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And every opening primrose count,
But Warion could write in the familiar style, as well as in that, which Mr. Southey, I think, calls “the Ornate.” The “ Progress of Discontent,” is an exquisite poem; and very truly pronounced by his brother, Dr. Joseph Warton, to be the best imitation of Swift that has appeared. It ends with a touching moral, very happily expressed :
“ Oh! trifling head, and fickle heart!
A dupe to follies yet untry'd,
“ The Pleasures of Melancholy," written as it was in 1745, in his seventeenth year, is a very extraordinary performance; and exhibits a command of language, and copiousness of phraseology, which prove both wonderful attainments, and great power of mind. It was at this time that the school of Pope + was giving way: addresses to the head rather than to the heart, or the fancy; moral axioms, and witty observations, expressed in harmonious numbers, and with epigrammatic terseness; the limæ labor, all the artifices of a highly polished style, and the graces of finished composition, which had long usurped the place of the more sterling beauties of imagination and sentiment, began first to be lessened in the public estimation by the appearance of “ Thomson's Seasons," a work which constituted a new era in our poetry. Then arose a constellation of youths of genius, of a more wild and picturesque schoolGray, and Collins, and Joseph Warton, and Akenside. In this school grew up Thomas Warton. He says himself in this very poem,
" Thro' Pope's soft song tho' all the Graces breathe,
* This poem was expanded out of a Latin epigram of ten lines, which he wrote as a college exercise, and which ends with the following;
“O pectus mire varium et mutabile ! cui sors
Yet does my mind with sweeter transport glow,
Joseph Warton, in the Advertisement to his own Odes, 1746, says, “The public has been so much accustomed of late to didactic poetry alone, and essays on moral subjects, that any work, where the imagination is much indulged, will perhaps not be relished, or regarded. The author therefore of these pieces is in some pain, lest certain austere critics should think them too fanciful and descriptive. But as he is convinced that the fashion of moralizing in verse has been carried too far, and as he looks upon imagination and invention to be the chief faculties of a poet, so he will be happy, if the following Odes may be looked upon, as an attempt to bring back poetry into its right channel.” *
It may be curious to compare the coincidence of opinion on this subject between Thomas Warton, and a celebrated predecessor, and celebrated successor.
In the preface of Edw. Phillips's “ Theatrum Poetarum,” supposed to be written by Milton, is the following passage:
6. Wit, ingenuity, and learning in verse, even cle
* Collins's Odes were published the same year.
gancy itself, though that comes nearest, are one thing! true native poetry is another; in which there is a certain spirit and air, which perhaps the most learned and judicious in other arts do not perfectly comprehend."
In the preface to Milton's Juvenile Poems, 1785, T. Warton says, “Wit and rhyme, sentiment and satire, polished numbers, sparkling couplets, and pointed periods, having kept undisturbed possession of our poetry, till late in the eighteenth century, would not easily give way to fiction and fancy, to picturesque description, and romantic imagery."
Mr. Southey, in the preface to his Specimens of Later English Poets, just published, says, speaking of the time of Dryden, “The writers of this and the succeeding generation, understood their own character better than it has been understood by their successors; they called themselves wits instead of poets, and wits they were; the difference is not in degree, but in kind. They succeeded in what they aimed at; in satire and in panegyric, in ridiculing an enemy, and in flattering a friend; in turning a song, and in complimenting a lady; in pointing an epigram, and in telling a lewd tale: in these branches of literary art, the Birmingham trade of verse, hey have rarely been surpassed. Give them what praise you will, as versifiers, as wits, as reasoners, I wish not to detract a point from it; but versification, and wit, and reason, do not constitute poetry. The time, which is elapsed from the days of Dryden to those of Pope, is the dark age of English poetry.” It now became the fashion to furnish food for the
fancy, and pile images upon images, without perhaps, at all times, sufficiently attending to the construction of the language, or the harmony of the rhythm. An instance of this occurs in the very opening of Warton's poem on " Melancholy," already cited: for the sentences are involved, and the meaning at first obscured by this defect, though the images are striking and highly picturesque. The following descriptive passage, commencing at the 42d verse, deserves high praise :
" When the world