James Thomson (‘B.V.’)

James Thomson, né James Thompson (23 November 1834 – 3 June 1882), was a Scottish poet and essayist, best known for his The City of Dreadful Night. His pseudonyms B.V. and Bysshe Vanolis were chosen in tribute to Percy Bysshe Shelley and Novalis.

So wonderful a poem as The City of Dreadful Night needs no apology; its justification is in its own grandeur and strength: nor ought such literature to be depressing in its effect on the reader’s mind, but rather (in its right sphere and relation) a means of enlightenment and help. For whatever the subject and moral of a poem may be, there is nothing saddening in Art, provided the form and treatment be adequate; we are not discouraged but cheered by any revelation of feeling that is sincerely and nobly expressed. I hold Thomson, therefore, pessimist though he was, to have been, by virtue of his indomitable courage and love of truth, one of the inspired voices of democracy. — Henry Salt, Seventy Years Among Savages

Salt published The Life of James Thomson (‘B.V’) in 1889, with a selection from Thomson writings and a study of his writings.

Some 40 years later Salt had the pleasure of writing the introduction to an edition of Thomson The City of Dreadful Nights and Other Poems.