I think, in March; my printed defence was not at all
dispersed before the preceding January or February,
nor do I conceive that Hackman could even see it.
There are notes, indeed, by the editor, who has certainly
seen it; but I rather imagine that the editor, whoever
he is, composed the whole volume. I am acquitted
of’ being accessory to the man’s death,
which is gracious; but much blamed for speaking of
his bad character, and for being too hard on his forgeries,
though I took so much pains to Specify the innocence
of them; and for his character, I only quoted the
words of his own editor and panegyrist. I did
not repeat what Dr. Goldsmith told me at the Royal
Academy, where I first heard of his death, that he
went by the appellation of the “Young Villain;”
but it is not new to me, as you know, to be blamed
by two opposite parties. The editor has in one
place confounded me and my uncle; who, he says, as
is true, checked Lord Chatham for being too forward
a young man in 1740. In that year I was not
even come into Parliament; and must have been absurd
indeed if I had taunted Lord Chatham with youth, who
was, at least, six or seven years younger than he was;
and how could he reply by reproaching me with old
age, who was then not twenty-three? I shall make
no answer to these absurdities, nor to any part of
the work. Blunder, I see, people will, and talk
of what they do not understand @ and what care I?
There is another trifling mistake of still less consequence.
The editor supposes it was Macpherson who communicated
Ossian to me. It was Sir David Dalrymple who
sent me the first specimen.(383) Macpherson did once
come to me, but my credulity was then a little shaken.
Lady Ailesbury has promised me Guinea-eggs for you,
but they have not yet begun to lay I am well acquainted
with Lady Craven’s little tale, dedicated to
me.(384) It is careless and incorrect, but there
are very pretty things in it. I will stop, for
I fear I have written to you too much lately.
One you did not mention: I think it was of the
28th of last month.
(381) “A View of Northumberland; with an Excursion
to the Abbey of Melrose, Scotland, in the year 1776;”
by William Hutchinson, F. A. S. Two volumes 4to.;
(382) the work here alluded to was written by Sir
Herbert Croft, Bart. It was a compound of fact
and fiction called “Love and Madness, a Story
too true, in a Series of Letters between Parties,
whose names would, perhaps, be mentioned, were they
less known or less lamented. London, 1780.”
The work ran through several editions. In 1800,
Sir Herbert published, “Chatterton and Love
and Madness, in a Letter from Sir Herbert Croft to
Mr. Nichols.” Boswell says, that Dr. Johnson
greatly disapproved of mingling real facts with fiction,
and on this account censured “Love and Madness."-E.
(383) See vol. iii. p. 63, letter 25, note 64.-E.
(384) Entitled “The Miniature Picture."-E.