Chatterton's Mock Will
Writ April 14th 1770 - Pub 1971
Age: 17, Colston's School
Chatterton in his Garret
The two paintings in the slide, above right, were painted in 1860 by John Joseph Barker (1824-1904).
They seem to represent Chatterton while living in his garret in Brook Street, London, where he died. The image with the lit candle belongs to the Auckland Art Gallery. The image with the hour glass, the shaft of light and the extinguished candle, shows that time is running out; it belongs to the Victoria Art Gallery, Bath.
Meyerstein suggests that Chatterton was influenced to write his own 'mock' Will after reading Samuel Derrick's Will, which was printed in the April 1769 issue of the T&CM (Town & Country Magazine). According to Meyerstein, Samuel Derrick's Will derives from the 'Will' of Isaac Bickerstaff, which dates to 1709, a space of 60 years.
My question, based on the fact that Samuel was dead and buried by the 2nd April 1769 (or was he?), is on the genuineness or otherwise of his Will. It seems to me that the character of the man dictates that a vein of humour would even weave its way through his Last Will & Testament - a chance too temping to pass up perhaps! Or was it written by the editor of the magazine - after all the dead don't talk!
All in all, a very interesting edition of the T&CM.
This same issue contains two of Chatterton's works, pp. 174/5; 217;
It also contains an Epilogue...Written by Mr. Walpole, which appears on the very next page (p.218), so close and yet too far to make a difference!