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QUARTERLY BIOGRAPHICAL MAGAZINE.
WILLIAM GIFFORD. The details of the lives of some distinguished writers present few incidents of interest or importance; and though their productions may long survive them, and be read with admiration in succeeding ages, yet that they lived, and wrote, and died, is sometimes nearly the sum total of what is recorded concerning them. Too often indeed does it happen, as Dr Johnson strongly observed, that writers for the press are men who have lived nobody knows how, and died nobody knows where. And even when the rare union of prudence and ability is crowned with worldly prosperity, and fortune as well as fame rewards the labours of an eminent writer, his life may yet be marked by no occurrences out of the common routine of affairs, and his reminiscences, so far as they relate to himself, be as dull as those of P. P. Clerk of the Parish.
But splendid instances of exception to the spirit of these remarks will occasionally occur; and the life of the successful aspirant after literary fame may afford a narrative, less varied and astonishing perhaps, but not less amusing and instructive than that of the bold adventurer whose deeds rival those of the hero of a romance. And whatever may be the degree of interest belonging to the personal history of an author, it derives additional importance from its connection with his literary labours. We view the writer in his works. For in tracing the emanations of the mind it is scarcely possible to avoid forming some ideas of the character, manners, and disposition of the individual from whom they originated. It is likewise to be observed, that those who neither by their original compositions nor their personal adventures have secured any permanent celebrity, may yet deserve commemoration on account of their intercourse, whether
VOL. 1.--NQ, 1.