תמונות בעמוד

1532. fol.

[ocr errors]

The word, LAI, I believe, was applied to any subject, and signified only the versification. Thus we have in the Bodleian library La LUMERE AS Lais, par Mestre Pierre de Feccham.

Verai deu omnipotent

Kestes fin et commencement. MSS. BODL 399. It is a system of theology in this species of metre.

Pag. 121. To Not... ADD, “ In Jean Petit's edition in 1535, and perhaps in that of 1485, of Premierfaict's translation of the DECAMERON, it is said to be translated from Latin into French. But Latin here means Italian, Hence a mistake arose, that Boccacio wrote his DECAMERON in Latin. The Italian, as I have before observed, was antiently called Il volgare Latino. Thus the French romance of MeLIADUS DE LEONNOIS is said to be translatè du LATIN, by Rusticien de Pisa, edit. Par.

fol. Thus also GYRON LE COURTOIS is called a verfion from the Latin. [Supr. vol. ii. p. 117.) M. de la Monnoye observes, “ Qué quand on trouve que certains vieux Ro

Mans ont été traduits de LATIN en François, par Luces de “ Salesberies, Robert de Borron, Rusticien de Pisa, ou autres, “ cela signifie que ç' a été D'ITALIEN. en François.” Rem, au Bibl. Fr. du La Croix du Maine, &c. tom, ii. p. 33. edit. 1772. (See supr. Addit. ad p. 15. i.] Premierfaict's French DECAMERON, which he calls CAMERON, is a most wretched caricature of the original.

Pag. 148. Not. col. 2. 1. 4. For “ 1115," READ “ 1015.".

Pag. 153. To Not. '. ADD, “ I have received fome notices from the old registers of saint Ewin's church at Bristol, antiently called the Minster, which import, that the church pavement was washed against the coming of king Edward. But this does not at all prove or imply that the king fat at the grete mynsterr windowe to see the gallant Lancastrian, Baldwin, pass to the scaffold ; a circumstance, and a very improbable one, mentioned in Rowlie's pretended poem on this subject. The notice


at most will prove only, that the king assisted at mass in this church, when he came to Bristol. Nor is it improbable, that the other churches of Bristol were cleaned, or adorned, at the coming of a royal guest. Wanter, above quoted, is evidently wrong in the date 1463, which ought to be 1461, or 1462.

Pag. 156. Notes, col. 2. To 1. 9. ADD “I have observed, but for what reason I know not, that faint Ewin's church at Bristol was called the minster. I, however, suspect, that the poet here means Bristol cathedral. He calls, with his accuftomed misapplication of old words, Worcester cathedral the minster of our ladie, infr. p. 160. But I do not think this was a common appellation for that church. In Lydgate's Life of SAINT ALBAN, Minster is used in its first simple acceptation, MSS. Coll. Trin. Oxon. Num. xxxviii. fol. 19.

Seynt Albone
Of that mynstre leyde the first stone,
That is, of saint Alban's monastery.

Pag. 164. To the end of the Section, Add, “ What is here faid of Rowlie, was not only written, but printed, almost two years before the correct and complete edition of his Poems appeared. Had I been apprised of that publication, I should have been much more fparing in my specimens of these forgeries, which had been communicated to me in manuscript, and which I imagined I was imparting to my readers as curiosities. I had as yet seen only a few extracts of these poems; nor were those transcripts which I received, always exact. Circumstances which I mention here, to shew the inconveniencies under which I laboured, both with regard to my citations and my criticisms. These scanty materials, however, contained fufficient evidence to convince me, that the pieces were not genuine.

The entire and accurate collection of Rowlie's now laid before the public, has been so little instrumental in inducing me to change my opinion, that it has served to exemplify and confirm every argument which I have produced in support of my


i 2

suspicions of an imposition. It has likewise afforded some new proofs.

Those who have been conversant in the works even of the best of our old English poets, well know, that one of their leading characteristics is inequality. In these writers, splendid descriptions, ornamental comparisons, poetical images, and striking thoughts, occur but rarely : for many pages together, they are tedious, prosaic, and uninteresting. On the contrary, the poems before us are every where supported : they are throughout, poetical and animated. They have no imbecillities of style or sentiment. Our old English bards abound in unnatural conceptions, strange imaginations, and even the most ridiculous absurdities. But Rowlie's poems present us with no incongruous combinations, no mixture of manners, institutions, customs, and characters. They appear to have been composed after ideas of discrimination had taken place; and when even common writers had begun to conceive, on most subjects, with precision and propriety. There are indeed, in the Battle of HastINGS, some great anachronisms; and practices are mentioned which did not exist till afterwards. But these are such inconsistencies, as proceeded from fraud as well as ignorance : they are luch as no old poet could have possibly fallen into, and which only betray an unskilful imitation of antient manners. The verses of Lydgate and his immediate successors are often rugged and unmusical: but Rowlie's poetry sustains one uniform tone of harmony; and, if we brush away the asperities of the antiquated spelling, conveys its cultivated imagery in a polished and agreeable strain of versification. Chatterton seems to have thought, that the distinction of old from modern poetry consisted only in the use of old words. In counterfeiting the coins of a rude age, he did not forget the usual application of an artificial rust: but this disguise was not sufficient to conceal the elegance of the workmanship.

The Battle of HASTINGS, just mentioned, might be proved to be a palpable forgery for many other reasons. It is

faid to be translated from the Saxon of Turgot. But Turgot died in 1015, and the battle of Hastings was fought in 1066. We will, however, allow, that Turgot lived in the reign of the Conqueror. But, on that supposition, is it not extraordinary, that a cotemporary writer should mention no circumstances of this action which we did not know before, and which are not to be found in Malmsbury, Ordericus Vitalis, and other antient chroniclers ? Especially as Turgot's description of this battle was professedly a detached and separate performance, and at least, on that account, would be minute and circumstantial. An original and a cotemporary writer, describing this battle, would not only have told us something new, but would otherwise have been full of particularities. The poet before us dwells on incidents common to all battles, and such as were easily to be had from Pope's Homer. We may add, that this piece not only detects itself, but demonstrates the spuriousness of all the rest. Chatterton himself allowed the first part of it to be a forgery of his own. of his own. The second

The second part, from what has been said, could not be genuine. And he who could write the second part was able to write every line in the whole collection, But while I am speaking of this poem, I cannot help exposing the futility of an argument which has been brought as a decifive evidence of its originality. It is urged, that the names of the chiefs who accompanied the Conqueror, correspond with the Roll of Battle-Abbey. As if a modern forger could not have seen this venerable record. But, unfortunately, it is printed in Hollinshead's Chronicle.

It is said that Chatterton, on account of his youth and education, could not write these poems. This may be true ; but it is no proof that they are not forged. Who was their author, on the hypothesis that Rowlie was not, is a new and another question. I am, however, of opinion that it was Chatterton, For if we attend only to some of the pieces now extant in a periodical magazine, which he published under his own fignature, and which are confessedly of his composition, to his


[ocr errors]

letters now remaining in manuscript, and to the testimony of those that were acquainted with his conversation, he will appear to have been a singular instance of a prematurity of abilities; to have acquired a store of general information far exceeding his years, and to have possessed that comprehension of mind, and activity of understanding, which predominated over his fituations in life, and his opportunities of instruction. Some of his publications in the magazines discover also his propensity to forgery, and more particularly in the walk of antient manners, which seem greatly to have struck his imagination. These, among others, are ETHELGAR, a Saxon poem in prose; Kenrick, translated from the Saxon ; CERDICH, translated from the Saxon; GODRED CROVAN, a Poeni, composed by Dothnel Syrric king of the isle of Man ; The HIRLAS, composed by Blythyn, prince of North Wales ; GOTHMUND, translated from the Saxon ; Anecdote of CHAUCER, and of the ANTIQUITY of CHRISTMAS GAMes. The latter piece, in which he quotes a register of Keinsham NuNNERY, which was a priory of Black canons, and advances many imaginary facts, strongly shews his track of reading, and his fondness for antiquarian imagery. In this monthly collection he inserted ideal drawings of fix achievements of Saxon heraldry, of an inedited coin of queen Sexburgeo, wife of king Kinewalch, and of a Saxon amulet; with explanations equally fantastic and arbitrary. From Rowlie's pretended parchments he produced several heraldic delineations, He also exhibited a draught by Rowlie of Bristol castle in its perfect state. I very much doubt if this fortress was not almost totally ruinous in the reign of Edward the fourth. This draught, however, was that of an edifice evidently fictitious. It was exceedingly ingenious; but it was the representation of a building which never existed, in a capricious and affected style of Gothic architecture, reducible to no period or fystem.

To the whole that is here suggested on this subject, let us add Chatterton's inducements and qualifications for forging these poems, arising from his character, and way of living. He


« הקודםהמשך »