Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Scotland. Thomson’s native country, which he left in 1725 in order to pursue a literary career in England. In a letter home, he compared the natural landscapes of the two countries, ruing England’s lack of living streams, airy mountains, hanging rocks, and other features characteristic of Scotland. A Scottish influence pervades his descriptions in The Seasons, working on many levels, both general and particular, conscious and unconscious.


*England. Thomson’s dramatic descriptive skills and political commitments emerge in descriptions of the cultivated landscapes of his three patrons, at Hagley Park, Eastbury, and Stowe. Landscapes in The Seasons are imagined as political places. Thomson sees wild landscapes as bastions of natural British freedom, and he presents cultivated landscapes as indexes of the virtues of the patrons whose political commitments he shared. The poet perceives this wild native freedom and cultivated virtues of British landscapes as threatened by the spreading corruption of Prime Minister Robert Walpole’s government of abusive power. This corruption is literally covering the landscape, attacking both natural freedom and the civil freedoms of a just society.