Imatges de pÓgina


For FEBRUARY, 1800.

[blocks in formation]



DEAR SIR, **** CANNOT be expected, by any man of honour or feeling, to defcend to anfwer a fcurrilous * perfon, figning him felf Robert Southey, in a letter fent to me here by a friend. You, fir, have a gentleman's mind, and one always friendly to literature. Be pleafed to reprint in your Magazine, Mr. S.'s letter (that it may never be faid I garbled his correfpondence as he has mine), along with thefe remarks upon it; and to let a line be written to Mr. S. informing him you have done fo. This I particularly requeft, though he thought it juft and gentlemanly to addrefs his letter to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine; and to print and circulate it as a handbill, I am informed, in coffeehouses and public places, without any communication of it to me, or any friend of mine; at a time he knew I had been for three years out of the kingdom; and precifely at the moment (December) when the froft interrupts all communication with the north of Europe.

[ocr errors]

On an abufive writer, fo little acquainted with the common rules of justice, I shall never make any further remarks than thefe; whatever may come from his pen: unless he should lay any FACTS before the Publick. But I demand of him, what I prefume even this Mr. Southey will not DARE to deny me, that he print, in his edition of Chatterton (whofe little finger I have ever reverenced, more than Mr. Southey knows how to refpect the poor boy's whole body), his unjust attack upon me in my abfence; and my remarks upon it, the moment I faw it; and any further fcurrility, with which he may be pleafed to honour me. I learn fo much of Mr. Southey's juftice from his abufe, that I fhould be afhained of myself, were this perfon ever to difgrace me by his praife; which might happen, did he with to gain money, or fame, by becoming the officious editor of my works. Befides, if Pope were talking of fuch Epic Poets as Blackmore, inftead of the eternal race of fools, I would apply to the author of Joan of Arc two lines, in the Prologue to the Satires, I think

"A fool, quite angry, is quite innocent:

Alas! 'tisten times worfe when theyrepent:""

The following is what Mr. S.'s ideas of juftice have circulated with uncommon induftry. The Italics are Mr. S.'s own. In this cafe they might be fuppofed to take their name from the Italian ufe of the Stiletto.

The circumftances of the FAMILY of CHATTERTON, and the treatment they have experienced, are detailed in the following Letter, which was printed in the Monthly Magazine for November, 1799.


[merged small][ocr errors]

His deathe a means unto my life fhulde bee.” Chatterton's Goddwyn.

"In ftriving to flee him, ourselves we fee." Id.]

"Sir, As a fubfcription edition of all CHITTERTON's remains is about to be published for the benefit of his fifter and niece, I beg leave, by means of your Magazine, to invite the public attention to thofe circumstances which render this at of justice neceffary.

"It might have been supposed that the intereft which the fate of Chatterton excited in the public mil, would, in fome measure, have fupplied his lofs to his famely, by procuring for them active and benevolent friends. The publication of all his works for their emolument would at that time have secured to them the comforts of life. Your readers, fir, probably will learn with furprize, that the whole fum they have ever received from the profits of his productions, amonts only to feventeen guineas and fixpence. In this I do not include the voluntary affistance of thofe individuals on whofe juftice they had no claim. They remember with gratitude the kindness of Dr. Glynn, of Mr. Bryant, above all of Mifs Hannah More and her filters.

"The papers and poems attributed to Rowley, had been procured from Chatterton, during his life time, chiefly by Mr. Barrett and Mr. Catcott. The poems were purchased for fifty pounds, of which fix guineas were given to the mother and filter. A great part of Mr. Barrett's Hiftory of Brittel is composed of Chatterton's communications; the only return the family ever received from him was his furgical affistance, gratuitoufly afforded to the fifter, Mis. Newton, once in a complaint of the breast, once in curing a whitlow on her finger.

"When Chat erton was more particu Jarly the object of public curiofity, a clergyman called upon his fifter, prefented her half a guinea, and requested to see whatever letters of her brother she had preferved. She produced them. He then begged permition to take them away for one bour, affigning as a reason, that it would be too painful to his feelings to read them in the prefence of that fitter, to whom they were addrefíed. On the fame pretext he procured the letters in Mrs. Chatterton's poffeffion, who lived feparately from her daughter; thefe alfo, he promised to return in an bour, and the prefent of a guinea, and the language of confolatory friendship prevented all fufpicion; indeed, fo confo latory and fo full of religion was his lan

guage to the mother, that the faid the almoft looked upon him as a guardian angel.

"A fortnight elapfed, the letters had not been returned, and they knew not the name of the perfon to whom they had entrufted them. At the end of the fortnight Mrs. Chatterton received a letter from that perfon, Mr. H— C—. "Be not alarmed, Mrs. Chatterton,” he said; " all the little treafure shall be faithfully returned to you again;" with the originals he promised to send tranfcripts of all the letters, with which the curiofry of frangers might be gratified, while the hand-writing of Chatterton fhould be preserved. again confoled Mrs. Chatterton for the fate of he fou. "Perhaps," faid he, "he now beholds with pleafure the deferved progrefs his reputation is making every day, and the friends and the affittances which his name brings to you and to his fifter:" the date of the letter was Lincoln's-fun, July 27th, 1778.


"In a fecond letter, Augu 24th, 1778, Mr. C requested the fifter to write to him, whatever the and her mo. ther could recollect, concerning Chatterton, "Believe me you are writing to one who refpećts his memory, and withes you both well; the promise of returning the letters and magazines containing Chatterton's pieces, which he had borrowed at the fame time, were repeated; and in the courfe of the Autumn they were accordingly returned. Nothing more was heard till in the following July, to the astonishment of the family, Mr. C― published the let ters, and the information he had obtained from Mrs. Newton, in his Love and MADNESS. The mother wrote to him and upbraided him for duplicity; he replied, by feuding ten pounds, to be divided between her and her daughter; again profefling friendship for them, and saying, "Be affured the family of Thomas Chatterton Mall never be forgotten by HC-."

"Four months afterwards he again wrote to justify himself, and ofed thefe expreflions, "What has been done was with a view to pave the way for fervices to your family; and I hope, fooner than you think, to be of more service to you than any person who has hitherto enquired a bout your fon, for I have a true regard for his memory."

"In November 1780, he wrote a fifth letter, defiring Mrs. Newton would fend him a particular account of her circumftances, as he was about to promote a public fubfcription for her; and in April 1781, they received a note from him, requiring an acknowledgment of the ten pounds.

"Here Mr. C- dropt his correfpondence with the family; they heard no more of the future fervices and the public fubfcrip


His Love and Madness had a great and rapid fale, undoubtedly in a confiderable degree owing to the letters of Chat terton; and his purpose was ferved. Luckily Mrs. Newton preferved his letters. In 1796, fhe was advised, by a gentleman to whom she had fhewn them, to write to Mr. C-; the following is a copy of her letter.

SIR, The name of Chatterton is,
perhaps, yet familiar to your memory.
She to whom he was endeared by the ten-
der ties of nature, and who contemplating
his many virtues, would remember his
errors no more, begs leave to addrefs you
with reference to your profeffions of at-
tachment to the remainder of his family.
Several years have now elapfed fince you
obtained of me his unpublished papers, and
communicated them to the world. The
difquietude 1 might have felt at fuch a
tranfaction, was removed by an apprehen-
Gon, that while you interested yourself,
you would render confiderable affiftance
to me. The popularity of the concern
was an adequate ground for my expecta-
tions, which were heightened by the re-
fpectability of your connections in life.
Juftice to my fituation would long fince
have compelled me to addrefs you, but have
been, till a few days patt, unacquainted
with your refidence. If any thing in my
favour be practicable, to which I trust
you will not be indisposed, your early at-
tention will greatly oblige, Sir, Your obe-
dient humble fervant, MARY NEWTON.
"H-C-, Efq. Portman Square,

London, June 19th, 1796.
"As no anfwer was returned, a fecond
letter was addreffed to Mr. C—.

"Reverend Sir, a former letter of mine, addreffed to you under the appellation of H-C-, Efq. may probably have reached your hands; the fame motive which urged me to engage in that, induces me to trouble you with this, and I again folicit your attention to the remainder of the family of Chatterton. Juftice to myself, as I before obferved, was the reafon of my forming the application, on which I had the fatisfactory judgement of fome very refpectable friends. As the fubject of obtaining my brother's papers has of late been particularly investigated here, I trust you will not fuffer an occafion for public cenfure, in a matter where my feelings are confiderably interefied. I am, reverend Sir, your obedient humble fervant,


August 4, 1796.


"Mr C's anfwer was as follows.

"Mrs. Newton's letter of August 4, is fent to me here; he is either ill-advifed, or the has not told her advifers the money which I gave her, when I had the copies of the letters, and afterwards. The fort of threatening letter which Mrs. Newton's is, will never fucceed with me; but if the

[blocks in formation]

guinea given to Mrs. Chatterton, and the "The money Mr. C alludes to, is the borrowed the letters for an hour, and the ten half guinea to her daughter, when he pounds tent after he had published them.

"Mr. Chas heen privately addreffed duct is now made public, in the hope that upon the fubject, without effect; his congeneral liberality may be excited by general indignation.

[ocr errors]

"The mother of Chatterton died in po verty; fhe fuffered three years with a kindness of the Mifs Mores. cancer, and, till i er death, experienced the Mrs. Newton fupports herself by teaching children and her fight begins to fail. She is a wito read; he is now advancing in years, dow with one daughter. It is hoped that render her old age comfortable. the profits of the propofed publication will

Chatterton left. Mifcellanies, the pieces "The edition will comprize whatever attributed to Rowley, and the letters publifhed by Mr. C-; fome unpublished gazine pieces which had escaped the colpoems have been procured, and fome Ma. lector of the Mifcellanies. Dr. Gregory has promifed to adapt the life of this extramake two octavo volumes. The price fixordinary young man to the work; it will livery. Mr. Kearsley receives fubfcripteen fhillings, the money to be paid on de rection, and every care fhall be taken to tions. The edition will be under my dirender it correct and complete.


"BRISTOL, OA. 1799.”

"Gyf I afkaunted oere thys booke, Schuld fynde thereyn that trouthe ys left withoute."

Chatterton's Letter to Mafire Canynge. "Botte fomelymes foare 'bove trouthe of hiftrie." Id.

It seems clear that the late Mr. Burke, however he might inoculate Bristol, as her recorder, with his former principles, prejudicial to the conftitution (I only know Mr. fuits of Literature, ed. 8. p. 352, S.'s political principles from the Purand from his own Preface to Joan of Arc), that great man communicated not the difcriminating powers of his mighty mind. But "thus eafily are blafted the repu


ations of the living and of the dead;" as I faid, in my Life of Young, more than 20 years ago. When I had read to Johnfon as far as these words, of which the bookfellers' edition in 1791 makes nonfenie, he ftopped me with "Yes, fir-and, if you quit Jones's bar" (the great Sir William)" for the church and literature, as Bithop Lowth advites yon, it is probable you will be taught the truth of your own reflexion, by literature, long before you are my age."

What appears from this paper by Mr. Southey; i. e. what its lite rary author, in the fervour of compofition, and in his officioufnefs to be the Editor of Chatterton, pleafes to ASSERT; I will fubmit to collect. Innocence would lefs often fall a prey to villainy, if it boldly met the whole of a nefarious accufation in its blackest colours. I defy the heart even of Mr. S. to heighten what I fhall tranfcribe from him. But he will allow me to remind him that his

rival Chapelain, in the 9th book of Pucelle ou France Delivrée, chofen by Mr. S. for his epic fubject, speaks of a devil, according to Mr. S.'s own account, "the most mifchievous of all the tribe, whofe body is made of nothing but ears and eyes." This gentleman feems to have lent his friend, Mr. S. in my cafe, all his cars and not one of his eyes. I wonder much Mr. S. did not catch from his friend rather different ideas of republicks and revolutions, fince the patriot Mr. S. tells us, after Chapelain, that "the great devil was grievoutly troubled, when he learnt, from Lis agents, the fuccefs of France. Even in the flames of Hell, he felt his SOUL SHIVER.' Joan of Arc, ed. 2. vol. I. p. 63, 5.

But I must keep my word, and arrange the great Mr. S.'s abufe of me (for he writes profe fomewhat like bad poetry, and poetry fome what like bad profe), however it may make my foul fhiver.

I fhall arrange it under different heads,

1. That I was a clergyman (not an atheist, nor a follower of pantifo cracy), when I robbed Chatterton's family, in the curious way Mr. S. pretends: though Mrs. N. addreffed her letter 1796, as Mr. S. prints it, H. C. Efq.

2. That, though I voluntarily gave both the mother and fitter money, I made handles of confo lation and religion; and impofed upon them by lies: in order to ex ecute my well-planned robbery of half a dozen letters.

3. That, though I voluntarily. wrote to them in a few days, and acknowledged the ftolen property, I ftill meant to retain it.

4. That, though, in Auguft 1778, I performed every thing; which Mr. S. feems to ftate, from my letter of the preceding month, as promised without ever being performed; I, ftill, was fuch a CLERICAL rob ber as he defcribes.

5. That I completed the robbery, by printing the half dozen letters, making the whole, or the greater part, of my work, (would not any one fuppofe fo); though the book, in which these letters, to ferve Chatterton and bis family, fill a few pages, contained more matter than two common volumes.

6. That the mother wrote to me

and upbraided me with duplicity (not very intelligible, in any fenie; but, poeticè, for villainy) to which charge I replied by fending 1ot.

7. That, four months after, without any apparent reafon for a robber's continuing fuch a correfpondence, I" again wrote to justify my Jelf" (my italics); where, by flipping in the word again, an epic poet afferts, without fhowing any fuch thing, that I had justified myfelf, before, from a charge, the hinting of which would certainly. have prevented my ever fending the rol.

8. That, Nov. 1780, I wrote Mrs. N. a 5th letter, which fays I


was "about to promote a public fubfcription for her ;" and the author of Botany-Bay Eclogues, by printing public fubfcription in italics, KNOWS, that he meant to accufe me of having begun and RECEIVED the fubfcription, which I was "ABOUT to promote.”

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

9. Finally, as they heard no more of the future fervices and the public fubscription" (Mr. S.'s italics) "the mother of Chatterton died in poverty, after fuffering three years with a cancer" and Mrs. N.'s fight is beginning to fail" while the immaculate, religious, patristic, and PANTISOCRATIC Mr. S. inftead of writing one word, from September 1796 to October 1799, what Chatterton's relations confift of," after an interval of almoft 20 years (as I defired), makes my conduct puble, keeping his doing fo concealed from me; accufes me of having "served my purpose" by the means with which I have been forced to foil my paper; and "hopes" (I believe the gentleman) "that geneFal liberality" (towards a work which he and his connexions are going to edite, print, and publifh) "may be excited by general indig nation."

In governments purely pantifocra. tical, i. e. LEVELLING, fuch a reafoner and fuch a gentleman would be referred to Johnfon's indignant anfwer to Macpherson, which fays, that "he carried a ftick to repel infult; after which, the law fhould do for him, what he could not do for himself." But I am a clergyman; as Mr. S. remembered, when he held fuch language and publifhed it in fuch a manner. On my return to England, it is poffible I may fee whether the law can do for me what it would not become me to do for myself. In the mean time, I will difpofe of the good fenfe of Mr. S.'s fcurrility under thefe nine heads.

1. Mr. S. very well knows his motives for making fuch a character, as he reprefents me, a cler yan, before I actually was one,

Our country and all countries are in the fituation in which we fee them, becaufe fuch lurking attacks upon religion and government have not been openly met and repelled. If Mr. S. will fay he does not understand me, or will deny the fact, I can tranfcribe various paffages. from his Epic Poem, that confirm my veracity and his artifice. All I know of him is from fome of his writings, and, from an hiftorical note about him in the last dialogue of the Pursuits of Literature, 1. 398. But I appeal to those whofe good opinion I value, whether I might not have run a chance at leaft of being treated a little better by Mr. Southey, had my principles been republican, or had I been a diffenter from the religion of my country, or of no religion at all.

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. Surely, Mr. S. under each of these heads, answers himfelf. But there are ftill other anfwers to this unblushing accufer, which are fo obvious that perhaps fome of his readers will bluth, if L fhould prefent them here to their minds for the firft time.-It is more poffible that Rowley exifted, than that an artful man could be FOOL enough to affign fuch a reafon as Mr. S. mentions, or that both the mother and daughter could be weak enough to be fo robbed.-An hour, and which of course an artful man might have extended to two hours, would have been fufficient to copy eight letters; and, then, no further intercourfe would have been neceffary.-But innocence generally finds its beft defence, in the folly of its accufer; though thofe, who enjoy the accufation, without confidering what may next happen to themselves, feldom have wisdom enough to pick it out. "A fortnight elapfed, the letters had not been returned, and they knew not the name of the perfon to whom they had entrusted them." Could I have been fure that every reader would mark thefe words, or had they been honoured by Mr. S.'s fkilful italicks, I thould never have


« AnteriorContinua »