1769
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Solitude, at an Inn. (Written May 15, 1769.)

The Poetical Works of the late Thomas Warton, B.D. Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford; and Poet Laureate. Fifth Edition, corrected and enlarged... Together with Memoirs of his Life and Writings; and Notes critical and explanatory. By Richard Mant, M.A. Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. 2 Vols.

Rev. Thomas Warton


A brief Miltonic ode. "Solitude" was posthumously published as "Ode IV" in Poetical Works (1802). Warton's editor Richard Mant sees an allusion to Paradise Lost 9:249: "Solitude sometimes is best society."

Nathan Drake: "The mind of Warton was, indeed, peculiarly alive to the minutiae of rural scenery, and he has sketched his objects with such fidelity to nature, that they frequently might, with all their circumstances, be transferred with full effect to the canvas. Neither Gray nor Collins can vie with him in this respect; and, as Mr. Mant has justly observed, 'neither Claude nor Ruysdale ever painted a more glowing or a more distinct picture, than are many of the descriptions of Warton'" Essays Illustrative of the Rambler (1809-10) 2:180.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "Tom Warton's Poems, though he is often excellent in description, were much neglected in his life. It is not easy to account for this: he had a high name in English literature, especially for his vast knowledge of literary history, his scholarship, and his taste; and his good-nature and benevolent temper made him very much beloved; nor was his carelessness of habits, and neglect of the petty fashions of society, less amiable and praiseworthy. Perhaps he was a little too quaint, and now and then almost technical in his imagery. Some of his allusions and phrases required the reader to come prepared with a sort of antiquarian, or old-romance, track of knowledge, of which they had no glimmerings. There was also a want of a sufficient portion of sentiment and reflection mixed with his description" Autobiography (1834) 1:187-88.



Oft upon the twilight plain,
Circled with thy shadowy train,
While the dove at distance coo'd,
Have I met thee, Solitude!
Then was loneliness to me
Best and true society.
But, ah! how alter'd is thy mien
In this sad deserted scene!
Here all thy classic pleasures cease,
Musing mild, and thoughtful peace:
Here thou com'st in sullen mood,
Not with thy fantastic brood
Of magic shapes and visions airy
Beckon'd from the land of Fairy:
'Mid the melancholy void
Not a pensive charm enjoy'd!
No poetic being here
Strikes with airy sounds mine ear;
No converse here to fancy cold
With many a fleeting form I hold,
Here all inelegant and rude
Thy presence is, sweet Solitude.

[1:140-41]