The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 18. The Wartons
The Wartons were devoted to the Middle Ages through their appreciation of Gothic architecture. It began with Thomas Warton the elder, who let his sons Joseph and Thomas understand what he himself admired in Windsor and Winchester. But, as with Chatterton, and even with Scott, an admiration of the Middle Ages need not lead to a study of medieval philology, though it did so in the case of Thomas the younger. In literature, a taste for the Middle Ages generally meant, first of all, a taste for Spenser, for Elizabethans—old poetry, but not too old. Thomas Warton the father was made professor of poetry at Oxford in 1718, and deserved it for his praise of the neglected early poems of Milton. It was indirectly from Warton that Pope got his knowledge of Comus and Il Penseroso. Warton’s own poems, published by his son Thomas in 1748, contain some rather amazing borrowings from Milton’s volume of 1645; his paraphrase of Temple’s quotation from Olaus Wormius has been already mentioned. The younger Thomas had his father’s tastes and proved this in his work on Spenser, his edition of Milton’s Poems upon several occasions and his projected history of Gothic architecture, as well as in his history of English poetry. His life, well written by Richard Mant, is a perfect example of the easy-going university man, such as is also well represented in the famous miscellany which Warton himself edited, The Oxford Sausage. Warton was a tutor of Trinity, distinguished even at that time for neglect of his pupils and for a love of ale, tobacco, low company and of going to see a man hanged. His works are numerous; his poems in a collected edition were published in 1791, the year after his death. He was professor of poetry 1757 to 1767, Camden professor of history from 1785 and poet laureate in the same year. His appointment was celebrated by the Probationary Odes attached to The Rolliad.