LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
Chapter III.

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
(  56  )

The most important publishing firm with which Mr. Murray was connected at the outset of his career was that of Archibald Constable & Co., of Edinburgh. This connection had a considerable influence upon Murray’s future fortunes.

Constable was a man of great ability, full of spirit and enterprise. He was by nature generous, liberal, and far-seeing. The high prices which he gave for the best kind of literary work drew the best authors round him, and he raised the publishing trade of Scotland to a height that it had never before reached, and made Edinburgh a great centre of learning and literature.

His father was overseer to the Earl of Kellie, in Fife, and Archibald, after receiving a plain education at the parish school of Carnbee, was bound apprentice to Peter Hall, bookseller in Edinburgh, one of the friends and correspondents of Robert Burns. About the time of the expiration of his apprenticeship, Constable married the daughter of Mr. Wilson, printer, and began business on his own account in 1795, at the age of twenty-one. He devoted himself at first chiefly to the sale of old books connected with Scottish history and literature, by which line of trade he acquired considerable influence, and
his shop, near the Cross and the Luckenbooths, was frequented by
Dalzell, Richard Heber, Alexander Murray, John Leyden, and Walter Scott.

Constable was about four years older than Murray; both were alike full of spirit and enterprise, and eagerly looking ahead for the means of extending their connection; Constable was perhaps more daring, but Murray was more prudent. As Isaac D’Israeli said to the latter: “Prudence is the best of all genii for human affairs.”

In 1800 Constable commenced the Farmer’s Magazine, and in the following year he acquired the property of the Scots Magazine, a venerable repertory of literary, historical, and antiquarian matter, on which he employed the talents of Macneil, Leyden, and Murray. But it was not until the establishment of the Edinburgh Review, in October, 1802, that Constable’s name became a power in the publishing world.

In the year following the first issue of the Review, Constable took into partnership Alexander Gibson Hunter, eldest son of David Hunter, of Blackness, a large landed proprietor. The new partner brought a considerable amount of capital into the firm, at a time when capital was greatly needed in that growing concern. His duties were to take charge of the ledger and account department, though he never took much interest in his work, but preferred to call in the help of a clever arithmetical clerk.

It is unnecessary to speak of the foundation of the Edinburgh Review. It appeared at the right time, and was mainly supported by the talents of Jeffrey, Brougham, Sydney Smith, Francis Horner, Dr. Thomas Brown, Lord Murray, and other distinguished writers. The first number, immediately attracted public attention. Mr. Joseph Mawman was the London agent, but some dissatisfaction having
arisen with respect to his management, the London sale was transferred to the Messrs.
Longman, with one half share in the property of the work.

During the partnership of Murray and Highley, they had occasional business transactions with Constable of Edinburgh. When the partnership was dissolved in March 1803, it became the duty of Murray to communicate with Constable as to the settlement of the accounts between the firms. In the following month Murray wrote to Constable requesting him to advertise ‘Dundonald on Agriculture,’ and Dagley’s book on Gems* on the outside cover of the next Edinburgh Review. He also stated that he had no objection to Constable becoming the publisher of these works in Scotland. He concluded his letter with the following suggestive inquiry:

John Murray to Mr. A. Constable.
April 25th, 1803.

“I have several works in the press which I should be willing to consign to your management in Edinburgh, but that I presume you have already sufficient business upon your hands, and that you would not find mine worth attending to. If so, I wish that you would tell me of some vigorous young bookseller, like myself, just starting into business, upon whose probity, punctuality, and exertion you think I might rely, and I would instantly open a correspondence with him; and in return it will give me much pleasure to do any civil office for you in London. I should be happy if any arrangement could be made wherein we might prove of reciprocal advantage; and were you from your superabundance to pick me out any work of merit of which you would either make me the publisher in London, or in which you would allow me to become a partner, I dare say the occasion would arise wherein I

* Mr. D’Israeli assisted in the preparation of the letterpress of this work.

could return the compliment, and you would have the satisfaction of knowing that your book was in the hands of one who has not yet so much business as to cause him to neglect any part of it.”

Mr. Constable’s answer was favourable. He was willing to become the agent for any works that Mr. Murray might consign to him, and he would give them his utmost attention. The result was that in June 1803 Mr. Murray sent to Constable & Co. some copies of I. D’Israeli’sFlim-Flams,’ together with a copy for the editor of the Edinburgh. In the following August he again wrote to Constable, congratulating him upon the extensive circulation of the Edinburgh Review. “I hope,” he says, “it will continue its celebrity and prove highly advantageous to all its proprietors. Let me know if I can serve you in London.” Murray pushed the sale of the Review. In November he wrote to Constable: “I have got five-and-twenty new subscribers since March,” and requested that the additional numbers might be forwarded.

In October 1804 Mr. Murray, at the instance of Constable, took as his apprentice Charles Hunter, the younger brother of A. Gibson Hunter, Constable’s partner. The apprenticeship was to be for four or seven years, at the option of Charles Hunter. These negociations between the firms, and their increasing interchange of books, showed that they were gradually drawing nearer to each other, until their correspondence became quite friendly and even intimate. Walter Scott was now making his appearance as an author; Constable had published his ‘Sir Tristram’ in May 1804, and his ‘Lay of the Last Minstrel’ in January 1805. Large numbers of these works were forwarded to London and sold by Mr. Murray.

At the end of 1805, differences arose between the
Constable and Longman firms as to the periodical works in which they were interested. The Editor and proprietors of the Edinburgh Review were of opinion that the interest of the Longmans in two other works of a similar character—the Annual Review and the Eclectic —tended to lessen their exertions on behalf of the Edinburgh. It was a matter that might easily have been arranged; but the correspondents were men of hot tempers, and with pens in their hands, they sent stinging letters from London to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh to London. Rees, Longman’s partner, was as bitter in words on the one side as Hunter, Constable’s partner, was on the other. At length a deadly breach took place, and it was resolved in Edinburgh that the publication of the Edinburgh Review should be transferred to John Murray, Fleet Street. Alexander Gibson Hunter, Constable’s partner, wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:

Mr. A. G. Hunter to John Murray.
December 1st, 1805.

“Our game with Messieurs Longman & Co. is entirely up! What think you of this? You will understand, of course, that it relates to things to come, and not to things past; as there must still remain some intercourse between us (either in a direct or roundabout way) with regard to those works in which we are at present jointly concerned. But all business is at an end between us relating to future publications, to the fullest extent. It would be difficult for me to give you any account at present of this last hurricane or tornado. Suffice it to say that we have some thoughts of copying out the whole correspondence without any commentary, and submitting it confidentially to you and our mutual friend, Mr. Davies . . . . Mr. Constable is to write to you to-morrow respecting our miscellaneous order of books from London, which we send for generally once a fortnight or so. I have no doubt we will experience every attention and expedition from you in procuring and
forwarding these for us. This is the beginning of what in the end will, I most fervently trust, become a most extensive and intimate connection between us, and that ere long.”

Mr. Murray replied—

John Murray to Mr. A. G. Hunter.
December 7th, 1805.

“With regard to the important communication of your last letter, I confess the surprise with which I read it was not without some mixture of regret. The extensive connections betwixt your house and Longman’s cannot be severed at once without mutual inconvenience, and perhaps mutual disadvantages, your share of which a more protracted dismemberment might have prevented. From what I had occasion to observe, I did not conceive that your concerns together would ever again move with a cordiality that would render them lasting; but still, I imagined that mutual interest and forbearance would allow them to subside into that indifference which, without animosity or mischief, would leave either party at liberty to enter upon such new arrangements as offered to their separate advantage. I do not, however, doubt but that all things have been properly considered, and perhaps finally settled for the best; but Time, the only arbitrator in these cases, must decide.

“In your proposed engagements with Mr. Davies, you will become better acquainted with a man of great natural talents, and thoroughly versed in business, which he regulates by the most honourable principles. As for myself, you will find me exceedingly assiduous in promoting your views, into which I shall enter with feelings higher than those of mere interest. Indeed, linked as our houses are at present, we have a natural tendency to mutual good understanding, which will both prevent and soften those asperities in business which might otherwise enlarge into disagreement. Country orders [referring to Constable & Co.’s ‘general order’] are a branch of business which I have ever totally declined as incompatible with my more serious plans as a publisher. But your commissions I shall undertake with pleasure, and the punctuality with which I have attempted to execute your first order you will, I hope,
consider as a specimen of my disposition to give you satisfaction in every transaction in which we may hereafter be mutually engaged.”

In the same letter Mr. Murray says: “I have just shipped for you nearly the whole of your order on board the Coldstream packet, William Ord, master.”

It was a great chance for a young man entering life with a moderate amount of capital, to be virtually offered an intimate connection with one of the principal publishing houses of the day. It was one of those chances which, “taken at the flood, lead on to fortune,” but there was also the question of honour, and Mr. Murray, notwithstanding his desire for opening out a splendid new connection in business, would do nothing inconsistent with the strictest honour. He was most unwilling to thrust himself in between Constable and Longman. Instead, therefore, of jumping at Constable’s advantageous offer, his feelings induced him to try and promote reconciliation between the parties; and he continued to enjoin forbearance on the part of both firms, so that they might carry on their business transactions as before. The copies of the correspondence between them were submitted to the referees (Murray and Davies), and the following was Mr. Murray’s reply, addressed to Messrs. Constable & Co.:—

John Murray to Messrs. Constable & Co.
December 14th, 1805.

Mr. Hunter’s obliging letter to me arrived this morning. That which he enclosed with yours to his brother last night, Charles gave me to read. The contents were very flattering. Indeed, I cannot but agree with Mr. H. that his brother has displayed very honourable feelings, upon hearing of the probable separation of your house, and that of Messrs. Longman & Co. Mr. Longman was the first who
mentioned this to him, and indeed from the manner in which Charles related his conversation upon the affair, I could not but feel renewed sensations of regret at the unpleasant termination of a correspondence, which, had it been conducted upon Mr. Longman’s own feelings, would have borne, I think, a very different aspect. Longman spoke of you both with kindness, and mildly complained that he had perceived a want of confidence on your part, ever since his junction with Messrs.
Hurst and Orme. He confessed that the correspondence was too harsh for him to support any longer; but, he added, ‘if we must part, let us part like friends’ I am certain, from what Charles reported to me, that Mr. L. and I think Mr. R. (Rees) are hurt by this sudden disunion.

Recollect how serious every dispute becomes upon paper, when a man writes a thousand asperities merely to show or support his superior ability. Things that would not have been spoken, or perhaps even thought of in conversation, are stated and horribly magnified upon paper. Consider how many disputes have arisen in the world, in which both parties were so violent in what they believed to be the support of truth, and which to the public, and indeed to themselves a few years afterwards, appeared unwise, because the occasion or cause of it was not worth contending about. Consider that you are, all of you, men who can depend upon each other’s probity and honour, and where these essentials are not wanting, surely in mere matters of business the rest may be palliated by mutual bearance and forbearance. Besides, you are so connected by various publications, your common property, and some of them, such as will remain so until the termination of your lives, that you cannot effect an entire disunion, and must therefore be subject to eternal vexations and regrets which will embitter every transaction and settlement between you.

You know, moreover, that it is one of the misfortunes of our nature, that disputes are always the most bitter in proportion to former intimacy. And how much dissatisfaction will it occasion if either of you are desirous in a year or two of renewing that intimacy which you are now so anxious to dissolve—to say nothing of your relative utility to each other—a circumstance which is never properly estimated, except when the want of the means reminds us
of what we have been at such pains to deprive ourselves. Pause, my dear sirs, whilst to choose be yet in your power; show yourselves superior to common prejudice, and by an immediate exercise of your acknowledged pre-eminence of intellect, suffer arrangements to be made for an accommodation and for a renewal of that connexion which has heretofore been productive of honour and profit. I am sure I have to apologize for having ventured to say so much to men so much my superiors in sense and knowledge of the world and their own interest; but sometimes the meanest bystander may perceive disadvantages in the movements of the most skilful players.

You will not, I am sure, attribute anything which I have said to an insensibility to the immediate advantages which will arise to myself from a determination opposite to that which I have taken the liberty of suggesting. It arises from a very different feeling. I should be very little worthy of your great confidence and attention to my interest upon this occasion, if I did not state freely the result of my humble consideration of this matter; and having done so, I do assure you that if the arrangements which you now propose are carried into effect, I will apply the most arduous attention to your interest, to which I will turn the channel of my own thoughts and business, which, I am proud to say, is rising in proportion to the industry and honourable principles which have been used in its establishment. I am every day adding to a most respectable circle of literary connexions, and I hope, a few months after the settlement of your present affairs, to offer shares to you of works in which you will feel it advantageous to engage. Besides, as I have at present no particular bias, no enormous works of my own which would need all my care, I am better qualified to attend to any that you may commit to my charge; and, being young, my business may be formed with a disposition, as it were, towards yours; and thus growing up with it, we are more likely to form a durable connexion than can be expected with persons whose views are imperceptibly but incessantly diverging from each other.

Should you be determined—irrevocably determined (but consider!) upon the disunion with Messrs. Longman, I will just observe that when persons have been intimate, they have discovered each other’s vulnerable points; it
therefore shows no great talent to direct at them shafts of resentment. It is easy both to write and to say ill-natured, harsh, and cutting things of each other. But remember that this power is mutual, and in proportion to the poignancy of the wound which you would inflict will be your own feelings when it is returned. It is therefore a maxim which I laid down soon after a separation which I had, never to say or do to my late colleague what he could say or do against me in return. I knew that I had the persona! superiority, but what his own ingenuity could not suggest, others could write for him.

I must apologize again for having been so tedious, but I am sure that the same friendliness on your part which has produced these hasty but well-meant expostulations will excuse them. After this, I trust it is unnecessary for me to state with how much sincerity,

I am, dear sirs,
Your faithful friend,
John Murray.

Ten days after this letter was written, Mr. Murray sent a copy of it to Messrs. Longman & Co., and wrote:—

John Murray to Messrs. Longman & Co.
December 24th, 1805.

The enclosed letter will show that I am not ignorant that a misunderstanding prevails betwixt your house and that of Messrs. Constable & Co. With the cause, however, I am as yet unacquainted; though I have attempted, but in vain, to obviate a disunion which I most sincerely regret. Whatever arrangements with regard to myself may take place in consequence will have arisen from circumstances which it was not in my power to prevent; and they will not therefore be suffered to interfere in any way with those friendly dispositions which will continue, I trust, to obtain between you and, gentlemen,

Your obedient servant,
J. Murray.

But the split was not to be avoided. It appears, however, that by the contract entered into by Constable with
Longmans in 1803, the latter had acquired a legal right precluding the publication of the Edinburgh Review by another publisher without their express assent. Such assent not having been given, the London publication of the Edinburgh continued in Longman’s hands for a time: but all the other works of Constable were at once transferred to Mr. Murray. The latter, in his communication to Constable(January 4, 1806), wrote:—

“Messrs. Longman have sent to me the remainder of such books of yours as they had on hand, and they will occupy, as you prognosticated, a good space in my warehouse. We are just now arranging and counting them; and in a day or two I shall be able to send you a list.”

In April 1806 Mr. Murray joined Constable & Co. in taking shares of the Gazetteer of Scotland, Sir John Sinclair’sCode of Health and Longevity,’ and Stark’sPicture of Edinburgh.’

In the course of April Constable wrote to Murray in great spirits:—

“Our Edinburgh books are going off so well with your able assistance and activity that we shall be obliged to establish at least ten additional printing-houses, and as many binding shops, to enable us to supply the demand.”

Mr. Constable invited Murray to come to Edinburgh to renew their personal friendship and cement their confidential intercourse. Mr. Murray had in the previous year paid a visit to Edinburgh on “an important expedition,” as referred to by Mr. I. D’Israeli in the preceding chapter. He had then visited Constable and made his acquaintance; and now that their union was likely to be much closer, he desired to repeat the visit, but Mr. Murray had another, and, so far as regarded his personal happiness, a much more important cause of his renewed visit to Edinburgh.
This was the affection which he had begun to entertain for
Miss Elliot, daughter of the late Charles Elliot, publisher, with whom Mr. Murray’s father had been in such constant correspondence. The affection was mutual, and it seemed probable that the attachment would ripen into a marriage.

Mr. Constable’s invitation could not be accepted during the busy period of the publishing season. A promise was, however, given that towards the end of the year he might expect to see Mr. Murray once more in Edinburgh. Meantime Murray was deeply absorbed by his publishing business; ‘Bell’s Surgery,’ once in continuous demand, was now out of date; it was superseded by Samuel Cooper’sDictionary of Practical Surgery,’ published by Mr. Murray. Among the other medical works which he brought out were ‘Thomson’s Dispensatory,’ and a work on the Medical Department of Armies, but from this time he gradually gave up the publication of medical and surgical works, and devoted himself to other branches of literature, which opened up a newer and wider field.

A circumstance, not without influence on Murray’s future, occurred about this time with respect to the ‘Miniature,’ a volume of comparatively small importance, consisting of essays written by boys at Eton, and originally published at Windsor by Charles Knight. Through Dr. Rennell, Master of the Temple, his friend and neighbour, who lived close at hand, Murray became acquainted with the younger Rennell, Mr. Stratford Canning, Gally Knight, the two sons of the Marquis Wellesley, John and Robert Smith, and other young Etonians, who had originated and conducted this School magazine. Thirty-four numbers appeared in the course of a year, and were then brought out in a volume by Mr. Knight at the expense of the
authors. The transaction had involved them in debt. “Whatever chance of success our hopes may dictate,” wrote Stratford Canning, “yet our apprehensions teach us to tremble at the possibility of additional expenses,” and the sheets lay unsold on the bookseller’s hands. Mr. Murray, who was consulted about the matter, said to Dr. Rennell, “Tell them to send the unsold sheets to me, and I will pay the debt due to the printer.” The whole of the unsold sheets were sent by the “Windsor Waggon” to Mr. Murray’s at Fleet Street. He made waste-paper of the whole bundle—there were 6376 numbers in all,—brought out a new edition of 750 copies, printed in good type, and neatly bound, and announced to Stratford Canning that he did this at his own cost and risk, and would make over to the above Etonians half the profits of the work. The young authors were highly pleased by this arrangement, and Stratford Canning wrote to Murray (October 20, 1805): “We cannot sufficiently thank you for your kind attention to our concerns, and only hope that the success of the embryo edition may be equal to your care.” How great was the importance of the venture in his eyes may be judged from the naïve allusion with which he proceeds: “It will be a week or two before we commit it to the press, for amidst our other occupations the business of the school must not be neglected, and that by itself is no trivial employment.”

By means of this transaction Murray had the sagacity to anticipate an opportunity of making friends of Canning, Frere, and the Smiths, who were never tired of eulogizing the spirit and enterprise of the young Fleet Street publisher. Stratford Canning introduced him to his cousin George, the great minister, whose friendship and support had a very considerable influence in promoting and establishing his
future prosperity. It is scarcely necessary to add that the new edition of the ‘
Miniature’ speedily became waste paper.

Among his other publications may be mentioned Krusenstern’s ‘Voyage round the World,’ new editions of ‘The Picture of London,’ ‘Fielding’s Novels,’ and ‘Marmontel’s Tales’; the latter illustrated by Bird of Bristol. On bringing out Richard Duppa’sLife of Michael Angelo,’ a copy of the book was sent, at the author’s request, to Robert Southey, the poet, then living at Greta Hall. Mr. Southey, when acknowledging the receipt of the book, wrote to Mr. Duppa—

“It was accompanied by a note from Mr. Murray of a complimentary kind. I like to be complimented in my authorial character, and best of all by booksellers, because their good opinion gets purchasers, and so praise leads to pudding, which I consider to be the solid end of praise.”

Mr. Southey was not then aware how closely he and Mr. Murray were afterwards to become related, and how much “pudding” he was to derive from the connection.

Now that his reputation as a publisher was becoming established, Mr. Murray grew more particular as to the guise of the books which he issued. He employed the best makers of paper, the best printers, and the best bookbinders. He attended to the size and tone of the paper, the quality of the type, the accuracy of the printing, and the excellence of the illustrations. All this involved a great deal of correspondence. We find his letters to the heads of departments full of details as to the turn-out of his books. Everything, from the beginning to the end of the issue of a work—the first inspection of the MS., the consultation with confidential friends as to its fitness for publication, the form in which it was to appear, the correction of the proofs, the binding, title, and final advertisement—engaged his closest attention. Besides the elegant
appearance of his books, he also aimed at raising the standard of the literature which he published. He had to criticize as well as to select; to make suggestions as to improvements where the manuscript was regarded with favour, and finally to launch the book at the right time and under the best possible auspices. It might almost be said of the publisher, as it is of the poet, that he is born, not made. And Mr. Murray appears, from the beginning to the end of his career, to have been a born publisher.

In August, 1806, during the slack season in London, Mr. Murray made his promised visit to Edinburgh. He had two objects in view; first, to accept the cordial invitation of Constable, and make his further personal acquaintance; but his principal object was to cultivate the friendship of Mrs. Elliot, and to prosecute his suit with her daughter. It is unnecessary to enter into particulars; but nothing seems to have occurred to throw any obstacle in the way of a happy result.

Mr. Murray was warmly received by Constable and Hunter, and enjoyed their hospitality for some days. After business matters had been disposed of, he was taken in hand by Hunter, the junior partner, and led off by him to enjoy the perilous hospitality of the Forfarshire lairds.

Those have been called the days of heroic drinking. Intemperance prevailed to an enormous extent. Mr. Robert Chambers, in his ‘Memoir of Burns,’ says that he came to Edinburgh at an unfortunate time—a time of greater licentiousness, perhaps, in all the capitals of Europe, and this northern one among the rest, than had been known for a long period. Men of the best education and social position drank like the Scandinavian barbarians of olden times. Tavern-drinking, now almost unknown
among the educated and professional classes of Edinburgh, was then carried by all ranks to a dreadful excess.

Murray was conducted by Hunter to his father’s house of Eskmount in Forfarshire, where he was most cordially received, and in accordance with the custom of the times the hospitality included invitations to drinking bouts at the neighbouring houses.

An unenviable notoriety in this respect attached to Brechin Castle, the residence of Fox Maule of Panmure, commonly known as the “Generous Sportsman.” He was the second son of the eighth Earl of Dalhousie, but on succeeding to his mother’s estate had assumed the name of Maule in lieu of that of Ramsay.

Much against his will, Murray was compelled to take part in some of these riotous festivities with the rollicking, hard-drinking Forfarshire lairds, and doubtless he was not sorry to make his escape at length uninjured, if not unscathed, and to return to more congenial society in Edinburgh. His attachment to Miss Elliot ended in an engagement. The question arose, when was the marriage to take place? In the meantime, Mr. Adam Bruce, the family solicitor, with a cautious eye to the future, was endeavouring to obtain some information from London as to the suitor’s character. He wrote to the young lady’s brother William, then residing in London:

Mr. Adam Bruce to Mr. Wm. Elliot.
Oct. 27, 1806.

“I have heard of what is going on in Charlotte Street; but from my having no acquaintances in London, I have no opportunity of making inquiries. I saw the gentleman while in Edinburgh and think well of him. I hope any accounts you have of him are satisfactory. Your uncle is something in the same situation as I am, having few acquaintances in London to whom he can apply on so delicate a subject.”


The result of the inquiries could not fail to be satisfactory. Mr. Murray was engaged in conducting a prosperous business; his name was becoming famous amongst booksellers and publishers as that of a man who could be relied on, and the public had confidence in the tone and quality of the works which he published.

In the course of his correspondence with Miss Elliot’s trustees, Mr. Murray gave a statement of his actual financial position at the time:

“When I say,” he wrote, “that my capital in business amounts to five thousand pounds, I meant it to be understood that if I quitted business to-morrow, the whole of my property being sold, even disadvantageously, it would leave a balance in my favour, free from debt or any incumbrance, of the sum above specified. But you will observe that, continuing it as I shall do in business, I know it to be far more considerable and productive. I will hope that it has not been thought uncandid in me if I did not earlier specify the amount of my circumstances, for I considered that I had done this in the most delicate and satisfactory way when I took the liberty of referring you to Mr. Constable to whom I consequently disclosed my affairs, and whose knowledge of my connexions in business might I thought have operated more pleasingly to Miss Elliot’s friends than any communication from myself.”

The correspondence with Miss Elliot went on, and at length it was arranged that Mr. Murray should proceed to Edinburgh for the marriage. He went by mail in the month of February. A tremendous snowstorm set in on his journey north. From a village near Doncaster he wrote to Constable: “the horses were twice blown quite round, unable to face the horrid blast of cold wind, the like of which I have never known before. There was at the same time a terrible fall of snow, which completely obscured everything that could be seen from the coach window. The snow became of great depth, and six strong
horses could scarcely pull us through. We are four hours behind time.” From Doncaster he went to Durham in a postchaise; and pushing onward, he at last reached Edinburgh after six days’ stormy travelling.

While at Edinburgh, Mr. Murray resided with Mr. Sands, one of the late Charles Elliot’s trustees. The marriage took place on the 6th March, 1807, and the newly-married pair at once started for Kelso, in spite of the roads being still very bad, and obstructed by snow. Near Blackshields the horses fell down and rolled over and over. The postboy’s leg was broken, and the carriage was sadly damaged. A neighbouring blacksmith was called to the rescue, and after an hour and a half, the carriage was sufficiently repaired to be able to proceed. A fresh pair of horses was obtained at the next stage, and the married couple reached Kelso in safety. They remained there a few days, waiting for Mrs. Elliot, who was to follow them; and on her arrival, they set out at once for the south.

The intimacy which existed between Mr. Murray and Mr. D’Israeli will be observed from the fact of the latter being selected as one of the marriage trustees. A few days after the arrival of the married pair in London, they were invited to dine with Mr. D’Israeli and his friends. Mr. Alexander Hunter, whom Mr. Murray had invited to stay with him during his visit to London, thus describes the event:—

“Dressed, and went along with the Clan Murray to dine at Mr. D’Israeli’s, where we had a most sumptuous banquet, and a very large party, in honour of the newly-married folks. There was a very beautiful woman there, Mrs. Turner, wife of Sharon Turner, the Anglo-Saxon historian, who, I am told, was one of the Godwin school! If they be all as beautiful, accomplished, and agreeable as this lady, they must be a deuced dangerous set indeed, and I should not choose to trust myself amongst them.


“Our male part of the company consisted mostly of literary men—Cumberland, Turner, D’Israeli, Basevi, Prince Hoare, and Cervetto, the truly celebrated violoncello player. Turner was the most able and agreeable of the whole by far; Cumberland, the most talkative and eccentric perhaps, has a good sprinkling of learning and humour in his conversation and anecdote, from having lived so long amongst the eminent men of his day, such as Johnson, Foote, Garrick, and such like. But his conversation is sadly disgusting, from his tone of irony and detraction conveyed in a cunning sort of way and directed constantly against the Edinburgh Review, Walter Scott (who is a ‘poor ignorant boy, and no poet,’ and never wrote a five-feet line in his life), and such other d—d stuff.”