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(James Beattie was born at Laurencekirk in 1735, and died at Aberdeen in 1803. He published his first volume of poems in 1761, The Judgment of Paris in 1765, and Some Lines on the Proposed Monument 10 Churchill in 1766. The first part of The Minstrel appeared in 1770, the second in 1774.]

Beattie is perhaps the most difficult poet of the eighteenth century for a nineteenth-century reader to criticise sympathetically. His original poetical power was almost nil. But he had a delicate and sensitive taste, and was a diligent student of the works of Gray and Collins on the one hand, and of the ballads which Percy had just published on the other. His earlier poems are merely so many variations on the Elegy and the Ode on the Passions. His Fudgment of Paris and his Lines on Churchill are perhaps those of his works in which he was least indebted to others, and they are almost worthless intrinsically, besides being (at least the Churchill lines) in the worst possible taste. As for The Minstrel, it is certainly a most remarkable poem. The author has shown his judgment in prefixing no argument to either book, for in truth neither admits of one. The poem has neither head nor tail, and the central figure of the youthful Edwin is a mere peg on which to hang descriptive passages, moral disquisitions, and digressions of

The general effect upon the modern reader is exactly that of a sham ruin or a Gothic edifice of the Wyatt period. Yet the poem was, and long continued to be, extremely popular ; and it gave the impulse in many cases to the production of much better work than itself. In fact it exactly reflected the vague and ill-instructed craving of the age for the dismissal of artificial poetry and for a return to nature, and at the same time to the romantic style. This fact must always give it an interest which its elegant secondhand imagery, its feeble Werterisms, and above all its extraordinary incoherence, may on closer acquaintance fail to sustain.

Beattie would have been a poet if he could, and his sedulous efforts and gentle sensibility sometimes bring him within sight, though at a long distance, of the promised land. But he never reaches it, and his best work is only made up of reminiscences of others' visits and of far-off echoes of the heavenly music.


every kind.


When the long-sounding curfew from afar
Loaded with loud lament the lonely gale,
Young Edwin, lighted by the evening star,
Lingering and listening, wandered down the vale.
There would he dream of graves and corses pale ;
And ghosts that to the charnel-dungeon throng,
And drag a length of clanking chain, and wail,
Till silenced by the owl's terrific song,
Or blast that shrieks by fits the shuddering isles along.

Or, when the setting moon, in crimson dyed
Hung o'er the dark and melancholy deep,
To haunted stream, remote from man, he hied,
Where fays of yore their revels wont to keep;
And there let Fancy rove at large, till sleep
A vision brought to his entranced sight.
And first a wildly murmuring wind 'gan creep
Shrill to his ringing ear; then tapers bright
With instantaneous gleam illumed the vault of night.

Anon in view a portal's blazoned arch
Arose ; the trumpet bid the valves unfold,
And forth an host of little warriors march
Grasping the diamond lance, and targe of gold.
Their look was gentle, their demeanour bold,
And green their helms, and green their silk attire,
And here and there, right venerably old,
The long-robed minstrels wake the warbling wire,
And some with mellow breath the martial pipe inspire.

With merriment, and song, and timbrels clear,
A troop of dames from myrtle bowers advance ;
The little warriors doff the targe and spear,
And loud enlivening strains provoke the dance.
They meet, they dart away, they wheel askance;

To right, to left, they thrid the flying maze ;
Now bound aloft with vigorous spring, then glance
Rapid along : with many-coloured rays
Of tapers, gems and gold, the echoing forests blaze.

The dream is fled. Proud harbinger of day,
Who scar’d'st the vision with thy clarion shrill,
Fell chanticleer! who oft hath reft away
My fancied good, and brought substantial ill !
O to thy cursed scream, discordant still,
Let harmony aye shut her gentle ear :
Thy boastful mirth let jealous rivals spill,
Insult thy crest, and glossy pinions tear,
And ever in thy dreams the ruthless fox appear !

Forbear, my Muse. Let Love attune thy line.
Revoke the spell. Thine Edwin frets not so.
For how should he at wicked chance repine
Who feels from every change amusement flow?
Even now his eyes with smiles of rapture glow,
As on he wanders through the scenes of morn,
Where the fresh flowers in living lustre blow,
Where thousand pearls the dewy lawns adorn,
A thousand notes of joy in every breeze are born.

But who the melodies of morn can tell ?
The wild brook babbling down the mountain side,
The lowing herd; the sheep-fold's simple bell ;
The pipe of early shepherd dim descried
In the lone valley ; echoing far and wide
The clamorous horn along the cliffs above,
The hollow murmur of the ocean-tide;
The hum of bees, the linnet's lay of love,
And the full choir that wakes the universal grove.

The cottage-curs at early pilgrim bark;
Crowned with her pail the tripping milkmaid sings ;
The whistling ploughman stalks afield; and hark !
Down the rough slope the ponderous waggon rings ;
Through rustling corn the hare astonished springs ;
Slow tolls the village-clock the drowsy hour;
The partridge bursts away on whirring wings;
Deep mourns the turtle in sequestered bower,
And shrill lark carols clear from her aerial tower.

O Nature, how in every charm supreme !
Whose votaries feast on raptures ever new !
O for the voice and fire of seraphim,
To sing thy glories with devotion due !
Blest be the day I 'scaped the wrangling crew
From Pyrrho's maze, and Epicurus' sty;
And held high converse with the godlike few,
Who to th' enraptured heart, and ear, and eye,
Teach beauty, virtue, truth, and love, and melody.


[Thomas CHATTERTON was born at Bristol on the 20th of November, 1752. From 1767 to 1770 he produced a mass of poetry, the more noticeable portions of it being the pseudo-antique Rowley Poems which were collected alter his death by Thomas Tyrwhitt, in 1777. He died by his own hand in London on the 24th of August, 1770, aged 17 years and 9 months.)

Chatterton has been neglected of late years, but Mr. Skeat's modernised version of the 'Rowley' Poems will, very likely, direct as much attention to them as can be afforded by an age embarrassed already by the wealth it has inherited and by the luxuriance of its own poetic growths. And if in the following selections I have not availed myself of Mr. Skeat's modernised text, but have rather chosen a text of my own, it has been from no defective appreciation of the acuteness, the industry, and the learning apparent in every page of his edition, but because he sometimes seems to miss that peculiar musical movement governing Chatterton's ear, which often renders it impossible to replace, by any modern word whatsoever, an archaism or pseudo-archaism of his, whether invented by himself or found in Bailey or Speght. Dominated as he commonly was by eighteenth-century movements, Chatterton yet showed at times an originality of ear that has never been appreciated. As far as I know, indeed, his metrical inventiveness has never been perceived—certainly it has never been touched upon-by any of his critics, from Tyrwhitt downwards. Yet it seems necessary to touch upon it here—technical its the enquiry may seem-or how can we gauge the undeniable intluence Chatterton has had, both as to spirit and as to form, upon the revival in the present century of the romantic temperthat temper, without which English poetry can scarcely perhaps

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