1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. Thomas Warton

Hartley Coleridge, in "William Mason" Worthies of Yorkshire and Lancashire (1836) 404.



Warton was a good-natured sloven, somewhat given to ale and tobacco, and not every select either as to the company he drank and smoked with, or the jests with which he set the table in a roar. It is recorded (and the tale would not have been invented if it had not been characteristic) that Tom Warton was once missing, when in his capacity of public orator, or poetry professor, we are not sure which, he had to compose a Latin speech for some public occasion. To save the trouble of going the round of his haunts, a happy thought occurred, that he never could, whatever he was engaged in, forbear following a drum and fife. A drum and fife therefore were directed to proceed with their spirit-stirring music along the streets of Oxford, and ere long, from a low-browed hostel, distinguished by a swinging board, the Professor issued, with cutty pipe in mouth, greasy gown, and dirty band, and began strutting after the martial music, to the tune of "Give the King his own again."

The anecdote is probably fabulous, but it would never have been told of Mason. The difference of the men appears in the fact, that Warton was always Tom, while Mason was never Billy. The natural consequence of this discrepancy of manners would be, that neither could feel himself at ease in the other's society. Mason would suspect that his dignity was violated by the very negligence of Warton's dress, and Warton would be annoyed with the propriety of Mason's behaviour. He used to describe him as a "buckram man."