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the Second's time, 1154, to the reign of Edward the Third, 1327.
"On Chaucer, who first introduced the manner of the Provençaux, improved by the Italians, into our country; his character and merits at large: the different kinds in which he excelled. Gower, Occleve, Lydgate, Hawes, Gawen Douglas, Lyndesay, Bellenden, Dunbar, &c.
"Second Italian school, of Ariosto, Tasso, &c. an improvement on the first, occasioned by the revival of letters, the end of the fifteenth century. The Lyric Poetry of this and the former age, introduced from Italy by Lord Surrey, Sir T. Wyat, Bryan, Lord Vaulx, &c. in the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Spenser, his character: subject of his poem, allegoric and romantic, of Provençal invention; but his manner of tracing it borrowed from the second Italian school.-Drayton, Fairfax, Phineas Fletcher, Golding, Phaer, &c. This school ends in Milton.-A third Italian school, full of conceit, begun in Queen Elizabeth's reign, conti
nued under James and Charles the First, by Donne, Crashaw, Cleveland, carried to its height by Cowley, and ending perhaps in Sprat.
"School of France, introduced after the Restoration-Waller, Dryden, Addison, Prior, and Pope, which has continued to our own times.
"You will observe that my idea was in some measure taken from a scribbled paper of Pope, of which I believe you have a copy. You will also see I had excluded Dramatic Poetry entirely; which if you have taken in, it will at least double the bulk and labour of your book. I am, Sir, with great esteem,
"Your most humble and obedient servant, Pembroke Hall, Apr. 15th, 1770. "Thomas Gray."
Another attempt has been very lately made to illustrate the annals of our poetry by a division into schools; it is from the pen of Dr. Sayers, who constitutes eight eras; thus, the AngloSaxon school, commencing with the poet Cadmon; the Pure Norman school, commencing with the reign of Henry the First; the Anglo-Norman school, commencing with the poet Lazamon; the English school, commencing with Chaucer; the Italian school, commencing with Spenser; the French school, commencing with Dryden; the Greek
school, commencing with Collins and Gray; and the German school of the present period.*
Warton, however, uninfluenced by the example of Pope and Gray, determined, after mature consideration, to adopt the chronological plan, and, in so doing, he has probably consulted both the entertainment and information of his readers. At least, the arguments which he has brought forward in vindication of his choice, appear to convey the strongest conviction. "To confess the real truth," says he, 66 upon examination and experiment, I soon discovered their mode (Pope's and Gray's) of treating my subject, plausible as it is, and brilliant in theory, to be attended with difficulties and inconveniencies, and productive of embarrassment both to the reader and the writer. Like other ingenious systems, it sacrifices much useful intelligence to the observance of arrangement; and in the place of that satisfaction, which results from a clearness and a fullness of information, seemed only to substitute the merit of disposition, and the praise of contrivance. The constraint, imposed by a mechanical attention to this distribution, appeared to me to destroy that free exertion of research, with which such a history ought to be executed, and not easily reconcileable Disquisitions, p. 149, &c.
with that complication, variety, and extent of materials, which it ought to comprehend.
“The method I have pursued, on one account at least, seems preferable to all others. My performance, in its present form, exhibits without transposition the gradual improvements of our poetry, at the same time that it uniformly represents the progression of our language."*
To expect, in a work só multifarious and so full of research as is the History of English Poetry, that no errors should be discoverable, would be to require more than human ability can effect. The mistakes which were, and are still capable of being, detected in this laborious production, will, by every candid mind, be referred to its true cause, the necessary imperfection of intellect, however acute. With all its faults, indeed, I hesitate not to declare it, the most curious, valuable, and interesting Literary History which this country possesses. With the diligence, judgment, and sagacity of the antiquary, the critic, and the historian, are very frequently mingled the fire and fancy of the poet; and through the whole are every where profusely scattered the most indubitable traces of genuine taste and genius.
For the illustration of ancient manners and
History of English Poetry, vol. 1. 2d edition-Preface, p. 5.
customs, which forms so striking a feature in the History of English Poetry, Mr. Warton was, in no trifling degree, indebted to his frequent residence at Winchester. Here, during his long vacations, he spent his time with his brother, and here it was that he composed the greater part of his History, acquiring much information, with regard to antique usages and institutions, from the records preserved in the College, Church, and City of Winchester. It was in the shades of Winton also that he completed three works for the press which still remain in manuscript. The first, a History of St. Elizabeth's College, which formerly stood in a meadow near Winchester; the second, relates Dr. Sturges, an elaborate and very curious work on St. Mary's Chapel in the Cathedral, quite prepared for the press; which I have seen by favour of my friend Dr. Warton;" and the third is thus mentioned in two letters of our author to Mr. Price.
"Winton, Sept. 22, 1778. "I have borrowed from the muniment house of this college a most curious roll of W. Wykeham's house-keeping expences for the year 1394. It is 100 feet long and 12 broad, and really the most venerable and valuable record I have ever seen of this kind. I am making an abstract of it, which I believe I shall publish."