Page images

and in the following year became a fellow of his college.

His spirited satire, entitled " Newmarket," and pointed against the ruinous passion for the turf; his "Ode for Music ;" and his " Verses on the Death of the Prince of Wales," were written about this time; and, in 1753, he was the editor of a small collection of poems, under the title of "The Union," which was printed at Edinburgh, and contained several of his own performances. In 1754 he made himself known by Observations on Spenser's Faery Queen, in one volume, afterwards enlarged to two; a work well received by the public, and which made a considerable addition to his literary reputation. So high was his character in the University, that in 1757 he was elected to the office of its poetry professor, which he held for the usual period of ten years, and rendered respectable by the erudition and taste displayed in his lectures.

It does not appear necessary in this place to particularize all the prose compositions which, whether grave or humorous, fell at this time from his pen ; but it may be mentioned that verse continued occasionally to occupy his thoughts, and that having lamented the death of George II., in some lines addressed to Mr. Pitt, he continued the courtly strain in poems on the marriage of George III., and on the birth of the Prince of Wales, both printed in the university collection. In 1770 he gave an edition, in two volumes 4to., of the Greek poet Theocritus, which gave him celebrity in other countries besides his own. At what time he first employed himself with the his


tory of English poetry, we are not informed, but in 1774 he had so far proceeded in the work as to publish the first volume in 4to. He afterwards printed a second in 1778, and a third in 1781; but his labour now became tiresome to himself, and the great compass which he had allotted to his plan was so irksome, that an unfinished fourth volume was all that he added to it.

The place of Camden professor of history, vacant by the resignation of Sir William Scott, was the close of his professional exertions; but soon after another engagement required his attention. By His Majesty's express desire, the post of poet laureat was offered to him, and accepted, and he determined to use his best endeavours for rendering it respectable. Varying the monotony of anniversary court compliment by topics better adapted to poetical description, he improved the style of the laureate odes, though his lyric strains underwent some ridicule on that account.

His concluding publication was an edition of the juvenile poems of Milton, of which the first volume made its appearance in 1785, and the second in 1790, a short time before his death. His constitution now began to give way. In his sixty-second year an attack of the gout shattered his frame, and was succeeded in May, 1790, by a paralytic seizure, which carried him off, at his lodgings in Oxford. His remains were interred, with every academical honour, in the chapel of Trinity college.

The pieces of Thomas Warton are very various in subject, and none of them long, whence he must

cnly rank among the minor poets; but scarcely one of that tribe has noted with finer observation the minute circumstances in rural nature that afford pleasure in description, or has derived from the regions of fiction more animated and picturesque scenery.


WITH dalliance rude young Zephyr wooes
Coy May. Full oft with kind excuse
The boisterous boy the fair denies,
Or with a scornful smile complies.
Mindful of disaster past,

And shrinking at the northern blast,
The sleety storm returning still,
The morning hoar, and evening chill;
Reluctant comes the timid Spring.
Scarce a bee, with airy ring,
Murmurs the blossom'd boughs around,
That clothe the garden's southern bound:
Scarce a sickly straggling flower,

Decks the rough castle's rifted tower:
Scarce the hardy primrose peeps
From the dark dell's entangled steeps;
O'er the fields of waving broom
Slowly shoots the golden bloom:
And, but by fits, the furze-clad dale
Tinctures the transitory gale.



While from the shrubbery's naked maze,
Where the vegetable blaze
Of Flora's brightest 'broidery shone,
Every chequer'd charm is flown;
Save that the lilac hangs to view
Its bursting gems in clusters blue.

Scant along the ridgy land
The beans their new-born ranks expand:
The fresh-turn'd soil with tender blades
Thinly the sprouting barley shades:
Fringing the forest's devious edge,
Half rob'd appears the hawthorn hedge;
Or to the distant eye displays
Weakly green its budding sprays.

The swallow, for a moment seen,
Skims in haste the village green;
From the gray moor, on feeble wing,
The screaming plovers idly spring:
The butterfly, gay-painted soon,
Explores awhile the tepid noon :
And fondly trusts its tender dyes
To fickle suns, and flattering skies.

Fraught with a transient, frozen shower

If a cloud should haply lower,
Sailing o'er the landscape dark,
Mute on a sudden is the lark;
But when gleams the Sun again
O'er the pearl-besprinkled plain,
And from behind his watery vail
Looks through the thin descending hail;
She mounts, and, lessening to the sight,
Salutes the blithe return of light,

And high her tuneful track pursues
Mid the dim rainbow's scatter'd hues.

Where in venerable rows
Widely waving oaks enclose
The mote of yonder antique hall,
Swarm the rooks with clamorous call;
And to the toils of nature true,'
Wreath their capacious nests anew.

Musing through the lawny park,
The lonely poet loves to mark
How various greens in faint degrees
Tinge the tall groupes of various trees;
While, careless of the changing year,
The pine cerulean, never sere,
Towers distinguish'd from the rest,
And proudly vaunts her winter vest.

Within some whispering osier isle,
Where Glym's low banks neglected smile;
And each trim meadow still retains
The wintry torrent's oozy stains:
Beneath a willow, long forsook,
The fisher seeks his custom'd nook;

And bursting through the crackling sedge,
That crowns the current's cavern'd edge,


*The Glym is a small river in Oxfordshire, flowing through Warton's parish of Kiddington, or Cuddington, and dividing it into upper and lower It is described by himself in his account of Cuddington, as a deep but narrow stream, winding through willowed meadows, and abounding in trouts, pikes, and wild-fowl. It gives name to the village of Glymton, which adjoins to Kiddington.

« PreviousContinue »