498. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, 20 March [1800]

498. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, 20 March [1800] ⁠* 


The Rev. Sir Herbert Croft has replied, in the Gentleman’s Magazine for February, to my statement of his conduct towards the family of Chatterton. [1]  That statement, it appears, was inaccurate, in supposing him to have been in orders in 1778. In no other part does it require correction. Sir Herbert does not deny that he promised to return the letters in an hour, when he borrowed them, nor that he published them without the knowledge of the family, for his own emolument. How far the publication, entitled Love and Madness, [2]  was indebted to these letters for its value, its popularity, and its sale, the public can judge. Sir Herbert does not deny his promises to the family of after assistance, nor that, when Mrs. Newton [3]  applied for it, he required a certificate of her character from the clergyman of the parish.

To the personalities contained in Sir Herbert’s letter, I make no reply: these things do not concern the public. Sir Herbert may still date his letters from Denmark, and complain of my attacking him during a north-east wind; it is not my business to correct these mis-statements. But as he has endeavoured to injure the proposed publication, by declaiming against the principles, real and imputed, of the editor. I will not let pass the opportunity of requesting, that party prejudices may not injure a work designed to benefit the family of Chatterton. The sister of Chatterton supports herself by teaching children to read; she is advancing in years, and her sight begins to fail. Should the subscription for his works be extensive, it will render her old age comfortable, and provide for her child.

Sir Herbert intimates that my object is to profit by the subscription; – the list of the subscribers shall be published, and the accounts.

Robert Southey.

Bristol, March 20.


* MS: MS has not survived
Previously published: Monthly Magazine, 9 (April 1800), 253 [from where the text is taken]. BACK

[1] Gentleman’s Magazine, 70 (February–April 1800), 99–104, 222–226, 322–325. BACK

[2] Herbert Croft, Love and Madness (1780). BACK

[3] Mary Newton (1749–1804), Chatterton’s sister. BACK

People mentioned

Hill, Herbert (c. 1749–1828) (mentioned 6 times)