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of a surgeon's mate on board an African vessel, shows that he had abandoned the hopes of gaining a livelihood by working for the booksellers, though he was known to have shrewdly remarked that they were not the worst patrons of merit. After this disappointment his poverty became extreme, and though there is an account of a gentleman having sent him a guinea within the few last days of his life, yet there is too much reason to fear that the pangs of his voluntary death were preceded by the actual sufferings of want. Mrs. Angel, a sack-maker, in Brook Street, Holborn, in whose house he lodged, offered him a dinner the day before his death, knowing that he had fasted a long time, but his pride made him refuse it with some indignation. On the 25th of August he was found dead in his bed, from the effects of poison, which he had swallowed. He was interred in a shell in the burial ground of Shoe Lane workhouse.
The heart which can peruse the fate of Chatterton without being moved is little to be envied for its tranquillity; but the intellects of those men must be as deficient as their hearts are uncharitable, who, confounding all shades of moral distinction, have ranked his literary fiction of Rowley in the same class of crimes with pecuniary forgery, and have calculated that if he had not died by his own hand, he would have probably ended his days upon a gallows. This disgusting sentence has been pronounced upon a youth who was exemplary for severe study, temperance, and natural affection. His Rowleian forgery must indeed be pronounced improper by the general law which condemns all falsifications of history; but it deprived no man of his fame, it had no sacrilegious interference with the memory of departed genius, it had not, like Lauder's imposture, any malignant motive, to rob a party, or a country, of a name which was its pride and ornament.
Setting aside the opinion of those uncharitable biographers whose imaginations have conducted him to the gibbet, it may be owned that his unformed character exhibited strong and conflicting elements of good and evil. Even the momentary project of the infidel boy to become a methodist preacher, betrays an obliquity of design, and a contempt of human credulity, that is not very amiable. But, had he been spared, his pride and ambition would have come to flow in their proper channels; his understanding would have taught him the practical value of truth and the dignity of virtue, and he would have
despised artifice when he had felt the strength and security of wisdom. In estimating the promises of his genius, I would rather lean to the utmost enthusiasm of his admirers, than to the cold opinion of those who are afraid of being blinded to the defects of the poems attributed to Rowley, by the veil of obsolete phraseology which is thrown over them. If we look to the ballad of Sir Charles Bawdin, and translate it into modern English, we shall find its strength and interest to have no dependence on obsolete words. In the striking passage of the martyr Bawdin standing erect in his car to rebuke Edward, who beheld him from the window, when
“ The tyrant's soul rushed to his face,” and when he exclaimed,
“ Behold the man ! he speaks the truth,
He's greater than a king ;" in these, and in all the striking parts of the ballad, no effect is owing to mock antiquity, but to the simple and high conception of a great and just character, who
* Summ'd the actions of the day,
Each night before he slept." What a moral portraiture from the hand of a boy! The inequality of Chatterton's various productions may be compared to the disproportions of the ungrown giant. His works had nothing of the definite neatness of that precocious talent which stops short in early maturity. His thirst for knowledge was that of a being taught by instinct to lay up materials for the exercise of great and undeveloped powers. Even in his favourite maxim, pushed it might be to hyperbole, that a man by abstinence and perseverance might accomplish whatever he pleased, may be traced the indications of a genius which nature had meant to achieve works of immortality. Tasso alone can be compared to him as a juvenile prodigy. No English poet ever equalled him at the same age.
283.-THE HALL OF EBLIS.
BECKFORD. [WILLIAM BECKFORD, remarkable for his literary ability, his taste, his wealth, and his eccentricity, was the son of the famous Alderman Beckford. He was born in 1761, and died in 1844. His Arabian tale of · Vathek 'was written originally in French, and its author affirmed that he wrote it at one sitting, of three days and two nights. The translation from which our extract is given was done by some unknown person; Beckford thought well of it. At a late period of his life, Mr. Beckford published several volumes connected with his early travels, which confirmed the reputation which he had long before acquired by • Vathek.']
A deathlike stillness reigned over the mountain and through the air. The moon dilated on a vast platform the shades of the lofty columns, which reached from the terrace almost to the clouds. The gloomy watch-towers, whose number could not be counted, were veiled by no roof; and their capital, of an architecture unknown in the records of the earth, served as an asylum for the birds of darkness, which, alarmed at the approach of such visitants, fled away croaking.
The chief of the eunuchs, trembling with fear, besought Vathek that a fire might be kindled. “ No!” replied he, “there is no time left to think of such trifles; abide where thou art, and expect my commands." Having thus spoken, he presented his hand to Nouronibar; and, ascending the steps of a vast staircase, reached the terrace, which was flagged with squares of marble, and resembled a smooth expanse of water, upon whose surface not a leaf ever dared to vegetate. On the right rose the watch-towers, ranged before the ruins of an immense palace, whose walls were embossed with various figures. In front stood forth the colossal forms of four creatures, composed of the leopard and the griffin; and, though but of stone, inspired emotions of terror. Near these were distinguished, by the splendour of the moon, which streamed full on the palace, characters like those on the sabres of the Giaour, that possessed the same virtue of changing every moment. These, after vacillating for some time, at last fixed in Arabic letters, and prescribed to the caliph the following words :
Vathek, thou hast violated the conditions of my parchment, and deservest to be sent back; but, in favour to thy companion, and as the meed for what thou hast done to obtain it, Ellis permitteth that the portal of his palace shall be opened, and the subterranean fire will receive thee into the number of its adorers."
He scarcely had read these words before the mountain, against which
the terrace was reared, trembled ; and the watch-towers were ready to topple headlong upon them. The rock yawned, and disclosed within it a staircase of polished marble, that seemed to approach the abyss. Upon each stair were planted two large torches, like those Nouronihar had seen in her vision, the camphorated vapour ascending from which gathered into a cloud under the hollow of a vault.
This appearance, instead of terrifying, gave new courage to the daughter of Fakreddin. Scarcely deigning to bid adieu to the moon and the firmament, she abandoned, without hesitation, the pure atmosphere, to plunge into these infernal exhalations. The gait of those impious personages was haughty and determined. As they descended, by the effulgence of the torches, they gazed on each other with mutual admiration; and both appeared so resplendent that they already esteemed themselves spiritual intelligences. · The only circumstance that perplexed them was their not arriving at the bottom of the stairs.
On hastening their descent, with an ardent impetuosity, they felt their steps accelerated to such a degree that they seemed not walking, but falling from a precipice. Their progress, however, was at length impeded by a vast portal of ebony, which the Caliph, without difficulty, recognised. Here the Giaour awaited them, with a key in his hand. "Ye are welcome," said he to them, with a ghastly smile, “ in spite of Mahomet and all his dependents. I will now admit you into that palace where you have so highly merited a place.” Whilst he was uttering these words he touched the enamelled lock with his key; and the doors at once expanded, with a noise still louder than the thunder of mountains ; and as suddenly recoiled the moment they had entered.
The Caliph and Nouronihar beheld each other with amazement at finding themselves in a place which, though roofed with a vaulted ceiling, was so spacious and lofty that, at first, they took it for an immeasurable plain. But their eyes at length growing familiar to the grandeur of the objects at hand, they extended their view to those at a distance, and discovered rows of columns and arcades, which gradually diminished till they terminated in a point radiant as the sun when he darts his last beams athwart the ocean. The pavement, strewed over with gold dust and saffron, exhaled so subtle an odour as almost overpowered them. They, however, went on; and observed an infinity of censers, in which ambergris and the wood of aloes were continually burning. Between the several columns were placed tables, each spread with a profusion of viands, and wines of every species sparkling in vases of crystal. A throng of genii, and other fantastic spirits, of each sex, danced lasciviously in troops, at the sound of music, which issued from beneath.
In the midst of this immense hall a vast multitude was incessantly passing, who severally kept their right hands on their hearts, without once regarding any thing around them. They had, all, the livid paleness of death. Their eyes, deep sunk in their sockets, resembled those phosphoric meteors that glimmer by night in places of interment: Some stalked slowly on, absorbed in profound reverie; some, shrieking with agony, ran furiously about, like tigers wounded with poisoned arrows; whilst others, grinding their teeth in rage, foamed along, more frantic than the wildest maniac. They all avoided each other; and, though surrounded by a multitude that no one could number, each wandered at random, unheedful of the rest, as if alone on a desert which no foot had trodden.
Vathek and Nouronihar, frozen with terror at a sight so baleful, demanded of the Giaour what these appearances might mean, and why these ambulating spectres never withdrew their hands from their hearts? “Perplex not yourselves," replied he, bluntly, “ with so much at once; you
will soon be acquainted with all. Let us haste and present you to Eblis.” They continued their way through the multitude; but, notwithstanding their confidence at first, they were not sufficiently com posed to examine with attention the various perspectives of halls, and of galleries, that opened on the right hand and left, which were all illuminated by torches and braziers, whose flames rose in pyramids to the centre of the vault. At length they came to a place where long curtains, brocaded with crimson and gold, fell from all parts in striking confusion. Here the choirs and dances were heard no longer. The light which glimmered came from afar.
After some time Vathek and Nouronihar perceived a gleam brightening through the drapery, and entered a vast tabernacle carpeted with the skins of leopards. An infinity of elders with streaming beards, and Afrits in complete armour, had prostrated themselves before the ascent of a lofty eminence, on the top of which, upon a globe of fire, sat the formidable Eblis. His person was that of a young man, whose noble and regular features seemed to have been tarnished by malignant vapours. In his large eyes appeared both pride and despair; his flowing