we have felt for him as a friend. O thou worshipper of the Grecian Muses, we were uninitiated in the day-dreams of Parnassus, till the morning star of thy poetry beamed upon our soul !

Most of our young poets have been born and nurtured in the extremest poverty. Chatterton, the most wonderful of all, was taught at a “charity school.” We speak of him as the “charity boy,” the astonishing, immortal “charity boy;" but his spirit was as daring as his soul was gigantic—and that mightiness of soul was his ruin ; he trod the world as if its inhabitants were inferior beings, and himself a god, and spurned it as a foot-ball, rather than humble himself to the imbecility of their understandings.

“ Most men Are cradled into poetry by wrong,

They learn in suffering what they teach in song,” says Shelley, and we honour him for the sentence; he knew its truth from his own bitter experience, “ opposed to the world at seventeen, and banished from it afterwards.” But Chatterton was MAD—and his song was the consequence of that madness. Poverty and wrong and wretchedness heightened the delirium, till his seared and wounded spirit overflowed in poetry. And such poetry! like the harp-strings of Memnon's lyre, sounding at early morning, which the astonished traveller hears once, and remembers for ever.

We have spoken of childhood and youth-words which awaken in our memory associations bewitching with their very sweetness. We have spoken of childhood because it is then that we begin to love, and love produces poetry—to cherish with an affection that never fades—are swayed by feelings which in a greater or less degree act upon, and influence our maturer life. But it is in youth that we first love poetry for its own sake, and venerate the poet for the delight and enjoyment we experience. There is poetry in the melody of the night breeze, as in the matin hymnings of the sky-lark. The daisy and the primrose and the violet in the hedge-rows, are as scattered gems of song amidst the universal harmony of nature.

It is in youth, when the soul seeks in poetry a return of the affection which it lavishes upon the inanimate objects around it; when it communes with the face of nature, as with the unveiled attributes of the Deity; when the spirit pants for sympathy, even in the herbage of the field, and in the foliage of the forest; and, strange to say, it finds that sympathy, and such sympathy only as the objects which he adores can repay.

If nature “mourns her worshipper” when dead, she cherishes him while living. Every leaf has a voice, every insect a tongue: the craggy rock, the stupendous waterfall, even the solitude of the desert, have a speech and an utterance, though mute to all the world beside. Hence is it that the love of his own species is produced in man; it is born in his childhood; it dies not with his age; it conducts him to the grave, and accompanies him to eternity. Thou glorious and immortal attribute of song, which clothest with thy ever-radiant apparel the sins and follies of erring humanity ! if in my moments of earthly alienation I have mused upon one talisman, till my heart has revelled in its own abstraction, thou wast that talisman; it is with thee that all my associations are linked—it is with thee that all my enthusiasm has been cherished-thou communicatedst the spark, thou hast fanned the flame !

“ Spirit of this unfathomable world !

Favour my solemn song, for I have loved
Thee ever, and thee only: I have watch'd
Thy shadow and the darkness of thy steps,
And my heart ever gazes on the depth
Of thy vast mysteries ;—and though ne'er yet
Thou hast unveil'd thy inmost sanctuary,
Enough from incommunicable dream,
And twilight phantasms, and noon-day thought,
Has shone within me."


We do not profess to write a life of Chatterton, nor do we seek a revival of the controversy which, fifty years ago, occupied the attention of the first literary men in England; but it will be necessary that we take a brief review of the remarkable features of an event which has been pronounced one of the most extraordinary occurrences of modern times. This wonderful boy was born at Bristol, November 20, 1752, and was the posthumous son of the master of a free-school established there, whose ancestors, for several generations, had filled the office of sexton in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe in that town. This latter circumstance would have been otherwise undeserving of notice, than as it was connected with the origin of that fabrication which has stamped upon Chatterton's name so much of obloquy and suspicion. The death of her husband, three months before the birth of her child, left Chatterton's mother with few means of support. All the education he received was, consequently, derived from a charityschool, founded by Colston, a West India merchant: here he was taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. At this period, he was not so proficient in learning as most boys of the same age; and it was not till his attention was attracted by the display of the illuminated capitals of an old French musical MS. that he became distinguished for that avidity for books which afterwards rendered him so conspicuous. But no sooner was the fire once kindled, than no bounds could set limits to its progress. Before he had reached his twelfth year, he had read upwards of seventy volumes—of a very desultory nature indeed, but principally in history and divinity. So great, in fact, was the advancement he had made, and so decisive and premature were the powers of his mind, that the Bishop was induced to admit him to confirmation, even at this early period. “Instead of the thoughtless levity of childhood,” observes one of his biographers, Dr. Gregory, "he possessed the gravity, pensiveness, and melancholy of maturer life. His spirits were uneven; he was: frequently so lost in contemplation, that for many days together he would say very little, and apparently by constraint. His intimates in the school were few, and those of the most serious cast. At the hours allotted him for play, he generally retired to read; and he was particularly solicitous to borrow books.” The earliest existing specimen of Chatterton's poetry is supposed to have been written about this time (at the age of eleven years). İn point of merit, as a composition, it is worth little; but it serves to show the bent of his genius, and his disposition for satire.

When he was twelve years old, he was removed from home, and bound apprentice in the service of a Mr. Lambert, an attorney, who was resident at Bristol. Here his situation was very humble: “he ate with the servants, and slept in the same room with the footboy; but his employments left him many hours of leisure for reading, and these he devoted to acquiring a knowledge of English antiquities and obsolete language, which, together with his poetical ingenuity, proved sufficient for his Rowleian fabrications." He had remained in this profession for upwards of a year, when an opportunity occurred for the display of those wonderful abilities which have excited such surprise and admiration. In October, 1768, the new bridge at Bristol was finished, and about that time an article appeared in Farley's Bristol Journal, containing an account of the ceremonies which took place at the opening of the old bridge. A letter to the publisher accompanied the MS., in which it was announced, that “the following description of the Fryars first passing over the old bridge, was taken from an ancient manuscript.” The letter was signed “Dunhelmus Bristoliensis.” This singular production must be allowed by every one to give remarkable evidence of strong talent for invention, and a knowledge of ancient language and customs, which, for a writer of Chatterton's age and education, is truly wonderful.

Such a production, at so critical a time, would naturally attract notice, and the printer was immediately called upon to display the original copy, or to publish the authority from which he received the communication : after great inquiry had been made, it was traced to Chatterton. He was immediately questioned on the subject,—and questioned too, it appears, with the spirit of harshness, which his poor and unbefriended state might seem to warrant from the Bristol literati. But the haughty boy refused to answer; his proud stomach could little brook the compulsory threats with which these gentlemen seasoned their interrogatories. Upon softer usage, however, and after many mild and persuasive entreaties, he seemed inclined to comply ; but his answers were evasive and contradictory. He first asserted that he was employed to transcribe the contents of certain ancient MSS. by a gentleman, who had also engaged him to furnish complimentary verses, inscribed to a lady with whom that gentleman was in love. Being unable to produce any proof of this assertion, he was obliged to have recourse to another, which was, “that he had received the paper in question, together with many other manuscripts, from his father, who had found them in a large chest, in the upper-room over the chapel, on the north side of Redcliffe church.” This latter artifice was believed, and Chatterton was encouraged to proceed. He produced specimens of poetry, written in a very ancient style, and bearing undisputed marks of a genius of no ordinary stamp. These he announced to be copied from some of the MSS. before mentioned. The most competent judges in Bristol were deceived by them; they

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were admired wherever they were shown, and Chatterton was taken into patronage. From time to time he continued to bring forward other specimens; but as yet he could never be induced to exhibit any of the originals.

Success will lend daring to the most pusillanimous spirit. Lord Orford, the celebrated Horace Walpole, “the Ultimus Romanorum,' and father of the first romance and of the last tragedy in our language,” as Byron has somewhat ridiculously styled him, had, about this time, completed and published his “ Anecdotes of Painters." Chatterton, animated by the issue of his first enterprise, imagined a more extensive field was open to his ambition in the person of this exalted statesman. He addressed a letter to him, in which it was stated that the writer was in possession of several ancient parchments, discovered at Bristol, many of them containing an interesting account of a long series of distinguished painters that had flourished in that town. Unfortunately for Chatterton's scheme, it happened that Horace Walpole had been but lately concerned in bringing before the world the Ossian of Mc Pherson, of the authenticity of which strong doubts had been entertained. He was therefore upon wary ground, and an account of a series of painters at Bristol, hitherto unheard of, seemed too marvellous a story even for the “ Count of Otranto." His suspicions were consequently awakened; but he nevertheless answered the letter, desiring further information. This produced another from Chatterton, in which, by way of reply, he stated that he was the son of a poor widow, who supported him with considerable difficulty; he added, that he was bound apprentice to an attorney, but had a taste for more elegant studies. This letter enclosed specimens of the poetry which, according to Chatterton, constituted the remainder of the MSS. " At first I concluded,” says Horace Walpole, in a letter to a friend on the subject, after the melancholy death of Chatterton, “that somebody, having met with my Anecdotes of Painters, had a mind to laugh at me; I thought not very ingeniously, as I was not likely to swallow a succession of great painters at Bristol. The ode, or sonnet as I think it was called, was too pretty to be part of the plan; and, as is easy with all the other poems of Rowley, it was not difficult to make it modern, by changing the old words for new,—though yet more difficult than with most of them.”

The “ode, or sonnet,” to which he alludes, was the following, and is thus familiarly introduced by Chatterton :

“ This is a fragment by John, second Abbatte of Seyncte Austyns Mynsterre;' he was inducted Abbot in the year 1186, and sat in the dies 29 years. He was the greatest poet of the age in which he lived; he understood the learned languages. Take a specimen of his poetry on king Richard 1st.

“ Harte of lyone! shake thie sworde,
Bare thie mortheynge steinedes honde :
Quace 4 whole armies to the queede,
Worke thie wylle yn burlie-bronde.

• Mortheynge, murdering.

3 Steinede, stained. 4 Quace, vanquish.

3 Queede, the evil one, the devil. 6 Burlie-bronde, anger.

Barons here on bankers-browded,
Fyghte yn furres gaynste the cale ;?
Whilest thou ynne thonderynge armes,
Warriketh whole cyttes bale.
Harte of lyon ! sound the beme ! 8
Sounde ytte ynto inner londes,
Feare flies sportine ynne the cleeme,

Inne thie banner terror stondes." It is obvious, by the mere substitution of modern for ancient words, that this poem might be made perfectly intelligible. It is likewise impossible not to agree with Horace Walpole, that it displays a great poetical turn. “Such a spirit of poetry breathed in his coinage, as interested me for him; nor was it a grave crime in a young bard to have forged false notes-of-hand, that were to pass current only in the parish of Parnassus.”

The other specimen which Chatterton enclosed in his letter, was the following eclogue, entitled “Elinoure and Juga," called by Walpole, “ an absolute modern pastoral, thinly sprinkled with old words."

ONNE Ruddeborne bank twa pynynge maydens sate,
Theire teares faste dryppeynge to the waterre cleere ;
Echone bementynge for her absente mate,
Who atte Seyncte Albonns shouke the morthynge speare.
The nottebrowne Elinoure to Juga fayre

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


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 peyncte,
Maie good Senecte Cuthberte watche Syrre Roberte wele.
Moke moe thanne deathe in phantasie I feele :

See! see! upon the grounde he bleedynge lies ;
Inhild some joice of lyfe, or else mie deare love dies.


Systers in sorrowe on thys daise-ey'd banke,
Where melancholych broods, we wyll lamente;
Be, wette wythe mornynge dewe and evene danke;
Lyche levynde okes in eche the odher bente,
Or lyche forlettenn! halles of merriemente,
Whose gastlie mitches holde the traine of fryghte,
Where lethale ravens bark, and owlets wake the nyghte.


No moe the miskynette shall wake the morne,
The minstrelle daunce, good cheere, and morryce plaie ;
No moe the amblynge palfrie and the horne
Shall from the lessel rouze the foxe awaie ;
I'll seke the foreste alle the lyve-longe daie ;

Alle nete amenge the gravde chyrche glebe wyll goe,
And to the passante spryghtes lecture mie tale of woe.
? Cale, cold.

8 Beme, trumpet. 9 Cleeme, sound.

10 Forlettenn, forsaken.

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