Imágenes de páginas

ric." His favourite studies, however, were herald- of ministry at Bristol, not excepting Mr. Catcott, and ry and English antiquities; and one of his chief other of his friends and patrons. His character, occupations was in making a collection of old also, in other respects, began to develope itself in English words from the glossaries of Chaucer and an unfavourable light; but the assertion that he others. During these pursuits, he employed his pen plunged into profligacy at this period, is contrain writing satirical essays, in prose and verse ; and, dicled by unexceptionable testimony. The most about the same period, gave way to fits of poetical prominent feature in his conduct was his continued enthusiasm, by wandering about Redcliffe mea- and open avowal of infidelity, and of his intention dows, talking of the productions of Rowley, and to commit suicide as soon as life should become sitting up at night to compose poems at the full burdensome to him. He had also grown thoroughof the moon. “He was always," says Mr. Smith, ly disgusted with his profession; and purposely, it “extremely fond of walking in the fields; and is supposed, leaving upon his desk a paper, entitled would sometimes say to me, Come, you and I will his Last Will, in which he avowed his determinatake a walk in the meadow. I have got the clever- tion to destroy himself on Easter Sunday, he gladly est thing for you imaginable. It is worth half-a- received his dismissal from Mr. Lambert, into crown merely to have a sight of it, and to hear whose hands the document had fallen. He now me read it to you.” This he would generally determined to repair to London ; and on being do in one particular spot, within view of the questioned by Mr. Thistlethwayte concerning his church, before which he would sometimes lie plan of life, returned this remarkable answer: - My down, keeping his eyes fixed upon it in a kind first attempt,” said he, “ shall be in the literary of trance.

way; the promises I have received are sufficient In 1769, he contributed several papers to the to dispel doubt; but should I, contrary to expecTown and Country Magazine, among which were tation, find myself deceived, I will, in that case, some extracts from the pretended Rowley, entitled turn Methodist preacher. Credulity is as potent a Saxon poems, written in the style of Ossian, and deity as ever, and a new sect may easily be desubscribed with Chatterton's usual signature of vised. But if that, too, should fail me, my last and Dunhelmus Bristoliensis. But his most celebrated final resource is a pistol.” Such was the language attempt at imposture, in this year, was an offer to of one not much beyond seventeen years of age ; furnish Horace Walpole with some accounts of a certainly, as Dr. Aikin observes, not that of a simseries of eminent painters who had flourished at ple, ingenuous youth, "smit with the love of sacred Bristol, at the same time enclosing two small spe- song," a Beattie's minstrel, as some of Chatterton's cimens of the Rowley poems. Mr. Walpole re- admirers have chosen to paint him. turned a very polite reply, requesting further in- At the end of April, he arrived in the metropoformation ; and, in answer, was informed of the lis; and, on the 6th of May, writes to his mother circumstances of Chatterton, who hinted a wish that he is in such a settlement as he could desire. that the former would free him from an irksome I get,” he adds, "four guineas a month by one profession, and place him in a situation where he magazine ; shall engage to write a history of Eng. might pursue the natural bias of his genius. In the land, and other pieces, which will more than mean time, however, Gray and Mason having pro- double that sum. Occasional essays for the daily nounced the poems sent to Walpole to be forgeries, papers would more than support me. What a glothe latter, who, nevertheless, could not, as he him- rious prospect!" His engagements, in fact, appear self consesses, help admiring the spirit of poetry to have been numerous and profitable; but we are displayed in them, wrote a cold monitory letter to cautioned, by Dr. Gregory, against giving implicit our author, advising him to apply himself to his credence to every part of Chatterton's letters, profession. Incensed at this, he demanded the im- written at this time, relative to his literary and pomediate return of his manuscripts, which Walpole litical friends in the metropolis. It seems, howenclosed in a blank cover, after his return from a ever, that he had been introduced to Mr. Beckford, visit to Paris, when he found another letter from then lord mayor, and had formed high expectations Chatterton, peremptorily requiring the papers, and of patronage from the opposition party, which he telling Walpole “ that he would not have dared to at first espoused; but the death of Beckford, at use him so, had he not been acquainted with the which he is said to have gone almost frantic, and narrowness of his circumstances." Here their the scarcity of money which he found on the opcorrespondence ended, and on these circumstances position side, altered his intentions. He observed alone is the charge founded against Mr. Walpole to a friend, that “ he was a poor author, who could of barbarously neglecting, and finally causing the write on both sides;” and it appears that he acdeath of, Chatterton. Mr. Walpole, observes Dr. tually did so, as two essays were found after his Gregory, afterward regretted that he had not seen death, one eulogizing, and the other abusing, the this extraordinary youth, and that he did not pay a administration, for rejecting the city remonstrance. more favourable attention to his correspondence; On the latter, addressed to Mr. Beckford, is this but to ascribe to Mr. Walpole's neglect the dread- indorsement : ful catastrophe which happened at the distance of nearly two years after, would be the highest de

Accepted by Bingley-set for, and thrown out of the

North Britain, 21st of June, on account of the gree of injustice and absurdity.

lord mayor's death. Our author now entered into politics; and, in Lost by his death on this essay..

.£1 11 6 March, 1770, composed a satirical poem of one Gained in elegies...... thousand three hundred lines, entitled Kew Gar- - in essays..

5 50 dens, in which he abused the Princess-dowager of Wales and Lord Bute, together with the partisans Am glad he is dead by.....

£3 13 6


His hopes of obtaining eminence as a political lyric and heroic poems, pastorals, epistles, ballads, writer now became extravagantly sanguine, and &c. Sublimity and beauty pervade many of them ; he already seems to have considered himself a and they display wonderful powers of imagination man of considerable public importance. “My and facility of composition; yet, says Dr. Aikin, company,” he says, in a letter to his sister, " is there is also much of the commonplace fatness courted everywhere; and could I humble myself and extravagance, that might be expected from a 10 go into a compler, could have had twenty places juvenile writer, whose fertility was greater than before now ; but I must be among the great ; state his judgment, and who had sed his mind upon matters suit me better than commercial.” These stores collecied with more avidity than choice. bright prospects, about July, appear to have been The haste and ardour, with which he pursued his suddenly clouded; and, after a short career of various literary designs, was in accordance with dissipation, which kept pace with his hopes, he his favourite maxim, “ that God had sent his crea. found that he had nothing to expect from the pa- tures into the world with arms long enough 10 tronage of the great; and, to escape the scene of reach any thing, if they would be at the trouble of his mortification, made an unsuccessful attempt to extending them.” obtain the post of surgeon's-mate to the coast of In 1778, a miscellaneous volume of the avowed Africa. It is less certain to what extent he was writings of Chatterton was published ; and, in 1803, now employed by the booksellers, than that he an edition of his works appeared, in three volumes, felt the idea of dependence upon them insup- octavo, with an account of his life, by Dr. Gregory, portable, and soon fell into such a state of indi- from whom we have before quoted. The general gence as to be reduced to the want of necessary character of his productions has been well apprefood. Such was his pride, however, that when, ciated by Lord Orford, who, after expatiating upon after a fast of three days, his landlady invited him his quick intuition, his humour, his vein of satire, to dinner, he refused the invitation as an insult, the rapidity with which he seized all the topics of assuring her he was not hungry. This is the last conversation, whether of politics, literature, or act recorded of his life ; a few hours afterward, fashion, remarks, “ Nothing in Chatterion can be he swallowed a dose of arsenic, and was found separated from Chatterton. His noblest flight, his dead the next morning, August the 25th, 1770, sweetest strain, his grossest ribaldry, and his most surrounded by fragments of numerous manuscripts, commonplace imitations of the productions of which he appeared to have destroyed. His sui- magazines, were all the effervescences of the same cide took place in Brook-street, Holborn, and he ungovernable impulse, which, cameleon-like, imwas interred, in a shell, in the burying-ground bibed the colours of all it looked on. It was Osof Shoe lane workhouse. This melancholy ca- sian, or a Saxon monk, or Gray, or Smollett, or tastrophe is heightened by the fact, that Dr. Fry, Junius ; and if it failed most in what it most affecthead of St. John's College, Oxford, had just gone to ed to be, a poet of the fifteenth century, it was beBristol, for the purpose of assisting Chatterton, cause it could not imitate what had not existed.” when he was there informed of his death.

In person, Chatterton is said to have been, like his The controversy respecting the authenticity of genius, premature ; he had, says his biographer, a the poems attributed to Rowley is now at an end ; manliness and dignity beyond his years, and there though there are still a few, perhaps, who may

was a something about him uncoinmonly preposside with Dean Milles and others, against the host sessing. His most remarkable feature was his of writers, including Gibbon, Johnson, and the two eyes, which, though gray, were uncommonly piercWartons, who ascribe the entire authorship to ing; when he was warmed in argument, or otherChatierton. The latter have, perhaps, come to a

wise, they sparkled with fire; and one eye, it is conclusion, which is not likely to be again dis said, was still more remarkable than the other. puted, viz. that however extraordinary it was for The character of Chatterton has been sufficiently Chatterton to produce them in the eighteenth cen- developed in the course of the preceding memoir; tury, it was impossible that Rowley could have his ruling passion, we have seen, was literary fame; written them in the fifteenth. But, whether and it is doubtful whether his death was not Chatterton was or was not the author of the poems rather occasioned through fear of losing the reputaascribed to Rowley, his transcendent genius must tion he had already acquired, than despair of being ever be the subject of wonder and admiration. able to obtain a future subsistence. This is ren. The eulogy of his friends, and the opinions of the dered at least plausible, by the fact of his having controversialists respecting him, are certainly too received pecuniary assistance from Mr. Hamilton, extravagant. Dean Milles prefers Rowley to Ho- senior, the proprietor of the Critical Review, not mer, Virgil, Spencer, and Shakspeare ; Mr. Ma- long before his death, with a promise of more ; that lone “ believes Chatterton to have been the great he was employed by his literary friends, almost to est genius that England has produced since the the last hour of his existence; and that he was days of Shakspeare ;” and Mr. Croft, the author aware of the suspicions existing that himself and of Love and Madness, asserts, that “no such hu. Rowley were the same. Though he neither conman being, at any period of life, has ever been fessed nor denied this, it was evident that his conknown, or possibly ever will be known.” This duct was influenced by some mystery, known only enthusiastic praise is not confined to the critical 10 himself; he grew wild, abstracted, and incohewriters; the British muse has paid some of her rent, and a settled gloominess at length took posmost beautiful tributes to the genius and memory session of his countenance, which was a presage of Chatterton. The poems of Rowley, as published of his fatal resolution. He has been accused of by Dean Milles, consist of pieces of all the prin libertinism, but there are no proofs of this during cipal classes of poetical composition : tragedies, his residence either at London or Bristol ; though

many of his productions show a laxity of principle caused by the last act of his life? His sister says, which might justify the supposition. The best that “he was a lover of truth from the earliest qualities in his character were the negative ones dawn of reason;" yet his life was one contioued of temperance and affection for his family, to whom career of deception. He is to be pitied for his he sent small presents out of his first gains, and misfortunes, and admired for his genius; but, with always spoke of their welfare as one of the princi- Kirke White in our remembrance, we could pal ends of his exertions. But what deeper afflic. wish to forgei all else that belonged to ChalLion could he have brought upon them than that l ierton.

Thenne Maister Canynge saughte the kynge, BRISTOWE TRAGEDIE ;

And felle down onne hys knee;

“ I'm come," quod hee, “ unto your grace, OR, THE DETHE OF SYR CHARLES BAW DIN. To move your clemencye." The featherd songster chaunticleer

Thenne," quod the kynge,“ youre tale speke out, Han wounde hys bugle horne,

You have been much oure friende : And tolde the earlie villager

Whatever youre request may bee, The commynge of the morne :

Wee wylle to ytte altende." Kynge Edwarde sawe the ruddie streakes · My nobile leige! alle my request Of lyghte eclypse the greie ;

Ys for a nobile knyghte, And herde the raven's crokynge throte

Who, though mayhap hee has donne wronge, Proclayme the fated daie.

He thoughte ytte stylle was ryghte: • Thou’rt ryght,” quod he, “ for, by the Godde “ Hee has a spouse and children twaine ; That syttes enthroned on hyghe!

Alle rewyn’d are for aie, Charles Bawdin, and hys fellowes twaine, Yff that you are resolved to lett To-daie shall surelie die.”

Charles Bawdin die 10-daie.” Thenne wythe a jngge of nappy ale

Speke not of such a traytour vile,” Hys knyghtes dydd onne hymm waite;

The kynge ynn furie sayde, “Goe tell the traytour, thatt to-daie

“ Before the evening starre doth shcene, Hee leaves thys mortall state.”

Bawdin shall loose hys hedde : Syr Canterlone thenne bendedd lowe

“ Justice does loudlie for hym calle, Wythe harte brymm-folie of woe ;

And hee shalle have hys meede : Hee journey'd to the castle-gate,

Speke, Maister Canynge! whatte thynge else And to Syr Charles dydd goe.

Att present doe you neede ?"
But whenne hee came, hys children twaine, · My nobile leige!" goode Canynge sayde,
And eke hys lovynge wyse,

Leave justice to our Godde,
Wythe brinie tears dydd wett the floore,

And laye the yronne rule asyde ;
For goode Syr Charleses lyfe.

Be thyne the olyve rodde.
O goode Syr Charles !" sayd Canterlone, “Was Godde to serche our hertes and reines,
Badde tydyngs I doe brynge."

The best were synners grete;
" Speke boldlie, manne,” sayd brave Syr Charles, Christ's vicarr only knowes ne synne,
• Whatle says the traytour kynge ?"

Ynne all thys mortall state. "I greeve to telle : before yonne sonne

“Lett mercie rule thyne infante reigne, Does fromme the welkinn flye,

"Twylle faste thye crowne fulle sure ; Hee hath uppon hys honour sworne,

From race to race thye familie Thatt thou shall surelie die."

Alle sovereigns shall endure : “We all must die," quod brave Syr Charles, “But yff wythe bloode and slanghter thou “Of thatie I'm not affearde;

Beginne thy infante reigne, Whatte bootes to lyve a little space ?

Thy crowne upponne thy childrennes brows Thanke Jesu, I'm prepared :

Wylle never long remayne." • Butt telle ihye kynge, for myne hee's not, “Canynge, awaie! thys traytour vile I'de sooner die to-daie,

Has scorn'd my power and mee; Thanne lyve hys slave, as manie are,

Howe canst thou then for such a manne Though I shoulde lyve for aie.”

Entreate my clemencye ?" Then Canterlone hee dydd goe out,

“ My nobile leige! the trulie brave To tell the maior straite

Wylle val'rous actions prize, To gett all thynges ynne reddyness

Respect a brave and nobile mynde, For goode Syr Charleses fate.

Although ynne enemies."

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“I make no doubte buit hee ys gone,

Where soone I hope to goe ; Where wee for ever shall bee blest,

From oute the reech of woe.

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* Canynge, awaie! By Godde ynne heaven

Thau dydd mee being gyve
I wylle nout taste a bitt of breade

Whilst thys Syr Charles dothe lyve.
“ By Marie, and alle seinctes ynne heaven,

Thys sunne shall be hys lasie.” Thenne Canynge dropp'd a brinie teare,

And from the presence paste.
Wyth herle bry mm-fulle of gnawynge grief,

Hee to Syr Charles dydd goe,
And sat hymm downe uponne a stoole,

And leares beganne to flowe. “ Wee all must die," quod brave Syr Charles ;

* Whatte bootes ytte howe or whenne; Deihe ys the sure, the certaine fate

Of all wee mortall menne.
Say why, my friende, thie honest soul

Runos over att thyne eye ;
Ys ytte for my most welcome doome

Thati ihou dost child-lyke crye ?"
Quod godlie Canynge, “I doe weepe,

Thatt thou so soone must die,
And leave thy sonnes and helpless wyse;

"Tys thys thatt wettes myne eye.”
“ Thenne drie the tears thatt out thyne eye

From godlie fountaines sprynge ; Dethe I despise, and alle the power

Of Edwarde, traytour kynge. “ Whan through the tyrant's welcome means

I shall resigne my lyfe,
The Godde I serve wylle soone provyde

For bothe my sonnes and wyse.
“ Before I sawe the lyghtsome sunne,

Thys was appointed mee;
Shall mortall manne repyne or grudge

What Godde ordeynes to bee ?
“ Howe oft ynne battaile have I stoode,

Whan thousands dyed arounde ; Whan smokynge streemes of crimson bloode

Imbrew'd the fatten'd grounde :
“ Howe dydd I knowe thatt every darte,

Thatt cutte the airie waie,
Myghte nott fynde passage toe my harte,

And close myne eyes for aie ?
“And shall I nowe, forr feere of dethe,

Looke wanne and bee dysmayde ?
Ne! fromm my herte flie childyshe feere ;

Bee alle the manne display'd.
“Ah, goddelyke Henry! Godde forefende,

And guarde thee and thye sonne, Yff 'tis hys wylle; but yff 'tis nott,

Why thenne hys wylle bee donne. “ My honest friende, my faulte has beene

To serve Godde and my prynce; And thatt I no tyme-server am,

My dethe wylle soone convynce.
“ Ynne Londonne citye was I borne,

Of parenis of grete note;
My fadre dydd a nobile armes

Emblazon onne hys cote :

“ Hee taughte mee justice and the laws

Wyth pitie to unite;
And eke hee taughte mee howe to knowe

The wronge cause from the ryghte :
Hee taughte mee wythe a prudent hande

To feede the hungrie poore,
Ne lett mye sarvanis dryve awaie

The hungrie fromm my doore :
“ And none can saye but alle mye lyfe

I have hys wordyes kept ;
And summ'd the actyonns of the daie

Eche nyghte before I slept.
“I have a spouse, goe aske of her

Yff I defyled her bedde ;
I have a kynge, and none can laie

Black treason onne my hedde.
“ Ynne Lent, and onne the holie eve,

Fromm fleshe I dydd refrayne ;
Whie should I thenne appeare dismay'd

To leave thys worlde of payne? “Ne, hapless Henrie! I rejoyce

I shall ne see thye dethe ;
Most willynglie ynne thye just cause

Doe I resign my brethe.
Oh, fickle people! rewyn'd londe !

Thou wylt kenne peace ne moe ;
Whyle Richard's sonnes exalt themselves,

Thye brookes wythe bloude wylle flowe. “ Saie, were ye tyred of godlie peace,

And godlie Henrie's reigne,
Thatt you dydd choppe your easie daies

For those of bloude and peyne ? “Whatte though I onne a sledde be drawne,

And mangled by a hynde,
I doe defye the traytour's power,

Hee can ne harm my mynde ;
“ Whatte though, uphoisted onne a pole,

My lymbes shall rotte ynne ayre, And ne ryche monument of brasse

Charles Bawdin's name shall bear; “ Yett ynne the holie book above,

Whyche tyme can't eate awaie, There wythe the sarvants of the Lord

Mye name shall lyve for aie. “ Thenne welcome dethe! for lyse

I leave thys mortall lyse : Farewell vayne worlde, and all that's deare

Mye sonnes and lovynge wyse ! “ Nowe dethe as welcome to mee comes

As e'er the moneth of Maie;
Nor woulde I even wyshe to lyve,

Wyth my dere wyse to staie.”
Quod Canynge, “ 'Tys a goodlie thynge

To bee prepared to die ;
And from thys worlde of peyne and greso

Godde ynne heaven to flie."


And nowe the belle began to tolle,

Ynne diffraunt partes a godlie psaume And claryonnes to sound ;

Moste sweetlie theye dydd chaunt; Syr Charles hee herde the horses feele

Behynde theyre backes syx mynstrelles came, A prauncyng onne the grounde :

Who tuned the strunge bataunt. And just before the officers

Thenne fyve-and-twenty archers came ; His lovynge wyfe came ynne,

Echone the bowe dydd bende, Weepynge unfeigned teers of woe,

From rescue of Kynge Henrie's friends Wythe loude and dysmalle dynne.

Syr Charles forr to defend. “Sweet Florence! nowe I praie forbere,

Bolde as a lyon came Syr Charles, Ynn quiet lett mee die ;

Drawne onne a cloth-ladye sledde, Praie Godde that every Christian soule

Bye two blacke stedes ynne trappynges whyte, Maye looke onne dethe as I.

Wyth plumes uponne theyre hedde: “Sweet Florence! why these brinie leers ? Behynde hym fyve-and-twenty moe Theye washe my soule awaie,

Of archers strong and stoute, And almost make mee wyshe for lyse,

Wyth bended bowe echone ynne hande, Wyth thee, sweete dame, to staie.

Marched ynne goodlie route : 'Tys butt a journie I shalle goe

Seincte Jameses Freers marched next, Untoe the lande of blysse ;

Echone hys parle dydd chaunt; Nowe, as a proofe of husbande's love,

Behynde theyre backes syx mynstrelles came, Receive thys holie kysse.”

Who tuned the strunge bataunt: Thenne Florence, fault'ring ynne her saie,

Thenne came the maior and eldermenne, Tremblynge these wordyes spoke,

Ynne clothe of scarlett deck'ı; “Ah, cruele Edwarde! bloudie kynge !

And theyre attendyng menne echone, Mye herte ys welle nyghe broke :

Lyke easterne princes trick't: " Ah, sweete Syr Charles ! why wylt thou goe

And after them a multitude Wythoute thye lovynge wy fe ?

Of citizenns dydd thronge ; The cruelle axe thatt cuttes thye necke,

The wyndowes were alle sulle of heddes Ytte eke shall ende mye lyfe.”

As hee dydd passe alonge. And nowe the officers came ynne

And whenne hee came to the hyghe crosse, To bryngo Syr Charles awaie,

Syr Charles dydd turne and saie, Who turnedd to hys lovynge wyfe,

"O Thou thatt savest manne fromme synne, And thus to her dydd saie :

Washe mye soule clean thys daie !" “I goe to lyfe, and nott to dethe ;

Att the grete mynster wyndowe sat Truste thou ynne Godde above,

The kynge ynne myckle state, And teache thy sonnes to feure the Lorde,

To see Charles Bawdin goe alonge And ynne theyre hertes hym love :

To hys most welcom fate “ Teache them to runne the nobile race

Soone as the sledde drewe nyghe enowe, Thatt I theyre fader runne ;

Thatt Edwarde hee myghte heare, Florence ! should dethe thee take-adieu !

The brave Syr Charles hee dydd stande uppe, Yee officers, leade onne.

And thus hys wordes declare : Thenne Florence raved as anie madde,

“ Thou seest me, Edwarde! traytour vile! And dydd her tresses tere ;

Exposed to infamie ; “Oh, staie mye husbande, lorde, and lyfe!"

Butt bee assured, disloyall manne! Syr Charles thenne dropt a teare.

I'm greaterr nowe thanne thee. 'Tyll tyredd oute wythe ravynge loude,

Bye foule proceedyngs, murdre, bloude, Shee fellen opne the floore ;

Thou wearest nowe a crowne ; Syr Charles exerted alle hys myghte,

And hast appoynted mee to die, And march'd fromm oule the dore.

By power nout thyne owne. Uponne a sledde hee mounted thenne,

“ Thou thynkest I shall dye to-daie ; Wythe lookes fullo brave and sweete,

I have beene dede till nowe, Lookes thatt enshone ne moe concern

And soone shall lyve to weare a crowne Thanne anie ynne the strete.

For aie uponne my browe : Before hymn went the council-menne,

“Whylst thou, perhapps, for some few yeares, Ynne scarlett robes and golde,

Shalt rule thys fickle lande, And tassils spanglynge ynne the sunne,

To lett them knowe howe wyde the rule Muche glorious to beholde :

”Twixt kynge and tyrante hande : The Freers of Seincte Augustyne next

“ Thye power unjust, thou traytour slave! Appeared to the syghte,

Shall falle onne thye owne hedde"Alle cladd ynne homelie russett weedes,

Fromm out of hearyng of the kynge Of godlie monkysh plyghte :

Departed thenne the sledde.

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