708.1 Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 21 August 1802]

708.1 Robert Southey to Joseph Cottle, [c. 21 August 1802] ⁠* 

Dear Cottle

Well done true & faithful Editor! I suspect that it is fortunate for the edition [1]  that its care has devolved upon you.

About the commendatory poems. Hayleys & Mrs Robinsons [2]  of course must go in if the others do – but if you find any thing like abundance of matter I know nothing that may be better spared than the whole gang. & thus you may make room for the Hunters of Oddities.  [3]  It is very probable that many pieces of Chatterton remained in the hands of Magazine editors, & were published not till after his death. this is quite in the common course of things.

Walpole [4]  long letter of justification need not be inserted I should think. this is my own opinion – you will act upon yours as the quantity of matter may influence you.

Asaphides.  [5]  In the first volume of Robinsons Ladies Magazine – & in the first or second, or both of a rival Ladies Magazine [6]  – edited by Wheble who now lives in Warwick Square – are some pieces with that signature dated from Bristol – & in the bombast mock-Ossian [7]  stile of Chattertons Ethelgar & Gorthmond.  [8]  I think they should be inserted as that signature has found its way into the Miscellanies.  [9]  if not by Chatterton they are manifestly by one who imitated him.

Chatterton quotes once from a Rowleyan tragedy called the Atheist. I wish this were in existence – but probably it [10]  never composed more than that one quotation. I hope you may succeed in your quest of the tragedy you mention.

I will commune with Catcott [11]  concerning Asaphides.

Haslewood has been uncommonly useful & civil. he shall have full acknowledged in the preface.  [12]  by the by if I forgot to thank any body, pray supply the omission when the preface comes.

The Note with which you preface Burgums paper need not come to me. as the MS.S. is yours – & whatever inference may be drawn from it will be by you – xx add your name at the end to give it the proper authority.  [13]  I shall know how to say enough about all other aiders & abettors – but it will not be easy to mention such a ringleader as you in words of adequate acknowledgement.

Will you send me half a dozen sets of the Anthology down – & one second volume besides.  [14]  we may as well I think give some of the copies away now – as leave them in the warehouse – & just now I have a friend [15]  here for whom I want them –

God bless you. – in about three weeks Edith expects to be confined [16]  – you will suppose I have some anxiety mingled with hope meantime

yrs affectionately

R Southey.

Thursday morning.

You under-rate history. any body can compile – true – but it is not every body who can select – who can reduce a number of facts into clear orderly narrative – who can think – & reason & feel. it is not every body let their application be what it would who can in a life read the quantity necessary. I know what I can do by what is already done. Annals & History are not quite synonimes – a years newspapers are the annals.


* Address: To/ Mr Cottle/ Crane Court/ Fleet Street/ London
Postmarks: B/ AUG 21/ 1802; [partial] OL/ AUG 0 .07
Endorsements: Augt/ 1802/ 156 62
MS: Lewis Walpole Library. ALS; 4p.
Previously published: Joseph Cottle, Reminiscences of Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Robert Southey (London, 1847), pp. 225–226 [in part; only two paragraphs are reproduced by Cottle, and these are combined with material from at least one other letter which has not survived in manuscript; for the text published by Cottle see Letter 701].
Dating note: dating from postmark and content. BACK

[1] Southey and Cottle’s The Works of Thomas Chatterton (1803). BACK

[2] William Hayley (1745–1820; DNB), ‘Epistle IV’, ll. 220–248, in An Essay on Epic Poetry (London, 1782), pp. 81–82; Mary Robinson (1757–1800; DNB), ‘Monody to the Memory of Chatterton’, Poems (London, 1791), pp. [75]–79. Neither poem was included in The Works of Chatterton as all the ‘commendatory’ pieces were cut out. BACK

[3] Eleven letters sent to the Town and Country Magazine in 1769–1770 signed ‘A Hunter of Oddities’, The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), III, pp. 181–221. BACK

[4] The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), III, pp. 377–403, printed Chatterton’s letters to the man of letters and antiquarian, Horace Walpole, 4th Earl of Orford (1717–1797; DNB), asking for his assistance and patronage. Only one letter of Walpole’s, dated 28 April 1769, was published, at pp. 385–387. BACK

[5] Chatterton published ‘On Mr. Alcock, of Bristol, an excellent miniature painter’ in Town and Country Magazine (February 1769), 104–105, under this pseudonym; see The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), I, pp. 41–43. However, Southey and Cottle decided to omit all the other published poems from this period that appeared under this name, except ‘Cutholf’, on the grounds that they were probably not by Chatterton; see, The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), III, pp. 251–258. BACK

[6] Rival versions of The Lady’s Magazine were published under the auspices of John Wheble (1746–1820; DNB) in 1770–1772 and George Robinson (1736–1801; DNB) in 1771–1801. Southey is probably referring to pieces such as: ‘Hudda and Ethrelinda; translated from the Saxon’, The Lady’s Magazine, 2 (July 1771), 18–20; and ‘An Elegy’, The Lady’s Magazine, 2 (October 1771), 182–183. BACK

[7] In the style of James Macpherson (1736–1796; DNB), The Works of Ossian (1765). BACK

[8] The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), III, pp. 5–11, 52–63. BACK

[9] Miscellanies in Prose and Verse by Thomas Chatterton (London, 1778), p. 84. BACK

[10] it: written over ‘was’. BACK

[11] George Symes Catcott (1729–1802), pewterer and patron of Chatterton. BACK

[12] The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), I, ‘Preface’, unpaginated, thanked Haslewood for ‘the list of publications prefixed to the third volume, as well as for the use of his extensive collection of books and pamphlets relating to Chatterton’. BACK

[13] The Works of Thomas Chatterton, 3 vols (London, 1803), II, pp. 455–462. The manuscript of this fake pedigree drawn up by Chatterton belonged to Cottle. His initials, ‘J. C.’, were added to the end of his prefatory note on the work. BACK

[14] Annual Anthology, 2 vols (1799–1800). BACK

[15] Richard Duppa, whose visit Southey mentioned in a letter to Tom Southey, [started before and continued on] 19 August 1802, Letter 708. BACK

[16] The Southeys’ first child, Margaret Edith, was born on 31 August 1802. BACK

People mentioned