Thomas Chatterton

Horace Walpole to Thomas Chatterton, 28 March 1769; European Magazine 21 (February 1792) 84.

Arlington street, March 28, 1769.


I cannot but think myself singularly obliged by a Gentleman with whom I have not the pleasure of being acquainted, when I read your very curious and kind letter, which I have this minute received. I give you a thousand thanks for it, and for the very obliging offer you make me, of communicating your MSS. to me. What you have already sent me is very valuable, and full of information; but instead of correcting you, Sir, you are far more able to correct me. I have not the happiness of understanding the Saxon language, and without your learned notes, should not have been able to comprehend Rowley's text.

As a second Edition of my Anecdotes was published but last year, I must not flatter myself that a third will be wanted soon; but I shall be happy to lay up any notices you will be so good as to extract for me, and send me at your leisure; for as it is uncertain when I may use them, I should by no means borrow and detain your MSS.

Give me leave to ask you where Rowley's Poems are to be found? I should not be sorry to print them; or, at least, a specimen of them, if they have never been printed.

The Abbot of John's Verses, that you have given me, are wonderful for their harmony and spirit, though there are some words I do not understand.

You do not point out exactly the time when he lived, which I wish to know, as I suppose it was long before John Ab Eych's discovery of Oil-painting. If so, it confirms what I had guessed, and have hinted in my Anecdotes, that Oil-painting was known here much earlier than that discovery or revival.

I will not trouble you with more questions now, Sir; but flatter myself, from the humanity and politeness you have already shewn me, that you will sometimes give me leave to consult you. I hope too you will forgive the simplicity of my direction, as you have favoured me with no other.

I am, Sir,

Your much obliged, and

Obedient humble servant,


P.S. Be so good as to direct to Mr. Walpole in Arlington-street.