1824 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

William Hazlitt, in Select British Poets (1824); Works, ed. Howe (1932) 9:240.



THOMSON is the best and most original of our descriptive poets. He had nature; but, through indolence or affectation, too often embellished it with the gaudy ornaments of art. Where he gave way to his genuine impulses, he was excellent. He had invention in the choice of subject (The Seasons), some fancy, wit and humour of a most voluptuous kind; in the Castle of Indolence, great descriptive power. His elegance is tawdriness; his ease slovenliness; he sometimes rises into sublimity, as in his account of the Torrid and Frozen Zones; he has occasional pathos too, as in his Traveller Lost in the Snow; his style is barbarous, and his ear heavy and bad.