1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

Leigh Hunt, in Feast of the Poets (1814) 26 & n.



And Thomson, though best in his indolent fits,
Either slept himself weary, or bloated his wits.

In thinking it necessary to explain this passage, I only wish to deprecate all idea of disrespect to the memory of Thomson, — a man of a most cordial nature as well as of genius. The "bloated his wits" alludes to the redundant and tumid character of much of his principal poem, and the "slept himself weary" to his Castle of Indolence, which certainly falls off towards the conclusion, though it is exquisite for the most part, particularly in the outset. i would rather take my idea of Thomson as a poet from this little production than from all the rest of his works put together. There is more of invention in it, — more of unassisted fancy and abstract enjoyment; and in copying the simplicity together with the quaintnesses of a great poet, he became more natural, and really touched his subject with a more original freshness, than when he had his style to himself.