1885 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

Edward J. Harding, in "The Apotheosis of Chatterton" The Critic 7 (1885) 28.



His name has been coupled in good faith with Keats, a comparison inconceivably unjust to the latter. Hyperion to a Satyr, truth to falsehood, are not more unlike than was Keats to Chatterton. Keats was a sweet and noble spirit, a devotee of the beautiful, a Galahad circled about with snowy doves; Chatterton was a pestilent backbiter, a vain and moody egotist, a genuine product of an age of shams.... Facility he possessed, and versatility. He imitated all styles in turn; now he smacks of Pope, now of Gray or Spenser, just as the schoolboy's clumsy copy bears a provoking resemblance to the master's elegant penmanship. The taint of insincerity runs through Chatterton's writings almost from the first.