James Thomson (1700–48), the highly influential Scottish-born poet and playwright, rose to literary fame through his four-book poem The Seasons (1730), a sublime visual meditation that is kaleidoscopic in its juxtaposition of nature, history, politics and science. Through the politics of Britannia (1729), he came to the notice of George Lyttelton, leading figure of the Patriot Whig Opposition, who became his patron and friend and introduced him to Frederick, Prince of Wales. Thomson’s other notable poems were the five-book Liberty (1735–36), a fervent account of the decline of liberty from ancient Greece to present-day Italy and its future in Britain, and The Castle of Indolence (1748), a Spenserian allegory of a land corrupted by luxury and saved by arts and industry. His politics continued in his plays and found a succinct expression in ‘Rule Britannia’ in the masque Alfred (1740), co-written with David Mallet.
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- James Thomson, Britannia. A Poem (1729)
Stephen H. Gregg
- Macmillan Education UK
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