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Mr. Headley, who has extracted many beauties from Warner, says, that his tales, though often tedious, and not unfrequently indelicate, abound with all the unaffected incident and artless ease of the best old ballads, without their cant and puerility. The pastoral pieces that occur are superior to all the eclogues in our language, those of Collins only excepted. He also quotes Drayton's lines on Warner, which the reader will find in bis piece of “ Poets and Poesy.”
WARTON (THOMAS), the historian of English poetry, was descended from an ancient and bonourable family of Beverley in Yorkshire. His father was fellow of Magdalen-college, Oxford, poetry professor in that university, and afterwards vicar of Basingstoke, Hampshire, and Cobham, Surrey. He married Elizabeth daughter of the rev. Joseph Richardson, rector of Dunsford, Surrey, and had by her three children ; Joseph, the subject of the next article, Thomas, and Jane a daughter, who survived both her brothers. He died in 1746, and is buried under the rails of the altar of his church at Basingstoke, with an in, scription on a tablet near it, written by his sons, who af. terwards published a volume of his poems, by subscription, chiefly with a view to pay the few debts he left be, hind, and supply his children with some assistance in the progress of their education. Whether the success of this volume was equal to their hopes, is uncertain, but the poems acquired no reputation.
Thomas was born at Basingstoke in 1728, and from his earliest years discovered a fondness for reading, and a taste for poetry. In his ninth year he sent to his sister the following translation from the Latin of Martial : “ When bold Leander sought his distant fair
(Nor could the sea a braver burthen bear),
Drown me on my return—but spare me as I go.” This curiosity is authenticated by the letter in which he sent it, lately in the possession of his sister. It bears date “ from the school, Nov. 7, 1737." His biographer, Mr. Mant, says, that he continued under the care of his father until his removal to Oxford; but we have been in· 1 Phillips's Theatram by Sir E. Brydges.-Ath. Ox. vol. 1.-Ellis's Specimens. -Ritson's Bibl. Poetica.-English Poets, 21 vols, 1810,--Warton's Hist, of Poetry.-Headley's Beauties,
formed that he was placed for some time at Basingstokeschool.
In March 1743, in his sixteenth year, he was admitted a commoner of Trinity-college, and soon after was elected a scholar. How much he was ever attached to that college, his writings, and a residence of forty-seven years, with very few intervals, sufficiently shew. In 1745, he is said to have published “ four Pastoral Eclogues ;" but this appears to be a mistake. About this time, however, he sent one or two articles to Dodsley's Museum *; to which his brother was likewise a contributor; but his first detached publication was “ The Pleasures of Melancholy," of which the first copy differs considerably, particularly in the introductory part, from that published in his collection of poems. On the appearance of Mason's “Isis,” reflecting on the loyalty of Oxford, which a foolish riot among some students had brought into question, Mr. Warton, encouraged by Dr. Huddesford, the president of Trinity, published in 1749, “ The Triumph of Isis,” in which he retaliated on the sons of Cam in no very courtly strains. The poem, however, discovered certain beauties, which pointed him out as a youth of great promise. It is remarkable, that although he omitted this piece in an edition of his poems printed in 1777, he restored it in that of 1779. This is said to have been done at Mason's suggestion, who was candid enough to own that it greatly excelled his own elegy, both in poetical imagery and correct flow of versification; but Mason appears to bave forgot that his personal share in the contest was but trifling, and that it contained a libel on the university of Cambridge.
In 1750, our author contributed a few small pieces to the “Student, or Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany,” then published by Newbery. Among these was the “ Progress of Discontent,” which had been written in 17-46, and was founded on a copy of Latin verses, a weekly exercise much applauded by Dr. Huddesford, and, at his de. sire, paraphrased into English verse : In this state his brother, Dr. Warton, preferred it to any imitation of Swift he had ever seen. His talents were now generally acknowledged, and in 1747 and 1748, he held the office of poet laureate, conferred upon him according to an ancient practice in the Common-room of Trinity-college. · The duty of this office was to celebrate a lady chosen by the same authority, as the lady-patroness; and Warton performed this task, on an appointed day, crowned with a wreath of laurel. The verses, which Mr. Mant says are still to be seen in the Common-room, are written in an elegant and Aowing style, but he has not thought them worthy of transcription.
* These were, a Song imitated from They are authenticated by Dr. Warthe Midsummer Night's Dream, and a ton's Autograph, in his copy of the prose Essay on Spugness, written parıly Museum, mlhe possession of the edi. by him and partly by Dr. Vansittart. tor of this dictionary.
In 1750, he took his master's degree; and in 1751, succeeded to a fellowship. In this last year, he published his excellent satire entitled “ Newmarket;" 6 An Ode to Music performed at the Theatre ;" and verses “on the death of Frederic prince of Wales," which he inserted in the Oxford collection, under the fictitious name of John Whetham ; a practice not uncommon. In 1753, appeared at Edinburgh “ The Union, or Select Scots and English Poems." Mr. Warton was the editor of this small volume, in which he inserted his " Triumph of Isis," and other pieces, particularly the “ Ode on the approach of Summer," and the “ Pastoral in the manner of Spenser," which is said to be written by a gentleman formerly of the university of Aberdeen. Why he should make use of such a deception, cannot now be discovered.
About 1754, he drew up from the Bodleian and Savilian statutes, a body of statutes for the Radcliffe library. In the same year he published his “ Observations on the Faerie Queene of Spenser,” in one volume octavo, which were afterwards enlarged and published in two volumes, 1762. By this work he not only established his character as an acute critic, but opened to the world at large that new and important field of criticism and illustration which has since been so ably cultivated by Steevens, Malone, Reed, Todd, and other commentators on our ancient poets.
Soon after the appearance of the “ Observations” they were attacked in an abusive pamphlet entitled “ The Observer observed," written by Huggins, the author of a very indifferent translation of Ariosto. Huggins had engaged Mr. Warton in this translation, but when he read what Warton asserted of the inferiority of Ariosto to Spenser, he immediately cancelled his share of the translation, and published this angry pamphlet *. Mr, Warton, who was
** The following paragraph from Huggins's pamphlet will be a sufficient
specimen of the whole. “ Sect. II. He (Warton) resumes the poisonous acrimony with which he charges his wea. let us pass the chronicles of the seven pon, which he takes care shall be ju. champions, Morte Arthur, sir Tristram, diciously two-edged, lest it fail of slash- the Blatant Beast, the Questyn Beast, ing friend as well as foe. Although which is afterwards more particularly (saith our observer) Spenser formed his described, wilh a bed-roll of quotations, Faerie Queene upon the fanciful plan no less delectable than erudite, most of Ariosto.'-Poor Spenser! Wretched appositely collected, to give not only Ariosto !-Aud oh ! most mighty War- a dignity, but also a magnitude to this ton!-Let this suffice, for reply to all important tome; that purchasers may he here advances of falsehood against be well supply'd for their disbursement Ariosto, which that poem totally con- of pence, either in their meditative fufronts : such falsehood, that were it migations, or at the Cloacinian offertruth, is insipid and immaterial; and tory.”
now in his thirty-sixth year, 'had employed fully half that time in an unwearied perusal of the old English poets and such contemporary writers as could throw 'light on their obscurities. The“ Observations on Spenser” must have evidently been the result of much industry and various reading, aided by a happy memory.
In 1757, on the resignation of Mr. Hawkins of Pembroke college, our author was elected professor of poetry, which office, according to the usual practice, he held for ten years. His lectures were elegant and original. The translations from the Greek anthologies, now a part of his collected poems, were first introduced in them; and his “ Dissertatio de Poesi Bucolica Græcorum,” which he afterwards enlarged and prefixed to his edition of Theocritus, was also a part of the same course. During the publication of the “ Idler” he sent to Dr. Johnson, with whom he had long been intimate, Nos. 33, 93, and 96 of that paper. His biographer, however, is mistaken in supposing that he contributed any papers to the “ Connoisseur.” His being invited by Colman and Thornton to engage in a periodical publication has no relation to the “ Connoisseur.” It was Moore, the editor of the “ World,” who projected a Magazine, soon after the conclusion of that paper, and told the two Wartons that "he wanted a dull plodding fellow of one of the universities, who understood Latin and Greek.” Mr. Bedingfield, one of Dodsley's poets, and Gataker, the surgeon, were to be concerned in this Magazine, but Moore's death prevented the execution of the scheme.
In 1760 be published, but without his name, “A description of the City, College, and Cathedral of Winchester," 12mo. From his own copy, in the possession of the present editor, he appears to have been preparing a new edition about 1771, which was perhaps prevented by a “ History of Winchester” published soon after in two vo
lumes, a more showy work, but far more inaccurate. In the same year (1760) he published a piece of exquisite humour, entitled “A Companion to the Guide, and a Guide to the Companion, being a complete Supplement to all the accounts of Oxford hitherto published.” This passed through three editions in a very short time, but for some years has been ranked among scarce books *. A more scarce work, however, is his “ Inscriptionum Romanarum Metricaruin Delectus,” 4to, which ought to have been noticed under the year 1758. The design of this collection was to present the reader with some of the best Roman epigrams and inscriptions, taken from the “ Elegantiæ antiquorum marmorum," from Mazochius, Smetius, Gruterus, and other learned men. It contains likewise a few modern epigrams, one by Dr. Jortin, and five by himself, on the model of the antique, the whole illustrated with various readings and notes. · About 1760 he wrote for the “Biograpbia Britannica," the life of sir Thomas Pope, which he republished in 1772, 8vo, and again in 1780, with very considerable additions and improvements; and in 1761 he published the “ Life and Literary Remains of Dr. Bathurst.” In the same year, and in 1762, he contributed to the Oxford collections, verses on the royal marriage, and on the birth of the prince of Wales, and an ode entitled the “ Complaint of Cherwell,” under the name of John Chichester, brother to the earl of Donegal f. His next publication was the “ Oxford Sausage, or select pieces written by the most celebrated wits of the university of Oxford.” The preface and several of the poems are undoubtedly his, and the latter are authenticated by his adding them afterwards to his avowed productions. In 1766 he superintended an edition from the Clarendon press of “ Cephalus' Anthology,” to which he prefixed a very curious and learned preface. In this he announced his edition of “ Theocritus,” which made its appearance in 1770, 2 vols. 4to, a most correct and splendid work, that carried his fame to the continent. '
In 1767, he took his degree of B. D. and in 1771 was elected a fellow of the society of antiquaries. In October of the same year he was instituted to the small living of
* A new edition was published in Shenstone had a visit from both at the 1806 by Mr. Cooke, of Oxford, with the Leasowes in the summer of 1758. Shenoriginal cuts.
stone's Letters. On these great occaof This information is from Mr. sions of academical gratulations, our Mant's Life. Lord Donegal was, how. "author sometimes wrote verses for those ever, one of Mr. Warton's pupils. who could not write for themselves.