Love and Madness
Herbert Croft, 1751 - 1816
I am working on this as I live and breathe!
My notes below refer to 1786 edition
The following notes are a sample of what pages 140 - 154 contain.
(141) Croft has no doubts that Chatterton wrote the whole.
(143) Chatterton and family (min-bio).
(144) Chatterton's father was a schoolmaster and Sexton. He died 'very soon after, if not before, the birth of his son.' Chatterton 'who indisputably received no other education than what he picked up at a charity-school at a place called St Augustine's Back in Bristol. Reading, writing, and accounts, composed the whole circle of sciences which were taught at this university of our Bristol Shakespear.' On the 1st July, 1767 he was articled clerk to an attorney of Bristol, whom I have not been able to find out.' From him, I understand, has been procured a strange, mad manuscript of Chatterton, which he called his "will"
(144/1450) Bridge Narrative
(146) Croft is sure Chatterton knew Latin: Dunhelmus Bristoliensis. Barrett and Catcott. 'ballad of Charitie.' Chatterton only produced two 'orginals' the rest were all 'transcripts.'
(147) Barrett and Catcott were not generous to Chatterton or his family. Mrs Chatterton received £5, Mary had her whitlowed finger cured by Barrett.
(148) Antiquarian at Cambridge states Chatterton, had he lived, could not have escaped hanging.
(149) Johnson's life of Savage. Chatterton was 'addicted to women, like all youths of strong imaginations'
(150/1) Chatterton wrote on both sides of the question. Memoirs of a Sad Dog, signed Harry Wildfire. Five lines of it in T&CM.
(152/3) Walpole is not blameable for the life or death of Chatterton. Thomas Warton. Joseph Warton
(154) A few lines from the Story of Canynge.
(155) Mary Chatterton's letter. 'Works like Chatterton's not forgery - new word needed'. Aella & chorus to Godwin.
(156) Macpherson. Lady Anne Lindsay. Quotes son of Sirach ‘When a rich man speaketh, every man holdeth his tongue: and lo! What he says is extolled to the clouds: but if a poor man speak, they say, What fellow is this?
'Chatterton's father was a bit of a poet.'
Sarah and Mary might have believed ‘that injured Justice demanded their lives at Tyburn, for being the mother and sister of him who was suspected to have forged the poems of Rowley.
Croft: ‘With regard to the fact, the mother and sister either believe, or pretend to believe, with the pewterer, that all of Rowley’s poems came out of the old chest in the church. The case is, none of the three knows any thing of the matter.’
(159) 'Psalmanaazar and D’eon are not to be compared with Chatterton.'
(160) Astrea Brokage. Town and Country mag Jan 1770.
(161 to 164) Mary’s letter to Croft, starts: “Concious, of my own inabilitys to write to a man of letters…”
(165) Croft/Hackman introduces: ‘...you will next read the earliest production of Chatterton which I have been able to find. It is transcribed from an old pocketbook in his mother’s possession. It appears to be his first, perhaps his only, copy of it; and is evidently his handwriting. By the date he was eleven years and almost five months old.’
(.QE!.) Croft goes on to talk about apologies made by or for two other poets when ‘young.’ He compares Addison’s early work, when he was 27, and Chaulieu, a french, fucking poet at forty. (Yes I know it should be ‘sucking’ and not ‘fucking, but I am convinced it was a play on words by Croft, using the long ‘s’ to his advantage).
(.166) Croft/Hackman compares Pope at twelve, Cowley at thirteen.
(.QE!.) The idea that Chatterton had no tutor/mentor and that his family had no abilities, runs throughout the editors/biographers. Basil Cottle calls Sarah a ‘nonentity,’ which is too unfair for words! She was foremost in Chatterton’s development, having taught him to read and, judging by the letters home, was loved dearly by him; he was no bottle-fed crybaby, that’s for sure! It is possible that Basil was using the word ‘nonentity’ to mean ‘not known,’ in which case I forgive this rather wonderful wordsmith!
(.Q.) However, Croft/Hackman have no excuse: ‘when we read the ode which Pope wrote at twelve and another by Cowley at thirteen, we are apt to suspect a parent, friend, or tutor, of an amiable dishonesty....Suspicions of this nature touch not Chatterton. He knew no tutor, no friend, no parent -- at least no parent who could correct or assist him.’ What is Sarah in this scenario, but a side dish of chopped liver? It is said that the two main ladies in Chatterton’s life, his mother and sister, didn’t understand the poetry he shared with them - and this is probably true - but that would also have applied to the majority of people then and continues to apply to the majority of people today! After all, thanks to the difficult spelling/pronunciation it is clear that, like the Mass in Latin, much of Rowley’s works were meant for a particular class of people and became subsumed into realms of Bishops and academia, where they are dissected into Alexandrians and other such malarkey - this could only happen if they were outside the norm. So, it takes an academic to explain some of the Rowley works - and Sarah was not an academic - oooh! As far as we know! If I could go back to those days I would choose to meet Sarah before any of the ‘colourful’ characters!
'Chatterton was the Sexton’s son.’ (Which we know is incorrect). ...Satire was his fort, if anything can be called his fort, who excelled in every thing he undertook.... And ‘...Catcott has another later poem of Chatterton’s, called, I think, ‘The Exhibition.’ The church here also supplied his indignation with a subject. But, as the satire is rather severe, and the characters are living, Catcott does not permit it to be copied.'
(167) Compares Chatterton to Milton because they both had that rare ability of being musical. The Exhibition.
(168) Regarding pronunciation ‘The e in key is, I believe, in the Somersetshire pronunciation, a.
(168 & 169) Apostate Will
(170 to 175) The poem ‘ Happiness.’ It misses, according to T, the last two lines: 'The Saint and Sinner Fool and Wise attain, An equal Share of Easiness and Pain. Finis.' (.QE!.) Catcott in B5315, has curst instead of first in line 36 p.404 in T. He misses out two lines, 65 and 66 in T, P.405: Then what avails the anxious spitting Pain, Thy Laugh-provoking Labors all are vain. (.QE!.) Does this show that Catcott knew Chatterton was laughing at him?
Notes for (.QE!.) while working on this page:
Still to analyse the other pages above, for example 186 - 216; 217-276
Temporary working document - see Google docs as easier to work there.
I have a vague recollection that Croft mentions Lambert's name in one of his later works??