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Gift (Ref. F. 1, 3, 27
THE CASTLE OF INDOLENCE
WITH BIOGRAPHICAL NOTICE, INTRODUCTIONS, NOTES, AND A GLOSSARY
J. LOGIE ROBERTSON, M.A.
EDITOR OF 'SELECTIONS FROM BURNS'
AT THE CLARENDON PRESS
[All rights reserved]
THOMSON has special recommendations as a British classic for the use of youth. Not only does he look upon Nature with the eye of a poet-and there is hardly an aspect of Nature that he has failed to note-but his descriptions possess such a power of freshness and fidelity, conveyed for the most part in language of astonishing felicity, that the heart must be dull indeed which they cannot inspire with interest and even rouse to enthusiasm. It is not too much to say that a love for Thomson's poetry in early life implies a permanent delight in the phenomena of rural Nature and an unfailing response to her restorative influences. It might be added that Thomson furnishes in The Seasons the best introduction to the study of Wordsworth's poetry,—if indeed the heart that has felt the charm of the earlier and more ingenuous poet be not satisfied to rest content with his teaching and to seek no farther. In The Castle of Indolence the same love of Nature and rural life which animates The Seasons is continually revealed in passages of exquisite beauty, and in the second Canto there is, more particularly, much sympathetic writing on the advantages of an open-air life of active industry which is surely very capable of inspiring and directing the energies of healthy youth.
The text of The Seasons adopted in the present edition is of course that of the year 1746, which was the last to receive the author's personal revision. At the same time the earlier
texts have been examined, and it is believed that all the alterations of real interest, made in the first and subsequent texts before the completed poem at last settled into the shape in which we now have it, have been carefully recorded in the Notes-certainly to a much greater extent than will be found in any previous edition. For The Castle of Indolence the text of the second edition, published in octavo in 1748, the last year of Thomson's life, has been faithfully followed in the present edition.
Very special care has been taken in the preparation of the Notes. They have been written independently of, and are fuller and it is hoped-not more diffuse than, those of any previous edition. Amongst other purposes they aim at making the author illustrate himself, by citing from his other poems passages parallel to those which happen to be under consideration. They are further intended to reveal the nature and extent of his indebtedness to his predecessors and contemporaries, and they at least indicate the manner in which he in his turn has influenced or suggested the poetical thought and work of others.
In regard to The Castle of Indolence, it may fairly be claimed that it is here for the first time fully annotated.
In writing the Biographical Notice I have had occasion to correct many faults which, having found their way into the early Lives of Thomson, have continued to infest his biography ever since. In this part of my task, more especially in dealing with the home life and youthful training of Thomson, I have received valuable aid-most courteously and generously given, and here gratefully acknowledged from the Rev. John Mair, D.D., minister of the parish of Southdean, Roxburghshire.
J. LOGIE ROBERTSON.
7th July, 1891.