1808 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

Walter Scott to William Gifford, 25 October 1808; Lockhart, Life of Scott (1837-38; 1902) 2:95-96.



After all, the matter is become very serious — eight or nine thousand copies of the Edinburgh Review are regularly distributed, merely because there is no other respectable and independent publication of the kind. In this city, where there is not one Whig out of twenty men who read the work, many hundreds are sold; and how long the generality of readers will continue to dislike politics, so artfully mingled with information and amusement, is worthy of deep consideration. But it is not yet too late to stand in the breach; the first number [of the Quarterly Review] ought, if possible, to be out in January, and if it can burst among them like a bomb, without previous notice, the effect will be more striking. Of those who might be entrusted in the first instance, you are a much better judge than I am. I think I can command the assistance of a friend or two here, particularly William Erskine, the Lord Advocate's brother-in-law and my most intimate friend. In London you have Malthus, George Ellis, the Roses, cum pluribus aliis. Richard Heber was with me when Murray came to my farm, and knowing his zeal for the good cause, I let him into our counsels. In Mr. Frere we have the hopes of a potent ally. The Rev. Reginald Heber would be an excellent coadjutor, and when I come to town I will sound Mathias. As strict secrecy would of course be observed, the diffidence of many might be overcome; — for scholars you can be at no loss while Oxford stands where it did, — and I think there will be no deficiency in the scientific articles.