William Gifford to Edward Copleston (2/12/1812)

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William Gifford to Edward Copleston
Feb. 12, 1812
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Devon 1149/F103 and 104. 8 pp. Date at top: Feb. 12, 1812.


[at top of page in Copleston's hand: Ans. March.1.]

James St

Feby 12th. 1812

My dear Sir

I have many thanks to pay you for your obliging letter:—but to business.

I regret, with you, that Trotter did not fall into the hands of your friend, notwithstanding the excellence of the present Article; for George might have turned his hand to something else and, inter nos, I should not have disliked to see Fox treated with somewhat more freedom. I have, I assure you, no regard for the feelings, or respect for the politicks of Holland House: nor, I think, have our friends—but they seized the opportunity of showing the rancorous Brougham & Horner &c that in speaking of one man, it was not necessary to calumniate another in their Billingsgate manner.1

I hope that the lesson will not be thrown away. You are right in your conjecture. Canning wrote the last part of the article, the character of Pitt &c. in the chair in which I am now sitting. Let me add, my dear Sir, that I will with the greatest readiness, communicate to you, any information respecting our Review from which I am not expressly restrained by the persons concerned. If I do not expressly answer you yes or no, have the goodness to attribute it to an oversight, from the number of correspondents which I have at the time before me, & put me in mind of my negligence. I say this; because I am afraid that some instances of it have already occurred.—Our friend, Dr Ireland, gave me the article on Bell;2 I consider it as a proper reproof.

But apropos of your ingenious friend3—why must the two sheets be lost? Surely some publication may be ^ easily found to which they may serve as introductory. At any rate preserve them with care. I wish not, nor do my friends, to spare those, on a fitting occasion for displaying his character.—What we avoid, is what your friend is incapable of using, violent and opprobrious terms. I hope that he will take something in hand for us, for I have ^ not much for this No.

I am proud of your opinion of us:—& indeed, we get on extremely well. From Murray's account to me yesterday; a second edition will be speedily called for. He told me, at the same time, that several gentlemen had singled out the article on Ensor, as truly excellent both in design and execution.4 Ireland is mightily pleased with it.

I heartily agree with you in your opinion of Mr Davison, by whom we are still profiting—for his Edgeworth is constantly called for.5 I have great reliance on his kindness:—and only wish that he would select subjects agreeable to himself. For this No. he has in hand a review of Elmsley's Acharnenses, which he will make both instructive and amusing.6 As for you, my dear friend, I do not despair:—for I know that to turn from an arduous undertaking to a lighter one occasionally, is both a relaxation and a pleasure. At all events, your friendship, which I dwell on with delight, will induce you to assist me where you can; and I will not be importunate.

I thank you for the mention of Mr Vaux:7 but what will he take? What can I offer him? Shall you have an opportunity of seeing him soon, and will it not be asking too much, if I request you to mention me to him as one solicitous of his co-operation &c?

If you look at the critical part of Ford's article,8 I hope that you will not think I have been too hard on Weber. He is a protégé of G. Ellis & Scott, and they will both be hurt:—but the man is so ignorant and so adventurous, that my feelings would not suffer me to be silent. I cannot bear to see our old writers so befouled by every plodding blockhead—and, indeed, I put some force on myself to say no more.

See in what awkward situations we are sometimes placed. I wrote to you a few days since respecting Sismondi,9 and, strange to say, within these few minutes, I have recd an Article on him from the very person who had long since excused himself on the score of ill health! He recovered, it seems, and without saying another word to me, finished his critique.—I cannot now stir in the business until your friend, to whom I beg you to mention notice the circumstances in your next letter, mentions whether any progress has been made by the gentleman of whom he once spoke, and of whom I have hitherto heard nothing. These crass accidents are some of the perplexing events, which show that some allowances are to be made for me occasionally.

Have you seen a cowardly, absurd, & mischievous work by Sir W. Drummond on the historical parts of the Old Testament? "Oedipus Judaicus", he calls it. It is cowardly, because though printed, it is only given away to his acquaintance, with the express purpose of avoiding criticism &c. I wish that it might come before us fairly, & that such a champion as Dr Eveleigh mightcould be persuaded to buckle on his consecrated armour,10 & crush this insidious foe who takes advantage of his wealth to publish and give away what he would not dare to sell.

In looking at your letter again, I find that I have not noticed one part of it. I did not prefer G. Ellis for Trotter—but Canning had taken it for him, some time before I was aware that your friend would wish to notice it. In sober sadness, I should have preferred your friend.

Ever, my dear Sir,

yours most faithfully

Wm. Gifford



London Febr. twelve 1812

Revd. E. Copleston

Oriel Coll.