1792 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

Albert, "Chatterton" Morning Chronicle (24 January 1792).



It is recorded of the infancy of CHATTERTON by his Mother, that, upon being asked what toy would afford him most pleasure, he replied, with an earnestness that bespoke the emotion of his mind. "A trumpet to blow aloud!" This reply sufficiently indicated that proud aspiring spirit which animated the genius, and shortened the existence of that extraordinary character. Upon this circumstance the following Verses are founded.

Averse to ev'ry childish toy,
Why seize the Trumpet, daring Boy,
And blow in strains so loud and clear
As all th' admiring world might hear,
While the loud echo should rebound,
And give to future times the sound?
Ah! what could prompt thy wish to claim,
In infancy, the Trump of Fame?
By what intemperate thirst of praise,
Too sure presage of shorten'd days?
By what ambitious phrenzy led!—
That Trumpet sounds but for the dead!
Nor knew'st thou then, in hope elate,
What future evils should await:
That Pride should teach repulse to feel,
And Avarice grudge the scanty meal;
Nor yet to quench thy ardent soul,
Appeared the horrors of the bowl!
O! born in infancy to plan
A work beyond the powers of man;
The native of some other sphere,
Thy spirit just had lighted here.
By Fame allured, — but doomed to find
Th' ingratitude of base mankind,
Indignant left its frame behind!
With powers that had adorn'd our race,
Ah! how thy fortunes must disgrace.
The Trump of Fame shall now too late
Announce thy genius and thy fate,
And sound the mingled blasts of shame
With the loud honours of thy name.