier editions 
(that of 1738 for example) ' In brisker measures . . . frisks.' 

165, 166. The desert joys Wildly through all his melancholy bounds. 
This description of the effect of sunshine upon the desert is a magni- 
ficent stroke of the imagination. 

176. Light Himself , in uncreated light . . . dwells. Cp. Milton 

' God is Light, 

And never but in unapproached light 
Dwelt from eternity dwelt then in thee, 
Bright effluence of bright essence increate ! ' 

Par. Lost, III. 3-6. 
184. spheres. Meaning 'orbits.' 
185-190. Cp. Milton 

' Nor think, though men were none, 
That heaven would want spectators, God want praise. 

Par. Lost, IV. 675-676. 
195. to translate. To describe in verse. 

206. coolness to the shade retires. ' A calm retreat, where breathing 
Coolness has her seat.' Malloch. 

210. darts. ' Rains ' in the first edition. 

212. Who can unpitying see the flowery race, &c. There is a touch 
here of the tenderness of Burns for the daisy. 


216. the lofty folloiver of the sun. The sunflower. Dr. A. T. 
Thomson has a note on the poetical fiction of the succeeding lines : 
' The plant neither turns its flower to the sun, nor can it close its petals 
in the manner described. ... If we examine a bed of sunflowers at 
any period of the day we shall find them looking in every direction.' 

220. the swain retreats. The shepherd (of 1. 63) returns. It is noon. 
Burns has the same use of retreats ' 

'* The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh.' 

Cotters Saturday Night. 

223. cottage then expecting food. Milk for the cottage household. 

224, 225. the daw, the rook, and magpie. See note, Spring, 1. 609. 
228-236. The whole scene here depicted, one of idyllic truth and 

beauty, finely suggests the lazy noontide of a long summer day. The 
position of the village is charmingly imagined. 

232. vacant greyhotmd. In the first text ' employless.' 

237. noisy summer-race. Suggested by the wasp. Flies and ephe- 

238. Live in her lay. They live also in the lay of Gray 

' Hark ! how through the peopled air 
The busy murmur glows ! 
The insect youth are on the wing 

Eager to 

. float amid the liquid noon.' Ode on Spring. 

The different kinds referred to include in Thomson's description the 
dragon-fly, may-fly, day-fly, house-fly, &c. 

269. spider. Shortened from 'spinther,' to ' spither,' and then ' spider.' 
From ' spin.' 

270. mixture abhorred I The mixture of cunning and ferocity. 
276. with rapid glide. The noun 'glide' is now seldom used. 
289-317. This passage, slightly altered, was transferred from Spring 

to its present place as a part of Summer. 

293. the living cloud. A fanciful idea : it is not now believed that 
pestilence arises from living insects, which exist in the ' reek of rotten 

305. floating verdure. The green scum. 

318-341. A specimen of Thomson's 'preaching' style in which 
he seldom indulges. It reads like a page from Young. 

343. convolved. A favourite word of Thomson's. See Spring, 
1. 839. 

348. A season* s glitter ! Following this, in the first edition, came 

'In soft-circling robes, 
Which the hard hand of industry has wrought, 

NOTES, 216-389. 283 

The human insects glow ; by Huhger fed, 
And cheered by toiling Thirst, they roll about,' &c. 
meaning that they are maintained by the toil of starving workers. Cp. 

' The robe that wraps his limbs in silken sloth 
Has robbed the neighbouring fields of half their growth.' 

Deserted Village. 
See also Burns 

'The simple rustic hind 
Whose toil upholds the glittering show.' A Winter Night. 

350, 351. Oblivion .... strikes them from the book of life ; i. e. from 
the memory of men. 

352-432. These descriptions, of haymaking and of sheep-shearing, are 
in Thomson's happiest style. They did not appear in the first edition 
of Summer. They were as felicitous afterthoughts as the angling scene 
in Spring. The former appeared before, the latter after, the edition 
of 1738. 

355. Blown by prevailing suns. The participle is here used in a 
peculiar way. We say ' Roses blow/ but never ' the sun blows roses.' 
' Maid ' in this line, along with ' youth ' two lines above, stands in 
apposition to ' village,' i. e. ' the village community/ of 1. 352. 

361. the tedded grain. ' Grain ' has here the peculiar meaning of 
' seeded grass.' To ' ted ' is to spread mown grass, to turn and toss it 
for drying. From Icelandic tedja, to spread manure ; tad, manure. 
In Lowland Scottish ' to taith.' 

363. breathing harvest. The hay-crop, exhaling its fragrant moisture 
in process of drying. 

365. the green-appearing ground. After the hay is made it is raked 
into heaps, and by means of cords or light sledges drawn into still 
larger heaps, and hay-ricking, or the piling of the hay into haycocks, 
or hay-colls, commences. 

367. thick. Numerous its common meaning with Thomson. 

369. The cause is surely here put for the effect. It may mean dis- 
turbing or enlivening the air. 

382. This line beautifully realizes the scene quick exertion of their 
legs and slow progress of their ' woolly sides ' through the deep water. 

386. sordid stream. Muddied water of the deep pool, whither the 
trout used to come to play hence, in preceding line, 'lively haunt.' 
Sordid is, of course, used in its primitive sense. Not only is much of 
Thomson's diction Latin, but he employs the Latin words in their original 

389. swelling treasures. Their wool, ' swelling ' as it dries in the sun. 


390. aroitnd the hills. The scene is in Teviotdale, most pastoral of 
Scottish counties. 

395. Wattled pen. Enclosure made of hurdles. Milton has ' hurdled 
cotes.' From A.-S. watel, a hurdle, something woven of pliant twigs and 
rods. Allied to Lat. vitilis, flexible. 

398. Women make up the packs of wool. 

407. vagrant. So named in anticipation of his wandering propensity. 
Hence the need of the ' cipher.' 

410,411. the sturdy boy holds by the twisted horns, &c. A much 
admired picture. 

415. What softness in its melancholy face. Blake too has noted the 
' soft face ' of the sheep. 

420. to pay his annual care. His rent for his farm. 

423, 424. A simple scene ! yet hence Britannia sees Her solid grandetir 
rise. Cp. Burns 

' From scenes like these old Scotia's grandeur springs.' 

Cotters Saturday Night. 

Wool had long been the staple article of trade in England. One 
hundred years ago the native-grown wool supplied almost all that was 
needed for the home manufacture of woollen cloth. The Woolsack, the 
seat of the Lord Chancellor in the House of Lords since the reign of 
Elizabeth, is a memorial of the times when wool was the chief source of 
the national wealth. See Spring, 1. 75. 

428, 429. her dreadfiil thunder hence Rides o'er the waves. Her 
men-of-war. Cp. Campbell 

' With thunder from her native oak 
She quells the floods below.' 

Ye Mariners of England. 

429. now, ev'n now. Written after 1738; probably the war of 
Great Britain against France in connection with the Austrian succession 
is referred to. It began in 1741. 

431. {Britannia) rules the circling deep. About the time he wrote 
this line he composed (1740) for the Masque of Alfred the famous 
national song, ' Britannia, rule the waves ! ' On internal evidence the 
song is Thomson's. Malloch, in an edition of his works published in 
J 759> retained, in his 'enlargement' of Alfred in that edition, a song 
' part' of which, he allows, was written by Thomson. This could only 
have been the song of ' Rule, Britannia.' The other part was written 
(in 1751) by Lord Bolingbroke as a footnote informs us. 

435. a dazzling deluge. Of hot sunshine. 

443. the cheerful sound. In all editions, down to 1738, ' the sandy 
sound' (of sharpening scythe). 

NOTES, 390-563- 285 

447. After this line came, in the first edition 

' The desert singes ; and the stubborn rock, 
Split to the centre, sweats at every pore.' 

In a later edition, and retained in 1738, ' singes ' was altered to ' reddens.' 
Ultimately the two lines were struck out. 

460, 461. beneath the whole collected shade . . . Or in the gelid caverns. 

' O qui me gelidis in vallibus Haemi 
Sistat, et ingenti ramorum protegat umbra ! ' 

Virgil, Georgic II. 487,488. 

471. Ashes . . . resounding o'er the steep. Through which the wind 
is blowing. 

475. Laves. This pause is not uncommon in Thomson's blank 
verse ; e. g. 

Of him the shepherd in the peaceful dale 
Chants. Britannia, 11. 136, 137. 
Tennyson uses it with fine effect. 

481-484. This variety of the brook's course has been inimitably 
described by Burns in Halloween 

'Whyles owre a linn the burnie plays 

As through the glen it wimpl't ; 
Whyles round a rocky scaur it strays, 

Whyles in a wiel it dimpl't ; 
Whyles glittered to the nightly rays 

Wi' bickerin' dancin' dazzle; 
Whyles cookit underneath the braes 

Below the spreading hazel.' 

493-497. A very similar scene has been charmingly rendered (partly 
in prose) by Heine in The Tour in the Harz (1824). The metrical part 

'Konig ist der Hirtenknabe.' 

The features of the scene and situation are in both poets the same 
down to the wallet of bread and cheese. For 1. 497 the later editions 

' There, listening every noise, his watchful dog.' 
506-515. This passage was composed so early as the beginning of 
June, 1726. On the nth of that month Thomson transcribed it in a 
letter to Aaron Hill. 

516-563. This passage of forty-eight lines, almost as they stand, was 
ready before the nth August, 1726. In a letter of that date to Malloch, 
Thomson thus refers to them : ' I have already written of shade and 
gloom, and woodland spirits, &c., exactly as you hint more than a week 


518. forming . . . a woodland quire. Quire, for choir, here signifies 
the place frequented by song-birds, not the song-birds themselves. So 

'Yellow leaves, or none or few, do hang 
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold, 
Bare, ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.' 

Sonnet Ixxiii. 

526, 527. to save the fall of Virtue, &c. Cp. Milton's Comus 
' If virtue feeble were 

Heaven itself would stoop to her.' 11. 1022, 1023. 
528, 529. In waking whispers and repeated dreams To hint pure 
thought. Cp. Milton 

' A thousand liveried angels lackey her [the soul], 
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt, 
And in clear dream and solemn vision 
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,' &c. 

Comus, 11. 455-8. 

531. To prompt the poet. The same idea occurs in Burns's Vision, 
where it is the leading feature of Duan Second : 
'Some fire the soldier on to dare, 
Some rouse the patriot up to bare 

Corruption's heart ; 
Some teach the bard, a darling care, 
The tuneful art. 

Of these am I Coila my name,' &c. 

552-563- This passage will bear comparison with the exquisite 
harmony and solemn imagery of Milton's well-known lines 
' Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth 
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep ; 
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold 
Both day and night. How often from the steep 
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard 
Celestial voices to the midnight air, 
Sole, or responsive each to other's note, 
Singing their great Creator ! Oft in bands 
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk, 
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds 
In full harmonic number joined, their songs 
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heaven.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 677-688. 
564. And art thou, Stanley, of that sacred hand? On this line 

NOTES, 518-616. 287 

Thomson has the following footnote : 'A young lady well known to 
the author, who died at the age of eighteen, in the year 1738.' Her 
epitaph, in Holyrood Church, Southampton, informs the reader that 
Elizabeth Stanley, daughter of George and Sarah Stanley, joined to the 
greatest beauty, modesty, and gentleness of female nature ' all the forti- 
tude, elevation, and vigour of mind that ever exalted the most heroical 
man.' The epitaph includes twenty-four lines of verse written by 
Thomson, and terminating thus 

' Yes, we must follow soon, will glad obey ; 

When a few suns have rolled their cares away, 

Tired with vain life, will close the willing eye : 

'Tis the great birthright of mankind to die ! 

Blest be the bark that wafts us to the shore 

Where death-divided friends shall part no more ! 
To join thee there, here with thy dust repose, 

Ts all the hope thy hapless mother knows.' 

The mother of Miss Stanley was an early friend of Thomson. She was 
the daughter of Sir Hans Sloane, who, in the year (1727) of the pub- 
lication of Summer, succeeded Sir Isaac Newton in the presidentship of 
the Royal Society, and who is now chiefly known for his noble bequest 
of books and MSS. which proved the nucleus of the British Museum. 
This address to the shade of Miss Stanley was not ready for the edition 
of 1738. 

582. kills not the buds of virtue. ' In Eden every bud is blown.' 
David Gray. 

592-606. The original lines, nine in number, of which these fifteen 
are an expansion, described the waterfall with more force and felicity of 
language, if with less fluency 

' In one big glut, as sinks the shelving ground, 

The impetuous torrent, tumbling down the steep, 

Thunders, and shakes the astonished country round. 

Now a blue watery sheet ; anon, dispersed, 

A hoary mist ; then, gathered in again, 

A darted stream aslant the hollow rock, 

This way and that tormented, dashing thick 

From steep to steep, with wild infracted course, 

And restless roaring to the humble vale.' 

606. Five lines, afterwards dropped, introduced in the first edition the 
passage beginning here. 

616. Mournfully hoarse. Thomson imports the grief into the note of 
the stock-dove. It sounds equally mournful when the bird is well 


628. Woodbine. Honeysuckle, and so in the original. The work- 
ing bee is neuter, or undeveloped female. The only male bees are the 

629-1102. These lines, 474 in number, are a, far digression from the 
subject proper which is the description of a typical summer day, such 
as we have in Britain. The poet visits in imagination the various 
countries of historical or geographical note in the torrid zone Negro- 
land, Bengal, Mexico, the Sahara, Abyssinia, Nubia, Egypt, Southern 
India, Siam, Brazil, Peru, Morocco, Arabia, the Cape, &c., the favourite 
region being Africa. Their flora and fauna, physical features, peculia- 
rities of climate, &c., are dwelt upon in considerable detail. At last the 
vagrant muse (1. 1101) is happily recalled to England. In this long 
digression there are many magnificent lines, but Thomson's descriptive 
power is freshest when it is employed on scenes of which he has 
direct experience. Perhaps the most effective touch is at 11. 977-9 ; 
where, after describing the destruction of a caravan in the desert by the 
deadly simoom, he suddenly transports us to either extremity of the 
caravan route, to the towns most interested in the fate of the overdue 

' In Cairo's crowded streets 

The impatient merchant, wondering, waits in vain, 
And Mecca saddens at the long delay.' 

It may be noted here that the alterations in the first and subsequent 
texts, before the poem at last settled into the shape in which we now 
have it the expansions, additions, distributions, subtractions, and 
substitutions are much too numerous to be indicated, and it would 
serve no very useful purpose to indicate them all. These alterations 
upon the original text increase from 1. 629 onward : those of them which 
are thought to be of real interest will be noted. 

636, 637. Rising direct, . . . chases . . . The short-lived twilight. Cp. 
Coleridge's description 

' At one stride comes the dark.' Ancient Mariner. 

641. the general breeze. Thomson has a footnote on this expression : 
' Which blows constantly between the tropics from the east, or the 
collateral points, the north-east and south-east : caused by the pressure 
of the rarefied air on that before it, according to the diurnal motion of 
the sun from east to west.' 

645. double seasons. Thomson has the following note : ' In all 
climates between the tropics, the sun, as he passes and repasses in his 
annual motion, is twice a year vertical, which produces this effect.' 

652. boundless . . . immensity of shade. Cp. Cowper's ' boundless 
contiguity of shade' (The Task, Bk. II. 1. 2). 

NOTES, 628-678. 289 

663. Pomona. The Roman goddess of fruit-trees. From pomitm, 
fruit. Citron, a species of fruit-tree in India and other warm countries, 
belonging to the genus citrus, to which also belong the orange, lime, 
lemon, &c. The rind of the citron is more valuable than the pulp, 
having a delicious flavour and fragrance. A cooling beverage is made 
from it. 

664. the lemon and the piercing lime. From the Persian limit, a 
lemon, or lime, or citron. A cooling beverage is made from these fruits, 
which is administered in febrile complaints, and is an agreeable drink in 
hot weather. The lime is much smaller than the lemon, and extremely 
acid. Both are natives of India and the East. The Crusaders are said 
to have brought the lemon into Europe. 

665. orange. Persian ndranj : the initial letter was lost in Italian ; 
in French orange, as if from or, gold from the colour ; but in Spanish 
the initial is preserved, naranja, an orange. 

667. tamarind. Literally, the Indian palm. From the Arabic, tamr, 
a ripe date, and Hind, India. It is a leguminous spreading tree 30 or 
40 feet high ; the pods are brown, full of seeds, and about six inches long. 
The pulp in which the seeds lie is of a reddish black, sweet and acidul- 
ous. A sherbet is made from it, and is used in inflammatory and 
feverish disorders. 

669. the massy locust. The reference must, from the use of 'massy,' 
be to the West Indian locust-tree, which grows to a gigantic height. 
All trees of the locust order are leguminous. 

671. the Indian fig. The banyan-tree, remarkable for its rooting 
branches, which become stems, capable of supporting a vast extent of 
shade. Hundreds of stems are not uncommon, and there are cases where 
thousands have been counted up-bearing the branches of a single tree. 

674. the verdant cedar. The cedar is an evergreen, with a dark 
shadow. Gr. tcedpos ; perhaps allied to Heb. kadar, to be dark. 

675. palmettos lift their graceful shade. The palmetto is the dwarf 
or cabbage palm, a native of North America, found farther north than 
any other species of palm. It rises about 40 or 50 feet, and is 
crowned with a tuft of large palmated leaves, from one foot to five feet 
in length and having a long foot-stalk. 

677, 678. cocoas milky bowl. The juice of the nut was variously known 
as milk and wine. Cp. Goldsmith's ' palmy wine.' Cocoa is derived 
by Professor Skeat from Spanish coco, a bugbear, an ugly mask to 
frighten children ; hence applied to the cocoa-nut on account of the 
monkey-like face at the base of the nut. The original sense of coco was 
skull, head ; allied to Fr. coque, shell, from Lat. concha, a marine shell. 
Freshening for ' refreshing.' 



679. bounteous. Not 'plentiful,' but 'bliss-bestowing.' Fr. bonte, 
Lat. bonitas, goodness. 

680. flacchus. The Greek and Roman noisy or riotous god of wine. 

68 1. the full pomegranate-, i.e. filled with juice. Literally, the 
grained or seeded apple, or fruit ; from Lat. pomum, fruit, apple, and 
granatum, seeded granum, a grain. Thomson's description of its 
' slender twigs ' is accurate ; one writer states that ' in cultivation it is a 
low tree with t^viggy branches.' 

682. 683. creeping through the woods, the gelid race Of berries. Thomson 
has apparently come home for an instant, and appears to refer to the 
wild strawberry the only ' creeping ' berry that is ripe in summer. He 
seems to forget he would not ignore the cultivated strawberry, of 
which Dr. Boteler (as quoted by Izaak Walton) said, ' Doubtless God 
could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did.' 

685. thou best anana. The pine-apple, most delicious of all fruits. 
It is indigenous to tropical America. It had been introduced into the 
gardens of the wealthy in England only some forty or fifty years when 
Thomson thus sang its praises. The Dutch brought it to Europe. 

688, 689. The sensuous nature of Thomson is well revealed in these 

692. savanna. A prairie, or meadow-plain ; Spanish sabana, a 
sheet for a bed ; from Gr. (Ta@avov, a linen cloth. 

696, 697. showers Exuberant Spring. Less figuratively 'scatters 

a luxuriant verdure.' 

700. .streaming dews. If this means as, taken with ' torrent rains,' 
it seems to mean ' dews falling copiously,' it is incorrect, since dew 
does not fall. It may, however, mean 'drops of dew already formed 
running together in streams.' 

705. fattening seas. Fertilising waters. The Amazon is meant. 

707. his train. The tail of the crocodile. 

710. By ' behemoth,' Thomson signifies the hippopotamus. See 
Job, chap. xl. vv. 15-24, for a description which suggested that of the 

717. Niger's . . . stream. The explorer of the Niger, Mungo Park, 
Thomson's countryman, was not yet born when Thomson wrote this 

718. the Ganges .... sacred wave. The river, from its source in 
' the cow's mouth ' to its union with the bay, is regarded by the natives 
of Bengal, and indeed of India, with a feeling of reverence. They make 
pilgrimages from far and near to worship the river, and bathe in its holy 

724. Alluding to the great age the elephant sometimes attains. 

NOTES, 679-774. 291 

728. mine his steps. The wild elephant is sometimes taken 

in the way these words suggest. Holes are dug in the track the animal 
is known to frequent ; they are lightly covered over with a roof of 
sticks or boards concealed under a natural appearance of turf, and the 
elephant tumbling into one of these pits is soon a captive. 

729. his towery grandeur. Cp. Milton's reference to elephants 
' endorsed with towers of archers ' in Par. Regained, Bk. III. 11. 329, 


742. Montezumrfs realm. Mexico, conquered by Cortes early in the 
sixteenth century. A peculiar art of the ancient kingdom of Mexico was 
the weaving of feathers into a kind of costly cloth. The art perished 
with the unhappy natives. See Milton 

' In spirit perhaps he also saw 
Rich Mexico, the seat of Montezume, 
And Cusco in Peru, the richer seat 
Of Atabalipa.' Par. Lost, Bk. XI. 11. 406-409. 
744. Philomel. The nightingale. 

746. sober-stated. ' In russet brown bedight.' Castle of Indolence, 
Canto II. st. xxxiii. 

750. vale of Sennar. This region, situated in the south of Nubia, 
extends on both sides of the Bahr-el-Azrek (Blue Nile). 

751, 752. the secret bounds Of jealous Abyssinia boldly pierce. When 
these words were penned, the future explorer of Abyssinia, James Bruce, 
was still a young boy in his home in Stirlingshire, or at school at 
Harrow. It was the Portuguese Jesuit missionaries, who, in the six- 
teenth and seventeenth centuries, introduced Popery into Abyssinia. 
But Christianity had been introduced as early as the fourth century. 
' Jealous,' as having guarded for centuries the supposed source of the 
Nile. But see Par. Lost, IV. 280-284 ; and Rasselas, chap. i. 

753, 758. A reflection on the Portuguese traders and the Jesuit mis- 

759. like the harmless bee. Cowper employs the same simile : 
' He travels and expatiates, as the bee 
From flower to flower, so he from land to land,' &c. 

The Task, Bk. IV. 11. 107, 108. 

764. more than Alpine mountains. ' Abyssinia,' says Prof. Hughes, 
* consists of an alternation of plateaus and high mountain-chains .... 
the external features of the country are those of an Alpine region.' 

767. sun-redoubling valley. A valley that by the reflection of the 
sun's rays from its sides doubles the heat of the sun. An awkward com- 

773, 774. draw Ethereal soul; i. e. inhale pure life-giving air. 


778. ' The rivers bring down some grains of gold, which gives room 
to suspect the mountains are full of it.' M. Legrand. 

795. upper seas. Rain-clouds ' the big stores of steaming oceans ' 
in 1. 794. Cp. the Scriptural phrase ' the waters above the firmament.' 

Soi, 802. the whole precipitated mass, &c. See Winter, 11. 154, 155, 
for almost the same language : 

' Hurls the whole precipitated air 
Down in a torrent.' 

806. From his two springs. It is hardly necessary to point out that 
the problem of the source of the Nile was still far from solution in the 
time of Thomson, though here he seems to regard it as at last definitely 
settled. Go/am : a district south of Lake Dernbea in Abyssinia, lying 
between the parallels 10 and 11 N. Lat. 

806, 807. From his two springs Pure-ivellingout. In 1735 

some time before these words were written Johnson had published in 
London his translation from the French of ' A Voyage to Abyssinia, by 
Father Jerome Lobo, a Portuguese Jesuit, with a Continuation by Mr. 
(sic} Legrand,' which Thomson seems to have read. In the ' Continua- 
tion' we find : ' Father Peter Pays [Paez], a Portuguese Jesuit, was the 
first European who had a sight of the two springs which give rise to 
this celebrated stream. As I was looking round about me,' he says, 
' with great attention, I discovered two round springs, one of which 
might be about 2 feet in diameter. The sight filled me with a pleasure 
which I know not how to express, when I considered that it was what 
Cyrus, Cambyses, Alexander, and Julius Caesar had so ardently and so 
much in vain desired to behold.' This discovery was in ' Goiama,' and 
the date was 2ist April, 1613. It is now 1891, and there is still some 
doubt whether the head of the Nile be yet discovered. 

808. fair Dambea. The lake is about 60 miles long, and has a mean 
breadth of about 25 miles. It occupies the hollow of a very fertile 
plateau some 6000 feet above sea-level. Its beauty is much enhanced 
by several islands. The Blue Nile passes through the south end of it. 

820, 821. he pours his urn, &c. A skilfully managed cadence. Refer- 
ence is made to the cataracts of the Nile, and the annual inundation of 

822. Niger. It was not till 1796 that anything definite was known 
of this river. Park explored it. 

826. ' Falling' on the Coromandel coast are the Mahanadi, the God- 
averi, the Krishna, and the Cauveri, and numerous other rivers of less 
size. On the western, or Malabar coast of southern India, there are 
no rivers of note ; unless the Nerbudda and the Tapti are meant. 

827. Menanis orient stream. Orient, as being still farther east than 

NOTES, 778-855. 293 

the rivers of Hindostan. Thomson gives the following note: 'The 
river that runs through Siam ; on whose banks a vast multitude of 
those insects called fire-flies make a beautiful appearance in the night.' 

829. Imhis 1 smiling banks, &c. This description hardly answers the 
modern idea of the Indus. In the lower half of its long course it flows 
through a narrow and arid basin, with a decreasing volume of waters. 
But Thomson probably refers to the valley of Cashmere, ' with its roses 
the brightest that earth ever gave ' (Moore.) 

831. pour unt oiling harvest. A rich deposit of mud from which, 
with little labour on the part of the agriculturist, abundant crops of 
millet, rice, &c. are produced. 

832. thy world, Columbus. America, discovered on the I2th October, 
1492. Christopher Columbus, the greatest of navigators, was born in 
Genoa, some say in 1436, others in 1446. He was in the service of 
Ferdinand and Isabella of Spain when he made the discovery. His 
expectation was to find a new route to India by sailing westward. The 
islands of the new world upon which he was blown were the Bahamas, 
which he believed to be and named the western isles of the Indies. 
He died in great poverty at Valladolid, in May, 1506, to the eternal 
disgrace of the ungrateful king Ferdinand. The continent was named 
by the Germans after Amerigo Vespucci whose account of the new 
world was the first to be published and become popular. Vespucci was 
a native of Florence, born there in 1451. He first visited the new 
world seven years after its discovery. It is right to say that his name was 
given to the new continent without his wish, and even to his surprise. 

834. The Orinoco. In the wet season, as described by Dr. A. Russel 
Wallace, its waters unite with those of the Amazon, and the inhabitants 
of the submerged areas, where the basins unite, are forced to betake 
themselves for safety to the upper branches of the flood-invaded forests. 

840. The mighty Orellana. The Amazon. Properly named from 
its first navigator Francisco de Orellana, who taking part in the -great 
expedition of Gonzalo Pizarro, deserted his leader, and descended 
to the ocean in a brigantine. The Amazon is the largest of rivers, and 
occupies an area as large as Europe. 

843. sea-like Plata. It is a broad fresh-water estuary, rather than a 
river, formed by the union of the Parana and the Uruguay. 

854. blameless Pan. Simple shepherd-life. Pan was the Greek god 
of flocks and shepherds. 

855. Christian crimes. Persecuting proselytism is not necessarily 
referred to. The satire lies in the contrast which the profession of 
Christian principles so often presents to the conduct of the individual 
who professes them. 


859. ' So great is the volume of water which it [the Amazon] brings 
down, that its freshness is perceptible at a distance of more than 500 
miles from the coast ' (Prof. W. Hughes). ' The immense and turbid 
flood which the Rio de la Plata pours into the Atlantic is perceptible at 
a distance of more than a hundred miles to seaward, and forms a 
powerful current amidst the waters of the ocean.' Ibid. 

863. Ceres void of pain. Crops got without the trouble of cultivating 
the fields. 

869. fatal treasures. As being the object of covetousness, and the 
occasion of strife and bloodshed. 

870. \hid"\ Deep in the bowels of the pitying earth. Hidden deep 
underground as if to prevent strife about their possession. Cp. 

'By him first 

Men also, and by his suggestion taught, 
Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands 
Rifled the bowels of their mother earth 
For treasures better hid.' Par. Lost, Bk. I. 11. 684-688. 
"87 1. Golconda. Potosi. The former is a few miles from Hyderabad 
in the Nizam's dominions, and is proverbially famous for diamonds. 
They are not, however, got from mines at Golconda,but are brought thither 
to be cut and polished. Potosi, in Bolivia, is the richest mining centre 
for silver in South America. There are thousands of mines in the top of 
the silver mountain, and hundreds of millions of pounds sterling have 
been taken out of them. 

872. the gentlest children of the sun. The native Peruvians, a 
peaceful and inoffensive race of people, who fell an easy prey to the 
Spaniards under the Pizarros. They worshipped the sun, and called 
themselves his children. 
890-893. Cp. Goldsmith 

' All the gentler morals, such as play 
Through life's more cultured walks, and charm the way, 
These, far dispersed, on timorous pinions fly 
To sport and flutter in a kinder sky.' The Traveller. 
898-938. This passage, before its expansion in the later editions, con- 
sisted of only some twenty lines in the first edition. It began 
* Here the green serpent gathers up his train 
In orbs immense, then darting out anew 
Progressive rattles through the withered brake,' &c. 
905. all other thirst, i. e. thirsty animals. 

^ 908. small close-lurking minister of fate. The cerastes or horned 
viper is probably meant. It is exceedingly venomous. 

NOTES, 859-956. 295 

916. tiger darting fierce. ' Tiger ' is derived from Old Persian tighri, 
an arrow. The river Tigris, . from the same root, is named from its 

921. hytzna. From Gr. vaiva, literally a ' sow-like ' animal. 
923. Mauritania. The old name for the extreme north-west of Africa, 
corresponding with the modern Morocco and Algiers. From Mauri, 
the Moors. It is to Mauretania that Horace refers as ' Jubae tellus .... 
leonum arida nutrix ' (Car. I. 22). 

923, 924. the tufted isles .... amidthe Libyan wild. Oases adorned 
with clumps of palm. Libya, a district of north Africa, west of Egypt. 
(See Liberty, 11. 247-251.) 

925-938. This passage stood in the first text 
' In dire divan around their shaggy king 
Majestic stalking o'er the burning sand 
With planted step ; while an obsequious crowd 
Of grinning forms at humble distance wait. 
These altogether joined from darksome caves, 
Where o'er gnawed bones they slumbered out the day, 
By supreme hunger smit, and thirst intense, 
At once their mingling voices raise to heaven ; 
And, with imperious and repeated roars 
Demanding food, the wilderness resounds 
From Atlas eastward to the frighted Nile.' 
939. the first of joys, i. e. the best. 

939-949. Cp. Cowper's description of a similar situation, in Verses 
supposed to be written by Alexander Selkirk 

' I am out of humanity's reach,' &c. 
949. the wonted roar is tip. A recollection of Comus, 1. 549 

' The wonted roar was up amidst the woods.' 

952. stooping Rome, i. e. declining. The expression is repeated in 
Liberty, at 1. 460 of Part III where will be found a graphic sketch of 
the causes that led to the decline of the Republic, and the course of that 

954. Cato . . . through Numidian wilds. Numidia lay between Maure- 
tania and Carthage. It was at Utica in Numidia, about twenty-seven 
Roman miles north-west of Carthage, that Cato the younger fell by his 
own hand, B. c. 46, at the age of forty-nine, rather than submit to 
Caesar. The contest between Caesar and the Pompeian party, to which 
Cato belonged, and the resultant tragedy of the death of Cato, are the 
subject of Addison's stately drama. 

955' 95^. Campania, a fertile, salubrious, and lovely district of Italy, 
lying along the Mediterranean immediately to the south-east of Latium ; 


once a favourite summer retreat. The first inhabitants were variously 
called Ausones and Osci. But Ausonia was often applied to the whole 
of Italy. 

959-1051. This long passage of nearly 100 lines on different subjects 
was interjected after 1738. It has no place in the edition of that year 
though a line here and there may be found, but in a different connection, 
in the first edition of 1727. 

964. A suffocating wind. The simoom. 

977-979. ' A beautiful instance of the modifying and investive power 
of imagination may be seen .... in Thomson's description of the streets 
of Cairo, expecting the arrival of the caravan which had perished in 
the storm.' Wordsworth (quoted in Prof. Knight's Life of Wordsworth, 
vol. ii, Appendix, p. 324). 

984. Typhon ; 1. 986. Ecnephia. ' Names of particular storms or 
hurricanes, known only between the tropics.' Note by Thomson. Pliny 
mentions cwttyias, a storm that breaks out of a cloud ; Gr. ere, out, and 
vt<pos, cloud. On ' the old word typhon (not uncommon in old authors)' 
Prof. Skeat has a curious note. He derives it, of course, from 'rvfytav, 
better TV&WS, a whirlwind,' and remarks on the ' close accidental 
coincidence ' (of typhon and typhoon^ ' in sense and form as being very 
remarkable.' Typhoon he describes as modern, a Chinese word, 
meaning ' a great wind ' ; from ta, great, and fang or fting, wind. 
' Tyfoon would be better.' 

987. cloudy speck. ' Called by sailors the ox-eye, being in appearance 
at first no bigger.' Note by Thomson. Cp. ' a little cloud out of the sea, 
like a man's hand ' ( I Kings xviii. 44). 

998. Art is too slow. Seamanship ; or the furling of the sails. 

1001. the daring Gama. ' Vasco da Gama, the first who sailed round 
Africa by the Cape of Good Hope to the East Indies.' Thomsons 
A T ote. Dom Vasco da Gama was of a good Portuguese family. W T ith a 
small fleet of four vessels, manned by 160 men, he set sail from Lisbon 
in July, 1497, reached Table Bay (owing to stormy weather) so late as 
November, encountered terrific tempests in doubling the southern 
extremity of Africa, and at last after quelling a mutiny among his 
terrified crew, and enduring unspeakable hardships safely crossed 
the Indian Ocean to Calicut in India, where he arrived on the 2oth May, 
1498. He lived to enjoy the fame of this great feat twenty seven years. 
Courage and constancy were his most conspicuous moral qualities. He 
is one of the heroes of The Lusiad ; and indeed the most striking part of 
the great epic of Camoens (b. 1524, d. 1579) is the passage descriptive of 
the giant Adamastor appearing to Gama as the Demon of the Storm, in 
the vain hope of turning him from his enterprise of doubling the Cape., 

NOTES, 959- I0 57- 297 

1010. The Lusitanian Prince. 'Don Henry, third son to John the 
First, King of Portugal. His strong genius to the discovery of new 
countries was the chief source of all the modern improvements in 
navigation.' Note by Thomson. This prince is known as Enrique the 
Navigator. The good results of his encouragement to navigation and 
colonisation appeared chiefly in the reigns of Joam II, and Manoel. It 
was in Manoel's reign that da Gama discovered the new sea-route to the 
East Indies. 

1015. shark. Perhaps from Lat. carcharus, a species of dog-fish ; Gr. 
icapxapos, rough, hard. ' To shirk ' = to act as a shark, to prowl about 
in a slinking manner. 

1016. steaming crowds. The unhappy victims of the inhuman traffic 
in slaves, called - that cruel trade ' a few lines below. 

1020. Guinea. On the West Coast of Africa. A brave sailor, Sir 
John Hawkins, has the unenviable distinction of having commenced the 
deportation of negroes from Guinea to supply labour for the plantations 
of our American colonies. 

1023-1025. A revolting scene, described in words too realistic. Heine 
has treated the same theme, suo more, in The Slave Ship. 

1028. Cp. ' looks out the joyous spring' (Winter, 1. 16). 

1040, 1041. Carthagena. Vernon. Under Walpole's administration, 
but against his judgment, an expedition was sent against the Spanish 
possessions in South America. Admiral Vernon was in command. He 
captured Portobello in 1739, but was baffled in his attack upon 
Carthagena by the disease of his men. Those unhealthy shores of South 
America had already proved fatal to Admiral Hosier, whose misfortunes 
as told in Glover's Ballad of Hosier's Ghost (written on receipt of 
the news of the capture of Portobello by Vernon) touched the public 
heart into a long-withheld sympathy. Thomson, in Britannia (11. 34-40), 
had attempted anonymously to excite this sympathy in 1727. 

1049, 1050. on each other fixed . . .the blank assistants. There is 
careless composition here, and some obscurity of meaning besides. 
Probably ' the blank assistants ' signifies the survivors who assisted in 
burying the bodies of their dead comrades ; and ' on each other fixed ' 
seems to mean> ' with eyes fixed on each other.' 

1054. Nemesis. The goddess of vengeance. As a common noun, 
the Greek vtfteais signifies distribution, allotment, and hence retribution ; 
from vkyt.uV) to distribute. 

1057. locust-armies putrefying. 'These are the causes supposed to 
be the first origin of the Plague, in Dr. Mead's eloquent book on that 
subject.' Note by Thomson. The ' book ' when first published, in 1720, 
was a mere pamphlet. 


1070. uncouth verdure. Unaccustomed, strange. From A.-Sax. ww-, 
not ; ciith, known. 

1078. its cautious hinge, &c. See Defoe's History of the Great 

1070-1088. Instead of these lines, the original text (down to 1738) 
had the following : 

' And ranged at open noon by beasts of prey 
And birds of bloody beak. The sullen doer 
No visit knows, nor hears the wailing voice 
Of fervent want. Even soul- attracted friends 
And relatives, endeared for many a year, 
Savaged by war, forget the social tie, 
The close engagement of the kindred heart, 
And, sick, in solitude successive die 
Untended and unmourned. While, to complete,' &c. 
1090, 1091. The grim guards .... a better death. The reference 
is to the cordon sanitaire. Better to be struck or shot down than to 
die of the plague. 

1092-1102. The first draught of these lines formed part of a long 
passage, which, in the earlier editions, began at 1. 1620 of the settled 

1096. the pillared fame. But the fact is that flames do not shoot 
from volcanoes. The reflection of the red molten lava on the clouds of 
steam thrown up during an eruption produces the illusion. 

1102. Here ends the long digression to tropical scenes and torrid 
summers. In the next line the poet is back in England. 

1105-1116. A poetical, not a scientific, exposition of the cause or 
conditions of a storm of thunder and lightning. But Franklin's discovery 
of the nature of lightning was not made till after Thomson's death, 
namely, in 1752. It was then demonstrated that lightning and electri- 
city are identical. It may be noted that Malloch's explanation of the 
phenomenon of a thunderstorm is the same as Thomson's : he too 
speaks of 

'Sulphureous steam and nitrous, late exhaled 
From mine or unctuous soil,' &c. The Excursion, Canto I. 
1141-1143. The very sound of these lines suggests what they describe. 
1149. Here in the earlier editions was introduced a description of a 
shepherd killed by lightning : 

' [It] strikes the shepherd as he shuddering sits 
Presaging ruin 'mid the rocky clift. 
His inmost marrow feels the gliding flame ; 
He dies; and, like a statue grimed with age, 

NOTES, 1070-1209. 299 

His live dejected posture still remains, 
His russet singed, and rent his hanging hat ; 
While, whining at his feet, his half-stunned dog, 
Importunately kind and fearful pats 
On his insensate master for relief.' 

A striking picture, but in bad taste. It was withdrawn chiefly perhaps 
because the theme was handled in the story of Celadon and Amelia 
(see below, 11. 1214-1222). 

1151, 1152. Fuller and more effective in the first text : 
* A leaning shattered trunk stands scathed to heaven 

The talk of future ages.' 
There is tragedy here. 

1153. harmless look. Said of naiads by Shakespeare (The Tempest > the 
masque scene). 

1156-1168. This wild passage, somewhat bombastic, was substi- 
tuted for the following less furious but more forcible lines of the first 
edition : 

' A little further burns 

The guiltless cottage ; and the haughty dome 
Stoops to the base. In one immediate flash 
The forest falls; or, flaming out, displays 
The savage haunts, unpierced by day before. 
Scarred is the mountain's brow ; and from the cliff 
Tumbles the smitten rock. The desert shakes, 
And gleams, and grumbles through his deepest dens.' 
1 1 68. Thule. The Orkney and Shetland Islands. The area of the 
thunderstorm is thus Wales and all Scotland. 

1170. not always on the guilty head. The vulgar creed even yet 
needs this correction. 

1171-1222. The episode of Celadon and Amelia, gracefully and 
affectingly described, and giving relief to the main subject, as figures 
relieve a landscape, was possibly suggested by Pope's letter to Lady 
Mary Montagu, containing the tragic story of two lovers killed by 
lightning. The letter is of date Sept. ist, 1717. Part of Pope's cor- 
respondence was published so early as 1726 ; the 'authorised' edition 
came out in 1737. 

1 1 74. Cp. Milton's description of Adam and Eve in Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 
11. 296, 299. 

1178. informed. Finer in the original edition 'alarmed.' See 
Spring, 11. 250-254. 

1 208, 1 209. the secret shaft That wastes at midnight. ' The terror by 
night/ ' the arrow that flieth by day.' Psalm xci. 5. 


1215, 1216. In the first edition 

' In a heap 

Of pallid ashes fell the beauteous maid.' 

1257-1268. This passage followed the episode of Damon and Musi- 
dora in the edition of 1738; and the passage beginning at 1. 1269 
of the settled text was joined to that ending at 1. 1256 by the words 

' 'Twas then beneath a secret waving shade ' ; 
replaced, to suit the connection, by 

'Close in the covert of a hazel copse.' 

1269-1370. The story of Damon and Musidora first appeared in 
the edition of 1730, and was retained in the edition of 1 738 ; but the first 
version has been so altered as to form in the final text an episode almost 
entirely different. In the first version Damon is represented as professing 
insensibility to the influence of female beauty. His profession is put to 
the test by his chance discovery of three nymphs bathing. They are 
Sacharissa, Amoret, and Musidora. The beauty of Musidora makes im- 
pression upon his obdurate heart : smitten by her charms, he falls deeply 
in love with her. Both versions have been objected to on the score of 
taste, more especially Musidora' s frank avowal of her affection for Damon. 
The first version was doubtless suggested by the well-known Decision of 
Paris in classical story, perhaps also by a passage (11. 12-20 of Act I. 
sc. 2) in Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd. 

1271. After this line in the first draught came the following passage : 
' Thoughtful and fixed in philosophic muse, 
Damon, who still amid the savage woods 
And lonely lawns the force of beauty scorned, 
Firm, and to false philosophy devote. 
The brook ran babbling by, and, sighing weak, 
The breeze among the bending willows played, 
"When Saccharissa to the cool retreat 
With Amoret and Musidora stole.' 

Then followed 'Warm in their cheek' &c., at 1. 1290. After 1. 1292 
came the description of the three nymphs, in which Saccharissa is 
likened to Juno, Musidora to Minerva, and Amoret to Venus, extend- 
ing to 1. 1303. Line 1304 began, ' Nor Paris panted stronger,' &c., and 
the text ran on, with some necessary changes, very much as we have 
it to 1. 1332. 

1 275, 1 276. falsely he Of Mtisidoras crttelty. As Roger complained of 

Jenny's cruelty in Allan Ramsay's Gentle Shepherd (Act I. sc. i) a 

pastoral comedy (published in 1725) which Thomson must have known. 

1347. Me statue that enchants the world. The Venus de Medici, in 

the Imperial Gallery at Florence. 

NOTES, 1215-1408. 301 

1371-1437. All this was written after 1738, probably in 1744. (See 
a reference to time at 11. 1427-1428.) 

1373-1376. Described with a more exalted figure, and richer melody 
of expression, in the Castle of Indolence : 

' Gay castles in the clouds that pass, 
For ever flushing round a summer sky.' 

Canto I, st. vi, 11. 3, 4. 
1383. pathetic for 'sympathetic.' 

1387. the vulgar never had a glimpse. The love of natural scenery, of 
the beauty of this fair world, was a passion with Thomson. It is a feel- 
ing not so generally diffused as one is apt to imagine. Cowper, indeed, 
in the penultimate passage of The Winter Evening, declares that 

' The love of Nature's works 
Is an ingredient in the compound man, 
Infused at the creation of the kind,' 

and that none are 'without some relish,' that all retain, even in the 
depth of cities, an ' inborn inextinguishable thirst of rural scenes.' He 
allows, however, that the feeling requires to be educated, and that ' minds 
that have been formed and tutored' discern and taste the beauty of 
Nature 'with a relish more exact.' Thomson's highest honour is that he 
has taught ' the vulgar ' to see both beauty and a spirit of divine benevo- 
lence in the arrangement of their dwelling-place, the earth. He has not 
only opened our eyes to the beauty of our natural surroundings, but set 
the soul of man in a freer filial relation to its Maker. The gifts 
of Nature express the fatherhood of God : this is his religious creed, 
and this is what he means by following Nature up to Nature's God. 
1391. Supply 'which,' as a connective, after ' Virtue.' 

1393. portico of -woods. Reference is here made to the place, the 
Painted Porch (2rod noiitiXr)), or Colonnade, in ancient Athens where 
Zeno some three centuries before the Christian era taught his peculiar 
philosophy (Stoicism). 

1394. Nature's vast Lyceum. A Gymnasium outside the walls of 
ancient Athens, and just above the llissus, where Aristotle (b. 384 B. c.) 
walked and taught his disciples (the Peripatetics), bore the name of 
the Lyceum (TO AvKfiov} from its neighbourhood to the Temple of 
Apollo Lyceus 'Apollo the Light-Giver.' (For a poetical descrip- 
tion of the Schools of ancient Athens, see Paradise Regained, Book IV, 
11. 240-253. Note that Milton places the Lyceum within the city walls.) 

1401. Amanda. Miss Young. See note, Spring, 1. 482. 
1403. All is the same with thee. Any path will be delightful in your 

1408. Thy hill, delightful S June. ' " Shene " : the old name of Rich- 


mond, signifying in Saxon, shining or splendour? Note by Thomson. 
Thomson, when he was in easy enough circumstances to own a country 
residence, some time in 1736, fixed upon Richmond, and settled in a 
neat garden-house in Kew- foot-lane, which looked down on the Thames, 
and gave a wide view of landscape besides. Amanda's sister, Mrs. 
Robertson, was a near neighbour of the poet at Richmond. 

1410. huge Augusta. London. See note, Spring, 1. 107. 

1411. sister-hills. Highgate and Hampstead. 

1412. Harrow-on-the-Hill, twelve miles north-west from London. 
When Thomson wrote 'lofty Harrow' (1744?) he had not seen a 
Scottish hill for about twenty years. Harrow stands on a small 

1413. Windsor is about twenty-three miles up the river from London. 
It has been a royal residence since the time of the Conqueror. The 
Castle stands on a plateau of natural chalk. 

1419. Harringtons retreat. Petersham, which gives the title of 
Viscount to the Earls of Harrington. 

1420. Hani's embowering walks. A seat of the Earls of Dysart. 
Ham House, near Twickenham, was built for Henry, Prince of Wales, 
son of James I. It is almost gloomy with elms. 

1423. John Gay; born 1688, died 1732. Author of The Shepherd's 
Week (in six Pastorals, or Days), Trivia, The Beggar's Opera, the 
ballad of Black -eyed Susan, and Fables. Gay had an easy, graceful, 
witty style, and a genuine lyrical vein. For the last four or five years of 
his life he was an inmate in the house of his patrons and friends, the 
Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, and at Ham. 

1424. polished Cornbury. Son of the Earl of Clarendon, and the 
author of some dramas written with more refinement of taste and style 
than vigour of imagination. 

1426, 1427. the muses haunt In Twickenham's bowers. Pope, with 
whom Thomson was on friendly and intimate terms indeed Thomson 
was of such a nature as to have no enemies lived, as everybody knows, 
at Twickenham, his residence from 1718 till his death, twenty-six years 
after. See Winter, 1. 550, for another friendly reference to Pope : 
' Twickenham ' is there described as ' the Muses' hill.' It is unnecessary 
to say that Pope was the greatest English poet of his time none of his 
contemporaries denied it. When Thomson made this complimentary 
and ' right friendly' allusion to Pope, the latter was 'in his last sickness' : 
he died in May, 1744. 

1428. The healing god. ^sculapius was the god of the medical art ; 
Hygiea, the goddess of health. Health, of course, is meant. 

royal Hampton's pile. The village of Hampton is some twelve miles 

A T OTES, 1410-1579. 303 

from London, on the Middlesex side of the Thames. The Palace was 
built by Wolsey for himself. Henry VIII seized it ; and it was, from 
time to time after that, a royal residence till the reign of William III. 
That king added to the building ; and laid out the gardens (some 45 
acres in area) in terraces, flower plots, and arcades, according to the 
Dutch taste in such matters. They are still very much as he left them. 
1429. Clermonfs terraced height, and Esher's groves. Claremont is 
a country-seat at Esher in Surrey, about fourteen or fifteen miles 
south-west from London; around it winds 'the silent Mole' on its 
way to the Thames. It was the residence of the Rt. Hon. Henry Pelham, 
who was First Lord of the Treasury from 1721 to 1743. Garth has a 
poem on Clairmont. 

1434. Achaia. Hesperia. The former, ' the coast-land ' (on the north 
side) of the Peloponnesus, was a narrow strip of country lying to the 
north of Arcadia, and sloping from the mountains to the sea. Thomson 
probably means any beautiful and secluded part of Greece. Hesperia, 
literally, ' the western land,' the Greek name for Italy ; it was the 
Roman name for Spain. Thomson probably refers to the gardens that 
were watched by the Hesperides. 

1435, 1436. vale of bliss . . . On which the power of cultivation lies. 
Cp. Wordsworth's well-known description of ' Yarrow vale' : 

' And Yarrow winding through the pomp 
Of cultivated nature.' 

1442, 1443. the Queen of Arts . . . Liberty. This view of Liberty is 
dwelt upon and amplified at great length in the Poem on Liberty, Part V, 
1. 374 to the end. ' Liberty abroad walks ' is an awkward inversion. 

1449. with golden waves. Yellow corn-fields are meant. 

1470. the listed plain. The battle-field enclosed for combats. From 
' lists,' ground ' roped in ' (licia, barriers ; licium, a girdle) for tourna- 

1471-1478. Cp. Goldsmith's tribute of praise to the manhood of 
England in The Traveller, commencing 

' Stern o'er each bosom reason holds her state.' 

1479-1579. This long passage of 101 lines, containing a list of 
England's worthies, was a gradual growth in the successive editions. The 
first edition (of 1727) included only More, Bacon, Barrow, Tillotson, 
Boyle, Locke, Newton, Shakespeare, and Milton. In the edition of 1738 
we find the list enlarged with the additional names of Walsingham, 
Drake, Raleigh, Hampden, Philip Sidney, Russell, and Ashley (Lord 
Shaftesbury) ; while the names of Tillotson and Barrow are with- 
drawn. After 1738 were added Alfred, ' thy Edwards and thy Henrys,' 
Algernon Sidney (' the British Cassius '), Spenser, and Chaucer. It is 


noticeable that neither patriot nor poet of Scotland has the justice 
of a place on the roll. It is entirely English, although Thomson, by a 
figure, is supposed to be reading the roll to Britannia. The omission 
of Scottish names is the more remarkable as, when he sent a copy in 
MS. of the first draught of his panegyric to his countryman Malloch in the 
autumn of 1726, he took occasion to say in an accompanying letter, * The 
English people are not a little vain of themselves and their country. 
Britannia too includes our native country Scotland? Yet he did not admit 
a single Scottish name. It was both tardy and meagre justice to Scotland 
to allow her in Autumn (II. 893-948), a 'bead-roll ' of fame for herself 
of only three names, Wallace ; John, Duke of Argyle ; and Duncan 
Forbes, of Culloden. (But see note on 11. 877-948 of Autumn.) 

1479. Alfred, surnamed the Great ; born 849, died 901. He cleared 
his country of the Danes ; built the first English navy ; made wise laws 
for the administration of justice establishing, it is said, trial by jury ; and, 
besides encouraging husbandry, and the peaceful arts of life, translated 
useful Latin books into Anglo-Saxon for the good of his subjects, 
and practised original authorship as well, for the same noble purpose. 

1484. Not all the Edwards, and not all the Henrys. Among the 
non-heroic Edwards and Henrys, who yet were 'dear to fame,' should 
be remembered the sixth Edward ; and the sixth Henry, the founder of 
Eton College whom 'grateful science still adores.' Of the warlike 
Edwards, Edward III was the conqueror of France ; of the warlike 
Henrys, Henry V. 

1486. the terror of thy arms. At Cressy, in 1346 ; and at Agincourt, 
in 1415. 

1488. Sir Thomas More; born 1480, martyred 1535. He was Lord 
Chancellor, after Wolsey, in 1529. The 'brutal tyrant' was, of course, 
Henry VIII, whose divorce of Queen Catharine More refused to sanction. 

1490. ttsefttl rage. The useful result of Henry's passion was the 
rupture with Rome, and the downfall of Popery in the State. 

1491 , J 492. For Cato, see note supra, 1. 954. Aristides, surnamed ' the 
just,' the most upright and public- spirited of all the sons of ancient 
Athens. He fought at Marathon, Salamis, and Platcea. Utterly 
unselfish he died in poverty, B. c. 468. Cincinnatus, a hero of the times 
of the old Roman Republic. He lived on his farm, which he tilled with 
his own hand. When the State was in danger he was named Dictator 
(B. C. 458) ; accepted the office ; saved the Republic ; and, after a brief 
tenure of the Dictatorship, of sixteen days, quietly returned to his farm, 
and resumed his former mode of life. 

1494. Walsingham. Born 1536 ; Secretary of State to Elizabeth. 
His ' wisdom ' was diplomatic duplicity. 

NOTES, 1479-1558. 305 

1495. Sir Francis Drake ; circumnavigated the globe, 1577-9 was 
vice-admiral, under Lord Howard, when the Armada was defeated ; 
died in his ship during an expedition to the West Indies against the 
Spaniards, 1595. One of the boldest and bravest of 'the Sea Dogs ' of 

1498. Elizabeth's. 

1499. Raleigh. Also of Devonshire ; born in 1552, the junior of 
Drake by some thirteen years. Worthy of all that is said of him in the 

1502. ' The coward reign' was that of James I ; the 'vanquished foe' 
(1. 1504) was Spain. It was to ingratiate himself with the Spanish 
Court that James I commissioned the execution of Raleigh. 

1507. The reference is to The History of the W T orld, which Raleigh 
composed during his long captivity in the Tower. 
1509, 1510. Elizabeth's and James's respectively. 
1511. Sir Philip Sidney; born 1554, died of a wound received at 
Zutphen in 1586; brave and chivalrous, and universally beloved and 
admired. He wrote poems in praise of ' Stella,' Arcadia, and A De^ 
fence of Poesie. 

1514. John Hampden ; the first to resist the iniquitous tax of Ship- 
money ; fought in the civil war against Charles I ; and died of a wound 
received in the skirmish of Chalgrove Field, 1643. 

1522, 1523. let me strew the grave Where Russel lies. An echo of 
Milton's line 

' To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.' 

Lycidas, 1. 151. 

This is Lord William Russell : born 1639 > accused of taking a share in 
the plot to assassinate Charles II at the Rye House ; executed 1683. 
Cp. Campbell's lines : 

'Yours are Hampden's, Russell's glory, 
Sidney's matchless shade is yours.' 

Men of England. 

1528. the British Cassitis. Algernon Sidney. 

J 535- Bacon ; born 1561, died 1627 ; Lord Chancellor in 1618 ; 
author of the Novum Organum. Compared in this eulogium to Plato, 
Aristotle, and Cicero, for his speculative ability, powers of close, clear, 
and sustained reasoning, and lucid and eloquent style. 

^ 1551. Antony Ashley Cooper, third Earl of Shaftesbury ; born 1671, 
died 1713 ; the friend of Pope ; author of Characteristics. 

1556. Robert Boyle ; son of the Earl of Cork; born 1626; wrote on 
natural philosophy, and helped to form the Royal Society. 

1558. John Locke; born 1632, died 1704; wrote Essay on the 



Human Understanding ; the founder of the English School of Philo- 

1560. Sir Isaac Newton; born 1642, died 1728 ; discovered the law 
of gravitation. See Note on Spring, line 207. 
1566. wild Shakespeare. Cp. Milton's lines : 
' Sweetest Shakespeare, fancy's child, 
Warble(s) his native wood-notes wild.' 

U Allegro, 11. 133, 134. 

1568. in thy Milton met. Cp. the lines of Dryden : 

'Three poets in three distant ages born, 
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn ; 
The first in loftiness of thought surpass'd, 
The next in majesty, in both the last; 
The force of nature could no further go, 
To make the third she joined the former two.' 

1569. universal as his theme. Paradise Lost is a misnomer; the 
scope of the poem is by no means confined to the Garden of Eden, 
or even the Earth, or even the Universe ; but includes the Eternal 
Heavens or Empyrean, Chaos, and Hell in short, all Space. Gray, in 
the Progress of Poesy, describes Milton as ' passing the flaming bounds 
of space and time.' 

1573. Spenser, fancy's pleasing son. The author of the Faery 
Queene is sometimes called 'the poet of the poets,' with great 
apparent truth. 

1577. Chaucer; died in 1400; said to be Spenser's 'ancient master' 
in the line above, because of such chivalrous and romantic tales in the 
famous Canterbury collection as the Knight's, the Squire's, &c. Chaucer 
is the prince of story-tellers; and the most agreeable and effective, 
because the least obtrusive, of moralists. His satire, at the severest, is 
the satire of simple exposure. Notice that Thomson speaks disparagingly 
of his ' language ' : it was reserved to a later age to discover the melody 
and inimitable felicity of Chaucer's diction. ' Manners-painting' is an 
unhappy compound, which Burns adopted in his Vision ' I taught thy 
manners-painting strains.' 

1588. rose-bud moist with morning dew. 

' Her lips like roses wat wi' dew.' Burns. 

1592-1594. What Byron has called 'the mind, the music of the face.' 

1595-1601. This apostrophe is followed by no direct statement ; it is 
entirely exclamatory. Cp. the opening stanza of Gray's Ode on Eton 
College. Compare this description of Great Britain with Gaunt's im- 
passioned outburst in the Second Act of King Richard II, beginning : 
* This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,' &c. ; 

NOTES, 1560-1619. 307 

and concluding : 

'England, bound in with the triumphant sea, 
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege 

Of watery Neptune 

That England, that was wont to conquer others ! ' 
1602-1613. With a similar prayer Burns concludes the Cottar's Satur- 
day Night : 

'Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil 
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content ! 
And oh, may Heaven their simple lives prevent 
From luxury's contagion, weak and vile ! 
Then howe'er crowns and coronets be rent 
A virtuous populace may rise the while 
And stand a wall of fire around their much-loved isle. 
O Thou ! who poured the patriotic tide 
That streamed through Wallace's undaunted heart .... 
Oh never, never Scotia's realm desert, 
But still the patriot, and the patriot-bard 
In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard ! ' 
1616. That first paternal virtue, Public Zeal See Liberty, Part V : 
'By those three virtues be the frame sustained 
Of British Freedom : INDEPENDENT LIFE ; 
INTEGRITY IN OFFICE; and, o'er all 
Supreme, A PASSION FOR THE COMMONWEAL.' 11.120-123. 
And again at 1. 222 : 

'Be not the noblest passion past unsung . . . 

1619. After this line, in the edition of 1738, came a series of passages, 
amounting in all to 85 lines, which have been partly dropped, and partly 
transferred to an earlier part of the poem, and there, with many changes 
and additions, incorporated with it. The dropped passages include a 
description of a tropical forest on fire, with some telling lines : 
' Touched by the torch of noon, the gummy bark, 

Smouldering, begins to roll the dusky wreath ' ; 

and, notably, a realistic account of an unknown African city supposed 
to have been overwhelmed by a sand-storm : 

'Hence late exposed (if distant fame say true) 
A smothered city from the sandy wave 
Emergent rose,' &c. 

The incorporated parts include glimpses of the ' rolling Niger,' the ' huge 
leaning elephant,' 'spicy Abyssinian vales,' &c. 
t X2 


1626. Amphitrite. In Homer, Amphitrite is merely another name for 
the sea. She was, with the later poets, the Goddess of the Sea, the wife 
of Poseidon (Neptune), originally a Nereid. 

1630-1646. The long summer day is now ended ; and the poet appro- 
priately enough, but rather abruptly, indulges in some reflections on the 
different feelings which a sense of the passage of time excites in different 
breasts. Mankind are divided into three classes the dreaming or 
inactive, the selfish, and the benevolently active. 

1654. the face of things. The expression recurs in Thomson. See 
Winter, line 57. It occurs in Milton, where he speaks of the moon 
' with pleasing light shadowy ' setting off ' the face of things.' Par. 
Lost, Bk. V. 11.42,43. 

1657. the quail clamours for his running mate. Clearly Thomson 
means the corn-crake, or land-rail. The bird is named from its cry 
both quail (from quack} and crake, or rail. The crake is seldom seen on 
the wing, but runs with great rapidity. Cp. Burns's line 
' Mourn, clamorous craik, at close o' day ! ' 

Elegy on Capt. Matthew Henderson. 

The description of summer gloaming ended here in the edition of 1738. 
The next six lines are an unhappy addition : the poet has already 
described < the face of things ' as ' closed ' by the deepening darkness ; 
now he introduces what must have been invisible 'the whitening 
shower ' of thistle-down. 

1660. Amusive. The word recurs in The Seasons. It means 'in a 
way that amuses the observer.' 

1662. Her lowest sons. The birds such as linnets. 
1664, 1665. Cp. Burns : 

'The shepherd steeks his faulding slap 
And o'er the moorlands whistles shrill.' 

Meeniis ee. 

1660. Unknowing what thejoy-mixt anguish means. See Spring 1. 251 . 
1 68 1. A passage beginning here in the first edition was transferred to 
Autumn, 11. 1151-1164. 

1683. The glow-worm. Rare in the south of Scotland, but common 
in some parts of England. The female insect emits the stronger light. 

1686. Stygian. Darkest. From Styx, the principal river in the 
infernal world. 

1692. one swimming scene. What Gray, in the Elegy, calls 'the 
glimmering landscape.' 

1698. After this line (but at an interval) came, in the first edition, 
a passage on the Aurora Borealis 1 . 

1 It was reconstructed and transferred to Autumn, 11. 1108-1137. 


1702-1729. Added after 1738. 

1730. Philosophy. Natural philosophy, or science, is meant. 

1735. soothe the parted soul. Cp. Addison's Vision of Mirza 
' Heavenly airs that are played to the departed souls of good men 
upon their first arrival in Paradise, to wear out the impressions of the 
last agonies.' 

1758. Cp. the Bard's appeal in The Castle of Indolence, Canto II, 

St. 51 :~ 

' Had unambitious mortals minded nought . . 

Rude nature's state had been our state to-day,' &c. 
Cp. also the earlier stanzas of the same canto : 

* Earth was till then a boundless forest wild ; 
Naught to be seen but savage wood, and skies,' &c. 

St. 14. 

1 789. This is mental Philosophy, or Psychology. The ' ideal kingdom ' 
is the world of mind, or ideas. 


Autumn was the last of The Seasons in the order of composition, 
following Spring at an interval of two years. The Hymn was written 
at the same time, and the completion of the series was made the occasion 
of a collected edition. The first edition of The Seasons accordingly made 
its appearance in London in 1730, in a handsome quarto, for which most 
of the leading men of the day were subscribers. Dodington, to whom 
Summer had been dedicated, subscribed for twenty copies. It was a 
famous year for Thomson. He was at the height of his fame, and at 
a time of life when he could most keenly enjoy the pleasure of being 
popular. The same year Sophonisba was produced at Drury Lane ; and, 
though rather patronised than popular at the theatre, it ran to a fourth 
edition at the printer's before the close of the year. Summer too, as a 
separate poem, entered its third edition ; and a second edition of Autumn, 
a slim octavo of 62 pp., published at one shilling 1 , made its appearance 

1 With an engraving, ' representing [one of] the marble statues in the garden of 
Versailles,' is. 6d. 


before the year was out. The publisher was ' J. Millan, bookseller, 
near Whitehall.' 

Part of Autumn, if not the whole of it, seems to have been written at 
Dodington's country seat at Eastbury, among the downs of Dorsetshire. 
Thomson was there in the autumn of 1729. Writing to his friend 
Malloch from Eastbury, on the aoth September, he says ; ' I wish for a 
walk with you upon the serene downs to talk of a thousand things . . . 
I have been in dead solitude here for some days by past. Mr. D[oding- 
ton] went to London to wait upon the king ; now he 's returned. Poor 
Stubbs [a poetaster and clergyman] kept me alive : he toils here in two 
parishes for 40 a year ! ' The solitude he speaks of was not unem- 
ployed. If he was not actually writing the poem, his mind at least was 
full of the subject. The poem itself will witness : 

' I court 
The inspiring breeze, and meditate the book 

Of nature ever open 

And as I steal along the sunny wall 

Where Autumn basks with fruit empurpled deep 

My vacant theme still urges in my thought,' &c. 

11. 668-674. 

Autumn, unlike the other Seasons, was published without a prose 
dedication. It was, however, inscribed in fourteen lines of verse incor- 
porated with the poem (11. 9-22) to ' the Rt. Hon. Arthur Onslow, Esq., 
Speaker of the House of Commons.' It was to the same gentleman that 
Young, some twelve years later, dedicated the first book of his Night 
Thoughts. (See Note, 1. 9, infra.} 

Like that of the other Seasons, the text of Autumn underwent numerous 
alterations in the later editions. To it were transferred several passages 
which had originally appeared in more or less different form in Summer. 
These were the eulogium on the 'Caledonian Sons' of Britannia, begin- 
ning at 1. 876 ; the description of the Northern Lights and of the effect 
of the phenomenon upon superstitious minds, beginning at 1. 1108 ; and 
the picture of the horseman perishing in the morass to which in the 
darkness of night he has been allured by the will-o'-the wisp (11. 1150- 
1164). Several verbal changes were made at the suggestion of Pope, 
and an occasional line or two of his composition received into the 
text. And three important additions of original matter were made to 
the poem subsequently to the edition of 1738, viz. the introduction of 


the ' doctor of tremendous paunch ' into the symposium of foxhunters, 
the vision of the infant rivers in their subterranean beds, and the compli- 
ment to Pitt and Cobham at Stowe. Altogether, the poem was enlarged 
from 1275 lines in 1730, the year of its publication, to 1372 lines in the 
edition of 1 746 the last to receive the benefit of the author's revision. 

The Argument, as amended for the later editions, is as follows : 

' The subject proposed. Addressed to Mr. Onslow. A prospect of 
the fields ready for harvest. Reflections in praise of Industry, raised by 
that view. Reaping. A Tale relative to it. A harvest storm. Shoot- 
ing and hunting their barbarity. A ludicrous account of fox-hunting. 
A view of an orchard. Wall-fruit. A vineyard. A description of fogs, 
frequent in the latter part of Autumn : whence a digression, inquiring 
into the rise of fountains and rivers. Birds of the Season considered, 
that now shift their habitation. The prodigious number of them that 
cover the northern and western isles of Scotland. Hence a view of that 
country. A prospect of the discoloured fading woods. After a gentle 
dusky day, moonlight. Autumnal meteors. Morning l ; to which 
succeeds a calm pure sunshiny day, such as usually shuts up the Season. 
The harvest being gathered in, the country dissolved in joy. The 
whole concludes with a panegyric on a philosophical country life.' 

Perhaps the best, or at least the best known, passages of Autumn are 
the beautiful pastoral story of Lavinia which possibly owes part of its 
popularity to its suggestion of the Bible romance of Ruth ; and the 
richly humorous account of the festivities of foxhunting. But there is 
pathos as well as humour in the poem, and the ' poverty ' of ' the triumph 
o'er the timid hare ' is very touchingly accentuated. Numerous lovely 
glimpses of autumnal nature are scattered through the poem. Chief 
among these are the prospect of the harvest fields, near the commence- 
ment ; the orchard, at line 624 ; the moonlighted world, at line 1096 ; 
and the last fine day of the season, at line 1 207. The grandest effort of 
the poet's imagination in the whole poem is his vision of the ' rivers 
in their infant beds ' a description which was not ready for the edition 
of 1738. The vision carries him, in one of those wide geographical 
ranges which he so much enjoyed, right round the globe. 

Autumn, in its place in the collected Seasons, was by far the most 

i A revelation of the morning strangely omitted from the Argument is the de- 
struction of the bees overnight, by the fumes of sulphur, for the purpose of securing 
their honey. 


important publication of its year. Indeed there was no other literary 
work of any particular note, in either prose or verse, published in London 
in 1730. 

The poem of Autumn reveals to close observation a remarkable 
struggle going on in the mind of Thomson between Nature and Art. 
These terms, it is true, stand very much in need of definition, but the 
distinction of the one from the other is made sufficiently apparent by the 
contrast which the author of the Seasons offers to Pope. Autumn, the 
last of the Seasons in the order of composition, shows traces of the 
influence of the Artificial School, of which Pope was acknowledged 
president, upon the genius of Thomson. The Scottish post had now 
been domiciled in England for five years, had lived all that time in 
a literary atmosphere, and latterly had been admitted to the society and 
friendship of Pope. When he came a stranger to London in 1725 the 
Artificial School was paramount ; his first poem, Winter, was written 
before he really felt the influence of that School, and exhibited, on 
that very account, an independency of thought and style, which vital 
contact with the influences of the Artificial School afterwards undoubt- 
edly modified. The proof is in the Castle of Indolence. It was impos- 
sible that Thomson should give up his passion for Nature ; but it was 
very possible, and a very certainty, that his relations to Nature as a 
poet should admit of modification. There was much room for amend- 
ment on his part in minor matters of expression : even his feelings might 
profitably be tamed a little. He had strength enough and to spare, 
but he lacked repose, and he was deficient in taste. In 1730, when 
Autumn appeared, he had already begun to think that Nature, whom 
he loved so well, might be more capable of a higher, i.e. a more refined, 
love if she submitted to a little cultivation and trimming at the hands 
of Art. And so, half convinced of this idea, he wrote : 
'All is the gift of Industry .... 
His hardened fingers deck the gaudy Spring.' 

11. 141, 146. 

There is a significant contrast between this and his unsuspicious faith in 
the loveliness of uncultivated Nature Nature ' magnificently rude ' as 
implied in the earlier poem of Winter. Again, at line 1059 ne speaks 
of 'forsaking the unimpassioned shades of nature,' and 'drawing the 
tragic scene.' The influence of the maxim of Pope and his followers is 
visible in the expression : ' the proper study of mankind is man ' seems 

NOTES, 1-4. 3 X 3 

to be here the avowed belief of Thomson. To all appearance the 
struggle for the mastery which was going on in his mind between 
Nature and Art, received a temporary check, in which, by the time 
the end of the poem was reached, the advantage lay with Nature : 
' Oh Nature all-sufficient ! over all ! 
Enrich me with the knowledge of thy works ! 

From thee begin, 

Dwell all on thee, with thee conclude my song ; 
And let me never never stray from thee ! ' 

1-3. The emblem of Autumn with which the poem commences, while 
generally representative of the season, is wanting in both point and 
consistency. The expression ' nodding o'er the yellow plain ' disturbs 
the figure, by presenting a view of ripe corn-fields, waving in the wind, 
where a continuation of the portrait of personified Autumn was expected. 
With the portrait itself the imagination has a difficulty in disposing of 
the extremely awkward crown of the sickle and the wheaten sheaf. 
Such a crown is, besides, suggestive rather of the completed than of the 
commencing harvest. That the latter idea is mainly intended is to be 
inferred from the scene of ' the nodding yellow plain,' and the advancing 
figure of Autumn ' coming jovial on.' Spenser's conception of Autumn 
is at once more distinct and more appropriate to the first appearance of 
the harvest season : 

'Upon his head a wreath, that was enrold, 
With ears of corn of every sort, he bore ; 
And in his hand a sickle he did holde, 
To reape. the ripened fruits the which the earth had yold.' 
The Faery Queene, Bk. VII, Canto VII, st. xxx. 

The sickle is no longer in actual use among the insignia of Autumn : 
the reaping machine has almost universally displaced it in our country. 

3. jovial. The word expresses the merriment of the old harvest field. 

3, 4. the Doric reed once more, Well pleased, I tune. In plain prose 
' I proceed for the fourth time to write a poem on the congenial subject 
of nature and country life.' Though the season of Autumn is generally 
regarded as coming third in the order of nature, yet the poem of Autumn 
came last in the order of composition. The Doric dialect was one of the 
three great branches of the ancient Greek tongue, and was characterised 
by broad and rough sounds, from which ^Eolic and Ionic (including 
Attic) were comparatively free. It was the speech of a pastoral or 


rustic people, originally inhabiting the mountains of Thessaly. The 
reed, of course, is the shepherd's pipe. 

4-8. Winter is here regarded as leading the procession of the Seasons, 
and as being, with Spring and Summer, mainly a period of preparation 
for Autumn the consummation or crown of the year. ' Thou crownest 
the year with thy goodness ... the valkys are covered over with corn.' 
Psalm Ixv. 

5. Nitrous. 'Laden with fertilizing salts.' Not merely, nor mainly, 
' keen, piercing, and pulverising.' Thomson refers, more poetically than 
scientifically, to some imaginary ingredient which the frost imparts to the 
soil. See his reference to this active ingredient in operation upon the air, 
in Winter, 11. 693-696 : 

'Through the blue serene, 
For sight too fine, the ethereal nitre flies, 
Killing infectious damps, and the spent air 
Storing afresh with elemental life.' 
He describes it in operation upon the soil in the same poem : 

' The frost- concocted glebe 
Draws in abundant vegetable soul, 
And gathers vigour for the coming year ' ; 

and at 11. 714-720, ventures upon a description of its substance : 
'Is not thy potent energy, unseen, 
Myriads of little salts, or hooked, or shaped 
Like double wedges, and diffused immense 
Through water, earth, and ether?' 

5, 6. \Whate 1 er~\ the various-blossomed Spring Put in white promise 
forth. See Spring for the anticipation of this idea : 

' One white-empurpled shower 
Of mingled blossoms ; where the raptured eye 
Hurries from joy to joy, and, hid beneath 
The fair profusion, yellow Autumn spies? 

11. 110-113. 

7. Concocted strong. ' Were secretly maturing with their heat.' 

8. swell my glorious theme. In plain prose * The results of this 
course of preparation afford me a magnificent subject.' The season of 
Autumn was Thomson's (as it was also Burns's) favourite time for 
poetical composition : 

' When Autumn's yellow lustre gilds the world 
And tempts the sickled swain into the field, 

through the tepid gleams 
Deep musing, then he best exerts his song.' 

Autumn, 11. 1322-1326. 

NOTES, 4-15. 315 

See also a letter by Thomson to Lyttelton : ' I think that season of the 
year [Autumn] the most pleasing and the most poetical. The spirits 
are not then dissipated with the gaiety of Spring and the glaring light 
of Summer, but composed into a serious and tempered joy. The year is 
perfect.' (i4th July, 1743.) In the Hymn on the Seasons he refers to 
' inspiring Autumn ' (1. 96). 

9. Onslow. Autumn was the only poem of the series which had no 
prose dedication. It was inscribed, in the fourteen lines of verse com- 
mencing at 1. 9, to the Rt. Hon. Arthur Onslow, Speaker of the House 
of Commons. This gentleman, born in 1691, represented the burgh of 
Guildford, in Surrey, from 1719 to 1726. In the latter year he became 
member for the county, and honourably maintained this connection with 
Surrey throughout the reign of the second George. In 1727 he was chosen 
Speaker of the House of Commons by a large majority of votes, and con- 
tinued to fill the Chair and guide the debates of Parliament, with dignity 
and impartiality, for the long period of thirty-four years. Thomson's 
compliment is by no means overcharged. Onslow's integrity was almost 
proverbial. Being significantly reminded on one occasion that it was 
Walpole's influence that placed him in the Chair of the House, he replied 
that, ' although he considered himself under obligations to Sir Robert 
Walpole, yet he had always a certain feeling about him, when he 
occupied the Speaker's Chair, that prevented him from being of any 
party whatever.' He retired in 1761, at the age of 70, on a well-earned 
pension of 3000 a year (which his son also was allowed to enjoy after 
him), and was followed into his retirement with the good wishes of both 
political parties. He died in 1768. In literary history he is known to 
have been a man of considerable learning, and the patron of Richardson 
and Young, and several others of less note than these. 

The muse. The poet meaning, of course, himself, the writer of 
the poem. For this use of ' Muse' see Milton's Lycidas : 
' So may some gentle Muse 

With lucky words favour my destined urn, 

And, as he passes, turn, 

And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.' 11. 19-22. 
ii. the public voice. Parliament. 

14. Spread on thy front. ' Can be seen in your very countenance.' 

15. listening senates. Cp. Gray's Elegy : 

' The applause of listening senates to command . . . 
Their lot forbade.' 

Thomson repeats the phrase in Winter in a passage added, after 1738, 
in compliment to Lord Chesterfield : 

' O let me hail thee on some glorious day 


When to the listening senate ardent crowd 

Britannia's sons to hear her pleaded cause.' 11. 679-681. 

1 6. the maze of eloquence. Not eloquence that bewilders the reason, 
but that astonishes or fills the mind with delight and wonder. The 
same phrase also occurs in the compliment to Lord Chesterfield in 
Winter, 11. 6S8, 689. 

1 8. pants for piMic virtue. ' Eagerly longs to be of service to the 
state.' ' For ' is here equivalent to ' for the performance of some 
action of.' In his Britannia, published in i7 2 9> ne na d. already shown 
that he panted ' for public virtue.' 

22. mix the patriot's with the poet's flame. Nobly done, ten years 
later, in ' Britannia, rule the Waves ' next to ' God save the Queen ' 
the most popular of our great national songs. See Summer, Note, 

I. 431- 

23, 24. the bright Virgin . . . And Libra. The sun enters the sign 
of Virgo in the Zodiac on 2ist August, and that of Libra (the Balance) 
on 2 ist September. The latter date is the time of the autumnal equinox ; 
the year is then said to be ' weighed in equal scales.' See Spring, Note, 

II. 26, 27. 

25. effulgence. This noun is in the nominative case absolute. 

26-28. a serener blue happy world. This is, indeed, an 

autumn sky. But the whole passage (11. 23-42) is charged with the 
spirit of autumn, tranquil or ' tossing in a flood of corn.' It is difficult 
to say whether art or imagination most predominates in the description ; 
not one essential feature of the autumnal world is omitted, and the 
phrases are most felicitous. Thomson is here in his most characteristic 

35. poise. Old Fr. peiser, to weigh, Lat. pensum. The Old French 
form occurs in Langland's Vision of Piers Ploughman : 

'The pound that heo peysede a quatrun more peisede 
Then myn auncel [scales] dude when I weyede treuthe.' 

Passus Quintus. 
and gives the breeze to blow. Burns has 

' And wings the blast to blaw.' 

40. For c heart-expanding ' Pope is said to have proposed the far less 
suggestive ' heart-delighting.' 

42. Unbounded, tossing in a flood oj corn. A felicitous line, which 
Thomson had the courage to prefer to Pope's proposed emendation 

'O'er waving golden fields of ripened corn.' 

43-150. This long passage of over one hundred lines, descriptive of 
the origin, development, and benefits of the industrial arts, may be 
regarded as an anticipation of much of the second canto of The Castle 

NOTES, 16-118. 317 

of Indolence. Cp. especially stanzas xvii, xix, xx, and, of the Bard's 
'strain,' stanzas li and Ix. 

54. corruption. Vice which breaks and weakens the energies, by 
making self the sole object of its activity. 

76. to raise [His feeble force~\. ' To augment his own natural bodily 
strength by the use of those appliances known as " the mechanical 
powers." ' 

78. the vaulted earth. Probably 'the vaults, or natural cellars of the 
earth/ mines. It may mean ' the bulging crust of the globe ' as it 
used to be called by physiographers. 

79, 80. The references here are to the smelting of iron, and the 
driving of mills by water- and wind-power. 

86. flowing lawn. The manufactures from cotton have superseded 
to a very large extent the linen manufacture of Thomson's day. 

88. 7'he generous glass. The reference is not to the abundance of 
the wine, or the liberality with which it was poured, nor to its race, but 
to its liberalizing effect upon the heart and, probably, also the mind. 
Cp. Judges ix. 13 'wine, which cheereth God and man.' It is to this 
effect that Burns refers in the lines so often quoted to his reproach : 
'Freedom and whisky gang thegither 
Tak aff your dram.' 

97. a ptiblic. A community, or commonwealth, living under repre- 
sentative government. 

103. oppression. For a description of the evils of oppression see 
Liberty, Ft. I, 11. 123-315. 

1 06. toiling millions. An oft-quoted phrase in our own day. The 
imagery is from the hive and the industry of bees. 

107, 108. From these lines one may infer Thomson's views on 
political questions. See, for a full statement of his political views, the 
concluding portion of the Fourth Part of Liberty. 

114. her tower-encircled head. This was Pope's suggestion. Cp. 
Castle of Indolence, Canto II, st. li : 

' No cities e'er their towery fronts had raised.' 1. 6. 
1 1 6. twining woody haunts. ' Constructing wattled huts.' 
1 1 8. Here followed in the text of 1738, and earlier texts, these six 
lines : 

''Twas nought but labour, the whole dusky group 
Of clustering houses and of mingling men, 
Restless design, and execution stj^mg. 
In every street the sounding hammer plied 
His massy task ; while the corrosive steel 
In flying touches formed the fine machine.' 


122. gentle, deep, majestic, king of floods. Cp. the beautiful description 
of the Thames by Denham in his Cooper's Hill : 

' Though deep yet clear, though gentle yet not dull ; 
Strong without rage, without o'erfl owing full.' 

125. the bellying sheet. The sail. In nautical language the sheet is 
a rope fastened to the corner of a sail. 

1 30-3. The reference is to ship-building yards, and the launching of 
a man-of-war. ' Those who have ever witnessed the spectacle of the 
launching of a ship-of-the-line,' says the poet Campbell in his Specimens 
of the British Poets, ' will perhaps forgive me for adding this to the 
examples of the sublime objects of artificial life. Of that spectacle I 
can never forget the impression, and of having witnessed it reflected 
from the faces of ten thousand spectators. They seem yet before me. 
I sympathise with their deep and silent expectation, and with their 
final burst of enthusiasm. It was not a vulgar joy but an affecting 
national solemnity. When the vast bulwark sprang from her cradle, 
the calm water on which she majestically swung round, gave the 
imagination a contrast of the stormy element in which she was soon to 
ride. All the days of battle and nights of danger which she had to 
encounter, all the ends of the earth which she had to visit, and all that 
she had to do and to suffer for her country, rose in awful presentiment 
before the mind ; and when the heart gave her a benediction, it was like 
one pronounced on a living being.' 

1 34. By ' the pillared dome ' is meant an Art Gallery. 

J 3^j J37- the canvas smooth, With glowing life protuberant. The objects 

depicted seeming to start, or stand out, from the flat canvas, as if they 

were real. In The Castle of Indolence, Part II, stanza xiii, Thomson 

has ' touch the kindling canvas into life.' Cp. Goldsmith's Traveller : 

' The canvas glowed, beyond ev'n nature warm.' 

138. the statue seemed to breathe. Cp. Pope's descriptions of 'living 
sculpture ' in The Temple of Fame : 

' The youths hang o'er their chariots, as they run, 
The fiery steeds seem starting from the stone.' 11. 218, 219. 

Gathering his flowing robe, he seemed to stand 
In act to speak.' 11. 240, 241. 

140. art, imagination-flushed. That is, <the artist, inspired with 
some noble conception.' 

141-143. In his praise of Industry Thomson seems here to forget his 
earlier love of uncultivated Nature. In 1. 146 he is especially severe 
in characterizing Spring as ' gaudy,' and as requiring the ' hardened 
fingers ' of the gardening art to deck ' her and make her presentable. 

NOTES, 122-156. 319 

Had his love of the rude magnificence of Nature given place to a love 
for Nature tamed by cultivation and trimmed by Art ? And was this 
the result of his five years' residence in England surrounded by the 
influence of the artificial school ? That his taste was being modified by 
that school is clearly exemplified by the style and form of The Castle of 
Indolence. In Winter he is rough, fresh and original, a poet of 
nature's making ; in the Castle of Indolence he is smooth, harmonious, 
reposeful still a true poet in feeling and perception, but disciplined by 
art into more elaborate form and a more studied style of expression. 
There is homage to Pope in The Castle of Indolence, none in Winter. 
The history of Thomson's art was from blank verse to a most elaborate 
rhymed measure ; for rhyme he had at first little but contempt those 
who practised it were ' rhyming insects.' Contrast with his case that 
of Milton, the development of whose art of expression was from rhyme 
to the grander harmonies of blank verse, and to whom latterly rhyme was 
a mere 'jingling sound,' ' a troublesome bondage,' ' the invention of a bar- 
barous age,' 'to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight.' 

149, 150. Those . . . stores That, waving round, recall me. The 
corn-fields, from which he broke away (1. 42) to sing the praise of 
Industry and settled life. 

152. unperceived. Because the light spreads so gradually. 

154-156. each by the lass he loves, &c. The traditional customs of the 
old harvest-field, handed down from immemorial autumns, have only 
recently disappeared before the general introduction of the mechanical 
reaper. They were, of course, still prevalent on Scottish farms in the 
time of Burns. The latter poet, in an autobiographical letter to Dr. 
Moore (father of the hero of Corunna) of date August and, 1787, 
describes an episode in the history of his own life, which charmingly 
illustrates the practice of the old harvest-field here referred to: 'You 
know,' writes Burns, ' our country custom of coupling a man and woman 
together as partners in the labours of harvest. In my fifteenth autumn, 
my partner was a bewitching creature a year younger than myself. . . . 
She was a bonnie, sweet, sonsie lass. ... I did not know myself why I 
liked so much to loiter behind with her, when returning in the evening 
from our labours ; why the tones of her voice made my heart-strings 
thrill like an ^Eolian harp, and particularly why my pulse beat such a 
furious rantann when I looked and fingered over her little hand to pick 
out the cruel nettle-stings and thistles.' See also Burns's poetical 
version of the incident . 

' I mind it weel in early date, 
When I was beardless, young, and blate [bashful], 


When first amang the yellow corn 

A man I reckoned was, 
And wi' the lave 1 , ilk 2 merry morn, 
Could rank my rig 3 and lass.' 

To the Guidwife of Wauchope. 

158-160. the riiral talk &c. Fly harmless, to deceive the tedious 
time. As Bums has it, in the poem referred to above : 

' Wi' claivers and haivers [scandal and nonsense] 

Wearing the day awaV 

Cp. the old Scots lament, The Flowers of the Forest : 
' In hairst at the shearin' 
Nae youngsters are jeerinV 

162. builds up the shocks. Arranges, or sets up the sheaves into 
' stocks' as they are called in Scotland. 'Shock,' is from 'Shake,' a 
pile of sheaves tossed together. 'Sheaf from 'shove,' a quantity of 
corn-stalks pushed, or put together, in one bundle. 

166. Spike after spike. Spica (Lat.), an ear of corn. 

167, 168. The instructions of Boaz to his reapers. See Book of 

1 76. Gleaning, with many another custom of the old harvest-field, has 
all but disappeared. 

177-310. This is the story of Ruth and Boa/. 

181-188. In the 1738 and previous editions, this passage stood thus : 
'She, with her widowed mother, feeble, old, 
And poor, lived in a cottage lost far up 
Amid the windings of a woody vale, 
Safe from the cruel blasting arts of man.' 

The present text is Pope's, with the exception of the last line. Pope 
had proposed for it 

' From the base pride of an indignant world,' 
which Thomson rejected for his own. 

192, 193. the morning rose When the dew wets its leaves. The same 
image occurs in Summer, 1. 1588 ' the red rosebud moist with morn- 
ing dew.' See Note. 

203, 204. their best attire, Beyond the pomp of dress. These words 
were not inserted till after 1/38. 

207-216. This passage is all but wholly Pope's undoubted improve- 
ment upon the original, which stood so late as 1 738 as follows : 
' Thoughtless of beauty, she was Beauty's self 
Recluse among the woods, if city dames 

1 lave, others, the rest. 2 ilk, each. 3 ridge of corn. 

NOTES, 158-338- 


Will deign their faith. And thus she went, compelled 
By strong necessity, with as serene 
And pleased a look as patience can put on.' 
215. strong necessity 1 s supreme command. C p. Burns 

' Ye ken, ye ken 
That strong Necessity supreme is 

'Mang sons o' men.' 

220. such as Arcadian song, &c. 'Arcadian' is here equivalent to 
' pastoral.' Such ' songs ' as are found among the idyls of Theocritus 
are referred to notably, perhaps, the idyl descriptive of the visit of 
Hercules to the farms of Augeas in Elis. 

229. He saw her charming. A peculiar idiom; meaning, of course, 
' that she was charming.' 

233. and its dread laugh. Sc. ' would be incurred,' should ' his heart 
own a gleaner in the field.' The construction is unfinished. 

238, 239. where enlivening sense And more, &c. Altered from 

' And harmonious shaped, 

Where sense sincere and goodness seem to dwell.' 
267. O heavens ! Originally ' O yes ! ' 
273. sequestered. Originally ' unsmiling.' 
282. It ill befits thee, oh ! it ill befits. Perilously like 

* O Sophonisba, Sophonisba O ! ' 

288. pittance. Originally (according to Ducange) a dole of the value 
of a 'picta,' a small coin of the Counts of Poitiers in Latin, 'Pictava.' 
290-293. These lines were substituted after 1738 for 

' With harvest shining all these fields are thine, 
And, if my wishes may presume so far, 
Their master too who then, indeed, were blest 
To make the daughter of Acasto so.' 

300. she blushed consent. Cp. Burns's ballad of Bonnie Jean 

' At length she blushed a sweet consent, 

And love was aye atween them twa.' 

301. news. Nom. case absolute. 
311. I. e. by spoiling the harvest. 

315. soft-inclining fields. The corn bending gently to the breeze. 

322. eddy in. The verb is here used transitively : ' the mountains 
draw in eddies towards them the wildly-raging storm.' 

327, 328. The billowy plain fioats wide, &c. In the first text ' boils.' 
Cornfields swaying in the wind. They cannot evade the storm by 
yielding to it being either whirled into the air, or threshed out by the 
storm where they stand. 

330-338. This graphic description of the devastating power of what is 


known in Scotland as ' the Lammas Flood, 3 might almost pass for a 
paraphrase of these lines of Virgil : 

' Saepe etiam immensum caelo venit agmen aquarum, 
Et foedam glomerant tempestatem imbribus atris 
Collectae ex alto nubes ; ruit arduus -aether, 
Et pluvia ingenti sata laeta boumque labores 
Diluit ; implentur fossae et cava flumina crescunt 
Cum sonitu.' Georgic I, 11. 322-327. 

333. The mingling tempest weaves its gloom. In the first text 
' glomerating.' Cp. Winter 

' The weary clouds 

Slow-meeting, mingle into solid gloom.' 11. 202, 203. 
335. sunk and flatted. Beaten down by wind and rain ; 'laid,' as it 
is called in Scotland ; ' lodged.' 

337, 338. Red from the hills . . . streams Tumultuous roar. Cp. 

'Tumbling brown the burn comes down 

And roars from bank to brae.' 

340. Herds I/locks^ and harvests, &c. In short, what Thomson calls 
' the mixed ruin of its banks o'erspread ' in Winter, 1. 95. 
347. with his labours. The ruined crops. 

350. This appeal, on the tenant farmer's behalf, is to the ' laird,' or 
landowner, to forego, in the circumstances, or at least to make reduction 
of, the year's rent. (See Somerville's The Chace, Bk. II, 11. 51-64.) 

360. the sportsman's joy. Cp. Burns 

' The sportsman's joy, the murdering cry, 
The fluttering gory pinion.' 

August Song to Peggy. 

361. the winded horn. ' Winded '=' blown '; from 'wind,' Lat. 
ventus; no connection with 'wind,' 'to turn round or twist,' though 
'wound' is sometimes used oddly enough for past tense and past 

362. the rural game. Field sports. The subject had been treated by 
Gay in his Rural Sports (two Cantos, written in rhyming pentameter 
couplets), published in 1713. Somerville also wrote on this theme 
The Chace (in four books of blank verse), published in 1735 ; and 
Field Sports, published in 1 742. 

363. the spaniel. Named from Spain, from which country it was 
brought to England. The variety of ' hound ' here referred to is, 
of course, the pointer, or setter. When he scents the game he stops 
so suddenly, and remains so immovable, that even the forefoot, already 
raised, continues suspended in the air. 

NOTES, 333-400. 323 

364, 365. with open nose . . . draws full. Here 'draws' signifies, of 
course, ' inhales.' 

366, 367. the latent prey . . . the circling covey. Sc. partridges. The 
word ' covey ' is the old French covee, a brood of partridges, from cover 
(couver in modern French) to sit, or hatch. Cp. Lat. ctibare, to lie, or 
sit down. 

370. This method of taking partridges, or quails, is now generally 
abandoned by sportsmen, though still practised by poachers. It will be 
remembered that Will Wimble's ingenious accomplishments included an 
improvement of the quail-pipe, by means of which quails were lured 
more effectually into the nets. (See Addison's Sir Roger de Coverley 
papers in The Spectator.) See also Gay's Fables : 
' The ranging dog the stubble tries, 
And searches every breeze that flies; 
The scent grows warm : with cautious fear 
He creeps, and points the covey near. 
The men, in silence, far behind, 
Conscious of game, the net unbind.' 

The Setting-dog and the Partridge. 

372-378. Compare with this description of the shooting of partridges, 
Pope's lines on the pheasant, in Windsor Forest : 

* See ! from the brake the whirring pheasant springs 
And mounts exulting on triumphant wings. 
Short is his joy: he feels the fiery wound, 
Flutters in blood, and panting beats the ground. 
Ah ! what avail his glossy varying dyes,' &c. 

11. 111-118 (published 1713). 

379. These are not subjects for the peaceful muse. Thomson's 
sympathy, like that of Cowper, Burns, and Wordsworth, is with 
the hunted creature. (See Spring, Note, 1. 391, where his tenderness 
for the harmless brute creation is noted as a leading feature of both his 
character and his poetry.) 

385, 386. This rage of 'pleasure, &c. Construe ' this rage of pleasure 
which awakes the restless youth, impatient, with the gleaming morn.' 
The love of sport makes him an early riser. 

390-400. Cp. Burns's Lines on Scaring some Water-fowl in Loch 
Turit : 

' The eagle, from the cliffy brow, 
Marking you his prey below, 
In his breast no pity dwells, 
Strong necessity compels.' 
Y 2 


But man, to whom alone is given 
A ray direct from pitying heaven, 
Glories in his heart humane 
And creatures for his pleasure slain,' &c. 
395. the beamings of the gentle days. August and September. 

402. Scared from the corn. Originally ' shook from the corn.' 

403. the rushy fen. Where the hare sometimes makes her c seat ' or 
' form '; ' in the moist marsh, 'mong beds of rushes hid,' says Somerville in 
The Chace ; also noted by Burns in his Lines on Seeing a Wounded 
Hare Limp by Me : 

' Seek, mangled wretch, some place of wonted rest, 
No more of rest, but now thy dying bed, 
The sheltering rushes whistling o'er thy head, 
The cold earth with thy bloody bosom prest.' 

404. stubble chapt. The ends of the shorn, or cut, corn stalks. Akin 
to Gr. KOIITW, I cut. 

406. Of the same friendly hue the withered fern. Cp. Somerville 

' The withered grass that clings 
Around her head, of the same russet hue, 
Almost deceived my sight, had not her eyes 
With life full-beaming her vain wiles betrayed.' 

The Chace, Bk. II. 

467. fallow ground laid open. This kind of ploughing is called 
' stirring the land/ ' Fallow ' is from A.-S.featu, pale red ; Lat. pallidus ; 
Cp. ' fallow deer.' 

414. The scented dew. Beagles, or harriers (the name is derived from 
' hare '), hunt the hare, relying on their scent ; coursing is by grey- 
hounds formerly used to hunt the deer and these rely on their 

415. her early labyrinth. Cp. Somerville 

' What artful labyrinths perplex their way ! 
Ah ! there she flies ! ' 

' The puzzling pack unravel wile by wile, 

Maze within maze.' The Chace, Bk. II. 
417-419. 'As now in louder peals the loaded winds 

Bring in the gathering storm, her fears prevail, 
And o'er the plain, and o'er the mountain's ridge 
Away she flies.' The Chace, Bk. II. 

It is very evident that Somerville had made himself acquainted with 
Thomson's lines on the hare hunt before he wrote his own account of 
the sport, which occupies the first half of Book II of The Chace. He 

NOTES, 395-444- 325 

has copied Thomson's language, but not his denunciation and detesta- 
tion of the ' barbarous game.' It is worthy of note that after relating 
with the relish of a true sportsman the incidents of the chase from the 
1 meet ' to the ' death,' Somerville winds up, innocent of the faintest 
trace of pathos, with the words ' Thus the poor hare, a puny, dastard 
animal ! but versed in subtle wiles, diverts the youthful train.' Thomson 
furnishes the contrast. Cowper is no less, but rather more, explicit 

' Detested sport ! 

That owes its pleasures to another's pain ; 
That feeds upon the sobs and dying shrieks 
Of harmless nature, dumb, but yet endued 
With eloquence that agonies inspire, 
Of silent tears and heart-distending sighs ! 
Vain tears, alas ! and sighs that never find 
A corresponding tone in jovial souls ! 
Well one at least is safe. One sheltered hare 
Has never heard the sanguinary yell 
Of cruel man, exulting in her woes,' &c. 

The Task, Bk. Ill (The Garden). 

426-457. Thomson's stag-hunt was evidently inspired by Denham's, 
whose description will be found near the end of Cooper's Hill (pub- 
lished in 1642) : there are not a few points of resemblance. 

427. the branching monarch. The stag, or male of the red deer, is 
distinguished (among other ways) from the buck, or male of the fallow 
deer, by its round branching antlers : those of the buck are broad and 
palmated. Neither the hind, nor the doe, has horns. The horns of the 
stag continue to branch till the animal is about six years old, when it is 
called a hart ; the branches, or tines, may then number ten or twelve, 
and, though there is seldom, if ever, an increase after that, they become 
thicker, stronger, and more deeply furrowed with age. 

439. The inhuman rout. Of men, horses, and hounds. Thomson's 
sympathy with the stag is implied in the use of the adjective. Before 
the staghound a courageous and powerful animal, in scent almost the 
match of the bloodhound, and nearly equal to the foxhound in fleetness 
deer long used to be hunted with greyhounds. We read of Queen 
Elizabeth witnessing the sport of ' sixteen bucks, all having fair law 
(i. e. a fair start of so many yards), being pulled down with grey- 

441-444. See Denham 

'Thence to the coverts, and the conscious groves, 
The scenes of his past triumphs, and his loves ; 
Sadly surveying, where he ranged alone 


Prince of the soil, and all the herd his own ; 

And, like a bold knight -errant, did proclaim 

Combat to all, and bore away the dame ; 

And taught the woods to echo to the stream 

His dreadful challenge, and his clashing beam ' (horn]. 

Coopers Hill. 
445,^446. So Denham 

'Then to the stream, when neither friends, nor force, 
Nor speed, nor art avail, he shapes his course ; 
Thinks not their rage so desp'rate as t'essay 
An element more merciless than they. 
But fearless they pursue, nor can the flood 
Quench their dire thirst : alas ! they thirst for blood.' 

Cooper's Hill. 
447, 448. So Denham 

' Then tries his friends ; among the baser herd, 
Where he so lately was obeyed and feared, 
His safety seeks : the herd, unkindly wise, 
Or chases him from thence, or from him flies.' 

Cooper's Hill. 

451. fainting. ' Wrenching ' in the original. 

452. stands at bay. Literally, ' at the baying of the hounds.' From 
the French abois ; etre aux abois, to be at bay. 

454. The big round tears run down his dappled face. Cp. Shake- 

* A poor sequestered stag, 
That from the hunter's aim had ta'en a hurt 
Did come to languish ; and, indeed, my lord, 
The wretched animal heaved forth such groans 
That their discharge did stretch his leathern eoat 
Almost to bursting; and the big round tears 
Coursed one another down his innocent nose 
In piteous chase.' As You Like //, Act II, Sc. i. 
458-463. See a detailed description of a lion-hunt in ' the magnificent 
manner of the Great Mogul and other Tartarian princes/ in the Second 
Book of Somerville's Chace. 

469. lighten. Glance like lightning. 

470-490. Thomson's sympathy does not cover the fox. See Spring, 
Note, 1. 391. 

477. the shaking wilderness. The quagmire (from ' quake '), or bog. 
483. snatch the mountains by their ivoody tops. At first ' snatch the 
mountains by their tops.' 

NOTES, 445-503- 327 

485. swallowing up the space. ' He seems in running to devour the 
way. ' Shakespeare. 

490, 491. He is still a villain, and vermin; and his uncomplaining 
and heroic death wins from Thomson neither respect, admiration, 
nor sympathy. To be ' in at the death ' is a great boast among fox- 

494. ghostly halls of grey renown. The very size of those halls in old 
country mansion-houses makes them dim, and therefore ghostly-looking ; 
and their many ancient associations and traditions concur to produce the 
same effect. 

495. woodland honours. The trophies of the chase. 

497. drear walls, with antic figures fierce. A line that impresses the 
imagination. The dim and ghostly walls of 1. 494 have now the 
additional horror of old paintings, representing truculent warriors and 
hunters ancient members of the family. ' Antic ' is for ' antique.' 

499. Hard-drinking harder than the exertion of the chase itself. 

500. Not in the 1738, or any previous edition. The Centaurs, or 
Bull-stickers, of ancient Thessaly, were savage monsters, half man and 
half horse, whose time was spent in hunting and fighting. Perhaps 
Thomson refers here to their battle with the Lapithae. 

502-569. This scene could be ill spared from the poetical works of 
Thomson. To the student of his poetry only it reveals him in a new 
light as the possessor of a rich and genial vein of humour, which 
deepens as the foxhunters proceed from dining to drinking. Thomson 
himself has called the whole scene ' a ludicrous account ' ; and, while 
the subject itself presents phases of a humorous nature, it must be 
allowed that the humour lies chiefly in the style in which the subject is 
handled. Some critics (such as Heron) have objected to the entire 
passage as an unworthy production of a sedate and serious genius ; but 
it is as genuine as any other passage characteristic of his prevailing 
mood it is no less his than are the verses which display his views of 
nature, his philosophy, his pathos and, while it enriches the poem 
with an unexpected variety of pleasantry, it enables us to form a fuller 
and more perfect conception of the character of the author. Thomson's 
hearty relish of fun and humour in his youth, and no inconsiderable 
part of his correspondence, fragmentary though it be, are sufficient to 
prepare one for some exhibition of humour in his poetry, and, if the 
exhibition comes rather unexpectedly at last, it is only because he 
has refused to indulge a vein which he undoubtedly possessed. 

502. See Scott's Rob Roy, chap, v, last paragraph. 

503. the strong table groans. Tables have usually groaned on festive 
occasions, since this was written ; especially those of Sir Walter Scott. 


504. sirloin stretched immense [from side to side}. This exaggeration, 
with that of the groaning table, &c., is a feature of Thomson's humorous 
style if, indeed, exaggeration be not a necessary feature of all humorous 
expression. Cp. Burns's Address to a Haggis : 

'The groaning trencher there ye fill, 
Your hurdies like a distant hill ; 
Your pin wad help to mend a mill 
In time o' need.' 

505, 506. with desperate knife, &c. Cp. Burns, as above 

' His knife see rustic Labour dight 
An' cut you up wi' ready sleight,' &c. 

510. If stomach keen can intervals allow. A parodied echo of Milton. 
It reads like a line from Phillips's Splendid Shilling. 

513. Produce the mighty bowl. See Rob Roy, chap. vi. 

516. Maia. The month of May a Latinised form. 

519. brown October. Ale, or strong beer, home-brewed (therefore 
'honest,'!. 521) in October. The great brewing seasons are twice a 
year, in March and October. Thomson's own cellar at Richmond was 
well stocked with both wines and ales as may be learned from the 
sale list of his effects. 

523. 'To vie it with the vineyard's best produce' in the 1738 

524, 525. Here Thomson is probably expressing not his own, but 
the foxhunter's view of whist : at all events, he had a kindly word for 
the game in 1738 : 

' Perhaps awhile amusive thoughtful whisk 
Walks gentle round.' 

528,529. romp-loving miss, &c. See Winter, 11. 625-627. 
531. the dry divan {close in firm circle"}. Somerville (in The Chace, 
Bk. II) has 

'Now sit in close divan 
The mighty chiefs ; ' 

using the word in its appropriate sense of ' council.' ' Divan ' is 
Persian, and has the various meanings of ' council-chamber,' ' sofa,' 
' tribunal.' 

535- Indulged apart. None were excused from deep-drinking. In 
the first text ' askew ' held the place of ' apart.' See Scott's Rob Roy, 
chap, vi, the scene where Francis Osbaldistone escapes from the potations 
of the Hall. 

549. A happy touch. 

562. The lubber power. Drunkenness personified ; a kind of English 

NOTES, 504-595. 


565-569. These five lines, humorously satirical of the convivial 
clergy of the day, were not added till after 1 738. It may prove interesting 
here to quote from Macaulay's History of England the account he gives 
of the manners and mode of life practised by the English Country 
Gentleman of 1688 : 

' His chief pleasures were commonly derived from field-sports and 
from an unrefined sensuality. . . . His oaths, coarse jests, and scurrilous 
terms of abuse, were uttered with the broadest accent of his province. . . . 
His table was loaded with coarse plenty, and guests were cordially wel- 
come to it ; but as the habit of drinking to excess was general in the class 
to which he belonged, and as his fortune did not enable him to intoxicate 
large assemblies daily with claret or canary, strong beej was the ordinary 
beverage. The quantity of beer consumed in those days was indeed 
enormous ; for beer then was to the middle and lower classes, not only 
all that beer now is, but all that wine, tea, and ardent spirits now are. . . . 
The ladies of the house, whose business it had commonly been to cook 
the repast, retired as soon as the dishes had been devoured, and left the 
gentlemen to their ale and tobacco. The coarse jollity of the afternoon 
was often prolonged till the revellers were laid under the table.' 

570. by this fierce sport. In the first text, ' by this red sport.' 

571. See Young's Love of Fame, Satire v, 11. 113-116. 

579. This line was preceded in the earlier editions by the line 

' Made up of blushes, tenderness, and fears.' 
590. Float in the loose simplicity of dress. Cp. Ben Jonson 
' Give me a look, give me a face, 
That makes simplicity a grace ; 
Robes loosely flowing, hair as free ; 
Such sweet neglect more taketh me 
Than all the adulteries of art : 
They strike mine eyes, but not my heart.' 

The Silent Woman. 

The idea here expressed was caught up by Herrick : 
'A sweet disorder in the dress 
A lawn about the shoulders thrown 
Into a fine distraction, .... 
A winning wave, deserving note, 
In the tempestuous petticoat .... 
Do more bewitch me than when art 
Is too precise in every part.' 

595. Meaning probably 'Disclosing a new charm in its every 
motion,' or 'disclosing all the charms of motion.' Dancing has been 
called ' the poetry of motion.' 


597. To train the foliage o'er the snowy lawn. Cp. Cowper 

' Here the needle plies its busy task ; 
The pattern grows, the well-depicted flower, 
Wrought patiently into the snowy lawn, 
Unfolds its bosom, buds, and leaves, and sprigs,' &c. 

The Task, Bk. IV. 11. 150-153. 

598. turn the tuneful page. First editions give ' instructive page.' So 
Cowper, as above : 

' The poet's or historian's page by one 
Made vocal for the amusement of the rest.' 

599. 600. To lend new flavour to . . . Nature's dainties. Thomson 
thus retains cookery in his list of a lady's accomplishments. 

600-601. in their race To rear their graces, &c. To attend to the 
training and education of their children. 

608. Such is Thomson's view of the woman's true kingdom. Like 
Milton's, it reveals no sympathy with what has come to be called 
' woman's rights.' 

612. In close array. Not in flowing garments, but in what Words- 
worth calls ' woodland dress.' 

614-617. Wordsworth has described the same scene in his fragment 
on Nutting, but he discovered, what escaped the robuster paganism of 
Thomson, ' a spirit in the woods ' : 

' Then up I rose 

And dragged to earth both branch and bough with crash 
And merciless ravage ; and the shady nook 
Of hazels, and the green and mossy bower, 
Deformed and sullied, patiently gave up 

Their quiet being 

I felt a sense of pain when I beheld 
The silent trees and the intruding sky. 
Then, dearest maiden, move along these shades 
In gentleness of heart ; with gentle hand 
Touch for there is a spirit in the woods.' 
620. an ardent brown. A shining or glossy brown 
623. these neglecting. Unconscious, or at least not vain, of her personal 

625. the busy joy-resounding flelds. The harvest fields. 
627, 628. taste .... The breath of orchard. See Spring, 1. 107 
' taste the smell of dairy.' ' Orchard,' literally ' wort-yard,' a ' herb- 

633. the gentle race. Of pears. 

638-642. It is worth noting that the very sound of these lines is 

NOTES, 597-660. 331 

suggestive of the appearance, taste, and perfume of the fruit which they 
describe. The same appropriateness of language is noticeable in the 
description of ' juicy pears lying in soft profusion ' (11. 630-63 2 

644, 645. Thy native theme, . . . Phillips, Pomona's bard. John Phillips, 
son of Archdeacon Phillips of Salop, and of Bampton, Oxfordshire, 
was born on December 30, 1676. He was educated at Winchester, 
and Christ Church, Oxford ; and wrote The Splendid Shilling (1703) a 
burlesque imitation of the style of Milton; Blenheim (1705); and (in 
1706) a poem on Cider, in two books, of about 1500 lines in all, 
composed in imitation of Virgil's Georgics, and remarkable as being a 
pretty exhaustive and trustworthy treatise on apple-growing and cider- 
making. He is said to have been a man of singular modesty and 
amiability in private life. He died in 1708, in the 32nd year of his age. 
His three principal poems are in blank verse for which he is here 
complimented by Thomson, as ' nobly daring to sing in rhyme-unfettered 
verse ' first after the example of Milton. The poem on Cider (Gr. ai/cepa, 
strong drink) opens thus : 

' What soil the apple loves, what care is due 

To orchats, timeliest when to press the fruits, 

Thy gift, Pomona ! in Miltonic verse, 

Adventurous, I presume to sing, of verse 

Nor skilled, nor studious; but my native soil 

Invites me, and the theme, as yet unsung.' 
And it concludes with the prophecy that ' Silurian cider ' 

' Shall please all tastes and triumph o'er the vine.' 
648. The Silures inhabited South Wales generally. The English 
county (on the Welsh March) of Hereford is specially referred to. In 
his poem Phillips gives the palm to Hereford over Devon for cider. 
651. to cool the summer hours 

' When dusty Summer bakes the crumbling clods 

How pleasant is't beneath the twisted arch 

Of a retreating bower in midday's reign 

To ply the sweet carouse, 

Secured of feverish heats.' Cider, Bk. II. 

653. sheds equal. The time of the autumnal equinox, the 22nd of 
September, has now arrived. 

654. lose me. Let me lose myself, let me wander. 

655. Dodington, thy seat. (See Summer, Note, 1. 21.) Eastbury, in 
Dorsetshire, where Thomson was an occasional guest. See his 
correspondence for the years 1731 and 1735. 

660. thy lofty dome. Eastbury House was one of the many mansions 


which John Vanbrugh (1666-1726), dramatist and architect, was 
commissioned to design after the erection, from plans which he 
furnished, in 1702, of Castle Howard, the seat of the Earl of Carlisle, in 
Yorkshire. Vanbrugh the architect is best known as the designer 
of Blenheim House. His style, both in the construction of dramas and 
of houses, may be characterised as solid and weighty. A modern critic 
neatly says that ' he was no poet, but a heavy observer? After 
Dodington's death no tenant could be found for Eastbury House, though 
its owner offered a premium to any one who would occupy it. The 
taste for ' solid magnificence ' (see Thomson's letter to Dodington of 
date December 27, 1730), which, in architecture, both Dodington and 
Thomson affected, had undergone a change. 

665. 'These numbers free, Pierian Eastbury ! I owe to thee.' Young, 
in Love of Fame, Sat. v. 

666. After this line in the earlier editions of Autumn came 
' They twine the bay for thee. Here oft alone, 

Fired by the thirst of thy applause, I court,' &c. 
The compliment to Young was an afterthought, due probably to the 
publication of Night Thoughts in 1742-1744. 

667. virtuous Young. Before the appearance of Night Thoughts, 
a poem in nine books of blank verse, written partly in emulation of 
Thomson, Young, though he had produced much, had given the world 
nothing that was really of superior and lasting merit. Thomson's 
opinion of him in 1726, when he was busy with The Universal Passion, 
may be inferred from the following passage which occurs in a letter 
to Malloch, of date August 2, 1726; the reference is to a poem which 
Young afterwards omitted from his collected works in 1741 : * I have 
not seen these reflections on the Doctor's Installment, but hear they are 
as wretched as their subject. The Doctor's very buckram has run 
short on this occasion ; his affected sublimity even fails him, and down 
he comes with no small velocity.' Edward Young was born in 1681, 
did not publish till his thirty-second year, entered the Church when on 
the borders of fifty, was over sixty when he began his one famous poem, 
and died a proud, gloomy, disappointed man in 1765, aged eighty- 
four years. Like many other authors of the day he paid court to ' the 
Patron '-Dodington. To him he inscribed the second satire of The 
Love of Fame. 

673-679. These lines present the author in a characteristic attitude of 
sensuous ease and lazy meditation. Apparently he composed part of 
Autumn while luxuriating as Dodington's guest at Eastbury. (See 
his letter to Dodington, dated from Rome, November 28, 1731, for a 
reference to the gardens at Eastbury.) Peach : from old Fr. pesche, 

NOTES, 665-732. 


Lat. persicum ; from being the fruit of a Persian tree. Plum : from 
' prune,' Lat. prunum, Gr. irpovvov. ' With a fine blueish mist of 
animals clouded ' omitted by Thomson from the last revision of the 
text. Nectarine : so called from being as sweet as ' nectar ' ; Gr. 
vfKrap, the wine of the gods. Fig : Fr. jigtie, Lat. ficus. Vine : Fr. 
vigne, Lat. vinea, a vineyard, then a vine ; Gr. oivrj, a vine named from 
its winding growth. 

683-706. A short digression to the vineyards of France. 

691, 692. Referring to the two varieties of black and white grapes. 

693. The bloom. 

697. to cull the autumnal prime. To gather the firstfruits, the first 
ripe clusters. 

702. the raised nations. Excited, or invigorated. The former is a 
common meaning of ' raised ' in Lowland Scotch. 

703-706. Claret : Fr., from Lat. clams, clear; a clarified wine. 
The name was originally applied to a light-red wine ; with us it is a 
general name for the red wines of Bordeaux. Burgundy : this wine 
is from the vineyards of the Cote d'Or, between Chalons and Dijon. 
Both the red and the white wines of Burgundy rank among the finest in 
the world. Chambertin is one of the most famous of the red wines of 
Burgundy. Champagne : named from the ancient province, which 
means a ' plain ', ; Lat. campus. Perhaps the best varieties are Sillery, a 
white, and Verzenay, a red champagne. 

708. Autumn is the ' season of mists ' as well as of ' mellow fruitful- 
ness.' Keats. 

713. Such as the Cheviots, in his daily view during boyhood. The 
Cheviot shepherd appears at 1. 727 infra. 

714. After the word ' division ' came in the 1738 edition 

'While aloft 

His piny top is, lessening, lost in air : 
No more his thousand prospects fill,' &c. 

723, 724. Whence glaring oft .... He frights the nations. Cp. 
Milton, Par. Lost, Bk. I. 11. 594-599, commencing, 'As when the sun 

725. beyond the life. Larger than life ; magnified shadows. The 
phenomenon here referred to is not uncommon in the Scottish high- 
lands and uplands in misty weather. Among the Harz mountains of 
Germany it is popularly known as the Spectre of the Brocken. It is the 
magnified shadow of objects thrown by the light of sunrise or sunset 
against a veil of mist. 

732. the Hebrew bard. Moses, in the first chapter of Genesis. 
Milton invokes the ' Heavenly Muse ' 


* That, on the secret top 
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire 
That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed 
In the beginning how the heavens and earth 
Rose out of chaos.' Par. Lost, Bk. I. 11. 6-10. 
733. Light, uncollccted. That is ' ungathered in the sun.' The sun 
made its appearance in the heavens on the fourth day of Creation, while 
light was created on the first. Chaos ; ' confusion,' is opposed to ' Order/ 
cosmos, in the next line. 

736-835. By far the larger portion of this long passage of a hun- 
dred lines was written after 1738, for the purpose of negativing the 
theory of the origin of rivers advanced in the earlier text. That theory 
sought to explain the origin of rivers by postulating a system of attrac- 
tion of oceanic waters upwards through the pores of the earth. It is 
stated, as the accepted view of ' some sages,' in the present text, 11. 743- 
756. Milton may be regarded as one of those 'sages,' for it is by 
porous attraction that he secures the irrigation of Paradise, having 
previously placed that lovely garden on ' the champaign head of a steep 
wilderness/ Southward, he tells us, through the low-lying district of 
Eden (not the garden) 

'Went a river large, 

Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill 
Passed underneath ingulfed ; for God had thrown 
That mountain, as his garden mould, high raised 
Upon the rapid current, which, through veins 
Of porous earth with kindly thirst updrawn 
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill 
Watered the garden.' Par. Lost, Bk. IV. 11. 223-230. 
The correct theory of the origin of streams is briefly stated in the seven 
lines with which the passage opens. The fanciful theory, which just 
reverses the natural arrangement, after being vividly stated as already 
said (11. 743-756), is then dismissed as a ' vain amusive dream,' and 
shown to be absurd, impossible, ruinous in the most comprehensive sense, 
and unnecessary ! But if Thomson's scientific speculations and argu- 
ments are amusing, his poetical view of the globe's great rivers ' in their 
infant beds ' is a noble effort of the imagination, expressed with some- 
thing of the sonorous and stately measure of Milton. 

742. After this line, in the edition of 1/38, came the following 
scepticism of the established theory : 

' But is this equal to the vast effect ? 
Is thus the Volga filled ? the rapid Rhine ? 
The broad Euphrates ? all the unnumbered floods 

NOTES, 733-784. 335 

That large refresh the fair-divided earth, 
And, in the rage of Summer, never cease 
To send a thundering torrent to the main ? 

What though the sun draws from the steaming deep 
More than the rivers pour ? How much again 
O'er the vext surge, in bitter-driving showers, 
Frequent returns, let the wet sailor say: 
And on the thirsty down, far from the burst 
Of springs, how much, to their reviving fields 
And feeding flocks, let lonely shepherds sing. 
But sure 'tis no weak variable cause 
That keeps at once ten thousand thousand floods 
Wide-wandering o'er the world, so fresh and clear, 
For ever flowing and for ever full. 
And thus some sages deep-exploring teach 
That where the hoarse innumerable wave 
Eternal lashes,' &c. (See text, 1. 744.) 

756-835. These lines were incorporated with the text after 1 738 : in the 
edition of that year appeared the following lines, which they displaced : 

'The vital stream 

Hence, in its subterranean passage, gains 
From the washed mineral that restoring power 
And salutary virtue, 'which anew 
Strings every nerve, calls up the kindling soul 
Into the healthful cheek and joyous eye : 
And whence the royal maid, Amelia, blooms 
With new-flushed graces ; yet reserved to bless 
Beyond a crown some happy prince ; and shine 
In all her mother's matchless virtues drest 
The Carolina of another land.' 

772. Deucalion's watery times. The Flood. According to the 
classical legend of ancient Greece, Deucalion, and Pyrrha his wife, 
were, on account of their piety, the only human beings saved when 
Zeus destroyed the world with a nine days' flood. They escaped 
drowning in a ship. Cp. the story of Noah and his ark. 

777. The ' pervading genius' of this line is the imagination. 

778. Cp. Gray (of Milton) : 

' He that rode sublime 
Upon the seraph-wings of Ecstasy 

The secrets of the abyss to spy.' Progress of Poesy, III. 2. 
783, 784. Imaus . . . the roving Tartar's sullen botmds. A 
recollection of Milton : 


' As when a vulture on Imaus bred, 
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,' &c. 

Par. Lost, Bk. III. 11. 431, 432. 

Taurus. A mountain range in Asia Minor. Imatts. The Hima- 
layas, between India and Tartary. Hemus (1. 785), a range of hills 
crossing Turkey in Europe eastward to the Black Sea : Haemus, Imaus, 
and Himalaya are probably all from the same origin Sanskrit hima ; 
Gr. x ct ^ v 5 Lat. hiems, winter, the snowy season. 

790, 791. Caucasus. A range of very high mountains stretching over 
700 miles from the Black Sea eastwards to the Caspian. The Caspian is 
an enormous salt-water lake in the south-west of Asia, about 900 miles 
long, into which flow the Volga and the Araxes. The Euxine is the 
Black Sea, called Euxine euphemistically by the ancient Greeks : eu^ctj/oy, 

792. Riphean rocks. The rocks of the Ural mountains. Thomson's 
own note is, 'The Muscovites call the Riphaean mountains Weliki 
Camenypoys, that is, the great stony girdle ; because they suppose 
them to encompass the whole earth.' 

795. Sc. the Obi, Irtish, Yenisei, Lena, &c. 

798. Atlas, propping heaven, as poets feign. The Greek myth is to the 
effect that one of the Titans (who had made war against Zeus), Atlas by 
name, was punished after defeat by being condemned to bear heaven on 
his head and hands. Later legends riiake Atlas a man who was 
transformed into a mountain. Homer refers to the Greek myth ; Ovid 
has described the transformation in the Fourth Book of the Meta- 

801. cloud- compelling. A Homeric epithet of Zeus. 

802. Jebel-Kumra, or Mountains of the Moon, supposed in Thomson's 
day to He under the Equator across Central Africa. His note states that 
they ' surround almost all Monomotapa.' 

841. to their wintry slumbers they retire. The idea that swallows, 
like bats, become torpid in winter, is still pretty popular. Thomson, 
though he presents the theory of hibernation, clearly prefers the true 
theory of migration. 

850. plains, 'won from the raging deep \by diligence amazing]. 
Holland' a new creation rescued from his [Ocean's] reign ' (Goldsmith). 
The reference is, of course, to the dikes. Cp. The Traveller 
'Onwards, methinks, and diligently slow, 
The firm connected bulwark seems to grow, 
Spreads its long arms amidst the watery roar, 
Scoops out an empire, and usurps the shore.' 
853. the stork-assembly. These birds, belonging to the family of 

NOTES, 790-877. 


herons and bitterns, though widely diffused over Europe, have always 
been extremely rare in England rare even before the drainage of the fen 
regions. They are common in Holland, where great care is taken 
to protect them. The people place boxes for their nests, and it is 
reckoned a fortunate thing for the occupants of a house if the box which 
they have placed on the roof is tenanted. They are of great service in 
devouring reptiles, and in clearing the streets of offal, &c. Thomson 
accurately describes their 'consultations,' preliminary exercises, and 
arrangements previous to their departure for the winter. During 
these ' consultations ' they make a great noise by the clattering of 
their long and strong mandibles. 

86 1. The period closing here beautifully rounds off the description 
of their flight, conveying to the mind a sense of the aerial perspective in 
which the * figured flight ' is vanishing. They migrate in August or 

864, 865. Thule. The Orkney and Shetland islands. Hebrides. 
The Western Isles off the coast of Scotland. Pours in among the 
stormy Hebrides. Cp. -Thomson's description of the same scene in 
his Britannia : 

'Loud the northern main 
Howls through the fractured Caledonian isles.' 11. 88, 89. 

866. transmigrations. Of solan geese, and other sea-birds. 

8 7 1. plain harmless native. The crofter of the Western Isles; an 
accurate description. 

872. herd dimimitive of many hues. The Highland breed of cattle is 
distinguished by their small size, long horns, shaggy appearance, and 
variety of colour black, red, umber, and yellowish-white. 

874. The shepherd's seagirt reign. The ' shepherd of the Hebride 
Isles ' is also introduced in The Castle of Indolence, Canto I, st. xxx. 

875. dinging, gathers his ovarious food. The eggs (Lat. ova) of 
sea- fowl, from their nests in the cliff crevices and shelves. In The Pirate, 
Sir Walter Scott refers to 'those midnight excursions upon the face 
of the giddy cliffs [overhanging the roost of Sumburgh in the Shetland 
islands] to secure the eggs or the young of the sea-fowl ' ' desperate 
sports/ he says, ' to which the " dreadful trade of the samphire- 
gatherer " is like a walk upon level ground.' (See The Pirate, chap, ii, 
and note.) 

876. sweeps the fishy shore. With their nets ; or, it may be, with 

877. The plumage . . . to form the bed [of luxury}. Eider-down. 
Even Ailsa rock, so far south as the Ayrshire coast, used to supply 
quantities of these feathers. Writing to his uncle, who lived opposite 



Ailsa, Burns asks ' if the fowling for this season [the date is 4th May, 
1 788] be commenced yet, as I want three or four stones of feathers, and 
I hope you will bespeak them for me.' 

878-949. This passage is devoted to an account of Scotland and its 
people. It is an expansion of the following thirteen half-hearted lines 
which originally appeared in Summer in connexion with the description 
of England and the English (see Summer, 11. 1442-1619) : 
'And should I northward turn my filial eye 

Beyond the Tweed, pure parent-stream, to where 

The hyperborean ocean furious foams 

O'er Orca or Berubium's highest peak, 

Rapt I might sing l thy Caledonian sons, 

A gallant, warlike, unsubmitting race ! 

Nor less in Learning versed, soon as he took 

Before the Gothic rage his western flight ; 

Wise in the council, at the banquet gay ; 

The pride of honour burning in their breasts, 

And glory, not to their own realms confined, 

But into foreign countries shooting far 

As over Europe bursts the boreal morn.' 
(See Summer, Note, 11. 1479-1579.) 

88 1. the waving main. In the earlier editions, 'gelid main ' which, 
though less picturesque, helps better to explain ' the keen sky ' and ' soul 
acute ' of the next two lines. 

884. [forests httge,~] Incult, robust, &c. Caledonia, ' land of brown 
heath and shaggy woods' included such well-known historical forests of 
natural growth (' incult ') as Athole, Birnam, Braemar, Rothiemurchus, 
Torwood, Cadzow, &c. 

886. extensive. Such as Loch Lomond, covering an area of 45 square 
miles. Watery wealth. Fish of various kinds. 

887. her fertile vales. Such as the ' carses ' of Stirling and Cowrie ; 
but Thomson specially refers to the dales of the Lowlands Tweeddale, 
Clydesdale, Teviotdale, Nithsdale, &c. 

890, 891. These lines do not appear in the edition of 1738. Ednam, 
the birthplace of Thomson, in the north-east corner of Roxburghshire, is 
only a few miles distant from the Tweed. A couple of months after his 

1 One might ask, c And why not, then ? ' But Thomson was himself ashamed of 
the meagre sketch, out of all due proportion to the long and noble panegyric of 
England and her worthies and withdrew it altogether from its original place in the 
poem of Summer. He made some amends in Autumn. Thomson's patriotism is 
not arraigned here, but his slackness in expressing it to an English auditory. 

NOTES, 878-916. 339 

birth, his father was ordained minister of Southdean on the Jed, and here 
the boyhood and youth-time of Thomson were spent in a pastoral 
rather than ' sylvan ' region, however. But the reference is probably to 
the ancient forest of Jedwood, through which the Jed flows on its way 
to Teviot, the chief tributary of Tweed. He early began to write verse, 
his compositions being on homely country subjects hence the reference 
to his ' Doric reed.' 

893. Orca. Orkney. Berubium. Duncansbay Head, in the north of 
Caithness-shire, is the Berubium of Ptolemy. 

895-897. visited By learning, &c. Rome was sacked by the bar- 
barians in 410. The last occupant of the throne of the Caesars was 
overthrown by Odoacer in 476. It was in 563 that Columba came to 
lona on his mission of Christianizing the Picts. Thomson's reference 
may be to the appearance of the Culdees in Scotland, which, according to 
tradition, was about the middle of the ninth century. 

900. Wallace. Sir William Wallace, the hero of the Scottish wars 
with Edward I of England in the end of the thirteenth, and beginning 
of the fourteenth century. He was, after many brave but unsuccessful 
efforts to secure the independence of his country, meanly betrayed into 
the hands of King Edward, who barbarously ordered his execution in 
London in 1305. , 

902. generous. Probably in the sense of 'national,' or 'worthy of 
a noble race.' 

905. for every land. As mercenary soldiers in France, Germany, &c. 
The ubiquity of the travelled Scot is proverbial. 

909. The aurora borealis no uncommon phenomenon of a Scottish 

911, 912. luxury . . . Of blessing thousands. Goldsmith speaks of 
the 'luxury of doing good,' in The Traveller, 1. 22. 

914-916. to give A double harvest, &c. This had been done for 
England by Walpole's policy of peace, about the time (1730) when this 
poem was published. ' His time of power,' says Green in The History 
of the English People, ' was a time of great material prosperity. . . . The 
rise of manufactures was accompanied by a sudden increase of commerce, 
which was due mainly to a rapid development of our colonies. . . . With 
peace and security, the value of land, and with it the rental of every 
country gentleman, tripled ; while the introduction of winter roots, of 
artificial grasses, of the system of a rotation of crops, changed the 
whole character of agriculture, and spread wealth through the farming 
classes.' (See the last thirty-four lines of Allan Ramsay's Prospect of 
Plenty.) Lord Townshend introduced the turnip in 1730. In 1732 
drill husbandry was introduced. 

Z 2 


919. To form the lucid lawn. The linen manufacture is now an 
important part of the industry of the people. The chief centres are at 
Dundee and Dunfermline. 

921-923. Batavian fleets Defraud its of the . . . swarms, &c. The 
herring fisheries of Scotland are now the most important of the fisheries 
of Great Britain. But it is only comparatively recently that they have 
been established and developed. Towards the close of the i yth century, 
and for many years after, the herring harvests of the Scottish firths were 
gathered by Dutch fishermen, whose fleets of boats were no unfamiliar 
sight in the Forth and other estuaries 1 . The unfortunate Darien 
Company had the development of the sea-fisheries of Scotland as one of 
their schemes. In 1720 a joint-stock company was formed to prosecute 
the herring fishery in Scotland. It held out a Prospect of Plenty to the 
country, and the Prospect was duly celebrated in a curious poem (1720) 
by Allan Ramsay ; but the North Sea Scheme, like that of the more 
famous South Sea, collapsed. The fostering care of some patriotic 
statesman was still wanted in 1730, when Thomson put his question, and 
asked the Duke of Argyle to answer it. 

927. as in name. By the treaty of Union, of 1707, the name of 
Great Britain was applied to the United Kingdoms of England and 

929. Argyle. John, Duke of Argyle and Greenwich. ' This noble- 
man,' says Sir Walter Scott, ' was very dear to his countrymen, who 
were justly proud of his military and political talents, and grateful for 
the ready zeal with which he asserted the rights of his native country.' 
(See, for a fuller and very favourable estimate of his character, The 
Heart of Midlothian, chap. xxxiv.) x It was of him Pope wrote : 
'Argyle, the state's whole thunder born to wield, 
And shake alike the senate and the field.' 

He was born in 1678; served under Marlborough in Flanders, dis- 
tinguishing himself at Ramillies, Oudenarde, Malplaquet, &c. ; was 
appointed Commander of the Forces in Scotland, where he quelled the 
disturbances connected with the Rebellion of 1715 ; and was raised to 
the English peerage in 1718, with the title of Duke of Greenwich. He 
died in 1743. He is known in Scotland as ' The good Duke of Argyle,' 
a designation which he merited from the kindliness of his disposition, 

1 In 1689 Dutch vessels, ' busses ' as they were called, engaged in the herring 
traffic, were mistaken for a French fleet in the Firth of Forth, and alarmed the 
inhabitants of Edinburgh. Allan Ramsay, in 1721, wrote of the Dutch fishermen 
1 Lang have they plied that trade like busy bees 
And sucked the profit of the Pictland seas.' 

On the Prospect of Plenty. 

NOTES, 919-970. 341 

and his many private acts of beneficence. There can be no doubt that 
Thomson's was the popular estimate of his character. 

938. The village of Malplaquet in French Flanders, where Marl- 
borough gained a great victory over Marshal Villars in i79> li es n 
one side of the open gap (Trouee) between the forests of Taisniere and 
Laniere on the road to Mons. A great deal of the fighting was in 
Taisniere forest. This battle was the bloodiest in the whole of Marl- 
borough's wars. Six lines, of no great merit, have been dropt here from 
the edition of 1738. 

944. Forbes. Duncan Forbes, of Culloden, Lord President of the 
Scottish Court of Session. Born in 1685, he was trained for the bar, 
and rose to be Lord Advocate in 1725. Ten years later he was raised 
to the Scottish bench, and in 1737 became Lord President. He died in 
1747. He was one of the many personal friends of Thomson, who was 
also on terms of great intimacy with his son. His rapid rise to place and 
power was owing partly to his own talents and partly to his political 
and family connection with the Duke of Argyle. He is remembered in 
Scotland for his clemency and generosity (exhibited so particularly 
as almost to compromise his loyalty) in behalf of the Jacobite rebels of 
1715 and 1745. The later years of his life were largely devoted to 
the improvement of Scottish methods of agriculture and the advancement 
of Scottish tratie. 

967. low-thoughted. Applied by Milton to 'care,' in Comus, 1. 6. 

968. soothe the throbbing passions into peace. In Spring, 1. 463 

* Soothe every gust of passion into peace.' 

970-10x35. The substance of these lines had already been beautifully 
expressed by the poet in prose. Writing from Barnet, near London, in 
September, 1725, Thomson, who was then just commencing his poem of 
Winter, remarks in a letter to his friend and confidant, Dr. William 
Cranstoun, of Ancrurn a village' about three miles from Jedburgh 
' Now I imagine you seized with a fine romantic kind of a melancholy 
on the fading of the year ; now I figure you wandering, philosophical 
and pensive, amidst the brown withered groves, while the leaves rustle 
under your feet, the sun gives a farewell parting gleam, and the 

" Stir the faint note, and but attempt to sing." 

Then again, when the heavens wear a more gloomy aspect, the winds 
whistle, and the waters spout, I see you in the well-known deugh x 
beneath the solemn arch of tall thick-embowering trees, listening to the 
amusing lull of the many steep moss-grown cascades, while deep, divine 

1 A glen, or chasm between two rocks. 


Contemplation, the genius of the place, prompts each swelling awful 
thought. I am sure you would not resign your place in that scene at an 
easy rate. None ever enjoyed it to the height that you do ; and you are 
worthy of it. There I walk in spirit, and disport in its beloved gloom. 
This country I am in is not very entertaining ; no variety but that of 
woods, and them we have in abundance. But where is the living stream, 
the airy mountain, or the hanging rock ? ' &c. 

983. aimed from some inhuman eye. Cp. Burns 

' Inhuman man ! curse on thy barbarous art, 
And blasted be thy murder-aiming eye ! ' 

The Wounded Hare. 

994. The peculiarly effective pause after ' sob ' should be noted 

1005. philosophic Melancholy comes I Appropriately to the fading 
year. Cp. Burns 

' Come, Autumn, sae pensive, in yellow and gray, 
And soothe me/ &c. 

1020-1022. A noble sentiment, characteristic of Thomson. 
1025. wonder. Admiration. 

1030-1036. The feeling for the supernatural (as expressed here, and 
in Summer, at 1. 538, and elsewhere in his poetry) is a feature of 
Thomson's genius to which, surely, Collins must have been looking 
when he figured Thomson as a Druid in the well-known Ode : 
' O vales and wild woods (shall he say), 
In yonder grave your Druid lies ! ' 

1037-1081. These forty-five lines were not added till after 1738. 
1042. paradise of Stowe. ' The seat of the Lord Viscount Cobham.' 
(Note by Thomson.} It is not now the attractive place it was in 
Thomson's time. 

1048. Pitt. The elder, Earl of Chatham. He was born in 1708, and 
was therefore only twenty-two when Thomson published Autumn. The 
compliment to him was added after he began to make a name for 
himself as a statesman. It was not till 1 735 that Pitt entered Parliament. 
He took the side of Frederick, Prince of Wales, and offered a determined 
resistance to Walpole. As Thomson died in 1748, he could only speak 
of Pitt as ' the early boast ' of his country. 

1050. that temple. The Temple of Virtue in Stowe Gardens. So 
at the Leasowes Shenstone had Damon's Bower, and there he wrote, 
' towards the close of the year 1748,' to his friend ' William Lyttleton, 

' Yes, there, my friend ! forlorn and sad, 
I. grave your Thomson's name ; 

NOTES, 983-1098. 343 

And there, his lyre, which Fate forbade 

To sound your growing fame.' 

1062. draw the tragic scene [_with juster hand], Thomson's first 
tragedy, Sophonisba, was produced at Drury Lane in Feb. 1729-30. 
It was rather a failure on the stage, though it passed through four 
editions in 1730. Agamemnon appeared in 1738, Edward and Eleanora 
in 1739; then came Tancred and Sigismunda (1745), and the post- 
humous Coriolanus. 

1072. Cobham. The proprietor of Stowe, Sir Richard Temple, 
afterwards Lord Cobham. He it was that laid out the walks and 
gardens, planted the groves, and erected the statues and temples at 
Stowe, a ' chief out of war/ to use Pope's phrase. 

1072, 1073. thy verdant files Of ordered trees shouldst . . . range. The 
arrangement greatly affected about the beginning and middle of last 
century was in the figure of the quadrum, or the quincunx, that is by 
fours, or perfect squares ; or by fives, like the spots on the side of a 
die : : In the Second Georgic Virgil describes the former arrange- 
ment : 

' Nee secius omnis in unguem 
Arboribus positis secto via limite quadret : 
Ut saepe ingenti bello cum longa cohortes 
Explicuit legio, et campo stetit agmen aperto, 
Directaeque acies,' &c. 11. 277-281. 

Pope, in his Satires and Epistles of Horace Imitated, refers to the 
quincunx : 

' My retreat the best companions grace, 
Chiefs out of war, and statesmen out of place ; 
There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl 
The feast of reason and the flow of soul ; 
And he, whose lightning pierced the Iberian lines 
Now forms my quincunx, and now ranks my vines.' 

Bk. II, Sat. I, 11. 125-130. 

1093. optic tube describes. Cp. Par. Lost, Bk. I, 11. 288, 290. 
1096. through the passing cloud sk& seems to stoop. ' Seems to descend/ 
that is, ' nearer to the earth/ Milton also notices the illusion 
' Oft, as if her head she bow'd, 
Stooping through a fleecy cloud/ 

// Penseroso, 11. 71, 72. 
See also Comus, 1. 333. 

1098. the pale deluge. Cp. ' the dazzling deluge ' of sunshine in 
Summer, 1. 435. Blake, in his lines to The Evening Star, has ' Wash 
the dusk with silver/ 


1101, 1102. The effect of full moon is finely caught in these lines. 

1 106, 1 107. near extinct her deadened orb appears, And scarce appears. 
This is the phenomenon, referred to in the grand old ballad of Sir 
Patrick Spens,' of 'the new moon with the old moon in her arms.' 

1109-1114. This is a description of the Aurora, or Northern Lights, 
not of a meteoric shower. Cp. Burns, in his fragmentary Vision at 
Lincluden (1794) : 

' The cauld blae north was streaming forth 

Her lights wi' hissing eerie din ; 
Athwart the lift they start and shift 
Like Fortune's favours, tint as win.' 

1115-1137. The first draught of this passage appeared in the first 
edition of Summer (1727). (See Summer, Note, 1. 1698.) 

1118. Thronged 'with aerial spears, &c. It recalls Milton's awful 

' With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. XII, 1. 644. 

1 1 22, 1123. Cp. Chaucer's The Squieres Tale, 11. 204-261. Also 
Milton's Par. Lost, Bk. I, 11. 598, 599. 

1132. That is, that the last day has arrived. 

1134. inspect sage. Wise insight. 

1136. yet unfixed. That is, ' till now unexplained, and unsettled.' 
This is very much the condition of affairs yet. That the phenomenon 
of the Aurora is due to electricity is generally believed, but how is still 
an open question. 

1141-1144. The same idea has already been brought forward in this 
poem, 11. 730-735. 

1148, 1149. See Comus, 11. 337-340, for 'the taper of some clay 
habitation,' &c. 

1151-1164. This passage, in a somewhat different form, appeared 
originally in the first edition of Summer (1727). (See Summer, Note, 
1. 1681.) 

1157-1159. Compare with this the more pathetic picture of the shep- 
herd's wife and children, in Winter, 11. 310-317. 

1 183. Convolved. A favourite word of Thomson. See Spring, 1. 836. 
The smoking of bees in order to secure their honey is now rarely 
practised. It is both more humane and more profitable to abstract 
honeycomb from the hive without destroying the bees. 

1 187. the blooming waste. The heather (in bloom in August and Sep- 
tember), from which a richer honey is made than from garden flowers, 

1190, 1191. Nature groan .... awaiting renovation. See St. Paul's 
Epistle to the Romans for this reference, chap, viii, 19-23. 

NOTES, 1101-1339. 345 

1204. Palermo, The capital city and chief seaport of Sicily. 

1 21 1, 1 21 2. Construe 'Save what brushes the filmy thread of eva- 
porated dew from the plain.' Thomson's closeness and delicacy of 
observation is revealed in these lines : they refer to a phenomenon 
of tranquil autumnal morning which few have observed. As 'the 
filmy thread of dew,' which has got somehow into the air, falls on one's 
face, one is apt to imagine that it is about to rain ; but the sky all round 
is a sunny blue ; neither is there wind to blow the dew from the hanging 

1214, 1215. The high and wide skies of Autumn, on days of 'utter 
peace,' are like the creation of a new heaven. 

1219. The corn-yard, or stack-y rd, securely enclosed. 

1 22 1. The festival of harvest-home : 

' Merriment 

Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe 
Stirs up among the loose unlettered hinds 
When, for their .... granges full 
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan.' 

Camus, 11. 172-176. 

1222. 'The loud laugh that spoke the vacant mind.' Goldsmith's 
Deserted Village. 

1236. The happiest he ^vho far from public rage, &c. Cp. Horace 
' Beatus ille, qui procul negotiis, 

Ut prisca gens mortalium, 
Paterna rura bobus exercet snis 

Solutus omni fenore,' &c. Epodon Carm. I, 2. 

1263, 1264. See supra, 11. 4, 5. 

1267. the chide of 'streams. A beautiful expression. Shakespeare has 
it, ' Never did I hear such gallant chiding ' (Midsummer Night's Dream, 
Act IV, Sc. i.), where it is said by Hippolyt in her eulogium of the 
Spartan breed of hounds. 

1273-1277. Cp. Cowper's Task, Bk. IV, the concluding passage 
' Hail therefore,' &c. 

1287, 1288. This is very severe, for Thomson, on lawyers. See also 
11. 1291-1294 infra. 

1304. who, from the world escaped. Like Cowper, in his Olney 

IS 1 ?- frigid Tempe. See Spring, Note, 1. 908. 

1318. Hemus. See supra, Note, 1. 784. 

1326. then [in Autumn] he best exerts his song. Seesuflra, Note, 1. 670. 

1339. His own affection for his sisters would serve to illustrate the 


1341, 1342. the little strong embrace Of prattling children twined 
around his neck. Thomson must have had a child's arm round his 
neck, to describe ' the little strong embrace ' so accurately. 

1348-1351. See the Age of Innocence fully described in Spring, 11. 

!353- the knowledge of thy works. He enumerates more particularly, 
in the succeeding lines, astronomy, geology, botany, natural history, and 
psychology. His love of the study of natural science is abundantly 
evident from his poetry. It was probably instilled into his mind at 
Edinburgh University, where the Baconian and Newtonian impulse was 
felt more powerfully in the first half of the 1 8th century than it seems 
to have been felt at the English Universities. (See Sir A. Grant's Hist, 
of Edinburgh University, vol. i, pp. 263 et seqq.} 

1368. An allusion to his natural indolence. It was the alternative 
that was in store for Thomson not vast and varied scientific knowledge ; 
but a place < by the lowly brook ' ' in lowly dale fast by a river's side ' 
and a dream of a Castle of Indolence. 



Winter, placed last agreeably to the natural order in the col- 
lected Seasons, comes first in the order of composition, and perhaps of 
merit and popularity as well. It was entirely written in England. 
Thomson arrived in London in March, 1725. Disappointed in the 
immediate object of his journey, whatever it was probably a situation 
in the service of the Government he was forced by the slenderness of 
his purse to accept the office of tutor to a small boy of five, and mean- 
while prepare for a less precarious and more honourable means of 
maintenance. Writing in July to an intimate friend in Scotland, he says 
' I am pretty much at ease in the country, ten miles from London, 
teaching Lord Binning's son l to read a low task, you know, not so 
suitable to my temper ; but I must learn that necessary lesson of 
suiting my mind and temper to my state. I hope I shall not pass my 
time here without improvement the great design of my coming hither 
and then, in due time, I resolve through God's assistance to consum- 
mate my original study of divinity ; for you know the business of a 
1 Afterwards seventh Earl of Haddington. 


tutor is only precarious and for the present.' The place referred to in 
this letter as ten miles from London was East Barnet; and here 
Thomson continued (with an occasional flying visit to London) to 
reside till the end of the year, by which time he seems to have finished 
together the first draught, at least, if not the full composition, of 
Winter, and his engagement as tutor in Lord Binning's family. He 
cannot be said to have begun the poem till the end of Autumn, when 
he was prompted to the work by the nature one might say the 
necessity of his situation. The subject had been determined for him 
by a variety of causes. He writes bravely enough on the manner in 
which he found and first began to work at his subject, but his mind was 
undoubtedly then disposed to a gloomier view of life than was habitual 
to him, and to less cheerful subjects of contemplation than had engaged 
his attention in the preceding Spring. He had not been in England 
more than six weeks when he received the sad news of the death of his 
mother, to whom he was tenderly attached ; at Barnet he had run into 
debt, and was feeling as a strange sensation the first pressure of poverty ; 
the ' melancholy ' natural to his spirits ' on the fading of the year,' was 
of a deeper shade in the October of 1725 1 than he had ever known it, 
or perhaps was ever again to know ; and the influence of a poem by 
Robert Riccaltoun, every whit as lugubrious as The Grave of Blair, had 
filled his imagination with a gloom only too congenial with his circum- 
stances, and cherished rather than chidden away by the desponding 
young poet. In the autumn of 1725, in another letter to his intimate 
friend (Dr. Cranstoun, of Ancrum) he writes : ' I am just now painting 
[Nature] in her most lugubrious dress for my own amusement, describing 
Winter as it presents itself. . . . After this introduction I say 
" Nor can I, O departing Summer ! choose 
But consecrate one pitying line to you ; 
Sing your last tempered days, and sunny calms, 
That cheer the spirits and serene the soul." 

Then terrible floods, and high winds, that usually happen about this 
time of the year, and have already happened here (I wish you have not 
felt them too dreadfully) the first produced the enclosed lines ; the last 
are not completed. Mr. Riccaltoun's poem on Winter, which I still 
have, first put the design into my head : in it are some masterly strokes 
that awakened me. Being only a present amusement it is ten to one 
1 ' This country I am in is not very entertaining ; no variety but that of woods.' 


but I drop it whenever another fancy comes across.' Riccaltoun's 
poem, from this interesting connection, acquires an importance of some 
historical value. It has been identified, on evidence that is almost 
conclusive, with a set of some fifty-eight verses in the heroic couplet 
'by a Scotch clergyman,' printed in 1726 in Savage's Miscellany, and 
again, in 1740, in The Gentleman's Magazine for May, under the title 
of ' A Winter's Day.' Thomson's copy of the poem was probably got 
in MS. from the author's own hand ; but it may have been a cutting 
from an Edinburgh periodical of date anterior to 1726. Riccaltoun was 
a young farmer at Earlshaugh, some four miles from the manse of 
Southdean, when Thomson was a schoolboy ; and, having a taste for 
the classics, for he was college-bred, and taking a fancy to the minister's 
son, he gave him help with his Latin lessons and exercises. He after- 
wards became minister of the parish of Hobkirk, near Jedburgh. The 
influence of the following quotations from Riccaltoun's verses will 
readily be traced in Thomson's poem : 

' Now, gloomy soul, look out ! now comes thy turn ! 

With thee, behold all ravaged Nature mourn ; 

Hail the dim empire of thy darling night 

That spreads slow-shadowing o'er the vanquished light. 

Look out with joy ! The ruler of the day, 

Faint as thy hopes, emits a glimmering ray; 

Already exiled to the utmost sky, 

Hither oblique he turns his clouded eye. 

Lo, from the limits of the wintry pole 

Mountainous clouds in rude confusion roll ; 

In dismal pomp now hovering in their way, 

To a sick twilight they reduce the day.' 11. 1-12. 

'Let no intrusive joy my dead repose 


In this moss-covered cavern hopeless laid 

On the cold cliff I lean my aching head 

And, pleased with winter's waste, unpitying see 

All Nature in an agony with me. 

Rough rugged rocks, wet marshes, ruined tours, 

Bare trees, brown brakes, bleak heaths, and rushy moors, 

Dead floods, huge cataracts, to my pleased eyes 

(Now I can smile !) in wild disorder rise ; 


And now, their various dread fulness combined, 

Black melancholy comes to doze my mind.' 11. 33-44. 

* But hark ! a sudden howl invades my ear 
The phantoms of the dreadful hour are near ; 
Shadows from each dark cavern now combine, 
And stalk around, and mix their yells with mine ! ' 11. 5 1-54. 
Thomson's chief, if not his only, literary correspondent during the 
composition of Winter was his former college companion at Edinburgh, 
David Malloch (or Mallet as he strangely preferred to be called), who 
in 1725, and for several years afterwards, was tutor to the two sons of 
the Duke of Montrose *. Spence, in his Anecdotes, &c.,has preserved a 
rumour that Thomson went down to live at Twyford, in Hants, a 
country seat of the Duke of Montrose, on the invitation of Malloch, and 
that while there he submitted to Malloch's judgment the MS. of Winter ; 
that the friends had some difficulty in finding a publisher for it ; and that, 
when it appeared at last, the Dedication was the composition of Malloch. 
The publisher of Winter was John Millan, who gave the author 
three guineas for it; and the poem was issued in folio in March, 1726. 
Presently it began to be talked about in the London coffee-houses as 
a genuine poem on a new and original subject the person who was first 
to discover its merits being the Rev. Robert Whatley. Almost as soon 
as Whatley, Aaron Hill 2 began to sound its praise ; and there was 
a recommendation of it by Spence in his Essay on Pope's Odyssey, 
published in 1727. The rate of its success may be estimated from the 
facts that the second edition was called for in the following June, and 
that the fifth edition was out before the end of 1728. It brought 
Thomson the friendship of among others Lady Hertford, Mrs. 
Stanley, Dr. Rundle, and Sir C. Talbot. 

Malloch may have written the prose Dedication, which was addressed 
to the Right Hon. Sir Spencer Compton, Speaker of the House of 
Commons, but Thomson unfortunately homologated it in a paraphrase 
of its extravagant statements to which he gave a permanent place in the 

1 See a curious poem ' To Mr. David Malloch on his Departure from Scotland,' by 
Allan Ramsay : 

'The task assigned thee 's great and good 
To cultivate two Grahams,' &c. 

2 ' You have given me fame,' was the acknowledgment of Thomson in a letter to 
Hill on May 24, 1726. 


text of the poem. The prose Dedication was prefixed to the first five 
editions of Winter : it ran as follows 

' Sir, The Author of the following poem begs leave to inscribe this 
his first performance to your name and patronage : unknown himself, 
and only introduced by the Muse, he yet ventures to approach you with 
a modest cheerfulness ; for, whoever attempts to excel in any generous 
art, though he comes alone and unregarded by the world, may hope for 
your notice and esteem. Happy if I can in any degree merit this good 
fortune. As every ornament and grace of polite learning is yours, your 
single approbation will be my fame. 

' I dare not indulge my heart by dwelling on your public character, 
on that exalted honour and integrity which distinguish you in that 
august assembly where you preside, that unshaken loyalty to your 
sovereign, that disinterested concern for his people which shine out 
united in all your behaviour and finish the patriot. I am conscious of 
my want of strength and skill for so delicate an undertaking ; and yet, 
as the shepherd in his cottage may feel and acknowledge the influence 
of the sun, with as lively a gratitude as the great man in his palace, 
even I may be allowed to publish my sense of those blessings which, 
from so many powerful virtues, are derived to the nation they adorn. 

'I conclude with saying that your fine discernment and humanity 
in your private capacity are so conspicuous that if this address is 
not received with some indulgence, it will be a severe conviction 
that what I have written has not the least share of merit. I am,' &c. 

This is fulsome. The fulsomeness, conscious or ignorant of its nature, 
Thomson unhappily adopted ; but it is also stilted, insincere, and im- 
pudent. The audacity of the concluding sentence was foreign to the 
character of Thomson. 

The second, third, and fourth editions of Winter contained a preface 
of Thomson's own composition, which one might describe as the 
poet's apology for poesy, or rather his vindication of poetry. It is 
pervaded by a nobility of sentiment and an independence of tone, which 
are in marked contrast to the effrontery and servility of Malloch's 
Dedication. It begins 

' I am neither ignorant, nor concerned, how much one may suffer, in 
the opinion of several persons of great gravity and character, by the 
study and pursuit of poetry. Although there may seem to be some 
appearance of reason for the present contempt of it, as managed by the 


most part of our modern writers, yet that any man should seriously 
declare against that divine art is really amazing. It is declaring against 
the most charming power of imagination, the most exalting force of 
thought, the most affecting touch of sentiment ; in a word, against 
the very soul of all learning and politeness. It is affronting the 
universal taste of mankind, and declaring against what has charmed the 
listening world from Moses down to Milton. ... It is even declaring 
against the sublimest passages of the inspired writings themselves, and 
what seems to be the peculiar language of heaven.' Then follows some 
well-directed satire, and the poet continues : ' That there are frequent 
and notorious abuses of Poetry is as true as that the best things are 
most liable to that misfortune ; but ... let poetry once more be 
restored to her ancient truth and purity; let her be inspired from 
heaven, and, in return, her incense ascend thither ; let her exchange her 
low, venal, trifling subjects for such as are fair, useful, and magnificent 
. . . and poets [shall] yet become the delight and wonder of mankind. 
But this happy period is not to be expected till some long-wished, 
illustrious man, of equal power and beneficence, rise on the wintry 
world of letters one of a genuine and unbounded greatness and 
generosity of mankind, who, far above all the pomp and pride of 
fortune, scorns the little addressful flatterer, discountenances all the 
reigning fopperies of a tasteless age, and . . . stretching his views into 
late futurity, has the true interest of virtue, learning and mankind 
entirely at heart a character so nobly desirable that, to an honest 
heart it is almost incredible so few should have the ambition to deserve 
it. Nothing can have a better influence towards the revival of poetry 
than the choosing of great and serious subjects.' There are some more 
satirical remarks on ' the little glittering prettinesses ' of the fashionable 
verse of the day, from which the poet turns with a noble s.corn ' A 
genius,' he says, * fired with the charms of truth and nature is tuned to a 
sublimer pitch, and scorns to associate with such subjects.' He goes on 
to recommend to poets and readers of poetry a return to the study 
of Nature, too long neglected ; and exclaims, after a brief survey of the 
grander phenomena of Nature, ' But there is no thinking of these things 
without breaking out into poetry.' He next refers to the example of ' the 
best poets, both ancient and modern.' Whence did they derive their in- 
spiration ? ' They have been passionately fond of retirement and solitude : 
the wild romantic country was their delight.' There are two or three 


xmavoidable compliments to ' Mr. Hill,' ' Mira,' and ' Mr. Malloch ' ; 
nnd the Preface concludes with the announcement that the reforms, in 
poetical composition and in poetical taste, which he has just been 
urging, he will endeavour himself to practise ' in the other Seasons,' 
which it is his ' purpose ' to describe. 

Winter, which is the shortest poem of the series of The Seasons, was 
very considerably shorter still when it first appeared. So late as the 
edition of 1738 it consisted of only 787 lines ; it was finally enlarged to 
1069. The principal additions were a paraphrase (11. 126-145) of a 
part of the First Georgic of Virgil ; a description (11. 414-423) of 
avalanches ; an enlargement of the list of Greek and Roman Worthies ; 
the lament for Hammond (11. 555-571); a eulogy of Chesterfield; an 
extension of the view of life and Winter within the Arctic circle ; and a 
eulogistic outline of the career of the Czar Peter. Numerous verbal 
alterations were made in the text after 1738, some of them at the 
suggestion of Pope; and several lines were dropped. The geographical 
range of the poem is only inferior to that of Summer. The best scenes 
are Scottish. Holland, France, Italy, and Switzerland furnish impressive 
Winter scenes ; Siberia and Lapland are graphically presented ; and a 
glimpse is given, in a flight beyond Iceland and Greenland, of the 
white terrors at the Pole. The historical range is a remarkable, 
and a not very harmonious feature of the poem. Long winter evenings 
are, no doubt, conducive to retirement and study ; and the history 
of the world's great leaders, in the spheres of thought and action, 
may naturally enough form part of one's winter reading ; but the 
subject, thanks very much to Pope, is treated at unconscionable length, 
and receives a prominence relatively to the other parts of the poem 
which is quite disproportionate, and (some may be pardoned for 
thinking) of the nature of an excrescence. 

Perhaps the most poetical passages are those that describe a wet day 
at the farm ; a river in flood ; the visit of the redbreast ; a shepherd 
perishing in the snow-drift, with the pathetic picture of his wife and 
children becoming concerned about his absence ; ' the goblin-story ' 
told by village fires ; the still, freezing night ; and the Siberian bear 
' with dangling ice all horrid.' The clearness and completeness of 
these descriptions strike the imagination at once, and the singular 
appropriateness of the language imprints them on the memory. 

It is to be regretted that in his list of winter sports Thomson did 


not include a description of the Scots game of curling, ' the roaring 
play' of Burns. 

The argument as amended for the final text runs as follows : ' The 
subject proposed. Address to the Earl of Wilmington. First approach 
of Winter. According to the natural course of the Season, various 
storms described rain, wind, snow. The driving of the snows a man 
perishing among them ; whence reflections on the wants and miseries of 
human life. The wolves descending from the Alps and Apennines. A 
Winter evening described-^as spent by philosophers ; by the country 
people ; in the city. Frost. A view of Winter within the Polar 
circle. A thaw. The whole concluding with moral reflections on 
a future state.' 

Gulliver's Travels, by Swift, Butler's Sermons, and Dyer's Grongar 
iHill, were, with Thomson's Winter, the principal London publications 
bf the year 1726. AflatcM, Defoe, Bentley, and Theobald also pub- 
lished works in the same year. 

A curious story connected with the Dedication may be added. Lord 
Wilmington, then Sir Spencer Compton, and Speaker of the Commons, 
took no notice of the honour which had been done him till the first 
edition was almost exhausted. The neglect displeased Thomson, 
and roused the satire of Hill and Malloch against the indifference of 
patrons. Hill's reproaches were communicated to the Speaker, and 
were so far effective that the compliment of the Dedication was at last 
acknowledged by a fee of twenty guineas. Thomson's account of his 
interview with his patron, and the way in which it was more im- 
mediately brought about, is contained in a letter to Hill : ' On 
Saturday morning [June 4, 1726] I was with Sir Spencer Compton. A 
certain gentleman, without my desire, spoke to him concerning me ; his 
answer was that I had never come near him. Then the gentleman put 
the question if he desired that I should wait on him ; he returned he 
did. On this the gentleman gave me an introductory letter to him. He 
received me in what they commonly call a civil manner, asked me some 
commonplace questions, and made me a present of twenty guineas. I am 
very ready to own that the present was larger than my performance [he 
means, not the poem, but the Dedication as a piece of complimentary 
composition usually attributed to Malloch!] deserved ; and shall ascribe 
it to his generosity rather than the merit of the Address.' Meanwhile 
both Hill and Malloch had written verses to the praise of Thomson and 

A a 


the censure of the Speaker, which were intended to be prefixed to 
the second edition of Winter then in the press. Thomson either did 
not wish to lose the praise or did not wish to offend his friends by 
withdrawing the verses, and they were accordingly printed with but 
slight modification of the censure certainly not enough ' to clear Sir 
Spencer.' Thomson's correspondence shows very amusingly the 
dilemma he was in. 

1. The year has lost its autumnal look, and now assumes a wintry 
aspect. More figuratively, the reign of autumn is over; it is now 
Winter's turn to rule. ' The varied year ' means ' the year that has 
varied, or changed its appearance,' and not * the year that is varied by 
the succession of the seasons.' The idea contained in ' varied ' is repeated 
at 1. 43 in the word ' inverted.' It simply means ' altered,' or ' so 
altered as to exhibit a complete contrast.' 

2. rising. Ascending from the horizon. 

3. Vapours, and clouds, and storms. See 11. 54-56, infra. 

6. Congenial horrors. Some trace the congeniality, avowed here so 
boldly, to the peculiar circumstances of disappointment, loneliness, 
bereavement, and even poverty in which Thomson was placed when he 
began the poem. They imagine him making choice of a subject of 
* glooms ' and ' horrors ' much in the same mood as that which made 
Burns exclaim 

'Come, Winter, with thine angry howl, 

And, raging, bend the naked tree ; 
Thy gloom will soothe my cheerless soul, 

When Nature all is sad like me ! ' Meeniis ee. 

They perhaps overlook the fact (stated in the immediately succeeding 
lines) that Winter-time had always been a pleasure to him : it was 
equally congenial to his cheerful, careless, robust boyhood. He could 
say with Burns 

O Nature, a' thy shows and forms 
To feeling, pensive hearts ha'e charms; 
W T hether the summer kindly warms 

Wi' life and light, 
Or winter howls in gusty storms 

The long dark night.' 

Epistle to William Sims on. 
Probably by 'congenial' Thomson simply means the horrors and 

NOTES, i -i 8. 


glooms of the Cheviot winters, to which he had been accustomed from 
his infancy ; he had grown up amongst them. 

7. my cheerful morn of life. From the third month to the sixteenth 
year of his life, his home was the solitary manse of Southdean in 
Roxburghshire, not more than five miles, as the crow flies, from Carter 
Fell, one of the summits of the Cheviots. 

9. sung of Nature. Delighted in rural scenes. But there may be a 
reference to his boyish exercises in verse, which were probably on 
subjects connected for the most part with country life. 

12-14. All this he could do at the door, or from the parlour window, 
of his father's manse. The Jed sweeps round the manse garden, and is 
a sufficiently ' big torrent ' when in flood. 

14. the grim evening sky. 'Red,' meaning 'lurid/ in the early 
editions, as late as that of 1738. 

15. the lucid chambers of the south. A beautiful phrase, partly 
scriptural. See the Book of Job : < [He is mighty in strength] which 
maketh . . . the chambers of the south.' (chap. ix. 9). Cp. William 
Blake's To the Muses : 

' Whether on Ida's shady brow, 

Or in the chambers of the East, 
The chambers of the sun, that now 

From ancient melody have ceased,' &c. 
See Spring, 1. 1034. 

17. first essay. The poem of Winter, though it comes last in the 
collected Seasons, was the first written of the series. It was published 
in 1726; Summer came next, in 1727; then Spring, in 1728; and 
Autumn, with the Hymn, last of all, published, in its due place in 
the natural order, with the other Seasons, in 1730- 

1 8. Wilmington. Sir Spencer Compton, created Baron Wilmington in 
January, 1728 ; Earl, in May, 1730. He was born probably in the year 
1673 ; and began his long parliamentary career in 1698 as the Member 
for Eye. A son of the Earl of Northampton, he belonged to a Tory 
family, but joined the Whigs, and was rewarded with a long succession 
of honourable appointments. The new Parliament of 1715 elected him 
their Speaker; he was then the representative for Sussex. In 1722 
he was again chosen Speaker, and filled the chair till the dissolution of 
Parliament in July, 1727. He held at the same time the office of 
Paymaster-General ; and was made a Knight of the Bath in 1725. In 
1727 he might have been Prime Minister instead of Walpole, but 
confessed to the King ' his inability to undertake the duties of so 
arduous a post.' He had made a similar confession when he filled the 
office of Speaker, declaring that ' he had neither memory to retain, 

Aa 2 


judgment to collect, nor skill to guide the debates of the Commons.' 
Public opinion took him at his word : he was generally regarded as a 
mere cipher, and treated as such by the caricaturists and satirical writers 
of his time. Yet he was not without dignity, especially on State 
occasions, and secured some respect by the solemnity of his manner and 
the impressive tones of his voice. His talents, however, were but 
mediocre, and he lacked both tact and decision. His peerage came to 
him rather as a solatium for the premiership he could not fill, than as a 
reward for his services. He died unmarried in 1743, and the title lapsed. 
His estates went to his brother, the Earl of Northampton. Thomson's 
eulogy of him (11. 28-40) is a remarkable instance either of gross 
flattery or of crass ignorance. 

renews her song. The expression means that Thomson repeats to 
Lord Wilmington the dedication he had addressed to him when Sir 
Spencer Compton four years previously. The dedication of the first 
edition of Winter was in prose, and, according to Joseph Spence, was 
written by Malloch. The passage, from 1. 17 to 1. 40, is the new 
dedication, introduced into the text of Winter, in 1730, when the first 
edition of the collected Seasons was published ; the prose dedication, 
which had appeared in the first five editions of Winter all published 
before the end of 1728 was, of course, no longer necessary. (See 
Introductory Note to Winter.) 

19. Since, i.e. since 1726. The date is now 1730. In the interval 
he had completed The Seasons. 

20. Skimmed the gay Spring. ' The Muse,' or his own poetical 
imagination, is here presented under the metaphor of a swallow. 

21 . Attempted through the Summer blaze to rise. Summer is certainly 
the most laboured of the series. 

26. Well illustrated by the passage ending 1. 105, infra. 
28, 29. Thrice happy, could she Jill thy judging ear p , &c. ' Happy, if 
I can in any degree merit this good fortune [yottr notice and esteeni}. 
As every ornament and grace of polite learning is yours, your single 
approbation will be my fame.' Prose Dedication (1726). 

30. For this line the editions from 1730 to 1738 give the following 
three : 

'For thee the graces smoothe; thy softer thoughts 
The Muses tune ; nor art thou skilled alone 
In awful schemes, the management of states.' 

32-38. 'I dare not indulge my heart, by dwelling on your public 
character ; on that exalted honour and integrity which distinguish you in 
that august assembly where you preside ; that unshaken loyalty to your 
sovereign, that disinterested concern for his people, which shine out 

NOTES, 18-65. 357 

united in all your behaviour, and finish the patriot.' Prose Dedication. 

If Malloch wrote the prose dedication (it is little to his honour) Thomson 

unfortunately appropriated its sentiments in this outrageous panegyric. 

The verses are a scarcely disguised paraphrase of Malloch's sycophantic 


41-44. In all editions up to 1738 these lines read 

' When Scorpio gives to Capricorn the sway, 
And fierce Aquarius fouls the inverted year, 
Retiring to the verge of heaven, the sun/ &c. ; 

in plain English, ' In mid-winter, the sun,' &c. 

42. This method of marking time is a survival from the days of Chaucer. 
(See the opening verses of the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales.) 
Thomson is the latest poet of note in our literary history to maintain 
the traditional method. The sun enters the zodiacal sign of the Archer 
{Sagittarius) on the 2ist November, and quits it, to enter the sign of the 
Horned Goat (Capricornus), on the shortest day, the 2ist of December ; 
the next sign (Aquarius, the Water-carrier) is entered on the 2 1st January. 
(See Spring, Note, 11. 26, 27.) 

43. the inverted year. Cp. Cowper's Task (published 1785) 

' O winter! ruler of the inverted year.' Bk. IV. 1. 120. 
Horace has the whole line in the first Book of his Satires (v. 36) 
' Quae [formica parvuld\, simul inversum contristat Aquarius 

annum,' &c. 

See Note, 1. I, stipra. ' To invert the year ' is explained in some verses 
by Malloch, quoted by Thomson in a letter Sept. or Oct. 1726 'to 
bring wild Winter into Summer's place.' 

48. clothed in cloudy storm. In 1738 and previous editions, ' at dull 
distance seen,' 

49) 50- Cp. Bums 

' Phoebus gi'es a short-lived glower, 

Far south the lift.' A Winter Night. 

57. the face of things. A common expression with Thomson and his 
imitators ; Malloch, for example (referring to lightning), 

' Now the face of things 
Disclosing; swallowed now in tenfold night.' 

The Excursion, Bk. I. 

64. Fresh from the plough. In the earlier editions (till 1738), ' Red 
from,' &c. Land may either be ' stirred ' by the plough in November, 
or it may be ploughed to prepare a seed-bed for the winter wheat. 

65. crop the wholesome root. Turnips, thrown down on the new 
ploughed land for sheep. But turnips did not become a common crop, 
even on English farms, till the success of Lord Townshend's experi- 
ments, in 1730, was seen. See Autumn, Note, 11. 913-915. 


66-71. These lines were probably written at Barnet, near London. 
' This country I am in is not very entertaining ; no variety but that of 
woods, and them we have in abundance ; but where is the living stream, 
the airy mountain, or the hanging rock? ' Letter from Thomson to Dr. 
William Cranstoun, at Ancrum, near Jedburgh, September, 1725. It 
is evident that when he wrote them his imagination was among Cheviot 
scenery and the horrors of a Cheviot winter. 

71. 'That haunts the imagination.' Listening seems to be re- 

73. Wrapt in black glooms. Better in the earlier text (till 1738) 
'Striding the gloomy blast,' an image perhaps suggested by Shake- 

' Pity, like a naked new-born babe, 

Striding the blast,' Sec. Macbeth, Act I. Sc. vii. 
First, joyless rains obscure. Here begins a description of a Winter 
rain-storm and its effects; it continues to 1. no. A description of a 
Winter wind-storm and its effects follows to 1. 222; to be in turn 
succeeded by a description of a snowstorm and its effects, ending at 
1. 321- 

74. with vapour foul. 'Foul' replaces 'vile' in the earlier text. 
As an adjective, it qualifies ' vapour ' not ' skies.' 

85. with meaning low. ' Lowing for the shelter of their stalls and 
for the food there provided for them.' The form in the earlier text is 
' lowe.' 

86. Cp. Cowper's Task, Bk. V, 11. 27-30. 

89-93. The scene here depicted is a cosy cottage interior, forming 
with its group of rustics, talking and laughing beside a bright fire, 
a complete contrast to the misery of the poultry and the cheerless 
winter weather prevailing without. It is the condition of rustic life in 
winter-time so beautifully suggested by Horace, Car. I. 4 'jam 
stabulis gaudet pecus et arator igni.' Only, the Scottish poet leaves 
the cattle ' asking for their stalls ' or ' ruminating ' under a shed in the 
farmyard. Cp. for the hind's happy oblivion of the storm, Burns's 
description of Tam o' Shanter in the alehouse at Ayr : 
'Ae market-night 

Tam had got planted unco right 

Fast by an ingle, bleezing finely, 

Wi' reaming swats, that drank divinely. . . . 

The night drave on wi' sangs an' clatter, 

And aye the ale was growing better; . . . 

The souter tauld his queerest stories, 

The landlord's laugh was ready chorus : 

NOTES, 66-125. 359 

The storm without might rair and rustle, 
Tam didna mind the storm a whistle.' 11. 37~5 2 - 
90. taleful there. Recounting by the fire such country stories and 
gossip as the Scots poet, Fergusson (1750-1774), suggests in his 
Farmer's Ingle. 

94-105. This description of a river in flood, or, as they say in 
Scotland, ' in spate ' is characteristic of Thomson's style when he is 
handling a congenial subject. : it is bold, graphic, and instantly sugges- 
tive of the whole scene. Cp. Burns's Brigs of Ayr : 
' When heavy, dark, continued, a'-day rains 
Wi' deepening deluges overflow the plains ; 
When from the hills where springs the brawling Coil, 
Or stately Lugar's mossy fountains boil, . . . 
Aroused by blustering winds and spotting thowes, 
In mony a torrent down the snaw-broo rowes ; 
While crashing ice, borne on the roaring spate, 
Sweeps dams, an' mills, an' brigs, a' to the gate, 
And, from Glen buck down to the Ratton-key, 
Auld Ayr is just one lengthened tumbling sea,' &c. 

11. 88-1 oo (Clarendon Press ed.) 

94-96. Construe ' The roused-up river, swelled with many a torrent 
and with the mixed ruin of its overspread banks, at last pours along 
widely over its brim.' 7"he mixed ruin of its banks : such as mills and 
bridges and embankments (see Burns, as quoted above), &c. The river 
here described is doubtless the Tweed, or one of its tributaries. 
98. rude. ' Chapt' in the early editions. 

109, no. Perhaps no poet had a keener or more appreciative sense 
of the sublime in Nature than Thomson. His genius, says John 
Wilson, ' loves to paint on a great scale, and to dash objects off 
sweepingly by bold strokes.' He sets Nature rather 'before your 
imagination ' than before your eyes. He ' paints woods not trees ; 
paints in a few wondrous lines rivers from source to sea.' 
113. powerful beings. ' Subtile ' in the earlier text. 
115. For this line the earlier text gives 

'Against the day of tempest perilous/ 

118, 119. Added after 1738. The next line opened the passage, and 

' Late in the louring sky red fiery streaks.' 

125. a wan circle round her blunted horns. In the earlier text 
* her sullied orb.' The ring, or halo, is often a prognostic of stormy 
weather. In Longfellow's Wreck of the Hesperus 


1 Up and spake an old sailor 

Had sailed the Spanish main, 
" I pray thee put into yonder port 
For I fear a hurricane; 

Last night the moon had a golden ring, 

To-night no moon we see."' 

126-145. The whole of this passage, except 1. 127 and 1. 130 (where, 
however, ' fluttering straw' was used for 'withered leaf '), was introduced 
after the edition of 1738. Much of it seems to be a recollection or a 
copy of the First Georgic of Virgil : cp. for example, with Thomson's 

(#) ' Saepe etiam Stellas vento impendente videbis 
Praecipites caelo labi, noctisque per umbram 
Flammarum longos a tergo albescere tractus: 
Saepe levem paleam et frondes volitare caducas, 
Aut summa nantes in aqua colludere plumas.' 11. 365-369. 
() ' Aut bucula caelum 

Suspiciens patulis captavit naribus auras.' 11. 375, 376. 
(f) ' Cum medio celeres revolant ex aequore mergi (cormorants) 

Clamoremque ferunt ad litora.' 11. 361, 362. 
(X) 'Notasque paludes 

Deserit atque altam supra volat ardea (heron) nubem.' 

11- 363, 364- 
(e) ' E pastu decedens agmine magno 

Corvorum increpuit densis exercitus alis.' 11. 381, 382. 
(/) 'Ne nocturna quidem carpentes pensa puellae 

Nescivere hiemem,' &c. 11. 390, 391. 

J 34> T 35- Even. Demonstr. of 'taper.' The housewife is spinning 
from a distaff. The flaws, or little gusts of air, that precede a wind- 
storm, making straws and leaves ' play ' in ' eddies,' enter the spinster's 
cottage, and make her candle gutter, or run, and the flame on her 
hearth emit the crackling sound referred to. 

140. blackening train. Burns has the same phrase in The Cotter's 
Saturday Night : 

' And blackening trains o' craws to their repose.' 

142. closing shelter. Enclosed, snug. 

143. Assiduous in his bower the wailing owl. ' Assiduous,' literally 
* sitting at ' ; hence ' ceaseless ' as in 1. 184, infra. Cp. Gray 

' From yonder ivy-mantled tower 
The moping owl does to the moon complain.' Elegy. 

NOTES, 126-194. 361 

144. cormorant, Fr. cormoran ; Lat. corvus marinus, the sea-crow, 
the t being excrescent. The Breton word for ' sea-crow ' is morvran, 
from mory sea, and bran, crow. (Prof. Skeat.) In Lat., mergus is the 

153-155. In the original text 

* Then issues forth the storm with mad control, 
And the thin fabric of the pillared air 
O'erturns at once.' 

157. A daring hyberbole. 

158. Adopted at the suggestion of Pope, as a substitute for 

' Through the loud night that bids the waves arise.' 
160-163. Originally that is, in all editions till after that of 1738 
' Seems, as it sparkles, all around to burn. 
Meantime, whole oceans, heaving to the clouds, 
And in broad billows rolling gathered seas, 
Surge over surge, burst in a general roar,' &c. 
1 66. inflated. In the early text hilly' ; while at 1. 169 < full-blown ' 
stood for ' wintry.' 

175. Instead of this opening the earlier text gives 
' Nor raging here alone unreined at sea, 
To land the tempest bears ; and o'er the cliff 
Where screams the seamew, foaming unconfined, 
Fierce swallows up the long-resounding shore. 
The mountain growls ; and all its sturdy sons,' &c. 
178. The introduction of the lone wayfarer gives a distinctly human 
interest to the description. 

182. honours. Foliage. 'December . . . silvis honorem excutit.' 
Hor. Ep. XI, 5-6. 

191-194. A feeling for the supernatural, probably of Scottish growth, 
was an essential feature of Thomson's genius. See Autumn, Note, 
11.1030-1036; Summer, 11. 538-564; and elsewhere. Burns refers to the 
abundance of tales and songs in rural Scotland ' concerning devils, 
ghosts, fairies, brownies, witches, warlocks, spunkies, kelpies, elf- 
candles, dead-lights, wraiths, apparitions, cantrips . . . and other 
trumpery ; ' and owned their effect upon his imagination to have been 
so strong that, to the end of his life, in his nocturnal rambles, he found 
himself ' keeping a sharp look-out in suspicious places.' (Letter to Dr. 
Moore, Aug. 2, 1787.) What was true of Burns and his day, was 
certainly not less true of Thomson and his. The expression of the 
feeling here heightens the horror of the scene a plain with its 
awakened hamlets and country houses in the wild possession of the 
midnight wind. 


198. Cp. Milton 

' How oft amidst 

Thick clouds and dark doth Heaven's all-ruling sire 
Choose to reside, his glory unobscured, 
And with the majesty of darkness round 
Covers his throne, from whence deep thunders roar, 
Mustering their rage, and Heaven resembles Hell ! ' 

Par, Lost, Bk. II. 11. 263-268. 

199. ' Who walketh upon the wings of the wind.' Psalm civ. 3. 

200. commands a calm. See Mark, iv. 39. 

204. while the drowsy world lies lost in sleep. Thomson's favourite 
time for reflection and the composition of poetry was at midnight. 

208. meddling senses. Distracting the contemplative soul. 

217-222. The cheerfully serious piety of Thomson, his strong sense 
of the filial relation of man to the Great Father of us all, are well ex- 
hibited in his Prayer. The Scottish Church lost a great man in Thomson. 
Probably the gain was all the greater to English literature. 

218. With Socrates, Thomson believed that a perfect knowledge of 
virtue meant the practice of virtue. 

220, 221. See Matthew, iv. 4 : ' Man shall not live by bread alone,' &c. 

221. conscious peace. Peace of conscience : an enlightened or rational 
consciousness of peace of mind. 

228. And the sky saddens with the gathered storm. Cp. Summer, 
1. 979 

'And Mecca saddens at the long delay.' 

232. Originally ' Sudden the fields,' which artistically suggests the 
transformation to a white world. Unfortunately Thomson preferred in 
the later editions to be instructive, and substituted ' cherished,' i. e. 
' protected ' by the snow. 

235. Low the woods, &c. Cp. Horace's 'Silvae laborantes.' Car. 
L 9 . 

239. one wild . . . waste. A favourite form of phrase with Thomson. 
Thus 1. 270, infra, 'one wide waft'; Britannia, 1. 230, 'one wide 
flash ' ; and elsewhere. 

240-245. Cp. Pope 

'Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain? 
The birds of heaven shall vindicate their grain. 
Thine the full harvest of the golden year ? 
Part pays, and justly, the deserving steer.' 

Essay on Man, III, 11. 37-40 (published 1732-4). 

240. the labourer-ox. Milton has 'the laboured ox,' coming with 
loose traces from the furrow (Comus, 1. 291). See Spring, Note, 1. 35. 

NOTES, 198-260. 363 

241, 242. demands The fruit of all his toil. Has a rightful claim, in 
the period of his enforced idleness, on part of the produce of his own 
Spring and Autumn toil. 

244. The 'winno^ving store. The barn. After the sheaves were 
threshed by the flail an ordinary winter task in the old farm-towns, and 
performed in the barn next came the slow process of winnowing, which 
was done by throwing up the grain by means of shovels or sieves, while 
a current of air passing over the threshing-floor, between two opposite 
doors, blew away the chaff. While these operations of threshing and 
winnowing went on in winter time in the barn, the doorways were 
besieged by fowls, pigeons, wild birds, &c., which picked up and fought 
for the stray corn. Winnowing by shovel was displaced by winnowing 
with fanners, the invention in 1737 of a farmer called Andrew Rodger, 
who, curiously enough, belonged to Thomson's native county of Rox- 
burgh. Even the fanners are now regarded as old-world implements. 
(It is right to notice that Knight, in his Pict. Hist, of England, gives 
the credit of the invention to the Dutch, and refers the introduction of 
it into England to the year 1710.) 

claim the little boon. Cp. Burns 

' I doubtna, whyles, but thou may thieve ? 
What then, poor beastie ? thou maun live ; 
A daimen icker in a thrave * 
'S a sma' request. 
I'll get a blessing wi j the lave 

And never miss 't.' To a Field-Mouse. 

245-256. The picture of the redbreast helping himself to the table 
crumbs is a charming vignette which, for clearness and accuracy of 
drawing, Thomson has nowhere surpassed. The simplicity of the 
language admirably befits the subject. Note * askance ' and ' slender.' 

246. sacred to the household gods. Dear to domestic tradition; a 
favourite or pet of the household. See the nursery ballad The Babes in 
the Wood ; also Webster's Vittoria Corombona (The White Devil) 
' Call for the robin-redbreast and the wren, 
Since o'er shady groves they hover, 
And with leaves and flowers do cover 
The friendless bodies of unburied men/ 
257-260. The hare .... the garden seeks. So Burns 
' And hunger'd maukin 's ta'en her way 

To kailyards green, 
While faithless snaws ilk step betray 

Where she has been.' The Vision, I, 11. 3-6. 
1 A few stray ears from every other shock. 


261-263. The bleating kind Eye the bleak heaven, &c. Cp. Scott--* 
' In meek despondency they eye 
The withered sward and wintry sky.' 

Marmwn, Canto I. Introduction. 

266. Baffle the raging year. To ' baffle ' is to ' foil,' with, in the 
original, a sense of disgrace. ' Baugh,' a word still in use among the 
Scottish peasantry, is cognate, and signifies ' dull,' ' deficient in smooth- 
ness or briskness ' ; ice is said to become * baugh ' when the frost gives 
way, the edge or sharpness is taken off. 

267. food at will. So that they may have it when they wish. 

267, 268. lodge them below the storm, And watch them strict. Place 
them where they will not be exposed to the winter wind, in the valley, or 
on the lee-side of the hill ; and take care that in the sheltered place they 
do not suffer from the danger peculiar to such a shelter the danger of 
being snowed up, or smothered with drifted snow. 

271. In one wide waft. A vast blanket of snow, thrown upon them, 
and burying them under its thick and weighty folds. 

273. -whelms. Take in composition with ' o'er ' in 1. 269 ; and con- 
strue ' And the billowy tempest o'erwhelms the hapless flocks,' &c. 
But probably Thomson uses the word as equivalent to the Scottish term 
' whummles/ meaning ' tumbles up ' or ' overturns ' : in this case the 
construction is ' And the whirlwind's wing whelms (i. e. overturns) the 
billowy tempest over the hapless flocks,' &c. (See Prof. Skeat's interest- 
ing note on ' Whelm ' in his Eng. Etym. Diet.) 

277. The full fury of the winter wind sweeps up the surface-snow in 
blinding drift. 

278. his own loose-revolving fields. Fields familiar to him, that now 
seem to be moving as the whirlwind catches up the loose surface-snow 
and blows it in drift around him. 

279. Disastered. ' Ill-starred,' ' unfortunate,' ' overtaken with calamity.' 
Cp. with 'disaster,' 'consider,' 'influence,' &c, words of astrological 

other hills than those which the same landscape in summer 
presents to his view ; snow-clad hills, and heaps of driven snow. 

280. joyless as being ' unknown,' ' strange ' to him : he is be- 

285. flouncing. An imitative word ; allied to ' flounder.' 

286. thoughts of Jiome. The anxiety of his wife and children, 
concerned about his long delay : their destitution, if he should perish, 

291. tufted cottage. The reference is probably to the turf chimney- 
top, or ridge, of his thatched cottage, just peering above the snow. 

NOTE, 261-358. 365 

292. middle waste. A Latinism, meaning the middle of the waste. 

299. beyond the poiver of frost. Into which, therefore, a fall would 
mean death by drowning. 

302. the still unfrozen spring. 'Still' here signifies 'always': cp. 
Shakespeare's ' still- vext Bermoothes,' in The Tempest. For ' spring,' 
the earlier text (as late as 1 738) gives ' eye ' : the common country name 
for such a spring in a marsh is still ' well-ee,' so named from its round 
shape and its brightness. 

307. bitterness^ of death. That is, as a personal suffering ; the phrase 
is scriptural ' surely (said Agag) the bitterness of death is past ' (i Sam. 
xv. 32). 

308. tender angtiish. The absence of his wife, and children, and 
'friends' (Scots for 'relatives'), as explained in 1. 310. (Contrast 
11. 34 6 -348, infra.} 

311-315. This contrasting scene in the tragedy of the shepherd 
perishing in the snowstorm is all the more effective that it is suddenly 
introduced. There is pathos of a peculiarly tender kind in the picture 
of the little children calling from the doorway into the darkness for their 

311. officious. In its literal sense of 'dutiful.' Thomson has it 
again in Lines to the Memory of Lord Talbot ' the officious muse,' 
1. 296. 

311, 312. Cp. Gray's Elegy (published 1751") 
' No more the blazing hearth shall burn, 

Or busy housewife ply her evening care; 
No children run to lisp their sire's return, 

Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.' 11. 21-24. 
(Cp. also Goldsmith's description of the Swiss peasant's home, in The 

313. little children, peeping out. Cp. a similar ' situation ' in Long- 
fellow's Twilight : 

' In the fisherman's cottage 

There shines a ruddier light, 
And a little face at the window 

Peers out into the night,' &c. By the Seaside. 
321. Stretched out '. Pope's alteration for ' unstretched.' 

bleaching. Becoming covered with the falling and drifting 

322-358. The transition here is natural, and the reflections are credit- 
able to the heart of Thomson. It is ignorance of the sufferings of 
their fellow-beings, and not heartlessness, that makes so many people 


334, 335- the CU P f S rie f- Matthew xxvi. 42. 

339, 340. the fiercer tortures of the mind, &c. Cp. Gray's Ode on a 
Distant Prospect of Eton College 

'These shall the fury Passions tear, 
The vultures of the mind ; . . . 

Keen Remorse with blood defiled, 
And moody Madness laughing wild.' 
341. Whence, i. e. by reason of which. 

345. honest. Honourable. The * passions ' here alluded to are 
antithetic to those enumerated in 1. 340, supra. 

347. A line followed here in the earlier editions, which Thomson 
dropt after 1738: 

' Like wailing pensive ghosts awaiting theirs.' 

348. point the parting anguish. Render more acute the agony of 

349. 350. the thousand nameless ills, &c. Cp. Shakespeare 

'The thousand natural shocks 
That flesh is heir to.' Hamlet, Act. Ill, Sc. i. 
354> 355- So Cowper, in The Task 

' It seems the part of wisdom, and no sin 
Against the law of love, to measure lots 
With less distinguished than ourselves ; that thus 
We may with patience bear our moderate ills, 
And sympathise with others suffering more.' 

The Winter Evening. 

357> 358- Construe ' And the social passions would work into clear 
perfection, [a process of] gradual bliss, still refining.' See Castle of 
Indolence, II, st. 61. 

359. the generous band. ' The generous few,' in the first editions. 
The reference is to the Jail Committee of 1729, appointed to inquire into 
the condition of the prisons. The state of the Fleet Prison, a receptacle 
for debtors from the I2th century, and of the Marshalsea, was at this 
time, and indeed all through the i8th century, notorious. They were 
proved to have been the scene of great atrocities and brutalities. The 
evils arose from the extortion of the keepers, and from the practice of the 
Warden as the head official of the Fleet was called subletting the 
prison. (See an account of the Fleet Prison in Dickens's The Pickwick 
Papers. By Act 5 and 6 Viet, both the Fleet and the Marshalsea were 
at last abolished.) The work of the Jail Committee may be said to 
have been continued and extended by the philanthropical exertions of 
John Howard (1726 7-1790); and Mrs. Elizabeth Fry (jiee Gurney), 

NOTES, 334-388. 367 

' the female Howard ' (1780-1845). (See Howard's An Account of the 
Lazarettos, &c., published in 1789.) For a description of the state of 
the prisons of England at the time when the Jail Committee of 1729-1 730 
was appointed, Knight's Pop. Hist., vol. vi, may be consulted. 

367. little tyrants. The jailors, who used instruments of torture upon 
their unhappy victims. 

375. After this line, instead of the six lines in the final text, appeared 
in the earlier editions, down to that of 1 738, the following passage : 
' Hail, patriot band ! who, scorning secret scorn, 
When justice and when mercy led the way, 
Dragged the detected monsters into light, 
Wrenched from their hand oppression's iron rod, 
And bade the cruel feel the pains they gave. 
Yet stop not here, let all the land rejoice 
And make the blessing unconfined as great. 
[Much still untouched remains ; ' &c.] 

384. The toils of law. Not the labours but the net, or snare, of law. 
See Autumn, 11. 1291-1294, where Thomson returns to his early attack 
upon the abuse of law by pettifoggers 

'Let these 

Ensnare the wretched in the toils of law,' &c. 

' Toils,' Fr. toiles, snares for wild beasts ; in the singular, toile, cloth ; 
from Lat. tela (for texla) a web ; texo, I weave. 

388. Here followed, so late as the edition of 1738, a series of twenty- 
one lines, which in the later editions Thomson partly dropped, and 
partly, with but slight verbal alterations, elsewhere incorporated with 
the text of Winter. The series commenced 

'Yet more outrageous is the season still, 

A deeper horror, in Siberian wilds.' 

Then followed the three lines which will be found in the description of 
' the wild stupendous scene ' at the pole, 11. 895-897, infra. Next came 
the graphic picture of the bear ' with dangling ice all horrid,' to be found 
at 11. 827-833, infra. And the remaining nine lines of the series ran 
thus : 

' W T hile tempted vigorous o'er the marble waste, 
On sleds reclined, the furry Russian sits ; 
And, by his reindeer drawn, behind him throws 
A shining kingdom in a winter's day. 

Or from the cloudy Alps and Apennine, 
Capt with gray mists and everlasting snows ; 
Where Nature in stupendous ruin lies, 
And from the leaning rock, on either side, 


Gush out those streams that classic song renowns : 
[Cruel as death,' &c.] 

389-413. This account of the ferocity of the wolf is scarcely 
overcharged. The animal is still a common winter horror in various 
parts of Europe. In severe winters it descends in hungry packs 
from the forests of the Apennines, Alps, and Pyrenees, and is greatly 
dreaded by the villagers and country people of the adjacent regions. 
Many terrible stories have been told of the pursuit of travellers by wolves 
in Russia, France, and Spain. It is only when severely pressed by 
hunger that wolves dare to attack man in general they are cowardly 
and sneaking; but their ravages among sheep, and even cattle of full 
growth, and horses, are a serious yearly loss to those countries which 
they infest. They used to be plentiful in the British Isles, and in Saxon 
England January used to be known as the Wolf-month. When they 
disappeared from England is not well known, but they continued to 
plunder field and fold in Scotland down to the time of the Union of the 
Crowns. Cameron of Lochiel is said to have slain the last Scottish wolf 
in 1680. 

405, 406. Even beauty, &c. A fanciful idea, common in one shape 
or another in many mediaeval romances. Thus royalty, chastity, and 
other eminent qualities besides beauty, were believed to be respected by 
the lion. Cp. Shakespeare, I King Henry IV, Act II. sc. iv ; Milton's 
Comus, 11. 441-452; Spenser's Faery Queene, &c. 

407. undistinguished. In no way favoured or respected over others. 

413. Thus adding a new and real horror to churchyard superstitions. 
The subject is viewed from the standpoint of the superstitious 

Mixed with foul shades. 

' Those thick and gloomy shadows damp 
Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres 
Lingering and sitting.' Comus, 11. 470-472. 

414-423. This passage does not appear in the earlier editions. It 
was introduced after the edition of 1738. 

The most easterly of the Cantons of Switzerland bears the French 
name of Grisons, and the German name of Graiibundten both given to 
the district for the same reason, the circumstance of the inhabitants 
wearing a dress of gray homespun. The bund, or states, into which the 
inhabitants of the different valleys of this hilly region formed themselves 
so early as the I4th century, were for mutual defence and protection, 
from the exactions of the numerous resident nobility. The country 
is an assemblage of hills and valleys of very various climate and fertility, 
and lying in the basin of the head-waters of the Danube, the Rhine, and 

NOTES, 389-437. 369 

the Ticino. The famous long and lovely valley of the Engadine is in 
this canton. The people are largely engaged in pastoral and sylvan 
industries the chief exports being cattle, cheese, and timber. The 
country has long been subject to the terror of avalanches the devastating 
descent of large masses of snow from the mountain cliffs and slopes to 
the valleys. Just the year after Thomson's death, an event which 
occurred in 1748, a village of Grisons, Rueras, in the Tarvich valley, 
was enveloped and pushed from its place by an avalanche during the 
night ; so quietly was this done that the inhabitants continued to sleep, 
and only wondered when they awoke why daylight was so long in 
dawning. Unfortunately many of them perished before they were 
dug out. 

424-616. This long passage is a remarkable feature of the poem. It 
deals mainly with the manner and circumstances in which Thomson, if 
he had been free to choose, would have preferred to spend the months 
of winter. Nearly one half of it appeared for the first time subse- 
quently to 1 738. 

431-433. There studious let me sit, &c. Cp. Malloch 
'From thought to thought in vision led, 
He holds high converse with the dead ; 
Sages or Poets. See, they rise ! 
And shadowy skim before his eyes. . . . 
Lo ! Socrates, the seer of heaven 
To whom its moral will was given. 
Fathers and friends of humankind, 
They formed the nation, or refined, 
With all that mends the head and heart 
Enlightening truth, adorning art.' A Fragment. 

It is impossible to say whether Malloch is the debtor or the creditor : the 
pieces are undoubtedly related. There was a brisk commerce of literary 
ideas, and a constant interchange of literary work between Thomson 
and Malloch from 1725 to 1727, and probably both before and after those 

Cp. Southey, in his library : 

'My days among the dead are past; 

Around me I behold, 
Where'er these casual eyes are cast, 

The mighty minds of old.' 

437. The long-lived volume. The reference is probably to Plutarch's 
famous Parallel Lives, of forty-six Greeks and Romans arranged in pairs 
for the purpose of comparison, each pair the one a Greek, the other 
a Roman constituting a biblion. The work has been exceedingly 



popular in ancient, mediaeval, and modern times. Of the thirteen 
Greeks in Thomson's list, from Socrates to Philopoemen, Plutarch 
includes ten, viz. Solon, Lycurgus, Aristides, Cimon, Timoleon, 
Pelopidas, Phocion, Agis, Aratus, and Philopoemen ; and of the 
eleven Romans in Thomson's list, from Numa to Marcus Brutus, 
Plutarch includes five, viz. Numa, Camillus, Tullius Cicero, Cato the 
Younger, and Marcus Brutus. 

438. The sacred shades. The venerated spirits of great men, long 
since dead, hut famous to all future time. 

4^9-528. This long passage of ninety lines is an expansion of the 
original text, which appeared in all the earlier editions down to and 
including that of 1738, and consisted of only some twenty lines. 
Those twenty lines named or referred to only nine of the distinguished 
men of ancient Greece and Rome. The expansion seems to have been 
suggested, and, to the extent of nearly one-half, actually made by Pope. 
The original text ran as follows : 

'First Socrates, 

Whose simple question to the folded heart 
Stole unperceived, and from the maze of thought 
Evolved the secret truth, a god-like man! 
Solon the next, who built his commonweal 
On equity's wide base. Lycurgus then, 
Severely good ; and him of nigged Rome, 
Numa, who softened her rapacious sons ; 
Cimon, sweet-souled ; and Aristides, just ; 
With that attempered hero, mild and firm, 
Who wept the brother, while the tyrant bled ; 
Unconquered Cato, virtuous in extreme; 
Scipio, the human warrior, gently brave, 
Who soon the race of spotless glory ran, 
And, warm in youth, to the poetic shade 
With friendship and philosophy retired ; 
And, equal to the best, the Theban twain 
Who single raised their country into fame. 
Thousands behind, the boast of Greece and Rome, 
Whom virtue owns, the tribute of a verse 
Demand ; but who can count the stars of heaven ? ' 
43Q. Socrates. A great Athenian philosopher, born B.C. 469. It was 
not till B.C. 406 that he filled any political office. In that year he was 
a member of the Senate of the Five Hundred, and had the great moral 
courage to refuse to put to the vote a question which he regarded as 
unconstitutional : he refused also to obey the order of the Thirty 

NOTES, 438-450. 371 

Tyrants for the apprehension of Leon of Salamis. He incurred the 
hatred of the Tyrants, who passed a law, levelled specially at him, 
forbidding the teaching of oratory ; and he incurred the enmity of the 
democracy by his friendship for the haughty Alcibiades and the cynical 
Critias. He was accused of introducing the worship of new divinities and 
of corrupting young people by his novel doctrines, religious and political. 
During his trial he behaved with a manly independence and superiority 
of manner which irritated his judges ; refused to say or do anything 
that would conciliate them ; and accepted his sentence of death with 
equanimity, and even cheerfulness. Thirty days after sentence he drank 
the cup of hemlock juice, and died with composure, being then in his 
7oth year. His teaching was carried on wherever he could find a 
listener in the street, the workshop, or the field. His method was 
peculiar : it was not the conveyance of ready-made knowledge by direct 
instruction, but the development, by a series of questions, of the know- 
ledge that was already in the mind of his disciple. His objects in 
undertaking at his own hand the post of public teacher of the youth 
and manhood of Athens were to awaken the sense of moral responsi- 
bility, and to guide the impulse after self-knowledge. He directed his 
own conduct by a divine voice, which, even from his childhood, he had 
been always hearing : it put a restraint upon words he was about to 
speak, upon actions he was about to perform. This warning voice is 
commonly spoken of as the Daimon or guiding spirit of Socrates. 
Thomson regards it as simply an enlightened and sensitive conscience. 
With Socrates knowledge was virtue. (See Note, 11. 209-216, supra 1 .} 

446. Solon. A famous lawgiver of Athens, one of the Seven Sages, 
born about 638 B.C. When he was 44 years of age he was chosen 
archon, and in virtue of his office was invested with supreme power to 
institute all necessary measures for the safety and prosperity of the 
State. He remodelled the constitution, basing his laws, as Thomson 
says, 'on equity's wide base.' He secured by the promise of the 
citizens a trial of at least ten years for his laws. He is said to have 
spoken of his laws, as c by no means the best that could have been 
framed, but as the best the Athenians would have received.' Among 
his laws and institutions may be noted a graduated income-tax, a 
deliberative assembly of representative members, the liability of people 
to support their aged parents if in their youth they had been taught 
some trade or profession by the parents, &c. 

450. the laurelled field of finer arts. The sphere of poetry, painting, 
sculpture, &c. in which the ancient Greeks excelled. The laurel, sacred 
to the Muses, was bestowed on those who excelled in the arts. 
1 See Thomson's Liberty, Part II. 11. 222-235. 
B b 2 


452. smiling Greece. Their approving and delighted countrymen. 

453- Lycurgiis. From Athens Thomson now turns for a while to 
Sparta. Lycurgus, who flourished about the middle of the eighth century 
B.C., was the originator of the famous Spartan laws, the result of which 
was to make Sparta a nation of soldiers. The city was a camp, every 
man a soldier. The interest of the State was supreme, and the citizen 
existed only for it. The education of the Spartan was undertaken by 
the State: from his childhood each male was inured to a system of 
severe discipline ; there was no home life, the meals were common, 
and life was spent in barracks ; commerce was discouraged by the intro- 
duction of iron money ; agriculture was left to slaves or Helots, and 
despised ; in short the Spartans were warriors, and nothing else. 
These laws laid the foundation of the military supremacy of Sparta. 

456. at Thermopylae he glorious fell. This was Leonidas, king of 
Sparta. He was captain of the three hundred who kept the passage at 
Thermopylae against the host of Persian invaders. In the desperate 
battle in front of the pass he was among the first to fall, B.C. 480. Ther- 
mopylae (the Hot Gates so named from the hot springs in the middle 
of the pass) lay between Mount Oeta and the marshy edge of the Malic 
Gulf, and was the only pass by which an enemy could penetrate into 
southern Greece from the north. The Western Gate was so narrow 
that there was only room for a single chariot between the mountain and 
the marsh. (See Liberty, II. 1. 1 79.) 

459. Aristides. The poet now returns to Athens. Aristides, sur- 
named The Just, had for his rival the 'haughty' Themistocles. He was 
ostracised about the year 482 B.C., but returned from his banishment to 
apprise Themistocles of the position of the Persian fleet. The result 
of his communication was the great naval victory for Greece of the 
battle of Salamis, B.C. 480. After the battle Aristides was recalled, and 
reinstated in popular favour. He continued to do noble service for 
Athens till his death, probably in 468 B.C., but died so poor that the 
property he left was insufficient to bury him. 

4 r >6. Cimon. Son of Miltiades, the hero of Marathon. He was the 
great Athenian ruler in the interval between the death of Aristides and 
the rise of Pericles. It was at the time of the Persian invasion of 
Greece (480 B.C.) that he first distinguished himself. After the victory 
at Platsea he was brought forward by Aristides. He gained many 
subsequent victories over the Persians. Wealthy with Persian spoil he 
expended his riches freely for the gratification of the Athenians and the 
security of Athens. He kept a free table, and threw open to all and 
sundry his beautiful gardens and pleasure grounds. With part of the 
Persian treasure he increased the fortification of the citadel, and laid the 

NOTES, 452-490- 373 

foundation of the long walls from Athens to the Pirceus. He was of a 
frank and affable disposition, and in early life too much inclined to 
habits of conviviality. 

472. in unequal times. Either in times inferior in glory to those just 
referred to, or, more probably, in times unworthy of the great men now 
to be named. 

474. Timoleon, A native of Corinth. His brother Timophanes 
having formed the design of making himself tyrant of their native city, 
Timoleon, in his passion for the liberty of the State, slew him with his 
own hand. He almost immediately thereafter conducted an expedition 
to Sicily to repel the Carthaginians, and restore order in the island. 
This was in 344 B.C. The history of his successes reads like a romance. 
He died at Syracuse in 377 B.C., and was buried in the market-place at 
the public expense. 

476. the Theban pair. Epaminondas, the hero of Leuctra and 
Mantinea two great victories over the Spartans, the last fatal to 
himself (362 B.C.) ; and Pelopidas, his friend, who also aided in 
raising Thebes over Sparta and Athens to the supremacy of Greece. 

481. Phocion the Good. An Athenian general and statesman, born 
about the year 402 B.C. When Demosthenes and others were urging 
opposition to Philip of Macedon, Phocion counselled peace : his opposi- 
tion to the war-party brought about his condemnation, and he drank 
the hemlock, in 317 B.C., at the age of 85. He is to be commended 
for his private qualities ; his public virtue was at least above suspicion. 

488. Agis. The fourth of the name, kings of Sparta. Agis IV 
reigned from 244 to 240 B.C. He attempted a re-establishment of the 
laws of Lycurgus, but was opposed by his colleague Leonidas (the 
Second) and the wealthy citizens, thrown into prison, and afterwards put 
to death. 

490. The two Achcean heroes. Aratus and Philopcemen. They 
were in succession the chiefs of the Achaian League a confederation of 
the states of Achaia, in the north of the Peloponnesus, which had for its 
object the union of Greece. Aratus was more successful as a diplo- 
matist than as a general. In a dissension, however, with Philip of 
Macedon, who was bent on the conquest of Greece, he was put to 
death by poison, 213 B.C. Philopcemen was appointed General of the 
League in 208 B.C. He was a successful general, frequently defeating 
the Spartans ; but in 183 B.C., on an enterprise to punish the Messenians 
for their revolt from the League, he was taken prisoner, and compelled 
to drink poison. He is regarded as ' the last of the Greeks.' In the 
intervals of warfare, it is said, he withdrew to the cultivation of his farm. 

498. Of rougher front. The Romans. 


499. those virtuous times. Of the early kings, and of the early 

502. Romulus was the founder of Rome ; Numa Pompilius, his 
successor, gave the Romans their religion. 

504: Servius, the king. Servius Tullius, sixth king of Rome. He is 
famous less for military achievement than for his foundation of all the 
civil rights and institutions of ancient Rome. 

507. The public father who the private quelled. Thomson's note 
here is ' Marcus Junius Brutus' ; but this is clearly a mistake. Marcus 
is referred to at 1. 524, infra. Lucius is meant. After the rape of 
Lucretia, Lucius Junius Brutus roused the Romans against the Tar- 
quins, and on their expulsion he became first consul of the Republic. 
On his two sons joining in an attempt to restore the Tarquins he 
ordered them to be put to death. 

510. Camillus. Marcus Furius Camillus. After many military ex- 
ploits to the glory of Rome, he was driven into banishment on a charge 
of unfair division of the spoils of Veii ; but when, in 390 B.C., the 
Gauls took Rome and threatened its destruction, the Romans in the 
Capitol made him Dictator in his absence, and sent for him as the 
only possible saviour of the State. He accordingly returned ; and, with 
a hastily gathered army, attacked and completely routed the Gauls. 
The victory won for him the title of the Second Romulus. He was five 
times Dictator, and continued fighting and defeating Volscians, Gauls, 
and other enemies of Rome, till his 8oth year, when he died of the 
plague, 365 B.C. 

511. Fabricius. Like Cincinnatus, a favourite representative of the 
integrity and simplicity of the heroic times of ancient Rome. Pyrrhus, 
king of Epirus, was invading Italy, 280 B.C., and Fabricius was the 
Roman legate appointed to treat with him. Pyrrhus, to win him to his 
side, alternately offered money and intimidation, but in vain ; the 
inflexible Roman was to be conquered neither by gold nor coercion. 
He lived poor, on the produce of his hereditary farm ; and, after doing 
noble service as general and legislator for his country, died poor 
leaving his dowerless daughters to the bounty of the Senate. 

512. Cincinnatus. This is Thomson's favourite Roman hero: he 
has several references to him. (See Spring, 11. 58-65.) In Liberty, 
Part III. 11. 143-147, he is alluded to as 

'ready, a rough swain, to guide the plough; 
Or else, the purple o'er his shoulder thrown 
In long majestic flow, to rule the state 
With wisdom's purest eye; or, clad in steel, 
To drive the steady battle on the foe.' 

NOTES, 498-521. 375 

He was twice called from his farm, which he cultivated with his own 
har.ds, to assume the dictatorship in times of great emergency ; in 458 
B.C., and again, when he was 80, in 439. On the first occasion, he 
saved the Roman army, routed the enemy, and was back again at his 
farm, within sixteen days. 

513. Thy willing victim, Carthage. Regulus. After winning many 
victories over the Carthaginians in Africa, he sustained a terrible defeat 
in a sanguinary battle in which 30,000 of his men were slain, and, being 
taken prisoner, remained a captive in Carthage for five years. He was 
then ordered to accompany an embassy which was sent to Rome with the 
object of securing peace, or at least an exchange of noble prisoners. 
He advised the Senate to enter into no negotiations, but to continue the 
war against Carthage at all hazards. The Senate took his passionately 
urged advice, and he prepared, as he had promised, to return to his 
captivity. His friends and relatives in vain implored him to remain in 
Rome. On his return to Carthage he was put to death with a refinement 
of cruelty hardly credible. Thomson elsewhere repeats the story of his 
heroic fulfilment of his promise: 

' Regulus the wavering Fathers 'firmed 

By dreadful counsel, never given before ; 

For Roman honour sued, and his own doom. 

Hence he sustained to dare a death prepared 

By Punic rage. On earth his manly look 

Relentless fixed, he from a last embrace, 

By chains polluted, put his wife aside, 

His little children climbing for a kiss ; 

Then dumb, through rows of weeping, wondering friends, 

A new illustrious exile pressed along.' 

Liberty, III. 11. 166-175. 

517. Scipio, the gentle chief. Not the great Scipio, but the adopted 
son of his son. He is known as Scipio Africanus Minor. He served 
with distinction in Spain, and on the outbreak of the third Punic war, 
in 149 B.C., he went to Africa, and after the great glory of taking 
Carthage, 146 B.C., reduced Africa to the condition of a Roman 
province. The downfall of Carthage brought tears to his eyes. He 
was well read in Grecian literature, and consorted with such writers as 
Polybius the historian, Terentius the dramatist, Lucilius the poet, &c. 
His friendship for Lselius is celebrated in Cicero's dialogue De 

521. Tully. Marcus Tullius Cicero, the great Roman orator and 
statesman, and an illustrious writer on many subjects literary, political, 
and philosophical. His exposure and suppression of the dangerous 


conspiracy of Catiline gained for him the title of ' Father of his country.' 
Born in 106 B.C., he was consul in 63 B.C., and nearly twenty-one years 
later was killed by the soldiers of Antony. He was then within a few 
weeks of completing his 64th year. 

522. rushing Rome. Rapidly declining Rome. The power of Rome 
was not declining, but great encroachment was being made on consti- 
tutional liberty. 

523. Unconquered Cato, virtuous in extreme. The reference is 
rather to Cato Uticensis than Cato Censor. Cato the younger was 
born 95 B.C. He was conspicuous from early manhood for the stern- 
ness of his character, and the purity of his morals. As a leader of the 
aristocratic party he opposed Julius Caesar and Pompey. Africa 
submitted to Caesar, except only Utica, in which Cato resolved to make 
a stand ; but when he saw that the Romans in Utica were inclined to 
submit he committed suicide rather than fall into the hands of the 
conqueror. (See Addison's Cato 'Caesar shall never say "I con- 
quered Cato." ' Act IV. sc. iv. Also Pope's Temple of Fame 
'Unconquered Cato shews the wound he tore.' 1. 176.) 

524. unhappy Brutus. Marcus Junius Brutus, a noble Roman who 
joined the conspiracy of Cassius, and murdered his friend Julius Caesar 
in the belief that Caesar's death was necessary for the preservation of the 
Republic. He was afterwards defeated by Antony and Octavius at 
Philippi, 42 B.C., and perished on the battle-field by his own hand. 

532. Ph&bus. The sun-god Apollo, who was also the god of 

the Mantuan swain. Virgil, born at Andes near Mantua on the 
Mincius, 70 B.C. He is called a ' swain ' from the nature of his Georgics 
and Eclogues, which are on rural subjects. His great poem, the ^neid, 
is one of the world's three great epics, and gives in language of singular 
lucidity and sweetness a mythical account of the origin of the Roman 
people. He died in the year 19 B.C. 

533. Homer. The great Greek epic poet; author of the Iliad, 
which describes the history of the siege of Troy ; and the Odyssey, 
which narrates the story of the return of Odysseus from the Trojan 

534. Parent of song. In the Temple of Fame, Pope describes Homer 
as the ' Father of verse.' 

535- The British muse. The great English epic poet was, of course, 
John Milton, born 1608, died 1674. He wrote Paradise Lost, Paradise 
Regained, Comus, Lycidas, Samson Agonistes, &c. In the next line 
'darkling' a phrase employed by Milton himself literally, 'in the 
dark,' refers to the blindness which afflicted both Homer and Milton. 

NOTES, 522-546. 


Thomson (1. 534, supra) ranks Milton on an equality with Homer : it 
was Milton's ambition to rank with him ' blind Mseonides' 

* equalled with me in fate, 
So were I equalled with [him] in renown.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. III. 11. 33, 34- 
Dryden goes farther 

' Three poets, in three distant ages born, 
Greece, Italy, and England did adorn : 
The first in loftiness of thought surpassed; 
The next in majesty ; in both the last. 
The force of nature could no farther go, 
To make the third she joined the other two.' 

For a fuller criticism of Milton's genius by Thomson, see Summer, 
11. 1567-1571. See also Cowper's Table Talk, 11. 555-558. 

536. full up the middle steep to fame. 'Right up the hill to the 
very top.' The completeness of the achievement is indicated by ' full'; 
the directness of the ascent proof of strength and energy of genius by 
' middle.' ' The middle steep' is, of course, a Latin idiom : so, 1. 292 
supra, ' the middle waste.' 

537. Nor absent are those shades, &c. See 1. 438, supra. The 
reference here is to the three great Greek tragic poets, ^Eschylus (born 
525 B.C.), Sophocles (born 495 B.C.), and Euripides (born 480 B.C., 
at Salamis and on the day of the battle). 

537-540. In the earlier text the first and principal notice was given 
to the lyrical poets (such as Pindar, Alcgeus, Sappho, Anacreon), and 
the great tragic dramatists were disposed of in a single line 
' Nor absent are those tuneful shades, I ween, 
Taught by the graces, whose enchanting touch 
Shakes every passion from the various string ; 
Nor those, who solemnise the moral scene.' 

538. Pathetic drew the impassioned heart. The expression is capable 
of two meanings; either 'delineated in drama the pathetic tragedy of 
human suffering,' or ' evoked by his dramas the profoundest feelings 
(of pity or terror) of his audience.' In 1. 537 the word ' touch ' applies 
equally to the pencil and the lyre, and in either application is quite in 
accord with ' drew ' of the following line. 

541. First of your kind. First is here used in the sense of ' best.' In 
this sense it is frequently used by Burns. 

546, 547. For these two lines the earlier text gave 

' Save Lycidas, the friend, with sense refined.' 

546. a few chosen friends . Thomson had many friends, and scarcely 
an enemy it would be hard to mention one. He was 'that right 


friendly bard ' to all his brethren. To Lyttelton he was ' one of the 
best and most beloved of my friends.' To Murdoch and Forbes he was 
' honest-hearted Thomson ' tried, amiable, open. The ' few chosen 
friends ' who were in the habit of visiting Thomson when he wrote these 
words at Richmond (where he settled in 1736} included Pope, Ham- 
mond, Collins, Dr. Armstrong, his neighbours the Robertsons, Mallet, 
occasionally Quin, and (as often as he thought he would be welcome) 
Millar the publisher. Thomson never ' chose ' his friends ; they were 
attracted to him, and though he had, in his heart, special favourites, 
he was of too genial and of too indolent a disposition not to make all 

547. my humble roof. A neat garden-cottage in Kew-foot-lane, 
Richmond, looking down upon the Thames and commanding a good 
range of landscape. A cousin of his own kept his garden trim ; he was 
fortunate in his housekeeper, a Mrs. Hobart ; his rooms were adorned 
with a great many paintings and engravings partly collected during 
his tour in Italy ; his bookshelves were filled with foreign and classical 
books, and the works of standard English authors ; and his cellar was 
well-stocked with wines, and Edinburgh ale. 

550. Pope was some twelve years the senior of Thomson : he was a 
frequent visitor at Richmond ; and at Twickenham there was a standing 
rule for the servants that Mr. Pope was always at home to Mr. 
Thomson. By the miises 1 hill (Parnassus) Thomson signifies the 
labours of poetical composition. Thomson's intimacy with Pope, 
however, dates from a time before the residence at Richmond. 

553> 554- A beautiful compliment. His own Homer: the Trans- 
lation of the Iliad, published 1715-1720 ; Translation of the Odyssey, 
published 1723-1725. 

555-571. This passage was added to the text after the death of 
Hammond, in 1742. It is a very generous tribute to his memory, 
prompted and inspired by a friendship that was undoubtedly genuine. 
Hammond has been rather hardly dealt with by the critics : there is 
no real reason to set aside the judgment of Thomson as here expressed 
in his friend's favour. Thomson's anticipations of future greatness for 
young Hammond were probably well founded : in any case, whatever 
opinion one may hold of his love elegies, his character was of a kind to 
win the respect and affection of Thomson. There were two Hammonds 
known in a small way for their literary reputation ; the one Anthony, 
the other, his second son, James. It was James Hammond whom 
Thomson knew. He was born in 1710; and, while still a youth, was 
equerry to George, Prince of Wales, afterwards George III. He has 
been judged entirely by his Love Elegies, which were written, on the 

NOTES, 547-596. 379 


597-603. if doomed In powerless humble forttme, &c. Cp. Gray, 
who had surely been reading these lines 

' Chill penury repressed their noble rage 
And froze the genial current of the soul.' 

This is just Thomson's image, and it even recalls his words ' repress 
the ardent risings of the kindling soul.' Cp. further 
'Along the cool sequestered vale of life 
They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.' Elegy. 
605. those scenes. Of immortal life and the future state beyond death 
and the grave. 

606-608. A favourite idea, and an essential part of Thomson's 
religious hope. See Spring, 11. 374-377, and Note ; Liberty, III. 
11. 68-70. 

610. play the shapes. 'Play off,' or 'give play to.' This too was 
part of the pastime of Cowper's Winter Evening 

' Me oft has fancy ludicrous and wild 

Soothed,' &c. 11. 285, 286. 
And again 

' Discourse ensues .... 

Not such as with a frown forbids the play 

Of fancy,' &c. 11. 174-176. 

611. frolic fancy. Here ' frolic ' is properly put to its original use as 
an adjective. So Milton 

' Ripe and frolic of his full-grown age.' Comus, 1. 59. 
611-616. A happy discriminating description of wit and humour, as 
these are commonly understood. A less happy description appeared in 
the earlier editions, down to that of 1738 : 

'And incessant form 

Unnumbered pictures, fleeting o'er the brain, 
Yet rapid still renewed, and poured immense 
Into the mind unbounded without space : 
The great, the new, the beautiful ; or mixed 
Burlesque and odd, the risible and gay ; 
Whence vivid wit, and humour, droll of face, 
Call laughter forth, deep- shaking every nerve.' 
See Cowper's Table Talk, 11. 657, 658. 

617-629. The scene shifts from the studious retirement of the scholar 
to the winter evening amusements of common country-folks. The scene 
is Scottish. 

617. the village rouses up the Jire. The villagers make preparation 
for a long and comfortable winter ' fore-night.' 

NOTES, 597-646. 381 

618. ivell attested and as well believed. The language is humorously 

619, 620. Cp. Ferg'usson 

' In rangles round, before the ingle's lowe, 

Fra guid-dame's mouth auld warld tales they hear, 
Of warlocks loupin' round the wirrikow ; 

Of ghaists that win in glen and kirk-yard drear; 
Whilk touzles a' their tap, and gars them shake wi' fear.' 

Farmer s Ingle, st. vii (published 1773). 

621. the soitnding hall. The roomy farmhouse kitchen. The ' hall* 
is the public room. 

624. ' The loud laugh that speaks the vacant mind.' Goldsmith's 
Deserted Village. 

625-629. Cp. Autumn, 

' Romp-loving miss 

Is hauled about in gallantry robust.' 11. 528, 529. 
' The laugh, the slap, the jocund curse go round.' 1. 547. 
627. shook. Racy of rustic dancing. Burns has 

' I'll laugh, an' sing, an' shake my leg.' 

Epist. to Lapraik. 

630-655. Winter evening in the city the streets, the gaming-table, 
the ball-room, the theatre, &c. 

630. swarms intense. Is full of busy eager crowds. 

public haunt. Such as coffee-room, club-room, &c. 
633. Down the loose stream of . , . . joy. In pursuit of fashionable 
immoral pleasures. 

635. The gaming fztry. A passion for gambling, or engaging in 
games of hazard, for high stakes ; a fashionable vice of last century. 
(See Life of Fox the great statesman.) 

640. effuses. In its etymological sense ' pours forth,' ' displays.' 

641, 642. beamed from, &c. Expanded from the original text 

' Rained from radiant eyes.' 
Cp. Summer, 11. 145, 146. 

645. The fop light-fluttering, &c. Thomson used to call one of his 
friends (Hammond) with good-humoured pleasantry 'a burnished 
butterfly.' Cp. Hamlet's description of the court-flutterer Osric 
' Dost know this water-fly ? ' (Act V. sc. ii.) 

646-655. It is only in Winter that Thomson refers to the theatre as 
a place of amusement. Milton introduces it in both L' Allegro (1. 131) 
and II Penseroso (1. 97) but in the former, it is the Comic, in the 
latter the Tragic, drama that furnishes the entertainment. Thomson 
gives the preference to Tragedy, as better suited for the season ' a sad 


tale 's best for winter/ says Shakespeare ; but he provides Comedy too 
as a winter evening entertainment. 

647. Monimia. The heroine of The Orphan (first produced in 1680), 
a tragedy by Thomas Otway. 

648. Belvidera. The heroine of Otway's great tragedy Venice Pre- 
served (1682). 

653-655. These lines were added subsequently to 1738. ' Bevil ' is 
one of the characters in Sir Richard Steele's The Conscious Lovers 
(produced in 1722, when the author was in his 52nd year: his first play, 
Grief a la Mode, was acted in 1702). A distinction is here implied 
between ' low ' and ' genteel ' comedy. 

When Thomson first came up to London, in March, 1725, he was at 
once irresistibly attracted to the theatre. Apparently it was his first 
experience of the acted drama. He writes accordingly with all the 
freshness of inexperience, and with the delightful abandon of youth, 
on the subject of his first acquaintance with a pleasure forbidden in 
Scotland. The letter is to a young friend, a country doctor in Scot- 
land : 

' The play-house is indeed a very fine entertainment, though not to 
the height I expected. A tragedy, I think, or a fine character in a 
comedy gives greater pleasure read than acted ; but your fools and 
persons of a very whimsical and humorous character are a delicious 
morsel on the stage ; they indeed exercise my risible faculty, and 
particularly your old friend Daniel, in Oroonoko [by Southerne, pro- 
duced in 1696], diverted me infinitely : the grave-digger in Hamlet, 
Beau Clincher and his brother in the Trip to the Jubilee, pleased me 
extremely too. Mr. Booth has a very majestic appearance, a full, 
harmonious voice, and vastly exceeds them all. in acting tragedy. The 
last Act in Cato he does to perfection, and you would think he expired 
with the Oh I that ends it ! Mr. Wilks, I believe, has been a very fine 
actor for the [part of] the fine gentleman and the young hero, but his 

face now is wrinkled, his voice broken Mills and Johnstoun 

are pretty good actors. Dicky Norris, that little comical toothless 
devil, will turn his back and crack a very good jest yet : there are some 
others of them [that are] execrable. Mrs. Oldfield [admired by Pope 
for her rendering of Rowe's Jane Shore] has a smiling jolly face, acts 
very well in comedy. . . . Mrs. Porter excels in tragedy, has a short 
piercing voice, and enters most into her character ; and if she did not 
act well she could not be endured, being more disagreeable in her 
appearance than any of them. Mrs. Booth acts some things very well, 
and particularly Ophelia's madness in Hamlet inimitably; but then 
she dances so deliciously, has such melting lascivious motions, air, and 

NOTES, 647-662. 383 

postures .... indeed, the women are generally the handsomest in the 
house, and better actors than the men but perhaps their sex prejudices 
me in their favour. 

' These are a few of the observations I have made hitherto at Drury 
Lane Theatre, to which I have paid five visits, but I have not been at 
the New House yet : my purse will not keep pace with my inclinations 
in this matter. Oh ! if I had Mass John [said by Lord Buchan to have 
been the Rev. Gabriel Wilson of Maxton, in the presbytery of Selkirk ; 
some thirty years older than Thomson] here, to see some of their 
' top ' fools ; he would shake the scenes with laughter.' Letter to Dr. 
Wm. Cranstoun, Ancrum, April 3, 1725. 

656-690. This complimentary apostrophe to Lord Chesterfield, not 
written till after 1738, is lugged into a place with which it has but a 
slender connection. Such as it is, the connection to be found in the 
three preceding lines was clearly manufactured for the compliment. 
(See Note, 11. 653-655, supra^) ' Whate'er can deck mankind or charm 
the heart ' is delicately, or rather flimsily, hinted as the enviable attribute 
of Lord Chesterfield : Bevil suggests Chesterfield. 

What is said here in praise of Lord Chesterfield must on the whole 
be allowed to be his due. The points touched upon in this eulogy are 
his elegance of manners, his intellectual accomplishments, his oratorical 
abilities, his statesmanlike qualities, and his patronage of literature. 
Philip Dormer Stanhope, fourth Earl of Chesterfield, was born in 1694. 
He was trained for a political career, and filled various important offices 
of State ; was in succession Ambassador to Holland, Lord-Lieutenant of 
Ireland, and Secretary of State. In 1748 he retired from political life. 
His death occurred in 1773. He is now chiefly remembered for the polish 
of his manners, his collision with Dr. Johnson, and his Letters to his Son. 
Johnson's Letter to Chesterfield was written 7th Feb., 1755. The 
Letters to his Son are written in good English and contain good sense. 
Nothing, however, that Chesterfield did could please the great moralist : 
' they teach the manners of a dancing-master,' said Johnson, certainly 
savagely, and rather unjustly. Their morality, it must be allowed, is 
often of a Machiavellian cast. 

In his Love of Fame, Satire II, Young also pays a compliment to the 
learning of Chesterfield : 

' [He] titles knows, and indexes has seen, 
But leaves to Chesterfield what lies between.' 11. 91, 92. 

660. Apollo's . . . fire. Phcebus, the sun-god, and the god of poetry 
and beauty. 

662. the guardian, ornament, &c. ' Et praesidium et dulce decus.' 
Horace, I. I. 


675. Attic point. The keenness of Athenian wit. Athens was in 

691, 692. These lines were added to the later editions (after 1738) to 
make the transition from Chesterfield to the subject proper easier and 
less abrupt. 

693. This line in the earlier editions began ' Clear frost succeeds.' 

694. the ethereal nitre. Frost, so called poetically from its pene- 
trating nature. See Autumn, Note, 11. 4, 5. Cowper, in The Task, 
Bk. Ill, refers to ' the nitrous air of winter feeding a blue flame.' 
11- 3 2 > 33- See also Savage's Wanderer, C. i., 1. 56. 

707. The benefit of frost to the syil is that it disintegrates the clods, 
and kills the germs of insect life destructive to vegetation. Cold is not 
the positive substance which Thomson seems, at least poetically, to 
consider it : it is the result of the absence of heat. ' Vegetable soul ' 
means ' power to produce healthy vegetation.' 

709, 710. There is a greater specific quantity of oxygen in the air in 
rosty weather, and more oxygen is consequently burned : the result is a 

brighter fire. ' The lively cheek of ruddy fire ' probably means that the 
sides of the flame are brighter. In rural Scotland the jambs or sides of 
the fire-place are sometimes called ' the cheeks o' the fire.' To sit at the 
cheek o' the fire is to sit by the hearth. Thomson, however, omits the 
necessary the for this interpretation. 

710. luculent. Lat. luculentus, bright or clear; from lux, light. 
716. the ilhisive fluid. Quicksilver, the only metal that is fluid at 

ordinary winter temperatures. It freezes at 39 below zero. 

718, 7*9- The crystals of which snow is composed are commonly in 
the form of six-pointed stars. But of this form there are, and have been 
figured, hundreds of varieties. 

721. Steamed eager, &c. Sent forth as an invisible vapour of 
freezingly cold air. ' Steamed ' qualifies ' gale ' in 1. 723. 

722. suffused. This participle refers to the 'horizon' (in 1. 721), 
which at evening is of a deep red because of ' the fierce rage of 

724. Breathes a Hue film, &c. Burns's description of the formation 
of ' infant ice ' on a stream is not less delicately true : 

4 The chilly frost, beneath the silver beam, 
Crept gently crusting o'er the glittering stream.' 

The Brigs of Ayr, 11. 39, 40 (Clarendon Press ed.). 
Note the frequency of the letter r both here arid in Thomson's descrip- 
tion of the freezing ' stream ' not the pool. 

725. bickering. The word is Celtic, and means 'skirmishing' in 
ordinary English j primarily, according to Prof. Skeat, it means ' to 

NOTES, 675-778. 


keep pecking.' Applied to a stream it suggests the rapid tremulous 
movement of the current. Cp. Tennyson's Brook 
' [I] sparkle out among the fern 
To bicker down a valley.' 

727. Rustles. Cp. Burns, to whose ear the crisp sound of floating 
ice colliding suggested ' jingling ' ; but Thomson's ear was no less fine 
than Burns's 

'When thowes dissolve the snawy hoord, 
An' float the jinglin' icy boord,' &c. 

Address to the Deil, 11. 61, 62. 

731. The whole imprisoned river growls below. In the original text 
'detruded' took the place of 'imprisoned,' and better explained the 
cause of the ' growling.' As the frost strengthens, the water shrinks, and 
there is a little free space between the ice and the water favourable to 
the production of a hollow sound. 

73 2 > 733- Loud rings . . . . A double noise. Sometimes described 
in Scotland as ' a hammer-clinking frost.' ' A double noise ' is 
not a twofold or duplicate noise, but a noise increased to twice its 
ordinary loudness. See 1. 591, supra ' double suns,' meaning 'greatly 
increased crops.' 

738. full ethereal round. The entire dome of the heavens, clear of 

740. all one cope. One vast undimmed canopy. 

742. the rigid influence. The hardening or stiffening power of frost. 
746-751. Cp. Cowper's Task, Bk. V. 11. 110-121, for a similar effect 
of frost. 

752. Introduced in the earlier editions by a line afterwards dropped : 

'The liquid kingdom all to solid turned.' 

762-778. Instead of this excursion to Holland and Northern Europe 
Thomson in the earlier text, down to 1738, gives a British scene of 
sliders and skaters : 

' [Swains] Fond o'er the river rush, and shuddering view 
The doubtful deeps below. Or where the lake 
And long canal the cerule plain extend, 
The city pours her thousands, swarming all, 
From every quarter : and, with him who slides, 
Or skating sweeps, swift as the winds, along 
In circling poise, or else disordered falls, 
His feet illuded sprawling to the sky, 
While the laugh rages round ; from end to end, 
Encreasing still, resounds the crowded scene.' 

c c 


768. Batavia. Holland, so called from the Batavi, the Roman name 
for the inhabitants of the island of Batavia at the mouth of the Rhine. 

771. The then gay land. The Dutch being commonly a dull nation. 

772. the northern courts. Those of Scandinavia and Russia. 
782. Cp. Cowper 

' His slanting ray 
Slides ineffectual down the snowy vale.' 

The Task, Bk. V. 11. 6, 7. 

789-793. Another of Thomson's many complaints against the practice 
of sport. See 1. 257, and Note. (See Autumn, Note, 1. 401.) 
794-798. These lines originally ran 

'But what is this? these infant tempests, what? 
The mockery of Winter, should our eye 
Astonished shoot into the frigid zone; 
Where more than half the joyless year is night, 
And failing gradual life at last goes out.' 

799. There, i.e. in the frigid zone, Siberia, to which political 
and criminal offenders are banished by the Czar. There used to be 
three grades of punishment close confinement to the hard work of the 
mines, compulsory work of a less laborious kind, and simple exile 
with comparative freedom but under police surveillance. Thomson's 
exile, in 1. 801, apparently belongs to the class of the comparatively 
free exile. The passage from 1. 799 to 1. 903 was added after 1738. 

803. heavy loaded groves. A scarcely suitable description of pine- 
forests standing white with snow. 

and solid floods. Such rivers, frozen over for many months, as Obi, 
Yenisei, Lena, &c. 

805. frozen main. Arctic Ocean. 

806. cheerless towns. Such as Tobolsk, Yakutsk, Petropaulovsk, &c. 

807. the caravan. Company of travelling traders. The goods are 
transported for the most part on sledges. 

808. rich Cathay. China. Commercial intercourse between Russia 
and China, through Siberia, began by treaty in 1689, renewed in 1727. 
Furs, cloth, and precious metals are bartered for tea. The gateway of 
the traffic is Kiachta, a Siberian town on the Chinese frontier. 

812. Fair ermines. 'Ermine' is said to be a corruption of 
'Armenian,' from Armenia, in Asiatic Turkey. 

813. Sables. From the Russian word sobole, the sable. Black sable 
furs were in greatest demand, and hence ' sable ' came to mean ' black.' 

814. freaked. A rare word, coined from 'freckled,' and allied to 
'flecked.' It means mottled, or spotted. Milton has 

The white pink, and the pansy freaked with y&?Lycidas t 144. 

NOTES, 768-839. 


8 1 8. the branching elk. The mature elk, or moose-deer, has antlers 
of a very broad blade, with from nine to as many as fourteen snags (or 
branches) on each horn. The weight of such antlers is great, and has 
been known to amount to 60 Ibs. The neck of the elk is short and 
thick of necessity, to bear such a weight ; and the creature goes on its 
knees to graze. It is about six feet high at the shoulder. Its timidity 
and inoffensiveness are remarkable, for it is strong as well as large. 

821. sounding bows. Reference is made to the twanging bowstring, 
when the arrow is shot off. 

826. The passage of ten lines ending here is almost a paraphrase of 
Virgil's Third Georgic, 11. 369-375. 

827-833. A characteristic bit of description in Thomson's best 

833. Hardens his heart, &c. The reference is to the bear's habit of 
hibernation sleeping through the winter without' food. 

835. Bootes (Gr. pouTrjs, the ox-driver). The constellation before the 
Great Bear, also called the Waggon, and the Plough, was named 
Bootes which was fancied to represent and occupy the place of the 
driver of the Waggon. Arctos, as the whole group of stars known 
as the Great Bear, the Little Bear, and Bootes (Arcturus) is called, 
moves in a small circle round the pole, and therefore seems to move 
slowly hence '"tardy* in the text. 

836. Cattrus. The north-west wind, which, being a stormy wind in 
Italy, is here used to designate a stormy wind. 

836-838. A boisterous race . . . Prolific swarm. Cp. Milton 
' A multitude like which the populous north 
Poured never from her frozen loins to pass 
Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons 
Came like a deluge on the south, and spread 
Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. 1, 11. 35!-355- 

Thomson pursues the subject in Liberty, Part III. 11. 512-543. There 
he describes the home-land of the Goths and Scythians, their training and 
early hardships, their incursions in the fifth and sixth centuries against 
the declining and falling empire of Rome, their destruction of ancient 
civilisation, and the long ' night of time that parted worlds ' the Dark 
Ages. He continues the subject in Part IV, and shows how at last a 
revival of learning and arts dawned on the Dark Ages. The idea of a 
populous north was common from the sixteenth to the eighteenth 
century. In Liberty, III. 1. 529, Thomson repeats the idea of the text 

' And there a race of men prolific swarms.* 
839. lost mankind. Lost manhood. 
C C 2 


840. ' The wandering Scythian clans.' Note by Thomson. 

841. enfeebled south. Italy, Spain, &c., enervated by luxurious 

842. Established the feudal system. 

843-886. The Lapps hardly deserve the praise here lavished upon 

857. marbled snow. ' Glittering snow.' Milton speaks of the 
' marble air.' 

860. Referring to the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis. 

862. radiant waste. Either the starry expanse of sky ; or, more 
probably, the snow-covered stretch of country, which by reflecting the 
light of the stars, may be said to double their lustre. 

867. dim Aurora. This is not the Aurora Borealis, but the glimmer 
of the solar dawn. 

870. seen at last for . . . months. Owing to the inclination of the 
earth's axis, the extreme north polar regions are turned away from the 
sun during the months of winter, and are therefore then in ' the depth 
of polar night ' (1. 863) ; while during the summer they are constantly 
turned towards the sun, and have then continual day. Those regions 
are ' the land of the midnight sun.' 

875, 876. On these two lines, necessarily written after the publication 
(in 1738) of a certain book to be referred to shortly, Thomson has 
a couple of interesting notes : (a) ' M. de Maupertuis, in his book on 
The Figure of the Earth, after having described the beautiful lake and 
mountain of Nie'mi, in Lapland, says: "From this height we had 
occasion several times to see those vapours rise from the lake which the 
people of the country call Haltios, and which they deem to be the 
guardian spirits of the mountains. We had been frightened with stories 
of bears that haunted this place, but saw none. It seemed rather a 
place of resort for fairies and genii than bears." ' 

(fr) ' The same author observes : " I was surprised to see upon the 
banks of this river (the Tenglio) roses of as lively a red as any that are 
in our gardens." ' 

Pierre-Louis-Mareau de Maupertuis was born in 1698 at St. Malo. 
He abandoned the army, in which he held the rank of a captain of 
dragoons, for the purpose of devoting himself to the study of mathematics 
and astronomy. In 1723 he was admitted a member of the Royal 
Academy at Paris, and four years later became a Fellow of the Royal 
Society of London. He was commissioned by the Academy to proceed 
to the valley of Tornea to measure an arc of the meridian in Lapland. 
At the same time Commissioners were sent for a like purpose to Peru 
in the Southern hemisphere. In December, 1736, Maupertuis and his 

NOTES, 840-925. 389 

party, which included the Swedish astronomer Celsius, began their survey 
by measuring a base of 7407 toises [a toise, 6 pieds, being nearly 6-4 
English feet] upon the frozen surface of Tornea. An account of this 
geodesical survey was published by Maupertuis in 1738 La Figure de 
la Terre, 8vo, Paris. 

The Lapland village of Tornea is situated at the mouth of the river 
Tornea 1 , at the head of the Gulf of Bothnia: the river in its lower 
course is the boundary between Sweden and Russia. At Tornea the 
midnight sun may be seen for almost a week at the time of the summer 

Maupertuis, it may be added, defended the Newtonian theory of the 
earth's figure that it is an oblate spheroid against the theory of 
Descartes. He was vain even for a Frenchman, and had himself 
represented in the attitude of compressing the poles of the earth. 

887. Torneds lake. In the far north of Sweden, not far from the 
Norwegian frontier, and within the Arctic circle. The river issues 
from it. 

888. Heda flaming. The well-known volcano of Iceland. 

891. The muse . . . her solitary flight. The poet's imagination 
among unpeopled snow-covered tracts of country and frozen seas. 

893. new seas beneath another sky. Thomson's note here is ' The 
other hemisphere.' He means the north polar regions of the Western or 
New World hemisphere. 

900, 901. These lines answer the question of 11. 113-115, supra. 

902. the Tartar s coast. Siberia ; Northern Asia. 

912. In the earlier text down to the edition of 1738, this line read 

' Shake the firm pole, and make an ocean boil ' ; 
and was followed by the following six lines, dropped in the later 
editions : 

' Whence heaped abrupt along the howling shore, 
And into various shapes (as fancy leans) 
Worked by the wave, the crystal pillars heave, 
Swells the blue portico, the Gothic dome 
Shoots fretted up, and birds and beasts and men 
Rise into mimic life, and sink by turns. 
The restless deep [itself canjnot [resist],' &c. 
918. wavy rocks. Waves frozen into rocks. 

920-925. Miserable they, Who . . . Take their last look, &c. Cp. 

1 Campbell's reference to Tornea is due to Thomson: 

1 Cold as the rocks on Torneo's hoary brow.' 

Pleasures of Hope, ii, 1. 8. 


1 Clarinda, mistress of my soul, 

The measured time is run! 
The wretch beneath the dreary pole 

So marks his latest sun.' To Clarinda. 

925. the Briiorfsfate. The reference is to the expedition of Sir Hugh 
Willoughby, an Englishman, sent forth at the instance of commercial 
London in the year 1553, the last year of the reign of Edward VI, 
to find, if possible, a new sea route of trade to India and Eastern Asia. 
The route of traffic to India by the Cape, discovered by Vasco da Gama 
in 1498, was in the possession of Spain, and there was a great desire on 
the part of England to find and appropriate an independent route. 
Willoughby departed on his mission with three ships, and tried the 
North-East passage, round by the North Cape and the Northern shores 
of Russia and Siberia. Shortly after rounding the North Cape one 
of his ships was separated from the other two by a violent tempest, and 
entering the White Sea, arrived at Archangel. The commander of this 
vessel was Richard Chancellor ; the other two, under the leader of the 
expedition, sailed as far as Nova Zembla, whence they were driven back 
to the shores of Russian Lapland ; and there the crews perished of cold. 
Their frozen bodies were subsequently found, much as Thomson has 
described them, in the mouth of the Arzina, east of the North Cape. 
Some other attempts to force the North-East passage were made ; 
but at last it was abandoned. The glory of discovering the passage was 
left to our own day : quite recently a Danish navigator, Nordenskjold, 
still living (1891), sailed completely round the Old World. The route, 
however, like the more famous North-West passage, is of interest only to 
geographers, of none to traders. 

937. the last of men. The Samoyedes, inhabiting between Obi and 

940. wears its rudest form. In the earlier text 'just begins to 
dawn.' The Samoyedes are a wretched race of men, untouched even by 
Russian civilisation. 

944, 945. Cp. Goldsmith, of the Swiss 

1 Unknown to them, when sensual pleasures cloy, 
To fill the languid pause with finer joy ; 
Unknown those powers that raise the soul to flame, 
Catch every nerve, and vibrate through the frame ; . . . 
And love's and friendship's finely-pointed dart 
Fall blunted from each indurated heart.' The Traveller. 
947, 948. In the earlier text (from 1726 to 1738) these lines ran 
' Till long-expected morning looks at length 
Faint on their fields (where Winter reigns alone),' &c. 

NOTES, 925-973. 391 

950-987. This passage was added subsequently to 1738. It consists 
of a laudatory sketch destitute of shading of the life and character, and 
political work of Peter the Great of Russia. His death, in 1725, was 
a subject of general talk in England when Thomson was writing his 
Winter, but he deferred all reference to him in the earlier editions. The 
introduction here of his reforms in Russia is to the discredit of the 
Samoyedes, who are a 'gross race,' apparently incapable of 'active 
government.' The connection in the poem between the passage on the 
Samoyedes, and that on the Russians as civilised by the Czar Peter, is 
the contrast which the present state of the one people presents to that of 
the other. 

952. A people savage. The Russians consist of several nationalities, 
but the prevailing element is Slavonian. 

954. from Gothic darkness. Peter was, of course, a Slavonian ; 
' Gothic ' is not used here in an ethnological sense, but as synonymous 
with * barbaric.' 

956-959. His stubborn country tamed. He introduced improved methods 
of engineering, drainage, agriculture ; opened the Caspian Sea to Russian 
commerce, established a navy on the Black and Baltic seas, and disciplined 
his armies according to the military system of Western Europe by 
persistent warfare with the Swedes. He organised schools ; invited 
teachers of the arts from Austria, Italy, and Holland to Russia ; 
commanded the young nobility of Russia to acquaint themselves by 
travel with the civilisation of Western and Southern Europe ; controlled 
and developed the press ; and caused translations of the most important 
works of foreign authors to be made and published. When, in 1698, he 
left England, whither he had been invited by William III, and where he 
took practical lessons (at Deptford) in the art of ship-building, &c., he 
carried with him to Russia, it is said, five hundred English artificers, 
engineers, surgeons, &c. to act as teachers of their respective arts and 
crafts to his own subjects. 

960. Ye shades, &c. See 1. 438, supra. Lycurgus, Solon, Servius, 
are here apostrophized. 

967. roaming every land. He set out on his travels in 1697 (he was 
then in his 25th year) and visited Prussia, Hanover, Holland, England, 
and Austria. 

in every port, e. g. Amsterdam, Saardam, Deptford, London, 
&c. A prime object of his policy was the establishment and maintenance 
of a Russian navy. To the art of ship-building he gave in his own 
person practical attention working as a common ship -carpenter both 
at Saardam and at Deptford. 

973. cities rise amid the . . . waste. Notably, his new capital, 


St. Petersburg, founded in May, 1703, on an appropriated portion of 
Ingria, which was then a Swedish province. In a few years it was the 
great commercial centre of the Baltic trade. 

975- flood to flood. By canals. Volga and Don were so joined. 

980. Alexander of the north. Charles XII, King of Sweden. The 
Swedes were at first successful in their encounters with the Russians, 
winning the great battle of Narva in 1700, but were at last defeated with 
overwhelming loss at Pultava, in 1 709. 

981. Othmarfs shrinking sons. The Turks, or Osmanlis as they call 
themselves. Peter's ambition was to possess the Black Sea. Achmet III, 
the Sultan at this time (1710-1711), was dragged into war with the 
Russians by Charles XII, who was then residing in exile at Bender. 

988. Thomson returns to his subject proper. A temporary thaw and 
its effects and dangers are described in the following lines. 

988-990. These three lines stood originally, down to 1738 
' Muttering, the winds at eve with hoarser voice 
Blow blustering from the south. The frost subdued 
Gradual resolves into a trickling thaw.' 

' Muttering ' and ' blustering ' well describe the sound of the strong 
south wind, by which the snow is driven from the winter landscape, and 
the country flooded with slush. 

resolves into a . . thaw. Cp. Shakespeare's ' melt, thaw, and 
resolve itself into a dew ' in Hamlet's well-known soliloquy. 

991. Spotted, the mountains shine. With lingering patches of un- 
thawed snow. Cp. Burns's 

'Aroused by blustering winds and spotting thowes.' 

Brigs of Ayr. 

993- Of bonds impatient. In the earlier text ' Impatient for the 
day.' In the same line, for ' Sudden ' the earlier text has ' Broke.' 

1 002. For ' deep ' the original text gives ' main ' which, on the score 
of cadence, is to be preferred. 

1004. the bark with trembling wretches charged. In the earlier 
editions ' the bark, the wretch's last resort.' 

1005-1008. moors Beneath the shelter . . . While night, &c. Con- 
structed on Miltonic lines : 

'Moors by his side under the lee, while night 
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.' 

Par. Lost, Bk. I. 11. 207, 208. 

1014. embroil the deep. Produce a scene of greater confusion. 
' Embroil ' is from P"r. brouiller, to jumble or confuse. Cf. 1. 247, 

NOTES, 975-1069. 


1014-1016. Leviathan And his unwieldy train . . . Tempest the, &c. 
This too is a distinct echo of a passage in Paradise Lost, Bk. VII. 

' Part, huge of bulk, 

Wallowing unwieldy, enormous in their gait, 
Tempest the ocean. There leviathan, . . . 
Stretched like a promontory, sleeps or swims.' 11. 410-414. 
1016-1023. Campbell has caught up the situation, and elaborated it 
in his Pleasures of Hope, in the well-known passage descriptive of the 
hardships endured by ' the hardy Byron ' ; see Part I, 11. 102-120. See 
also, of the same Part of the poem, 11. 61-66, ending 

' And waft, across the waves' tumultuous roar, 
The wolf's long howl from Oonalaska's shore.' 

1024. 'Tis done ! &c. The year is ended. In the earlier text the line 

' 'Tis done ! Dread Winter has subdued the year.' 

1025. the conquered year. ' The desert plains,' in the earlier 

1028-1045. Cp. Book of Job, chap. xiv. 1-15. (The Paraphrase by 
Michael Bruce is full of echoes from Thomson.) 

1028. In the earlier editions, down to that of 1738 

' His solitary empire. Here, fond man ! ' 

1029. thy pictured life. A Latin idiom; meaning 'the picture, or 
emblem of thy life.' 

1033-1041. This reads like a part of Young's Night Thoughts. The 
reflections are in the same strain as those at 1. 209, supra. 

1055. gall and bitterness. An adaptation of a Scriptural phrase, see 
Acts viii. 23. Gall ' is the Greek x Al 7> bile. 

1058. straining her. In the earlier text * prompting his.' 
1 06 1. why licensed pain, &c. The mystery of the existence of pain 
is here referred to. Thomson's conclusion is Longfellow's 
'It must be for some good 
By us not understood.' The Golden Legend. 
1065-1067. Enlarged from the earlier text, which ran 

' Yet a little while, 

And what you reckoned evil is no more.' 

1069. Thus to the cheerful nature of Thomson, Winter ends with a 
promise of Spring. 

394 ^ HYMN. 


[The Hymn, which now consists of 118 lines, originally consisted of 
121 : every alteration made on the text of 1738 is noted below.] 

1. These. The seasons of the year. 

2. Are but the varied God. Are manifestations of the power, bounty, 
beauty, benevolence, and other attributes, of the Deity. The idea is 
pantheistic. The material world in its various and varying forms is 
the expression of the divine mind appealing to the mind of man 
through the bodily senses. Cp. Pope's Essay on Man, Bk. I. 11. 
267-274 (published two years subsequently to the Hymn), ' All are 
but parts,' &c. 

4. Thy beauty walks, &c. In flowers and blossoms, universally 
diffused. Cp. Longfellow's poem on Flowers : 
' In the bright flowerets under us 
Stands the revelation of his love. 
Eright and glorious is that revelation 
Written all over this great world of ours.' 

Voices of the Night. 

6. the forest smiles. In the earlier editions, down to that of 1738, 'the 
forests live.' 

9. refulgent. See Summer, 1. 2. In the earlier text the word used 
was ' severe ' ; and the metre was made up by beginning the next sen- 
tence with the word ' Prone.' 

ii. dreadful. Substituted for ' awful,' being more suggestive of the 
sound of thunder. 

14, 15. For these two lines the edition of 1738, and all previous 
editions, give the following five lines 

' A yellow-floating pomp, thy bounty shines 
In Autumn unconfined. Thrown from thy lap 
Profuse o'er Nature, falls the lucid shower 
Of beamy fruits ; and, in a radiant stream, 
Into the stores of sterile winter pours.' 

1 6. awfitl. Substituted for 'dreadful.' See Note, 1. n, supra. 
These slight alterations show the fineness of Thomson's ear for verbal 
melody. ' Awful ' is a better sequence to ' Winter ' than ' dreadful.' 

18. Majestic darkness. Substituted for ' Horrible blackness.' 

19. adore. Substituted for ' be low.' 

23-26. In the edition of 1738, and previous editions 

NOTES, 1-67. 395 

'Yet so harmonious mixed, so fitly joined, 
One following one in such enchanting sort, 
Shade unperceived so softening into shade, 
And all so forming such a perfect whole,' &c. 

30. the silent spheres. The orbs of the stars. There is probably no 
reference here to the Ptolemaic, or pre-Copernican system of the 
starry universe, as set forth in Paradise Lost, and implied in many 
previous poems. 

31. the secret deep. Not the sea, but the earth, where are the roots, 
' the dark retreat of vegetation.' Spring, 11. 79, 80. 

steaming thence. Referring to the sap which in spring ascends 
from the roots in stem and stalk. See Spring, Note, 11. 79, 80. 

40. One general song. Substituted for * An universal hymn.' 
40-88. These lines include the Hymn proper. They are modelled 

on the Psalm cxlviii of David. Coleridge's Hymn before Sunrise in the 
Vale of Chamouni (in Sibylline Leaves, published in 1817) is on the 
model of both. 

41 . in your freshness breathes. Substituted for ' teaches you to 

42-44. Such a passage as this, full of a fine feeling for the super- 
natural, and eminently characteristic of the religious sentiment of 
Thomson which here and there anticipates the teaching of the great 
high priest of Nature, William Wordsworth helps to explain, or at 
least to illustrate, the beautiful elegy which Collins wrote on the death 
of Thomson' In yonder grave a Druid lies.' 

44. the brown shade. Less felicitous than the original ' the brown 

45. whose bolder note. Cp. Psalm cxlviii. 7, 8 : ' Praise the Lord from 
the earth, stormy wind fulfilling His word.' 

54. stupendous. Originally ' tremendous.' 

56. Soft roll. Originally ' Roll up.' 

57. exalts. Preferred to ' elates.' 

58. breath. In the 1738 edition, 'hand.' 

60. Breathe your still song [ye harvests !] into the reaper's heart. 
One of the most beautiful lines in Thomson's poetry fraught with the 
heart-felt tranquillity of a typical autumn evening. 

61. In the early editions (down to and inclusive of the edition of 
1738) 'Homeward rejoicing with the joyous moon.' 

62-65. Cp. Addison's well-known hymn ' The spacious firmament 
on high.' 

66, 67. Great source of day, best image here below, &c. Cp. Milton, 
in the well-known Address to the Sun, Book IV. of Paradise Lost : 

396 A HYMN. 

'Thou that .... 

Look'st from thy sole dominion like the god 
Of this new world.' 11. 32-34. 

67. pouring. In the earlier text, ' darting.' 

68. the vital ocean. The air enveloping the hemispheres. 
71. solemn. Substituted for ' dreadful ' in the earlier text. 

75. For this line the earlier editions give 

' And yet again the golden age returns ' ; 
and add 

' Wildest of creatures ! be not silent here, 
But, hymning horrid, let the desert roar.' 

Line 75 of the finally settled text contains references, implied or expressed, 
to various Scriptural texts to the second petition of the Lord's Prayer ; 
to the doctrine of St. Paul, ' The creature itself also shall be delivered 
from . . bondage ' (Rom. viii. 21} ; and to the prophecy of Isaiah, ' The 
wolf and the lamb shall feed together . . . They shall not hurt nor 
destroy in all my holy mountain ' (Isaiah Ixv. 25). 

76. boundless. ' General ' in the earlier text. 

79. sweet Philomela. The nightingale. Philomela was one of the 
two daughters of King Pandion of Athens, and, being changed into a 
nightingale, gave her name to that bird. (See the story of Tereus in 
Ovid's Metam. Bk. VI.) 

80. teach the night His praise. A condensation of the original 

' Through the midnight hour, 
Trilling, prolong the wildly luscious note. 
That night as well as day may vouch his praise.' 

81. Ye chief. Mankind. 

82. tong^te. ' Mouth ' in the earlier editions. 

84. Assembled men. ' Concourse of men ' in the earlier editions. 
84-86. to the deep organ join, &c. Cp. Milton's II Penseroso 
' Let the pealing organ blow 
To the full-voiced quire below 
In service high and anthems clear.' 11. 161-163. 
at solemn paiises. ' At ' for ' after.' 

90. Originally ' To find a fane,' &c. See Note, 11. 42-44, supra. 

91. the virgin's lay. Originally ' the virgin's chant.' 

92. The prompting seraph. The muse of religious lyrical poetry. 
Cp. Milton's ' Heavenly Muse,' and ' Spirit,' in the opening lines of his 
great epic. 

94. the darling theme. Praise to God ; ' His praise ' in 11. 48, 54, 
69, 80. 

NOTES, 67-116. 397 

1 Gentle Thomson, as the Seasons roll, 
Taught them to sing their great Creator's praise 
And bear their poet's name from pole to pole ' 

Michael Bruce, Elegy written in Spring (of 1766). 
Young Michael Bruce, a Scots poet of great promise, was one of the 
most devoted of the followers of Thomson. 

96. Russets the plain. Said, not of autumn but summer : referring 
to the effect of summer drought upon the grass. See Castle of Indo- 
lence, I. 1. 16. 

inspiring. In the original text ' delicious.' The reference here is 
to poetical inspiration. Thomson found the autumn season most 
conducive to poetical thought and composition. Cp. Shenstone's Verses 
to W. Lyttelton 

' Thomson, sweet descriptive bard, 

Inspiring Autumn sung.' 11. 29, 30. 

Autumn gleams. In fields of yellow corn the reflected light from 
which is strong enough to illumine the evening. 

97. blackening. ' Reddening ' in the earlier text. 
100-104. Cp. Horace 

' Pone me pigris ubi nulla campis 
Arbor aestiva recreatur aura,' &c. Car. I. 22. 
101. distant. ' Hostile ' in the earlier text. 

105-107. The same sentiment is more fully expressed in Paradise 
Lost : 

' Yet doubt not but in valley and in plain 
God is, as here, and will be found alike 
Present ; and of his presence many a sign 
Still following thee, still compassing thee round 
With goodness and paternal love, his face 
Express, and of his steps the track divine.' 

Bk. XI. 11. 349-354- 
107-113. Substituted after 1738 for 

' Rolls the same kindred seasons round the world, 
In all apparent, wise and good in all ; 
Since he sustains and animates the whole,' &c. 

113. their sons. Their inhabitants. 

114. edticing. ' Educes' in the earlier editions. The line is Miltonic 
in sentiment. Cp. Par. Lost, Bk. VII. 11. 615, 616 : 

' His evil 

Thou usest, and from thence creat'st more good.' 
See Winter, 1. 1061, and Note. 

115. 116. and better still, In infinite progression. Thomson's theory 


of spiritual evolution, often referred to in his poetry, was an essential 
part of his religious belief. 

' Heirs of eternity, y-born to rise 
Through endless states of being, still more near 
To bliss approaching, and perfection clear.' 

Castle of Indolence, II. st. Ixi. 

See also, and compare, Liberty, III. 11. 69, 70; Spring, 11. 375-377 ; 
Winter, 11. 357, 358, &c. In a letter to Dr. Cranstoun, of date Oct. 20, 
1735, Thomson writes : ' This I think we may be sure of, that a future 
state must be better than this ; and so on through the never-ceasing suc- 
cession of future states, every one rising upon the last, an everlasting new 
display of infinite goodness.' 


The Castle of Indolence was published early in the summer of 1748, 
the last year of Thomson's life : his death occurred on the 27th of 
August, about four months after the publication of the poem. The 
work was the slow and leisurely composition of nearly fifteen years. 
Writing in the middle of April, 1748, to his friend, and successor in the 
office of Survey or- General of the Leeward Islands, William Paterson, 
then resident at Barbadoes, the poet announces * that after fourteen or 
fifteen years the Castle of Indolence comes abroad in a fortnight.' He 
goes on, ' It will certainly travel as far as Barbadoes. You have an 
apartment in- it as a night-pensioner [see 1. 521, Canto I], which, you 
may remember, I fitted up for you during our delightful party at North 
Ham.' The composition of the Castle of Indolence thus covered more 
than the entire period of Thomson's residence at Richmond, where he 
lived in a garden-house in Kew-foot Lane, in comparative retirement 
and moderately luxurious ease from 1736 to the day of his death. The 
publisher was his old friend, ' good-natured and obliging Millar,' the 
bookseller, who had taken a house at Richmond to be near Thomson. 
The first edition was in quarto ; the second, published in the same year, 
in octavo. The text of the latter has been faithfully followed in the 
present edition. 

The origin of the poem is of amusing interest. Thomson's indolent 
habits, both of life and composition, were notorious 


' His ditty sweet 

He loathed much to write, ne cared to repeat ; ' 
and they were often made the butt of the good-natured banter, and 
remonstrance, of his friends. He did not seek to deny the soft impeach- 
ment ; but he ventured to retaliate upon his friends that they were 
equally inclined in their own way to ease and idleness, and took his 
revenge by gently caricaturing in a few disconnected stanzas the peculiar 
phases of their common failing. The poem grew out of those stanzas. 
In its finished state it may be regarded as an apology and a warning. 
The apology, mostly playfully urged, is for his own indolence ; the 
warning is meant to discourage the indulgence of indolence in others. 
The warning is eloquent, with outbursts of true poetry, but as is 
usually the fate of warnings is likely to continue to be neglected for 
the more engaging charms of the apology. And yet there is much 
sympathetic writing on the pleasures of an industrious life very 
capable of inspiring and directing the energies of healthy youth. 

The poem is allegorical, and was professedly written in imitation of 
The Faerie Queene. The Advertisement prefixed to the poem runs as 
follows : ' This poem being writ in the manner of Spenser, the obsolete 
words, and a simplicity of diction in some of the lines which borders on 
the ludicrous, were necessary to make the imitation more perfect. And 
the style of that admirable poet, as well as the measure in which he 
wrote, are, as it were, appropriated by custom to all allegorical poems 
writ in our language ; just as in French the style of Marot, who lived 
under Francis the First, has been used in tales and familiar epistles by 
the politest writers of the age of Louis the Fourteenth.' Notwithstanding 
this explanation of his employment of the Spenserian stanza for The 
Castle of Indolence, Thomson's avoidance of the measure which Pope 
had so popularized and perfected is significant of the robustness of his 
genius in refusing, even in respect of verse-form, to own allegiance to the 
artificial school. Neither in The Seasons nor in The Castle of Indolence 
did he adopt the heroic couplet. It may have been that the popular 
taste was beginning to be cloyed with the monotonous sweetness and 
smoothness of Pope's art, which seemed incapable of further development ; 
at all events the change of form accompanying the more important change 
of theme in poetical literature which Thomson instituted, and in which 
others followed his example, was relished from the very first. At the 
same time it must be owned that Thomson's ideas on the subject of 


verse-forms had been greatly modified by the influence of the artificial 
school during the period of his residence in England. When he sat 
down in 1725 to write his Winter it was with a contempt for rhyme 
only less pronounced than that of Milton in the later period of his life. 
He lived to entertain worthier ideas of form ; and few will doubt that 
his poetical genius was improved by the discipline of art, and that it 
shines on the whole to better advantage in the elaborate setting of the 
Spenserian stanza than in the rough though rich accumulations of The 
Seasons. Thomson manages the Spenserian stanza with an easy grace 
of art which is not constantly reminding you of the artist. In his hands 
the measure seems the natural expression of the sentiment. There is 
probably as much redundancy of phraseology in The Castle of 
Indolence as in The Seasons ; but there is an absence of tumidity : 
the diction is more natural in the sense that it is less conventional. 
The archaic and rustic words with which the poem is sprinkled help 
to withdraw the imagination of the reader out of the work-a-day present 
into an ideal world of the romantic past ; but, it must be said, they are 
not always correctly, nor even systematically, employed. The poet 
breaks away now and again for whole stanzas from the use of these old 
forms; then, as if reminded of the omission, suddenly scatters a 
handful. The style shows more variety than The Seasons. Now it is 
' serious, grave, even solemn ; now it is cheerful, lively, and gay. It 
borders frequently on burlesque, mostly of a genially brisk and airy 
character; once or twice it drops into downright inanity (see 1. 383, 
Canto II) ; there are, however, numerous descriptive passages of clear- 
ringing and exalted melody sufficient in themselves to rank Thomson 
as a genuine singer of commanding rank. It might be possible to trace 
in the poetry of Keats and Shelley the influence of those passages. 

The poem is less popular than The Seasons, but it is the most 
exquisite of all Thomson's works. It consists of two Cantos : the first, 
which might almost be entitled The Pleasures of Indolence, describes 
the ' fatal valley gay,' the enchanting castle and its luxurious appoint- 
ments, its wizard, and its willing inmates. The second follows the 
career of a certain Knight of Arts and Industry, who, with his friend 
the bard Philomelus, invades the valley, snares the wizard, and offers 
freedom to the captives which they are all at first reluctant, and some 
at last unable or unwilling, to accept. These irreclaimable victims of 
Indolence are punished by being hunted through the world by Beggary 


and Scorn. They are compared to a strayed herd of the swine of 
Comus, driven by dogs and sticks through the miry thoroughfare of 
a provincial town j and with the unsavoury simile the poem rather 
abruptly ends. 

The four medical stanzas at the end of the first canto were written by 
Dr. Armstrong, author of The Art of Preserving Health ; and the 
description of the indolent bard ' more fat than bard beseems ' (Canto 
I, st. Ixviii) is the Hon. George, afterwards Lord, Lyttelton's portrait of 
Thomson himself. 

In May, 1802, Wordsworth wrote a set of eight Spenserian stanzas in 
his pocket copy of The Castle of Indolence, which may briefly be 
noticed here. They are written in a style that is in wonderful harmony 
with that of Thomson, except that it is more diffuse. They offer two 
additional portraits to the series of the Castle inmates, representing more 
or less faithfully Wordsworth himself and his friend Coleridge. The 
latter is thus presented : 

' With him there often walked in friendly guise, 

Or lay upon the moss by brook or tree, 

A noticeable man with large gray eyes, 

And a pale face that seemed undoubtedly 

As if a blooming face it ought to be : 

Heavy his low-hung lip did oft appear, 

Depressed by weight of musing phantasie ; 

Profound his forehead was, though not severe, 
Yet some did think that he had little business here.' 
And the two together are thus described in the last stanza : 
' He would entice that other man to hear 

His music, and to view his imagery : 

And, sooth, these two did love each other dear 

As far as love in such a place could be ; 

There did they dwell, from earthly labour free. 

As happy spirits as were ever seen : 

If but a bird, to keep them company, 

Or butterfly sate down they were, I ween, 
As pleased as if the same had been a maiden queen.' 




The short- lined quatrain of doggerel with which each of the two 
Cantos is introduced, and which briefly indicates its contents, is in 
imitation of ' my master Spenser ' (Canto II, st. lii, 1. 9). The first canto 
of the first Book of The Faerie Queene, for example, has for 

' The Patrone of true Holinesse 

Foule Errour doth defeate : 

Hypocrisie, him to entrappe, 

Doth to his home entreate.' 

The ' alas ! ' of the third line is in sorrow for the transitoriness of the 
pleasures of indolence. It is well named a Castle, for, though the 
description conveys rather the idea of a palace, the inmates were really 
captives with small chance of regaining their freedom. 

The first stanza points the moral of the Allegory. The story com- 
mences at the second stanza. 

1. here. Not in the Castle of Indolence, of course, but in this world. 

2. Do not complain of this > i. e. of ' living by toil ' ' thy hard estate.' 

3. emmet. Doublet, ' ant ' ; from A.-S. eemete, shortened in Middle 
English into amte, whence ' ant.' The ant has long been proverbial for 
its industry. See Proverbs vi. 6. 

4. sentence of an ancient date. Pronounced upon Adam on the 
occasion of his expulsion from the Garden of Eden : ' In the sweat of 
thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground' (Gen. 
iii. 19). 

7. curse thy stars. Thy ill fortune an expression that has survived 
belief in the superstition of astrology. Cp. ' disaster,' ' consider,' ' influ- 
ence,' &c. 

8. an heavier bale, i. e. heavier than toil. For ' bale,' see Glossary. 

9. Illustrated at some length in the last five stanzas of this Canto. 

10. ii. Cp. the opening lines of Keats's Hyperion. And see Faery 
Queene, Bk. I, Canto I, st. xxxiv. 

1 6. with summer half imbr owned. So in the Hymn on the 

' The summer ray 
Russets the plain.' 11. 95, 96. 

17. A listless climate. A warm enervating climate inducing list- 

22. From poppies breathed. Exhaled from poppies. The common 
poppy (papaver somnifertim) yields the well-known opium, a powerful 
narcotic formed of the dried juice of its unripe capsules. 

NOTES, I 1-43- 403 

26. as they bickered. The original Celtic meaning of ' bicker' is ' to 
skirmish.' It comes from ' peak ' or ' peck,' and signifies ( to keep on 
pecking ' ; applied to a stream it suggests the rapid tremulous movement 
of the current. Thomson uses it in the last sense in Winter, 1. 725, in 
speaking of the frost ( arresting the bickering stream.' 

27. # lulling ?mirmur made-. The sense here is aptly aided by the 
sound, and the monotony is produced by the repetition of the liquid /*s 
and m's. For the same effect of monotony produced by the same 
cause of repetition, see 1. 45 infra. 

28-30. Cp. Spring, 11. 197-200 

* Full swell the woods : their every music wakes, 
Mixed in wild concert with the warbling brooks 
Increased, the distant bleatings of the hills, 
And hollow lows responsive from the vales.' 

3 1 . vacant shepherds. Free from care. Cp. Goldsmith's ' loud laugh 
that speaks the vacant mind.' Deserted Village. 

32. Philomel. Philomela, one of the two daughters of King Pandion 
of Athens, having been transformed into a nightingale, her name is 
poetically given to the bird. 

33. 'plain. For ' complain.' Referring to the low, soft, plaintive note 
of the wood-pigeon. 

35. a coil the grasshopper did keep. A sharp grating sound with 
pleasant associations of sunshine and green fields, accentuating the 
repose and stillness of rural life. ' Coil,' which means ' noise ' or 
' bustle,' is Celtic goil, rage, battle. The word recurs in Shakespeare 
in Hamlet's soliloquy, ' this mortal coil ' ; in Romeo and Juliet, 
' Here's a coil,' &c. 

38 and 41. See 1. n, supra. 

39. shadowy forms were seen to move. See Autumn, 11. 1029- 


'Oh bear me then to vast embowering shades . . . 

Where angel-forms athwart the solemn dusk 
Tremendous sweep, or seem to sweep, along.' 
42, 43. blackening pines, aye waving . . . Sent forth a sleepy horror. 
The ' horror' was from the 'blackening pines,' the sleep was induced by 
the monotony of the 'waving.' Cp. Genesis xv. 12, * A deep sleep fell 
upon Abram ; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him.' Cp. 

' Through every joint a gentle horror creeps, 
And round you the consenting audience sleeps.' 

Thomson's Soporific Doctor. 
D d 2 


45. The distant undertone and monotone of the sea is finely brought 
out in this alliterative line. See Note, 1. 27, supra. 

46-49. These are lines of singular beauty, descriptive of the pleasures 
of day-dreaming. 

55. The landskip such. Such was the landscape. 

60. unceasing. Unfailing, constant. - 

61. The palm is the product of a summer climate. In poetry it may 
grow in the same soil with the pine, as in Milton's Eden *, Shakespeare's 
Arden, the forests of the Faery Queene, &c. 

62. Was placed. Was seated ; placed himself. 
cruel fate. The 'labour harsh' in the next line. 

65. that pass there by. 

1 The moon, sweet regent of the sky, 

Silvered the walls of Cumnor Hall, 

And many an oak that grew there by.' Julius Mickle. 
Milton has ' that passed that way' (Par. Lost, Bk. IV, 1. 177) to express 
the same idea. 

66. chaunced to breathe. Happened to rest take breath from toil. 
Contrast this with its older meaning ' to exert ' or ' exercise ' : ' I am 
not yet well breathed.' As You Like It, Act I, sc. ii. 

70. syren melody. Thus described in Comus : 

' I have oft heard 

My mother Circe with the Sirens three, . . . 
Who, as they sung, would take the prisoned soul, 
And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept 
And chid her barking waves into attention, 
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause. 
But they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense, 
And in sweet madness robbed it of itself.' 

According to Homer the Sirens (Secprjva') were sea-nymphs, who had the 
power of luring to destruction, by the charm of their songs, all who 
heard them. The island on which they lived was between Aeaea and 
the rock of Scylla, near the south-west shore of Italy. Homer says 
nothing about their number. 

76. her wintry tomb. The chrysalis (aurelia), or gold-coloured 
sheath of butterflies, &c. 

77. What . . . bride can equal her array ? Cp. Thomson's Paraphrase 
of the latter part of the sixth chapter of Matthew : 

' What regal vestments can with them compare ? 
What king so shining, and what queen so fair ? ' 

1 ' Cedar and pine and fir and branching palm, 
A sylvan scene.' Par. Lost, Bk. IV, 1. 139. 

NOTES, 7. 45-97. 405 

82-90. Cp. Thomson's Paraphrase of part of Matthew vi : 
* See the light tenants of the barren air ! 
To them nor stores nor granaries belong, 
Nought but the woodland and the pleasing song. . . 

To Him they sing 

He hears 

And with inspiring bounty fills them all.' 

83. careless grove. The grove where they have no cares. Cp. ' listless 
climate,' 1. 17, supra. 

84. the flowering thorn. So Burns, in Banks and Braes o' Bonnie 
Doon : 

' Thou'll break my heart, thou warbling bird, 
That wantons thro' the flowering thorn.' 

85. 86. So Chaucer in the Prologue to the Canterbury Tales : 

' Smale fowles maken melodic, . . . 
So priketh hem nature in here corages.' 11. 9, n. 
87, 88. They neither plough, nor sow, &c. Cp. Matthew vi. 26 : 
' Behold the fowls of the air ; for they sow not, neither do they reap, 
nor gather into barns.' 

fit for flail. Ready for threshing : the reference is to the sheaves. 
nodding sheaves. Cp. Autumn, 11. I, 2 

' Crowned with the sickle and the wheaten sheaf, 

While Autumn, nodding o'er the yellow plain,' &c. 
drove. The tense here is present ; an archaic-looking form for 
' drive.' 

89, 90. theirs each harvest, &c. Cp. Pope's Essay on Man 
' Is thine alone the seed that strews the plain ? 
The birds of heaven shall vindicate their gram.' 

Epist. Ill, 11. 37> 38- 

91, 92. the wretched thrall Of bitter-dropping sweat. The slave of 
toil. ' In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread ' (Gen. iii. 19). 
93. cares that eat away the heart. Cp. Milton's L' Allegro 

'Ever, against eating cares, 
Lap me in soft Lydian airs.' 11. 135, 136. 

95. savage thirst of gain. Cp. Virgil's ' auri sacra fames.' 

96. Interest. Self-interest ; selfishness. 

97. Astrcea left the plain. In the golden age this star-lovely divinity 
lived on earth, and blessed mankind with her presence ; but when the 
golden age was over, she too, with other divinities that loved the 
simplicity of primitive man, at last reluctantly withdrew, shocked at the 
crimes and vices which were polluting the early world. She represented 


97-99. Cp. Campbell's Pleasures of Hope 

'Murder bared her arm, and rampart War 
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car, 
[And] Peace and Mercy, banished from the plain, 
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again.' 

99. for. Instead of. 

100. cumbrous load of life. Here compared to the stone which 
Sisyphus was condemned to roll up hill in the infernal world, and which, 
as soon as he had pushed it with great labour to the top, always rolled 
down again. 

109. Thomson's own habit latterly was to rise at noon. 

1 10. To pass the joyless day. Cp. Burns ' And pass the heartless 
day.' Winter, a Dirge. 

in. upstart fortune. Fortunate upstart. 

113-116. Thomson seems to have cherished an ineradicable hatred 
and contempt for pettifogging lawyers. Cp. Autumn, 1. 1287 
' Let this through cities work his eager way 
By legal outrage and established guile, . . . 

Let these 

Ensnare the wretched in the toils of law, 
Fomenting discord and perplexing right, 
An iron race ! ' 
Also Winter, 1. 384 

'The toils of law, what dark insidious men 
Have cumbrous added to perplex the truth 
And lengthen simple justice into trade 
How glorious were the day that saw these broke ! ' 
1 1 8. No cocks . . . to rustic labour call. Cp. Gray's Elegy 
'The cock's shrill clarion 

No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.' 
But see 1. 690, infra, ' Gout here counts the crowing cocks.' 
118-124. Cp. Cowper's Task, Bk. 1, 1. 225 

' Hidden as it is, and far remote 
From such unpleasing sounds as haunt the ear 
In village or in town, the bay of curs, 
Incessant clinking hammers, grinding wheels, 
And infants clamorous, whether pleased or pained 
Oft have I wished the peaceful covert mine.' 

126. Sybarite. A voluptuary. Literally, an inhabitant of Sybaris, 
a Greek town in Lucania in southern Italy. The prosperity of the 
town induced in the inhabitants an indolent and luxurious habit 
of life. 

A T OTES, I. 97-163. 407 

133. With milky blood the heart is over flown. Cp. Shakespeare's 

' It [thy nature] is too full o' the milk of human kindness/ 

Act I, Sc. v. 

136. What, what is virtue? The repetition of 'what' more em- 
phatically challenges any other answer to the question than that given 
by the sophist. 

140. a protid malignant worm ! The factitive object ; supply 
1 making him.' 

141. But here, instead, soft gales of passion play. See 11. 50-52, 

145. The best of men. 149. Even those whom fame, &c. Such as 
Scipio Africanus the younger, cited by Thomson himself at 1. 152, infra. 
See Winter, 11. 517-520, and Note : 

' Scipio, the gentle chief, . 
[Who], warm in youth to the poetic shade 
With friendship and Philosophy retired.' 

The ' friends ' and ' philosophers,' to whose society he is represented as 
' retiring ' from warfare and politics, included Polybius, Laelius (his 
friendship with whom is the subject of Cicero's De Amicitia), Lucilius, 
and Terentius. (See Liberty, Part V, 11. 419-421.) 

152. the soft Cumcean shore. The ancient town of Cumae stood on 
the coast of Campania, a few miles to the west of Neapolis (Naples), 
and not far from Cape Misenum. It was at Cajeta (Gaeta) on the 
border of Campania, but in Latium, where Scipio found retirement. 
Its bay is inferior only in beauty to that of Naples. Both Virgil and 
Horace have celebrated it. 

1 54. The ' exercise ' congenial with an indolent life is here made to 
include the composition of poetry, gardening, and angling. Compare 
the pastimes of Cowper in his Olney retirement which chiefly consisted 
of gardening and ' the poet's toil.' 

' How various his employments whom the world 

Calls idle ! 

Friends, books, a garden, and perhaps his pen.' 

The Task, Bk. III. 

157. deck the vernal year. Have a fine display of flowers in Spring- 

158. with your watery gear. In Spring 'thy slender watery stores,' 
flies, rod, line, &c. (See Spring, 11. 383-386.) 

159. crimson-spotted fry . ' The speckled captives' of Spring, 1. 421. 
163. estate. Here it means ' fortune ' or ' possessions ' ; the original 


meaning is 'condition of life,' and the word is used in this sense in 1. 2, 

164. beneath the sun. ' Under the sun ' a recurring phrase in 
Ecclesiastes ; see chap. viii. 15:' The days of his life which God giveth 
him under the sun.' 

165. comes blind unrelenting fate. Cp. Milton's Lycidas 

' Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears 
And slits the thin-spun life.' 11. 75, 76. 

165-169. This passage seems to present various recollections . of 
Horace, e. g. 

' Linquenda tellus et domus . . . 
Absumet heres Caecuba dignior 
Servata centum clavibus et mero 

Tinget pavimentum superbo.' Car. II. 14. 

'Jam te premet nox fabulaeque Manes 
Et domus exilis Plutonia.' Car. I. 4. 

172, 173. He ceased. But still, &c. Cp. Milton's Par. Lost, Bk 
VIII. 11. 1-3: 

' The angel ended, and in Adam's ear 
So charming left his voice that he a while 
Thought him still speaking, still stood fixed to hear.' 

177-180. This in itself is an exquisite simile, charming the imagina- 
tion with both picture and melody ; but it is, in respect of application, 
hardly in harmony with a throng entering pell-mell and pouring in heaps 
on heaps. True, Thomson describes this same throng as slipping along 
at the same time in silent ease ; but the mind refuses to blend two descrip- 
tions that are so contradictory. See 1. 208, infra. 

The simile suggests a scene in A Midsummer Night's Dream. The 
'gleam' of 1. 179 is, of course, the reflected light of summer-moons. 
The entrance of the fairy train into the natural world from their super- 
natural home is finely suggested by the concluding line of the stanza. 

1 8 1. the smooth demon. The wizard, Indolence. His character is 
evidently modelled on that of Archimago in the Faery Queene, whose 
tongue was ' filed as smooth as glass/ and who ' of pleasing wordes 
had store' (I. i. xxxv). See Canto II, 1. 281, infra, for confirmation of 
this idea. 

195, 196. the giant crew, Who sought, &c. The Titans, or rather 
the Gigantes, who are often confounded with the Titans. 

209. A comely full- spread porter, swoln, &c. Cp. with Morpheus in 
the Faery Queene, I. i. xl-xliv. 

215. black staff. His rod, or wand of office. 

NOTES, I. 164-249. 


his man. His servant. Cp. Shakespeare's Tempest : 

' Caliban 

Has a new master ; get a new man ! ' 

221, 222. each band .... Garters and buckles. Of the inmates of 
the Castle. 

223. But ill. 'But' is here an adverb, with an intensive force on 

225. performed it. The pronoun ' it ' here represents the disengage- 
ment of the bands, buckles, &c. 

229, 230. The downs of Hants and Dorset were well-known to 
Thomson. He was a frequent visitor at Eastbury House, and had 
lived at Twiford. ' When Evening/r^wwj,' i. e. ' darkens.' 

234. and turned to sleep agam. So Morpheus in the Faery Queene 
(I. i. xliv). 

240. nepenthe. A drug which lulled sorrow, or freed from sorrow. 
From Gr. VTJ-, negative, and irevOos, grief. 

'Not that Nepenthes .... 

Is of such power to stir up joy.' Comus, 11. 675, 677. 
241-243. as Dan Homer sings. For ' Dan ' see Glossary. Homer 
refers to the pain-lulling property of a certain drug which when cast 
into wine brought oblivion of every sorrow. In the Odyssey he traces 
its origin to Egypt, ' where earth, the grain-bestower, yields abundance of 
herbs, many medicinal and many baneful,' and describes the use which 
was made of it by ' Helena, daughter of Zeus.' Milton also refers to this 
passage in the Odyssey : 

' Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone [Polydamna] 
In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena.' Comus, 11. 675, 676. 
242. oblivion of . . earthly care. Cp. ' And all their friends and 
native home forget.' Comus, 1. 76. 

244. This line consists of two absolute clauses. 

247. through hall or glade. In the Castle, or in the Castle grounds. 
' Hall ' is usually associated with ' bower ' both words signifying 
rooms in a house, the ' hall ' the public room, and ' bower ' a private 

4 1 will tell you now 

What never yet was heard in tale or song, 
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.' 

Comus, 11. 43-45. 

It is impossible that Thomson has mistaken the meaning of ' bower ' by 
offering ' glade,' with its woodland bowers, as a translation. 

249. as likes him best. The verb is impersonal, and is followed by a 


dative. Literally, ' As it is likest or most suitable for him.' So, ' if you 
like,' is ' if to you it be suitable or pleasing.' 

250. his neighbours trade. His neighbour's affairs, whether of 
business or pastime. 

257. blank area. Empty by reason of their departure. The metaphor 
is a white page, having nothing printed on it. 

261. 'So that one was almost constrained to think that one was 
dreaming.' The ' singular ' use of * you ' is to be noticed here. 

262. The beautiful simile beginning here is in the manner of Milton ; 
see e.g. Par. Lost, Bk. IV, 11. 159-165, and 11. 183-191; only it is 
more loosely connected with the passage (in the preceding stanza) which 
it is meant to illustrate, than are any of Milton's with their context 
Milton's ' as ' is usually followed, though at a long interval, by a corre- 
lating ' so ' which makes application of the simile to the scene or action 
described. There is here no such final application of the simile ; the 
introductory ' as ' is the sole connection, and it seems to introduce an 
afterthought. The simile is intended, of course, to illustrate the 
suddenness and completeness of the change from 'endless numbers 
swarming round ' to ' solitude and perfect silence ' ; but the reader is 
less concerned with the thing illustrated than with the illustration, and 
his imagination is inclined rather to stay with the shepherd on that 
sunset-illumined isle ' placed far amid the melancholy main ' than to 
return to the blank area of the Castle courtyard. 

the Hebrid Isles. The Western islands of Scotland, from Lewis to 

263. amid the. melancholy main. A musical and suggestive phrase. 
Cp. Autumn, 11. 861-864: 

' Where the Northern Ocean in vast whirls 
Boils round the naked melancholy isles 
Of farthest Thule, and the Atlantic surge 
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.' 

264. Whether it be lone fancy him beguiles. Cp. Wordsworth's 

' By creative feeling overborne, 
Or by predominance of thought oppressed.' Bk. I. 
268. Phcebus dips his ^vain. The sun sets. Cp. Milton's Comus 

'The gilded car of day 
His glowing axle doth allay 
In the steep Atlantic stream/ 11. 95-97. 

271. Here, after an apology to the very vice of Indolence which it is 
the object of his poem to expose (see also 1. 3 of the quatrain which 
introduces this canto), Thomson commences a series of stanzas ending 

NOTES, 7. 250-290. 411 

with stanza Iv. which might very well be entitled The Pleasures of 
Indolence. But for his having himself been a votary of Indolence, he 
thinks he could have done justice to the subject! It will hardly be 
denied that the indolent habit of Thomson well qualified him both to 
appreciate and to express, as he has done, the pleasures of an idle and 
easy life. 

275. ' What never yet was heard in tale or song.' Comus, 1. 44. 

276. attempt such ardtious string. 'Essay a strain so difficult a 
subject so much beyond my power.' The metaphor is taken from the art 
of the musician whose instrument is the harp. 

277. nightly days. Days turned into nights by sleeping or idling 
through them. Thomson's normal hour of rising was noon. 

279. uprear my moiilted wing. Rouse my imagination which has not 
been exercised for a long time. The image is a falcon confined to a 

281. imp of Jove. For 'imp,' see Glossary. The nine Muses were 
the daughters of Zeus, or Jupiter, and Mnemosyne, or Memory. 

282, 283. Thou yet shalt sing, &c. And so he has, in Rule Bri- 
tannia. Cp. Milton's Epitaphium Damonis (1. 162) 

' Ipse ego Dardanias Rutupina per aequora puppes 
Dicam . . . .' 

284. There is no reference here to any intended translation from 
classical authors for which, indeed, Thomson had not the necessary 
scholarship ; but to a revival of the old approved methods and themes 
of poetry. 

285-288. Thomson's dramas were Sophonisba (1730), Agamemnon 
(1738), Edward and Eleanora (1739), Tancred and Sigismunda 0745)* 
and Coriolanus (1749 the year after his death). The Masque of Alfred 
(1740) may be added, for the sake of the lyric, Rule Britannia though 
most of the piece was the composition of Malloch. 

This stanza is interesting as containing a sketch of Thomson's literary 
plans. See, for a reference to other plans of a like nature, the concluding 
lines of his Autumn, and the Note. 

285. in tragic pall. Cp. the ' inky cloak ' in Hamlet. Lat. palla, a 
mantle. ' Thespis was succeeded [in representations of the tragic 
drama] by ^Eschylus, who erected a permanent stage, and was the 
inventor of the mask [persona], of the long flowing robe [pal/a], and 
of the high-heeled shoe or buskin [cothurnus], which tragedians wore ; 
whence these words are put for a tragic style or for tragedy itself.' 
Adam's Roman Antiquities. 

289, 290. no shrill . . . bell, Ne cursed knocker. Cp. Cowper's Task, 
Bk. IV 


4 No powdered pert, proficient in the art 
Of sounding an alarm assaults these doors 
Till the street rings.' 11. 145-147. 

292. expand. Used transitively here in the first edition. 

293. The pride of Turkey, &c. Carpets, introduced into Europe 
from the East, where the custom among Orientals of sitting cross-legged 
on the floor suggested their invention. 

297. each spacious -room was one full-swelling bed. ' The first canto/ 
says Johnson, 'opens a scene of lazy luxury that fills the imagination.' 
Much of ' the lazy luxury ' is caught in this one line. 

298-300. These lines remind one of the banquetting hall in the 
* stately palace ' of Comus ' set out with all manner of deliciousness : 
toft music, tables spread with all dainties.' 

'See, here be all the pleasures 
That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts, . . 
And first behold this cordial julep here 
That flames and dances in his crystal bounds 
With spirits of balm and fragrant syrups mixed.' 

Comus, 11. 668-674. 

Thomson's music is not provided till we come to 1. 343 ; and then he 
devotes three stanzas to it. 
300-302. Cp. Comus 

' Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth, 
Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks, 
Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable, 
But all to please and sate the curious taste?' 11. 710-714. 
33-36. . . You need but wish ... A refinement of the well- 
known device to be found in fairy and Oriental tales of purveying a 
feast by the utterance of a few magical words. Even ' signs ' are dis- 
pensed with in The Castle of Indolence, as being too fatiguing. 

306. thick the glasses played. The light glanced on innumerable 
glasses. ' Thick ' almost always signifies ' numerous ' in The Seasons. 

308. ancient maiden. The modern ' old maid ' popularly supposed 
to be the source of all the scandal that disturbs a neighbourhood. 

309. saintly spleen. The ill-nature, or spite, of clerical bigotry ; 
or, it might be, the interference of ' the unco guid ' as they are called in 

310. Poisoning one's pleasures, and making them 'pall,' by de- 
nouncing them as sinful. ' Pall ' here is used ' causatively.' The use of 
' our ' is to be noted : Thomson frankly classes himself amongst the 
votaries of Indolence. 

316. Tapestry said to have been invented by the Saracens, and 

NOTES, /. 292-333. 


early introduced into Europe as a decorative hanging for the walls of 
rooms. The famous Bayeux tapestry contains embroidered representa- 
tions of battle, and military movements, connected with the Norman 
invasion and conquest of England. It belongs to the eleventh, at latest 
the twelfth century, and is the oldest piece in existence. The Flemings 
brought the highest decorative art to the weaving of tapestry. Even 
Raphael furnished carefully prepared designs for the tapestry-weavers. 
Historical and ideal sylvan and pastoral scenes were favourite subjects 
of the tapestry designers. 

317. inwoven many a gentle tale. The incidents of many a love 
history, and pastoral romance, were represented. 

318, 319. the rural poets [of old], &c. Theocritus, a native of 
Syracuse, represented in his Idyls which, for dramatic simplicity and 
fidelity to nature have never been equalled scenes in the ordinary life 
of the people of Sicily. Virgil imitated him, but he wants the force 
and naturalness of Theocritus. Cowper, in The Task, Bk. IV, refers to 
' those Arcadian scenes that Maro sings.' 

327. the Chaldee land. ' Ur of the Chaldees,' Gen. xi. 31. For 
an account of Abram's wanderings see the immediately succeeding chap- 
ters. What time, a Latinism, quo tempore, used also by Milton and 
other poets. 

328. The word 'nomad' (Gr. voids') exactly expresses the meaning 
of this line ' roaming in search of pasture.' Cp. 

'From plain to plain they led their flocks, 
In search of clearer spring and fresher field.' 

Liberty, II, 11. 5, 6. 

329. engage. 'Promise' (or 'pledge' the original meaning, from 
Fr. gage, Lat. vas, vadis] ; ' where water and pasture were most pro- 
mising.' The secondary meaning of ' engage ' is ' allure ' or ' attract.' 

333. true golden age. It is the indolence of the patriarchal age, its 
large leisure, and immunity from the cares of city and political life, that 
so charm Thomson, and that make the representations of that primitive 
mode of life adorn the tapestried rooms of the Castle so appropriately. 
As for ' the golden times ' of the ancient poets (see a description of them 
in Ovid's Metam. lib. i), in the words of Cowper 
' Those days were never ; airy dreams 

Sat for the picture ; and the poet's hand, 

Imparting substance to an empty shade, 

Imposed a gay delirium for a truth.' The Task, Bk. IV. 
It is to be noted that it is not the golden age, nor the patriarchal age, 
which Thomson has described in Spring, 11. 241-270, but the age of 
innocence what he calls ' those prime of days.' 


334. the pencil. The word is used here in the old sense a small 
hair-brush for painting with. Old Fr. pincel, from Lat. penecillus, a 
brush, or small tail ; from penis, a tail. ' Sometimes ' in this line 
signifies ' in some of the rooms ' the cool airy galleries. 

336. Here autumn figures in a brown dress ; but the colour is given 
to summer (1. 16, supra) ; and in an illustrated enumeration of the 
seasons, in The Hymn, 11. 95, 96, Thomson describes ' the summer ray 
as russetting the plain.' 

341, 342. Lorrain light-touched . . . savage Rosa . . learned Poussin. 
These descriptive epithets are all well-chosen. Claude Gelee, named 
Lorraine from his birthplace, was born in 1600, and studied, and finally 
settled, at Rome. He died in 1682. 'His tints have such an agreeable 
sweetness and variety as to have been imperfectly imitated by the best 
subsequent artists, and were never equalled.' He studied Nature in the 
open fields, ' where he frequently continued from sunrise till the dusk of 
the evening, sketching whatever he thought beautiful or striking.' One 
critic describes his ' skies ' as ' warm, and full of lustre,' with every 
object ' properly illumined ' the ' distances ' admirable, and in every 
part ' a delightful union and harmony.' Another writes ' No one could 
paint with greater beauty, brilliancy and truth the effects of sunlight at 
various hours of the day, of wind on foliage, the dewy moisture of 
morning shadows, or the magical blending of faint and ever-fainter hues 
in the far horizon of an Italian sky.' In the National Gallery, London, 
are excellent specimens of Claude's art, of which may be mentioned 
' Cephalus and Procris ' and ' Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba.' 
Salvator Rosa was born in the vicinity of Naples in 1615. He settled 
in Rome when he was twenty-three, and died there in 1673. His fame, 
like that of Claude, rests on his landscapes. His subjects are ' generally 
representations of wild and savage scenes executed with a freedom and 
decision remarkably appropriate.' Nicolas Poussin, the most popular 
figure and landscape painter of his time, though a Frenchman having 
been born at Andelys in Normandy, in 1594 owed his education in art, 
and the patronage he ultimately so abundantly received, to Italy. He 
was thirty before he acquired the means of visiting Rome. Here he 
settled ; and died here in 1665. He was a most accomplished painter ; 
Sir Joshua Reynolds said of him that ' no works of any modern have so 
much the air of antique painting as those of Poussin.' His designs are 
often pagan, not to say impure ; -but his execution, says Hazlitt, 
' supplies the want of decorum.' Ponssin the elder better deserves the 
epithet ' learned ' than his brother-in-law Caspar Dughet, commonly 
referred to as Poussin the younger. 

Thomson had a refined taste in pictures, and during his Italian tour 

NOTES, I. 334-3 8 0- 415 

made a collection of antique drawings and engravings from the old 
masters, which, to the number of some eighty, were sold with his other 
effects in the cottage at Kew-foot Lane, Richmond, in 1748, the year of 
his death. The walls of his cottage were also adorned with numerous 

356. the well-tuned instrument. An ^olian harp, thus described in 
Chambers's Encyc. : ' It is formed by stretching eight or ten strings of 
catgut, all tuned in unison, over a wooden shell or box, made generally 
in a form sloping like a desk. The sounds produced by the rising and 
falling wind, in passing over the strings, are of a drowsy and lulling 
character .... the most suitable kind of music for The Castle of Indo- 
lence.' Thomson has an Ode on Bolus's Harp. See Collins's Ode on 
the Death of Thomson stanza second. 

358. each mortal touch, &c. The fingers of the most accomplished 

359. The god of winds. yEolus. See Virgil's Aeneid, Bk. I, 
11. 56-67, for a description of his cave- castle and his unruly subjects. 

362. up the lofty diapason. 'Through all the notes of an octave. 1 
From Gk. 5ia -rraowv (xopSah'), through all the chords. 

364. Then let them down again into the soul. Cp. Shakespeare's 
Twelfth Night' That strain again ! it had a dying fall,' &c. (Act I. 
sc. i). 

365. pleasing dole. ' Sweet sorrow' as Juliet says of lovers parting 
(Act II. sc. ii). 

368. E.g. the hymn of the Angels on the night of the Nativity; or, 
Psalm cxxxvii. (See Thomson's Ode on bolus's Harp.) 

369. Wild warbling. Cp. Milton's L' Allegro 

' [If] sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child, 
Warble his native wood-notes wild.' 11. 133, 134. 

Burns, in The Cotter's Saturday Night, has ' Dundee's wild-warbling 

371. Caliphs. Fr. calife, from Arab, khalifa, successor (of the 

372. Baghdad-, the scene of many of the stories of The Arabian 
Nights' Entertainments. 

375. the bard in waiting. Thomson has the following note : ' The 
Arabian Caliphs had poets among the officers of their court, whose 
office it was to do what is here mentioned.' See Moore's Oriental 
Romance, Lalla Rookh where ' the young poet of Cashmere ' ' cheers 
the [long journey] with the Muses' lore.' 

379, 380. Cp. George Peele's King David and Fair Bethsabe 


Til build a kingly bower 
Seated in hearing of a hundred streams . . 

That shall 

In oblique turnings wind the nimble waves 
And with their murmur summon easeful sleep 
To lay his golden sceptre on her brows.' 
See also Faerie Queene, I. i. xli. 

385. demons of the tempest. See Winter, 1. 193 'the demon of the 

388. Morpheus sent his kindest dreams. Morpheus was the son of 
Sleep, and the god of Dreams literally, ' the shaper ' or ' creator ' (of 
dreams), from Gr. noptyrj, shape. We learn from the next stanza that 
the dreams were sent by the hand of angel-forms. So Spenser 
'And forth he cald out of deepe darknes dredd 

Legions of sprights 

Of those he chose out two 

The one of them he gave a message to. . 

He, making speedy way through spersed ayre, 
To Morpheus' house doth hastily repaire. . . . 

The God obayde ; and, calling forth straightway 
A diverse Dreame out of his prison darke 

Delivered it to him 

He, back returning by the Yvorie dore, 
Remounted up as light as chearefull Larke ; 
And on his litle winges the dreame he bore 
In hast unto his Lord.' I. i. xxxviii-xliv. 

390. shadowy cast Elysian gleams. The Elysium here referred to is 
that of Virgil, the residence of the shades of the Blessed in the lower 
world, ' a pensive though a happy place.' To the Elysium of Homer 
heroes passed without dying : it was no part of the regions of the dead, 
but situated on the west of the earth, near the ocean stream. 

392. ' The light that never was on sea or land ' (Wordsworth's Elegiac 
Stanzas on a Picture of Peele Castle in a Storm). 

393. Titiarfs pencil. Vecelli Tiziano (better known as Titian) ranks 
with Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci, and Michael Angelo, as one of the 
great Italian masters of painting. He was born of a noble family at 
Capo del Cadore, among the Friulian mountains in the Venetian 
territory, in 1480. He was educated at Venice, where he had Giorgione, 
famous as a colourist, for one of his instructors. Titian lived to a great 

NOTES, 1. 385-447. 417 

age 96, and produced upwards of six hundred works. The splendour of 
his colouring, which is equally bold and true, is the great attribute of his 
style. ' The luxury of light did never so enrich a painter's canvas.' 
The best specimen of his art in the National Gallery is his Bacchus and 

404. Poured all tJi A rabian heaven. In visions of fair women (see 
11- 395> 396, supra] houris, or nymphs of Paradise. ' Arabian ' = 
' Mohammedan.' 

409. those fiends. The bringers of horrible dreams, in contrast to 
the 'angel-seeming spirits' of 1. 402. 

413. beetling. Derived by Prof. Skeat from 'bite' a beetling cliff 
resembling a projecting lower jaw. Cp. ' beetle-browed.' 

415. Ye guardian spirits. Guardian angels as distinct from 'the 
angel-seeming spirits ' of 1. 402 as from the ' fiends' of 1. 409. See a 
description of the ministry of holy angels on earth in Spenser's Faerie 
Queene, Book II, Canto vii, stanzas i and ii, ' And is there care in 
heaven ? ' &c. 

419. See Winter, 1. 438, where begins a long enumeration of ' the 
sacred shades ' of ancient Greece and Rome. 

422. Those long lost friends. Such as his mother (see Thomson's 
Lines on his Mother's Death) ; Miss Stanley (see Summer, 11. 564-575, 
and see also the Epitaph especially the concluding lines, given in the 
Note on Summer, 1. 564) ; Hammond (see Winter, 11. 555-571); and 
Aikman the painter (see his Lines on the Death of Mr. Aikman, 

'As those we love decay, we die in part'). 

The memory of dear departed friends is here fittingly introduced as a 
safeguard of virtue. 

424. Or are yozi sportive? bid the morn of youth t &c. The 
' guardian spirits ' of 1. 415 are addressed. The memories of childhood 
and youth are summoned as a preservative against vice and vain 
imaginations, which come to an indolent life. 

428-431. Recollections of his native Teviotdale. 

433-436. Cp. Cowper's Task, Bk. IV : 

* 'Tis pleasant, through the loopholes of retreat 
To peep at such a world; to see the stir 
Of the great Babel, and not feel the crowd,' &c. 11. 88-90. 

437. idly busy. Cp. Goldsmith's Traveller 
' Thus idly busy rolls their world away.' 

441. greater waste, Sc. ' of energy and time/ 

447. In Scotland this proverb runs. ' A penny hained 's a penny 

E e 


450. Till it has quenched his fire, and banished his pot. Till he 
becomes a confirmed miser, who at last denies himself both fire and 
food. Thomson had not only a great detestation of the mere money- 
grubbing spirit, but practised himself with his modest means a careless 
liberality. He was indifferent about money all his life. 

45 1 . this low grub. The afore-mentioned ' muckworm.' The contrast 
beginning here has been often pointed not always for the purpose 
of conveying the same moral. (See 11. 163-169 supra, and Note). 

455. Cp. the opening stanzas of Byron's Childe Harold. 

456. Thomson is persistently severe upon lawyers. See 1. 116 supra, 
and Note. 

458, 459. Limbo, or limbus, the borders of hell. The imagery of 
these lines is taken from the second scene of the Parable of the Rich 
Man and Lazarus. ' Him ' in the concluding line of course refers to the 
' father's ghost.' 

463. in a Thespian rage. The reference to ambitious authorship in 
stanza lii. is not confined to dramatic writers : the words quoted here 
probably signify ' in a frenzy ' or ' in a tragic rage.' Thespis was the 
father of Greek tragedy, and the first to give it a strictly dramatic 
character: before his time (he flourished 535 B.C.), there was no actor; 
everything was undertaken by the chorus. 

466. 'Losing the present in order to gain the future age.' 

468. when useless worldly store. l When fame is of no personal use 
to you.' 

472, 473. At every door, &c. Cp. Cowper's Task, Bk. IV, 11. 
144-147 : 

'No rattling wheels stop short before these gates,' &c. 
See also 1. 290 supra, and Note. 

474-477. Calls, scandal, and invitations the pastimes of the world 
of fashion. 

478. sons of party. Party politicians. The whole of the stanza 
commencing here is a humorously ludicrous account of our English 
mode of government by party. * We keep it going like an hour-glass ; 
when one side's quite run out we turn up the other and go on again ' 
(Jerrold). Cp. Cowper's account, under a more dignified figure than 
Thomson's, in The Task, Bk. IV, 11. 57-62. 

483. Lucifer. Thomson himself is careful to state in a note that by 
Lucifer he means ' the morning star.' 

487. Thomson passes from the pursuit of politics to the game of 
war ' a game which, were their subjects wise, Kings would not play 
at.' Cowper, The Task, Bk. V. 

498. those who at the helm appear. Rulers, statesmen in office, &c. 

NOTES, I. 450-551. 419 

501. Cp. Chaucer's line 

'And yit he seemede besier than he was.' Prol., 1. 322. 

502. tape-tied trash, and suits of fools. Papers and documents, useless 
but looking very important ; and applications and supplications that will 
never be granted. 

506. a man of special grave remark. The original of this character- 
sketch was almost certainly William Paterson, Thomson's intimate 
friend, occasionally his amanuensis, his deputy, and successor in 1746. 
in the Surveyor- Generalship of the Leeward Islands, and the translator 
of the historian Paterculus. Not much more is known about Paterson, 
except that, as Murdoch says, ' he courted the tragic muse, and had 
taken for his subject the story of Arminius the German hero.' The 
Censor refused it licence, because it was in the handwriting of Edward 
and Eleanora ! There is a long and interesting letter from Thomson 
(of date, middle of April, 1748, addressed to Paterson at Barbadoes) 
which reveals the intimacy between the two friends. The letter is 
sufficient to prove that Thomson could write beautiful prose ; but it is 
too long to quote at length. Part of it runs : 

'Now that I am prating of myself, know that after fourteen or 
fifteen years The Castle of Indolence comes abroad in a fortnight. It 
will certainly travel as far as Barbadoes. You have an apartment in it 
as a night pensioner.' The description would suit Collins. \ 

516. Dan Sol. The sun, the lord of day. 

527. the cerulean field. The heavens ' the azure deep of air ' of Gray 
(Progress of Poesy) ; 'the broad fields of the sky' of Milton (Comus, 
1. 979). 

534. One shyer still. The prototype of this character was John 
Armstrong, son of a Roxburghshire minister, and M. D. (1732) of 
Edinburgh University. He went up to London, and first attracted notice 
by his verses. In 1744 appeared his Art of Preserving Health. He was 
a skilful physician, but his shy, caustic, indolent manner kept him out of 
a very lucrative practice. He died in 1779. Thomson was his senior 
by some nine years. In the letter to Paterson, referred to above, 
Thomson writes thus of Armstrong : ' Though the doctor increases in 
business he does not decrease in spleen ; but there is a certain kind 
of spleen that is both humane and agreeable, like Jacques in the play : 
I sometimes, too, have a touch of it.' 

541. a wretch, who had not crept abroad (for forty years). The 
' wretch ' of this stanza is said to have been a ' Henry Welby, Esquire, 
an eccentric solitaire of the period.' 

551. A joyous youth. The original of this character was John 
Forbes, only son of Duncan Forbes of Culloden, President of the Court 

E e 2 


of Session, Scotland. (See Autumn, Note, 1. 944.) Writing to a frieml 
(George Ross) in 1736, Nov. 6, ' Remember me,' says Thomson, 'to all 
friends, and above them all heartily to Mr. Forbes. Though my 
affection to him is not fanned by letters, yet it is as high as when I was 
his brother in the virtu, and played at chess with him in a post-chaise.' 
Again, on Jan. 12, 1737, he writes to Ross 'Forbes I hope is cheerful 
and in good health. . . . Remember me kindly to him with all the zealous 
truth of old friendship.' But the description would suit Hammond. 
See Winter, 11. 566-569. 

558. See 1. 289, supra. 

568. a burnished fly. Thomson used good-humouredly to call 
Hammond, whom Dr. Robertson of Richmond knew as ' a very pleasant 
man,' 'a burnished butterfly.' Compare the simile, in its loose attach- 
ment to stanza Ixiii, with that of stanza xxx. 

577. Another guest. George, Lord Lyttelton. See Spring, Note, 1. 905. 

594. Hagley Park. The seat of Lord Lyttelton, in Worcestershire. 
See Spring, Note, 1. 907. The following stanza, which is supposed to 
refer to the wife of the future Lord Lyttelton, is said to be by Thomson, 
but it has nothing to recommend it as his, except the rhymes and the 
compliment to the lady. It was never printed in Thomson's lifetime. 

* One nymph there was, methought, in bloom of May, 
On whom the idle fiend glanced many a look 
In hopes to lead her down the slippery way 
To taste of pleasure's deep deceitful brook : 
No virtues yet her gentle mind forsook, 
No idle whims, no vapours filled her brain ; 
But prudence for her youthful guide she took, 
And goodness, which no earthly vice could stain, 
Dwelt in her mind: she was ne proud, I ween, or vain.' 

595. th' Esopus of the age. James Quin, the actor. He was of 
Irish descent ; born in London in 1693, he began his career as a player 
in Dublin at the age of twenty-one ; proceeded to London, where he 
made his mark, in 1716, in the character of Bajazet in Marlowe's 
Tragedy of Tamerlane ; and from 1735 to 1741 was regarded as the 
first actor in England, delighting Drury Lane Theatre with his 
impersonations of Falstaff and Captain Macheath. On the appearance 
of Garrick he gradually ceased to be the popular favourite. He died in 
1 766. Quin's relations to Thomson were of the friendliest. About the 
year 1737 Thomson was arrested for a debt of some 70 : Quin came to 
his relief, and insisted on the astonished debtor's acceptance of 100 as 
payment of the pleasure he had derived from Thomson's works. Quin 
was a frequent visitor at Thomson's cottage at Richmond, where, indeed, 

NOTES, I. 558-628. 


his convivial habits rather scandalized the neighbourhood. He was one 
of the four intimate friends who attended the funeral of Thomson 
in 1748. When Thomson's posthumous play of Coriolanus was first 
acted in 1 749, Quin, dressed in a suit of mourning, spoke the Prologue 
(which had been written by Lyttelton) with such genuine feeling and 
eloquence that, at the line ' Alas ! I feel I am no actor here ! ' there 
was scarcely a dry eye in the theatre. It may be added that Shenstone 
thought Thomson's ' manner of speaking not unlike Quin's.' 

The ^Esopus, to whom Thomson compares Quin, was Clodius 
jEsopus, the greatest Roman actor of tragedy, the friend and con- 
temporary of Cicero, and of Roscius the greatest Roman actor of 

604. This line, descriptive of his own disposition and habit of body, is 
the only part of stanza Ixviii which Thomson composed. The rest was 
written by Lyttelton. Thomson's figure in youth was handsome. 

613, 614. A gentle satire on the indolent lives of the clergy. 

615. oily man of God. The original of this character was Thomson's 
old and intimate friend and countryman afterwards his kindly bio- 
grapher the Rev. Patrick Murdoch. Murdoch was tutor to John 
Forbes, 'the joyous youth' of 1. 551, and afterwards to the son of 
Admiral James Vernon of Great Thurlow. By the latter he was 
presented to the living of Stradishall in Suffolk in 1737-8. Writing 
on the 1 2th Jan., 1738, Thomson refers to 'Pettie's' settlement as 
follows : ' Pettie came here two or three days ago : I have not yet seen 
the round " man of God " to be. He is to be parsonified a few days 
hence. How a gown and cassock will become him ! and with what 
a holy leer he will edify the devout females ! There is no doubt of 
his having a call, for he is immediately to enter upon a tolerable living 
[ioo a year] ! God grant him more, and as fat as himself! It rejoices 
me to see one worthy excellent man raised at least to an independency.' 
Murdoch was afterwards promoted to the living of Kettlebaston^ 
and finally, in 1760, to the vicarage of Great Thurlow. It was here 
he wrote his Memoir of Thomson. He died in 1774. 

622. A variety of the genus, the village politician, has been immor- 
talised by Wilkie. 

625. on their brow sat every nations cares. The line comically 
recalls the sublime description of Milton : 


Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows 
Of dauntless courage.' Par. Lost, Bk. I, 11. 601-603 

627, 628 The references are to tobacco-smoking and coffee-drinking. 


628. sage berry . . . Mocha bears. Coffee-bean (Arab, burnt}, not a berry. 
Mocha is in Arabia. 

630. mysterious as of old. ' Ambiguously expressed, so as to apply 
equally well to contradictory results ; ' or ' expressed definitely enough, 
but with an air of confidence in their infallibility that is, in the absence 
of knowledge, rather " mysterious." ' 

632. Bevies of dainty dames. Cp. Milton, 'A bevy of fair women, 
richly gay' (Par. Lost, Bk. XI, 1. 582). For 'bevies/ see Glossary. 

638. To knit, and make up bouquets ; perhaps embroider. 

640-648. See Young's Love of Fame, Sat. V ' The languid lady 
next appears,' &c. 

644. with tottering step and slow. Goldsmith has ' With fainting 
steps and slow.' Hermit. 

648. the vapoury god. Sleep, with its opiate fumes. See 11. 21, 22, 

657. As foretold at 1. 414, supra. 

658-693. These thirty-six lines, forming the four concluding stanzas 
of Canto I, and consisting of an enumeration of the diseases which are 
fostered by an indolent life, were the composition of Thomson's friend, 
Dr. Armstrong (see Note, 1. 534 supra}. They afford a gloomy contrast 
to the rest of the Canto which, but for them, might almost be entitled, 
The Pleasures of Indolence, over the motto ' Dolce far niente? 
Armstrong's stanzas remind one of the lazar-house in the eleventh book 
of Paradise Lost, 11. 477-492. 

660. Lethargy. From Gr. \r)0apyia, drowsiness ; AT^J;, oblivion. 

668. Hydropsy. Dropsy in O. F. hydropisie ; from Gr. vdwp, water 

672. Hypochondria. Melancholy. ' Named from the spleen (which 
was supposed to cause it) situate under the cartilage of the breast-bone : 
Gr. UJTO, under ; and x^fyoy, cartilage of the breast-bone ' (Prof. 
Skeat). Cp. ' hipped ' = ' melancholy.' Armstrong could well write 
about the spleen, both as a physician, and a patient. (See Note, 1. 534.) 

689. the Tertian. Fr. tertiane, a tertian ague recurring every third 
day ; Lat. ter, thrice. 

690. Gout : Lat. gtitta, a drop ; the disease having been supposed to 
be owing to defluxion of humours. See, for 'crowing cocks,' 1. 118 

692. Apoplexy. From Gr. OTTO, off, and irX^ffffoo, I strike. 

A 7 OTS, I. 628-692 II. 1-24. 



i. the sire of sin. Indolence. Cp. the homely motto of Dr. Isaac 
Watts, ' Satan finds,' &c. 

TO. the Muse. The poet is indirectly meant. Milton is more direct 
' So may some gentle muse,' Lycidas, 1. 19. 

ii. Parnassus. A double-headed mountain mass a few miles north 
of Delphi in Greece, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, and ' an inspiring 
source of poetry and song.' Divested of its mythological imagery the 
question of this line is simply ' Are there no means of securing for the 
poor poet the profits arising from his poetry ? ' 

14. a fell tribe. The middleman in the poet's case the publisher. 

the Aonian hive. Aonia was part of Breotia in which stood Mount 
Helicon, also sacred to the Muses. The Muses were sometimes called 
' Aonides.' In the metaphor the poet is the bee, poetry the honey, the 
publisher the wasp. 

16. that noblest toil. The making of poetry. Cowper, too, speaks of 
< the poet's toil ' in Bk. IV of The Task (1. 262). 

1 8. starve right merrily. Poets have from time immemorial been 
notorious for their poverty. For the manner (' merrily') in which they bear 
their poverty, cp. Cowper's description of the English poor in Bk. IV 
of The Task (467, 468) : ' this merry land, though lean and beggared.' 

19-27. This stanza contains the poet's noble protest against the 
belief that money can confer happiness. So Goldsmith, in the midst 
of obscurity and poverty, could exclaim 

'Creation's heir, the world, the world is mine.' Travelle'r. 
And so Burns 

' What though, like commoners of air, 
We wander out, we know not where, 

But either house or hall ? 
Yet Nature's charms, the hills and woods, 
The sweeping vales, an' foaming floods, 
Are free alike to all. . . . 

It's no' in titles nor in rank, 

It 's no' in wealth like Lon'on bank 

To purchase peace and rest,' &c. 

Epistle to Davie, 11. 43-59. 

23, 24. to trace the . . lawns by living stream at eve. Cp. Milton- - 
'Such sights as youthful poets dream 
On summer eves by haunted stream.' 

L? Allegro, 11. 129, 130. 


And Burns 

' The muse, nae poet ever fand her 
Till by himsel' he learnt to wander 
Adoun some trotting burn's meander.' 

Epistle to William Simson, 11. 85-87. 

25. finer fibres. Brains; poetical powers. 

26. And I their toys to the great children leave. Burns has the same 

'The warly race may drudge an' drive, 
Hog-shouther, jundie, stretch, an' strive : 
Let me fair Nature's face descrive, 

And I, with pleasure, 
Shall let the busy grumbling hive 

Bum owre their treasure.' 

Epistle to W. Simson, \\. 91-96. 

27. fancy. The poetical faculty. 

28. a bolder song, i.e. than her , praise of Indolence, in Canto I. 
With the apostrophe to his Muse in this line, cp. that of 1. 280 in 
Canto I. 

30. This alliterative line is a good instance of Pope's maxim 'The 
sound should be an echo of the sense/ 

31. The poem itself, The Castle of Indolence, was good evidence of 
the truth of this confession : it was some fourteen or more years on the 

33. imp of fame. The Knight of Arts and Industry (see 1. 58 
infra] . 

34. sons of softness. The votaries of Indolence. 

36. the slumbering flame. Of industry or enterprise. 

38. Selvaggio. A savage; denizen of the woods (see 1. 45 infra). 
The same character figures in Autumn, where he is called (1. 57) ' a sad 
barbarian,' (1. 59) 'a shivering wretch,' and (1. 69) 'the rugged savage.' 
Indeed the whole passage in Autumn, from 1. 43 to 1. 140, is the germ 
of this second Canto. It will be found extremely interesting to compare 
the finished picture with the first study. 

43. in November steeped, i. e. in the rains of that wet or misty month 
(see 1. 437 infra). 

69. Minerva pity of him took. An archaic idiom for ' on him.' 
Minerva (connected with mens, mind), the embodiment of the thinking 
power. She was one of the three leading divinities of ancient Rome, 
and the goddess of wisdom and war, i. e. she ' guided men in the 
dangers of war where victory is gained by cunning, prudence, courage, 
and perseverance.' 

NOTES, II. 25-142. 


70. all the gods that love the rural wonne. Such as Pan, Pales, 
Vertumnus, Silvanus, Ceres, &c. For ' wonne,' see Glossary. 

71. rule the crook. One would have expected 'sway,' or 'rule 

72. The Muses ; a country life naturally instilling poetical ideas into 
an intelligent mind. 

73- Of fertile genius. Naturally possessed of great capacity for 

76. or use, or joy, or grace. The first ' or ' is equivalent to ; either.' 

77, 78. His education was of that complete kind which develops the 
intellectual, moral, and physical powers. 

84. dreiv the roseate breath, &c. Inhaled the morning air while it 
was yet flushed with the red splendours of sunrise. 

88. Foot-racing is referred to. 

89. wheeled the chariot, i. e. adroitly deflected its course while the 
horses were racing at full speed. This was a favourite Roman exercise ; 
see Horace (Car. I. i) : 

' Snnt quos .... 
. . . metaque fervidis 
Evitata rotis palmaque nobilis 
Terrarum dominos evehit ad Deos.' 

92. the ethereal round. The heavens, with their various phenomena 
of stars, meteors, clouds, birds, &c. 

94. It was usual, till lately, to speak of ' the three kingdoms of 
nature ' the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral. 

95. scanned the globe. Studied the geography of the various states 
political and physical. 

98, 99. Studied mental and moral philosophy. 

107. Neptune's school. The water of lake or river, as well as of sea. 
For Milton's limitation of Neptune's ' sway' see Comus, 11. 18-21. 
no. Cp. Goldsmith's line in The Traveller 

' The canvas glowed beyond e'en Nature warm.' 

113. Pygmalion's wife. The original story is to the effect that 
Pygmalion, king of Cyprus, made in ivory the image of a maiden 
which was of such surpassing loveliness that he became enamoured 
of it, and prayed Aphrodite (Venus) to make it live. His prayer was 
granted, and he married the maiden. 

114. with varied f-re. With enthusiasm of a different sort. 

117. that ^veU might wake Apollo's lyre. Worthy to be sung with the 
accompaniment of the best music. Apollo was both the sun-god and 
the god of poetry and music. 

142. Egypt, Greece, and Rome. For the history of the rise and progress 


of the liberal arts and virtues in these countries, see Thomson's great but 
neglected and under-rated poem Liberty, Parts II and III. 

143. ruins grey. Burns has ' ruined castles grey ' in his Address to 
the Deil. 

146. made for Britain's coast. See Liberty, Part IV, 11. 382-388; 
also 11. 626-642. 

159. the genius of the land. The natural disposition of the people. 

160-162. Compare this with the eulogy in Summer, 11. 1467-1478. 

165, 166. agriculture . . Fair Queen of Arts ! Thomson never 
wearies of crying up the rural industries and virtues. In Spring, it is 
' the sacred plough,' which ' employed the kings and awful fathers of 
mankind ' (11. 58, 59) ; and at 1. 66 he exclaims 

' Ye generous Britons, venerate the plough.' 

177. either Ind. Both the East and the West Indies. 

1 80. Britannia's thunder. So in Campbell's Ye Mariners of 
England : 

' With thunders from her native oak 
She quells the floods below.' 

181, 182. The reference is to the revival of learning that began on 
the downfall of Constantinople in 1453. Propontis, now the Sea of 

185. Castalie. A spring on Parnassus sacred to Apollo and the Muses. 

1 86. Isis. The Upper Thames the Thames at Oxford. The 
reference in the line is to the fame of Oxford University for classical 

187. old Cam soft-paces o'er the lea. The reference here is to Cam- 
bridge University. Cp. Milton's Lycidas 

' Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow.' 1. 103. 
187-189. These lines were evidently inspired by the pastoral spirit of 
Milton's Lycidas. See more especially of that poem, 11. 23-36 ; 11. 103, 
104; and 11. 186-189. 

190-192. Cp. Liberty, Part V, 11. 374~377 

' To softer prospect turn we now the view, 
To laurelled Science, Arts, and Public Works, 
That lend my finished fabric comely pride, 
Grandeur, and grace,' &c. 

194. the coy sisters. The Fine Arts Sculpture, Painting, Poetry, 
Music, Architecture, &c. 

202. Maecenas. A noble Roman, the friend and patron of Horace, 
Virgil, &c. Bubb Dodington was ambitious of figuring as the Maecenas 
of his time ; he is commonly known as the last of the patrons for the* 

NOTES, II. 143-249. 


most part a degrading class in English literature. (See Summer, Note, 

I. 29.) 

204. Unbroken spirits, cheer! An exhortation to his brother-poets 
who have not allowed their ardour to cool because of national 

207. toil-created gains, i. e. ' honestly earned.' 

216. vacant eve [of life]. Free from business and other cares 
excepting only ' the amusing care of rural industry ' (1. 236). For 
the sentiment of the whole stanza ending here, see Liberty, Part IV, 

II. 1177-1186. 

217. he chose a farm in Devds vale. The Latin name of Chester, on 
the Dee. 

220. ' Blended the various duties of/ &c. 

222. sided by the guardians of the fold. Accompanied by his 
sheep-dogs. The scene here depicted will remind the classical reader 
of the Idyl of Theocritus which describes, with a charm simply 
inimitable, the visit of Hercules to the farm of Augeas in Elis. 

223. 'Made happy by his presence.' The fashionable habit of 
absenteeism which has been rather increasing since Cowper (The 
Task, Bk. IV, 11. 587-590) and Burns (The Twa Dogs, 11. 173-176) 
lamented it deprives our landlords of the happiness depicted in this 
and the following stanzas. 

229-231. the nodding car, &c. The harvest-wain, loaded with 
sheaves, on its way to the stackyard. (See Autumn, 11. 1-3.) The 
scene here described is known as ' leading the field ' a pleasant part 
of the labours of harvest time, which Thomson strangely omitted to 
notice in his Autumn. (See that poem, 11. 151-176.) 

233. ruffian idleness. The parent of War. Those who wage war 
are, agreeably with this view, called 'honourable ruffians' (1. 491, 
Canto I). 

234. this life. Of rural industry. The origin of agriculture is also 
traced to heaven at 1. 166 supra. 

240-243. References to drainage, irrigation, reclamation, and planta- 
tion of the land. 

246, 247. These lines are interesting as showing Thomson's ideas of 
the proper relation of Art to Nature. 

248, 249. In graceful dance . . . Pan, Pales . . . played. Imitated 
probably from Milton, Par. Lost, Bk. IV, 11. 266-268 : 

' Universal Pan, 

Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance 
ed on the eternal Spring.' 


But the figure is a common one in the classical poets, e. g. Hor. Car. 

L 4 . 

Pan, the great Greek god of flocks and shepherds ; Pales, a Roman 
divinity of flocks and shepherds ; Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers 
and spring ; and Pomona, the Roman goddess of the fruit of trees these 
are among ' the gods that love the rural wonne ' referred to at 1. 70 ante. 
251. A happy place. Already so described (11. 64, 65 supra). 
261. The line does not contain a contradiction or correction of 
traditional report, but accepts it : 'as old Fame reports ' is parentheti- 
cal ; ' as ' = ' so,' ' this.' 

264. To his . . . wish. ' Up to,' ' agreeably to,' &c. Cp. Burns 
' Bless him, thou God of love and truth, 
Up to a parent's wish ! ' 

Prayer for a Rev. Friend's Family. 

266, 267. Vice leads the van, bearing the standard ; Corruption 
commands the rear. ' Arriere-ban,' lit. ' proclamation made in the 
rear ' or ' to the rear.' 

268. mind yourselves . The motto of selfishness. 
276. the noble colour. The flush of righteous anger. This stanza 
(xxxi) may be compared with stanzas vii and viii of the noble 
fragmentary Scots ballad Hardyknute, with which Thomson must have 
been acquainted : 

'The little page flew swift as dart 

Flung by his master's arm ; 
Cum down, cum down, Lord Hardyknute, 
And rid zour king frae harm. 

Then reid, reid grew his dark-brown cheiks, 

Sae did his dark-brown brow ; 
His luiks grew kene, as they were wont 

In dangers great to do,' &c. 

281. That villain Archimage. See Note, Canto I, 1. 181 supra. 
285. the sisters three. The Weird Sisters, or Sisters of Destiny ; 
called Moirae by the Greeks, Parcas by the Romans ; the Fates. They 
were Clotho, who spun the thread of human life; Lachesis, who 
measured it ; and Atropos the inevitable, who cut it. 

289. the bard, a little Druid wight [Of withered aspect . . . In russet 
brown bedighf}. Cp. Milton's Comus, 11. 619-621 
' A certain shepherd lad 
Of small regard to see to, yet well skilled 
In every virtuous plant and healing herb.' 
A druid was a priest of the ancient Britons. Here it means a poet who 

NOTES, II. 251-385. 429 

loved nature and frequented woods. In this sense it is used of Thomson 
himself, in Collins's melodious lines to his memory : 
' In yonder grave a druid lies,' &c. 

292. his sister of the copses. The nightingale ; Philomela. 

293. He crept along, unpromising of mien. The description would 
have suited Thomson himself in his later years. He stooped in 
walking, was slovenly in his dress ; was ' neither a petit maitre nor a 
boor he had simplicity without rudeness, and a cultivated manner 
without being courtly.' (Testimony of Dr. Robertson, Richmond.) 
This is the bard of Canto I, st. Ixviii, reformed of his one vice. 

295. Angels are meant. 

303. those wretched men, who will be slaves. The line reminds one 
of the chorus of Thomson's Rule Britannia. 

306. Thrice happy he who, &c. The persuasive poet, happier than 
the coercive statesman. 

307-312. The knight on a red horse, emblematic of war ; the bard 
on a milk-white palfrey, emblematic of persuasion and peace. 

325. that fatal valley gay. See its description fully set forth in 
Canto I, st. ii, and st. v. 

336. The frail good man. The victim of Indolence. 

345. of this avail. An archaic idiom ; 'take advantage of this.' 

351. In purgatorial fires. Cp. Hamlet, Act I, sc. v, 11. 10-12. 

352. ' Beneath a spacious palm.' Canto I, 1. 61. 
367. With magic dust their eyne, &c. Cp. Comus 

' Thus I hurl 

My dazzling spells into the spongy air, 
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion. . . . 

Her eye 

Hath met the virtue of this magic dust.' 11. 153-165. 
380. The wary retiarius. Thomson has a note on this: 'A 
gladiator, who made use of a net which he threw over his adversary.' 
He carried the net (rete) in his right hand, and a three-pointed lance 
(tridens] in his left. If he missed his aim, by either flinging the net too 
short or too far, he at once took to flight, preparing his net the while for 
another cast. Meanwhile his adversary (Sectitor] followed , and attempted 
to dispatch him with a sword, or a ball of lead. (See an account of the 
ancient gladiatorial shows in any book of Roman Antiquities.) 

383. The weakest line in the poem ' bordering, indeed, on the 

385. floundd to and fro. See Spring, 1. 434, and Note. Cp. Savage's 
Wanderer, Canto IV 

' Where [in the net] flounce, deceived, the expiring finny prey.' 


387. his . . . nail. For the sing, form, cp. ' Dick, the shepherd, blows 
his nail? Shakespeare. 

398. Avernus. A lake filling the crater of an extinct volcano, round 
(in circumference about a mile or more), very deep, and girt with high 
banks. It was near Cumae, and the Cumsean Sibyl lived near it in 
a cave which had connection with the infernal world (see ^Eneid). The 
Cimmerians lived in the perpetual gloom of its banks. 

405. Touch soul with soul. ' Speak from the heart, and touch their 
hearts with the sincerity of your appeal.' 

410. Till tinkling in clear symphony they rung. A singularly expres- 
sive line, suggesting by its very sound the peculiar tones of a harp- 
Cp. Scott's Lay of the Last Minstrel 

'Till every string's according glee 
Was blended into harmony.' Introd. Canto I. 

415-567. The song of Philomelus, contained in these lines, matches 
at every point the Song of Indolence in the first Canto. It is as 
poetical, as powerful in its appeal, and is animated, of course, by a 
higher morality. 

423. Cp. Pope's Essay on Man, Ep. I, 11. 267-280, ending with the 
line which so closely resembles this one 

' He fills, he bounds, connects, and equals all.' 
See also Spring, 1. 854. 

426-429. The theory of spiritual evolution here briefly expressed was 
the firm belief of Thomson throughout his life. He makes numerous 
references to it. See Spring, Note, 11. 374-377 ; Liberty, III, 11. 68-70 ; 
The Hymn, Note, 11. 115, 116; and 11. 562, 563 infra. 

432, 433. ' That cosmos excels chaos.' 

443. the brighter palm. Because excellence in Art is of a superior 
kind to excellence in feats of bodily strength, &c., for which also the 
palm was given. 

448. tfer the nations shook her conquering dart. The pilum. Cp. 
Milton, Par. Lost, Bk. XI, 11. 491, 492 

' Over them triumphant Death his dart 

449. ' The laurell, meed of mightie conquerours 

And poets sage.' Faerie Queene, Bk. I, Canto I, st. ix. 

456. cities . . . their towery fronts. ' Pherae deckt with towers ' 
(Chapman's Homer). 

460. Great Homer's song. The Iliad. (See Winter, 1. 533, and 

462. Sweet Maro's muse. The poet Virgil. (See Winter, 1. 532, 
and Note.) Virgil regarded Mantua, on an island in the Mincius, as his 

NOTES, II. 387-655. 


birthplace, but he was born rather at the village of Andes in the 

463. the Mincian reeds. Milton's Lycidas 

' Thou honoured flood, 
Smooth-sliding Mincius, crowned with vocal reeds.' 11. 85, 86. 

464. The wits of modern time. The poets after the Renaissance. 

466. Paradise Lost would not have been written. 

467. Stratford-on-Avon is in Warwickshire. Shakespeare would have 
been merely a happy and companionable peasant. 

468. my master Spenser. Cp. Lydgate's 'My mayster Chaucer ' in 
his Prol. to The Falls of Princes. The Castle of Indolence was written 
professedly in imitation of Spenser's style. (See Thomson's Advertisement 
prefixed to his Poem.) The Mulla was Spenser's poetical name for the 
Awbeg, a tributary of the Blackwater of county Cork. It was on the 
banks of the Mulla that Spenser read part of his Faerie Queene to Sir 
Walter Raleigh in 1589; the friends sat 

4 Amongst the coolly shade 
Of the green alders by the Mulla's shore.' 

469. the sage historic muse. Clio. 

471. starry lights of virtue. See a lengthened description of them in 
Winter, 11. 439-540. 

535. The world is poised. The balance of power is preserved. 

554. Resolve! and 

557, 558. Let godlike reason . . . Speak the . . . word, &c. Cp. 
Young's Night Thoughts, I, 11. 30, 31 

' On Reason build Resolve, 
That column of true majesty in man ! ' 
Cp. also Burns's Epistle to Dr. Blacklock 

4 Come, firm Resolve, take thou the van, 
Thou stalk o' carl-hemp in man ! ' 

562, 563. See Note, Canto II, 11. 426-429 supra. 

580. this fleshly den. The body. 

614. That lazar-house. See Canto I, st. Ixxiii. 

639. [Repentance} rejoices Heaven. See Parables of The Lost Sheep, 
Lost Piece of Money, &c. ' There is more joy in heaven over one 
sinner that repenteth,' &c. 

653. dolorous mansion. Purgatory. 

655. soft and pure as infant goodness. Cp. the Scripture story of 
Naaman the Syrian leper washing away his disease in the Jordan : ' And 
his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was 
clean ' (2 Kings v. 14). 


685. their scorned day of grace was past. Cp. the Scots Para- 
phrase, X : 

' How long, ye scorners of the truth, 
Scornful will ye remain ? . . . 

The time will come when humbled low 

In sorrow's evil day, 
Your voice by anguish shall be taught, 

But taught too late to pray. 

Prayers then extorted shall be vain, 
The hour of mercy past.' 

697. Auster. The south-west wind, bringing fogs and rains. 

698. Caurus. The north-west wind ; ' frosty Caurus ' in Winter, 1. 836. 
703. The first. Beggary personified. 

712. The other. Scorn personified. 

721. Brentford town, a town of mud. The county town of Middlesex, 
at the mouth of the Brent, a tributary of the Thames. There is a bridge 
here over the Thames, leading to Kew. Thomson knew the town well, 
but apparently did not admire it. From his description one might infer 
what is quite true that the town is one long street. 






Agen, again. 

Apaid, recompensed ; cf. Fr. 
payer, to pay, to satisfy. 

Arrier-ban, probably a French 
cormption, from O. H. G. hari, 
army, and ban, proclamation : 
the order summoning to military 
service. See Murray's New 
English Dictionary. 

Atween, between. 

Backening, stepping back. 

Bale, evil, destruction; A.-S. 

Bate, abate ; Fr. bat 'I 're, to beat. 

Bay, reddish-brown ; O. Fr. bai ; 
Lat. badius. 

Bedight, fully prepared ; A.-S. 
dihtan, to set in order; Lat. 

Behoves, befits ; A.-S. behofian. 

Benempt, named. 

Beseems, befits. 

Bevies, flocks, companies ; Fr. 
bevee, a flock. 

Bicker, to skirmish ; metaphori- 
cally of a ' brawling ' stream. 

Bides, awaits ; endures. 

Blazon, proclaim, blaze abroad ; 
M. E. blasen. Often confused 
with F. Mason, a coat of arms. 

Blemished, of a livid colour ; 
O. Fr. blesmir, to wound, stain. 

Boon, bountiful, good ; Fr. bon. 

Breme, cruel, sharp. 


Brewed, concocted, planned ; 

A.-S. breoivan, to brew. 
Cabals, intrigues, secrets ; Heb. 

qabbaldh, mysterious doctrine. 
Caitiff, a wretch, a captive; O.Fr. 

caitif; Lat. captivus. 
Car-king, causing anxiety ; O.Fr. 

karke, dialect form of charge, 

Carle, a sturdy rude fellow, a 

churl ; A.-S. ceorl, a freeman, 

but of the lowest rank. 
Casten, false form for ' casted.' 
Catacombs, sepulchral vaults ; 

orig. of the subterranean ceme- 
teries lying around Rome. 
Gates, dainties; Fr. achat, pur- 
chase. Cog. ' cater.' 
Certes, certainly. 
Chaunced, befell ; O.Fr. chaance ; 

Lat. cadens, -tern. 
Clerks, scholars, the clergy ; Lat. 

clericus, one of the clergy. 
Contrite, thoroughly bruised 

and humbled ; penitent ; Lat. 

terere, to rub. 
Crouchen, crouch. 
Cunning, dexterous; A.-S.cunnan, 

to know. 
Dainties, delicacies ; O. Fr. 

daintie, agreeableness ; Lat. 

dignitas, -tatem. 
Dalliance, pleasant trifling ; cog. 

'dally,' and 'dwell.' 




Dan, Lord, a title of respect for 

monks, &c. ; Lat. dominus ; Fr. 

dom ; O. Fr. dans. 
Delves, digs ; A.-S. delfan. 
Delves, dales ? given as ' deserts.' 
Depeinten, depicted ; Fr. peint ; 

Lat. pictiis. 

Dispightful, despiteful. 
Distaff, A.-S. distcef; properly ' a 

staff provided with flax to be 

spun off' (Skeat). 
Draught, a drawing, or plan. 
Drowsyhed, drowsihead, for 

Eath, easy, easily. 
Eftsoones, soon after, forthwith. 

Common in Spenser. 
Eke, v., to join, to increase ; A.-S. 

ecan, to lengthen; cog. with 

Lat. augere. 
Eke, conj., also. 
Eld, old age. 

Emmet, ant ; A.-S. amete. 
Emongst, amongst. 
Emove, move. ' Enmove ' in 


Emprise, enterprise. 
Estate, state or condition ; 

Eyne, pi. of eye. 
Fain, glad ; A.-S. jfe^w, glad. 
Pand, found. 
Fay, fairy; O.Yi.fee. 
Fee, a grant of land, payment ; 

A.-S. feoh, cattle. 
Fell, cruel ; O. Yr.fel, cruel. 
Felly, in a cruel manner. 
Fit, an attack, or a turn ; A.-S. 

Jit, a song, a struggle. Orig. 

sense 'a step.' 

Fone, pi. of foe ; A.-S. fan. 
Fray, a contest ; shortened form 

of < affray/ 
Fry, fish-spawn; a shoal of 

Gallow-tree, from A.-S. galga, 

cross, gibbet ; tre6 t timber. 

Gear, geer, weapons, clothing, 

property ; A.-S. geai~we. 
Gelid, cold, frozen : Lat. gelidus. 
Genders, produces. 
Glaive, sword ; Lat. gladius. 
Han, have. 
Hight, is or was named ; named : 

A.-S. hdtan, to call, to be called. 

Cog. ' behest.' 
Houghs, for 'hoes.' 
Idless, for ' idleness.' 
Immingle, to mingle thoroughly. 
Imp, a graft or shoot, a child ; 

A.-S. impan, pi. Never used 

jocularly by Spenser. 
Inly, inwardly. 
Issued, with the accent on the 

last syllable ; O. Fr. is sir, Lat. 

exire, to go forth. 
Jot, iota, the smallest letter in 

the Greek alphabet. 
Junto, a secret alliance, a faction; 

Span. junta", Lat.juncta. 
Keen, v., to sharpen. 
Kest, for ' cast.' 

Lacquey, a menial ; Fr. laqttais. 
Lad, led. So in Spenser. A.-S. 

ladan, pret. Itedde. 
Lair, den, retreat ; A.-S. leger, a 

Landskip, for landscape. So in 

Milton. ' -scape ' is our affix 

' -ship.' 
Lank, slender; jointed; and so, 

flexible. Cog. ' link.' 
Lazarhouse, a leprosy hospital ; 

from Lazarus, the name of the 

beggar in the parable ; contrac- 
tion of the Heb. name ' Eleazar.' 

A lazaretto. 
Leeches, physicians, healers ; 

A.-S. Icece, a healer. 
Lees, dregs ; Fr. lie. 
Lenient, mild ; Lat. leniens, 

Libbard, leopard. Chaucer's form 

is < libart.' 



Lig, to lie ; M. E. liggen, lien. 

Limber, flexible, supple ; from 
' limp.' 

Lithe, flexible. 

Loathly, loathsome. So in Spenser. 

Loll, to lounge about ; cog. ' lull.' 

Loom, from A.-S. ge-loma, a tool. 
Cog. ' heirloom.' 

Losel, worthless fellow. 

Lout, a lazy clown ; A.-S. liitan, 
to stoop. Cog. ' loiter.' 

Louting, stooping, bowing. Still 
in use in Lowland Scots. 

Lubbard, a lubber ; cog. ' lob,' 
'lump,' &c. Cf. Milton's lubber- 

Lusty he d, pleasure, enjoyment ; 
the form in Chaucer is ' lusti- 
heed ' (Squieres Tale, 1. 288). 

Massy, massive. 

Meed, reward. 

Mell, mingle ; O. Fr. mesler, to 
mix. Cog. ' medley.' 

Mew, lair ; from mews. 

Moe, more. Older forms 'moo' 
and ' mo.' A.-S. md. 

Moil, to drudge ; O. Fr. mailer. 

Mold, mould. 

Mote, might. 

Muchel,much ; Scots 'meikle' or 
'muckle.' Chaucer 'mochel.' 
A.-S. my eel. 

Nathless, nevertheless. 

We, nor. 

Needments, necessaries. 

Noisome, hurtful ; noy is a con- 
traction of annoy. 

Woursling, child, pupil. 

Noyance, annoyance found in 
Spenser ; annoy. 

Painful, industrious, taking great 

Palfrey, O. Fr. palefrei, riding- 
horse ; Low Lat. paraveredtis ^ 
an extra post-horse. 

Palmer, pilgrim ; literally, one 
who bore a palm -branch in 

token of having visited the Holy 

Passen, pass; 'I passen ' is a 

wrong form. 
Pell-mell, confusedly; from Fr. 

pelle, a peel or fire-shovel, and 

mester, to mix ; pele-meler 
Penurie, penury. 
Perdie, weak form of Fr. pardieii. 
Plain, complain ; Fr. plaindre. 
Pleasaunce, pleasure. 
Practised, made ; Gr. irparro}, 1 

make or do. 
Prankt, adorned : from ' prink,' 

a nasalised form of ' prick,' to 

trim so as to look spruce. 
Pricked, spurred, rode. 
Quilt, a coverlet; Lat. culcita, a 

pillow. Cog. ' cushion.' 
Babblement, mob. From the 

noise of their chattering. Low- 
land Scots ' raible,' to chatter 

Eampant, rearing ; Fr. ramper, 

to creep up, to climb. 
Befel, refute; prove to be false; 

from \j&.fallere. 
Keplevy, rescue ; O. Fr. replevin, 

to give back detained goods on 

a pledge. 
Sable, black, dark ; O. Fr. sable, 

a black furred carnivore. 
Saunter, stroll idly. Derivation 

unknown ; see Skeat. 
Sear, withered, dried. 
Sheen,adj.bright ; subs.splendour. 
Shook, for shaken. 
Sicker, sure, secure. 
Sir, familiarly ' sirrah ' ; also a 

title of respect. Lat. senior. 
Sleek, to make sleek. 
Smackt, tasted, savoured. 
Soot, sweet, sweetly. One of 

Chaucer's forms. 
Sort, manner. ' Smiles in such a 

sort.' Shakespeare. 
Spill, Scots for ' spoil ' ; to waste. 



Spittles, hospitals. 

Spred, spread. 

Spright, sprite, spirit. Milton's 


Stark, dead, stiff, rigid. 
Store, a number, abundance. 
Stounds, hard hours ; pangs. 
Strook, struck. Used by Shelley. 
Sublime, v., to elevate or 


Sweltry, older form of ' sultry.' 
Swink, toil. Cf. Comus. A.-S. 

swincan, to labour. 
Teem, to be prolific ; A.-S. team, 

a family. Cog. ' team.' 
Thrall, slave, or bondman. O.N. 


Tight, neat and trim. 
Tinct, tint : Lat. tinctwn, dyed. 
Trade, matters whether of business 

or pastime. 
Transmewed, transmuted; cog. 

' mews ' and ' moult ' : Lat. 

mutare, to change. 
Traunce, trance ; Lat. transire, 

to go over. 
Trippen, to trip. 
Tromp, trump, form of which 

' trumpet ' is the diminutive. 
Undone, ruined. 
Unkempt, uncombed ; Scots 

* unkaim'd '; rude. 
Vacant, idle ; Lat. vacans, -tern. 
Vild, vile. 

Vulgar, common ; Lat. vulgaris. 
"Wain, waggon ; A.-S. itxsgn. 

"Ween, suppose, think. 


Weet, know ; from wit.' 
"Welkin, sky. A.-S. woken, a 

"Well-a-day, for 'well away,' a 

corruption of A.-S. wd Id wd = 

woe lo ! woe. 
Whenas, when. 
Whilom, formerly; A.-S. hwlhim, 

dat. pi. of hwil, time. 
"Wight, a being; A.-S. unlit. 
Wis, for ywis, certainly. 
Wise, guise, manner, or way ; 

* r* / 

A.-b. wise. 

W r ithouten, without. 

Wonne, dwelling ; A.-S. wunian, 
to dwell. 

Wot, from ' weet,' supra. 

Wroke, wreaked. 

Y-, A.-S. ge-, sign of past par- 

Y-blent, blended. 

Y-born, born. 

Y-buried, buried. 

Y-clad, clad. 

Y-clept, named ; A.-S. clepian, 
to call. 

Y-fere, in company; M.E.fere, a 
companion ; far an, to go. 

Y-hung, hung. 

Y-molten, melted. 

Yode, went. 

Yore, long ago; A.-S. gedra,= 
in years past. 

Y-spring, spring. 


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