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BORN 1722.-DIED 1800.
Doctor Joseph Warton, son to the vicar of Basingstoke, and elder brother to the historian of English poetry, was born in the house of his maternal grandfather, the Rev. Joseph Richardson, rector of Dunsfold, in Surrey. He was chiefly educated at home by his father, Dr. Warton, till his fourteenth year, when he was admitted on the foundation of Winchester college. He was there the schoolfellow and intimate of Collins, the poet; and, in conjunction with him and another youth, whose name was Tomkyns, he sent to the Gentleman's Magazine three pieces of poetry, which were highly commended in that miscellany'. In 1740, being superannuated,
· The piece which Collins contributed was entitled a Sonnet, and consisted of the two following stanzas.
“ When Phæbe form'd a wanton smile,
My soul, it reach'd not here:
“ From midst the drops my love is born,
" That o'er those eye-lids rove:
he left Winchester school, and having missed a presentation to New college, Oxford, was entered a commoner at that of Oriel. At the university he composed his two poems, “ The Enthusiast," and “ The Dying Indian,” and a satirical prose-sketch, in imitation of Le Sage, entitled “ Ranelagh,” which his editor, Mr. Wooll, has inserted in the volume that contains his life, letters, and poems. Having taken the degree of bachelor of arts at Oxford, in 1744, he was ordained on his father's curacy at Basingstoke. At the end of two years, he removed from thence to do duty at Chelsea, where he caught the small-pox. Having left that place, for change of air, he did not return to it, on account of some disagreement with the parishioners, but officiated for a few months at Chawton and Droxford, and then resumed his residence at Basingstoke. In the same year, 1746, he published a volume of his odes, in the preface to which he expressed a hope that they would be regarded as a fair attempt to bring poetry back from the moralizing and didactic taste of the age, to the truer channels of fancy and description. Collins, our author's immortal contemporary, also published his odes in the same month of the same year. He realized, with the hand of genius, that idea of highly personified and picturesque composition, which Warton contemplated with the eye of taste. But Collins's works were ushered in with no manifesto of a design to regenerate the taste of the age, with no pretensions of erecting a new or recovered standard of excellence.
In 1748 our author was presented by the Duke of Bolton to the rectory of Winslade, when he imme. diately married a lady of that neighbourhood, Miss Daman, to whom he had been for some time attached. He had not been long settled in his living, when he was invited by his patron to accompany him to the south of France. The Duchess of Bolton was then in a confirmed dropsy, and his Grace, anticipating her death, wished to have a protestant clergyman with him on the continent, who might marry him, on the first intelligence of his consort's death, to the lady with whom he lived, and who was universally known by the name of Polly Peachum. Dr. Warton complied with this proposal, to which (as his circumstances were narrow) it must be hoped that his poverty consented rather than his will. “ To those” (says Mr. Wooll) “ who have
enjoyed the rich and varied treasures of Dr. War“ ton's conversation, who have been dazzled by the “ brilliancy of his wit, and instructed by the acute
ness of his understanding, I need not suggest how “truly enviable was the journey which his fellow “ travellers accomplished through the French pro“ vinces to Montauban.” It may be doubted, however, if the French provinces were exactly the scene, where his fellow travellers were most likely to be instructed by the acuteness of Dr. Warton's observa
tions; as he was unable to speak the language of the country, and could have no information from foreigners, except what he could now and then. extort from the barbarous Latin of some Irish friar. He was himself so far from being delighted or edi. fied by his pilgrimage, that for private reasons, (as his biographer states) and from impatience of being restored to his family, he returned home, without: having accomplished the object for which the Duke had taken him abroad. He set out for Bourdeaux in a courier's cart, but being dreadfully jolted in that vehicle, he quitted it; and, having joined some carriers in Brittany, came home by way of St. Maloes. A month after his return to England, the Duchess of Bolton died; and our author, imagining that his patron would, possibly, have the decency to reniain a widower, for a few weeks, wrote to his Grace, offering to join hiin immediately. But the Duke had no mind to delay his nuptials; he was joined to Polly by a protestant clergyman, who was found upon the spot; and our author thus missed the reward of the only action of his life, which can be said to throw a blemish on his respectable memory
In the year 1748-9 he had begun, and in 1753 he finished and published, an edition of Virgil in English and Latin. To this work Warburton contributed a dissertation on the sixth book of the Æneid; Atterbury furnished a commentary on the character of lapis; and the laureate Whitehead,
another on the shield of Æneas. Many of the notes were taken from the best commentators on Virgil, particularly Catrou and Segrais: some were supplied by Mr. Spence; and others, relating to the soil, climate, and customs of Italy, by Mr. Holdsworth, who had resided for many years in that country. For the English of the Æneid, he adopted the translation by Pitt. The life of Virgil, with three essays on pastoral', didactic, and epic poetry, and a poetical version of the Eclogues and Georgics, constituted his own part of the work. This translation may,
in many instances, be found more faithful and concise than Dryden's; but it wants that elastic and idiomatic freedom, by which Dryden reconciles us to his faults; and exhibits rather the diligence of a scholar than the spirit of a poet. Dr. Harewood, in his view of the classics, accuses the Latin text of incorrectness. Shortly after the
· His reflections on pastoral poetry are limited to a few sentences; but he subjoins an essay on the subject, by Dr. Johnson, from the Rambler.
. With what justice I will not pretend to say; but after comparing a few pages of his edition with Maittaire, he seems to me to be less attentive to punctuation, than the editor of the Corpus Poetarum, and sometimes to omit the marks by which it is customary to distinguish adverbs from pronouns. I dislike his interpretation of one line in the first Eclogue of Virgil, which seems to me peculiarly tasteless; nainely, where he translates 6 Post aliquot arislas" " after a few years.” The picture of Melibeus's cottage
« behind a few ears of corn,” exquisitely touched, is thus exchanged for a forced phrase with * regard to time.