1883 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

William Edward Winks, "William Gifford" Lives of Illustrious Shoemakers (1883) 75-88.



The field of literature seems always to have had a special charm for shoemakers. If the reader will glance for a moment at the list of names given at the end of this book, this fact will be at once apparent. Half, or more than half, the names given in that list are in some way or other connected with literature. The connection is but slight in many instances, perhaps, and the reputation it conferred only local and temporary. Few of our shoemakers, even though we have thought well to style them "illustrious,'' can be said to have made a great and lasting name in the world of letters; and none of them it must be confessed have attained to first rank as prose or poetical writers. But there are worthies in our list, associated alike with the humble craft of shoemaking and the higher walks of literature, whose names the world will not willingly let die, and we venture to think that the subject of this sketch is one of the number.

William Gifford was the first editor of the London Quarterly Review. The high and influential position held by this journal was mainly due in the first instance to Gifford's talent and excellent management. The London Quarterly was started in opposition to the famous Edinburgh Quarterly; George Canning, the celebrated statesman, and Sir Walter Scott, the great novelist, being the prime movers and early patrons of the enterprise, for the Edinburgh, under the clever management of Jeffrey, and supported by such writers as Sydney Smith and Brougham, was then too liberal in its tone to suit the taste of the brilliant Foreign Secretary and his Tory friends. It was no slight testimony to the abilities of the man who was chosen as the first editor of the new Quarterly that his election should have been cordially approved by the first of Scottish novelists, and one of the most influential of English statesmen.

Gifford was the author of two satirical poems, the "Baviad" and "Maeviad,'' directed against the tawdry and sentimental rhymesters of a certain school which flourished in his day. His scathing satire succeeded in putting an end to their trash. Gifford published also a translation of the Latin poets, Juvenal and Persius. To the latter he prefixed the story of his own early life as a poor cobbler's apprentice. From this interesting autobiography the materials for the following sketch have been chiefly selected. William Gifford's best title to fame was, no doubt, his edition of the "Early English Dramatists" — Ford, Massinger, Shirley, and Ben Jonson. His generous and able vindication of Jonson reflects credit both upon the critic and the poet. It should be added that Gifford's editorship of the Quarterly extended over fifteen years, and that during the whole of this period he was the writer of a large number of its most able articles.

Having taken a glimpse of the work accomplished by William Gifford as a critic, a scholar, and an editor in the latter years of his life, let us turn to look at his circumstances in boyhood and youth, when, as a miserable cobbler's apprentice, he began to yearn after knowledge and to cherish ambitious dreams. The contrast between the first and last scenes in the drama of life could hardly be more wonderful than that which is presented in the history of the man who passed from the cobbler's stool to the editor's chair.

William Gifford was born at the small town of Ashburton, in South Devon, in 1757. His father, who was a man of spendthrift and profligate habits, died of the effects of his evil conduct before he had attained the age of forty. In twelve months afterward Gifford's mother died, leaving William, and a little brother two years old, orphans, and, it would seem, penniless. As no home could be found for the infant, he was sent to the workhouse. William, then thirteen years of age, fell into the hands of a man named Carlisle, who had stood as his godfather, a worthless fellow, who had appropriated the few things left by the mother, on pretence of claiming them for debt. This man put William to school, where he began to show signs of ability; but he was allowed no chance of making progress; for, at the end of three months, grudging the slight cost of his tuition, Carlisle took the boy from his books and playmates, and put him to the plough. It was soon found that he was too weak for such heavy work. His guardian now tried to get the boy out of hand altogether, by sending him off to Newfoundland as an errand-boy in a grocery store. This unkind project, however, being doomed to failure, it was resolved that the troublesome charge should be got rid of by making him a sailor.

We give the account of what happened at this period in his own words: "My godfather had now humbler views for me, and I had no heart to resist anything. He proposed to send me on board one of the Torbay fishing-boats. I ventured, however, to remonstrate against this, and the matter was compromised by my consenting to go on board a coaster. A coaster was speedily found for me at Brixham, and thither I went when little more than thirteen years of age. It will easily be conceived that my life was a life of hardship. I was not only a ship-boy on the high and giddy mast, but also in the cabin, where every menial office fell to my lot. Yet if I was restless and discontented it was not so much on account of this as of my being prevented reading, as my master did not possess a single book of any description, excepting a Coasting Pilot."

Gifford was on board this vessel for about twelve months, a time of untold suffering and degradation. In fact, his position was so deplorable that some women from Ashburton, who went down to Brixham to buy fish, shocked to see the boy running about the beach in ragged clothes, spoke so plainly on their return home about the hardship of his lot, that his godfather was compelled for very shame to send for him home again. He was once more put to school, and now made such rapid strides in arithmetic that on an emergency he was invited to assist the school-master. He goes on in his own narrative to say that these encouragements led him to entertain the idea that he might be able to get his own living by teaching, and as his first master "was now grown old and infirm, it seemed unlikely that he should hold out above three or four years, and I fondly flattered myself," he adds, "that notwithstanding my youth I might possibly be appointed to succeed him." It is worth while to notice that he was but a boy in his teens when he first began to feel the noble spirit of ambition stir within him, and to cherish the laudable desire to rely upon his own efforts for his maintenance. It was this lofty and self-reliant spirit which carried him past all his difficulties; and, truth to tell, no one has ever done anything remarkable in the world without it. The youth who is altogether destitute of ambition, and is ever on the look-out for the help of friends, lacks the first elements of success in life. But Gifford's bravery and persistence of mind had to be severely tested before meeting with their due reward.

Proceeding with his pathetic story, he says: ''I was about fifteen years of age when I built these castles in the air. A storm, however, was collecting, which unexpectedly burst upon me and swept them all away. On mentioning my plan to my guardian, he treated it with the utmost contempt, and told me he had been negotiating with his cousin, a shoemaker of some respectability, who had liberally consented to take me, without fee, as an apprentice. I was so shocked at this intelligence that I did not venture to remonstrate, but went in sullenness and silence to my new master, to whom I was bound till I should attain the age of twenty-one. At this period I had read nothing but a romance called 'Parismus,' a few loose magazines — the Bible, indeed, I was well acquainted with; these, with the 'Imitation of Thomas a Kempis,' which I used to read to my mother on her death-bed, constituted the whole of my literary acquisitions.''

The account which follows has few things to equal it in the records of struggling genius. It will serve to show how abject and apparently hopeless was his condition as a student at this time of his life, and will show also, what it may be hoped no youth who reads these pages will fail to learn, how marvellous is the power of energy and perseverance to triumph over apparently insuperable obstacles.

"I possessed,'' Gifford writes, "at this time but one book in the world; it was a treatise on algebra given to me by a young woman who had found it in a lodging-house. I considered it a treasure; but it was a treasure locked up, for it supposed the reader to be acquainted with simple equations, and I knew nothing of the matter." He then speaks of meeting with a book called Fenning's "Introduction" belonging to his master's son, who, by the way, was discovered afterward to have been all through this time a secret rival for the head-mastership. This "Introduction'' gave Gifford just the information required to carry him forward into the study of algebra. But he was compelled to study it by stealth, lest it should be taken from him, and he goes on to say: "I sat up for the greater part of several nights successively and completely mastered it. I could now enter upon my own, and that carried me pretty far into the science. This was not done without difficulty. I had not a farthing on earth, nor a friend to give me one; pen, ink, and paper, therefore, were for the most part as completely out of my reach as a crown and sceptre. There was, indeed, a resource, but the utmost caution and secrecy were necessary in applying to it. I beat out pieces of leather as smooth as possible and wrought my problems on them with a blunted awl; for the rest my memory was tenacious, and I could multiply and divide by it to a great extent.''

Strange to say, although he displayed so much ability and zeal in the study of mathematics, he was not destined to achieve distinction in that department of study. A very trifling incident led to the exercise of new gifts, and turned the tide of his evil fortune. A shopmate had made a few verses on the blunder of a painter in the village who was engaged to paint a lion for a sign-board, and had produced a dog instead. Gifford thought he could beat the verses of his shopmate, and accordingly tried his hand at rhyme. His associates all agreed in pronouncing young Gifford's verses the better of the two. This encouraged him to try again, and in the course of a short time he had composed about a dozen pieces. He says: "They were talked of in my little circle, and I was sometimes invited to repeat them out of it. I never committed a line to paper — first, because I had no paper; and, second, because I was afraid, for my master had already threatened me for inadvertently hitching the name of one of his customers into a rhyme." The rest of this account of his poetical adventures would be amusing if it were not for the pathos which underlies it, and the fact that it is the prelude to one of the most painful incidents in the sad story of Gifford's early life. Referring to these recitals of his poetical pieces he says: "These repetitions were always attended by applause, and sometimes by favors more substantial; little collections were now and then made, and I have received sixpence in an evening(!). To one who had long lived in the absolute want of money such a resource scorned a Peruvian mine. I furnished myself by degrees with paper, etc., and, what was of more importance, with books of geometry and of the higher branches of algebra, which I cautiously concealed. Poetry even at this time was no amusement of mine. I only had recourse to it when I wanted money for my mathematical pursuits. But the clouds were gathering fast. My master's anger was raised to a terrible pitch by my indifference to his concerns, and still more by my presumptuous attempts at versification. I was required to give up my papers, and when I refused, was searched, my little hoard of books discovered and removed, and all future repetitions prohibited in the strictest manner. This was a severe stroke, I felt it most sensibly, and it was followed by another, severer still, a stroke which crushed the hopes I had so long and fondly cherished, and resigned me at once to despair. Mr. Hugh Smerdon, the master of the school on whose succession I had calculated, died and was succeeded by a person not much older than myself, and certainly not so well qualified for the situation.''

Poor Gifford! hard, indeed, was thy lot; an orphan without friends, helpers, or sympathizers, having no proper leisure or means for study or recreation, and even the little pleasure and profit wrung from a few ciphering books and doggerel verses snatched away by cruel hands; trodden down like a worm in the mire, and every particle of talent and ambition threatened with extinction! For six long years this misery lasted in one form or another, while he strove to hope on against hope, and found himself compelled to labor at a trade which he declares he hated from the first with a perfect hatred, and never, consequently, made any progress in. What could be more miserable and disheartening? But to the industrious and patient, as "to the upright, there ariseth light in the darkness." No darker hour occurred in all Gifford's miserable boyhood and youth than that which is described in the sentences just quoted. And now the light is about to appear. A friend comes upon the scene, to whose generous interference the unhappy cobbler owed the educational advantages he afterward enjoyed. His obligations to this benefactor were always most readily and warmly expressed; for whatever faults Gifford might have, he was never charged with the meanness of forgetting his lowly origin, and the generous friend by whom he had been rescued from a wretched condition and introduced to a happier state of life. He speaks of his benefactor as bearing "a name never to be pronounced by him without veneration." This gentleman, Mr. Cooksley, was a surgeon in the neighborhood. He had accidentally heard of the young cobbler's poetry, and sought an interview with him. Gifford went down to the surgeon's house, and, encouraged by the kindness he received, told the story of his attempts at self-culture, and of the hardships he had undergone. Deeply moved by the touching story, and convinced of the young man's natural abilities and desert of encouragement, Mr. Cooksley resolved, there and then, on liberating the youth from the thraldom of his situation. The first thing was to free him from the bonds of his ap prenticeship, and the next to give him the advantages of regular instruction. He was then twenty years of age, and he says, "My handwriting was bad, and my language very incorrect." Accordingly, a subscription was started to furnish funds for this twofold purpose. It read as follows: "A subscription for purchasing the remainder of the time of William Gifford, and for enabling him to improve himself in writing and English grammar." The kindness of Cooksley and a few other friends, whose sympathies were enlisted by his generous zeal for the youth, enabled him to receive two years' instruction from a clergyman, the Rev. Thomas Smerdon, who resided in the locality. Such was the progress made by Gifford, that at the end of that time his instructor pronounced him quite prepared for the university. Again Mr. Cooksley proved a friend. By his efforts and promises of support Gifford was entered at Exeter College, Oxford. Unfortunately his noble patron died before Gifford could take his degree. But he was not suffered to leave Oxford on account of Mr. Cooksley's death. He found a second patron in Lord Grosvenor, by whose aid the grateful undergraduate was enabled to finish his term. The culture which he received in the university must have been very thorough and complete, evincing itself in refinement of manner as well as scholarship of no ordinary degree, for in the course of a few years after leaving Ashburton, we learn that the late shoemaker was taken into the family of Lord Grosvenor as private tutor and travelling companion to his son Lord Belgrave. The circumstance which led to Lord Grosvenor's patronage of Gifford was remarkable, and deserves to he recorded as an illustration of the fact that an accident may lead to the most important events in our history. But we must premise, first of all, as a safeguard against a false inference or false hopes, that such accidents are sure to come in the way of industrious, clever and, deserving men. If they occur to men of a different stamp they are of no avail. If William Gifford had not been a hard-working student, such a circumstance as the accidental perusal of one of his letters by a person for whom it was not intended could not have helped his fortunes in the least. It appears that he had been in the habit of corresponding with a friend in London on literary matters. His letters to this friend were sent under covers, and in order to save postage were left at Lord Grosvenor's. One day the address of the literary friend was omitted, and his lordship, supposing time letter to be for himself, opened and read it. The contents excited his admiration, and awakened his curiosity to know who the author could be. He was sent for, and after an interview, in which, for the second time in his life, he told the story of his early struggles to willing and sympathizing ears, he was invited by Lord Grosvenor to come and reside with him.

It is deeply gratifying to record instances of disinterested generosity of this kind, and to read the glowing language in which the thankful young student refers to the kindness of his noble patron. Referring to the invitation to live with Lord Grosvenor, and his promise of honorable maintenance, Gifford says, "These were not words of course, they were more than fulfilled in every point. I did go and reside with him, and I experienced a warm and cordial reception, and a kind and affectionate esteem that has known neither diminution nor interruption, from that hour to this, a period of twenty years."

In 1794, his "Baviad" was published, in imitation of the satires of Persius, and in the following year the "Maeviad," after the style of Horace. These names were taken from the third Eclogue of Virgil—

He may with foxes plough and milk he-goats,
Who praises Bavius or on Maevius dotes.

These terribly virulent satires, like those of Boileau and Pope, were aimed at contemporary poets of an inferior order, and like them, too, were most crushing in their effect. The Della Cruscan School never smiled, or rather smirked, again after the issue of the Baviad and Maeviad. But it is a rare thing to meet with a critic or a satirist who escapes the danger of committing a fault in condemning one. Gifford did not escape this danger. His lines certainly did not answer to the epigram—

Satire should, like a polished razor keen,
Wound with a touch that's scarcely felt or seen.

His unhappy victims were hacked and hewed in pieces in a merciless and barbarous manner; while the spectators enjoyed the savage sport, and accorded the cruel executioner a wreath of laurel for the vigor and talent displayed in his unenviable task. These satires first made Gifford's name in the world of letters. But his fame as a scholar was established chiefly on his translations of Persius and Juvenal, and his excellent editions, with valuable notes, of the early "English Dramatists." Speaking of Gifford's edition of Ben Jonson's dramatic and other works, John Kemble, the most accomplished actor of his day, says, "It is the best edition, by the ablest of modern commentators, through whose learned and generous labors old Ben's forgotten works and injured character are restored to the merited admiration and esteem of the world."

The celebrity thus obtained, along with the friendship of the leading Tory politicians of the day, secured for Gifford the position of editor of the London Quarterly. It ought to be stated that when Mr. Channing started the Anti-Jacobin in 1797, Gifford was entrusted with the conduct of that journal, and had thus acquired a little experience of journalism. His connection with this paper, which came out weekly, lasted only for a year. But he managed the Quarterly, as we have said, for fifteen years, that is, from 1809, the date of its commencement, to 1824, when ill-health compelled him to lay his pen aside.

The plan of this new journal had originated with John Murray, the famous publisher, and had received the hearty support of Waiter Scott, Robert Southey, Canning, Rose, Disraeli, and Hookham Frere. The first number, containing three articles by Walter Scott, was published on the 1st February, 1809, and was immediately sold out, a second edition being called for. Canning wrote for the second number, and Southey became a constant and most prolific contributor. "For the first hundred and twenty-six numbers he wrote ninety-four articles, many of them of great permanent value" [author's note: "History of Booksellers." H. Curwen. Chatton & Windus. P. 175.] At John Murray's "drawing-rooms,'' where the leading literary men of the day were wont to assemble at four o'clock, Gifford met with a brilliant assemblage of poets, novelists, historians, artists, and others. Murray the publisher delighted "to gather together such men as Byron, Scott, Moore, Campbell, Southey, Gifford, Hallam, Lockhart, Washington Irving, and Mrs. Somerville; and, more than this, he invited such artists as Lawrence, Wilkie, Phillips, Newton, and Pickersgill, to meet them and paint them, that they might hang forever on his wails." It was in reference to one of Murray's "publishers' dinners" Byron wrote the lines in which occurs the following allusion to Gifford:

A party dines with me to-day,
All clever men who make their way;
Crabbe, Malcolm, Hamilton, and Chantrey
Are all partakers of my pantry....
My room's so full — we've Gifford here,
Reading MS. with Hookham Frere,
Pronouncing on the nouns and particles
Of some of our forthcoming articles.

A writer in the Literary Gazette, who had the pleasure of Gifford's personal acquaintance, has made the following interesting notes upon his private character, and his conduct as an editor. "He never stipulated for any salary as editor; at first he received £200, and at last £900 per annum, but never engaged for a particular sum. He several times returned money to Murray, saying 'he had been too liberal.' Perhaps he was the only man on this side the Tweed who thought so! He was perfectly indifferent about wealth. I do not know a better proof of this than the fact that he was richer, by a very considerable sum, at the time of his death than he was at all aware of. In unison with his contempt of money was his disregard of any external distinction; he had a strong natural aversion to anything like pomp or parade. Yet he was by no means insensible to an honorable distinction, and when the University of Oxford, about two years before his death, offered to give him a doctor's degree, he observed, 'Twenty years ago it would have been gratifying, but now it would only be written on my coffin.'

"His disregard for external show was the more remarkable, as a contrary feeling is generally observable in persons who have risen from penury to wealth. But Gifford was a gentleman in feeling and in conduct, and you were never led to suspect he was sprung from an obscure origin except when he reminded you of it by an anecdote relative to it. And this recalls one of the stories he used to tell with irresistible drollery, the merit of which entirely depended on his manner. It was simply this: At the cobblers' board, of which Gifford had been a member, there was but one candle allowed for the whole coterie of operatives; it was, of course, a matter of importance that this candle should give as much light as possible. This was only to be done by repeated snuffings; but snuffers being a piece of fantastic coxcombry they were not pampered with: the members of the board took it in turn to perform the office of the forbidden luxury with their finger and thumb. The candle was handed, therefore, to each in succession, with the word 'sneaf' (Anglice, snuff) bellowed in his ears. Gifford used to pronounce this word in the legitimate broad Devonshire dialect, and accompanied his story with expressive gestures. Now on paper this is absolutely nothing, but in Gifford's mouth it was exquisitely humorous. I should not, however, have mentioned it, were it not that it appears to me one of the best instances I could give of his humility in recurring to his former condition.... He was a man of very deep and warm affections. If I were desired to point out the distinguishing excellence of his private character, I should refer to his fervent sincerity of heart. He was particularly kind to children and fond of their society. My sister, when young, used sometimes to spend a month with him, on which occasions he would hire a pianoforte, and once he actually had a juvenile ball at his house for her amusement."

Speaking of time spirit he displayed as editor of the Quarterly, the same writer says: "He disliked incurring an obligation which might in any degree shackle the expression of his free opinion. Agreeably to this, he laid down a rule, from which he never departed, that every writer in the Quarterly would receive at least so much per sheet. On one occasion, a gentleman holding office under Government sent him an article, which, after undergoing some serious mutilations at his hands preparatory to being ushered into the world, was accepted. But the usual sum being sent to the author, he rejected it with disdain, conceiving it a high dishonor to be paid for anything — the independent placeman! Gifford, in answer, informed him of the invariable rule of the Review adding, that he could send the money to any charitable institution, or dispose of it in any manner he should direct, but that the money must be paid. The doughty official, convinced that the virtue of his article would force it into the Review at all events, stood firm in his refusal; greatly to his dismay the article was returned. He revenged himself by never sending another."

Speaking of his relation to the Tory Government of the day, the writer says: "It is true his independence of opinion might seem to be interfered with by the situations he held, but they were bestowed on him unsolicited, and from motives of personal regard. I am sure every one acquainted with him will admit that he would have rejected with scorn any kindness which could be considered as fettering the freedom of his con duct in the smallest degree. I am not more certain of many conjectures than I am that he never propagated a dishonest opinion nor did a dishonest act.... If the united influence of the Anti-Jacobin and the Quarterly be considered, we may probably be justified in assigning to Gifford's literary support of Government a rank second only to Burke."

William Gifford died worth a considerable fortune, which he left, as a token of undying gratitude, to Mr. William Cooksley, the son of his first generous patron and benefactor.

We append a few selections from Gifford's poetical works, as samples of his style and quality as a writer. The first is from the "Baviad," and represents him in the character of a satirist exposing the vanities of the "Della Cruscan" school of poets; and the second, taken from the "Maeviad," exhibits him in the more genial light of a faithful friend, commemorating his early intercourse with his companion and fellow-student, Dr. Ireland, Dean of Westminster:

For I was born To brand obtrusive ignorance with scorn
On bloated pedantry to pour my rage,
And hiss preposterous fustian from the stage.

Lo, Della Crusca! In his closet pent,
He toils to give the crude conception vent.
Abortive thoughts that right and wrong confound,
Truth sacrificed to letters, sense to sound,
False glare, incongruous images combine
And noise and nonsense clatter through the line,
'Tis done. Her house the generous Piozzi lends,
And thither summons her blue-stocking friends;
The summons her blue-stocking friends obey,
Lured by the love of poetry — and tea.

The bard steps forth in birthday splendor drest,
His right hand graceful waving o'er his breast,
His left extending, so that all may see
A roll inscribed, "The Wreath of Liberty."
So forth he steps, and with complacent air,
Bows round the circle, and assumes the chair;
With lemonade he gargles first his throat,
Then sweetly preludes to the liquid note:
And now 'tis silence all. "Genius or muse"—
Thus while the flowery subject he pursues,
A wild delirium round th' assembly flies;
Unusual lustre shoots from Emma's eyes;
Luxurious Arno drivels as he stands
And Anna frisks, and Laura claps her hands....

Hear now our guests: — "The critics, sir, they cry,
Merit like yours the critics may defy;"
But this indeed they say, "Your varied rhymes,
At once the boast and envy of the times,
In every page, song, sonnet, what you will,
Show boundless genius and unrivalled skill...."

Thus fooled, the moon-struck tribe, whose best essays
Sunk in acrostics and in roundelays,
To loftier labors now pretend a call,
And bustle in heroics one and all.
E'en Bertie burns of gods and chiefs to sing—
Bertie who lately twittered to the string
His namby pamby madrigals of love,
In the dark dingles of a glittering grove,
Where airy lays, wove by the hand of morn,
Were hung to dry upon a cobweb thorn!
Happy the soil where bards like mushrooms rise,
And ask no culture but what Byshe supplies!
Happier the bards who, write whate' er they will,
Find gentle readers to admire them still!...

Oh for the good old times! when all was new,
And every hour brought prodigies to view,
Our sires in unaffected language told
Of streams of amber, and of rooks of gold;
Full of their theme, they spurned all idle art;
And the plain tale was trusted to the heart.
Now all is changed! We fume and fret, poor elves;
Less to display our subject than ourselves:
Whate'er we paint — a grot, a flower, a bird,
Heavens! how we sweat, laboriously absurd!
Words of gigantic bulk, and uncouth sound,
In rattling triads the long sentence bound;
While points with points, with periods periods jar,
And the whole work seems one continued war!

Not less poetical, and certainly much more pleasant in its tone, is this reminiscence of his early friendship with Dr. Ireland:

Chief thou, my friend! who from my earliest years
Hast shared my joys, and more than shared my cares,
Sure, if our fates hang on some hidden power,
And take their color from the natal hour,
Then, Ireland, the same planet on us rose,
Such the strong sympathies our lives disclose!
Thou knowest how soon we felt this influence bland,
And sought the brook and coppice, hand in hand,
And shaped rude bows, and uncouth whistles blew,
And paper kites — a last great effort — flew:
And when the day was done, retired to rest,
Sleep on our eyes, and sunshine in our breast.
In riper years, again together thrown,
Our studies, as our sports before, were one.
Together we explored the stoic page
Of the Ligurian, stern though bearless sage!
Or traced the Aquinian through the Latine road,
And trembled at the lashes he bestowed.
Together, too, when Greece unlocked her stores,
We roved in thought o'er Troy's devoted shores,
Or followed, while he sought his native soil,
"That old man eloquent" from toil to toil;
Lingering, with good Alcinous o'er the tale,
Till the east reddened and the stars grew pale.

The tenderness of his nature is also shown in the lines he wrote for the tombstone of his faithful servant Ann Davies:

Though here unknown, dear Ann, thy ashes rest,
Still lives thy memory in one grateful breast,
That traced thy course through many a painful year,
And marked thy humble hope, thy pious fear.
Oh! when this frame which yet while life remained,
Thy duteous love with trembling hand sustained,
Dissolves — as soon it must — may that blest Power
Who beamed on thine, illume my parting hour!
So shall I greet thee where no ills annoy,
And what was sown in grief is reaped in joy;
Where worth, obscured below, bursts into day,
And those are paid whom earth could never pay.