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Richard Lucas

An Enquiry After Happiness

Volume 1      Volume 2 

Books and Magazines

Read or Used by Chatterton

Here there bee thee Genisyse of Rowley.


Chatterton's Books of Magic

A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence.

By Richard Verstegan

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The first book in our list of books read or used by Chatterton has to be : A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence, in Antiquities, concerning the most noble and renowned English Nation. 

It was reprinted multiple times from 1605 -1673 and contains the first English version of the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin but, more importantly (if you are interested in the genesis of Rowley), the names Aella and Bertha appear on the same page in the edition for 1655 (the only edition I have seen).

This book is a true beauty, not just the book but the chance it offers for further investigation and research.  The book is mentioned by Meyerstein in relation to a paragraph in John Evans' Chronological Outline of the History of Bristol, 1824, p.284, where Evans states that he is printing for the first time the fact that Chatterton's favourite bookshop was Mr Goodall's, in Tower Lane (opposite Cider-house Passage). 

According to John Evans, Goodall related that: "our youthful poet passed many hours in a day, buying such books as came within his means, and sitting to read those which he either did not wish to possess or could not afford to purchase. His reveries were seldom distracted by the presence of other customers. He was particularly attached to one book, on Saxon manners and customs, which remained in the shop after news arrived from  London of his death, but was at last missed without the help of a customer."

So, what of the mysteriously 'missing' book?  Which book is Mr Goodall referring to? The first book you might think of, as did Meyerstein of course, was Verstegan's A Restitution...," which contains pictures of Saxon Idols," and a glossary "of our most ancient English words." It also has, as mentioned above, the names "Aella" and "Bertha," on page 110, which, according to Meyerstein, "is odd, because the two names are only connected in Rowley."

In his drive for self-education where exactly did Chatterton turn? For example, did he have access to the City Library in King Street?  The answer comes from Catcott's correspondence, which he transcribed in his 'Chattertoniana' letter-book. On page 227 is his transcript of a letter from Mr Benjamin Donne, which came in reply to Catcott's enquiry as to whether Chatterton ever visited the library - the answer is a resounding 'no.'  Click the link to read the letter for yourself!

More to come on the subject of the access Chatterton had to books; from circulating libraries and bookshops, to his own father's books, as not all of them were sold to a Mr. Long, as well as the to libraries of Barrett, and the two Catcotts, which, in itself, demonstrates that there was some camerardery and a thriving community in and around Redcliffe. Although, I should add that George Catcott says that Chatterton couldn't have had access to the Rev. Alexander Catcott's library for even Alexander's own family were excluded from it.

Ancient Funerall Monuments (1631)

John Weever

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Weever's Ancient Funerall Monuments, 1631.

Did you know that Chatterton tended to take the easiest route when compiling his works ? - well, obviously, don't we all do that?    When Chatterton was creating his character, Sire Gualeroyn Chatterton, he didn't waste time or brain power drawing it from scratch, instead he searched the books he had access to and found this engraving of a Knight holding a church in his hands, and he traced that.  The engraving is of a part of the east window of a chapel in Norwich, and is on page 846 of the book mentioned above.

For further reading on this subject click : Archaeologia, or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity: 

Thanks to Edward H.W. Meyerstein for this segment.  I should add, with regard to Meyerstein,  that when you read what I write, please imagine me peeking out of Meyerstein's top pocket, rather  than standing on the shoulders of such a giant!  I refer you to his book 'A Life of Thomas Chatterton,' which is always near to my hand.  It is not available to read online, but you might dare to read his handwritten manuscript of it - not an easy read as his writing is difficult to make out, but worth  a go : A Life of Thomas Chatterton.  I am currently working on an OCR'd (Optical Character Recognition) copy of Meyerstein's index, which is uploaded but not quite finished, check it out here.

The Fairie Queene (1590)

Edmund Spenser

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                                Royal Collection Trust


Taylor p.968, offers Spenser's 'The Fairie  Queene' (1590), books I, IV & V, as having possibly influenced Chatterton's 'The Tournament. An Interlude.'   At no expense whatever, apart from my time, which is the most valuable expense of all, I bring you clarity :

Taylor points out the following possibilities:

  • the gauntlet challenge, p.57, verse 2, line 1.

  • the minstrels, p.60, verse 3, line 4.

  • 'straunger knights,' p.60, verse 3, line 3.

  • the trumpet [trompett], p.61, last verse on the page, line 1.

  • the hammers, used by Spenser in simile, p.62, verse 1.

  • the awarded shield, p.61 , line 22

  • the awarded shield, p.64 , line 9

  • the awarded shield, p.64 , line 18 

Chatterton's : The Tournament. An Interlude  View

Spenser's : The Fairie Queen (online) :   View

The Antiquities of Warwickshire (1656)

William Dugdale

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Taylor p.968, offers p.72 of this edition (along with Spencer's The Fairie  Queene) as a possible influence on Chatterton's 'The Tournament'

The engraving Taylor alludes to actually faces p.73 and is marked 73 (in this copy) :  View

A Compleat History of the Holy Bible


(The Chatterton Family Bible)

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Surely this book must lay claim to having the earliest influence upon young Chatterton.

You can now read this tired old book in all of its grumpy glory by clicking the link, The Chatterton Family Bible, for analysis and images.

Some Specimens of the Poetry of the

Antient Welsh Bards, 1765

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Some Specimens of the Poetry of the Antient Welsh Bards, 1765

Meyerstein suggests that poem 1, from Evan Evans' book influenced Chatterton's 'The Hirlas,' which was published in the Town and Country Magazine Supplement for 1769.

Click the links above to compare Chatterton's Hirlas to the poem in Evan Evans' book, or click the images above.

See Meyerstein pp.250, 286n.  

Henry Cornelius Agrippa

His Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. Of Geomancy.

Magical Elements of Peter de Abano. 

Astronomical Geomancy. The Nature of Spirits. 

Arbatel of Magick. 1655


Henry Cornelius Agrippa      

His Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy. Of Geomancy.  Magical Elements of Peter de Abano.  Astronomical Geomancy. The Nature of Spirits.  Arbatel of Magick.  Translated into English by Robert Turner.  (1665). 

The image of the title page is thanks to The Welcome Foundation, as is the PDF of the actual book,  which, if it takes too long to load, try the speedier OCR version from Scribd.  You might be interested enough to try Scribd where you can get free access for a month, but do watch out as you will be charged £10.99 at the end of the free month (if you don't cancel first), you can also download the book as a PDF for free and thereby cast your own spells: Link to Scribd.  

J.M.Paget's letter, dated 1797, confirms that the Agrippa book owned by Chatterton's father was the 1665 edition, and that it was left on the shelves of Lambert's the Attorney after Chatterton's indentures were cancelled. Does this indicate that Chatterton was not permitted to return to the office to collect his meagre belongings? 


Where is the book now? All of the books belonging to Chatterton's father were sold, after his death, to a Mr Long, but it looks as if the Agrippa was held back from the sale. In 1797, Lambert gave it to a member of the Paget family (when he should, perhaps, have returned it to the Chatterton family). The Pagett's donated it to Bristol Library (checking this last statement as it might be in error).

Vocabularium Anglo-Saxonicum

Thomas Benson 1701

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It is impossible to have looked deeper into Chatterton and his sources than did Donald S. Taylor, 

Taylor states that 2% of the Rowleian words used by Chatterton came from this edition or from the earlier Somner edition. I understand that when using this book Chatterton didn't get beyond the letter 'a'.    Click to view and see why.

An Universal Etymological English Dictionary

By Nathan Bailey

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The 1751 edition, above, is from the bookcase of QE!, so no link.

However, do click H. E. Barker's letter, above, to see the letter referring to Lincoln and read the dictionary online. It has the date of 1763 written on the title page.

The Dictionary Society of North America has an article on this subject too : Click to View.

Online Editions Click the year to read:  1737 *****1763

Where is  Chatterton's copy of this dictionary?

The article about the 'Lincoln' dictionary mentions that after further research on the book they 'discovered the name Thomas faintly inscribed on the front endpaper' and, 'Although the title page is missing, we have also been able to date the edition to 1770 by comparing it with other copies.'

There was a Thomas in the Lincoln family, so it is clear that the 'Thomas' they found inscribed in the dictionary, along with the date '1770,' cannot be Chatterton, as he was using his copy of the dictionary before 1770. It is also likely that Chatterton's copy of this dictionary belonged to his father, so his dictionary would date to before 1752. 

The implication promulgated  by H. E. Barker, who was definitely a bit of a romantic and quite a storyteller, seems to be that the bullet hole in the cover of the book, saved someone's life, perhaps even Abraham Lincoln's, Oh the romance of it all!, but this is also impossible, as the dictionary is quite thick and not something you would carry about with you, and certainly not in your pocket - it is quite a lumpy little thing!

How could I resist this next edition of Bailey's Dictionary

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This edition of Bailey's Dictionary (title page is missing), was carried by Mr Harry, the boatswain, onboard the ship HMS Dartmouth. During 1827 they faced a truly horrendous engagement against the 'Turks,' which cost the lives of a thousand or more men and the loss of over 60 ships read more.....

HMS Dartmouth is the ship second from left and directly behind the two small rowing boats.

The book was for sale on Ebay, raising funds for The Salvation Army, sadly it is now gone.


(.QE!.) Analysis:  The title page is missing making it difficult to date the book; An inscription / annotation of this type is usually at the front of a book; 

The inscription is unlikely to be a fabrication as the book is priced at only £129.99 (now reduced to £99.99); The writing and phrasing is of the period; the date of 1830 (looks more like 1330, but that is how eights and threes were sometimes written) is an approximation with the battle taking place in 1827.  All in all, the inscription imbues the book with the romance of a lost world and a famous battle - what's not to love! If I could afford it and didn't already have two of Bailey's dictionaries, I would have bought it myself - and, in any case, it's for a jolly roger good cause! (this book is no longer available).

As an alternative to the 'Navarino' Dictionary

you might empty that bulging wallet for this $3,800 model

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You might notice that Bailey's is incorrectly spelled on the spine but no matter as it's cheap enough at $3,855 plus postage.

So, now the Navarino edition looks like a great choice.

Visit this rare leather bound beast on Ebay to read more.... Going, going, gone and no longer on Ebay.


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Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum:

Or, A General English Dictionary

By John Kersey

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According to Meyerstein, p107, see image below, all the hard words in Chatterton's  'The Mayor's first Passing over the Old Bridge,' are in the 1708 edition of Kersey's Dictionary.

Chatterton had his favourite sources for all of his antique works, among them was;  Kersey's, and Bailey's Dictionaries, Speght's Chaucer, and Percy's Reliques.

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Reliques of Ancient English Poetry

By Thomas Percy

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The images above of are of the 1794 edition (QE!'s Bookcase) click the images to read the 1765 editions online at Google Books. 

A Treatise on the Deluge

By Alexander Catcott, A.M.

Vicar of Temple [Church] Bristol

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Not available online

A Treatise on the Deluge 1758
The 104th Psalm Paraphrased (1)

Don't be alarmed, we are not veering into religion - not as such, however, the Chatterton story is inextricably linked to religion in one way or another. It is said, that Chatterton was allowed access to the study of the Reverend Alexander Catcott, vicar of Temple Church, Bristol, and author of this work, although George Catcott denies this.

The last few pages of the book includes a poem, a paraphrase of the 104th psalm by Alexander Stopford Catcott (The father of Alexander, George, and of Martha, the Rose of Virginity). This poem seems to have influenced Chatterton's The Death of Nicou.   

The images above are from my own copy, which includes manuscript pages of Alexander's Will at the back of the book. I should add that Meyerstein's, A Life.., p.306,  states that Alexander the younger, believed from the first that Chatterton wrote Rowley.

Click an image or title above to read The Treatise.., or the 104th Psalm online. 

You all know by now, that every page in this website will be developed further as the days and weeks roll on. This is because every cog in the wheel of Chatterton's story has a life of its own - take Temple Church as an example: It is said to lean further than the almost leaning tower of Pisa. More importantly, it has links to the Knights Templar and dates back to before the 12th C.   

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(.QE!.) Working on this at the moment - a couple of bricks bottom left should do it!

The Young Gentleman and Lady's Philosophy

Volume 1

by Benjamin Martin


Benjamin Martin

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According to Bryant, p.533, 'Dr Glynn applied to Mr Clayfield in Castle street; as he was said to have lent many books to Chatterton. But the account, which he gave, was, that, to the best of his remembrance, he never lent him but two books: for he had but few in his possession; the whole being contained in a glass case. The two books alluded to were Martin's Philosophical Grammar; and one volume of Martin's Philosophy. The latter, he thinks, was borrowed merely for the copy of verses, which are prefixed to it.'  This can only be volume 1 of the three volume set, which contains poems about the solar system and a lovely little engraving of the Copernican System on an Orrery designed by Benjamin Martin.


To be clear, Martin's Philosophy is: The Young Gentleman and Lady's Philosophy, volume 1. You might also like to view the other two volumes of this set: Volume 3  And Volume 2

Here we go putting yet more flesh on the bones of poor Chatterton, click the images above to read the books, and if you wish to learn more about this amazing man, Benjamin Martin, try the following links: Wikipedia Benjamin Martin; and The Dictionary of National Biography.

A brief note about Benjamin: According to the Science Museum website, Benjamin Martin committed suicide after his retirement, thanks to his son bankrupting the business - a sad end: Science Museum

Further research brings forth from the Gentleman's magazine:  'Brief memoirs [one page, so it was brief] of the late ingenious Benjamin  Martin, including a nice engraved portrait.'   In this report they say that he survived his attempted suicide, but the wound hastened his death: The Gentleman's Magazine August 1785

Benjamin wrote a number of books, here's another one to temp you: The General Magazine of Arts and Science

Remember to click titles and images for online copies to read or view.

Benjamin Martin Philosophical
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Recent additions from here on in - - more to add in due course

Charles Churchill

Genuine Memoirs 1765

see Meyerstein p.83n

Horace (David Watson)

The Odes, Epodes, and Carmen Seculare of Horace, Translated Into English Prose, as Near as the Two Languages Will Admit: 1747

Issues: still working on this as it may have been an earlier edition with a different title.

Recent addition - more to add in due course

Emanuel Collins

Miscellanies in Prose and Verse 1762


Emanuel Collins

Miscellanies in Prose and Verse

1762 : View

Recent addition - more to add in due course

Working on this page

Dr. Thomas Newton, DD, Bishop of Bristol

The Works of John Milton

Volume 1 (1749)

Volume 2 (1770)

Volume 3 (NOT YET)

Recent addition - more to add in due course

A Restitution of Decayed Intelligence
Kersey's Dictionary
Ancient Funerall Monuments
Reliques of Ancient English Poetry
A Treatise on the Deluge
Martin's Philosophy
Bailey's Dictionary
The Faerie Queene Edmund Spenser
Antiquities of Warwickshire
Specimens of poetry Antient Welsh Bards
Henry Cornelius Agrippa
Vocabularium Anglo Saxonicum
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