« AnteriorContinuar »
do not recollect that philosophers have the advantage of any corner of the earth where their systems will be adopted without opposition. Augsburg is the resort for genuine peruque-makers of the old school; where every honest member, who is shocked by the conversion of hair into bristles, will find a retreat from the horrors that have assailed him in this innovating age. Here he will find reverend sirs with their monstrous wigs, which display a thousand locks dropping in so many curls; and, more than this, the friseur, who in his native place served only mortals, may here aspire to the glory of exercising his art upon deities. The Holy Ghost is the only person of the Trinity who appears at Augsburg unadorned with a curled wig. It is a real luxury to enter any one of the churches here, it matters not which, and behold the Virgin Mary dressed in brocades, with a wig flowing down her shoulders; and in her arms the child Jesus, no less decorated with a well-powdered peruque. Even in the representation of God the Father, the locks fall from his head upon the globe which he holds. In short, no peruquemaker will ever enter a church at Augsburg without shedding tears of joy.
PARTICULARS OF CHATTERTON,
Mean as I am, yet have the Muses made
COMFORT and joy's for ever fled:
He ne'er will warble more!
That e'er tun'd reed before.
E'en Hope forsook his brain :
To you ke sigh'd in vain. Oppress'd with want, in wild despair he cried, “No more I'll live !" swallow'd the draught--and died.
CHATTERTON AND THE BLACK-LETTER BIBLE.
Some time after my discovery of the whole Shaksperian imposition, I quitted London, and remained for some weeks in the vicinity of Bristol. Curiosity naturally prompted me to visit the chamber in the turret of St. Mary Redcliff church, wherein were deposited the papers to which Chatterton must have had access, and from which he pretended to have drawn his Rowley's Poems. It contained the old
chests, which were empty; being in every other respect a cheerless stone room. After inspecting this chamber, I waited upon Mrs. Newton, Chatterton's sister, who, as usual, produced the letters received from her brother, which she styled the only remaining relics of her dear Thomas. After having given them a very careful perusal (from which many proofs of paternal affection were apparent), I proceeded to make more minute enquiries respecting Chatterton, than were usually made by the few strangers that were prompted by mere curiosity to visit her. My questions and her answers, as nearly as I can recollect, were to the following effect :
“ Do you call to mind any circumstance of a particular nature respecting your brother when a child ?”
“ He was always very reserved, and fond of seclusion : we often missed him for half a day together; and once well I remember his being most severely chastised for a long absence : at which he did not, however, shed one tear, but merely said, " It was hard indeed to be whipped for reading,"
“ Did he ever betray any extraordinary symptoms when young?”
" No other, sir, than what I said ; except, indeed, that he was taught his letters from an old blackletter Bible, and would not take his lesson from any book of modern type."
This circumstance very forcibly struck me, and I endeavoured to acquire more knowledge on this head, but she recollected nothing at all interesting,
At the period when the Rowley papers had first come to light (as he averred), she informed me as follows:-"My brother, sir, had frequently brought home old parchments, deeds, and other things which were accounted of no value: and one day, having a use for them, I during his absence cut up several of them for thread-papers, and others to cover the school-books of children ; and while thus occupied, Thomas Chatterton came home: on perceiving what I had done, he threw himself into the most violent passion, saying that I had destroyed what would have been to the family a fortune for ever; and instantly seizing the books and thread-papers, collected them all together, and took them up stairs into his own chamber : after which they were never seen or heard of."
From the contiguity of their residence to Redcliff church, she also told me, he continually frequented the interior of that Gothic structure, where he would sit for hours, reading, beside the tomb of Canning; but this circumstance was at that time scarcely noticed. He was also frequently employed in ascending the towers of the church, where he would also read continually.
As to his person, his sister said, that he was thin of body, but neatly made; that his features were by no means handsome, and yet, notwithstanding, the tout ensemble was striking; which arose, she conceived, from the wonderful expression of his eyes, and more particularly of the left eye, which, to use her own words, seemed at times, from its brilliancy, “ to flash fire.”
She then proceeded to acquaint me, that some malevolent aspersions had been thrown out as to his moral character, and particularly, his being partial to the society of abandoned women, which she positively denied, with tears in her eyes; stating that he was the best and most tender of brothers, never enjoying so much satisfaction as when he could present them some little token of his affection ; that he always kept good hours at night, to her certain knowledge; and that by day he was by far too much taken up with books and his occupations to be a loose character. As to his having a predilection for some female, she told me, she believed that to have been the case; but, to the best of her knowledge, and from her soul (she assured me) she spoke it, no stain whatsoever could attach itself to his moral conduct.
Thus much I gleaned concerning the unfortunate and rejected Chatterton, whose talents I revere, and whose fate I commiserate with unfeigned tears of sympathy; who, had he lived, would have undoubtedly ranked with the first men of genius that have graced our isle.