1814 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

James Jennings, "A Sketch of an Inscription for a Monument to the Memory of Thomas Chatterton" Jennings, Prospects of Africa (1814) 115-16.



If towering genius — eloquence be thine
Who seek'st to know for whom is rear'd the shrine;
If, in thy bosom, nature's purest glow
Kindle with kindness at the sight of woe;
If virtue, bending o'er an honour'd son,
Drop the big tear and mourn her hopes undone;
Here pause a moment o'er a saddening tale,
And of earth's sons a brilliant BOY bewail.
This brief memorial marks the deathless name
Of him whom tempted proud and lofty fame.
Bright was his meteor walk — the planet train!
Glows not more radiant in night's darkest reign,
But want arose in squalid form to scare;
And pride approach'd with fiery eye-ball glare,
Till he at length sought, to relive his soul,
The maniac murder of the poison'd bowl!
Fame blew her trumpet — genius by her side
Spurn'd fear and prudence and their victim died!
Frowns now the moralist? reproves the sage?
O may recording angels blot the page!

Behold midst words uncouth and "auncyante rhym,"
How seem the present as the works of time!
When sighs his Bertha, how the "mynstrelles songe,"
In warbling sorrow wild, is borne along;
Lives there, even one, who feels not deepest woe
When "oute," Sir Bawdin's "bloude beginnes to flowe?"
His harp, all magic — music's self the strings,
With living truths he swells, or wildly flings
Some pleasant "roundelaie" to soothe the soul.
Fame the sweet sounds re-echoes; and her scroll
Waves, which, as banners, spreads the circling sky;
Where, crown'd with glory never more to die,
Whilst genius smiles to hear the trump of fame,
Glows of her CHATTERTON the emblazon'd name.