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Can I with pleasure or with patience see
A boy at once so heartless, and so free?"

But soon the kinsman heavy tidings told,
That love and prudence could no more withhold:
"Stephen, though steady at his desk, was grown
A rake and coxcomb-this he grieved to own;
His cousin left his church, and spent the day
Lounging about in quite a heathen way;
Sometimes he swore, but had indeed the grace
To show the shame imprinted on his face :
I search'd his room, and in his absence read
Books that I knew would turn a stronger head;
The works of atheists half the number made,
The rest were lives of harlots leaving trade;
Which neither man or boy would deign to read,
If from the scandal and pollution freed:
I sometimes threaten'd, and would fairly state
My sense of things so vile and profligate;
But I'm a cit, such works are lost on me-
They're knowledge, and (good Lord!) philosophy."
"O, send him down," the father soon replied;
"Let me behold him, and my skill be tried:
If care and kindness lose their wonted use,
Some rougher medicine will the end produce."
Stephen with grief and anger heard his doom-
"Go to the farmer? to the rustic's home?

There soon a trial for his patience came;
Beneath were placed the youth and ancient dame,
Each on a purpose fix'd-but neither thought
How near a foe, with power and vengeance fraught.
And now the matron told, as tidings sad,
What she had heard of her beloved lad;
How he to graceless, wicked men gave heed,
And wicked books would night and morning read;
Some former lectures she again began,
And begg'd attention of her little man;
She brought, with many a pious boast, in view
His former studies, and condemn'd the new:
Once he the names of saints and patriarchs old,
Judges and kings, and chiefs and prophets, told;
Then he in winter nights the Bible took,
To count how often in the sacred book
The sacred Name appear'd; and could rehearse
Which were the middle chapter, word and verse,
The very letter in the middle placed,

And so employ'd the hours that others waste.
"Such wert thou once; and now, my child,

they say

Thy faith like water runneth fast away;
The prince of devils hath, I fear, beguiled
The ready wit of my backsliding child."
On this, with lofty looks, our clerk began

Curse the base threat'ning-" "Nay, child, never His grave rebuke, as he assumed the man


Corrupted long, your case is growing worse."—
"I!" quoth the youth, “I challenge all mankind
To find a fault; what fault have you to find?
mprove I not in manner, speech, and grace?
Inquire my friends will tell it to your face;
Have I been taught to guard his kine and sheep?
A man like me has other things to keep;


There is no devil," said the hopeful youth,
Nor prince of devils; that I know for truth:
Have I not told you how my books describe
The arts of priests and all the canting tribe?
Your Bible mentions Egypt, where it seems
Was Joseph found when Pharaoh dream'd his
dreams :

Now in that place, in some bewilder'd head

This let him know."-"It would his wrath excite : (The learned write) religious dreams were bred;

But come, prepare, you must away to-night."—
"What! leave my studies, my improvements leave,
My faithful friends and intimates to grieve!"-
"Go to your father, Stephen, let him see
All these improvements: they are lost on me."
The youth, though loath, obey'd, and soon he saw
The farmer father, with some signs of awe;
Who kind, yet silent, waited to behold
How one would act, so daring yet so cold:
And soon he found, between the friendly pair
That secrets pass'd which he was not to share ;
But he resolved those secrets to obtain,
And quash rebellion in his lawful reign.

Whence through the earth, with various forms

They came to frighten and afflict mankind,
Prone (so I read) to let a priest invade
Their souls with awe, and by his craft be made
Slave to his will, and profit to his trade:
So say my books, and how the rogues agreed
To blind the victims, to defraud and lead ;
When joys above to ready dupes were sold,
And hell was threaten'd to the shy and cold.
"Why so amazed, and so prepared to pray?
As if a Being heard a word we say:
This may surprise you; I myself began

Stephen, though vain, was with his father To feel disturb'd, and to my Bible ran;


He fear'd a crisis, and he shunn'd dispute :
And yet he long'd with youthful pride to show
He knew such things as farmers could not know:
These to the grandam he with freedom spoke,
Saw her amazement, and enjoy'd the joke:
But on the father when he cast his eye,
Something he found that made his valour shy;
And thus there seem'd to be a hollow truce,
Still threatening something dismal to produce.
Ere this the father at his leisure read
The son's choice volumes, and his wonder fled;
He saw how wrought the works of either kind
On so presuming, yet so weak a mind;
These in a chosen hour he made his prey,
Condemn'd, and bore with vengeful thoughts away;
Then in a close recess, the couple near,
He sat unseen to see, unheard to hear.

I now am wiser-yet agree in this,

The book has things that are not much amiss;

It is a fine old work, and I protest

I hate to hear it treated as a jest:
The book has wisdom in it, if you look
Wisely upon it as another book."-

"O! wicked! wicked! my unhappy child, How hast thou been by evil men beguiled!"

How! wicked, say you? you can little guess
The gain of that which you call wickedness:
Why, sins you think it sinful but to name
Have gain'd both wives and widows, wealth and

And this because such people never dread
Those threaten'd pains; hell comes not in their

Love is our nature, wealth we all desire,
And what we wish 'tis lawful to acquire;

So say my books-and what besides they show
"Tis time to let this honest farmer know.
Nay, look not grave; am I commanded down
To feed his cattle and become his clown?
Is such his purpose? then he shall be told
The vulgar insult-"

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'Hold, in mercy hold-" "Father, O! father! throw the whip away; I was but jesting, on my knees I prayThere, hold his arm-O! leave us not alone: In pity cease, and I will yet atone

For all my sin-" In vain; stroke after stroke,
On side and shoulder, quick as mill-wheels broke;
Quick as the patient's pulse, who trembling cried,
And still the parent with a stroke replied;
Till all the medicine he prepared was dealt,
And every bone the precious influence felt;
Till all the panting flesh was red and raw,
And every thought was turn'd to fear and awe;
Till every doubt to due respect gave place-
Such cures
are done when doctors know the


"O! I shall die-my father! do receive My dying words; indeed I do believe; The books are lying books, I know it well, There is a devil, O! there is a hell; And I'm a sinner: spare me, I am young, My sinful words were only on my tongue; My heart consented not; 'tis all a lie : O! spare me then, I'm not prepared to die." "Vain, worthless, stupid wretch!" the father cried,

"Dost thou presume to teach? art thou a guide?

Driveller and dog, it gave the mind distress
To hear thy thoughts in their religious dress;
Thy pious folly moved my strong disdain,
Yet I forgave thee for thy want of brain :
But Job in patience must the man exceed
Who could endure thee in thy present creed
Is it for thee, thou idiot, to pretend

The wicked cause a helping hand to lend?
Canst thou a judge in any question be?
Atheists themselves would scorn a friend like


"Lo! yonder blaze thy worthies; in one heap Thy scoundrel favourites must for ever sleep: Each yields his poison to the flame in turn, Where whores and infidels are doom'd to burn; Two noble fagots made the flame you see, Reserving only two fair twigs for thee; That in thy view the instruments may stand, And be in future ready for my hand : The just mementos that, though silent, show Whence thy correction and improvements flow; Beholding these, thou wilt confess their power, And feel the shame of this important hour.

"Hadst thou been humble, I had first design'd By care from folly to have freed thy mind; And when a clean foundation had been laid, Our priest, more able, would have lent his aid: But thou art weak, and force must folly guide, And thou art vain, and pain must humble pride: Teachers men honour, learners they allure; But learners teaching, of contempt are sure; Scorn is their certain meed, and smart their only cure !"


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THOMAS CHATTERTON, the posthumous son of a | impostures, which commenced about this time, a schoolmaster in Bristol, was born there on the 20th of November, 1752. At the age of five years, he was placed at the school which his father had superintended; but he showed such little capacity for learning, that he was sent back to his mother as a dull boy, incapable of improvement. Mrs. Chatterton, says Dr. Gregory, in his life of the subject of our memoir, was rendered extremely unhappy by the apparently tardy understanding of her son, till he fell in love," as she expressed herself, with the illuminated capitals of an old musical manuscript, in French, which enabled her, by taking advantage of the momentary passion, to initiate him in the alphabet. She afterwards taught him to read out of a black-letter Bible; and this circumstance, in conjunction with the former, is supposed to have inspired him with that fondness for antiquities which he subsequently displayed. At eight years of age, he was removed to Colston's charity-school, where he remained for some time undistinguished, except by a pensive gravity of demeanour, and a thirst for pre-eminence over his playmates. This he exhibited, says his sister, even before he was five years old; and not long afterward, her brother being asked what device he would have painted on a small present of earthenware about to be made to him, " Paint me," he is said to have replied, "an angel, with wings, and a trumpet, to trumpet my name over the world."

short sketch will be necessary of the circumstances which gave rise to them. It was well known at Bristol, that in the church of St. Mary, Redcliffe, an old chest had been opened, about 1727, for the purpose of searching for some title deeds, and that since that time, a number of other manuscripts, being left exposed to casual depredation, had, at various times, been taken away. The uncle of Chatterton's father being sexton to the church, enabled his nephew to enter it freely; and, upon these occasions, he removed baskets full of parchments, of which, however, he made no other use than to cover books. A thread-paper belonging to his mother, which had been formed out of one of these parchments, attracted the notice of young Chatterton, soon after the commencement of his clerkship; and his curiosity was so excited, that he obtained a remaining hoard of them yet unused, and ultimately acquired possession of all that remained in the old chest, and in his mother's house. His answer to inquiries on the subject was, "that he had a treasure, and was so glad nothing could be like it." The parchments, he said, consisted of poetical and other compositions, by Mr. Canynge and Thomas Rowley, whom our author, at first, called a monk, and afterward a secular priest of the fifteenth century.

Thus prepared for carrying on his system of literary imposture, he, on the opening of the new bridge It was not, however, until his tenth year, that he at Bristol, in October, 1768, drew up a paper, entiacquired a taste for reading; for which he suddenly tled, A Description of the Fryars first passing over imbibed such a relish, that he devoted his little the Old Bridge, taken from an ancient manuscript. pocket-money to the hire of books from a library, and It was inserted in Farley's Bristol Journal, and the borrowed others as he had opportunity. Before authorship was traced to Chatterton; who, being he was twelve he had gone through about seventy questioned in an authoritative tone, haughtily revolumes in this manner, consisting chiefly of history fused to give any account. Milder usage at length and divinity; and, about the same time, he appears induced him to enter into an explanation; and, to have filled with poetry a pocket-book, which after some prevarication, he asserted that he had had been presented to him by his sister as a new-received the paper in question from his father, who year's gift. Among these verses, were probably those entitled Apostate Will, a satire upon his instructers and school-fellows. In 1765, he was confirmed by the bishop; and his sister relates, that he made very sensible and serious remarks on the awfulness of the ceremony, and on his own feelings preparatory to it. In July, 1767, at which time he possessed a knowledge of drawing and music, in addition to his other acquirements, he was articled to Mr. Lambert, an attorney at Bristol, where the only fault his master had to find with him, for the first year, was the sending an abusive anonymous letter to his late schoolmaster, of which he was discovered to be the author, from his inability to disguise his own handwriting so successfully as he did afterward.

As a preface to the history of Chatterton's literary

had found it, with several others, in Redcliffe Church. The report that he was in possession of the poetry of Canynge and Rowley was now spread about; and coming to the ears of Mr. Catcott, an inhabitant of Bristol, of an inquiring turn, he procured an introduction to Chatterton, who furnished him, gratuitously, with various poetical pieces under the name of Rowley. These were communicated to Mr. Barrett, a surgeon, then employed in writing a history of Bristol, into which he introduced several of the above fragments, by the permission of our author, who was, in return, occasionally supplied with money, and introduced into company. He also studied surgery, for a short time, under Mr. Barrett, and would talk, says Mr. Thistlethwayte, "of Galen, Hippocrates, and Paracelsus, with all the confidence and familiarity of a modern empi

ric." His favourite studies, however, were herald- of ministry at Bristol, not excepting Mr. Catcott, and

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ry and English antiquities; and one of his chief occupations was in making a collection of old English words from the glossaries of Chaucer and others. During these pursuits, he employed his pen in writing satirical essays, in prose and verse; and, about the same period, gave way to fits of poetical enthusiasm, by wandering about Redcliffe meadows, talking of the productions of Rowley, and sitting up at night to compose poems at the full of the moon. He was always," says Mr. Smith, "extremely fond of walking in the fields; and would sometimes say to me, 'Come, you and I will take a walk in the meadow. I have got the cleverest thing for you imaginable. It is worth half-acrown merely to have a sight of it, and to hear me read it to you.'" This he would generally do in one particular spot, within view of the church, before which he would sometimes lie down, keeping his eyes fixed upon it in a kind of trance.

other of his friends and patrons. His character, also, in other respects, began to develope itself in an unfavourable light; but the assertion that he plunged into profligacy at this period, is contradicted by unexceptionable testimony. The most prominent feature in his conduct was his continued and open avowal of infidelity, and of his intention to commit suicide as soon as life should become burdensome to him. He had also grown thoroughly disgusted with his profession; and purposely, it is supposed, leaving upon his desk a paper, entitled his Last Will, in which he avowed his determination to destroy himself on Easter Sunday, he gladly received his dismissal from Mr. Lambert, into whose hands the document had fallen. He now determined to repair to London; and on being questioned by Mr. Thistlethwayte concerning his plan of life, returned this remarkable answer: "My first attempt," said he, "shall be in the literary way; the promises I have received are sufficient to dispel doubt; but should I, contrary to expectation, find myself deceived, I will, in that case, turn Methodist preacher. Credulity is as potent a deity as ever, and a new sect may easily be devised. But if that, too, should fail me, my last and final resource is a pistol." Such was the language of one not much beyond seventeen years of age; certainly, as Dr. Aikin observes, not that of a simple, ingenuous youth, "smit with the love of sacred song," a Beattie's minstrel, as some of Chatterton's

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At the end of April, he arrived in the metropolis; and, on the 6th of May, writes to his mother that he is in such a settlement as he could desire. I get," he adds, "four guineas a month by one magazine; shall engage to write a history of England, and other pieces, which will more than double that sum. Occasional essays for the daily papers would more than support me. What a glo

In 1769, he contributed several papers to the Town and Country Magazine, among which were some extracts from the pretended Rowley, entitled Saxon poems, written in the style of Ossian, and subscribed with Chatterton's usual signature of Dunhelmus Bristoliensis. But his most celebrated attempt at imposture, in this year, was an offer to furnish Horace Walpole with some accounts of a series of eminent painters who had flourished at Bristol, at the same time enclosing two small specimens of the Rowley poems. Mr. Walpole re-admirers have chosen to paint him. turned a very polite reply, requesting further information; and, in answer, was informed of the circumstances of Chatterton, who hinted a wish that the former would free him from an irksome profession, and place him in a situation where he might pursue the natural bias of his genius. In the mean time, however, Gray and Mason having pronounced the poems sent to Walpole to be forgeries, the latter, who, nevertheless, could not, as he him-rious prospect!" His engagements, in fact, appear self confesses, help admiring the spirit of poetry displayed in them, wrote a cold monitory letter to our author, advising him to apply himself to his profession. Incensed at this, he demanded the immediate return of his manuscripts, which Walpole enclosed in a blank cover, after his return from a visit to Paris, when he found another letter from Chatterton, peremptorily requiring the papers, and telling Walpole " that he would not have dared to use him so, had he not been acquainted with the narrowness of his circumstances." Here their correspondence ended, and on these circumstances alone is the charge founded against Mr. Walpole of barbarously neglecting, and finally causing the death of, Chatterton. Mr. Walpole, observes Dr. Gregory, afterward regretted that he had not seen this extraordinary youth, and that he did not pay a more favourable attention to his correspondence; but to ascribe to Mr. Walpole's neglect the dreadful catastrophe which happened at the distance of nearly two years after, would be the highest degree of injustice and absurdity.

Our author now entered into politics; and, in March, 1770, composed a satirical poem of one thousand three hundred lines, entitled Kew Gardens, in which he abused the Princess-dowager of Wales and Lord Bute, together with the partisans

to have been numerous and profitable; but we are cautioned, by Dr. Gregory, against giving implicit credence to every part of Chatterton's letters, written at this time, relative to his literary and political friends in the metropolis. It seems, however, that he had been introduced to Mr. Beckford, then lord mayor, and had formed high expectations of patronage from the opposition party, which he at first espoused; but the death of Beckford, at which he is said to have gone almost frantic, and the scarcity of money which he found on the op position side, altered his intentions. He observed to a friend, that " he was a poor author, who could write on both sides;" and it appears that he actually did so, as two essays were found after his death, one eulogizing, and the other abusing, the administration, for rejecting the city remonstrance. On the latter, addressed to Mr. Beckford, is this indorsement :

Accepted by Bingley-set for, and thrown out of the
North Britain, 21st of June, on account of the
lord mayor's death.

Lost by his death on this essay.............£ 11 6
Gained in elegies..

in essays...

Am glad he is dead by.....

..£2 2


£3 13 6

lyric and heroic poems, pastorals, epistles, ballads, &c. Sublimity and beauty pervade many of them; and they display wonderful powers of imagination and facility of composition; yet, says Dr. Aikin, there is also much of the commonplace flatness and extravagance, that might be expected from a

his judgment, and who had fed his mind upon stores collected with more avidity than choice. The haste and ardour, with which he pursued his various literary designs, was in accordance with his favourite maxim, “that God had sent his creatures into the world with arms long enough to reach any thing, if they would be at the trouble of extending them."

His hopes of obtaining eminence as a political writer now became extravagantly sanguine, and he already seems to have considered himself a man of considerable public importance. "My company," he says, in a letter to his sister, "is courted everywhere; and could I humble myself to go into a compter, could have had twenty places | juvenile writer, whose fertility was greater than before now; but I must be among the great; state matters suit me better than commercial." These bright prospects, about July, appear to have been suddenly clouded; and, after a short career of dissipation, which kept pace with his hopes, he found that he had nothing to expect from the patrouage of the great; and, to escape the scene of his mortification, made an unsuccessful attempt to 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 1863, 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 Chatterton 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.

The controversy respecting the authenticity of the poems attributed to Rowley is now at an end; though there are still a few, perhaps, who may side with Dean Milles and others, against the host of writers, including Gibbon, Johnson, and the two Wartons, who ascribe the entire authorship to Chatterton. The latter have, perhaps, come to a conclusion, which is not likely to be again disputed, viz. that however extraordinary it was for Chatterton to produce them in the eighteenth century, it was impossible that Rowley could have written them in the fifteenth. But, whether Chatterton was or was not the author of the poems ascribed to Rowley, his transcendent genius must ever be the subject of wonder and admiration. The eulogy of his friends, and the opinions of the controversialists respecting him, are certainly too extravagant. Dean Milles prefers Rowley to Homer, Virgil, Spencer, and Shakspeare; Mr. Malone "believes Chatterton to have been the greatest genius that England has produced since the days of Shakspeare;" and Mr. Croft, the author of Love and Madness, asserts, that "no such human being, at any period of life, has ever been known, or possibly ever will be known." This enthusiastic praise is not confined to the critical writers; the British muse has paid some of her most beautiful tributes to the genius and memory of Chatterton. The poems of Rowley, as published by Dean Milles, consist of pieces of all the principal classes of poetical composition: tragedies,

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person, Chatterton is said to have been, like his genius, premature; he had, says his biographer, a manliness and dignity beyond his years, and there was a something about him uncommonly prepossessing. His most remarkable feature was his eyes, which, though gray, were uncommonly piercing; when he was warmed in argument, or otherwise, they sparkled with fire; and one eye, it is said, was still more remarkable than the other.

The character of Chatterton has been sufficiently developed in the course of the preceding memoir; his ruling passion, we have seen, was literary fame; and it is doubtful whether his death was not rather occasioned through fear of losing the reputation he had already acquired, than despair of being able to obtain a future subsistence. This is rendered at least plausible, by the fact of his having received pecuniary assistance from Mr. Hamilton, senior, the proprietor of the Critical Review, not long before his death, with a promise of more; that he was employed by his literary friends, almost to the last hour of his existence; and that he was aware of the suspicions existing that himself and Rowley were the same. Though he neither confessed nor denied this, it was evident that his conduct was influenced by some mystery, known only to himself; he grew wild, abstracted, and incoherent, and a settled gloominess at length took possession of his countenance, which was a presage of his fatal resolution. He has been accused of libertinism, but there are no proofs of this during his residence either at London or Bristol; though

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