Page:A Voice from the Nile, and Other Poems. (Thomson, Dobell).djvu/36

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xxv
Memoir.

about the state of nervelessness and want of self-command into which he fell during the last three or four years of his life.

The reader may perhaps ask whether there was not some reason for these fits of self-scorn and remorse? I answer that there was probably as much reason for them in Thomson's case as there was in Cowper's. The good man suffers more from remorse for the commission of some microscopic offence, than the bad man who commits some atrocious crime. Thomson saw this clearly in after-years; and he has well satirised the mood in which we accuse ourselves of being desperate sinners (which yet it is probable that no really good man is altogether a stranger to) in the following epigram:—

"Once in a saintly passion
   I cried with desperate grief,
O Lord, my heart is black with guile,
   Of sinners I am chief.
Then stooped my guardian angel
   And whispered from behind,
'Vanity, my little man,
   You're nothing of the kind.'"

In 1860 the National Reformer was established, and Thomson became one of its contributors. His articles, however, only appeared at rather long intervals in the early volumes of that paper. His first important contribution to its pages was an essay on "Shelley." It is a most eloquent tribute to the genius and essential greatness of the "poet of poets." Early in 1861 appeared a poem entitled "The Dead Year." It reviews in an interesting and forcible manner the chief events of the year 1860. The two stanzas