Page images
PDF
EPUB

P R E FACE.

PERHAPS there was never an age in which the literary world were more devoted to studies which involve metaphysical disquisition or analytical reasoning, than the present. The character of public men is the object of the most constant and the most curious investigation: it is not simply ex< amined, but fairly dissected.

Whether this predilection for analysis may not be carried too far, is certainly problematical; but that it has been attended with results both directly and remotely beneficial, admits of no doubt.

To gratify that class of readers who recognize in the study of man the proper and most ennobling study of their race, and who find a delight in examining into the darkest mysteries of the human heart, and exploring the most hidden springs of the human will, the present edition of Chatterton has been issued from the press. 'ļlis fiery passions ; his premature yet manly intellect; his plastic imagination ; his affectionate nature; his dark destiny; his perpetual struggles ; his brief but glorious career, and the solemn agony and terrific grandeur of his death, render him at once a sublime study for the poet, and a character of the most absorbing interest to the psychologist.

But besides the reasons for the republication of the Poems of Chatterton, which result from their intrinsic merit, and the wonderful genius and wild career of their author, we have another motive. The only edition which has any pretensions to completeness, is that which bears the names of Dr. Southey and Mr. Cottle.

This edition is now extremely rare, and consequently of difficult attainA new Life of Chatterton, of a more comprehensive nature than any that has hitherto been published, has been prefixed to these volumes. We have endeavoured to supply the defects of preceding memoirs; and both public investigation and private correspondence have been rendered available in compiling the notices of his life. We are therefore moderately certain that, however future biographers may surpass us in a philosophical estimate of the creator of the Rowley Poems, or excelus in beauty and correctness of style, they will find it nearly impossible to adduce a new fact, or throw a clearer light on the external life of Thomas Chatterton.

ment.

In order to furnish the general reader with some account of the reception which these poems met on their first publication, a history of the Rowley Controversy has been drawn up, which it is believed will be found sufficiently explicit and satis

factory.

The remarks of Sir Walter Scott, Southey,

« PreviousContinue »