A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation

A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation

A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation

A History of English Poetry: An Unpublished Continuation

Excerpt

Among the unpublished papers of Thomas and Joseph Warton at Winchester College the most interesting and important item is undoubted a continuation of Thomas Warton's History of English Poetry. This continuation completes briefly the analysis of Elizabethan satire and discusses the Elizabethan sonnet. The discussion offers material of interest particularly for the bibliographer and the literary historian. The bibliographer, for example, will be intrigued by a statement of Thomas Warton that he had examined a copy of the Sonnets published in 1599--a decade before the accepted date of the first edition. The literary historian will be interested in, inter alia, unpublished information concerning the university career of Samuel Daniel and in the theory that Shakespeare's sonnets should be interpreted as if addressed by a woman to her lover.

Critically appraised, Warton's treatment of the Elizabethan sonnet seems skimpy. To dismiss the sonnet in one third amount of space devoted to Joseph Hall's Virgidemiarum seems to betray a want of proportion. Perhaps even more damaging may seem the fact that Warton failed to mention more sonnet collections that he discussed. About twenty years later, in 1802, Joseph Ritson listed in his Bibliographia Poetica the sonnet collections of Barnaby Barnes, Thomas Lodge, William Percy, and John Soowthern-- all evidently unknown to Warton. But Warton was not particularly slipshod in his researches. In his immediately preceding section, on Elizabethan satire, he had stopped at 1600; and in the continuation he deliberately omitted the sonnet collections published after that date. Thus, though he had earlier in the History (III, 264, n.) promised a discussion of Drayton, he omitted him here because his sonnets were continually being augmented . . .

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