Thomas Warton

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Thomas Warton

Thomas Warton (January 9, 1728May 21, 1790) was the British Poet Laureate from 1785 until his death. The three published volumes of his uncompleted History of English Poetry pioneered the study of medieval English literature.


  • Ye fetted pinnacles, ye fanes sublime,
    Ye towers that wear the mossy vest of time;
    Ye massy piles of old munificence,
    At once the pride of learning and defence;
    Ye cloisters pale, that, lengthening to the sight,
    To contemplation, step by step, invite;
    Ye temples dim, where pious duty pays
    Her holy hymns of everlasting praise -
    Hail ! Oxford, hail !
    • "Triumph of Isis" (1749).
  • O! what's a table richly spread
    Without a woman at its head!
    • "The Progress of Discontent" (1750), line 39.
  • We are apt to form romantic and exaggerated notions about the moral innocence of our ancestors. Ages of ignorance and simplicity are thought to be ages of purity. The direct contrary, I believe, is the case...In the middle ages, not only the most flagrant violations of modesty were frequently practised and permitted, but the most infamous vices. Men are less ashamed as they are less polished.
    • The History of English Poetry (1774-81) vol. 1, p. 431.
  • Nor rough, nor barren, are the winding ways
    Of hoar antiquity, but strown with flowers.
    • "Sonnet Written in a Blank Leaf of Dugdale's Monasticon" (1777), line 13.
  • All human race, from China to Peru,
    Pleasure, howe’er disguis’d by art, pursue.
    • Universal Love of Pleasure, Reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Let observation with extensive view/ Survey mankind, from China to Peru", Samuel Johnson, Vanity of Human Wishes, Line 1.

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