The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.
§ 19. Thomas Warton the Younger and his Poems
The advertisement to Warton’s Poems (1791) remarks that the author was “of the school of Spenser and Milton, rather than that of Pope.” The old English poetry which he studied and described in his history had not much direct influence on his own compositions; the effect of his medieval researches was not to make him an imitator of the Middle Ages, but to give him a wider range in modern poetry. Study of the Middle Ages implied freedom from many common literary prejudices, and, with Warton, as with Gray and Chatterton and others, the freedom of poetry and of poetical study was the chief thing; metrical romances, Chaucer and Gower, Lydgate and Gawain Douglas, led, usually, not to a revival of medieval forms, but to a quickening of interest in Spenser and Milton. Nor was the school of Pope renounced or dishonoured in consequence of Warton’s “Gothic” taste; he uses the regular couplet to describe his medieval studies: