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TWO VOLUMES IN ONE
This revised edition of Thomson's Poems may be regarded as a reprint of the new Aldine edition published by Bell and Daldy in 1862, though there are differences in the arrangement, and sometimes in the readings. With the exception of “ The Seasons,” I have not had access to the sources of the Aldine text, and have, therefore, been obliged to accept it, correcting not a few errors, and improving the punctuation, which requires more attention than it has hitherto received.
I have compared “ The Seasons ” directly with the edition of 1746, the last which was printed before Thomson's death. The entire text has been scrutinized with care, and will, it is believed, be found superior to that of any other edition. The former impressions (for which I was not responsible) followed the old copies in the excessive use of capital letters. This annoyance has now been considerably reduced, and, but for the limitations of stereotype printing, would have been wholly removed.
The Memoir of Thomson is by Sir Harris Nicolas. It was first published in 1831, and was revised and enlarged by its author in 1847. Some few notes have been added, in illustration both of the Life and of the Poems, by Mr. Peter Cunningham, whose initials accompany his notes. The poems in the first volume
all but one or two would never have floated down the stream of time to our days but for the buoyancy of those in the second. The early productions of Thomson are inferior to the beginnings of most poets, and "Liberty” is a composition which has been seldom perused save by editors and proof-readers. But “The Seasons," despite much that is old-fashioned, is what we call an immortal work ; and “ The Castle of Indolence” is an exquisite masterpiece, with not a grain of perishable matter in it. Completely free from all of Thomson's usual faults and less pleasing peculiarities, it is fresh, terse, and natural, perfectly melodious, and has a charming humor rarely displayed by the author in his other pieces, though indicated elsewhere, as, for instance, in the hunters' drinking-bout in "Autumn.'
F. J. CHILD. November, 1863.