1800 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

Anonymous, "Literary Fracas" The Morning Chronicle (23 August 1800).



PETER PINDAR gives the following account of the causes and consequences of his rencontre, with the Author of the Baviad:—

"Determined to punish R******, that dared propagate a report the most atrocious, the most unnatural, and the most unfounded, I repaired to WRIGHT'S shop in Piccadilly, to catch him, as I understood that he paid frequent visits to his worthy friend and publisher. On opening the shop door, I saw several people, and, among the rest, as I thought, GIFFORD. I immediately asked him if his name was GIFFORD. Upon his reply in the affirmative, without any further ceremony, I began to cane him. WRIGHT and his customers, and his shopmen, immediately surrounded me, and wrested the cane from my hand: I then had recourse to the fist — and really was doing ample and easy justice to my cause — when I found my hands all on a sudden confined behind me, particularly by a tall Frenchman. Upon this, GIFFORD had time to turn round, and, with his own stick — a large one too — struck me several blows on the head. I was then hustled out of the shop, and the door was locked against me. I entreated them to let me in, but in vain. Upon a tall Frenchman coming out of the shop, I told him that he was one of the fellows that held my hands: I have been since informed that his name was PELTIER.

"Before I quitted the door, I contrived to get admission for the following letter, written before the action, directed to Mr. GIFFORD: — (See the Chronicle of Thursday).

"I then retired to the house of a friend for about an hour, and returned to WRIGHT'S shop to finish the affair; but the door was still locked, and GIFFORD, I believe, in the house. Some of the shopmen came forward and told me that I should not enter; upon which I desired them to inform GIFFORD, that wherever I met him, he might depend on every castigation due to his calumny — that Society ought to be purged of such a dangerous pest, which, if possible, in spite of his Noble Supporters, I would try to accomplish.

"GIFFORD has given out, as a matter of triumph, that he possesses my cane, and that he means to preserve it as a trophy. Let me recommend an inscription for it — 'The Cane of Justice, with which I, WILLIAM GIFFORD, late Cobler of Ashburton, have been soundly drubbed for my infamy.'"

The following statement respecting the transaction we have received from Mr. Wright:—

"I was not in the shop, nor indeed in London, when it happened; but I am AUTHORISED by the only two gentlemen who were witnesses of it, to lay before the public the following STATEMENT, of which every part can be attested on oath:—

"Mr. Gifford was sitting by the window, with a newspaper in his hand, when Peter Pindar came into the shop, and saying, 'Is not your name Gifford?' Without waiting for an answer, raised a stick, he had brought for the purpose, and levelled a blow at his head with all his force. Mr. Gifford, fortunately, caught the stick in his left hand, and, quitting his chair, wrested it instantly from the cowardly assassin, and give him two severe blows with it; one of which made a dreadful impression on Peter's skull. Mr. Gifford had raised the stick to strike him a third time, but seeing one of the gentlemen present about to collar the wretch, he desisted, and coolly said, 'turn him out of the shop.'

"This was literally and truly all that passed; and this, as the Morning Chronicle (which has given a very fair and candid account of the transaction) observes, 'was the work of an instant.'

"Such is the narrative delivered to me verbatim by the only witnesses of what passed.

Piccadilly, August 22.

J. WRIGHT."