William Gifford to Edward Copleston (1/3/1810)

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William Gifford to Edward Copleston
Jan. 3, 1810
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Devon 114M/F75. 4pp. Date at top: 3 Jan. 1810


James St.

 Buckingham Gate

Jany 3rd 1810


Dear Sir,

Illness alone has prevented my acknowledgment of your most acceptable letter, for which I now beg to return you my sincerest thanks. It was indeed, most gratifying to me, to learn that more immediate and important avocations alone, deprived our infant undertaking of your most coveted support.

While I was indulging a hope that you would speedily be somewhat more at leisure, Mr Heber (of whose kindness I can neither speak nor think too highly) called on me, and mentioned two circumstances which gave me infinite pleasure: the first, that a gentleman of your acquaintance would undertake Sydney Smith,1 and that you would yourself kindly review Edgeworth.2 I shall be most happy to trust them both to your care. G. Ellis, indeed, had mentioned Edgeworth to me, but as his view of the subject did does not interfere with yours, being confined principally to what he called a lexicon of eloquent extracts from the Scotch Metaphysicians, to fill up the void left in Education by the proposed abolition of poor old Homer and Virgil, and such dotards, (by which you will perceive that he merely alludes to the comical review of E. in the last no. of the Edin. Review) he may proceed or not, at his pleasure. Indeed, I have no idea of his having yet entered upon it; as the design was to be matured at a meeting which I have been too unwell to give him: not having ventured out for many days.

Will you excuse me for mentioning a trifling circumstance of which perhaps your friend may make some little use. Sydney Smith says, in a note, that he has heard of an attack made upon him in the Q. Rev.—to have read it, would, of course, derogate from what Col. Bath calls the magnanimity of character3—but it so happens, that he read & reread it at its first appearance, and made many remonstrances against the severity through the medium of his friends.

Our last No. goes off very well. If, as honest John Moody says4, we can [?hold] it, I shall have good hopes:—but we want that assistance which can only be found in the Universities, where, unfortunately, there is too little leisure in those who are most able, and, I think, most willing to afford it.

This moment a letter is brought to me from George Ellis, and a paragraph of it relates to Edgeworth. "I give up S. Smiths critique on Edgeworth"—By the bye, is he the author of it?—"I hear from pretty good authority that the man of men, Copleston, inclined to undertake it—for heaven's sake let us obtain such a measure." I know not my friend's authority, but he is now with Lord Bristol. I hope you will pardon my laying before you a passage written in the confidence of unreserved friendship—but I was not unwilling to show that he had now declined the whole. G. Ellis, you probably know personally; if not—by fame: he is a most pleasant and ingenious man.

I am again running into lengths. Believe me, dear Sir, I have great pleasure in being allowed to correspond with you in this frank manner, and I remain with the truest regard your

obliged & faithful servt

Wm. Gifford.

P.S. G. Ellis gives you the Article on Parr. "I have read myself into a belief (he says) that I traced a similarity in the style to the famous Letter to a Young Reviewer."5