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7. WordswoRTH.-The Country Inn
COLERIDGE. The Circassian and his Sleeping 7
16. SOUTHEY.-Mahommed and the Angel of Death .
23. HUNT.-Mill and Landscape
25. BYRON.—The cold Beauty of the Harem
34. Mrs. HEMANS-Christ's Agony in the Garden 36. Mrs. HEMANS-Christ and Mary Magdalene
This eminent scholar, critic, and satirist, was a bright example of what genius can accomplish when it is directed by prudence and perseverance. Gifford was descended from a family of some consequence in Devonshire, but his father had commenced life under such evil auspices, that he was successively a sailor and a wandering tinker. William, the future reviewer, was born at Ashburton, in April, 1756; and after being sent to school in his childhood, where he acquired only the elements of a common education, he was turned adrift upon the wide world at the age of thirteen, having lost both his parents. He entered on board a coaster as ship-boy and cabin-boy, in which humble calling he remained nearly a twelvemonth, when in consequence of the commiseration which his forlorn condition excited among the fish-women of his native town he was recalled, and put once more to school, where his rapid progress justified the interference of those kind friends who had interposed in his behalf. In his fifteenth year, he resolved to devote himself to the occupation of a schoolmaster; but here he was again disappointed, by being obliged to bind himself apprentice to a shoemaker. Up to this time his reading had been extremely limited, but, with an unquenchable ardour for knowledge, he snatched every chance moment of improvement, and made himself ma er of algebra, at a time when, to use his own words,
pen, ink, and paper, were as completely out of his reach as a crown and sceptre,” so that he was obliged to note down his calculations upon smooth pieces of leather, with the point of an awl. At this time, also, he was inspired with a tendency to rhyme. His verses were applauded among his humble friends, who thought them wonderful productions, and their admiration was sometimes expressed in the tangible form of a few pence, with which he furnished himself with the long-desired writing materials. Still, however, as at every future period, he did not allow himself to be led away from his other intellectual pursuits by a boyish enthusiasm for verse-making, so that he looked upon poetry merely as an auxiliary in his study of mathematics.
It was his poetry, however, that was to constitute the favourable turning point in Gifford's eventful life. Mr. Cookesley, a benevolent surgeon, having seen several of the poetical shoemaker's verses, felt a strong interest in their author; and on examining into the nature of the youth's attainments, he was surprised to find so much perseverance in the acquirement of Latin and mathematics, combined with such utter ignorance of general science and literature. He for. tunately saw, however, that Gifford only needed the means of improvement to attain the highest degree of proficiency, and his first effort was to relieve him from the thraldom of apprenticeship, and furnish him with the opportunity of improving himself in the knowledge of the English language. This was happily accomplished by a general subscription; and such was the progress of the emancipated scholar, that, in lituo more than two years afterwards, the situation of Biblical Reader was procured for him at Exeter College, Oxford. Here his energy and acquirements had full scope, his knowledge rapidly expanded, his rough verses acquired a classical polish, and through the kind patronage of Lord Grosvenor, with whose son he twice made a tour of the Continent, he was placed in a position to enter public life with distinction. The long career of Gifford after this period is well known. He distinguished himself by his translations of Juvenal and Persius, and by his Baviad and Mæviad, the best of his original productions, in which he lashed the fashionable poetry and fashionable vices of the day; and he edited the works of Ben Jonson, Ford, and Shirley. He earned, bowever, his chief literary distinction as editor of the Quarterly Review, which important office he neld from the commencement of that work until the end of 1825. While he occupied the unenviable office of the Zoilus of the day, he showed a rigid zeal not only against intellectual, but moral delinquencies; and the lash, which he wielded with such merciless vigour, was as often laid upon the back of the sophist as the dunce. Even talent of the highest kind could find no favour in his eyes, unless it was devoted to the cause of truth and virtue. He died on the last day of the following year, in the seventy-first year of his age.
Lo, Beaufoy tells of Afric's barren sand,
Oh for the good old times! When all was new,