The Trusty Servant Nov 2019 No.128

No.128 No.125 November 2019 May 2018 Thou hast thy music too: Winchester and Birth of Romanticism The school’s Chaplain and historian, Budge Firth, propounded the notion that Romanticism began at Winchester College: ‘The group to whom in some real sense the origins of the Romantic revival are to be traced was devotedly and consciously Wykehamical’, he wrote in Winchester College (1948). The bicentenary of Keats’s ode ‘To Autumn’ has given the opportunity to re-examine this claim. Romanticism, we explain in Div, is a European cultural movement which explores the importance and rights of the individual. It has three prominent characteristics: the philosophical; the political and revolutionary; and the aesthetic. Wikipedia suggests that Romanticism began around 1770, but a radically different view is possible. Romanticism is earlier, quieter, and more local than is commonly realised; the heritage of Winchester, not Philadelphia, Paris or Vienna. Any account of Winchester’s poetic tradition involves the Warton family. Thomas Warton the Elder (c1688–1745) was Professor of Poetry at Oxford. His oldest son, Joseph (1722-1800), became Second Master and then Headmaster. His second son, Thomas the Younger (1728-1790), became, like his father, Professor of Poetry, and also Poet Laureate. In term time, he resided in Trinity College, Oxford; in the extensive vacations, he lived with his brother and enjoyed the company of Winchester’s pupils. Sociable and gregarious, Thomas was a member of Doctor Johnson’s dining circle, The Club. Both brothers harboured reservations about the poetry of Pope, much admired by Johnson and his school. Their criticism, by contrast with Pope’s admiration of ‘what oft was thought but ne’er so well express’d’, stressed the importance of imagination: ‘It is a creative and glowing imagination, and that alone can stamp a writer’, argued Joseph. The Wartons were inspirational teachers. At least three Wykehamist pupils of Joseph (John Codrington Bamfylde, Francis Noel Clarke Mundy and Thomas Russell) became published poets, as did Henry Kett, William Benwell, Edward Gardner, Henry Headley and George Richards – all pupils of Thomas the Younger. The palm, however, goes to William Lisle Bowles, alumnus of both institutions, great nephew of a Fellow who tried to redesign Meads, and so loyal a Wykehamist that even when composing a sonnet about Ostend 1