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Memoir of John Murray
William Gifford to George Canning, 8 September 1824

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
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.