1805 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Thomson

Walter Savage Landor to Walter Birch, 1805; Forster, Landor, a Biography (1869) 47-48.



In our own country (I omit the puerilities of Pope and Philips) there is Thomson. His characters have all a ridiculous mixture of the modern and the antique. There is the flaunting dress and high-colored bloom that the spruce apprentice on a Sunday evening admires in a Birmingham housemaid. Whenever he rises, he rises by violent efforts, — which show less of fervid and vigorous imagination than of impatient languor and sickly restlessness. He was however a most amiable man, and there are many great beauties in his works; though he never was at all successful in the delineation of character. His verses make one pant in reading them; which is owing to their structure, not to what they convey. He was too happy to know anything of the passions. In fine, we have nothing in common with pastoral life; while even the highest of the ancients had much.