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JOSEPH M.P. DONATELLI the stone as hoax in the General and was in man's Magazine for his credulity. Cruel, yes, butSteevens's revelation might also be viewed as an act of mercy, other controversies about and on, and admitted no such solution. Thomas Percy's ofAncient English Poetry, first published in 1765, and Thomas Warton's History a/English POitry, the volume of which in 1774, are the works of literary "''-A'VA'''''' UNTVIRSrfX OF TORONTO QUARTERLY, VOLlfo.,ffi 60, NUMBeR 4, S1..J"MMER 1991 436 JOSEPH M.P. DONATELLI which catered to, and promoted, this fascination with the Middle Ages. In doing so, these works directed their attention to the medieval and pseudomedieval a1ike~ and their authors, both knowingly and unknowingly, often turned one into the other. The Reliques and the History won large audiences not because of their scholarly accuracy, which few were in any position to judge,S but because they presented coh~rent and seamless accounts of a distant past for audiences which had little taste for ancient poetry. As has often been noted, the narratives which these scholars fashi oned have much in cornmon with the fictionalized accounts of the past found in the Gothic novel. This essay will consider precisely how these widely read texts conditioned the expectations of readers about the Middle Ages in a way that corroborated, if not encouraged, the fabrication or pseudo-medieval backdrops of Gothic fiction, for the blending of fact and fictioJl, the historical anachronisms, and the skewed view of the past were to be found in those authoritative scholarly works which stood closest to genuine medieval sources. Before examining the medieval scholarship of the eighteenth century, we should consider briefly the remarkable achievement of the seventeenth century, which produced what David Douglas has tenned 'the longest and most prolific movement of medjevaJ research which [England] has ever seen.'0 The 'revival' ofinterest in medieval institutions and cuIture certainly does not begin with Hurd~ Walpole, the Wartons, or Percy. The groundwork for later scholars was lald by men such as Sir Edward Coke, John Selden, William Dugdale, and Thomas Hearne, as well as Anglo-Saxonists such as George Hickes and Edward Thwaites. Although a scholar like Anthony Wood might pursue his antiquarian sludies to indulge 'the humour of making discoveries for a man's ovvn private inforrnation/ the researches of these scholars were largely purposive and utilitarian. They scrutinized Latin, Anglo-Saxon~ and Anglo-Norman docwnents of the past for the light which they shed on the contentious ecclesiastical, polihcal, and legal issues of the Civil War and Restoration. Since matters of polity and church depended upon these texts~ scholars took a sober and grave attitude towards their research. Textual accuracy was valued highly, and close study of the lexicon was promoted by a pressing concern with minutiae. The cast of these studies is conSiderably different from the eighteenthcentury scholarship which we are about to consider: the ponderous tomes of Dugdale's great Monasticon Anglicanum and the Anglo-Saxon editions of Hickes were forbidding and largely inaccessible to those who did not have the competence to deal with the primary texts. Except for the notice of a few antiquaries, these scholarly volumes gathered dust during the latter half of the eighteenth century.? These studies had lost their topical relevance, for the crises of church and polity which had brought these texts into being had long since been resolved. Without that impetus, few had the competence or patience towade through THOMAS WARTON A.'JD'THOMAS PERG-Y 43-7l--such trying and weighty scholarship. We are therefore correct in identifying the reception of medieval culture in the middle of the eighteenth century not as the first expression of interest in the Middle Ages, but rather as a new development and direction" Warton's comment in the History is instructive, for it indicates the scorn that was heaped on the projects of earlier scholars: The antiquaries of former times overlooked or rejected these valuable remains ['fables of chivaLryL which they despised as false and frivolous~ and employed their industry in reviving obscure fragments of uninstructive morality or uninteresting history/8 The researches of a Dugdal~ or Hickes...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 435-451
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-02
Open Access
No
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