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662. Robert Southey to the Editor of the Monthly Magazine, [March 1802] ⁠* 

SIR,

A correspondent in your last Number enquires why the publication of Chatterton’s works, [1]  for the benefit of his sister, has been delayed. [2]  A bookseller had informed him that the subscription was ample. [3]  I am sorry to state that this is not the case, the number of copies subscribed for is barely sufficient to defray the expence of publication. The motive for which the work was undertaken explains why it has been delayed. [4] 

I have therefore to request the assistance of your Correspondent and the other admirers of Chatterton. The merit of his works is now sufficiently known: hitherto they have been published only for the advantage of strangers and pilferers; they are now collected with the hope of rendering the age of his sister comfortable. I am unwilling to begin printing till five hundred copies are engaged: if the well-wishers to the undertaking will exert themselves once more, that number will soon be filled, the work shall then immediately be sent to press.

Robert Southey.


Notes

* MS: MS untraced; text is taken from Monthly Magazine, 13 (March 1802)
Previously published: Monthly Magazine, 13 (March 1802), 129. BACK

[1] The Works of Thomas Chatterton (1803), edited by Southey and Joseph Cottle. BACK

[2] Monthly Magazine, 13 (February 1802), 29. BACK

[3] According to the pseudonymous author of the letter, the bookseller had also informed him that ‘the delay lay with Mr. Southey’, Monthly Magazine, 13 (February 1802), 29. BACK

[4] The edition had been undertaken to raise funds for Chatterton’s impoverished sister Mary Newton (1749-1804; DNB), and her daughter. BACK

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August 2011