Page:Shelley, a poem, with other writings (Thomson, Debell).djvu/13

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vii

PREFATORY NOTE.


OF all our poets none has inspired a deeper personal love, or has had more earnest students than Shelley; and, it may be added, none has more deserved the love, and none will better repay the study bestowed upon him. His was no double nature; he did not give utterance to fine sentiments and act meanly; but was no less to be admired as a man than as a poet.

Not one of Shelley's admirers, I am convinced, ever surpassed James Thomson in affectionate devotion to his memory, or ever studied his writings with more minute and loving care. His poetry inspired Thomson in his youth, at a time when Shelley's reputation had not yet risen above the fogs and clouds that so long obscured its radiance: it was a resource and a consolation to him under the misfortunes of his manhood: and to the last he never ceased to regard with gratitude and love "the poet of poets and purest of men." Let me here observe, parenthetically, that no stronger proof of the essentially original and individual character of Thomson's own genius can be given than the fact that loving so much and studying so closely the works of Shelley, he yet preserved himself entirely from becoming an imitator of his style or a plagiarist of his ideas.

That Thomson never found an opportunity of ex-