1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry Kirke White

Rev. Charles Burton, in The Bardiad; a Poem (1823) pp. 10, 75n.



Dear White! thou "sitst" not "a lorn spectre there:"
No — for, in Heaven, thy harp knows no despair.
Of Genius brighter, but less gracious mould,
Precocious CHATTERTON, an orb of gold,
Rose but to set ere half his light was seen,
And died the wondrous Poet of sixteen.

Kirk White and Chatterton may well appear in connexion, on many accounts. The precocity of their genius, and the character of their compositions, and the prematureness of their death, are astonishingly similar. Their minds seem, in some respects, to have been cast in the same mould. Both seemed to have perused with avidity the old English Poets, and to have imbibed their peculiar spirit. Kirk White, in his "Canzonet;" and in his song, "Softly, softly blow, ye breezes," has so precisely adopted the style of Chatterton, in the "Minstrel's Song in Ella," that we might suppose them written by the same pen. Chatterton's genius seems to be brighter; but Kirk White possessed a mind so heavenly in it's nature, and rich in it's resources, that maturity of years would have enabled him to have written a "Paradise Lost." He was one of the sons of Ossian. The peculiar character of his mind is sufficiently obvious from the following extracts.