717. Robert Southey to Jonathan Boucher, 7 September 1802
717. Robert Southey to Jonathan Boucher, 7 September 1802 *
I ought sooner to have acknowledged & thanked you for the favour of your Letter. you will I trust excuse me. a domestic circumstance of the dearest nature – the birth of a first child – had made me forget it.
Mr Britton  had led me to believe that you had collected some interesting facts which threw some light upon Chattertons character.  I do not purpose to enter the controversy. indeed my whole business in this undertaking is merely to compile – & it has been done to serve the family, not from any pleasure which the object itself afforded. A quantity of unpublished poems have been discovered – for the most part mere rubbish – party-poems or personal – but always discove displaying a facility & sometimes a power of language, which might I think have produced great things. Chattertons character appears to me to be solved by madness. It is the family disease. his sister has been confined  – & her daughter  is a rigid Moravian. the light in his eyes – which is so particularly mentioned – was probably the glare of derangement. this is my own opinion – but as it is deduced from the circumstances of his living relatives – it would be indelicate to publish it.
With many thanks Sir for your favour I remain
your respectful & humble Servt –
Kingsdown . Sept. 7. 1802.
* Address: To/ The Revd J. Boucher/ Epsom/ Surry
Stamped: 122/ BRISTOL
Postmarks: SEP 7 1802; B/ SEP 8/ 1802
MS: Bristol Reference Library, B28476. ALS; 2p.
 Mary Newton (1749-1804), the sister of Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770; DNB). The Southey-Cottle edition was intended to benefit her and her daughter. BACK