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the age we live in. They are marks of a restless and revolutionary spirit: they disturb his composure of mind, and threaten (by implication) the safety of the state. His slow, snailpaced, bed-rid habits of reasoning cannot keep up with the whirling, eccentric motion, the rapid, perhaps extravagant combinations of modern literature. He has long been stationary himself, and is determined that others shall remain so. The hazarding a paradox is like letting off a pistol close to his ear: he is alarmed and offended. The using an elliptical mode of expression (such as he did not use to find in Guides to the English Tongue) jars him like coming suddenly to a step in a flight of stairs that you were not aware of. He pishes and pshaws at all this, exercises a sort of interjectional criticism on what excites his spleen, his envy, or his wonder, and hurls his meagre anathemas ex cathedrá at all those writers who are indifferent alike to his precepts and his example!
Mr. Gifford, in short, is possessed of that sort of learning which is likely to result from an over-anxious desire to supply the want of the first rudiments of education; that sort of wit, which is the offspring of ill-humour or bodily pain ; that sort of sense, which arises
from a spirit of contradiction and a disposition to cavil at and dispute the opinions of others; and that sort of reputation, which is the consequence of bowing to established authority and ministerial influence. He dedicates to some great man, and receives his compliments in return. He appeals to some great name, and the Under-graduates of the two Universities look up to him as an oracle of wisdom. He throws the weight of his verbal criticism and puny discoveries in black-letter reading into the gap, that is supposed to be making in the Constitution by Whigs and Radicals, whom he qualifies without mercy as dunces and miscreants; and so entitles himself to the protection of Church and State. The character of his mind is an utter want of independence and magnanimity in all that he attempts. He cannot go alone, he must have crutches, a go-cart and trammels, or he is timid, fretful, and helpless as a child. He cannot conceive of any thing different from what he finds it, and hates those who pretend to a greater reach of intellect or boldness of spirit than himself. He inclines, by a natural and deliberate bias, to the traditional in laws and government; to the orthodox in religion ; to the safe in opinion; to the trite in imagination; to the technical
in style; to whatever implies a surrender of individual judgment into the hands of authority, and a subjection of individual feeling to mechanic rules. If he finds any one flying in the face of these, or straggling from the beaten path, he thinks he has them at a notable disadvantage, and falls foul of them without loss of time, partly to soothe his own sense of mortified self-consequence, and as an edifying spectacle to his legitimate friends. He takes none but unfair advantages. He twits his adversaries (that is, those who ‘are not in the leading-strings of his school or party) with some personal or accidental defect. writer has been punished for a political libel, he is sure to hear of it in a literary criticism, If a lady goes on crutches and is out of favour at court, she is reminded of it in Mr. Gifford's manly satire. He sneers at people of low birth or who have not had a college-education, partly to hide his own want of certain advantages, partly as well-timed flattery to those who possess them. He has a right to laugh at poor, unfriended, untitled genius from wearing the livery of rank and letters, as footmen behind a coronet-coach laugh at the rabble. He keeps good company, and forgets himself. He stands at the door of Mr. Murray's shop, and will not let any body pass but the well-dressed mob, or some followers of the court. To edge into the Quarterly Temple of Fame the candidate must have a diploma from the Universities, a passport from the Treasury. Otherwise, it is a breach of etiquette to let him pass, an insult to the better sort who aspire to the love of letters --and may chance to drop in to the Feast of the Poets. Or, if he cannot manage it thus, or get rid of the claim on the bare ground of poverty or want of school-learning, he trumps up an excuse for the occasion, such as that “a man was confined in Newgate a short time before”-it is not a lie on the part of the critic, it is only an amiable subserviency to the will of his betters, like that of a menial who is ordered to deny his master, a sense of propriety, a knowledge of the world, a poetical and moral license. Such fellows (such is his cue from his employers) should at any rate be kept out of privileged places: persons who have been convicted of prose-libels ought not to be suffered to write poetry--if the fact was not exactly as it was stated, it was something of the kind, or it ought to have been so, the assertion was a pious fraud,—the public, the court, the prince himself might read the work, but for this mark of opprobrium set upon it-it was not to be endured that an insolent plebeian should aspire to elegance, taste, fancy-it was throwing down the barriers which ought to separate the higher and the lower classes, the loyal and the disloyal--the paraphrase of the story of Dante was therefore to perform quarantine, it was to seem not yet recovered from the gaol infection, there was to be a taint upon it, as there was none in it-and all this was performed by a single slip of Mr. Gifford's pen! We would willingly believe (if we could) that in this case there was as much weakness and prejudice as there was malice and cunning.–Again, we do not think it possible that under any circumstances the writer of the Verses to Anna could enter into the spirit or delicacy of Mr. Keats's poetry. The fate of the latter somewhat resembled that of
bud bit by an envious worm, Ere it could spread its sweet leaves to the air,
Or dedicate its beauty to the sun.” Mr. Keats's ostensible crime was that he had been praised in the Examiner. Newspaper : a greater and more unpardonable offence probably was, that he was a true poet, with all the errors and beauties of youthful genius to answer for. Mr. Gifford was as insensible to the one as he was inexorable to the other. Let the