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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VII. Cavalier and Puritan.

IV. Lesser Caroline Poets

§ 2. “Jo. Chalkhill”; Thealma and Clearchus

However, it is undoubtedly true of Chamberlayne in Pharonnida, as Shelley remarked of Chamberlayne’s great pupil in Endymion, that “the author’s intention appears to be that no person shall possibly get to the end of it.” The mysterious “Jo. Chalkhill,” to whom Walton attributed the poem entitled Thealma and Clearchus, published by himself in 1683, though, according to him, written “long since” by a person who was “an acquaintant and friend of Edmund Spenser” (dead eighty years earlier), adopted still surer measures for this purpose by never coming to any end at all. Of the author, nothing is positively known, and some have thought that he was a mere mask for Walton himself, which is not at all probable; but there was a John Chalkhill, who was coroner for Middlesex late in Elizabeth’s reign, and this, or another, was grandfather, or, at least, step-grandfather, to Walton’s wife. The poem, though very much shorter, is exactly on the same lines as Pharonnida—heroic, with a touch of the pastoral; is couched in the same sort of verse, though in somewhat lesser blocks; passes from adventure to adventure with the same bewildering insouciance; seems, indeed, to have been written with somewhat more care as to names and places, so far as the author’s intention goes; but indulges in a complication of disguises, mistakes of persons and the like, which even Chamberlayne never permitted himself, and which, probably, had something to do with the relinquishment of a recklessly and hopelessly embroiled enterprise. Even in proportion to its length, it has fewer of those “gleams of poetry” which Shelley allowed to be “of the highest and finest” in Keats, and which are not seldom high and fine in Chamberlayne. But it has some extremely pretty passages; and its comparative brevity, helped by Walton’s commendations of it and of its author’s other work, has secured it some faint approach to popularity.