I have been cutting at my quill for these five minutes, pondering with the most intense stupidity what apology I should make for not having written to you before. The truth is, though it is anything but an apology, that I have written none of my reviews yet, and that I was afraid to tell you so. I began to Mounier, however this morning; and feel the intrepidity of conscious virtue so strong in me already, that I can sit down and confess all my enormities to you. I must first tell you about the Review, though, that you may be satisfied that it holds the first place in my affection. We are in a miserable state of backwardness, you must know, and have been giving some symptoms of despondency; [end p.248] various measures have been tried, at least, against the earliness of our intended day of publication; and hints have been given of a delay, that I am quite afraid would prove fatal. Something is done, however; and a good deal, I hope, is doing. Smith has gone through more than half his task. So has Hamilton. Allen has made some progress: and Murray and myself, I believe, have studies our parts, and tuned our instruments, and are almost ready to begin. On the other hand, Thomson is sick: Brown has engaged for nothing but Miss Baillie’s plays; and Timothy has engaged for nothing, but professed it to be his opinion, the other day, that he would never put pen to paper in our cause. Brougham must have a sentence to himself; and I am afraid you will not think it a pleasant one. You remember how cheerfully he approved of our plan at first, and agreed to dive us an article or two without hesitation. Three or four days ago, I proposed two or three books that I thought would suit him: he answered with perfect good-humour that he had changed his view of our plan a little, and rather thought that he should decline to have any connection with it.
I forget to tell you that I ran away for three days to the Circuit at Glasgow, where I recruited Birkbeck, and Lockhart Muirhead, and my friend Dr. Brown for our review. They are all so lately enrolled, however, that I doubt if we can expect any active service from them for our first number. Birkbeck talks of going to France in the summer; and Brown I am afraid will have but little time to spare from his patients and his botany. We are most in want of a German reviewer at present; without that language it would be ridiculous to pretend that we are to give a passable account of Continental literature: and now I am sick of this subject, and if Murray has sent you his chapter on the Prospectus, I think you will be completely master of it.
“I am a little curious” to hear more what you have been doing, and what impressions have been made upon you by the things you have seen and heard. Upon the whole, I hope you will be wearied of London by the end of this month, and will return to us with the good resolution of remaining. I cannot find out, either, whether you are to have any thing to do in the House of Lords, and beg you would tell me as much of all these things as you think proper. For my part, I have no sort of news to repay you with. Brougham is going on diligently with his book. I have good hopes of it now, for he says it will not be ready for publication for two years at least to come.
This vernal weather is so extremely cold, that I cannot afford to sit still any longer. As soon as it grows warm, I engage to write you a more entertaining and more legible letter; on condition, however, that you take an idle morning to send me a large sheetful of London intelligence.
Believe me always, dear Horner,
Very faithfully yours,