LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism
Mr. John Murray.
The Examiner  No. 573  (20 December 1818)  807-08.
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No. 573. SUNDAY, DEC. 20, 1818.


“A Magazine, avowedly a rival to an older one of the same class, is announced for publication in London—its first number defames an individual in such a manner, that the publisher threatens to discard the work from his counter; he is appeased and the punishment due to the Authors of the libel, is averted by an explanation which it is difficult to imagine would be resorted to by any man who believed he had been writing the truth, but which it is easy to reconcile with the shifts and subterfuges of a premeditating slanderer. The Editor of the Magazine however, being advised by his legal friends that in the event of an action, the damages might be merely nominal, renews his cowardly attack with greater violence, although he has upon enquiry learnt from the very enemies of his victim, that his moral character was unimpeachable! You, Mr. John Murray are now the publisher of that Magazine!

“The same number contains a more extensive, but not more atrocious libel, upon some of the highest literary and scientific men of Edinburgh, written in a style which you may recollect quoted by Mr. Hone, as an infinitely more flagrant instance of the profane, than that for which he was prosecuted. It was bought up in terror of the law; but prosecutions were nevertheless commenced, and although dropped in compassion to the Edinburgh Publisher, one was referred to the private decision of an enlightened and amiable Judge of the Scottish Court, whose sentence convicted the Publisher, and fined him two hundred and thirty pounds, for a foul and indecent libel. This conviction was upon a private hearing between a private prosecutor and the offender. You will judge what it would have been with the concurrence of the Lord Advocate in a public trial. You, Mr. John Murray now publish the work of a convicted libeller!

“Besides the continuance of a brutal abuse of the inoffending individual first alluded to, after his good nature had secured the libellers from danger, and their counsellors had made them bold in defamation, there commenced a system of private slandering, which, while it promised fair to sink the work in irretrievable obscurity, provoked a species of punishment possibly the best adapted to the offence, namely, a horsewhip. You, Sir, are the London publisher of a horsewhipped bookseller in Edinburgh!!!

“Since the occurrence of these notorious facts, the Editor of the work in question has indulged himself freely in his darling theme. He has vilified one friend, betrayed the confidence of another, ridiculed and detracted several. Two Gentlemen, eminent alike as Churchmen and Scholars, whose names were avowed as contributors to his Magazine, withdrew their support in disgust. The Publisher in London, long ashamed of his share in the concern, threw it up, in dread of the chastisement which he was conscious the work merited;—and if any respectable persons are yet connected with it, they are anxious to conceal their connexion, and only wait a favourable opportunity to shake it off. But in this abject state of blackguardism, (the phrase is to the matter) you Mr. John Murray, when the appearance of this work upon your parlour table would be at least of doubtful propriety,—after its authors
and their organ had been branded, convicted, horsewhipped;—while it was in your own knowledge that they were the assassins of character, the detractors of merit, the calumniators of private life, the betrayers of friendship;—nay, for I must speak the whole truth,—while you, Sir, were expressing openly your knowledge and abhorrence of these atrocities, you publish this Magazine!—you connect yourself publicly with the scoffers of your friends and patrons, you declare to the world that the stigma of cowardice, the sentence of a court, the horsewhip of a justly irritated individual, are no bars to your acquaintance, to your connection in business, to your support!”—From
A Letter to Mr. John Murray, of Albemarle-street, occasioned by his having undertaken the Publication, in London, of Blackwood’s Magazine.