Page:A Voice from the Nile, and Other Poems. (Thomson, Dobell).djvu/23

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Memoir.

was that he saw little prospect of escaping from it, and of attaining a position more congenial to his disposition, and offering more scope to the abilities which he felt himself to possess. To be gifted with fine feelings and to nurse great aspirations, yet to be compelled to labour at uncongenial or repulsive tasks is a sufficiently unfortunate fate; and the victim of such circumstances either sinks eventually to the level of his surroundings, or suffers cruelly in the endeavour to escape from them.

It was a noticeable trait in Thomson's character that he hardly ever failed to make warm friends of those with whom he came in familiar contact. He had not long entered the army before he had won the devoted friendship of Joseph Barnes, who was the Garrison-Master of the station to which he was attached. This gentleman was a self-educated man, who had attained his position entirely by the force of his own abilities. In befriending Thomson he was seconded by his wife, a most excellent and kind-hearted woman. In some Sonnets, written in 1862, but not intended for publication, Thomson delineates with an affectionate pen the characters of these two friends of his youth. Mr. Barnes he describes as—

"A man of genial heart and liberal mind,
    A man most rich in that rare common-sense
 Whose common absence in its name we find;
    A man of nature scorning all pretence,
 And honest to the core, yet void of pride,
    Whose vice upon that virtue most attends;
 A man of joyous humour unallied
    With malice, never making foes but friends."