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customs, which forms so striking a feature in the History of English Poetry, Mr. Warton was, in no trifling degree, indebted to his frequent residence at Winchester. Here, during his long vacations, he spent his time with his brother, and here it was that he composed the greater part of his History, acquiring much information, with regard to antique usages and institutions, from the records preserved in the College, Church, and City of Winchester. It was in the shades of Winton also that he completed three works for the press which still remain in manuscript. The first, a History of St. Elizabeth's College, which formerly stood in a meadow near Winchester; the second, relates Dr. Sturges, elaborate and very curious work on St. Mary's Chapel in the Cathedral, quite prepared for the press; which I have seen by favour of my friend Dr. Warton;" and the third is thus mentioned in two letters of our author to Mr. Price.

“ Winton, Sept. 22, 1778. “ I have borrowed from the muniment house of this college a most curious roll of W. Wykeham's house-keeping expences for the year 1394. It is 100 feet long and 12 broad, and really the most venerable and valuable record I have ever seen of this kind. I am making an abstract of it, which I believe I shall publish."


Winton, Sept. 18, 1784. “ I will bring with me Wykeham's Rotulus Hospicü, which you will like to see, and where some of the abbreviations are too tough for me. I am ready for publication, when they are got over. But else I shall leave them as I find them. It will be more than a merely curious work."*

In the year 1782, an additional piece of preferment, the donative of Hill Farrance, in Somersetshire, was given to Mr. Warton by his College; and he was, likewise, this year

elected a member of the Literary Club, with many of the individuals of which he was intimately acquainted. His pen was also at this period actively employed; in May, 1782, he published his Verses on Sir Joshua Reynolds's Painted Window; shortly afterwards, “ An Enquiry into the Authenticity of the Poems attributed to Thomas Rowley;" and towards the close of the same year, a “ History of Kiddington," intended as a specimen of a parochial History of Oxfordshire.

Further honours awaited him in 1785; the Camden Professorship of History in the University of Oxford, on the resignation of Dr. Scott, and the Poet Laureateship, on the death of Mr. William Whitehead, were, during this period, conferred



* Mant's Memoirs, p.76, 77. VOL.V.


Never had the office of Poet-Laureate, since the death of Dryden, been filled with equal ability. With the exception of his first official ode, his annual tributes are such as will survive as long as any lyric compositions in the language; in expression, imagery, and poetic fervour, they are not inferior to any thing that he has voluntarily written; and they have the rare merit of celebrating the virtues of the sovereign without compliment or hyperbole, with the noble independent spirit, indeed, of the true patriot and poet.

He was destined, however, like his predecessors of the laurel, to endure the shafts of ridicule and satire; for, soon after the production of his first Birth-day ode, appeared a publication under the title of “Probationary Odes for the Laureateship;" in which the editor, after assigning a fictitious ode to each of the supposed candidates, has allotted to the Laureate his own composition, as, in his opinion, sufficiently ludicrous for the nature of the work. It must, in justice, be allowed, that the “ Probationary Odes" possess a large fund of wit and humour, and, though abounding in personal raillery, are but little tinged' with malignity. Mr. Warton himself, with the good humour incident to his character, entered heartily into the spirit of the joke. “ The Laureates of our country,” remarks- Dr. Warton, " have ever been, as Falstaff says, • the occasion of wit in other men ;' but never of more wit than was thrown away on Mr. Thomas Warton, who, of all men, felt the least, and least deserved to feel, the force of the Probationary Odes, written on his appointment to his office, and who always heartily joined in the laugh, and applauded the exquisite wit and humour that appeared in many of those original Satires. But I beg to add, that not one of those ingenious Laughers could have produced such pieces of true poetry as the Crusade, the Grave of King Arthur, the Suicide, and Ode on the Approach of Summer, by this very

Laureate.” The product of the Professorship of History was, we are sorry to say, merely an Inaugural Lecture;" this, which has been published by Mr. Mant, exhibits so much masterly criticism, in a style of great elegance, on the genius of the Greek and Latin historians, as to excite considerable regret that he did not prosecute the


In the year 1785, and just previous to these promotions, he produced his edition of “ Milton's Juvenile Poems,” the last work of any bulk which he lived to publish.

The great excellence of this edition depends upon the new line of commentary which it displays. To consult coeval books, to refer the imagery of Milton to its frequent source, traditionary superstition and romantic fable, to explain his allusions, illustrate his beauties, point out his imitations, elucidate his obsolete diction, and ascertain his favourite words and phraseology, were the objects that he had in view. The Comimentators who have preceded him, little versed in old English literature, were content to trace their poet in the fields of classic lore, or in the steps of Spenser and Shakspeare, not aware that he was equally conversant with numerous other English poets, contemporaries or predecessors, which have now become scarce,

* Warton's Pope, vol. 6. p. 328.

but which are copiously and appositely referred to by Warton, who observes, that, “ comparatively, the classical annotator has here but little to do. Doctor Newton, an excellent scholar, was unacquainted with the treasures of the Gothic library.-Milton, at least in these poems, may be reckoned an old English poet; and therefore here requires that illustration, without which no old English poet can be well illustrated."*

Another novel vein of information of the most interesting kind is to be found in the commentary of our author on the Poemata Latina of

• Preface to his Milton, p. 24.

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