1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

Robert Southey, in Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) 2:107.



The Seasons, and still more the Castle of Indolence, entitle Thomson to be ranked among the good English Poets; nor should it be forgotten that the song of Rule Britannia is his, a song which will be the political hymn of this country as long as she maintains her political power. So egregiously lazy was Thomson that he has been seen standing at a peach tree, with both hands in his pockets, eating the fruit as it grew. And once being discovered in bed at a very late hour of the day, when he was asked why he did not rise, his answer was "troth mon, I hae nae motive." It is recorded to the honour of Quin, the Actor, that when Thomson was in great distress he visited him, and told him he was indebt. Thomson, who did not suppose that nay man could owe him a single farthing, answered with the jealousy of misfortune somewhat peevishly, as if he thought the assertion was meant to deride him. Quin answered "Sir I am one of many who are in your debt for the pleasure which your Poem of the Seasons has afforded us, and you will give me leave to discharge my portion of it now that there is a fit opportunity;" and so saying presented him with a note for a hundred pounds.