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Pleasure, dauncyng fromm her wode,
Wythe syke an eyne shee swotelie hymm dydd view,
Hys spryte dydd chaunge untoe anodherr hue,
Fyre enshotynge fromm hys eyne,
Ynn hys armes hee dydd herr hente,"
Soe, gyff thou lovest Pleasure and herr trayne,
Onknowlachynge ynn whatt place herr to fynde, Thys rule yspende," and ynn thie mynde retayne; Seeke Honnoure fyrste, and Pleasaunce lies behynde.*
In identifying the priest of the 15th century with the bard of the 18th, as far as intellect extends, Chatterton must ever be considered as an almost miraculous being, on whom was showered "the pomp and prodigality of heaven." Independently of his creative faculty, he is to be recognized as one who seemed intuitively to possess what others imperfectly acquire by labour. All difficulties vanished before him, and every branch of knowledge became familiar to which he momentarily directed his luminous attention.
When we consider the wonderful acquirements of Chatterton, in his short life, the maturity of his understanding, the brilliancy of his fancy, and the accuracy of his taste, the mind indulges in a melancholy but luxurious anticipation of what another seventeen years might have produced! But, as it is, he has reared to himself an immortal cenotaph; and it is high time for the public, with a decisive hand, to pluck the borrowed plumes from a fictitious Rowley, and to place them on the brow of a real Chatterton. His fame should no longer be divided, but the present generation should boast the honorable distinction of having produced, perhaps, the greatest genius that ever appeared in the "tide of times."- COTTLE.
In printing the first of these poems two copies have been made use of, both taken from copies of Chatterton's hand-writing-the one by Mr. Catcott, and the other by Mr. Barrett. The principal difference between them is at the end, where the latter has fourteen lines from stanza 55, which are wanting in the former. The second poem is printed from a single copy, made by Mr. Barrett, from one in Chatterton's hand-writing.
It should be observed, that the Poem marked No. 1, was given to Mr. Barrett by Chatterton, with the following title: "Battle of Hastings, wrote by Turgot the Monk, a Saxon, in the tenth century, and translated by Thomas Rowlie, parish preeste of St. Johns, in the city of Bristol, in the year 1465.-The remainder of the poem I have not been happy enough to meet with." Being afterwards pressed by Mr. Barrett to produce any part of this poem in the original hand-writing, he at last said that he wrote this poem himself for a friend; but that he had another, the copy of an original by Rowley: and being then desired to produce that other poem, he, after a considerable interval of time, brought to Mr. Barrett the poem marked No. 2, as far as stanza 52 inclusive, with the following title: "Battle of Hastyngs by Turgotus, translated by Roulie for W. Canynge, Esq." The lines from stanza 52 inclusive, were brought some time after, in consequence of Mr. Barrett's repeated solicitations for the conclusion of the poem.-Note to Tyrwhitt's Edition.
BATTLE OF HASTINGS.*
O CHRYSTE, it is a grief for me to telle,
* I cannot but observe, that Chatterton could not have chosen from our history, a more commodious subject for a poem than the 'Battle of Hastings,' exclusive of its susceptibility of poetical ornament, and of its coincidence with his predominant predilection for antiquarian imagery.-WARTON.
There are extant two parts, or rather two different parts, of the 'Battle of Hastings.' These appear to have been higher in the estimation of Chatterton, as well as of Dr. Milles, than most of the other productions of Rowley. When Chatterton brought the first part to Mr. Barrett, being greatly pressed to produce the poem in the original hand-writing, he at last said that he had written this poem himself for a friend; but that he had another, the copy of an original by Rowley: and being then desired to produce that poem, he brought, after some time, to Mr. Barrett, the poem which is marked in Mr. Tyrwhitt's and Dr. Milles's editions, as "No. 2." The first of these poems I cannot help classing among the most inferior of Rowley's. The mere detail of violence and carnage, with nothing to interest curiosity, or engage the more tender passions can be pleasing to few readers. There is not a single episode to enliven the tedious narrative, and but few of the beauties of poetry to relieve the mind from the disgusting subject. The second part is far superior. There is more of poetical description in it, more of nature, more of character. The imagery is more ani
In fyghtynge for Kynge Harrold noblie fell,
Thou wouldst have rose and sank wyth tydes of bloude,
And of his knyghtes did eke full manie die,
Go, do the weaklie womman inn mann's geare,"
mated, the incidents more varied. The character of Tancarville is well drawn, and the spirit of candour and humanity which pervades it, is perhaps unparalleled in any writer before the age of Shakspeare. The whole episode of Gyrtha is well conducted, and the altercation between him and his brother Harold, is interesting. But the description of 'Morning,' and that of Salisbury plain,' would be alone sufficient to rescue the whole poem from oblivion, and to entitle it to a place upon a classic shelf. The utmost efforts of the author however cannot always impart interest or variety to the dull catalogue of names, which have ceased to be remembered, and the unvaried recital of wounds and deaths. But Homer himself nods when engaged upon a topic so unfavourable to genius.-DR. GREGORY.