1797 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Chatterton

Robert Southey to John May, 11 July 1797; Life and Correspondence (1849-50) 1:319.



The sister and niece of Chatterton are now wholly destitute: on this occasion I appear as editor of all his works for their relief; this is an heinous sin against the world's opinion for a young lawyer, but it would have been a real crime to have refused it. We have a black scene to lay before the public: these poor women have been left in want, while a set of scoundrels have been reaping hundreds from the writings of Chatterton. I hope now to make the catastrophe to the history of the poor boy of Bristol; you shall see the proposals as soon as they are printed. Cottle has been with me a few days, and we have arranged every thing relative to this business: he is the publisher, and means to get the paper at prime cost, and not receive the usual profit from what he seels. The accounts will be published; and we hope and expect to place Mrs. Newton in comfort during the last years of her life.