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French frigate of 32, Paul Jones started on a marauding expedition, only differing from that of White haven as being on a larger scale. It was his intention to amerce our north eastern ports in heavy pecuniary ran soms, or to destroy the shipping and buildings as far as could be effected. He had intelligence, or believed so, of the exact number of troops stationed in these different places. Leith was the first great object. Entering the Firth they seized upon a Scotch fishing boat. The owner was refractory, but they terrified him into the office of pilot. The wind became adverse; they reached Inchkeith, but could not weather it, and had to stand out again. Making the land next to visit Whitby and Hull, they fell in with a large convoy, which dispersed while the ships of war (Serapis 44, Capt. Pearson, and Percy 20 guns, Capt. Piercy) which protected it, stood right out to engage them. The determination was mutual; there was a deal of hailing from the Serapis to the really strange ship which approached her. They closed, and the Bon Homme, by Jones's order, was made fast to the Serapis. While these were thus closely engaged the Alliance worked round the two ships, pouring in raking broadsides, which Paul Jones finding equally injurious to his own ship, as intended for the Serapis, put an end to by ordering the Alliance off, and she lay by during the rest of the action, while the Pallas was engaged with the British sloop of war. The cannonade was to the advantage of the Serapis, and gradually silenced the fire of the Bon Homme. The latter wished and expected once to be boarded, the British boarders were about to enter, but returned deterred at the superior number lying waiting for them, and purposely concealed as far as might be under the gangway. Lieutenant Dale, on going below, found two of the three guns on the fighting side silenced, and the crew of the other vying with the crew of a British gun opposite which should fire first. The British were quickest, and that gun was knocked over also. He returned slightly wounded and much fatigued to the upper deck, and was seated on the windlass, when the explosion which blew up the upper deck of the
Serapis all aft from the main hatchway, gave the victory to the Bon Homme. For this success they were indebted to the officer and party of their marines. Seated out on the yard, grenades were handed along, dropped by the officer into the hatchway of the Serapis, and at last caught to some ammunition.
Paul Jones, crippled and afflicted with the gout, was seated during the affair in a chair on the quarter deck. Dale boarded the Serapis with a few men. As he made his way aft he saw a solitary person leaning on the tafferil in a melancholy posture, his face resting upon his hands. It was Capt. Pearson. He said to Dale, "The ship has struck." While hurrying him on, an officer came from below and observed to Capt. Pearson, that the ship alongside was going down. "We have got three guns clear, Sir, and they'll soon send her to the devil." The Captain replied, "It's too late, Sir, call the men off, the ship has struck." "I'll go below, Sir, and call them off immediately;" and he was about to descend, when Dale interfering said, "No, Sir, if you please you'll come on board with me. Dale told me, that if he had let that officer go below he feared that he would have sunk them, as the Bon Homme was old, settling in the water, and in fact went to the bottom that night.
Paul Jones was, in Commodore Dale's opinion, a very skilful enterprizing officer, but harsh and overbearing in disposition.
He was afterwards, as your correspondent in the last number has related, taken into the service of the Empress of Russia, and was to have had an important command against the Turks. Greig, however, and the other British officers in her service, memorialled against it. They would neither associate nor serve with him, and, if she had not got rid of him, would have left her fleets.
Wherever Paul Jones was born, I have understood, from what I thought good authority, that he was apprentice in a coal vessel, in the employ of Mr. Wilson at Whitehaven. It is told of him, that quarrelling with a fellow apprentice, he took an opportunity to anoint the lad's head with a tar brush, and then set it on fire.
THE LIFE OF THOMAS CHATTERTON.
If it were allowable for one who professes to write the lives of English poets to pass the name of Chatterton in silence, I should think the literature of our country more honoured by the concealment of his fate than by the record of his genius. Yet from his brief story, the young will learn that genius is likely to lead them into misery, if it be not accompanied by something that is better than genius; and men, whom birth and station have rendered eminent, may discover that they owe some duty to those whom nature has made more than their equals; and who
Beneath the good tho' far-are far above
Thomas Chatterton was born in the parish of St. Mary Redcliffe, at Bristol, on the twentieth of November, 1752. His father, who was of the same name, and who died about three months before the birth of his son, had been writing-master to a classical school, singing-man in Bristol cathedral, and master of the free-school in Pyle-street in that city; and is related to have been inclined to a belief in magic, and deeply versed in Cornelius Agrippa. His forefathers had borne the humble office of sexton to St. Mary Redcliffe church for a century and a half, till the death of John Chatterton, great uncle of the poet.
From what is recorded of the infancy of Chatterton, parents may be satisfied that an inaptness to learn in childhood, is far from being a prognostic of future dullness. At the age of five years, he was sent to the school of which his father had been master, and was found so incorrigibly stupid, that he was rejected by the teacher, whose name was Love, as incapable of profiting by his instruction. His mother, as most mothers would have done in the like case, bitterly lamented her son's untowardness; when an old musical manuscript in French coming in his way, he fell in love, as she expressed it, with the illuminated capitals. Of this fancy she eagerly JUNE, 1824.
availed herself to lead him on to an acquaintance with the alphabet; and from hence proceeded to teach him to read in an old Testament or Bible in the black letter. Doctor Gregory, one of his biographers, justly observes, that it is not unreasonable to suppose his peculiar fondness for antiquities to have originated in this incident.
It is related on the testimony of his sister, as a mark of his early thirst for distinction, that being of fered a present of china-ware by a potter, and asked what device he would have painted on it, he replied, "Paint me an angel with wings, and a trumpet to trumpet my name about the world." It is so usual with those who are fondly attached to a child to deceive themselves into a belief, that what it has said on the suggestion of others, has proceeded from its own mind, that much credit is seldom due to such marvels.
A little before he had attained his eighth year, he was admitted into Colston's charity school in Bristol, an institution in some respects similar to that excellent one of Christ's Hospital in London, the boys being boarded and cloathed as well as instructed in the house. In two years his dislike to reading was so thoroughly overcome, that he spent the pocket-money allowed him by his mother in hiring books from a circulating library. He became reserved, thoughtful, and at times melancholy; mixed little in childish sports; and between his eleventh and twelfth years had made a catalogue of the books he had read to the number of seventy. It is to be regretted, that with a disposition thus studious, he was not iustructed in any language but his own. The example of one of the assistants in the school, named Thomas Phillips, spread a poetical emulation among the elder boys, of whom Thistlethwaite, Cary, and Fowler, figured in the periodical publications of the day. Chatterton did not escape the contagion; and a pocket-book presented to him by his sister as a new-year's gift was re
turned at the end of the year filled with his writing, chiefly in verse. Phillips is probably the person whose skill in poetry is extolled by Chatterton in an elegy on the death of his acquaintance of that name, which has some stanzas of remarkable beauty.
Soon after his confirmation by the bishop at twelve years of age, he was prompted by the serious reflexions which the performance of that ceremony had awakened in him, to compose some lines on the Last Day, and a paraphrase of the ninth chapter of Job, and of some chapters in Isaiah. Had his life been protracted, there is every reason to believe from the process which usually takes place in minds constituted like his, that after an interval of scepticism, these feelings of piety would have returned in their full force. At the same time he indulged himself in satirical effusions on his master, and such of his school-fellows as had provoked either his resentment or his ridicule.
On the first of July, 1767, he was taken from school and apprenticed for seven years to Mr. John Lambert, attorney, of Bristol, to be instructed in the art of a scrivener. The apprentice fee was only ten pounds; he slept in the room with the footboy, and was confined to the office from eight o'clock in the morning, with the usual interval for dinner, till the same hour at night. His conduct was such as left his master no room for blame. He never exceeded the hours limited for his absence, except on one occasion, when he had been to spend an evening in the company of his mother and some friends. Once only he incurred correction. His old schoolmaster had received an abusive anonymous letter; and Lambert having discovered from the hand-writing, which was ill-disguised, and by the paper which was the same as that used in his office, that Chatterton was the writer, thought it necessary to check so mischievous a propensity, by inflicting on him one or two blows. Though he was compelled to pass so large a portion of time in confinement, he had much leisure left him, as his master's business frequently did not occupy more than two hours in the day.
His chief employment was the copying of precedents, with which he filled a folio book of 344 pages closely written.
At the beginning of October, 1768, the new bridge at Bristol was completed; and about the same time there appeared in the Bristol Journal, a paper purporting to be a description of the Fryars first passing over the old bridge, taken from an ancient manuscript, and signed Dunhelmus Bristoliensis. By this the public curiosity was excited; and the printer not being able to satisfy the inquiries that were made concerning the quarter from whence he had received the communication, it was with some difficulty traced to Chatterton. To the menaces of those, who first roughly demanded from him an account of the means by which the paper had come into his hands, he refused to give any reply; but on being more mildly questioned, after some prevaricating, said, that he had got it, together with several other manuscripts, that had been in the possession of his father, by whom they were found in a large box in an upper room over the chapel on the north side of Redcliffe church. That some old parchments had been seen by him in his mother's house is nearly certain; nor is it at all improbable that they might have been discovered in a neglected coffer in the church, according to the account he gave of them. But that either the description of the Fryar's passage over the bridge, or the most considerable of the poems attributed to Rowley were among them, can scarcely be credited. The delusion supposed to have been practised on the public by Macpherson, and that acknowledged to have been so by Walpole, in passing off the Castle of Otranto for a translation from the Italian, were then recent ; and these examples might have easily engaged Chatterton to attempt a fraud, which did not seem likely to be more injurious in its consequences than either of them.
About the same time he became known to a Mr. Catrott, and to a Mr. Barrett, a chirurgeon at Bristol, who intended to publish a history of that city, and was then collecting materials for the purpose,
former he showed the Bristowe Tragedie, the Epitaph on Robert Canynge, and some other short pieces; to the latter several fragments, some of considerable length, affirming them to be portions of the original manuscripts which had fallen into his hands. From both he received at different times some pecuniary reward for these communications, and was favoured by the loan of some books. Among those which he borrowed of Mr. Barrett, there were several on medical subjects; and from him he obtained also some instructions in chirurgery. He is represented by one of his companions to have extended his curiosity at this time to many other objects of inquiry; and to have employed himself not only in the lighter studies of heraldry and English antiquities, but in the theory of music, mathematics, metaphysics, and astronomy.
He now became a contributor of prose and verse to the Magazines. Among the acknowledgments to correspondents in the Town and Country Magazine for November, 1768, one of his letters appears to be noticed; but nothing of his writing in that miscellany, the first with which he is known to have corresponded, has been discovered before the February of the following year.
The attention he had drawn to himself in his native city soon induced him to aspire after higher notice. In March he addressed the following letter to the Honourable Horace Walpole :
Sir,-Being versed a little in antiquities, I have met with several curious manuscripts, among which the following may be of service to you in any future edition of your truly entertaining Anecdotes of Painting. In correcting the mistakes (if any) in the notes, you will greatly oblige
Your most humble servant,
Bristol, March 25th, Corn Street.
This was accompanied by a manuscript, entitled "The Ryse of Peyneteyne in Englande, wroten by T. Rowleie, 1469, for Mastre Canynge:" to which Chatterton had annexed his own remarks. Walpole returned a polite answer, and asked for further communications. On the receipt of a second letter from Chatterton, Walpole repeated his wish to know more concerning Rowley and
his poems; in reply to which, Chatterton took occasion to represent his own situation, that he was the son of an indigent widow, and clerk to an attorney, but that his inclinations led him to more elegant pursuits; and he intimated a hope that Walpole would assist in placing him where he might be able to gratify such propensities. His letter was accompanied by more of the Rowleian poems, and contained an assurance, that the person who had lent them to him to transcribe, possessed other valuable relics of ancient poetry. Some inquiries which Walpole made, confirmed the account given by Chatterton of himself; but in answer to his solicitation for patronage, Walpole declared that he had not the means of exerting it; and recommended a sedulous attention to business, as the most certain way of recompensing his mother for her care, and of securing his own independence. He mentioned that more competent judges than he pretended to be, were not satisfied of the manuscripts being genuine; and at the same time stated their reasons for concluding them to be of another age than that to which they were assigned. Shortly after, Chatterton wrote to him two letters, which, though querulous, are not disrespectful. In the first, while he thanks his correspondent for the advice he had given him, he professes his resolution "to go a little beyond it, by destroying all his useless lumber of literature, and never using his pen again but in the law;" and in the other, declaring his settled conviction that the papers of Rowley were genuine, he asks him to return the copy which had been sent him. Owing to the absence of Walpole who was then in Paris, some time elapsed without any notice being taken of this request; and on his return Walpole found the following letter which he terms singularly impertinent.
Sir, I cannot reconcile your behaviour to me with the notions I once entertained
did you not know my circumstances, you you. I think myself injured, Sir; and would not dare to treat me thus. I have sent for a copy of the M.S. No answer from you. An explanation or excuse for your silence would oblige July 24th,
The manuscripts and letters were all returned in a blank cover, on the fourth of August, and here the intercourse was at an end. Gray and Mason were the friends whom Walpole had consulted about the manuscripts, and they had no hesitation in pronouncing them to be forgeries. It may seem strange, that with such men, the uncommon beauty of the poetry they contained did not create some interest for the author. But Gray was now in a state of health that, perhaps, left him little power of being interested in any thing; or the wonder may resolve itself into that blindness which poets, no less than patrons, too frequently discover for the excellence of their contemporaries. Chatterton himself spoke with contempt of the productions of Collins. As to Walpole he had no doubt more pleasure in petting the lap-dog that was left to his care by the old blind lady at Paris, than he could ever have felt in nursing the wayward genius of Chatterton.
During his residence in Lambert's house, his constitutional reserve had assumed an air of gloomy sullenness: he had repeatedly betrayed to the servants an intention of committing suicide; and at length a paper, entitled the last Will and Testament of Thomas Chatterton, which was found lying on his desk, manifested a design of perpetrating this act on the ensuing day, Easter Sunday, April 15th, 1770. On so unequivocal a proof as this appeared to be of his desperate resolution, his master no longer thought it safe to retain him.
A few months before, he had written letters to several booksellers and printers in London, and from them received assurances of protection and employment if he should remove to the capital. This decided him as to his future course. When he was questioned by Thistlethwaite as to the plan of life he intended to pursue, if the prospect which was thus held out, should fail him, he answered: "The promises I have had are sufficient to dispel doubt; but should I be deceived, I will turn Methodist preacher. Credulity is as potent a deity as ever, and a new sect may easily be devised. But if that too should fail me, my last and final resource is a pistol." It is almost unnecessary to observe, that
when he thus speculated on his future proceedings, his mind had been strongly tainted with infidelity.Towards the conclusion of April, he set forth on his ill-omened journey. He had never yet gone farther than a Sunday's walk from his native city; and at the age of seventeen, equally inexperienced and confident, without a friend or a guide, and with principles shaken and perverted, he was about to enter on a new and perilous theatre; nor could it have been difficult to divine what the event must soon be. On the 26th of April, 1770, immediately after his arrival in London, he writes to his mother, and speaks in high spirits of the encouragement he has met with from the booksellers to whom he has applied, "who," says he, "all approve of my design." On the sixth of the next month, he informs her that " he gets four guineas a month by one magazine, and that he shall engage to write a history of England and other pieces, which will more than double that sum." "Mr. Wilkes had known him by his writings, since he first corresponded with the booksellers. He is to visit him the following week, and by his interest would ensure Mrs. Ballance the Trinity House." In short he is in raptures at the change in his condition and views; and talks as if his fortune were already made. He now inhabited the house of Walmsley, a plasterer, in Shoreditch, where his kinswoman Mrs. Ballance also lived.
The other letters to his mother and sisters betray the same intoxication. At the Chapter Coffee-house, he meets with a gentleman “who would have introduced him as a companion to the young Duke of Northumberland in his intended general tour, had he not been unluckily incapacitated for that office by his ignorance of any tongue but his own. His present profession obliges him to frequent places of the best resort. He employs his money in fitting himself fashionably, and getting into good company; this last article always brings him in good interest. He has engaged to live with a gentleman, the brother of a lord (a Scotch one indeed) who is going to advance pretty deeply into the bookselling branches, and is to have lodging and boarding, genteel and