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Memoir of John Murray
William Gifford to John Murray, 17 May 1811

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chap. XX.
Chap. XXI.
Chap. XXII.
Chap. XXIII.
Chap. XXIV.
Chap. XXV.
Chap. XXVI.
Chap. XXVII.
Chap. XXIX.
Chap. XXX.
Chap. XXXI.
Chap. XXXII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
May 17th, 1811.
Dear Murray,

I have seldom been more pleased and vexed at a time than with the perusal of the enclosed MS. It has wit, it has ingenuity, but both are absolutely lost in a negligence of composition which mortifies me. Why will your young friend fling away talent which might so honourably distinguish him? He might, if he chose, be the ornament of our Review, instead of creating in one mingled regret and admiration. It is utterly impossible to insert such a composition as the present; there are expressions which would not be borne; and if, as you say, it will be sent to Jeffrey’s if I do not admit it, however I may grieve, I must submit to the alternative. Articles of pure humour should be written with extraordinary attention. A vulgar laugh is detestable. I never saw much merit in writing rapidly. You will believe me when I tell you that I have been present at the production of more genuine wit and humour than almost any person of my time, and that it was revised and polished and arranged with a scrupulous care which overlooked nothing. I have not often seen fairer promises of excellence in this department than in your correspondent; but I tell you frankly that they will all be blighted and perish prematurely unless sedulously cultivated. It is a poor ambition to raise a casual laugh in the unreflecting.

I had conceived very high hopes from the paper on Miss Seward; I am justified by the present article; but are not

* See ante, p. 123.

these hopes to be realised by care, by study, by correction? To lose an assistant capable of such powerful aid, would indeed mortify me very greatly; and I could wish you to insinuate in the gentlest manner that what is hastily written should, on that very account, be more anxiously revised; and that no permanent reputation can be founded on thoughts thrown out at random, how ever brilliant, unless clothed in appropriate terms.

If you thought this young gentleman could be prevailed upon to look again at what he has written, and make such alterations as even he must now judge proper, I shall be really happy to avail myself of his extraordinary talents. He must see that it cannot appear in the Quarterly in its present form. Let me hear from you on this subject again.

I am ever, dear Sir, yours,
Wm. Gifford.