1864 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Alaric Alexander Watts

Anonymous, Obituary in Gentleman's Magazine 216 (May 1864) 676-77.



At Kensington, aged 67, Alaric Alexander Watts, esq., formerly well known in connection with periodical literature. He was born in London March 19, 1797, and received his education at the collegiate school of Wye, Kent, where an elder brother held the post of under master. He afterwards became a private tutor, but soon after adopted literature as his profession. In 1822 he published his first work, a small volume entitled Poetical Sketches, which was well received. He next became editor of The Leeds Intelligencer, and afterwards of The Manchester Courier, but in 1824 he came to London, and for the next fourteen years was mainly employed in producing The Literary Souvenir (eleven vols., 1824-1834), and its successor The Cabinet of Modern Art (three vols., 1836-1838). These speculations, and dealings in the pictures employed to illustrate them, were eventually unprofitable, and he next became the editor of The United Service Gazette, founded by the late Mr. Spottiswoode, which he carried on for several years; he was also engaged on The Standard, and on many other papers of Conservative views, and it is said that he was the originator of the system, once so prevalent, of printing part of a paper in the metropolis, and sending it into the country to be filled up with advertisements and local news. In 1850 he published a selection of his poetical works, under the title of "Lyrics of the Heart," and other poems, which also contained some pieces by his wife, who was a sister of J. H. Wiffen, the translator of Tasso. In 1853 a pension of 100 a-year was bestowed on him, "in consequence of services rendered by him to literature and the fine arts through thirty years;" he also received an appointment in the Income-tax department at Somerset-house, which made his latter years easy as to pecuniary matters. Mr. Watts was a ready writer, and being very outspoken in his dislikes, he had a full share of the literary and political controversies that preceded and accompanied the Roman Catholic Relief Bill, the Reform and Municipal Corporation Bills, &c.; and his connection with The United Service Gazette involved him in Chancery proceedings of a ruinous character.