1850 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

Leigh Hunt, in Autobiography of Leigh Hunt (1850) 1:257.



I have mentioned the Roxburgh sale of books. I was standing among the bidders with my friend the late Mr. Barron Field, when he jogged my elbow, and said, "There is Gifford over the way, looking at you with such a face!" I met the eyes of my beholder, and saw a little man, with a warped frame and a countenance between the querulous and the angry, gazing at me with all his might. It was, truly enough, the satirist who could not bear to be satirized — the denouncer of incompetencies, who could not bear to be told of his own. He had now learnt what it was to taste of his own bitter medicaments; and he never profited by it; for his Review spared neither age nor sex as long as he lived. What he did at first, out of a self-satisfied incompetence, he did at last out of an envious and angry one; and he was, all the while, the humble servant of power, and never expressed one word of regret for his inhumanity. This mixture of implacability and servility is the sole reason, as I have said before, why I still speak of him as I do.