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A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth

Coleridge was greatly interested in Chatterton


"The red y-painted oars from the black tide, Carved with devices rare, do shimmering rise."

"As elfin fairies, when the moon shines bright, In little circles dance upon the green; All living creatures fly far from their sight, Nor by the race of destiny be seen; For what he be that elfin fairies strike, Their souls will wander to King Offa's dyke."

The charming wildness of Chatterton's imagination--which attracted the notice of that strange, visionary genius William Blake[24]--is perhaps seen at its best in one of the minstrel songs in "Aella." This is obviously an echo of Ophelia's song in "Hamlet," but Chatterton gives it a weird turn of his own:

"Hark! the raven flaps his wing In the briared dell below; Hark! the death owl loud doth sing To the nightmares, as they go. My love is dead. Gone to his death-bed All under the willow tree.

"See the white moon shines on high,[25] Whiter is my true-love's shroud, Whiter than the morning sky, Whiter than the evening cloud. My love is dead," etc.

It remains to consider briefly the influence of Chatterton's life and writings upon his contemporaries and successors in the field of romantic poetry. The dramatic features of his personal career drew, naturally,

quite as much if not more attention than his literary legacy to posterity. It was about nine years after his death that a clerical gentleman, Sir Herbert Croft, went to Bristol to gather materials for a biography. He talked with Barrett and Catcott, and with many of the poet's schoolmates and fellow-townsmen, and visited his mother and sister, who told him anecdotes of the marvelous boy's childhood and gave him some of his letters. Croft also traced Chatterton's footsteps in London, where he interviewed, among others, the coroner who had presided at the inquest over the suicide's body. The result of these inquiries he gave to the world in a book entitled "Love and Madness" (1780).[26] Southey thought that Croft had treated Mrs. Chatterton shabbily, in making her no pecuniary return from the profits of his book; and arraigned him publicly for this in the edition of Chatterton's works which he and Joseph Cottle--both native Bristowans--published in three volumes in 1803. This was at first designed to be a subscription edition for the benefit of Chatterton's mother and sister, but, the subscriptions not being numerous enough, it was issued in the usual way, through "the trade."

It was in 1795, just a quarter of a century after Chatterton's death, that Southey and Coleridge were married in St. Mary Redcliffe's Church to the Misses Edith and Sara Fricker. Coleridge was greatly interested in Chatterton. In his "Lines on Observing a Blossom on the First of February, 1796," he compares the flower to


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