To Gregory Watt

Dear Sir

I believe you know that we are writing a Review here, and may easily conjecture that we are ambitious of enlisting all the talent in the country that does not disdain to skirmish under our banners — As you have liesure [sic] to read Schillers history of the Thirty Years War perhaps you might find time to send us a short article now and then, and [crossed out] I being desirous of bringing a good recruit into our quarters have promised to use all my endeavours to crimp you —— We arein considerable want of a German reviewer and are not over well provided with chemists that know anything of writing – I wish I could tempt you with an inviting book but I am afraid you must provide for yourself – There is but one I shall venture to suggest which I know you could do admirably, and which can scarcely be done here at all — the last French edition of Werners Theorie des Filons [Nouvelle théorie de la formation des filons = ‘seams/veins’] which has lately been sent down to us – a learned article upon that subject would be very creditable to our journal and I am sure would cost you very little pains – if there be anything else which you would like to do better, we shall be equally happy to receive it —

As the literary and scientific connections of your family are as extensive, I take it, as those of any Academy in Europe, perhaps you may be able to suggest some valuable contributors – and to some of these it may not be a matter of absolute indifference <to know> that we pay, for prime articles – at the rate of ten guineas a sheet – an unprecedented liberality say the booksellers, but which they hope to be enabled to support by the encreasing sale of the publication —

I hope the influenza has migrated from your city for half a century to come – tho’ for your own part I am persuaded that it would be of use to you to perform quarantine for some weeks with us – tho’ to confess the truth there is nothing going on among us but speculations upon War and debate about bigamy in the General assembly – I am

Dear Sir, very Sincerely Yours

F. Jeffrey

62. Queen Street

To Frances Horner (1 April 1803)

My dear Horner — I daresay the sight of my handwriting is as terrible to you as that on the wall was to Belshazzar; and it is just as well to tell you in the beginning that I do write principally for the purpose of dunning you. I have some right to dun too; not merely because I am the master, to whom your service is due, but because I have myself sent fifty pages to the press before I ask you for one. Hear now our state, and consider: — Brown has been dying with influenza, and is forbidden to write for his chest’s sake. De Puis[1] is dying with asthma, and is forbidden to write for his life’s sake. Brougham is roaming the streets with the sons of Belial, or correcting his colonial proofs, and trusting everything to the exertions of the last week, and the contributions of the unfledged goslings who gabble under his wings. Elmsley — even the sage and staid Elmsley — has solicited to be set free from his engagements. And Timothy[2] refuses to come under any engagements with the greatest candour and good nature in the world. Now, if you two fail utterly, I shall be tempted to despair of the republic. I would not have you comfort your indolence, however, with this despair. If you will send us thirty pages between you, I shall undertake for its salvation, at least for this campaign. And even if you do not, I am afraid we shall not die nobly, but live pitifully, which will be much worse. Trash will be collected, and I shall have the pleasure of marching in the van of Mr.—, and Mr.—, and Dr.—, and Mr.—, and I do not know who, that are ready to take your places beside me. Now, my good Horner, let me conjure you “by the consonancy of our studies,” and all other serious considerations, to deliver me from this evil; and refuse one dinner, or shorten two nights’ sleep, or encounter some other petty evil, to save us from this perplexity. You have many fair days before you to shine and sport in, and may be glad sometime to remember the exertions I ask of you, &c.

I hear of your talking about dung,[3] and of your making a great deal of money. Good. I wish you would let me into the secret. Remember me to Murray, whom I miss very much, and to Brougham. This place is in a state of terrible depopulation, quoad me at least. Do you hear anything of Hamilton? I daresay these alarms will send him home, or at least the Sanscrit books, which are still more precious to him than his own person.

God bless you Horner. When I am out of humour with my own lot, I generally wish to be you. Do not forget me, however; and we shall continue very good friends and rivals no doubt, though you have the vantage ground. — I am, always very faithfully yours.

P.S. — The wig arrived in great order, and I am resolved to mount it boldly next session.


[1] De Puis “A nickname for Dr. John Thomson” (HC).

[2] Timothy “Mr. Thomas Thomson” (HC).

[3] I hear of your talking about dung “In an appeal in the House of Lords” (HC).

To Archibald Constable [?January ?August 1803*]

Dr Sir

I entreat that you would attend to the business of the list to be annexed to this No – If the compositors are so very stupid as not to understand the direction you may give them get the whole transcribed by a more intelligent clerk – this may easily be done before 7 oclock tonight and I shall willingly pay the expense of it — The advertisement and all the M.SS. are now in Mr W.’s hands and I beg that you would urge him to make haste –

Yours always &c



* dated ‘1803’ later and in another hand



To John Jeffrey (1 August 1802)

Edinburgh, 1st August 1802


My dear John — I am sorry to fall back into the old style; but it is necessary to tell you that your letter of the 11th May is still the latest we have received from you, &c.

We are all here in our usual way. How often shall I repeat that apology for all intelligence? and how infallibly does it come to be less true, upon every repetition! The little changes, which do not seem to impair its accuracy, accumulate so fast in a few years of absence, that our usual way comes to be something very different from our old one. Marriage itself implies a great number of little changes; and it is probable you may think me a good deal altered, while I am unconscious of any other alteration, &c.

It has been a cold wet summer with us, and we predict another scarcity. Speculate upon that, Mr. Merchant, and come over with your cargo. I am going to write a book upon law next year — though, upon my honour, I do not know upon what subject. Everybody exhorts me to do it, and I am too polite to resist the entreaties of my friends, and too modest to set my own conviction of my inability against their unanimous opinion. I must have more money, that is the truth of it, and this will be an experiment to catch some. — Believe me always, dear John, most affectionately yours.