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We are obliged to Mr. Blagdon ; be knows our maxim, fiat justita.

Approbation from such persons as Mr. F******. is always acceptable to uso we shall not forfeit it by any wilful injustice.

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For DECEMBER, 1806.

Art. 1. Biographical Memoirs of the late Rev. Joseph Warton, D. D.

Master of St. Mary Winton College, &c. To which are added, a Selection from his Works ; and a literary Correspondence between emi, Dent Persons, reserved by him for Publication. By the Rev. John Wooll, A. M. &c. 4to. pp. 407. Price 11. 7s. boards. Cadell and

Davies. 1806. THE great reputation which Dr. Warton enjoyed during a

long life, as a poet, a critic, a scholar, and an instructor of youth, induced us to open this volume with eager expectation of finding in it a rich fund of literary entertainment. have been miserably disappointed. In the life of a student we look not for romantic adventures ; but we require as much curious intelligence as can be collected, concerning the forma- . tion and progress of his mind, his habits of reading and composition, his friends, his connections, his amusements; all, the persons and all the circumstances that eminently influenced his conduct, and decided his character, that led or directed his pursuits, that unfolded, enlarged, and established. his genius. Hence, although no kind of biography more nearly resembles the common life of man, yet none is perused with more interest and delight, than the memoirs of a favourite author, written with congenial spirit and ability. Mr. Wooll has executed his task with as much labour in vain as we ever saw bestowed on a good subject. He might be the recorder of oblivion, with inflexible gravity of dullness passing sentence at full length on

• A name inglorious, born to be forgot." Yet he has not failed from a defect of diligence, nor from any want of attachment to the memory of his friend; for his zeal to serve is far more apparent than any service that he has rendered, and the extravagance of his praise is only qualified by the obscurity of his language. His style is harsh, heavy, and frequently incorrect. The very first sentence in the Preface VOL. II.


is irreducible to any rule of English construction with which we are acquainted.

• A period of more than six years having elapsed since the death of Dr. Warton, and no pen yet employed in rescuing from oblivion the ex. cellence of his moral and intellectual attainments; the Editor feels him. self acquitted of presumption in attempting what many others might have more successfully accomplished; of these, some have probably been de. terred by a dread of committing their own fane in their endeavour to per. petuate that of their Author: and this fear should perhaps have weighed with the present Writer. But if he has succeeded in accurately displaying the extensive and highly endowed mind; if he has given to the world an ampler knowledge and juster ideas of the fively imagination, the classical taste, the didactic qualifications so peculiarly calculated to foster the dawning of juvenile talent; and the thousand warm and benevolent traits of disposition which eminently characterized his revered friend and master ; he will rest contented with having performed a duty, though he may not have entitled himself to a reward : in a word, if he has not tarnished the reputation, or lowered the name of Warton, he will quietly submit to the imputation of not having exalted his own.' Pref. p. v.

Here Mr. Wooll seems duly conscious of his own inability to do justice to the merits of Dr. Warton ; to whom, however, he has proved himself á grateful disciple, and to whose mes nory he has erected a monument of incontestable affection, by thus deliberately sacrificing his own literary reputation at the shrine of his master's.

This volume is divided into three parts_Memoirs of the Life of Dr. Warton-a Selection of his Poems--and a Series of Miscellaneous Letters. We shall examine the two former in conjunction ; of the latter we shall have very little to say.

The leading events of Dr. Warton's life were few; our narrative will therefore be brief. He was the son of the Rev. Thomas Warton, vicar of Basingstoke, and was born at Duns. fold in Surry, on the 22d of April, 1722. Until his fourteenth year, he was almost entirely under the eye and instruction of his father. In 1736 he was admitted on the foundation of Winchester College. Here', in company with Collins and another boy, he first appeared in public as a poet. Each of the three friends sent a copy of verses to the Gentleman's Magazine, and all were favourably acknowledged by the Editor, Dr. Johnson. It is very remarkable that this acuie critic even then discovered (we quote his own recorded ex. pression) that force mixed with tenderness and uncommon elevation of thought, which afterwards distinguished the de.. lightful Muse of Collins, in his riper compositions, and which perhaps none but the prescient eye of Johnson could have found in the following ingenious trifle, contributed by the young bard on this occasion.


• When Phæbe form'd a wanton smile,

My soul ! it reached not here!
Strange that thy peace, thou trembler, flies

Before a rising tear !
From midst the drops my love is born

That o'er those eyelids rove :
Thus issued from a teeming wave
The fabled Queen of Love.'

p. 110. Warton's poem, entitled “ Sappho's Advice,' was the longest, and by most readers would have been deemed the best piece of the three.. Mr. Wooll has preserved an allegorical letter, written about this time to his sister, which may be called a clever imitation of the Visions in the Spectator, Tatler, &c. Like almost every one of them, it has a dreamer, a guide, a temple, a goddess, and a crowd of worshippers. Such things are exercises rather of memory, than of imagination.

In 1740 Warton was removed from Winchester to Oriel College, Oxford. Here he signalised himself by diligence and success in his studies; and here, at the age of eighteen, he wrote The Enthusiast, or the Lover of Nature,"—the sheetanchor of his poetical fame; but we apprehend that it is cast in a quicksand; the shisting of the tide will loosen it; and the vessel will be driven from its station, down the gulph of oblivion. It is quite a scholastic poem, abounding with classical imagery and iinitation : there is no wild originality, there is no enthusiasm in it. Who but a student, poring over the beauties of NATURE through “ the spectacles of books,” amidst the twilight of a college, would have commenced a poem, in which he has assumed the character of her lover, with this frigid apostrophe :

« re green-rob’d dryads, oft at dusky eve:

By wondering shepherds seen! The introduction of the Dryads in any English poem would be sufficiently pedantic; but to address them as being often seen by wondering shepherdsof this age, and in this country, who never heard of their classical existence, is an intolerable anachronism of absurdity. There is a truth in fiction--the truth of propriety, of which no poetical licence can justify the violation. Had the Author called upon the fairies, as being 66 often seen": by modern “ shepherds,” there would, have been this truth of propriety in the invocation of them, because, though the fact assumed would have been no less, a fiction, in itself, yet such beings do still exist in popular

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