Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 21.djvu/316

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appear until 1802, when the autobiography from which the preceding facts are taken was given in the preface. Gifford first became known by the two satires, the ‘Baviad’ (1794) and the ‘Mæviad’ (1795), published together in 1797. Gifford attacks the so-called Della Cruscans, a small clique of English at Florence, including Mrs. Piozzi, Mr. Merry, and other scribblers, who published poems in a paper called ‘The World’ under such signatures as ‘Anna Matilda.’ They were so silly as to be too small game for satire. The ‘Mæviad’ also assails some of the small dramatists of the time.

John Williams, author of some discreditable books by ‘Anthony Pasquin,’ prosecuted Gifford in the Michaelmas term of 1797 for a libel contained in a note to the ‘Baviad.’ Gifford's counsel, Garrow, read some passages from Pasquin to the jury, who immediately nonsuited the plaintiff. The trial is reported in the eighth edition of the ‘Baviad’ and ‘Mæviad’ (1811). In 1800 Gifford had a quarrel with a better-known antagonist, John Wolcot, ‘Peter Pindar.’ Wolcot attributed to William Gifford a criticism in the ‘Anti-Jacobin Review’ really written by John Gifford [q. v.] He assaulted the wrong Gifford, who was entering the shop of his bookseller, Wright (now Hatchard's), but after a brief scuffle was bundled out into the street and rolled in the mud. The affray was celebrated in a mock-heroic ‘Battle of the Bards,’ by ‘Mauritius Moonshine’ (1800). Taylor (Records of my Life, ii. 279) asserts that he explained the mistake, and that thereupon the combatants exchanged friendly messages. An ‘explanation’ must have been difficult and its results transitory. Gifford published an ‘Epistle to Peter Pindar’ (1800), in the preface to which he endorsed his namesake's attack upon Wolcot (whom he had never previously mentioned), and in which he calls Wolcot an unhappy ‘dotard,’ a ‘brutal sot,’ a ‘miscreant,’ a ‘reptile,’ and an ‘atheist,’ besides giving anecdotes of his cruelty, blasphemy, and debauchery. Wolcot would be afraid of seeking legal redress after the fate of John Williams. He retaliated in various passages in his works, to which it seems rather strange that Gifford should have submitted. Gifford is accused of supplanting his friend Peters with Lord Grosvenor, and of keeping his patron's favour by the basest services (Peter Pindar, Works, 1812, iii. 493–6, iv. 331–3). Taylor tells us that Peters quarrelled with Gifford for the reason assigned; but the other imputation is sufficiently discredited by its author's character.

Gifford was becoming known in the political world. In 1797 Canning and his friends were projecting the ‘Anti-Jacobin, or Weekly Examiner.’ The illness of Grant, who had been engaged as editor, caused the substitution of Gifford. The paper appeared from 20 Nov. 1797 to 9 July 1798. Gifford wrote in it himself, and became connected with Canning and his distinguished co-operators. After this paper had dropped a monthly magazine called ‘The Anti-Jacobin Review’ was started by John Gifford [q. v.], but had no connection with its predecessor.

When the ‘Quarterly Review’ was started, with the concurrence of Canning, Scott, and other eminent tories, Gifford became the editor. The first number appeared in February 1809. Its success is a presumption that he must have had some good qualities as an editor, though he was so well supported that a good start was insured. An imperfect list of the authors of articles in the early numbers is in the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ for 1844 (i. 137, 577), 1845 (i. 599), and 1847 (ii. 34). Among his most regular contributors were Scott, Southey, Croker, and Barrow. His own contributions seem to have been mainly literary. According to Southey, he looked upon authors as Izaak Walton looked upon worms—something beyond the pale of human sympathy. His rigorous adherence to the old school in literature and his hatred of radicals gave especial bitterness to his judgments of the rising authors. He was probably the author of the famous assault upon Keats's ‘Endymion’ (number dated April 1818, which appeared in September following). His antipathy was repaid in full by the radicals. Hazlitt replied to some attacks in a bitter ‘Letter to W. Gifford’ (1819), part of which was reprinted as an appendix to Leigh Hunt's ‘Ultra-Crepidarius,’ a satire in verse (1823). Byron, however, speaks with exaggerated deference of Gifford, to whom ‘Childe Harold’ was shown (against the author's wishes) in manuscript, and to whom nearly all the later poems were submitted. Byron always professed to agree in theory, though not in practice, with Gifford's admiration for the old or ‘classical’ school. Southey's frequent references show that Gifford exerted to the utmost the editor's right of altering and interpolating. Southey was frequently so stung by this and by some differences of opinion that he would, he says, have broken off the connection if he could have afforded to do so. Gifford doubtless knew that Southey had good reasons for submission. The first article left unspoilt by Gifford, one phrase excepted, was in November 1821 (Southey, Selected Letters, 1856, iii. 283). Gifford was a little man, almost deformed, and had long been full of ailments, which may partly ex-