Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
[graphic][merged small][merged small]

When the sheep are in the fauld, when the cows come hame,
When a' the weary warld to quiet rest are gane;
The woes of my heart fa' in showers frae my ee,
Unken'd by my gudeman, who soundly sleeps by me.

Young Jamie loo'd me weel, and sought me for his bride
But saving aė crown piece, he'd naething else beside.
To make the crown a pound, my Jamie gaed to sea;
And the crown and the pound, O they were baith for me!

.. Before he had been gane'a twelvemonth and a day,

My father brak his arm, our cow was stown away;
My mother she fell sick-my Jamie was at sea-

Teoxas CEATTERTOS, the posthumous son of the master of a free school in Bristol was born in that city. on the 20th of November, 1752. He left the Bristol charity school in 1767, and was bound apprentice to a Mr. Lambert, a scrivener. His occupation here was laborious and servile, and he slept with his master's footbey. One by one, during the year 1768, and under circumstances which our space will not permit us even to advert to, he produced what he called the original manuseripts of the poems of Thomas Rowley. Gentlemen of Bristol afterwards beset him for participation in his fancied stores, flattered him for what they got, and left him only the more miserable for their flatteries. Mr. Lambert's friends were his friends, but he still slept with Mr. Lambert's foot-boy. In a desperate effort to escape such drudgery he made that remarkable application to Horace Walpole, which was defeated by his own pride, and the too late regretted coldness of Walpole. The taint of insanity which he appears to have inherited from his father now showed itself in an attempt he made upon his life, and Mr. Lambert dismissed him. Free at last, he turned his thoughts with impetuous hope to London.

The rest of Chatterton's melancholy story is told in the letters he afterwards wrote to his mother and sister. Within four short months his London career began and closed, yet it witnessed all the most fitful extremes of hope and despair. In the hectie gaiety with which he struggles to conceal the latter feeling from his poor friends, and in the buoyant certainty of greatness to which he shows himself lifted by the most trifting success, his letters are models of the profoundest pathos. The "seething brains and shaping fantasies, which apprehend more than cooler reason can," were indeed Chatterton's: but these, we cannot help thinking, included also in his case qualities which redeem his short and unhappy life from the more ordinary class of literary miseries. His pride and his honour never deserted him. He did not die after descending to make his talents instruments of evil to others, or of disgrace to himself. Panting and jaded as he was, and pursued to the extremest verge by the dogs of hunger and necessity, literature still remained a refreshment and a hope to him, when madness suddenly terminated all. His poison draught is not to be compared to Boyse's blanket, or to the prison of Savage, or even to the loaf of the starving Otway. The last letter he wrote to his sister, a fortnight before his death, had honest pride and hope in it. He would not " humble" himself, he said, for any fort be among the great.He had now removed from his lodgings in Shoreditch to Mrs. Angel's, a sash-maker, in Brook-street, Holborn. Great darkness rests over the few remaining days of his existence. His mother and sister still received small unnecessary presents, which kept up their hopes, and they little thought that the giver was at that time in want of the necessaries of life. Invitations to dinner and supper he invariably declined, that he might not seem to stand in need of them. On the 24th of August, 1770, according to his landlady's account, "as she knew he had not eaten any thing for two or three days, she begged he would take some dinner with her, but he was offended at her expressions, which seemed to hint he was in want, and assured her he was not hungry." In the evening of the same day he swallowed arsenic in water, and on the 25th of August, 1770, was found dead in his room, near a table covered with the scraps of papers he had destroyed. A verdict of insanity was returned, and the body, unclaimed by any friends, and unknown where he had lived, was buried in a shell in the burying ground of Shoe-lane workhouse. So perished in his pride, by a sudden fit of madness, this "marvellous boy."

The “ Poems of Rowley" are proved, beyond doubt, to have been the work of Chatterton, though it is strange that, to the last, he would never distinctly avow them. The extracts we have made will enable the reader to judge somewhat of their vigour, their learning, their facility and sweetness, and the rich abundance of their thought. The fragment " from Goddwynn” is prodigiously fine. Any criticism on the writings of Chatterton, however, would be misplaced. The lovers of poetry have chiefly to regret the loss of the great things he would have done. His person, like his genius, was premature. Though only seventeen when he died, he had a manliness, a dignity, and a singular power of address, far beyond his years. His mouth was marked with the deep lines of sensibility and thought, and his eyes, though grey,

[graphic]

UNNE nuuporne bank twa pynynge mayuens sate,

Their tears faste dryppeynge to the waterre cleere;

Ecchone bementynge for her absente mate, • Who at Seyncte Albonns shouke the morthynge speare.

The nottebrowne Elinoure to,Juga fayre

Dydde speke acroole, wythe languishment of eyne. Lyche droppes of pearlie dew, lemed the quyvryng brine.

ELINORE.
O gentle Juga! heare mie dernie plainte,

To fyghte for Yorke mie love ys dyghte in stele; • O mai ne sanguen steine the whyte rose payncte,

[graphic]

turned, and the body, unclaimed by any friends, and unknown where he had lived, was buried in a shell in the burying ground of Shoe-lane workhouse. So perished in his pride, by a sudden fit of madness, this "marvellous boy."

The “ Poems of Rowley" are proved, beyond doubt, to have been the work of Chatterton, though it is strange that, to the last, he would never distinctly avow . them. The extracts we have made will enable the reader to judge somewhat of their vigour, their learning, their facility and sweetness, and the rich abundance of their thought. The fragment " from Goddwynn" is prodigiously fine. Any criticism on the writings of Chatterton, however, would be misplaced. The lovers of poetry have chiefly to regret the loss of the great things he would have done. His person, like his genius, was premature. Though only seventeen when he died, he had a manliness, a dignity, and a singular power of address, far beyond his years. His mouth was marked with the deep lines of sensibility and thought, and his eyes, though grey,

[graphic][merged small][merged small]

Onne Rudborne bank twa pynynge maydens sate,

Their tears faste dryppeynge to the waterre cleere;
Ecchone bementynge for her absente mate,
Who at Seyncte Albonns shouke the morthynge speare.

The nottebrowne Elinoure to,Juga fayre · Dydde speke acroole, wythe languishment of eyne. Lyche droppes of pearlie dew, lemed the quyvryng brine.

ELINOURE.
O gentle Juga! heare mie dernie plainte,

To fyghte for Yorke mie love ys dyghte in stele; . O mai ne sanguen steine the whyte rose payncte,

« ZurückWeiter »