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I am now about an Oratorio, which when finished will purchase you a gown. You may be certain of seeing me before the ist of January, 1771.-The clearance is immaa terial.-My mother may expect more patterns.-Almost all the next Town and Country Magazine is mine. I have an universal acquaintance: my company is courted every where; and, could I humble myself, to go into a compter; could have had twenty places before now; but I must be among the great : State matters suit me better than commercial. The ladies are not out of my acquaintance. I have a deal of business now, and must therefore bid you adieu. You will have a longer letter from me soon-and more to the purpose. *
T. C, 20th July, 1770.
* The publick may be assured of the authenticity of these letters, and of every thing which is related of this boy. All the originals of his letters here printed, except the original of this last, are in the possession of his mother, or sister, who, I believe, are still living in Bristol, and keep little dayschools. The original of this (they received no more he died on the 24th of the next month), his mother suffered to be retained as a curiosity. That, and the original letter from his sister, dated September 22, 1778, are deposited in the hands of Mr. Kearlly. †
of The publisher of this volume.
During the period in which these letters were written, C. produced many of the things printed in the volume of his Miscellanies. One passage I will be at the trouble of copying, because it shows the acuteness of his mental sight, which could plainly diftinguish each varying ray of excellence, and fee blots even in the fun from which his genius sprung, and which it worshipped.
« But, alas ! happiness is of short duration; or, to speak in the language of the high-sounding Offian, Behold! thou art happy; but soon, ah! soon, wilt thou be miserable. Thou art as eafy and tranquil as the face of the green-man. tled puddle; but soon, ah! soon, wilt thou be tumbled and toffed by misfortunes, like the stream of the water-mill. Thou art beautiful as the Cathedral of Canterbury; but foon wilt thou be deformed like Chinese palace-paling. So the sun rising in the East, gilds the borders of the black mountains, and laces with his golden rays the dark-brown heath. The hind leaps over the flowery lawn, and the reeky bull rolls in the bubbling brook. The wild boar makes ready his armour of defence. The inhabitants of the rock dance, and all nature joins in the song. But see! riding on the wings of the wind, the black clouds fly. The noisy thunders roar; the rapid lightnings gleam ; the rainy tori rents pour; and the dripping fwain flies over the mountains, swift as Bickerstaff, the son of song, when the monster Bumbailiano, keeper of the dark and black cave, pursued him over the hills of death, and the green meadows of dark
-0, Ofian! immortal genius! what an invocation could I make now ! But I shall leave it to the abler pen of
Mr. Dufft, and spin out the thread of my own adventures." Town and Country Magazine, July 1770, p. 375.
Of course I have been a little curious after the short part of his life which he spent in town. By his letters you see he lodged first in Shoreditch; afterwards (when his employments made 'it necessary for him to frequent public places, I suppose) in Brook-street, Holborn. The man and woman where he first lodged are still living in the same house. He is a plaisterer, They and their nephew, and niece (the latter about as old as C. would be now, the former three years younger); and Mrs. Ballance, who lodged in the house, and desired them to let C. (her relation) lodge there also, have been seen. The little collected from them you shall have in their own words. But the life he led did not afford them many opportunities to observe him, could they have imagined that such a being was under the same roof with them, or that they would be asked for their observations upon him, after an interval of so many years. Mrs. Ballance says he was as proud as Lucifer. He very foon quarrelled with her for calling him “ Cousin Tommy,” and asked her if she ever heard of a poet's being called Tommy :
But + This alludes, I conclude, to " Critical observations” by W. Duff, A. M. 8vo, gs. Becket-published in June 1770. Mr. D. admits but three original geniuses in poetry, Homer, Ofian, and Shakespeare-Would not Chatterton complete the triumvirate better than Offian?
But the assured him she knew nothing of poets, and only wished he would not set up for a gentleman. Upon her recommending it to him to get into fome office, when he had been in town two or three weeks, he stormed about the room like a madman, and frightened her not a little, by telling her, he hoped, with the bleffing of God, very soon, to be fent prisoner to the Tower, which would make his fortune. He would often look stedfastly in a person's face, without speaking, or feeming to see the perfon, for a quarter of an hour or more, till it was quite frightful; during all which time (she supposes, from what she has since heard), his thoughts were gone about something else. When Beckford died, he was perfectly frantic, and out of his mind; and said he was ruined. He frequently faid he fhould settle the nation before he had done ; but how could she think her poor cousin Tommy was so great a man as fhe now finds he was ? His mother should have written word of his greatness, and then, to be fure, she would have humoured the gentleman accordingly. Mr. Walmsley saw nothing of him, but that there was fomething manly and pleasing about him, and that he did not diflike the wenches ---Mrs. Wi's account is, that she never saw any harm of him----that he never mislisted her ; but was always very civil, whenever they met in the house by accident----that he would never suffer the room, in which he used to read and write, to be swept, because, he faid, poets hated brooms---that she told him fhe did not know any thing poet folks were good for, but to fit in a dirty cap and gown in a garret, and at last to be starved ---that, during the nine weeks he was at her house, he never staid out after the family hours, except once, when he did not come home all night, and had been, she heard, poeting a song about the streets.
- This night, Mrs. Ballance says, fhe knows he lodged at a relation's, because Mr. W.'s house was fhut up when he came home.
The niece fays, for her part, the always took him more for a mad boy than any thing else, he would have such flights and vagaries---that, but for his face, and her knowledge of his age, fhe should never have thought him a boy, he was so "manly, and so much himself---that no women came after him, nor did she know of any connexion; but still, that he was a sad rake, and terribly fond of women, and would sometimes be saucy to her---that he ate what he chose to have with his relation (Mrs. B.) who lodged in
the house, but he never touched meat, and drank only water, and seemed to live on the air. ---Did not I send you fome beautiful French