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CHATTERTON, Thomas



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Farewell, Bristolia’s dingy piles of brick,

Lovers of Mammon, worshippers of Trick!

Ye spurned the boy who gave you antique lays,

And paid for learning with your empty praise.

Farewell, ye guzzling aldermanic fools,

By nature fitted for Corruption’s tools!

I go to where celestial anthems swell;

But you, when you depart, will sink to Hell.

Farewell, my Mother! – Cease, my anguished soul,

Nor let Distraction’s billows o’er me roll!

Have mercy, Heaven! when here I cease to live,

And this last act of wretchedness forgive.


Elegy, Written At Stanton-Drew


Joyless I hail the solemn gloom,

Joyless I view the pillars vast and rude

Where erst the fool of Superstition trod,

In smoking blood imbrued

And rising from the tomb—

Mistaken homage to an unknown God.

Fancy, whither dost thou stray,

Whither dost thou wing thy way?

Check the rising wild delight—

Ah! what avails this awful sight?

Maria is no more!

Why, curst remembrance, wilt thou haunt my mind?

The blessings past are misery now;

Upon her lovely brow

Her lovelier soul she wore.

Soft as the evening gale

When breathing perfumes through the rose-hedged vale,

She was my joy, my happiness refined.

All hail, ye solemn horrors of this scene,

The blasted oak, the dusky green.

Ye dreary altars, by whose side

The druid-priest, in crimson dyed,

The solemn dirges sung,

And drove the golden knife

Into the palpitating seat of life,

When, rent with horrid shouts, the distant valleys rung.

The bleeding body bends,

The glowing purple stream ascends,

Whilst the troubled spirit near

Hovers in the steamy air;

Again the sacred dirge they sing,

Again the distant hill and coppice-valley ring.

Soul of my dear Maria, haste,

Whilst my languid spirits waste;

When from this my prison free,

Catch my soul, it flies to thee;

Death had doubly armed his dart,

In piercing thee, it pierced my heart.


The Churchwarden and the Apparition: A Fable


The night was cold, the wind was high,

And stars bespangled all the sky;

Churchwarden Joe had laid him down,

And slept secure on bed of down;

But still the pleasing hope of gain,

That never left his active brain,

Exposed the churchyard to his view,

That seat of treasure wholly new.

“Pull down that cross,” he quickly cried,

The mason instantly complied:

When lo! behold, the golden prize

Appears—joy sparkles in his eyes.

The door now creaks, the window shakes,

With sudden fear he starts and wakes;

Quaking and pale, in eager haste

His haggard eyes around he cast;

A ghastly phantom, lean and wan,

That instant rose, and thus began:

“Weak wretch—to think to blind my eyes!

Hypocrisy’s a thin disguise;

Your humble mien and fawning tongue

Have oft deceived the old and young.

On this side now, and now on that,

The very emblem of the bat:

Whatever part you take, we know

’Tis only interest makes it so,

And though with sacred zeal you burn,

Religion’s only for your turn;

I’m Conscience called!” Joe greatly feared;

The lightning flashed—it disappeared.


Sly Dick


Sharp was the frost, the wind was high

And sparkling stars bedeckt the sky

Sly Dick in arts of cunning skill'd,

Whose rapine all his pockets fill'd,

Had laid him down to take his rest

And soothe with sleep his anxious breast.

'Twas thus a dark infernal sprite

A native of the blackest night,

Portending mischief to devise

Upon Sly Dick he cast his eyes;

Then straight descends the infernal sprite,

And in his chamber does alight;

In visions he before him stands,

And his attention he commands.

Thus spake the sprite―hearken my friend,

And to my counsels now attend.

Within the garret's spacious dome

There lies a well stor'd wealthy room,

Well stor'd with cloth and stockings too,

Which I suppose will do for you,

First from the cloth take thou a purse,

For thee it will not be the worse,

A noble purse rewards thy pains,

A purse to hold thy filching gains;

Then for the stockings let them reeve

And not a scrap behind thee leave,

Five bundles for a penny sell

And pence to thee will come pell mell;

See it be done with speed and care

Thus spake the sprite and sunk in air.

When in the morn with thoughts erect

Sly Dick did on his dreams reflect,

Why faith, thinks he, 'tis something too,

It might―perhaps―it might be true,

I'll go and see―away he hies,

And to the garret quick he flies,

Enters the room, cuts up the clothes

And after that reeves up the hose;

Then of the cloth he purses made,

Purses to hold his filching trade.


Elegy On The Death Of Mr. Phillips


No more I hail the morning's golden gleam,

No more the wonders of the view I sing;

Friendship requires a melancholy theme,

At her command the awful lyre I string!


Now as I wander through this leafless grove,

Where tempests howl, and blasts eternal rise,

How shall I teach the chorded shell to move,

Or stay the gushing torrent from my eyes?


Phillips! great master of the boundless lyre,

The would my soul-rack'd muse attempt to paint;

Give me a double portion of thy fire,

Or all the powers of language are too faint.


Say, soul unsullied by the filth of vice,

Say, meek-eyed spirit, where's thy tuneful shell,

Which when the silver stream was lock'd with ice,

Was wont to cheer the tempest-ravaged dell?


Oft as the filmy veil of evening drew

The thick'ning shade upon the vivid green,

Thou, lost in transport at the dying view,

Bid'st the ascending muse display the scene.


When golden Autumn, wreathed in ripen'd corn,

From purple clusters prest the foamy wine,

Thy genius did his sallow brows adorn,

And made the beauties of the season thine.


With rustling sound the yellow foliage flies,

And wantons with the wind in rapid whirls;

The gurgling riv'let to the valley hies,

Whilst on its bank the spangled serpent curls.


The joyous charms of Spring delighted saw

Their beauties doubly glaring in thy lay;

Nothing was Spring which Phillips did not draw,

And every image of his muse was May.


So rose the regal hyacinthial star,

So shone the verdure of the daisied bed,

So seemed the forest glimmering from afar;

You saw the real prospect as you read.


Majestic Summer's blooming flow'ry pride

Next claim'd the honour of his nervous song;

He taught the stream in hollow trills to glide,

And led the glories of the year along.


Pale rugged Winter bending o'er his tread,

His grizzled hair bedropt with icy dew;

His eyes, a dusky light congealed and dead,

His robe, a tinge of bright ethereal blue.


His train a motley'd, sanguine, sable cloud,

He limps along the russet, dreary moor,

Whilst rising whirlwinds, blasting, keen, and loud,

Roll the white surges to the sounding shore.


Nor were his pleasures unimproved by thee;

Pleasures he has, though horridly deform'd;

The polished lake, the silver'd hill we see,

Is by thy genius fired, preserved, and warm'd.


The rough October has his pleasures too;

But I'm insensible to every joy:

Farewell the laurel! now I grasp the yew,

And all my little powers in grief employ.


Immortal shadow of my much-loved friend!

Clothed in thy native virtue meet my soul,

When on the fatal bed, my passions bend,

And curb my floods of anguish as they roll.


In thee each virtue found a pleasing cell,

Thy mind was honour, thy soul divine;

With thee did every god of genius dwell,

Thou was the Helicon of all the nine.


Fancy, whose various figure-tinctured vest

Was ever changing to a different hue;

Her head, with varied bays and flow'rets drest,

Her eyes, two spangles of the morning dew.


With dancing attitude she swept thy string;

And now she soars, and now again descends;

And now reclining on the zephyr's wing,

Unto the velvet-vested mead she bends.


Peace, deck'd in all the softness of the dove,

Over thy passions spread her silver plume;

The rosy veil of harmony and love

Hung on thy soul in eternal bloom.


Peace, gentlest, softest of the virtues, spread

Her silver pinions, wet with dewy tears,

Upon her best distinguished poet's head,

And taught his lyre the music of the spheres.


Temp'rance, with health and beauty in her train,

And massy-muscled strength in graceful pride,

Pointed at scarlet luxury and pain,

And did at every frugal feast preside.


Black melancholy stealing to the shade

With raging madness, frantic, loud, and dire,

Whose bloody hand displays the reeking blade,

Were strangers to thy heaven-directed lyre.


Content, who smiles in every frown of fate,

Wreath'd thy pacific brow and sooth'd thy ill:

In thy own virtues and thy genius great,

The happy muse laid every trouble still.


But see! the sick'ning lamp of day retires,

And the meek evening shakes the dusky grey;

The west faint glimmers with the saffron fires,

And like thy life, O Phillips! dies away.


Here, stretched upon this heaven-ascending hill,

I'll wait the horrors of the coming night,

I'll imitate the gently-plaintive rill,

And by the glare of lambent vapours write.


Wet with the dew the yellow hawthorns bow;

The rustic whistles through the echoing cave;

Far o'er the lea the breathing cattle low,

And the full Avon lifts the darken'd wave.


Now, as the mantle of the evening swells

Upon my mind, I feel a thick'ning gloom!

Ah! could I charm by necromantic spells

The soul of Phillips from the deathy tomb!


Then would we wander through the darken'd vale,

In converse such as heavenly spirits use,

And, borne upon the pinions of the gale,

Hymn the Creator, and exert the muse.


But, horror to reflection! now no more

Will Phillips sing, the wonder of the plain!

When, doubting whether they might not adore,

Admiring mortals heard his nervous strain.


See! see! the pitchy vapour hides the lawn,

Nought but a doleful bell of death is heard,

Save where into a blasted oak withdrawn

The scream proclaims the curst nocturnal bird.


Now, rest my muse, but only rest to weep

A friend made dear by every sacred tie;

Unknown to me be comfort peace or sleep:

Phillips is dead- 'tis pleasure then to die.


Few are the pleasures Chatterton e'er knew,

Short were the moments of his transient peace;

But melancholy robb'd him of those few,

And this hath bid all future comfort cease.


And can the muse be silent, Phillips gone!

And am I still alive? My soul, arise!

The robe of immortality put on,

And meet thy Phillips in his native skies.