Letter from Atticus Scriblerus Junior

Mr Elliott

Mr Editor

The patronage and applause with which you last season honored Mr Atticus Scriblerus embolden me to approach you with this address. I am, Sir, the only son of that distinguished yet unfortunate poet, and though it would not become me to call myself the heir of his talents, I may say that I inherit his love of fame and devotion to the Muses. Perhaps, Sir, you know not the particulars of the sad catastrophe which deprived the world and me of my lamented parent, and the relation of them may interest the Attic Society in favor of those he has left behind.

The misfortunes of my father began when his attic fame was at its height — his dispute with Electomagus, which commenced in your Chest, gave the first shock to his nervous irritability. Conscious genius upheld him for some time, till he found his confidential patrons desert him and endeavour to write for themselves under the galvanic battery, instead of purchasing the assistance of his Muse; and towards the end of the season even the least industrious members of the Attic Society succeeded so well in composing their own verses, that they employed him no longer: thus left to depend alone on his public patrons, his Muse, once cheered by generous port, now drew her inspiration from the humble sources of Whitbread’s porter and Deadly’s full-proof gin; but alas! this latter treacherous ally brought on a habit of drinking that visibly impaired his powers, and at last carried him off. Under these circumstances a reconciliation took place between my father and Electromagus (who it seems had before been imposed upon by one of the false Scriblerus’s that last year annoyed my poor father, and puzzled even Attic discernment) and who so clearly showed the wonderful power of his art, that tho poet resorted to him when all other stimulants failed, and under electric influence, he produced much poetry of a superior cast, some of which he bequeathed to the friends who first introduced him to the notice of the Attic Society and who will probably communicate some of it — the rest is in my possession and I hope one day to be allowed to present it to you. But to conclude my tale; the last fatal anxiety was the contest for the laureateship; he sustained such prodigious shocks from batteries of unheard of magnitude to wind him up of a probationary ode, that he was no longer capable of bearing disappointments, and when he heard that the laurel was given to Mr Southey, he sunk to rise no more, leaving my mother to struggle thro’ and adverse world, with an unprovided son in his 20th year. My surviving parent Mrs Castalia Scriblera (for my father always classically insisted on giving her name the feminine termination) is reduce to the humble employment of cleaning silk stockings for her support, and having a peculiar and excellent method of managing blue ones, she hopes to be patronized by the Attic Society. For myself, I am placed by the munificent patronage of Lord Aircastle in the Institution of Positive House, where I hope to attain to a proficiency that may render me not unworthy of your future notice.

Craving pardon for this long and melancholy story,

I remain, Sir,
Your devoted Servant

Atticus Scriblerus Jun.

Positive House
27 Dec 1813