If Mr. Walpole sincerely deemed his fortune moderate, and his life private, I should have wished to know what he really thought of the situations, and pleasures, of many worthy persons, who were in circumstances infinitely more circumscribed than his own. He must have concluded that the predominate description of the life of a very private gentleman was imprisonment, and distress; and that every particle of enjoyment was annihilated, to the poor. Indeed, with an infatuation which often seems to intoxicate the great, he might suppose that people in the lower classes of society, were, by nature, differently constituted from himself; and consequently that he, and they would be affected by external impressions, with different modifications of pain, and pleasure. If that was his idea, I should then have wished to know what would have been, in his opinion, not a moderate fortune; but a fortune affluent, and large enough to support the dignity of titled worth; of true nobility; — or to varnish; to redeem; to warrant the infamy of that peerage, with which a minister of iniquity was rewarded who made it his principal study; — nay, his boasted art, to corrupt the vitals of the British constitution.
He says that "he was less fond of the company of authours than of their works." — And he is frank enough almost to acknowledge that the preference "was not generous." — If, indeed, he had been fond of the society of men of polite, and accomplished learning, and of distinguished talents, he would so far have departed from his real character: for as he merely pretended to be an authour, himself, with all his inordinate self-love, he must have felt himself uneasy, and embarrassed, while he was in the company of eminent, and illustrious authours: the reflected gleams of the paternal coronet; the weighty gifts of the Peruvian god, would give him little confidence, and animation, when they were opposed to the intellectual treasures of Apollo; to the better gold which his influence matures; to his powerful, and celestial inspiration. For consistently with the observation of Horace, if you should attempt to overwhelm nature with a mountain of gold, she will spring up; shove the mountain off; and assert her empire.
Before I quit my particular attention to Mr. Walpole, I request you to judge from an example or two (indeed all his defence is a series of such examples) how far he deserves the rich literary incense which was offered to him by the editor of the Gentleman's Magazine; — how far he deserves the character of an elegant, masterly, admirable writer. You know the old and trite, but sensible adage; "ex pede, Herculem; ex ungue, leonem."
Chatterton informed him, in his first letter, that "the possessour of the old poetry could furnish him with accounts of a series of great painters that had flourished at Bristol." — "I was not likely" (says he) "to SWALLOW a succession of great painters at Bristol." — p. 247. It is certain that in this expression the delicacy of the antiquary is greater than that of the writer. But "the creature is at his dirty work again." In one of his compassionate fits, he thus expresses his grief, and regret. — "Alas! how could I surmise that the well-being and existence of a human creature depended on my SWALLOWING a legend!" P. 249.
The writer of this tedious, and unsatisfactory letter makes many impotent efforts at various kinds of eloquence. Permit me to give you a specimen of his humour. In expostulating with the editor of the Miscellanies, yet only for just reproaches, after having accused him of treating his rejection of Chatterton's request with an unwarrantable severity, he adds, with an attick spirit peculiar to himself; — "and lest that rejection should want a name, you have baptized it, neglect, and contempt."
Here, as in a thousand other instances, we see verified Horace's invincibility of nature. No art can eradicate her essential deformities: and thanks be to heaven, it sometimes happens, that no sublunary evils can suppress her beauties. The best education that the world could afford; conversation with the most polished, with the most highly cultivated society, a personal knowledge of the most interesting countries of Europe; the instructive, and animating display of the fine arts; the daily impression of elegant, and splendid objects; — all these capital advantages could not excite, in the breast of Mr. Walpole, their corresponding forms; they could not subdue the natural coarseness, and vulgarity of his mind. If I am told that the short examples which I have cited, are trifling, and insignificant, I reply, that in literary composition, nothing is trifling, or insignificant. Every particle of the whole, shows, to a discerning judge of that object, the vigorous, or the feeble mind; the elegant, or the barbarous taste of the writer. And I likewise reply, that the whole strain of the writings of the late Lord Orford, as well as of this letter, is dull; unclassical; totally inelegant. But in this contemptible defence, on which I have been animadverting with a warrantable freedom, more sacred qualities, his moral characteristicks, are evidently obnoxious to the censure of the most liberal observer. Agreeably to my preceding remarks, it is far from being honourably distinguished by those concise, and simple assertions, with which conscious integrity supports its cause: on the contrary, it betrays a mind trembling under the sense of guilt, and disingenuity; and therefore, by its minute, reiterated protestations, painfully solicitous to be believed.
I have dwelt rather long on Mr. Walpole's apology for his conduct to Chatterton. My motives were good; and if I have been severe, I thought that severity was my duty. It has been my wish, as I have already observed, to blend instructive, and useful views in morality, with literary entertainment. This most important part of my plan it was impossible to effect; these improving views I could not present to you, in their full expansion, and in their vivid colours; if I had suffered my mind to harbour a courtly, feudal, immoral respect of persons; — if I had contracted my views; if I had dimmed their objects, with a reserve, and timidity of sentiment, and language; with a hand fearful of the malignity of criticism, and of the frowns of the great. I have endeavoured to lay before you, openly, and completely, some striking topicks in the ethical code, which may have salutary ends; they may refresh the memory; they may warm the heart; they may, at momentous junctures, animate, and exalt the conduct. We cannot, too often for our generous practice, calmly recollect, and feelingly consider, how easily the fortunate acquire any kind of high reputation; how frequently the most virtuous, and glorious desert, is chilled by their neglect, or harassed by their malevolence; with what alacrity and industry their dispositions are gratified by the sycophants that surround them; the adulators of their caprice; the instruments of their passions; the ministering elements to the gods of this lower globe; which, at their nod, by congealing the moral atmosphere; or by breathing into it a malignant agitation, destroy some fine human fabrick of reason, and fancy; trample on its ashes, and enjoy the ruin.
There are, indeed, several circumstances uncommon; I hope, unexampled, in the short, but eventful history of this extraordinary young man. When we consider his abilities; his productions, and his fate; it seems rather surprising, that, soon after his death, more attention was not payed to his memory; and that he was not more the subject of general conversation. It must be owned that his works excited some warm, and on one side of the question, very ridiculous critical conflicts; but the literary world, extensively, have never been so much interested as might have been expected, in so rare a phaenomenon. To solve what at first sight, may appear enigmatical, an Aedipus is not required. I am sorry that the solution will make one memorable article more, in the melancholy history of human nature. Chatterton, though splendid by genius, was poor, obscure, and depressed in station. His application to Mr. Walpole; the returns to that application; and his untimely death, had made that person, with great justice, an object of humane, and indignant censure. Yet on such an occasion, the process of the moral chymistry ultimately acts with a result quite contrary to that of the physical: the dross is sublimated; the ethereal spirit is precipitated. Whether this view of the subject is cynical, or true, let the literary conduct of Mr. Tyrwhitt determine. What prejudice, and meanness influenced, and directed the remarks, and the censures, of this learned, and sensible critick, and commentator, cannot, as I should suppose, be reasonably, disputed. Chatterton was long, and repeatedly, the object of his inquiries, and observations. His moral character he persecutes with an undistinguishing barbarity; on his natural endowments; on his acquirements of knowledge, both, unequalled, at his tender years, and with his opportunities, he bestows not a single particle of the praise which they deserved. A concurrence of singular circumstances were evidently the causes of a singular obduracy: this monstrous retention of the voice of nature; this obstinate stagnation of common sentiments; however constitutional they may have been to the man, were more indissolubly fixed by the polar frost of Walpole. All the annals of literature, in all the world, cannot produce an instance of such a PROFLIGATE complaisance. To a servile obsequiousness to wealth, and title; to the unavailing pleadings of youthful genius, in unutterable distress; to the most unmerciful insults on its memory; — I apply this epithet, justly, which was applied with a ruthless injustice to Chatterton's juvenile sensibility; the momentary irregularities of which brought little, or no impeachment on his heart.
"I am exerting my best endeavours to vindicate thy memory, thou transcendently great, but ill-fated youth! I have repeatedly felt a solemn impulse to this generous though invidious task; and I trust that my sentiments have been in unison with that impulse. I have been thy ardent advocate; yet not with higher praise than was warranted by thy desert; without partiality, and without hypocrisy." "I could not have done justice to thee, unless I had disdained all temporizing reserve; unless I had felt a warmth, in some degree, congenial with thy own. My warmth was a warm admiration of a mind superiour to its fate; a warm compassion for its misfortunes; a warm love of noble, and amiable virtue; and a warm detestation of puritanical tyrants, and voluntary slaves. To this freedom, and to this ardour, my style must have been analogous, by the imperious necessity of nature. All this warmth may be pronounced malignity by malignant criticks; but to their censure I have been long habituated; and to more liberal criticks I hope that I shall not appeal in vain. — Thou transcendently great, but ill-fated youth! — The animating, the reprehensory gleams of thy much-injured ghost, have often pierced the gloom of this Boeotian atmosphere; they have rouzed, and stimulated my languishing faculties; they have, in my old age, invigorated my reason; illumined, and enriched my fancy; — they have renovated my mind, and given it a youthful play. Yet to certain prejudices, the very root on which they should soon decay, is apt to give them a stabiliment, and duration. Under their deadly night-shade, we may both be consigned to a temporary sepulture: shall we presume to be exempted from the destiny of some of our glorious ancestors? But as there is a final resurrection, and judgement for the man, there is an intermediate resurrection, and judgement, for his productions. Let us wait for the reforming power of time; for his adjusting equity. Let us wait for the prevailing voice of honest fame; for the oracular decision of posterity."
Let us now see to what enormous criminality the artful, and mischievous forgeries; the profligate impostures of Chatterton amount. It is very possible; — it is not improbable, that he had intended, at some future time, to make the full discovery, which was retarded, and obstructed, by the dullness, and rubbish of criticism. Ardent ambition, especially at the commencement of its career, is tremulous for its fortune, though it is bold in its promotion. It might have been in his plan, to wait for the proclamation of fame in his favour; before he, stepped forth, and payed his personal homage to the goddess. The late excellent Mr. Burke (my mind, while I mention his name, is divided between my admiration of his talents, and my reverence of his virtues) — the late Mr. Burke published an essay (which you may find in the fugitive pieces) entitled, "A Vindication of the Natural Rights of Society;" in which he deliberately, and happily imitated the seducing sophistry, and the magnificent declamation of Lord Bolingbroke. It passed, for some time, over England, agreeably to the intention of the writer, for the genuine production of that celebrated nobleman. Mr. Burke, when he thought it proper, revealed the secret. In the interim, he, undoubtedly, carefully kept it, and guarded it in conversation. Truth is never to be violated, when the violation does the least injury; when it indicates a mean heart. But when people are implacable against a falsehood which, at least, does no harm; I should be apt to doubt their own habitual moral veracity; I should be apt to suspect their assumption of a virtue. Literary fiction, when it is formed for our innocent, for our improving entertainment; when it strengthens, and refines the moral sense; or when it recreates, without corrupting, the imagination; when by its artful machinery, and interesting characters, it deceives us into a tender sympathy with human distress; into an ardent throb for heroick virtue; when we are transported to Thebes, or to Athens; to the Danube; or the Ganges, at the will of the charming, and powerful magician; all this elegant ingenuity; all these "speciosa miracula" are falsehood, if you please, in the rigid sense of the word; yet they are not only allowable, but worthy of encomium. If the writer even substitutes for himself an imaginary person; and if this fiction does no injury to the community, nor to any individual; is it not the utmost iniquity; is it not the utmost barbarity, to confound his disposition, with that of the artful, and bold invader of property; with that of the rapacious culprit who breaks the sacred ties of society? Now, the pamphlet of Mr. Burke, to which I have referred, was as much a forgery, and imposture, as the Rowley of Chatterton. But Mr. Burke, both in theory, and in practice, insisted on the substance, not on the shadows of virtue. His mind came pregnant with manly, and expanded ideas, from the school of Socrates, and from the genuine school of Christ: it was not contracted, and shrivelled with hypocritical scruples, because it was actuated; because it was impelled, with all its irresistible energy, by a most humane, enlarged, and generous morality; displayed, on every suitable occasion, in corresponding deeds.
At Strawberry-Hill, a mountain which has been delivered of many complete mice, and of many unreducible monsters; the Honourable Horace Walpole; the intolerant censor of juvenile dissipation; the superstitious idolater of literal, and inexorable truth; printed, many years ago, a dubious creature of his brain; half-novel, and half-romance. It was entitled, "The Castle of Otranto." This nondescript of a confused fancy, would be very characteristically described, and represented,—
Humano capiti cervicem pictor equinam
Jungere si velit, et varias inducere plumas,
Undique collatis membris; aut turpiter atrum
Desinat in piscem mulier formosa superne.—
Horace. Art Poetick.
In the title-page of his book, he announced to the world, as "a translation from the Italian, by Andrew Marshal." Now I insist that this is as absolute a literary forgery, or imposture (if we must give heavy names to light offences) as any one that Chatterton committed. I have given a probable, and important reason why he might chuse to appear in publick in the habit of the fifteenth century. But his enemy, and accuser seems to have thrown out his decoy, in the wantonness of literary sport. Or, I will allow him humility in one instance of his life; I shall suppose that he had an apprehensive anxiety for the fortune of his performance (though it was a descendent of nobility) as it was, certainly, at least, of an exotick form; and that he thought it necessary previously to make it interesting by some popular artifice. He knew that we were infatuated with emasculated importations from Italy; and on this foundation it must be owned that he anticipated the success of his work by a very taking title. But, indeed it is very probable that this imposture partly proceeded from the little creature's affected contempt of the literary character; of which a Frederick, an Alfred, the Antonines, and Caesar were proud, to their immortal honour.
In the language, then, of a Tyrwhitt, or a Milles; in the language of a critical Draco; the authour of the Castle of Otranto, was, in his title-page, indisputably guilty of a forgery, or imposture. It as indeed, a double imposition; contrived to deceive the publick, not only in the title-page, but through the whole hook; of which it had given us false, and imaginary persons, as the authour, and the translator. As far as Chatterton's motives for the deceit were more cogent than Walpole's, the latter showed, in his deceit, a more fraudulent disposition. Should it be urged that Mr. Walpole's fraud was, comparatively, produced by a momentary act of the mind; and that Chatterton's was the effect of a deliberate plan; of a system of a long continuance of deceit; I reply, that the genius; the entertainment; the poetical honours that we acquired by the real Rowley, were worth a thousand Castles of Otranto; or to distinguish with more propriety, that he amply redeemed the popularity which, for a while, was lavished on that delirious rhapsody, by many readers, in an enlightened nation. If I do not reason justly, and closely, on my present subject, it is my errour, not my intention. I set the strong motives for the protracted, against the weak motives for the short delusion: so far I think that the moral account (as hypocritical superstition has made it a rigid account) is accurately balanced. I then compare the result of each imposture; the literary glory of the one with the literary ignominy of the other; the high pleasure of sentiment, and imagination, which was afforded by the one, with the load, and the lassitude of mind, with which unprejudiced, and sensible readers were oppressed by the other. When to these considerations I add the importunate, and formidable wants; the tender, and unexperienced years of the young poet; and the most affluent, and flattering circumstances; the hoary age, hackneyed in the ways of the world, of the moral Page who judged him; — I appeal, not to a Cowley, nor to a Williams, of the softer sex; whose compassion, and sympathy; whose generous tribute to the memory of Chatterton almost atoned for the barbarity of ours; nor do I appeal to a Hayley; who, inelegant, and elegiack numbers, has, to that memory been equally generous; nor to a humane, and liberal Croft; who, in the conduct of the true gentleman, and the christian, was almost emancipated from the priest: — no; I now call on a Tyrwhitt and a Bryant; if they can, for awhile, forget their gothick homage to power, and obey the dictates of conscience; (hear me ye spirits of Walpole, and of Milles!) I call on these men to tell me, who was guilty of the more criminal forgery, and imposture? I flatter myself that my present sentiments have the honour to be revibrated by the feeling souls of my audience; who yet deplore all the hard fate of Chatterton; and kindly fancy themselves equally indebted to his genius, and to his poverty. For my own part, I have always (unfortunately, shall I say, or by a peculiarity for which I ought to be grateful to nature, and to its God!) I have always estimated virtue, and vice, according to the justest view that I could take of their causes, and effects; and of the general conduct of the human agents, whom they influenced, and controuled; without any regard to the merely accidental, and morally foreign objects, of particular circumstances, and situations; without any desertion from the manly defence of my cause, to a servile respect of persons; without any regard to the smiles, or to the frowns of fortune. The reverse of this habit; a mean flexibility to that pressure which too much domineers over the world; an estimate of worth, and demerit, agreeable to the spurious, and perishable modifications of man; not to the genuine, and adamantine substance of truth; — this convenient habit I have always left, and I shall ever leave, to those of the laity, with whom a coronet; and to those of the church, with whom a mitre, is the supreme good.
The strongest charge of imposture against this honourable gentleman, and right honourable lord still remains. I shall now produce a bold example of his progress, and improvement in forgery. When we consider the timidity of the man, we must give some credit to the hardiness of the adventurer. I proceed, by a prominence in fact. A climax is never to be despised, either in literary composition, or in moral censure.
When the illustrious Rousseau sought an asylum in England from political, and priestly persecution, this imp of envy, and malignity, instead of soothing, derided his misfortunes. He played off one of his contemptible, yet mischievous machinations, against him. He had the presumption to assume the person of the king of Prussia; who was an elegant, and for a king, a great writer: especially when we compare him with his mimick, Walpole. He wrote a letter, in the name of that monarch, to Rousseau, in which he exhausted all his puny efforts to ridicule, and mortify the immortal citizen of Geneva. The literary world must remember that at that time, there was an unfortunate dispute between him, and David Hume. The spurious letter was industriously calculated to inflame the dispute; and it actually produced that unhappy effect. Could any fair animadversions demonstrate the inhumanity, and turpitude of Walpole's heart, more forcibly than the simple recital of these facts? And yet no man was ever more apt than he, to arraign the hearts, and intentions of others. This letter, without the exaggerating crimination of poor Chatterton's enemies, whether we consider its origin, or its consequences, may be pronounced by candour itself, an infamous forgery. It assumed the character of a sovereign; it insulted exquisite sensibility, in distress; and it widened the disunion of two respectable, amiable, and admirable friends. Mr. Walpole, and Mr. Tyrwhitt; the disciples of a cautious, and delicate morality, have observed how apt the human mind is to grow bolder in vice; to advance from a less to a greater degree of iniquity; from forging poems, to forging bank-notes. With my best attention to this moral scale, I cannot but think that he who forges a letter from a living person, with a most malicious design, hath superseded all the other dangerous habits of literary imposition; and anticipates the gallows (if he is a needy person) with a more diabolical improvement than any poetical impostor.
Rousseau's return to this petty, but base insolence, is rather entertaining. He advertised the honourable forger in the publick papers, with this preamble; — "whereas one Horace Walpole, &c." It is certain that the monosyllable "one," was never more properly applied: for in the sacred human discrimination; in the distinctions of men, as they have been appointed by God, and nature; Walpole was to Rousseau, what one Burnet was to Prior; — what one Welwood was to Milton.
Though the common, and most important dictates of morality are obvious even to untutored minds, moral cases may arise, in which men of good conscience may differ in their ethical judgement; in their estimation of a particular conduct. If there was any guilt in the poetical deceptions of Chatterton, they were, in my sincere, and humble opinion, culpable, in the lowest degree; and consequently, far from deserving the ignominious appellations with which they were branded by antichristian intolerance. His sentiments on this object most probably coincided with mine; therefore as his heart could not accuse him while he framed those beautiful fictions, they cannot reasonably be produced among the evidences of his enormous profligacy. But Mr. Walpole could not plead this innocence: without Chatterton's inducements to impose upon the publick, he was deep, and malignant in the crime of literary forgery; yet at the very idea of that crime his conscientious delicacy shuddered: that crime he reprobated in terms of the severest censure; therefore his own memory must bear all the load of guilt with which he, and his unprincipled flatterers were industrious to load that of another.
Though, I thank God, my mind has not been dragged through a Walpolian farrago of five huge quarto volumes, yet am well enough acquainted both with his disposition, and his writings, to observe, with an accurate veracity, that his pen was often employed, through a long life, to poison the moral, and literary fame of the greatest men. Cervantes; Fielding; Addison; Swift; Johnson; and many more immortal names; nay, the epick majesty of Virgil himself, he hath profaned with his impertinent censure, and with his insolent contempt. This little fretful porcupine hath darted its quills against many fine Arabian coursers; against many lions, and elephants, in the forest of Minerva.
The proportion of the good, or bad effects of human conduct essentially constitutes, and characterizes it, as virtue, or vice, in its nature, and in its degree. The deceptions of Chatterton did not mislead us, in the history of the world, like the fables of Psalmanazar; they did not wound the fame of the greatest of poets; nor, consequently, injure the poetical glory of our celebrated island, like the assassinating impostures of Lauder; they encroached on no property; they injured no man; at the worst, to give the highest poetical honours to an imaginary being; — to write verses for the fifteenth, which, in strength, and harmony, adorn the eighteenth century; — fictions, which could only have been doubtful to doting antiquarians, by whom, professionally, they should have been most easily discovered; — at the worst, these impositions are surely venial, at the tribunal of candour, and liberality. But two sorts of men were greatly obliged to the authour of these deceptions; vigorous, and elegant minds, who delight in fine poetry; and critical, and scholastick minds, who delight in quibbles; whom the "lana caprina" often engages in warm, and pertinacious disputes; and whose most heart-felt triumph is the discovery of a wrong, and the restoration, and establishment of a rig/it word. When to these apologies (which, I hope, have the force of substantial truth) we add his very immature age, and that probably, if he had lived, he would have revealed the whole secret; I trust that I need make no farther apologies to the judges whom I wish to convince, and please. The memory of Chatterton will be severely treated only by those who are insensible to the benevolence of virtue, and to the impressions of taste; or by the hypocrites who are eager to accuse others, because they are conscious of great misconduct in themselves. The compassion, and the praise of this illustrious, and unfortunate youth, will descend, from good, and refined souls, to the latest British posterity; and if such characters make any exceptions to their praise, the exceptions will be moderate, and tender; and whenever they are made, they will be soon effaced by the splendid remembrance of his genius. The specks of moral obliquity will be lost in the blaze of mental excellence.
It is as painful to me as it may appear invidious, frequently to remark our indulgent, or severe estimate of human conduct, in proportion as the persons on whose conduct we animadvert, are more, or less favoured by fortune. But if a partial, and prejudiced world will not do justice to the unfortunate, in fact; it may be of some service to the cause of virtue; it may, in some degree, check licentious calumny, to endeavour to establish, or promote social, and moral justice, in theory. They who cherish in their minds, iniquitous, and oppressive sentiments, deserve publick reprehension, and disgust; — not they by whom those sentiments are openly censured, — and exposed. I suppose that none who hear me will doubt, that if the dreadfully obnoxious forgeries of Chatterton had been fabricated by a prosperous, and affluent person; by a young man in high life; — by the son of a lord; they would have escaped his red-hot ordeal of moral condemnation. Nay, the imposition would have received the tribute of exaggerated praise: (stern crimination, indeed, would have been uncharitably, and absurdly applied;) — the encomium of a masterly ingenuity in juvenile years; of a complete victory, and triumph over Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton, would have been lavished on this offspring of noble intellect; on this heir apparent to immortal glory. Instead of our generous, and indignant resentment, at the opprobrious terms of Mr. Tyrwhitt, we should have been lulled with his incense of compliment, and adulation. Mr. Bryant would not have spurned the poor, and abject; he would have acknowledged the astonishing, the wonderful boy; not without the pedantick hyperbole of academical homage; and the sagacious, and eloquent Dean Milles, while he adorned the brows, of young, and aspiring nobility, with a poetical, would have prepared for himself an episcopal crown.
Consistently with that particular, and unreserved attention which I have hitherto shown to social, moral, and poetical justice, Dr. Gregory must contribute to enlarge these Lectures. To the youth, whose too short, and unhappy life he writes, he is, in many places, fair, and liberal; and in many, partial against him, and ungenerous. I have no doubt that he would have been more consistently benevolent, if his sentiments, like those of others, had not been tainted with the Walpolian influence. I do not presume to say that he was warped, in his narrative, by any kind of intercourse with Mr. Walpole; I only mean, that prejudices, in favour of the powerful, against the weak, insensible work, and prevail, even in elevated minds (though they come not into immediate contact with their idols) with a seducing, and fascinating magnetism, or magick, in social, and moral life. So insidiously operative is this fascination, that the person who is under its dominion, is frequently insensible of its ignoble sway. So far is there an apology for his deviation from independence. If Dr. Gregory had not been seduced in this manner, he never could have paid such unmerited compliments to Mr. Walpole; he never could have been so cold in the cause of Chatterton; of humanity, and of genius. Let us not presume strongly to recommend the equal, and beneficent spirit of christian freedom; unless we give it life, and action, in ourselves; unless we practically prove its beauty.
One great errour, and misfortune pervades his book: the man is overpowered (by no means by the christian, for he exalts the man) by the ecclesiastick. We pronounce on human conduct from the talmud of our rabbis, when we should have formed our moral judgment from the unadulterated, unerring, and benign code of the Gospel. It was absurd to be severely censorious on a boy, for his ethical theory; for his theological scepticism; or to suppose that free, and excursive inquiries, and decisions of his mind, with its best judgement, will always materially affect its practice. Alas! we have innumerable instances of far more vice than can be imputed to Chatterton's character (which, indeed) was nobly virtuous, on the whole) among those who pretend to be believers; among those who really are believers in christianity. And the dreadful catastrophe of suicide is not peculiar to persons of profligate manners; it has often been committed by men, whose tenour of life, before the fatal stroke, has not only been irreproachable, but eminently virtuous. This incontrovertible truth should make lawgivers more tender of their stakes, and priests of their anathemas. The stakes, indeed, are seldom driven; moderation, and contentment preserve, in general, the lower orders of society from despair. But perjured juries, in this deplorable case, almost always decide with a profligate complaisance, or barbarity. The sentence of the possession of reason condemns persons of low stations; the possession of a faculty, when they seemed to be least under its direction; and when the others are acquitted of criminality, from the supposed impossibility that they possessed it! Reason is denied to the rich, that they may have honourable obsequies; it is allowed to the poor, that their remains may be consigned to infamy. Can we wonder at the partiality, and at the insolence to conditions which prevail in life? Can we fondly hope that they will ever be reformed? — No; death itself cannot subdue them: they defy the admonition, and the interdict of the most awful object of religion; they worship their golden idol — they trample on their unfortunate victim, even in the grave!
Dr. Gregory's reasoning in favour of Mr. Walpole is more uncommon than conclusive. He cannot see how Chatterton could form any well-grounded expectations of assistance from Mr. Walpole; as the statesmen of this country had, in general, neglected genius, which they certainly ought attentively to have protected: — and as it had been the common fate of genius to live, and die in distress; and to have its distresses lamented when it was no longer in the power of this world to relieve them. This flimsy, and unfeeling logick demands but a short answer. It amounts to these positions; — that where there is much publick misconduct, it is not the duty of any individual, when it is in his power, to counteract it. — That when the great majority of men are bad, it is not the duty of any particular man to be good; — and that as poets have generally been undervalued, neglected, and poor, it is absurd in them to think of improving their fate: they ought to submit to it with all christian resignation, and humility: a peculiar, and contrasted kind of heroism is required of them; they must almost miraculously effect a separation of the component parts of man, before their natural dissolution; their souls must boar to heaven, while their bodies sink under indigence, and oppression.
Persons of a virtuous delicacy might blush to read the following strain of reasoning from a clergyman; from a professed disciple of the benevolent, and humble Jesus. — "It can scarcely be deemed an instance of extraordinary illiberality that a private man, though a man of fortune, should be inattentive to the petition of a perfect stranger; a young man whose birth, or education entitled him to no high pretensions; and who had only conceived an unreasonable dislike to a profession both lucrative, and respectable." — Gregory; p. 54. — To possess a large fortune; to pretend to a taste, and love of literature; and yet to refuse the petition of a poor, and unprotected youth; to whose genius he gave the highest admiration; — to refuse him the interest that might with ease have procured him a very moderate establishment in life; — or to withhold from him the small annual encouragement which would have saved him; which would have matured his greatness, and made him happy; — and which this obduracy expended on one of its vassals in livery; on one of the pageants of its little pride, and vanity; — to be thus powerful, and thus unfeeling, is certainly an instance of illiberality; and insensible as the fortunate often are to all inconveniences but their own, I hope that it is an instance of extraordinary illiberality. When I come to "the petition of a perfect stranger; a young man whose birth, or education entitled him to no high pretensions;" — I feel an honest, and a warrantable indignation which I do not wish to suppress. The disadvantages of his birth, and education, were the very circumstances, which, in the most obvious, and palpable morality, enforced his natural pretensions; the highest, and most sacred of all pretensions; the beautiful, and sublime endowments of his mind. These very circumstances recommended these pretensions to a particular attention; to an effectual support. While you mention the birth, and education of Chatterton in a contemptuous manner, you are in perfect agreement with the gothick, and insolent creed of the world; but you apostatize from the doctrine; from the example; and from the sublunary fate of Jesus Christ. The divine strain of his precepts is endeared to humanity by inculcating respect for the poor, and a compassionate relief of their miseries. He was not a modern priest; as he taught, he lived; he was continually healing the infirmities, and supplying the wants of the poor; he chose them for his companions; for his favourites; for his bosom-friends. And Dr. Gregory, be pleased to recollect, that the birth, and temporal accommodations of Jesus Christ were inferiour even to those of Thomas Chatterton. His circumstances, and situation, sir, in your estimate of human conduct, should have aggravated, not extenuated the guilt of Walpole. As to his "unreasonable dislike," as you are pleased to term it, "of a profession both lucrative, and respectable," it is so miserable in sophistry, and so insulting to genius, that I disdain to answer it. What generous, and sympathizing soul, alive to the beauties, and to the pathos of poetry, will not yet lament, that the hand which could make its paper glow with the ardent emanations of mind, was obliged mechanically to freeze three hundred and seventy four sheets with the icicles of law? Who, but a Walpole would not have emancipated him from his bondage? who, but a Gregory, would have condemned him to it? I know, good Doctor, that you thought Chatterton a heretick: but I could not have imagined that, in the eighteenth century, we had one inquisitor, who would have dared even to approve of one "auto da fe," in this country.
You say (p. 56.) that "Mr. Walpole was certainly under no obligation of patronizing Chatterton." — He was not under the least obligation to patronize him, according to the rules of the court of King's Bench; nor even of the court of Chancery. But in the court of Almighty God, which I almost tremble to name after the others, he was under accumulated obligations to patronize him. According to the rules of that court, we are not only to accept every fair occasion of assisting, and befriending our fellow-creature, but we are industriously to inquire for such occasions. And in conferring our good offices, we are to imitate the Divine fountain of mercy; we are not to be "extreme to mark what is done amiss;" but we are carefully to look within ourselves; and hence we are to learn to be charitable, and generous to others. Mr. Walpole was under no obligation to patronize Chatterton! How can you say that, arid afterwards preach, and' inculcate the beneficent doctrine of your celestial master; who made it the business of his life, to evince, and exemplify our universal obligation to do all possible good to all men; — who "went about doing good?" — For heaven's sake, retain, and support your christian, and leave your jewish tenets to the scribes, and pharisees of Chatterton; — to the Lamberts of the age.
You say (p. 55.) — "considering things as they are, and not as they ought to be, it was a degree of unusual condescension, to take any notice whatever of the application; &c." — You are a very wary ambidexter; a great adept in the art of trimming between that humane morality which you cannot but love, and that arrogance to which a worse disposition obliges you to bow. For my own part, when important truth is in question, I always take a decided; I am sure that I take a sincere; and I hope that I take the right part. No man is more thoroughly convinced than I am, of the enormous, and overbearing self-esteem by which human nature is actuated, when the favours of fortune are not under the guidance (as they seldom are) of reason, reflexion, and religion. Yet I must do the presumptuous, and fortunate the justice to be assured, that most of them who were men of letters, would have treated Chatterton's application with more politeness, attention, and generosity, than it received from Mr. Walpole. So far was he from being entitled, on that occasion, to he merit of unusual condescension.. Indeed, it is an equal absurdity in idea, and in language, to apply condescension, in any degree, to a behaviour which began with hypocrisy, and ended with insolence.
You say (p. 56.) "to ascribe to Mr. Walpole's neglect, (if it even can merit so harsh an appellation) the dreadful catastrophe which happened at the distance of nearly two years, would be the highest degree of injustice, and absurdity." — I have given to this neglect harsher, because they were the proper, and merited appellations. Here is one of the pliant softenings; one of the repelling perfumes, which are, every day, offered at the shrine of rank, and affluence. Without any absurdity, sir, we may assert that Mr. Walpole's treatment of this very excellent, and susceptible youth, was one cause of his tragical death. He is a poor reasoner, and philosopher, whose views of human actions, and of human fate, are not more extensive than the causes, and effects of the moment. Great, and decisive effects, both in the physical, and moral world, are as often produced by the concatenation of a thousand causes, as by one detached, and immediate cause. From the parental formation of the tender mind frequently flow the whole tenour, and complexion of a long human life. By a parity, and fair analogy of reasoning, one deplorable act may be committed, which would not have been committed if one kind, and provident preventive had been applied, not only two, but twenty years before its execution. As I never took Mr. Walpole either for a prophet, or a conjurer, I am certainly far from accusing him of having foreseen Chatterton's melancholy exit, when he refused him his assistance: yet I am satisfied that every unprejudiced person who now hears me, and who considers the unworthy situations; the moderate habits; the chastised wants of the young man; and his passion for poetry, which, to him, was a substitute for the mines of Golconda; I am satisfied that every such person can have no doubt that if Horace Walpole had given to this young man a cheap, and easy protection, he would, in all human probability, have been living at this day; highly esteemed for the generosity of his nature; happy in the most propitious of muses; and crowned with poetical glory. This appears, impartially, to me, as probable a case, as any character, and fortune in life, which has resulted from more complicated causes: it appears as probable as that a virtuous education generally produces a good, and a licentious education, a bad man. And let us not forget that the moral substance may be as much against us, if we refuse to do a seasonable, and humane, as if we commit a barbarous, and destructive action. From deliberately, and perversely not doing good, as much calamity may exist, as by deliberately, and violently doing evil. And conscience will represent the guilt as plainly, and strongly, to the former as to the latter offender. Motives, and effects are completely known to God; and He will, one day, demand an account of both. There is a spurious negative innocence, which has a sophisticated credit, from the venal breath of adulation, and from the deficiency, and absurdity of human laws; but it is severely arraigned, and condemned by the decrees of Heaven. And how can it be otherwise; since it must often be evident, and atrocious guilt, even in the judgement of man?
If Dr. Gregory felt any symptoms of a fever for a bishoprick, while he wrote the life of Chatterton, he could not more powerfully have stimulated the progress, and accesses of that clerical, but unchristian malady, than by the strain of his biography. In its nature, and tendency, it leads directly to a mitre. It is written with all the prudential equilibrium of discretion; with a sanctified candour, humanity, even praise of the weak; yet corrected, mixed, and confounded, with prominent censure, and with very discernible contempt; — that it may not offend the strong.
Every species of vice is inconsistent; not only from the moral timidity with which it is accompanied; not only from our incongruous, and incoherent attempts to defend it; but likewise from the repelling energy of the better part of our nature; from our honest, and involuntary efforts to spurn its tyranny. Dr. Gregory is often unequal; nay, he often contradicts himself, on the subject of Chatterton; both as the critick of his works, and the censor of his morals. Sometimes he plunges him into vice, and infidelity; sometimes he seems to regret the depression, and exalts him to virtue. Many parts of his description, and character of our poet, strongly indicate the ardent, and irresistible genius, which is often totally insensible to external objects; and which must be the cause of a peculiarity of manner, while it absorbs the man. In some pages of his narrative, he is in unison with the warm, generous and elegiack tribute of a Knox; and even with the warrantable, and sympathizing astonishment, and admiration of a Croft. Yet who could have imagined that when this biographer mentioned the poetical merit of these pieces, he would have prefixed to it the Dutch epithet, considerable? who could have imagined that this biographer, after having given us the most affecting characteristicks of a noble disposition, as well as of a sublime genius, could have written the following paragraph? — "He has descended to the grave with a dubious character; and the only praise which can be accorded him by the warmest of his admirers, is that of an elegant, and ingenious impostor." — Gregory: p. 225. — It is difficult to determine whether, in these remarks, we see more of the effect of the torpid hypercritick, or of the unchristian high priest. But let me give him all the merit which he can claim: he has, in several instances, spoken out, and more freely, and independently, than his cotemporaries: for when he wrote, Walpole was living; and fashion was slavish, and imperious.
To every theme on which it is my fortune to write, I wish to do literary justice; impartially, and explicitly; to the utmost extent of my limited judgement. I shall therefore quote some passages from his book which do credit to the ingenuous degree of his character; which give us a just, and satisfactory idea of the head, and heart of Chatterton; and consequently brand with a merited infamy, the little Turk and his Janizaries; the tyrants, and, oppressours, in its immature greatness, of one of the first sublunary creatures of God; — whose insolence even profaned, and violated his ashes; and who, ashamed to acknowledge their guilt, by some atonement, neglected his poor surviving relations; while their selfishness, and vanity contributed to the support of his intellectual remains. You will now be pleased to favour with your attention some interesting quotations from Dr. Gregory. — "About his tenth year he acquired a taste for reading; and out of the trifle which was allowed him by his mother for pocket-money, he began to hire books from a circulating library. As his taste was different from children of his age, his dispositions were also different. Instead of the thoughtless levity of childhood, he possessed the gravity, pensiveness, and melancholy, of maturer life. His spirits were uneven; he was frequently so lost in contemplation, that for many days together, he would say very little, and apparently, by constraint. His intimates in the school were few, and those of the most serious cast. Between his eleventh and twelfth year, he wrote a catalogue of the books he had read, to the number of seventy. It is rather unfortunate that this catalogue was not preserved; his sister only informs us that they principally consisted of history, and divinity. At the hours allotted him for play, he generally retired to read; and he was particularly solicitous to borrow books." — p. 11. — "He was always (says Mr. Smith) extremely fond of walking in the fields; particularly in Red-cliffe meadows, and of talking about these (Rowley's) manuscripts, and sometimes reading them there. Come (he would say) you and I will take a walk in the meadow. I have got the cleverest thing for you imaginable. It is worth half-a-crown merely to have a sight of it, and to hear me read it to you. — When we arrived at the place proposed, he would produce his parchment, show it, and read it to me. There was one spot in particular, full in view of the church, in which he seemed to take a peculiar delight. He would frequently lay himself down, fix his eyes upon the church, and seem as if he were in a kind of trance. Then on a sudden, and abruptly, he would tell me; — that steeple was burnt down by lightning; that was the place where they formerly acted plays. — His Sundays were commonly spent in walking alone into the country about Bristol, as far as the duration of day-light would allow; and from these excursions he never failed to bring home with him drawings of churches, or of some other objects which had impressed his romantick imagination." — p. 45. — "Mrs. Newton, with that unaffected simplicity which so eminently characterizes her letter, most powerfully controverts the obloquy which had been thrown upon her brother's memory. She says, that while he was at Mr. Lambert's, he visited his mother regularly, most evenings, before nine o'clock, and they were seldom two evenings together without seeing him." — "He would also frequently, she says, walk the college-green, with the young girls that statedly paraded there, to show their finery; but she is persuaded that the reports which charge him with libertinism are ill-founded. She could not perhaps have added a better proof of it, than his inclination to associate with modest women. The testimony of Mr. Thistlethwaite is not less explicit, or less honourable to Chatterton. The opportunities, says he, which a long acquaintance with him afforded me, justify me in saying, that whilst he lived at Bristol, he was not that debauched character he was represented. Temperate in his living, moderate in his pleasures, and regular in his exercises, he was undeserving of the aspersion." — pp. 69, 70. — "The activity of his mind is almost unparalleled. But our surprize must decrease, when we consider that he slept but little; and that his whole attention was directed to literary pursuits; for he declares himself so ignorant of his profession, that he was unable to draw out a clearance from his apprenticeship, which Mr. Lambert demanded." — p. 80. — "In a letter to his mother, he desires her to call upon Mr. Lambert. — Show him this, says he, with uncommon dignity, and spirit; or tell him, if I deserve a recommendation, he would oblige me, to give me one: If I do not, it would be beneath him to take notice of me." — p. 82. — The person of Chatterton, like his genius, was premature: he had a manliness, and dignity, beyond his years; and there was a something about him uncommonly prepossessing. His most remarkable feature was his eyes; which though grey, were uncommonly piercing; when he was warmed in argument, or otherwise, they sparkled with fire; and one eye, it is said, was still more remarkable than the other. His genius will be most completely estimated from his writings. He had an uncommon ardour in the pursuit of knowledge, and uncommon facility in the attainment of it. It was a favourite maxim with him, that man is equal to anything; and that everything might be atchieved by diligence, and abstinence. His imagination, like Dryden's, was more fertile than correct; and he seems to have erred, rather through haste, and negligence, than through any deficiency of taste." * * * * * * If Rowley, and Chatterton be the same, it will be difficult to say, whether he excelled most in the sublime, or the satirical; and as a universal genius, he must rank above Dryden; and perhaps only stand second to Shakespeare. If, on the other hand, we are to judge altogether from those pieces which are confessedly his own, we must undoubtedly assign the preference to those of the satirical class. In most of his serious writings, there is little that indicates their being composed with a FULL RELISH; when he is satirical, his soul glows in his composition." — p. 101, &c. — "He stands charged with a profligate attachment to women; the accusation, however, is stated in a vague, and desultory manner; as if from common report; without any direct, or decided evidence, in support of the opinion. To the regularity of his conduct, during his residence in Bristol, some respectable testimonies have been already exhibited. It is, indeed, by no means improbable, that a young man of strong passions, and unprotected by religious principles, might frequently be unprepared to resist the temptations of a licentious metropolis; yet even after his arrival in London, there are some proofs in his favour, which ought not to be disregarded. During a residence of nine weeks at Mr. Walmsley's, he never staid out beyond the family hours, except one night, when Mrs. Ballance knew that he lodged at the house of a relation."
"Whatever may be the truth of these reports, the list of his virtues still appears to exceed the catalogue of his faults. His temperance was, in some respects, exemplary. He seldom eat animal food; and never tasted any strong, or spirituous liquors: he lived chiefly on a morsel of bread, or a tart, with a draught of water. His sister affirms that he was a lover of truth, from the earliest dawn of reason; and that his schoolmaster depended on his veracity, on all occasions: the pride of genius will seldom descend to the most contemptible of vices, falsehood. His high sense of dignity has been already noticed, in two most striking instances; but the most amiable feature in his character was his generosity, and attachment to his mother, and relations. Every favourite project of his advancement in life was accompanied with promises, and encouragement to them: while in London, he continued to send them presents, at a time when he was known himself to be in want; and indeed the unremitting attention, kindness, and respect, which appear in the whole of his conduct towards them, are deserving the imitation of those in more fortunate circumstances, and under the influence of better principles of faith than Chatterton possessed."
"He had a number of friends; and notwithstanding his disposition to satire, he is scarcely known to have had any enemies. By the accounts of all who were acquainted with him, — there was something uncommonly insinuating in his manner, and conversation. Mr. Cross informed Mr. Warton that in Chatterton's frequent visits, while he resided in Brook-Street, he found his conversation, a little infidelity excepted, most captivating. His extensive, though in many instances, superficial knowledge, united with his genius, wit, and fluency, must have admirably accomplished him for the pleasures of society. His pride, which, perhaps should rather be termed the strong consciousness of intellectual excellence, did not destroy his affability. He was always accessible, and rather forward to make acquaintance than apt to decline the advances of others. There is reason, however, to believe, that the inequality of his spirits affected greatly his behaviour in company. His fits of absence were frequent, and long. He would often look stedfastly in a person's face, without speaking, or seeming to see the person, for a quarter of an hour, or more." — p. 108, &c.
Dr. Gregory favours his readers with the following humane, and generous tribute which Mr. Knox payed to his memory. — "Unfortunate boy! short, and evil were thy days; but thy fame shall be immortal. Hadst thou been known to the munificent patrons of genius!" — "Unfortunate boy! poorly wast thou accommodated, during thy short sojourning among us; rudely wast thou treated; sorely did thy feeling soul suffer from the scorn of the unworthy; and there are, at last, those who wish to rob thee of thy only meed, thy posthumous glory. Severe, too, are the censures of thy morals. In the gloomy moments of despondency, I fear thou hast uttered impious, and blasphemous thoughts, which none can defend; and, which neither thy youth, nor thy fiery spirit, nor thy situation can excuse. But let thy more rigid censors reflect that thou wast literally, and strictly, but a boy. Let many of thy bitterest enemies reflect, what were their own religious principles, and whether they had any, at the age of fourteen, fifteen, and sixteen. Surely it is a severe, and an unjust surmise, that thou wouldest probably have ended thy life as a victim of the laws, if thou hadst not finished it as thou didst; since the very act by which thou durst put an end to thy painful existence, proves that thou thoughtest it better to die than support life by theft, or violence."
"The speculative errours of a boy, who wrote from the sudden suggestions of passion, or despondency; who is not convicted of any immoral, or dishonest act, in consequence of his speculations, ought to be consigned to oblivion. But there seems to be a general, and inveterate dislike to the boy, exclusively of the poet; a dislike which many will be ready to impute, and indeed not without the appearance of reason, to that insolence, and envy, of the little great, which cannot bear to acknowledge so transcendent, and commanding a superiority, in the humble child of want, and obscurity."
"Malice, if there was any, may surely now be at rest. For 'cold he lies in the grave below.' — But where were ye, O ye friends to genius, when, stung with disappointment; distressed for food, and raiment; with every frightful form of human misery, painted on his fine imagination, poor Chatterton sunk in despair? — Alas! ye knew him not then; and now, it is too late; — 'For now he is dead;' — 'Gone to his death-bed;' — 'All under the willow tree.' — So sang the sweet youth, in as tender an elegy as ever flowed from a feeling heart."
"In return for the pleasure I have received from thy poems, I pay thee, poor boy, the trifling tribute of my praise. Thyself thou hast emblazoned; thine own monument thou hast erected: but they whom thou hast delighted, feel a pleasure in vindicating thine honours from the rude attacks of detraction." — p. 120, &c.
These quotations from Dr. Gregory's life of Chatterton, abound with proofs of a most amiable, and noble disposition; and of an original, and prodigious genius. Mr. Walpole (a meaner heart than his never impelled the animal economy) adopted, or rather created the evil report, that the young, and, in a moral sense, incompletely formed original of this charming picture, was a bad man. He loads his memory with the charge of almost every kind of profligacy. He was an industrious, and ingenious refiner on iniquity, and barbarity. After the death of his victim, he carefully collected every paper that was, in any way, injurious to his reputation, and that was written by inexperience, from the juvenile impulse of the moment; and printed them at Strawberry-Hill; — not the sacred hill of the muses, from which the pure, and chrystal, and poetical Aganippe flowed; but a hill, blooming, indeed, with vernal, and delusive honours; but the parent of a muddy, and contaminated fountain; prolifick of dullness, and envy; and of presumptuous, absurd, and uncharitable censure. This was his mode of apologizing for his treatment of Chatterton. The moral baseness was aggravated; it was doubled, by the machination, by the unfeeling efforts of this apology. The strain of his flatterers ran parallel to his own; destitute of conscience as of sentiment, they threw every moral aspersion on the character of Chatterton; they had even the audacity to assert, that if he had lived to see many future years, he would, in all probability, have grown so desperrate in wickedness, that he would have suffered that premature death, from the sentence of publick justice, which he rashly inflicted on himself, with his own hand. When you consider the cause of this most unprincipled cruelty, to an unfortunate, and illustrious memory; your contempt, your detestation of it, must act very powerfully in your minds. For if we throw but a superficial eye on the several circumstances of the case, it must be evident, beyond all dispute, that Chatterton would never have been overwhelmed with this torrent of obloquy, and insult, if it had not taken its origin, and its course, from a most immoral, servile, and disgraceful respect for Walpole. His persecution of the poet, even beyond the grave, is rendered peculiarly odious, and contemptible, by the mean hypocrisy with which it is varnished; by its disingenuous, and cowardly pretence to benevolence; — by the anxious adviser; — by the tender guardian; — by the blasphemy of a moral insensibility, arrogating to itself a practical christianity.
If I have all along been a warm, I have been a conscientious advocate, for my much loved, for my much admired youth; and I hope that you have not yet forgotten my ingenuous pleading in his cause: you have likewise heard what Dr. Gregory, that accomplished Atticus; — I mean, in trimming, has ventured not only to narrate, but even to produce, as his own opinion, in his favour. I must, therefore, beg leave, again to repeat my caution: I too well know the force both of general and individual prejudice; but I appeal to your unbiassed hearts, and to your unbiassed understandings. I ask them, which of the two parties has been atrociously unjust, and abusive: I ask them, if the enemies of Chatterton have not evidently deserved these epithets; and if, in censuring their extraordinary iniquity, and barbarity, I have not used, only that unreserved strong, and adequate language, which became an honest man; in whose breast every inferiour consideration gave way to an ardent, and commendable zeal, on a most affecting, and interesting subject, to the cause of humanity, truth, and justice.
The life, and the memory of Chatterton were singular in misfortune. He is vilified even by his apparent friends. The editor of his Miscellanies, who professes the highest admiration of his genius; who justly, and severely blames the conduct of Mr. Walpole; and who threw that gentleman into the fright which produced his false, whining, and vulgar apology; even he is so stupid, and foolish, as to adopt the unfounded, and base calumny which had been excited against him; he has the unreflecting temerity to tell the publick, that "he possessed all the vices, and irregularities of youth; and that his profligacy was, at least, as conspicuous as his abilities." — I trust that the pure, and preserving balm which has been bestowed on the memory of Chatterton, by many impartial, and benevolent hands, will prove an effectual antidote against the wound of this inconsistent, and vile assassin, who stabs with one hand, while he pays his homage with another.