As a subscription edition of all Chatterton’s remains  is
about to be published for the benefit of his sister and niece, 
I beg leave, by means of your Magazine, to invite the public attention to those
circumstances which render this act of justice necessary.
It might have been supposed that the interest which the fate of
Chatterton excited in the public mind, would, in some measure, have supplied his
loss to his family, by procuring for them active and benevolent friends. The
publication of all his works for their emolument, would at that time have
secured to them the comforts of life. Your readers, Sir, will probably learn
with surprize, that the whole sum they have ever received from the profits of
his productions, amounts only to seventeen guineas and six pence. In this I do
not include the voluntary assistance of those individuals on whose justice they
had no claim. They remember with gratitude the kindness of Dr. Glynn, of Mr.
Bryant,  above all of Miss Hannah More and her sisters. 
The papers and poems attributed to Rowley, had been procured from
Chatterton, during his life time, chiefly by Mr. Barrett  and Mr. Catcott;  from the latter, the poems were purchased for fifty
pounds, of which six guineas were given to the mother and sister. A great part
of Mr. Barrett’s History of Bristol is composed of Chatterton’s communications;
the only return the family ever received from him was his surgical assistance,
gratuitously afforded to the sister, Mrs. Newton, once in a complaint of the
breast, once in curing a whitlow on her finger.
When Chatterton was more particularly the object of public
curiosity, a clergyman called upon his sister, presented her half a guinea, and
requested to see what ever letters of her brother she had preserved. She
produced them. He then begged permission to take them away for
one hour, assigning as a reason, that it would be too painful to his
feelings to read them in the presence of that sister, to whom they were
addressed. On the same pretext he procured the letters in Mrs. Chatterton’s  possession, who lived separately from her
daughter; these also, he promised to return in an hour, and
the present of a guinea, and the language of consolatory friendship prevented
all suspicion; indeed, so consolatory and so full of religion was his language
to the mother, that she said she almost looked upon him as a guardian angel.
A fortnight elapsed, the letters had not been returned, and they
knew not the name of the person to whom they had entrusted them. At the end of
the fortnight Mrs. Chatterton received a letter from that person, Mr. H—— C——.  “Be not alarmed, Mrs. Chatterton,” he said, “all the little
treasures shall be faithfully returned to you again;” with the originals he
promised to send transcripts of all the letters, with which the curiosity of
strangers might be gratified, while the hand writing of Chatterton should be
preserved. He again consoled Mrs. Chatterton for the fate of her son. “Perhaps,”
said he, “he now beholds with pleasure the deserved progress his reputation is
making every day, and the friends and the assistances which his name brings to
you and to his sister:” the date of the letter was Lincoln’s Inn, July 27th
In a second letter, August 24th 1778, Mr. C—— requested the sister to
write to him, whatever she and her mother could recollect, concerning
Chatterton. “Believe me you are writing to one who respects his memory, and
wishes you both well;” the promise of returning the letters and magazines
containing Chatterton’s pieces, which he had borrowed at the same time, were
repeated; and in the course of the Autumn they were accordingly returned.
Nothing more was heard till, in the following July, to the astonishment of the
family, Mr. C—— published the
letters, and the information he had obtained from Mrs. Newton, in his Love and
Madness.  The mother wrote to him, and
upbraided him for duplicity; he replied, by sending ten pounds, to be divided
between her and her daughter; again professing friendship for them, and saying,
“Be assured the family of Thomas Chatterton shall never be forgotten by H—— C——.”
Four months afterwards he again wrote to justify himself, and
used these expressions, “What has been done was with a view to pave the way for
services to your family; and I hope, sooner than you think, to be of more
service to you than any person who has hitherto enquired about your son, for I
have a true regard for his memory.”
In November 1780, he wrote a fifth letter, desiring Mrs. Newton
would send him a particular account of her circumstances, as he was about to
promote a public subscription for her; and in April 1781, they received a note
from him, requiring an acknowledgement of the ten pounds.
Here Mr. C—— dropt
his correspondence with the family; they heard no more of the future services and the public subscription. His
Love and Madness had a great and rapid sale, undoubtedly in a considerable
degree owing to the letters of Chatterton; and his purpose was served. Luckily
Mrs. Newton preserved his letters. In 1796, she was advised, by a gentleman to
whom she had shewn them,  to write
to Mr. C——; the following is a copy
of her letter.
The name of Chatterton is, perhaps, yet familiar to your memory.
She, to whom he was endeared by the tender ties of nature, and who,
contemplating his many virtues, would remember his errors no more, begs leave to
address you with reference to your professions of attachment to the remainder of
his family. Several years have now elapsed since you obtained of me his
unpublished papers, and communicated them to the world. The disquietude I might
have felt at such a transaction, was removed by an apprehension, that while you
interested yourself, you would render considerable assistance to me. The
popularity of the concern was an adequate ground for my expectations, which were
heightened by the respectability of your connections in life. Justice to my
situation would long since have compelled me to address you, but have been, till
a few days past, unacquainted with your residence. If any thing in my favour be
practicable, to which I trust you will not be indisposed, your early attention
will greatly oblige,
Your obedient humble servant
H—— C——, Esq.
As no answer was returned, a second letter was addressed to Mr. C——.
A former letter of mine, addressed to you under the appellation
of H—— C——, Esq. may probably have
reached your hands; the same motive which urged me to engage in that, induces me
to trouble you with this, and I again solicit your attention to the remainder of
the family of Chatterton. Justice to myself, as I before observed, was the
reason of my forming the application, on which I had the satisfactory judgment
of some very respectable friends. As the subject of obtaining my brother’s
papers, has of late been particularly investigated here, I trust you will not
suffer an occasion for public censure, in a matter where my feelings are
considerably interested. I am, Reverend Sir,
Your obedient humble servant,
August 4, 1796.
Mr. C——’s answer, was as
Mrs. Newton’s letter of August 4, is sent to me here; she is
either ill-advised, or she has not told her advisers the money which I gave her,
when I had the copies of the letters, and afterwards. The
sort of threatening letter which Mrs. Newton’s is, will
never succeed with me: but if the clergyman of the parish will do me the favour
to write me word, through Mrs. Newton, what Chatterton’s relations consist of,
and what characters they bear, I will try, by every thing
in my power, to serve them; yet certainly not, if any of them pretend to have
the smallest claim on me.
September 1, 1796.
The money Mr. C——
alludes to, is the guinea given to Mrs. Chatterton and the half guinea to her
daughter, when he borrowed the letters for an hour, and the
ten pounds sent after he had published them.
Mr. C—— has been privately
addressed upon the subject, without effect; his conduct is now made public, in
the hope that general liberality may be excited by general indignation.
The mother of Chatterton died in poverty; she suffered three
years with a cancer, and till her death, experienced the kindness of the Miss
Mores. Mrs Newton supports herself by teaching children to read; she is now
advancing in years, and her sight begins to fail. She is a widow with one
daughter. It is hoped that the profits of the proposed publication will render
her old age comfortable.
The edition will comprize whatever Chatterton left. Miscellanies,
the pieces attributed to Rowley, and the letters published by Mr. C——; some unpublished poems have
been procured, and some magazine pieces which had escaped the collector of the
Miscellanies. Dr. Gregory  has promised to adapt the life of this
extraordinary young man to the work; it will make two octavo volumes. The price
sixteen shillings, the money to be paid on delivery. Mr. Kearsley  receives subscriptions. The edition
will be under my direction, and every care shall be taken to render it correct