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THIs beautiful poem in dialogue, called a drama, has but few attractions in representation, although it is the work of the celebrated author of “The Seasons.”
Thomson was born in 1700, in Roxburgh, a shire in Scotland, the son of the minister of the parish of Ednam. He received his early education at Jedburgh, and was afterwards admitted to the university of Edinburgh. He was designed for the church, but the Muses presided over his inclination, and allured him from sacred study and his native land, to seek reputation, and other reward, in the capital of England.
His first pursuit was attained as soon as he published his “Winter,”—which appeared before the other Seasons—but more solid remuneration came both slowly and precariously, for, like most poets, Thomson was often in necessitous circumstances. Yet he was favoured with the friendship of Pope, and protected by the Lord Chancellor Talbot, with whose son he made the tour of Europe:—but, by the death of that son, soon after his return, and the decease of the Chancellor immediately succeeding, the poet was reduced from a degree of affluence to poverty; as he merely held a lucrative place under his patron, which fell with him. The present tragedy was first acted in 1744. Garrick was the original Tancred, and Mrs. Cibber the renowned Sigismunda.-The story is taken from “Gil Blas,” and, as the author added little more than poetry to the fable, it is devoid of all that incident by which every act should be diversified, to establish the just title of a dramatic work. The soft flowing love of Tancred and Sigismunda may find admirers by the fire-side, on a long winter's evening, but can with difficulty obtain listeners in a brilliant theatre, where a thousand objects divert the attention which is not seized at once by some bold occurrence on the stage, and fastened to the subject of its concern by perpetual variety. The interest which the town has taken of late in seeing a child represent a man, has recalled this tragedy from the library once more to the theatre. But this is no proof against the dulness of the production. The taste which is irregular, will combine irregularities; and why should not exquisite verses be taken for a play, whilst an exquisite little boy is received as an actor? Mrs. H. Siddons wants nothing to make the part of Sigismunda impressive, but a Tancred of her own height. The author of this work died in the forty-ninth year of his age, of a fever he caught by imprudently taking a boat from Hammersmith to Kew, when he was previously heated by a hasty walk from London He died at his house in Richmond, a pensioner of Frederick, Prince of Wales, the late king's father, and has a monument to his memory in Westminster Abbey. Thomson appears, from all accounts received of him, to have been a man of mild and modest manners, and of depressed spirits. Dr. Johnson says he was fat, and accuses him of indolence—here is another irregularity—for Thomson was born on the other side of the Tweed.