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Memoir of John Murray
William Gifford to Robert Southey, 13 February 1812

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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Produced by CATH
February 13th, 1812
My dear Sir,

I break off here to say that I have this moment received your last letter to Murray. It has grieved and shocked me

* When the subject of a memoir of Charles Lamb by Serjeant Talfourd was under consideration, Southey wrote to a friend: “I wish that I had looked out for Mr. Talfourd the letter which Gifford wrote in reply to one in which I remonstrated with him upon his designation of Lamb as a poor maniac. The words were used in complete ignorance of their peculiar bearings, and I believe nothing in the course of Gifford’s life ever occasioned him so much self-reproach. He was a man with whom I had no literary sympathies; perhaps there was nothing upon which we agreed, except great political questions; but I liked him the better ever after for his conduct on this occasion.”

beyond expression; but, my dear friend, I am innocent so far as the intent goes. I call God to witness that in the whole course of my life I never heard one syllable of
Mr. Lamb or his family. I knew not that he ever had a sister, or that he had parents living, or that he or any person connected with him had ever manifested the slightest tendency to insanity. In a word, I declare to you in the most solemn manner that all I ever knew or ever heard of Mr. Lamb was merely his name. Had I been aware of one of the circumstances which you mention, I would have lost my right arm sooner than have written what I have. The truth is, that I was shocked at seeing him compare the sufferings and death of a person who just continues to dance after the death of his lover is announced (for this is all his merit) to the pangs of Mount Calvary; and not choosing to attribute it to folly, because I reserved that charge for Weber, I unhappily in the present case ascribed it to madness, for which I pray God to forgive me, since the blow has fallen heavily when I really thought it would not be felt. I considered Lamb as a thoughtless scribbler, who, in circumstances of ease, amused himself by writing on any subject. Why I thought so, I cannot tell, but it was the opinion I formed to myself, for I now regret to say I never made any inquiry upon the subject; nor by any accident in the whole course of my life did I hear him mentioned beyond the name.

I remain, my dear Sir,
Yours most sincerely,
W. Gifford.