The Rowley Poems Part 3

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3. _aella_, line 467.

Certis thie wordes maie, thou motest have sayne &c.

Prof. Skeat 'can make nothing of this' and reads 'Certes thy wordes mightest thou have sayn'.

A simple emendation of _maie_ to _meynte_ would give very good sense.

4. _aella_, line 489.

Tyrwhitt has _sphere_--evidently a mistake in the MS. for _spere_ which he overlooked. It is not included in his errata. In the 1842 edition the meaning 'spear' is given in a footnote.

5. _Englysh Metamorphosis_.

Prof. Skeat was the first to point out that this piece is an imitation of _The Faerie Queene_, Bk. ii, Canto X, stanzas 5-19.

6. _Battle of Hastings_, II, line 578.

To the ourt arraie of the thight Saxonnes came

Prof. Skeat explains _ourt_ as 'overt' and observes that it contradicts _thight_, which he renders 'tight'. But really there is not even an ant.i.thesis. _Ourt arraie_ is what a military handbook calls 'open order' and _thight_ is 'well-built', well put together (Bailey's Dictionary). The Saxons were well-built men marching in open order.



(Taken mainly from Gregory's _Life of Chatterton_.)

_Against Rowley_.

1. So few originals produced--not more than 124 verses.

2. Chatterton had shown (by his article on Christmas games, &c.) that he had a strong turn for antiquities. He had also written poetry. Why then should he not have written Rowley's poems?

3. His declaration that the _Battle of Hastings_ I was his own.

4. Rudhall's testimony.

5. Chatterton first exhibited the _Songe to aella_ in his own handwriting, then gave Barrett the parchment, which contained strange textual variations.

6. Rowley's very existence doubtful.

William of Worcester, who lived at his time and was himself of Bristol, makes no mention of him, though he frequently alludes to Canynge. Neither Bale, Leland, Pitts nor Turner mentions Rowley.

7. Improbability of there being poems in a muniment chest. 8. Style unlike other fifteenth century writings.

9. No mediaeval learning or citation of authority to be found in Rowley; no references to the Round Table and stories of chivalry.

10. Stockings were not knitted in the fifteenth century (_aella_). MSS.

are referred to as if they were rarities and printed books common.

11. Metres and imitation of Pindar absurdly modern.

12. Mistakes cited which are derived from modern dictionaries (Tyrwhitt).

13. Existence of undoubted plagiarisms from Shakespeare, Gray, &c.

_For Rowley_.

1. Chatterton's a.s.sertion that they were Rowley's, his sister having represented him as a 'lover of truth from the earliest dawn of reason.'

2. Catcott's a.s.sertion that Chatterton on their first acquaintance had mentioned by name almost all the poems which have since appeared in print (Bryant).

3. Smith had seen parchments in the possession of Chatterton, some as broad as the bottom of a large-sized chair. (Bryant.)

4. Even Mr. Clayfield and Rudhall believed Chatterton incapable of composing Rowley's poems.

5. Undoubtedly there were ancient MSS. in the 'cofre'.

6. Chatterton would never have had time to write so much. He did not neglect his work in the attorney's office and he read enormously.

7. Chatterton made many mistakes in his transcription of Rowley and in his notes to the poems. (Bryant's main contention.)

8. If Leland never mentioned Rowley it is equally true he says nothing of Canynge, Lydgate, or Occleve.

_For Rowley_.

1. The poems contain much historical allusion at once true and inaccessible to Chatterton.

2. The admitted poems are much below the standard of Rowley.

3. The old octave stanza is not far removed from the usual stanza of Rowley.

4. If Rowley's language differs from that of other fifteenth century writers, the difference lies in provincialisms natural to an inhabitant of Bristol.

5. Plagiarisms from modern authors may in some cases have been introduced by Chatterton but in others they are the commonplaces of poetry.

_Against Rowley_.

1. No writings or chest deposited in Redcliffe Church are mentioned in Canynge's Will.

2. The Bristol library was in Chatterton's time of general access, and Chatterton was introduced to it by Rev. A. Catcott (Warton).

The Rowley Poems Part 3

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