Page images

Flis 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 flatness courted everywhere; and could I humble myself and extravagance, that might be expected from a to go into a compler, could have had twenty places juvenile writer, whose fertility was greater than betore now; but I must be among the great ; state his judgment, and who had fed his mind upon maiters suit me beiter than commercial.” These stores collected 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 creafound that he had nothing to expect from the pa- tures into the world with arms long enough to 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 india 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 apprefond. Such was his pride, however, that when, ciated by Lord Orford, who, after expatiating upon aller 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 fright, his dend 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, Ilolborn, and he ungovernable impulse, which, cameleon-like, im. was interred, in a shell, in the burying-ground bibed the colours of all it looked on. It was Os. of 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 affect. head of St. John's College, Oxford, had just gone to ed to be, a poet of the fifteenth century, it was be. Bristol, for the purpose of assisting Chatterton, cause it could not imilate what had not existed.” when he wis 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 uncommonly preposside with Dean Milles and others, against the host sessing. Ilis most remarkable feature was his of writers, including Gibbon, Johnson, and the two eyes, which, though gray, were uncommonly piercWarons, who ascribe the entire authorship to ing; when he was warmed in argument, or otherChaterwn. The laiter 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. prted, viz. that however extraordinary it was for The character of Charterton has been sufficiently Charlerton to produce them in the eighteenth cen- developed in the course of the preceding memoir; tary, 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 doubiful whether his death was not Charterton 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 ha subject of wonder and admiration. able to obtain a future subsistence. This is renThe eulogy of his friends, and the opinions of the dered at least plausible, by the fact of his having controversialisis respecting him, are certainly too received pecuniary assistance from Mr. Hamilton, extravagant. Dean Milles prefers Rowley to llo- 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 h1- 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 incohn. writers; 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 Chatierion. The poems of Rowley, as published of his faial 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: fragedies, 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 continued 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 forget all else that belonged to Chattion could he have brought upon them than that I terton.



[ocr errors]

Thenne Maister Canynge saughte the kynge,

And felle down onne hys knee;
“ I'm come," quod hee, “ unto your grace,

To move your clemencye.”
"Thenne," quod the kynge," youre tale speke out,

You have been much oure friende :
Whatever youre request may bee,

Wee wylle io yite attende."
My nobile leige! alle my request

Ys for a nobile knyghte,
Who, though may hap hee has donne wronge,

He thoughte ytte slylle was ryghte:
“ Hee has a spouse and children twaine ;

Alle rewyn’d are for aie,
Yff that you are resolved to lett

Charles Bawdin die to-daie."

The featherd songster chaunticleer

Han wounde hys bugle horne,
And tolde the earlie villager

The commynge of the morne :
Kynge Edwarde sawe the ruddie streakes

Of lyghte eclypse the greie ;
And herde the raven's crokynge throte

Proclayme the fated daie.
“Thou’rt ryght,” quod he, “ for, by the Godde

That syttes enthroned on hyghe! Charles Bawdin, and hys fellowes twaine,

To-daie shall surelie die.”

[ocr errors]

Thenne wythe a jngge of nappy ale

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

The kynge ynn surie 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-fulle 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 cke hys lovynge wyfe,

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

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,

'T'wylle faste thye crowne fulle sure ; Hee hath uppon hys honour sworne,

From race to race thye familie Thatt thou shalt 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." “ Batt telle thye 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 valrous actions prize, To gett all thynges ynne reddyness

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

Although ynne enemies."

* I make no double butt hee ys gone,

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

From oute the reech of woe.

· Canynge, awaie! By Godde ynne heaven

Thatt dydd mee being gyve
I wylle nott taste a bitt of breade

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

Thys sunne shall be hys laste." Thenne Canynge dropp'd a brinie teare,

And from the presence paste.
Wyth herte brymm-fulle of gnawynge gries,

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

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

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

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

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

Thatt thou dost child-lyke crye ?"
Quod godlie Canynge, “ I doe weepe,

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

*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 nutt 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 foresende,

And guarde thee and thye sonne,
Yif 'tis bys 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 parents 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 sarvants 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 ;
“Whaite 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 lyme can't eate awaie, There wythe the sarvants of the Lord

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

I leave thys mortall lyfe : 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 grese

To Godde ynne heaven to flie.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

And nowe the belle began to tolle,

And claryonnes to sound ;
Syr Charles hee herde the horses feete

A prauncyng onne the grounde :
And just before the officers

His lovynge wyfe came ynne, Weepynge unfeigned teers of woe,

Wythe loude and dysmalle dynne.
"Sweet Florence! nowe I praie forbere,

Ynn quiet lett mee die;
Praie Godde that every Christian soule

Maye looke onne dethe as I.
“Sweet Florence! why these brinie ieers ?

Theye washe my soule awaie,
And almost make mee wyshe for lyse,

Wyth thee, sweete dame, to staie. "Tys butt a journie I shalle goe

Untoe the lande of blysse ;
Nowe, as a proofe of husbande's love,

Receive thys holie kysse."
Thenne Florence, fault'ring ynne her saie,

Tremblynge these wordyes spoke,
“Ah, cruele Edwarde! bloudie kynge!

Mye herte ys welle nyghe broke : “Ah, sweete Syr Charles ! why wylt thou goe

Wythoute thye lovynge wyse ?
The cruelle axe thait cuttes thye necke,

Ytte eke shall ende mye lyse.”
And nowe the officers came ynne

To brynge Syr Charles awaie, Who turnedd to hys lovynge wyse,

And thus to her dydd saie :
“I goe to lyfe, and nott to dethe ;

Truste thou ynne Godde above,
And teache thy sonnes to feare the Lorde,

And ynne theyre hertes hym love :
“ Teache them to runne the nobile race

Thatt I theyre fader runne ;
Florence! should dethe thee take--adieu !

Yee officers, leade onne.
Thenne Florence raved as anie madde,

And dydd her tresses tere; “Oh, staie mye husbande, lorde, and lyfe!"

Syr Charles thenne dropt a teare.
"Tyll tyredd oute wythe ravynge loude,

Shee fellen onne the foore ;
Syr Charles exerted alle hys myghte,

And march'd fromm oute the dore.
Uponne a sledde hee mounted thenne,

Wythe lookes fulle brave and sweete; Lookes thatt enshone ne moe concern

Thanne anie ynne the strete.
Before hym went the council-menne,

Ynne scarlett robes and golde,
And tassils spanglynge ynne the sunne,

Muche glorious to beholde :
The Freers of Seincte Augustyne next

Appeared to the syghie,
Alle cladd ynne homelie russett weedes,

Of godlie monkysh plyghte:

Ynne diffraunt partes a godlie psaume

Moste sweetlie iheye dydd chaunt; Behynde theyre backes syx mynstrelles came,

Who tuned the strunge bataunt.
Thenne fyve-and-twenty archers came ;

Echone the bowe dydd bende,
From rescue of Kynge llenrie's friends

Syr Charles forr to defend.
Bolde as a lyon came Syr Charles,

Drawne onne a cloth-ladye sledde, Bye two blacke stedes ynne trappynges whyte,

Wyth plumes uponne theyre hedde:
Behynde hym syve-and-twenty moe

Of archers strong and stoute,
Wyth bended bowe echone ynne hande,

Marched ynne goodlie route :
Seincte Jameses Freers marched next,

Echone hys parte dydd chaunt; Behynde theyre backes syx mynstrelles came,

Who tuned the strunge bataunt :
Thenne came the maior and eldermenne,

Ynne clothe of scarlett deck't ;
And theyre aitendyng menne echone,

Lyke casterne princes trick't:
And after them a multitude

Of citizenns dydd thronge ;
The wyndowes were alle sulle of heddes

As hee dydd passe alonge.
And whenne hee came to the hyghe crosse,

Syr Charles dydd turne and saie,
“O Thou thatt savest manne fromme synne,

Washe mye soule clean thys daie !" Att the grete mynster wyndowe sat

The kynge ynne myckle state,
To see Charles Bawdin goe alonge

To hys most welcom fate
Soone as the sledde drewe nyghe enowe,

Thatt Edwarde hee myghte heare,
The brave Syr Charles hee dydd stande uppe,

And thus hys wordes declare :
“ Thou seest me, Edwarde! traytour vile!

Exposed to infamie ;
Butt bee assured, disloyall manne!

I'm greaterr nowe thanne thee.
“ Bye foule proceedyngs, murdre, bloude,

Thou wearest nowe a crowne;
And hast appoynted mee to die,

By power noit thyne owne.
Thou thynkest I shall dye to-daie ;

I have beene dede till nowe,
And soone shall lyve to weare a crowne

For aie uponne my browe :
Whylst thou, perhapps, for some few yeares,

Shalt rule thys fickle lande,
To lett them knowe howe wyde the rule

'Twixt kynge and tyrante hande :
" Thye power unjust, thou traytour slave!

Shall falle onne thye owne hedde"Fromm out of hearyng of the kynge

Departed thenne the sledde.


[ocr errors]


kynge Edwarde's soule rush'd to hys face,

llee turn'a hys hedde awaie, And to hys broder Gloucester

Hee thus dydd speke and saie: “ To hym that soe

much-dreaded dethe Ne ghastlie terrors brynge, Beholde the manne! hee spake the truthe,

Hee's greaier thanne a kynge!". * Soe lett hym die!” Duke Richarde sayde ;

* And maye echone oure foes Bende downe theyre neckes to bloudie axo,

And feede the carryon crowes.' And nowe the horses gentlie drewe

Syr Charles uppe the hyghe hylle ;
The axe dydd glyslerr ynne the sunne,

Hlys precious blonde to spylle.
Syr Charles dydd uppe the scaffold goe,

As uppe a gilded carre
Of victorye, bye val'rous chiefs

Gayn'd ynne the bloudie warre :
And to the people hee dyd saie,

** Beholde you see mee dye, For servynge loyally mye kynge,

Mye kynge most ryghtfullie. ** Is longe as Edwarde rules thys lande,

Ne quiet you wylle knowe: Your sunnes and husbandes shalle bee slayne.

And brookes wythe bloude shalle flowe.
* You leave your goode and lawfulle kynge,

Whenne ynne adversitye ;
Lyke mee, unioe the true cause stycke,

And for the true cause dye."
Thenne hee, wyth preestes, uponne hys knees,

A prayer to Godde dyd make, Beseechynge hym unto hymselfe

Hrs partynge soule to iake. Thenne kneelynge downe, hee layde hys hedde,

Most seemlie onne the blocke; Whyche fromme hys bodie fayre at once

The able heddes-manne stroke:

0! synge untoe mie roundelaie,
0! droppe the brynie ieare wythe mee,
Daunce ne moe alte hallie daie,
Lycke a rennynge ryver bee ;
Mie love

ys deade,
Gon to hys death-bedde,

Al under the wyllowe tree.
Blacke hys cryne as the wyntere nyghte,
Whyte hys rode as the sommer snowe,
Rodde hys face as the mornynge lyghte,
Cald he lyes ynne the grave belowe ;

Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys death-bedde,

Al under the wyllowe iree.
Swote hys tongue as the throstles note,
Quycke yon dáunce as thought canne bee,
Defe hys taboure, codgelle stote,
0! hee lyes bie the wyllowe tree:
Mie love


Gonne to hys death-bedde,

Al under the wyllowe tree.
Harke, the ravenne flappes hys wynge,
Ynne the briered delle belowe ;
Harke! the dethe-owle loude dothe synge,
To the nyghte-mares as heie goe;

Mie love ys dedde,
Gonne to hys death-bedde,
Al under the wyllowe tree.

See! the whyte moone sheenes onne hie; Whyterre ys mie true love's shroude ; Whyterre yanne the mornynge skie, Whyterre yanne the evenynge cloude; Mie love


Gon to hys death-bedde,
Al under the wyllowe tree.

And oute the bloude beganne to flowe,

And rounde the scaffolde twyne ; And teares, enow to washe't awaie,

Dydd flowe fromme each man's eyne.
The bloudie axe hys bodie fayre

Innto foure partes cutte ;
And everye parte, and eke hys hedde,

C ponne a pole was putte.
One parte dyd rotte onne Kynwulph-hylle,

One onne the mynster-tower,
And one from off the castle-gate

The crowen dydd devoure : The other onne Seyncte Powle's goode gate,

A dreery spectacle ; llys hedde was placed onne the hyghe crosse,

Ynne hyghe streie most nobile. This was the ende of Bawdin's fate ·

Godde prosper longe oure kynge, And grante hee maye, wyth Bawdin's soule, Ynne Heaven Godde's mercie synge!

Heere uponne mie true love's grave,
Schalle the haren fleurs be layde,
Nee on hallie seyncte to save
Al the celness of a mayde.

Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys death-bedde,

Al under the wyllowe tree.
Wythe mie hondes I'll dente the brieres
Rounde his hallie corse to gre,
Ouphante fairie, lyghte your fyres,
Heere mie bodie still schalle bee.

Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys death-bedde,

Al under the wyllowe tree.
Comme, wythe acorne-coppe and thorne,
Drayne mie hartys blodde awaie ;
Lyfe and alle yts goode I scorne,
Daunce bie nete, or feaste bie daie.

Mie love ys dedde,
Gon to hys death-bedde,

Al under the wyllowe tree.
Waterre wytches, crownede wythe reytes,
Bere mee to yer leathalle tyde.
I die: I comme ; mie true love waytcs.-
Thos the damselle spake, and dyed.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »