1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Gifford

John Taylor Esq., "To the Memory of the Late William Gifford, Esq." Gentleman's Magazine 97 (January 1827) 63.



At rest is GIFFORD! from a lowly state
He rose to rank among the truly Great.
His youth in penury and pain was past,
And Fate's dark clouds seem'd menacing to last.
But tho' he droop'd beneath the weight of care,
He sunk not in the depths of dire despair:
Still 'mid coarse drudgery, and tyrant sway
His mind was cheer'd by Learning's dawning ray.
Though worn by toil, sound knowledge he acquir'd,
Yet only to a humble sphere aspir'd.
At length, while bent by sorrow and dismay,
A friend then help'd him on life's weary way;
When e'en of hope bereft, appear'd that friend,
His spirits rous'd, and bade his prospects mend.
Gain'd him full liberty at will to roam,
And fix'd him in Oxford's classic dome.
A lucky star still shed its fost'ring rays,
To light his onward course to happier days.
Chance — no — benignant PROVIDENCE was there,
And led him to a noble Patron's care,
Plac'd him at ease, and, as the Sire began,
The virtuous Son fulfill'd the gen'rous plan.
GIFFORD with grateful zeal beheld the Youth,
And train'd him soon to learning, wisdom, truth.
While station'd thus, with ev'ry want supplied,
No change of fortune rais'd unseemly pride,
O'er former woes he cast no specious veil,
But told himself the sad eventful tale,
Rememb'ring still his youth's oppressive load,
And all the kindness Friendship then bestow'd.
Alas! what ills on human kind await—
While happy thus amid the smiles of fate,
For Genius and for Learning wreath'd by Fame,
Disease, with undermining venom, came;
And yet its course his patience ne'er subdu'd
But all was borne with Christian fortitude.
Mild was his temper, — if severe his pen,
'Twas only aim'd at vain and vicious men;
Firm to support those principles alone,
That shield the People and uphold the Throne.
In him the Critic, Scholar, Bard, combin'd,
With zeal intrepid and a candid mind.
False Taste he ridiculed, and drove her hence,
A triumph well achiev'd by sturdy sense.
At last exhausted, Death then hov'ring near,
The patient suff'rer saw him not with fear,
Calmly declar'd his readiness to die,
And left the world without a parting sigh.