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Memoir of John Murray
Chap. XXV.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chap. XX.
Chap. XXI.
Chap. XXII.
Chap. XXIII.
Chap. XXIV.
‣ Chap. XXV.
Chap. XXVI.
Chap. XXVII.
Chap. XXIX.
Chap. XXX.
Chap. XXXI.
Chap. XXXII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
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It had for some time been evident, as has been shown in a previous chapter, that Gifford was becoming physically incapable of carrying on the Editorship of the Quarterly Review, but an occasional respite from the pressure of sickness, as well as his own unwillingness to abandon his connection with a work which he regarded with paternal affection, and Murray’s difficulty in finding a worthy successor, combined to induce him to remain at his post.

He accordingly undertook to carry on his editorial duties till the publication of the 60th number, aided and supported by the active energy of Barrow and Croker, who, in conjunction with the publisher, did most of the necessary drudgery.

Mr. Murray had no lack of advisers in making his selection of a new Editor. Cohen, D’Israeli, Milman and others had suggestions to offer, but the problem remained for many months unsolved. Croker and Barrow were debarred, by their official positions at the Admiralty, from undertaking the duties; some contributors recommended Southey; Southey, on the other hand, had, so far back as 1822, urged the merits of John Taylor Coleridge, a frequent contributor to the Review, who was then rising to prominence at the Bar; this recommendation was supported by
Mr. Barrow; while D’Israeli at the same time wrote the following words of counsel:—

Mr. I. D’Israeli to John Murray.
South Weald, Brentwood, Essex, Friday, Oct., 1822.
Dear Murray,

I have been most anxious to hear of Gifford, after his late alarming attack—his state, I find, still is most precarious!

I truly sympathise with you in your important difficulties on the choice of a successor. I am well acquainted with all the objections which may rise even whenever one shall be fixed on—yet some one must; and the earlier the better, that in case Gifford survives, he may have the advantage of consultation and some advice, which the present Editor only can give.

It is in the compass of a hope that Gifford, by close care, may live in the artificial atmosphere of his apartment a considerable time. I have known more than one case—the parties, indeed, were much younger and more perpendicular—where, always in the most imminent danger, they lived many years in an apartment where heat was regulated. I doubt if he has the most skilful medical aid.

In case you fix on an Editor before I see you, let me request you would do it guardedly—so as not to fetter yourself—you may easily do this because you are enabled to make as splendid an offer as the annals of literature ever recorded. It is strange to me that no one should occur to you in your own wide circle, as I imagine it to be. I would, in this dilemma, make a list of the more eminent writers. I would carefully sift that list, at least twice, and then I think you might fix on two or three of whom a trial might be made. What you want is a literary man, with Gifford’s habits. Be cautious of one man whom we know. If Gifford’s state is unequal to overlook the next number, can’t you put the Review in commission, by giving articles to several persons to edit? The Review may be delayed, but it would possibly hurt it, to suspend the publication.

Yours most truly,
I. D’I.

For two years, however, Mr. Gifford’s attack of pain and sickness, though frequent, were not continuous, and as his bodily infirmities had not impaired his intellectual abilities he was able to work at the Review. In sending in the MS. of an article, Barrow wrote to Murray on Aug. 11th, 1823:—

Gifford was in a craving humour, and wished very much for what I now send (though I intended it for a future number); but the rainy weather has permitted me to finish it. It is well peppered, and if Gifford will add some of his double-refined salt, I have no doubt we shall work up a well-seasoned devil for Jonathan to digest over his Whisky.”

The work reviewed was ‘Wm. Faux, an English Farmer: Memorable Days in America, being a Journal of a Tour in the United States,’ and that Gifford’s double-refined salt had not lost its savour is proved by the article, which is thus referred to in Allibone’s Dictionary: “This is a ‘Memorable’ work, as being the occasion of two spicy reviews; the first in the London Quarterly, said to be by Gifford; the other, in which the criticism of the Quarterly is roughly handled in the North-American Review, by Edward Everett.”

The following letter is interesting both as giving Gifford’s opinion of his own condition, and as affording a testimony to the warm friendship which still subsisted between him and Canning. Canning had written that he was in “bed with the Gout,” and Gifford replied:—

Mr. Gifford to Rt. Hon. G. Canning.
December 13th, 1823.
My Dear Canning,

I wish you had a pleasanter bedfellow; but here am I on the sofa with a cough, and a very disagreeable associate I find it. Old T. Moore, I think, died all but his voice, and
my voice is nearly dead before me; in other respects, I am much as I was when you saw me, and this weather is in my favour. . . . I have promised
Murray to try to carry on the Review to the 60th number; the 58th is now nearly finished. This seems a desperate promise, and beyond it I will not, cannot go; for, at best, as the old philosopher said, I am dying at my ease, as my complaint has taken a consumptive turn. The vultures already scent the carcase, and three or four Quarterly Reviews are about to start. One is to be set up by Haygarth, whom I think I once mentioned to you as talked of to succeed me, but he is now in open hostility to Murray; another is to be called the Westminster Quarterly Review, and will, if I may judge from the professions of impartiality, be a decided Opposition Journal. They will all have their little day, perhaps, and then drop into the grave of their predecessors. The worst is that we cannot yet light upon a fit and promising successor.

Ever, my dear Canning,
Faithfully and affectionately yours,
William Gifford.

The following summer, however, found him still in harness and fully alive to the duties of a critic. In the course of his revision of Canon Hughes’ article on Washington Irving’s Tales, he detected some blunders on the part of Irving, who wrote Cathedral Towns; but Cathedrals make cities. “He also speaks of Prebends. There is no such person; for Prebend is an office, and the holder is a Prebendary.”

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
Aug. 1st, 1824.

“I am sorry that he has taken it into his mind to ridicule our provincial clergy, of whose character and function he seems to be totally ignorant. It is not a picture of the present times, but of the days of Queen Anne. At the same time there is much to be praised in the book. All that Buckthorne says of his mother
is beautiful, and what he says of his father, his uncle, and cousin, is also very good indeed. Why does our young friend give so revolting a picture of an English nobleman at Terracina? Our travelling city and county squires are rude and ignorant enough, and cannot be lashed too much; but vulgarity and impudence are not the characteristics of an English peer; and then to contrast him with the politeness of Italians and Poles. Alas! alas! it was not thus that
Mr. Irving obtained his deserved reputation. Do not tell Mr. I. what I have written, but make your own use of it.* If my name be mentioned, let it be tenderly, for he is a real favourite of mine. Let me have two copies of the revise of the article on the West Indies; for what I have by me is so scratched and bedevilled that the mother who bore it would not know it. You will be sorry to hear that my sight is passing away. I have clouds that overhang my eyes for nearly half a minute together. The glare here is too strong for me.”

A few days later, he mentions the article by Sir Walter Scott, ‘On the Correspondence of Lady Suffolk.’ Scott had not contributed to the Quarterly for many years, and Gifford welcomed the paper.

“It came at last,” he wrote to Murray (9th August, 1824), “and with it came the letters which I had to read, though I cannot use my eyes now long at a time. Scott’s paper is a clever, sensible thing—the work of a man who knows what he is about.”

On the following day he wrote to Murray:—

“I have an almost constant pain in my side, so that I can sit up but at intervals, and my breath is as bad as ever.”

This state of matters could not go on much longer; sometimes a quarter passed without a number appearing;

* The article appeared in No. 62, after Mr. Coleridge had assumed the Editorship.

in 1824 only two
Quarterlies appeared—No. 60 due in January, but only published in August; and No. 61, due in April, but published in December. An expostulation came from Croker to Murray (23rd January, 1824):—

“Have you made up your mind about an editor. Southey has written to me on the subject, as if you had, and as if he knew your choice; I do not like to answer him before I know what I am to say. Will you dine at Kensington on Sunday at 6?”

Southey had long been meditating about the editorship. It never appears to have been actually offered to him, but his name, as we have already seen, was often mentioned in connection with it. He preferred, however, going on with his own works and remaining a contributor only. Politics, too, may have influenced him, for we find him writing to Mr. Murray on Dec. 15, 1824—“The time cannot be far distant when the Q. R. must take its part upon a most momentous subject, and choose between Mr. Canning and the Church. I have always considered it as one of the greatest errors in the management of the Review that it should have been silent upon that subject so long.” So far as regarded his position as a contributor, Southey expressed his opinion to Murray explicitly:—

Mr. Southey to John Murray.
Oct. 25th, 1824.

“No future Editor, be he who he may, must expect to exercise the same discretion over my papers which Mr. Gifford has done. I will at any time curtail what may be deemed too long, and consider any objections that may be made, with a disposition to defer to them when it can be done without sacrificing my own judgment upon points which may seem to me important. But my age an
(I may add without arrogance) the rank which I hold in literature entitle me to say that I will never again write under the correction of any one.”

Dr. Ireland, Dean of Westminster, wrote to Murray:—

Dr. Ireland to John Murray.
Islip, Oxford, July 8th, 1824.

“As to your own affair—the Review—the future management of it will be a matter of much anxiety to determine. For the fifteen years of Mr. Gifford’s management, I have had the happiness of being his steady and affectionate assistant. I have an article with me now here, and it will be with particular feelings that I shall send it to him, in a few days, at Ramsgate. It will be the last, or the last but one, that I shall ever send in this manner; and while I am persuaded that he ought to withdraw from the management, I look with some melancholy upon this concluding scene of it. I have sometimes thought that if there were some interval between the 60th number and the commencement of a new series, the public might be stimulated to do something towards it. The voice of Society calls strongly for a continuation in some way; and if this impulse were given to the public mind, there might be some extraordinary effort to come to your assistance. This, however, is altogether a matter of experiment.”

Mr. Cohen* endorsed the recommendation of D’Israeli, already referred to, that Mr. Gifford should be relieved from the more laborious functions of an editor, and that the editorship should be put in commission, under Mr. Gifford’s inspection and control.

Mr. Francis Cohen to John Murray.
Aug. 26th, 1824.

“In the present age the task of directing the public taste is not the most important part of the duty of a reviewer. In the present state of society, intellectual cultivation is

* Afterwards Sir Francis Palgrave.

so extensively diffused that the opinion of the ‘Critic’ is necessarily anticipated by the sound judgment of the world at large. The present age is characterized by its activity and energy. Science advances with uninterrupted rapidity. New sources of knowledge are constantly bursting forth. And there is a strong and decided disposition in all parties to encourage all practicable and possible ameliorations in the general policy of the country. Hence the most important part of the duty of the contributors to a periodical publication is that of supplying the public with the facts and the current information which they need.”

All this was very important and useful advice, but it did not settle the question of how the Quarterly was in future to be conducted. At last came the communication of Mr. Barrow to Mr. Murray:—

Mr. John Barrow to John Murray.
Sept. 24th, 1824.

I saw Gifford last night, who is in good spirits and much pleased with a letter which you had written to him; but I find he is completely decided to give in, and advises—what you will, of course, do as soon as convenient—to call a few of your friends together to arrange for the future conducting of the Quarterly. He is quite of opinion that the gentleman in the North [Southey] would, in a few numbers, ruin the Review if he had the management.

Yours always,
J. Barrow.

When Gifford had finally determined to resign, he wrote to Mr. Canning (September 8, 1824) the following interesting letter:—

Mr. W. Gifford to the Rt. Hon. G. Canning.
Sept. 8th, 1824.
My Dear Canning,

I have laid aside my Regalia, and King Gifford, first of the name, is now no more, as Sir Andrew Aguecheek says, “than an ordinary mortal or a Christian.” It is necessary
to tell you this, for, with the exception of a dark cloud which has come over
Murray’s brow, no prodigies in earth or air, as far as I have heard, have announced it.

It is now exactly sixteen years ago since your letter invited or encouraged me to take the throne. I did not mount it without a trembling fit; but I was promised support, and I have been nobly supported. As far as regards myself, I have borne my faculties soberly, if not meekly. I have resisted, with undeviating firmness, every attempt to encroach upon me, every solicitation of publisher, author, friend, or friend’s friend, and turned not a jot aside for power or delight. In consequence of this integrity of purpose, the Review has long possessed a degree of influence, not only in this, but in other countries hitherto unknown; and I have the satisfaction, at this late hour, of seeing it in its most palmy state. No number has sold better than the sixtieth.

But there is a sad tale to tell. For the last three years I have perceived the mastery which disease and age were acquiring over a constitution battered and torn at the best, and have been perpetually urging Murray to look about for a successor, while I begged Copleston, Blomfield, and others to assist the search. All has been ineffectual. Murray, indeed, has been foolishly flattering himself that I might be cajoled on from number to number, and has not, therefore, exerted himself as he ought to have done; but the rest have been in earnest. Do you know any one? I once thought of Robert Grant; but he proved timid, and indeed his saintly propensities would render him suspected. Reginald Heber, whom I should have preferred to any one, was snatched from me for a far higher object.

I have been offered a Doctor’s Degree, and when I declined it, on account of my inability to appear in public, my own college (Exeter) most kindly offered to confer it on me in private; that is, at the Rector’s lodgings. This, too, I declined, and begged the Dean of Westminster, who has a living in the neighbourhood, to excuse me as handsomely as he could. It might, for aught I know, be a hard race between a shroud and a gown which shall get me first; at any rate, it was too late for honours.

Faithfully and affectionately yours,
William Gifford.

Mr. J. T. Coleridge had long been regarded as the most eligible successor to Mr. Gifford, and on him the choice now fell; but from the following note it would appear that the first advances towards his appointment were made, prematurely, by Coleridge’s friends:—

John Murray to Mr. John T. Coleridge.
May, 1823.

Mr. Gifford is now almost as well, certainly as vigorous in intellect, as ever I knew him. He goes to Ramsgate, as usual, next month. During his life no change is likely to take place; and when any decision is necessary it will not, as I always stated, depend upon me. The subject should not therefore be allowed to influence in the slightest degree your other views and arrangements.

Yours, faithfully,
John Murray.

When the post was actually vacant, and the formal decision had been made, Mr. Murray wrote:—

John Murray to Mr. John T. Coleridge.
Albemarle Street, Thursday.
Dec. 9th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

The kindness and delicacy of your conduct, during our communications respecting the Editorship of the Quarterly Review, were such as to fix, definitely, my own wishes upon the subject. I am therefore most happy in now finding myself completely free, to testify my sincere esteem, by offering you that appointment; and most happy shall I be to learn that no circumstances have intervened to prevent your allowing me again to renew our friendly negotiations. Should your determination be favourable to my wishes, I would then ask if, in the absence of our friend Archdeacon
Lyall, it will be perfectly agreeable to you to receive a farther communication from Mr. Locker. With unfeigned regard,

I remain, my dear sir,
Most faithfully yours,
J. M.

To this, Mr. Coleridge replied:—

Mr. John T. Coleridge to John Murray.
Temple, Dec. 10th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

The subject of your note is not quite a new one to me; and therefore I answer it sooner than, from its great importance to me, I otherwise should. Two years, I think, have nearly elapsed since our conversations respecting the Editorship of the Quarterly; in that interval I have made advances enough in my profession to keep me in good heart about it; but they are of a nature which certainly, at present, and I think for a long time, are likely not to be incompatible with the labours of the Review. I do not, however, disguise from myself that I run some risk in accepting your kind and flattering offer; but I have made up my mind to that.

When, indeed, I consider the magnitude of the concern to you, and its importance to the public, it is impossible for me not to feel much diffidence as to the manner in which I shall meet your expectations, and those of a great number of kind friends. However, I cannot suppose that you have not well weighed what you know and have heard of me, before you make the offer; and I can only say that the Review, so long as I conduct it, shall have, what it is entitled to, my best exertions in its support.

There is no one whom I would sooner meet on the subject than Mr. Locker; and I will see him at any hour he pleases, either here, at the Athenæum, or in Albemarle Street. But the tone of your note makes me feel confident that there will be no points of difficulty to arrange; and perhaps we could settle everything as easily in person. Time seems to me important.


I shall dine with you with great pleasure on Thursday next, and remain, my dear Sir,

Very truly yours,
J. T. Coleridge.

Mr. Murray forwarded the reply of Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Gifford, accompanied by the following note:—

John Murray to Mr. Gifford.
Whitehall Place, Dec. 11th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

I shall not attempt to express the feelings with which I communicate the enclosed answer to the proposal which I suspect it would have been thought contemptible in me any longer to have delayed, and all that I can find to console myself with is the hope that I may be able to evince my gratitude to you during life, and to your memory, if it so please the Almighty that I am to be the survivor.

I am your obliged and faithful Servant,
John Murray.

Further negotiations between the publisher and the new Editor were carried on by the intervention of Mr. F. H. Locker, and four days later Mr. Coleridge wrote as follows:—

Mr. John T. Coleridge to John Murray.
Dec. 14th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

I have seen Mr. Locker this afternoon, and he has communicated to me what had passed between him and you; upon all parts of the propositions, which he made in your name, I will only say in a simple sentence that I am perfectly satisfied. I think them honourable both to the maker and receiver.

You will believe that I have the cause much at heart;
and as some time must elapse before I perfectly see my way, I am anxious to lose no time in acquiring all the preliminary knowledge necessary. I believe he told you that I should be in the King’s Bench to-morrow; but I find that a cause in which I am engaged, and which stood for to-morrow, is appointed the first on Thursday; I shall be therefore in chambers all the morning, if you can make it convenient to call on me. I know how much you are occupied; and therefore when I mention that I should prefer an early hour, it is only on the supposition that one hour may be as convenient to you as another. My reason for the preference is that till I have seen you I cannot well call on
Mr. Gifford, which I am anxious to do at the first moment possible; for I would not for the world have him think me failing in attention to him.

If your occupations prevent you from coming so far this way to-morrow, will you order to be sent to my house any papers you may have, or the last publishers’ lists. You know my address is 65 Torrington Square.

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Very truly yours,
John T. Coleridge.

Mr. Murray lost no time in informing his friends of his decision, and his letter to Mr. Southey and that received by him from Mr. D’Israeli are subjoined:—

John Murray to Mr. Southey.
Albemarle Street, Dec. 11th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

Having possessed myself of your valuable opinion and advice with regard to the choice of a new Editor for the Quarterly Review, I did not like to trouble you further until after necessary circumspection and the arrangement of some delicate interests, I could feel satisfied that I might venture to make my election with propriety and with safety. It is with no small degree of pleasure that I can
now inform you that my decision accords with your recommendation, and that, after the little that there can be to negotiate, I have every reason to believe that it will terminate in
Mr. Coleridge’s accepting the Editorship. In the meantime, it would be a kind and serviceable act if you were so good as to write your opinion and recommendation of Mr. Coleridge to Mr. Canning and Mr. Croker, whose confidence is of great importance for us to obtain.

I shall only add that I rely upon the promise of your fervid support under this new arrangement, and that I remain always, etc.,

J. M.
Mr. I. D’Israeli to John Murray.
Bloomsbury Square,
Dec. 12th, 1824.
My Dear Murray,

You have given me great pleasure in your communication of yesterday, that the Editorship of the Q. R. is at length finally adjusted.

Unquestionably, on this occasion, you have proceeded, step by step, with all the prudence and consideration such an important event, I may say to the world, as well as to yourself, has painfully required. A better choice, perhaps, it is impossible to make—that it is an excellent one, you have many reasons to infer.

The present Editor, we may imagine, has had the advantage of a gradual initiation—and his mind warmed by the same principles, is fully impressed by the character which marked out his celebrated predecessor. The particular excellences of Mr. Gifford are the new Editor’s inheritance, and to preserve this entire, would be sufficient to secure superiority.

But of a periodical work, whose prosperity mainly depends on the movable nature of the age, it may well deserve consideration, whether it be not absolutely necessary to improve an old inheritance by new possessions. What may have been sometimes left undone in the former Quarterlies, may yet be accomplished in the new ones; and it is in human nature that a successor has certain advantages over his predecessor.

The mantle has been caught, and comes instinct with
the spirit of the old Prophet; but it would be asking “a hard thing” that it should communicate “a double portion of the spirit.” And yet I will not cease praying for it—being, my dear

Most faithfully yours,
I. D’Israeli.

On December 30th, 1824, the Rev. H. H. Milman writes to Mr. Murray: “Coleridge had previously apprised me of his installation in the editorship, and has been kind enough to ask my assistance. I am convinced that, all circumstances considered, you have been fortunate in your selection.”

Gifford lived for about two years more, and continued to entertain many kind thoughts of his friends and fellow-contributors: his intercourse with his publisher was as close and intimate as ever to the end.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
Friday morn, Dec. 31st, 1824.
My dear Sir,

In the long course of our acquaintance you can bear me witness that the only fault I ever taxed you with in pecuniary matters, was with that of being too liberal to me; if, in the present instance, you have committed, as I fear, a greater fault than ever, I cannot help it; but most sincerely and affectionately do I thank you for your kindness.

It was the Dean, who, seeing the marvellous confusion of my table, and learning the cause, suggested to me that the paper might have slipped out in your study. I was not sorry to think this, for I really suspected that it had buried itself among my innumerable scraps—and, between ourselves, had it done so, it would not be the first time.

I thank you again and again for your presents of this
day—I wish I could make you a better, or any other return than that of promising to think of your kindness, and to drink your health in one of the bottles after dinner; and ’tis long since I tasted wine. A prosperous and a happy new year to you, and I beg to join
Mrs. Murray in the prayer, which comes with great sincerity, from, dear Sir,

Yours most faithfully,
Wm. Gifford.
Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
James Street, January 1st, l825.
My Dear Sir,

When you were here this morning, I had not the smallest idea of the munificence of your kindness; for it would have been very repugnant to my feelings to make any inquiry; and I therefore waited till Snow’s Book came to me in the usual course of business. Patty brought it in, ten minutes after you left me. After all I have seen of your liberality, I confess I was surprised; and I hope you will believe me when I add that I was also a little grieved. I need not such costly proofs of your regard. Had you made the former sum £200, I should have been both satisfied and pleased; had you given me £50, beyond which my thoughts never advanced, I should have deeply felt your kindness; but what to say of this profession of friendship I know not. To remonstrate with you is a vain and ungrateful task—and the subject affects me. I can only hope, therefore, that I may be enabled to show how sensibly it touches me, and that I am, with the truest regard, your

Obliged and affectionate friend,
Wm. Gifford.

About two years after his retirement from the Quarterly, Mr. Canning, Lord Liverpool, and others sent him some pecuniary assistance, which Gifford acknowledged with tender sympathy:—

Mr. Gifford to the Rt. Hon. G. Canning.
James Street, March 5th, 1826.
My Dear Canning,

I have been long most anxious to write to you, but had not the power. It is now nearly nine weeks since my old enemy, Eurus, found me in the Park, and sent me home in the custody of a severe cold, that rigidly confined me to my bedroom, and almost to my bed, till Monday last. But this would hardly justify complaint; the worst is, that the rags and tatters of my poor mind, which was broken to pieces in the more than tropical fires of last summer, and which I fondly hoped were adjusting themselves in some slight measure, became as seam-rent as before, and I could neither write, nor read, nor think, for three minutes together.

When Frere—and I cannot name him without a grateful remembrance of his considerate and affectionate attention—first mentioned the matter to me, it was so unexpected, and altogether so remote from anything that ever entered my thoughts, that in my weak state I am not sure that I fully comprehended him while he stayed. I believe he saw this, and in kindness dropped the subject. After he left me I recurred to it, and was totally overpowered. And now, my dear Canning, what can I say? I did not think that I, who have lived for the last five-and-twenty years in the pleasing assurance of possessing your regard and affection, could have been so surprised; but I cannot proceed.

I will not deny that your bounty was acceptable, because, for reasons which will not recur, the year had been a very trying one to me. But I earnestly and fervently hope that you will not think of repeating this splendid and costly proof of affection. I solemnly assure you that it is not at all necessary; for with my salary from the lottery (which is regularly paid me, and which, as I am now on the verge of seventy, will not, I trust, be withheld from me), I am even rich.

The only name given to me besides yours was that of Lord Liverpool, so that I am but imperfectly acquainted with my benefactors. I bless God for such friends, and shall be very careful not to lose them unnecessarily. I experienced, however, a degree of delight not common to
my dulled feelings at the mention of Lord Liverpool’s kindness, and had I strength I would write to him; but I have not, and I lament it. Will you, therefore, have the goodness to assure his lordship from me that nothing has occurred to me these many years so gratifying as this proof that I still retain a place in his memory and regard. I will not tell you how long I have been about this letter, and yet I fancy myself somewhat improved; but I must have done.

One word more, however, on a subject which is seldom out of my thoughts. Let me beg you to take care of yourself. Catch, or rather snatch at, every interval of relaxation. It is a fearful thing to break down the mind by unremitted tension. Remember what Horace says to Virgil:
“Misce stultitiam consiliis brevem;”
for, though the poet is evidently quizzing his poor friend, his advice is not to be despised.

Ever, my dear Canning,
Most faithfully and affectionately yours,
Wm. Gifford.

Many were the kind inquiries which reached Mr. Murray as to Gifford’s health: his friend Mitchell wrote:—

Mr. T. Mitchell to John Murray.

“It gives me great concern to hear of these frequent illnesses of Mr. Gifford. Mixed up with higher regrets for any serious attacks upon his health or vigour, I have personal feelings to make me interested in them. I can never forget his personal kindness to myself; and if I have gained any little credit with the public, I cannot but remember how much I am indebted to his taste and judgment, and the confidence put into me by both for the acquisition. When you write next, I shall hope to hear a more favourable account.”

The next, and the last letter, which we can find in the Murray collection was addressed to him about a month later.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
April 29th, 1826.
My Dear Sir,

I see with regret in the papers of this morning that my poor friend Moorcroft is dead.* It is mentioned in the Asiatic Journal. I shall be obliged to you if you can spare it to me for an hour or two, and I will return it. I loved Moorcroft much. He was to be sure a little flighty; but he was of a sweet disposition, inquisitive, active, and unwearied in his favourite pursuits. Poor fellow! I little dreamed that he would have gone before me.

The last letter that Gifford sent to Mr. Canning, written the month before his death, accompanied the 2 vol. edition of ‘Ford’s Dramatic Works,’ which Gifford had recently been engaged upon.

Mr. Gifford to the Rt. Hon. G. Canning.
James Street, Nov. 15th, 1826.
My Dear Canning,

I send you a copy of ‘Ford.’ The avowed object is the real one—saving the press from disgrace by anticipating the bookseller’s design of giving a republication of ‘Weber.’ I feared at one time that I should not be able to get through with the work, trifling as it is. I am sadly fallen off in strength since you saw me; but this is the natural course of things,

Pellente lascivos amores
Canitie facilemque somnum.”

As for the Loves, why, “I humbly gave them leave to depart” an age ago, and they went, I suppose; but the

* Mr. Wm. Moorcroft went to India, and made some remarkable journeys and discoveries on the North-west frontier, especially in the Himalayas, the Punjab, Cashmere and Tibet. He died at Bokhara in 1808. His narrative is included in Moorcroft and Trebeck’s ‘Travels,’ published in 1841.

loss of the facile slumber (a recent affliction) touches one very nearly. As I have not power to think to any purpose, my nights are as tedious as my days, and I frequently rise more dull and weary than I lie down.

You are now playing into a world of business, but remember the miser.

Ever, my dear Canning,
Faithfully and affectionately yours,
Wm. Gifford.

The last month of Gifford’s life was but a slow dying. He was sleepless, feverish, oppressed by an extreme difficulty of breathing, which often entirely deprived him of speech; and his sight had failed. Towards the end of his life he would sometimes take up a pen, and after a vain attempt to write, would throw it down, saying, “No, my work is done!” Even thinking caused him pain. As his last hour drew near, his mind began to wander. “These books have driven me mad,” he once said, “I must read my prayers.” He passed gradually away, his pulse ceasing to beat five hours before his death. And then he slept out of life, on the 31st of December, 1826, in his 68th year—a few months before the death of Canning.

Mr. Gifford desired that he should be buried in the ground attached to Grosvenor Chapel, South Audley Street, where he had interred Annie Davies, his faithful old housekeeper, but his friends made application for his interment in Westminster Abbey, which was acceded to, and he was buried there accordingly on the 8th of January, 1827, immediately under the monuments of Camden and Garrick. His funeral was attended by Dr. Ireland, Dean of Westminster, the two Misses Cookesley, General Grosvenor, Mr. Murray, Mr. Croker, Mr. Barrow, Mr. Chantrey, Mr. Lockhart, Mr. F. Palgrave, Mr. Hoppner, and others. Though perfectly indifferent about money, he was much
richer at the time of his death than he was at all aware of. Indeed, he several times returned money to Mr. Murray, saying, that “he had been too liberal.” He left £25,000 of personal property, a considerable part of which he left to the relatives of
Mr. Cookesley, the surgeon of Ashburton, who had been to him so faithful and self-denying a friend in his early life. To Mr. Murray he left £100 as a memorial, and also 500 guineas, to enable him to reimburse a military gentleman to whom, jointly with Mr. Cookesley, he appears to have been bound for that sum at a former period.

Gifford has earned, but it is now generally recognized that he has unjustly earned, the character of a severe, if not a bitter critic. Possessing an unusually keen discernment of genuine excellence, and a scathing power of denunciation of what was false or bad in literature, he formed his judgments in accordance with a very high standard of merit. Sir Walter Scott said of his Baviad and Mæviad, that “he squashed at one blow a set of coxcombs who might have humbugged the world long enough.” His critical temper, however, was in truth exceptionally equable; regarding it as his duty to encourage all that was good and elevating, and relentlessly to denounce all that was bad or tended to lower the tone of literature, he conscientiously acted up to the standard by which he judged others, and never allowed personal feeling to intrude upon his official judgments.

It need scarcely be said that he proved himself an excellent editor, and that he entertained a high idea of the duties of that office. William Jerdan, who was introduced to Gifford by Canning, said: “I speak of him as he always was to me—full of gentleness, a sagacious adviser and instructor, upon so comprehensive a scale, that I never met his superior among the men of the age most renowned for
vast information, and his captivating power in communicating it.” His sagacity and quickness of apprehension were remarkable, as was also the extraordinary rapidity with which he was able to eviscerate a work, and summarize its contents in a few pages.

The number of articles which he himself wrote was comparatively small, for he confined himself for the most part to revising and improving the criticisms of others, and though in thus dealing with articles submitted to him he frequently erased what the writers considered some of their best criticisms, he never lost their friendship and support. He disliked incurring any obligation which might in any degree shackle the expression of his free opinions. In conjunction with Mr. Murray, he laid down a rule, which as we have already seen was advocated by Scott, and to which no exception has ever been made, that every writer in the Quarterly should receive payment for his contribution. On one occasion, when a gentleman in office would not receive the money, the article was returned. “I am not more certain of many conjectures,” says Jerdan, “than I am of this, that he never propagated a dishonest opinion nor did a dishonest act.”

Gifford took no notice of the ferocious attacks made upon him by Hunt and Hazlitt. Holding, as he did, that inviolable secrecy was one of the prime functions of an editor—though the practice has since become very different—he never attempted to vindicate himself, or to reveal the secret as to the writers of the reviews. In accordance with his plan of secrecy, he desired Dr. Ireland, his executor, to destroy all confidential letters, especially those relating to the Review, so that the names of the authors, as well as the prices paid for each article, might never be known.


In society, of which he saw but little, except at Mr. Murray’s, he was very entertaining. He told a story remarkably well; and had an inexhaustible supply; the archness of his eyes and countenance making them all equally good.

He had never been married; but although he had no children, he had an exceeding love for them. When well, he delighted in giving juvenile parties, and rejoiced at seeing the children frisking about in the happiness of youth—a contrast which threw the misery of his own early life into strange relief. His domestic favourites were his dog and his cat, both of which he dearly loved. He was also most kind and generous to his domestic servants; and all who knew him well, sorrowfully lamented his death.

Many years after Gifford’s death, a venomous article upon him appeared in a London periodical. The chief point of this anonymous attack was contained in certain extracts from the writings of Sir W. Scott, Southey, and other eminent contemporaries of Mr. Gifford. Mr. R. W. Hay, one of the oldest contributors to the Quarterly, was at that time still living, and, in allusion to the article in question, he wrote to the present Mr. Murray:—

Mr. R. W. Hay to Mr. Murray.
July 7th, 1856.

It is wholly worthless, excepting as it contains strictures of Sir W. Scott, Southey, and John Wilson on the critical character of the late Wm. Gifford. I by no means subscribe to all that is said by these distinguished individuals on the subject, and I cannot help suspecting that the high station in literature which they occupied rendered them more than commonly sensitive to the corrections and erasures which were proposed by the editor. Sir Walter (great man as he was) was perfectly capable of writing so carelessly as to require correction, and both Southey and
John Wilson might occasionally have brought forth opinions, on political and other matters, which were not in keeping with the general tone of the
Quarterly Review. That poor Gifford was deformed in figure, feeble in health, unhappily for him there can be no denying, but that he had any pleasure in tormenting, as asserted by some, that he indulged in needless criticism without any regard to the feelings of those who were under his lash, I am quite satisfied cannot justly be maintained. In my small dealings with the Review, I only found the editor most kind and considerate. His amendments and alterations I generally at once concurred in, and I especially remember in one of the early articles, that he diminished the number of Latin quotations very much to its advantage; that his heart was quite in the right place I have had perfect means of knowing from more than one circumstance, e.g., his anxiety for the welfare of his friend Hoppner the painter’s children was displayed in the variety of modes which he adopted to assist them, and when John Galt was sorely maltreated in the Review in consequence of his having attributed to me, incorrectly, an article which occasioned his wrath and indignation, and afterwards was exposed to many embarrassments in life, Gifford most kindly took up his cause, and did all he could to further the promotion of his family. That our poor friend should have been exposed throughout the most part of his life to the strong dislike of the greatest part of the community is not unnatural. As the redacteur of the Anti-Jacobin, &c., he, in the latter part of the last century, drew upon himself the hostile attacks of all the modern philosophers of the age, and of all those who hailed with applause the dawn of liberty in the French Revolution; as editor of the Quarterly Review, he acquired, in addition to the former host of enemies, the undisguised hatred of all the Whigs and Liberals, who were for making peace with Bonaparte, and for destroying the settled order of things in this country. In the present generation, when the feeling of national hatred against France has entirely subsided, and party feelings have so much gone by that no man can say to which party any public man belongs, it is impossible for anyone to comprehend the state of public feeling which prevailed during the great war of the Revolution, and for some years after its termination. Gifford was deeply imbued with all the sentiments on
public matters which prevailed in his time, and, as some people have a hatred of a cat, and others of a toad, so our friend felt uneasy when a Frenchman was named; and buckled on his armour of criticism whenever a Liberal or even a Whig was brought under his notice; and although in the present day there appears to be a greater indulgence to crime amongst judges and juries, and perhaps a more lenient system of criticism is adopted by reviewers, I am not sure that any public advantage is gained by having Ticket of Leave men, who ought to be in New South Wales, let loose upon the English world by the unchecked appearance of a vast deal of spurious literature, which ought to have withered under the severe blasts of Criticism.

Believe yours very truly,
R. W. Hay.