CHAPTER IX
CONCLUSION

HARDLY any English eighteenth-century poet, who wrote after Thomson, was quite uninfluenced by him. The use of blank verse in narrative and descriptive poetry became a fashion. Mallet Excursion, in 1728, Somerville Chase, 1734, Glover Leonidas, 1737, Young Night Thoughts, 1742, Akenside Pleasures of the Imagination, and Armstrong Art of Preserving Health, both in 1744, all in a certain sense owe their form of verse to Thomson's bold initiative. So great was the vogue, that Goldsmith, in 1765, sets down blank verse, in company with party spirit, as one of the almost indispensable conditions of popularity: "What reception a poem may find which has neither abuse, party, nor blank verse to support it, I cannot tell, nor am I solicitous to know."

If we wish to appreciate the poetic quality of The Seasons, we cannot do better than to compare Thomson's work with that of his friend Mallet, a man of considerable literary talent, who was dealing with nearly the same themes at the same time. The style, diction, and verse are very similar, a fact to be accounted for partly by their constant communication with one another, and partly by direct imitation on Mallet's part of the poems which Thomson had already published. Mallet declares that description of "some of the most remarkable appearances of Nature" is the

-234-

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James Thomson
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • PREFATORY NOTE v
  • Contents vii
  • Chapter I- Early Career 1
  • Chapter II- Later Life 41
  • Chapter III- Thomson and the Poetry of Nature 84
  • Chapter IV- The Seasons 106
  • Chapter V- The Seasons (continued) 139
  • Chapter VI- Liberty and Minor Poems 172
  • Chapter VII- The Castle of Indolence 198
  • Chapter VIII- The Dramas 219
  • Chapter IX- Conclusion 234
  • Appendix- The REVISION OF THE SEASONS 243
  • Index 253
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