1823 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

John Wilson, et. al., in Blackwood's Magazine (March 1823); Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 1:286.



TICKLER. It will be a great loss to literature when he retires from his Review. I wonder who is to succeed him.

NORTH. I wish, with all my heart, he had a successor worthy of himself: a man inspired, like him, in spite of all his defects, with a true and deep reverence for the old spirit of English loyalty and English religion; and, what will be even more difficult to match, imbued with a thorough knowledge of the old and genuine classics of our literature. I fear no young man will do; and I know of no old one likely to buckle up to such a labor. Murray should look twice ere he leap; but perhaps Gifford himself may stand it out longer than seems to be generally expected.

TICKLER. I hope so. After all, the Tories might find it almost as difficult to replace him, as the Whigs would find it difficult to replace our friend Jeffrey.

NORTH. Just so. The truth is, that both Gifford and Jeffrey have done many wrong things — the latter many hundreds, perhaps; but take them all in all, they are scholars and gentlemen, and literature must number them among the bene meriti of her republic. Compare them with the fry they have so long kept in the shade.