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which have been so confidently ascribed to him, I am not yet convinced.
On the whole, I am inclined to believe, that these poems were composed by the son of the school-master before mentioned; who inherited the inestiinable treasures of Cannynge's chest in Radcliffe-church, as I have already related at large. This youth, who died at eighteen, was a prodigy of genius: and would have proved the first of English poets, had he reached a maturer age. From his childhood, he was fond of reading and writing verses: and some of his early compositions, which he wrote without any design to deceive, have been judged to be most astonishing productions by the first critic of the present age. From his situation and connections, he became a skilful practitioner in various kinds of hand-writing. Availing himself therefore of his poetical talent, and his facility in the graphic art, to a miscellany of obscure and neglected parchments, which were commodiously placed in his own possession, he was tempted to add others of a more interesting nature, and such as he was enabled to forge, under these circumstances, without the fear of detection. As to his knowledge of the old English literature, which is rarely the study of a young poet, a sufficient quantity of obsolete words and phrases were readily attainable from the glossary to Chaucer, and to Percy's Ballads. It is confessed, that this youth wrote the Execution OF SIR CHARLES BAWDWIN: and he who could forge that poem, might easily forge all the rest.
In the mean time, we will allow, that some pieces of poetry written by Rowlie might have been preserved_in Cannynge's chest : and that these were enlarged and improved by young Chatterton. But if this was the case, they were fo much altered as to become entirely new compositions. The poem which bids the fairest to be one of these originals is CANNYNGE's Feast. But the parchment-manuscript of this little poem has already been proved to be a forgery. A cire
cumstance which is perhaps alone fufficient to make us suspect that no originals ever existed.
It will be asked, for what end or purpose did he contrive such an impostare ? I answer, from lucrative views ; or perhaps from the pleasure of deceiving the world, a motive which, in many minds, operates more powerfully than the hopes of gain. He probably promised himself greater emoluments from this indirect mode of exercising his abilities : or, he might have facrificed even the vanity of appearing in the character of an applauded original author, to the private enjoyment of the success of his invention and dexterity.
I have observed above, that Cannynge ordered his iron cheft in Radcliffe-church to be solemnly visited once in every year, and that an annual entertainment fhould be provided for the visitors. In the notices relating to this matter, which fome of the chief patrons of Rowlie's poetry have lately fent-me from Bristol, it is affirmed, that this order is contained in Cannynge's will: and that he fpecifies therein, that not only his manufcript evidences abovementioned, but that the POEMS of His CONFESSOR ROWLIE, which likewife he had deposited in the aforefaid iron chest, were also to be submitted to this annual inspection. This circumstance at first strongly inclined me to think favourably of the authenticity of these pieces. At least it proved, that Rowlie had left fome performances in verfe. But on examining Cannynge's will, no such order appears. All his bequests relating to Radcliffe-church, of every kind, are the following. He leaves legacies to the vicar, and the three clerks, of the faid church: to the two chantry-priefts, or chaplains, of his foundation: to the keeper of the PYXIS OBLATIONUM, in the north-door: and to the fraternity Commemoracionis martirum. Alfo vestments to the altars of faint Catharine, and faint George. He mentions his tomb built near the altar of faint Catharine, where his late wife is interred. He gives augmentations to the endowment of his
two chantries, at the altars of faint Catharine and saint George, abovementioned. To the choir, he leaves two service-books, called Liggers, to be used there, on either fide, .by his two chantry-priests. He directs, that his funeral fall be celebrated in the faid church with a month's mind, and the usual folemnities 6.
Very few anecdotes of Rowlie's life have descended to posterity. The following Memoirs of his life are said to have been written by himself in the year 1460, and to have been discovered with his poetry : which perhaps to many readers will appear equally spurious.
« I was fadre confeffour to masteres Roberte and mastre William Cannings. Mastre Roberte was a man after his fadre's own harte, greedie of gaynes and sparying of alms deedes; but master William was mickle courteous, and gave me many marks in my needs. At the age of twenty-two years deceasd master Roberte, and by master William's de
$ Compare Willis, Mitk. ABB. ii. 88. Tanner, Notit. MONAST. P 484. And
h This will is in Latin, dated Nov. 12. Atkyns's GLOUCESTERSH. p. 802. 1474. Proved Nov. 29. It was made in Bishop Carpenter, about the year 1460, Westbury college. Cur. Prærog. Cant. Re was á confiderable benefactor to Westbury giftr. Wattis, quatern. xvii. fol. 125. college. He pulled down the old college, Beside the bequests mentioned in the text, " and in the new building, enlarged it he leaves legacies to all the canons, the very much, compassing it about with a chaplains and deacons, and the twelve cho “ strong wall embattled, adding a faire rifters, of Westbury college. To the fix
with divers towers, more like unto priests, fix almsmen and fix almswomen, a castle than a colledge : and lastly, founded in the new chapel at Westbury by • bestowed much good land for augmentCarpenter, bifhop of Worcester. To many ing the revenew of the same." Godwin, of the servants of the faid college. To the Success. BISHOP, pag: 446. edit. 1. ut. fabric of the church of that college, xls. fupr. And Leland speaks much to the To rebuilding the tower of the church of fame purpose.“ Hic [Carpenter) ex ve. Compton Graynefield, xls. He also makes " teri collegio, quod erat Westberiæ, nobequests to his almfhouses at Bristol, and “ vum fecit, et prædiis auxit, addito pin, to the corporation of that town. He re “ nato muro, porta,, et turribus, inftar cas, members fome of the religious foundations, " telli.” Itin. vol. viïi. fol. 112. a. And chiefly the mendicants, at Bristol. He hence it appears to be a mistake, that tyles himself, nuper mercator villa Bripoll, Cannynge, who was indeed dean while these. et nunc decanus collegii S. Trin. de Weftbury. benefactions took place, rebuilt the college. The fubdean of Westbury college is one As Dugd. WARWICKSH. p. 634. edit. of the executors. In this will the name 1730. Atkyns, GLOUCESTERSH. p. 802. of Rowlie is not mentioned. Compare fupr. citat. p. 140.
fyre, bequeathd me one hundred marks ; I went to thank master William for his mickle courtesie, and to make tender of my felfe to him. - Fadre, quod he, I have a crotchett in my brayne that will need your aide. Master William, said I, if you command me I will go to Roome for you; not so farr distant, said he: I ken you for a mickle learnd priest, if you will leave the parysh of our ladie, and travel for mee, it shall be mickle to your profits.
“ I gave my hands, and he told mee I must goe to all the abbies and pryorys, and gather together auncient drawyings", if of anie account at any price. Consented I to the fame, and pursuant fett out the Mundaie following for the minster of our ladiek and Saint Goodwyne, where a drawing of a steeple, contryvd for the belles when runge to swaie out of the syde into the ayré, had I thence, it was done by syr Symon de Manibrie', who in the troublesomme rayne of kyng Stephen devoted himselfe, and was Thorne.
“ Hawkes showd me a manuscript" in Saxonne, but I was onley to bargayne for drawyngs. — The next drawyings I metten with was a church to be reard, so as in form of a cross, the end standing in the ground, a long manuscript was annexd. Master Canning thought no workman culd be found handie enough to do it.-The tale of the drawers deserveth relation. - Thomas de Blunderville, a preeste, al
i I much doubt, if this word now existed, in the modern, or any, sense. Indeed, the phrase to draw a pi&ture might have been now known : but to draw, in its present uncombined use, had not yet acquired this meaning. So late as the reign of James the first, a Painter was often called a pi&ture-drawer. In antient inventories of furniture, a drawing never occurs as any species of production of the art of designing : it became a technical and diftinguishing term when that art began to attain some degree of maturity. Piatures, although this word is now confined to a
precise fignification, would not have been
k I suppose, Worcester cathedral.
m This was not an English word at this
though the preeste had no allows, lovd a fair mayden, and on her begett a sonn. Thomas educated his soon; at sixteen years he went into the warrs, and neer did return for five years.-His mother was married to a knight, and bare a daughter, then fixteen, who was seen and lovd by Thomas, son of Thomas, and married to him unknown to her mother, by Ralph de Mesching, of the Minster, who invited, as custom was, two of his brothers, Thomas de Blunderville and John Heschamme. Thomas nevertheless had not seen his sonn for five years, kenning him inftauntly; and learning the name of the bryde, toke him asyde and disclosd to him that he was his fonn, and was weded to his own fistre. Yoyng Thomas toke on so that he was shorne.
· He drew manie fine drawyings on glass.
« The abott of the minster of Peterburrow sold it me, he might have bargaynd twenty marks better, but master William would not depart with it. The prior of Coventree did sell me a picture of great account, made by Badilian Y'allyanne, who did lyve in the rayne of kyng Henrie the first, a mann of fickle temper, havyng been tendred syx pounds of silver for it, to which he said naie, and afterwards did give it to the then abott " of Coventriee. In brief, I gathered together manie marks value of fine drawyings, all the works of mickle cunning. -Master William culld the most choise parts, but hearing of a drawying in Durham church hee did send me.
“ Fadree you have done mickle well, all the.chatills are more worth than you gave ; take this for your paynes : so saying, he did put into my hands a purse of two hundreds good pounds, and did say that I should note be in need, I did thank him most heartily.--The choise drawyng, when
* This should have been Prior. An ab. bot was never the title of the superiour in cathedral-convents. The PRIOR of Co
VENTRY must have been a dignitary wellknown by that name, as he sate in parliament.