William Gilbert’s Works

Extant Works

African Slave Trade (—E-Text—)

An article arguing for the abolition of the slave trade. Dated 23 February 1790, it was printed in The Bristol Mercury of 1 March 1790.

The Aurora of Human Happiness (—E-Text—)

An unpublished autograph manuscript poem written by Gilbert in Joseph Cottle’s Bristol Album and dated May 26, 1795. Held at the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections Cornell University Library Wordsworth Collection (#4622 Bd. Ms. 8 ++ Fol 1v-2). First published on this website 23 April 2006.

Letter to the City Gazette and Daily Advertiser of Charleston, (1801) (—E-Text—)

Gilbert takes the side of the Democratic Republicans who want to ally America to France, against the Federalists who want close ties with Britain (currently at war with France).


Writings in The Conjuror’s Magazine, or Magical and Physiognomical Mirror (—E-Text—)

September 1791 to July 1793, under own name and under pseudonyms B. & Omega.
About the Conjuror’s Magazine    

The Hurricane: A Theosophical and Western Eclogue. To which is subjoined, a Solitary Effusion in a Summer’s Evening (Bristol: R. Edwards, 1796) (—E-Text—)

A facsimile reprint by Woodstock Books in 1990 with a brief introduction by Jonathan Wordsworth revived interest in and enabled further study of The Hurricane. This edition lacked Gilbert’s final ‘Advertisement’ for ‘The Law of Fire’ on page 105. By kind permission of the Director of Information Services, University of Bristol, an image of the missing page is made available here for Woodstock Books owners to print out and insert on the blank page facing page 104.

The Hurricane: Plans for a new edition, Augusta, 1824. (—E-Text—)

Gibert proposes the alternate title 'American Masonry' and argues that America as a remote land is referred to both in the psalms and in Revelation.

An Opinion on the Power of Courts Martial to Punish for Contempts, occasioned by the case of Major John Browne, of the sixty-seventh Regiment. (London: J Bell, 1788).

This 22 page pamphlet has no author on the title page but the author gives his name at the end (p.22): ‘W. Gilbert, London February 13th, 1788’. William Gilbert’s authorship is certain because the court martial has been identified as one he was concerned in. The trial of John Browne, Esq., major of  His Majesty’s 67th, [...] before a general court martial which assembled at the Horse Guards, on the thirteenth day of August 1787 (London: J. Bell, 1788), is a published transcript of the proceedings, and names William Gilbert, Browne’s Counsellor-at-Law, as a witness.

Preface to The Speech of George Washington, Esq. Late President of the United States of America on his Resignation of that Important Office with a Preface by William Gilbert, Esq. (Bristol: R. Edwards, 1796). (—E-Text—)

This pamphlet was described as extinct by Paul Kaufman who had only seen a manuscript transcription (‘no copy of this item is known’ p.102n ), but copies are held at Princeton University Library and other libraries in the USA. In the UK Wesley College Library holds a copy.(not shown in their online catalogue: see card index IC Db4 18.11. bound with Methodist pamphlets, suggesting a continued Methodist association). 

Writings in The Watchman - see The Collected Works of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Vol 2, ed. Lewis Patton, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1970). 

The Watchman was Coleridge’s short-lived periodical, of which 10 Numbers were published between 1 March and 31 May 1796.

Writings in the World & Fashionable Advertiser (1987) — The Commercial Academy I-XIII

These are described in Sue Thomas’s ‘Placing William Gilbert’s contributions to The World & Fashionable Advertiser’ — see further reading

Lost Works

‘I have among my papers some curious memorials of this interesting man’ — Robert Southey.

Drawing on information probably provided by Robert Southey, the 1824 Retrospective Review  article on The Hurricane lists two works by Gilbert, which remain untraced:

The Law of Fire

See page 105 of The Hurricane for Gilbert’s advertisement. Southey wrote in Life of Wesley (London:1858, Vol 2, p.230) that shortly after the 1796 publication of The Hurricane, Gilbert ‘placarded the walls in London with the largest bills that had at that time been seen, announcing “The Law of Fire”’.
     The title provides a good idea of the subject matter. Gilbert’s Conjuror’s Magazine article Predictions for April (April 1792, pp.370-2),  quotes 2 Esdras 13.37-38: ‘And this my Son shall rebuke the wicked inventions of those nations, and shall destroy them without labour, by the law that is like unto fire’. [My emphasis]. This passage from the Apocrypha is usually rendered as ‘the law which is like unto me’ but the ‘fire’ variant continues to be preferred on Millennial websites.

Masonic Oration (Augusta, GA: W.J. Hobby, 1824)

This publication (Pamphlet?) was advertised for sale in W.J. Hobby's Augusta Bookstore on 3 July 1824, three days after Gilbert's death. It is based on an ‘Oration’ Gilbert delivered to the Columbia SC Masonic Lodge in 1806. It was printed by Hobby and may not have had more than local distrbution. As of 2019 it is actively being sought.

The Standard of God Displayed

No work of this title has been traced. The first sentence of Isaiah 59:19 is quoted in Gilbert’s ‘Predictions for April’. The full verse runs: ‘So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the WEST, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him’. This may offer a clue as to its subject matter.

Other Untraced Works
Gilbert’s obituary mentions ‘essays moral and political’, and ‘one or two dramatic pieces’ that were not published. With increased digitalisation of old newspapers and magazines it is probable that some of the essays at least will come to light.