LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
Chapter II.

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
(  29  )

John Murray The Second—the “Anak of Publishers,” according to Lord Byron—was born on the 27th of November, 1778. He was his father’s only surviving son by his second marriage, and being only fifteen at his father’s death, was too young to enter upon the business of the firm, which was carried on by Samuel Highley—the “faithful shopman” mentioned in the elder Murray’s will—for the benefit of his widow and family. What his father thought of him, of his health, spirits, and good nature, will have been seen from the preceding chapter.

Young Murray returned to school, and remained there for about two years longer, until the marriage of his mother to Lieutenant Henry Paget, of the West Norfolk Militia, on the 28th of September, 1795, when he returned to 32, Fleet Street, to take part in the business. Mrs. Paget ceased to be an executor, retired from Fleet Street, and went to live at Bridgenorth with her husband, taking her two daughters—Jane and Mary Anne Murray—to live with her, and receiving from time to time the money necessary for their education.

The executors secured the tenancy of No. 32, Fleet Street, part of the stock and part of the copyrights, for the firm of Murray and Highley, between whom a partner-
ship was concluded in 1795, though
Murray was still a minor. In the circumstances Mr. Highley of course took the principal share of the management, but though a very respectable person, he was not much of a business man, and being possessed by an almost morbid fear of running any risks, he brought out no new works, took no share in the new books that were published, and it is doubtful whether he looked very sharply after the copyrights belonging to the firm. He was mainly occupied in selling books brought out by other publishers.

The late Mr. Murray had many good friends in India, who continued to send home their orders to the new firm of Murray and Highley. Amongst them were Warren Hastings and Joseph Hume. Hume had taken out with him an assortment of books from the late Mr. Murray, which had proved very useful; and he wrote to Murray and Highley for more. Indeed, he became a regular customer for books.

Meanwhile Murray fretted very much under the careless and indifferent management of Highley. The executors did not like to be troubled with his differences with his partner, and paid very little attention to him or his affairs. Since his mother’s remarriage and removal to Bridgenorth, the young man had literally no one to advise with, and was compelled to buffet with the troubles and difficulties of life alone. Though inexperienced, he had, however, spirit and common sense enough to see that he had but little help to expect from his partner, and the difficulties of his position no doubt contributed to draw forth and develop his own mental energy. He was not a finished scholar, but had acquired a thorough love of knowledge and literature, and a keen perception of the beauties of our great English classics, in which he had been
much encouraged by his half-brother
Archibald Murray, who became a Purser in the Royal Navy. By acquiring and cultivating a purity of taste, he laid the foundations of that quick discrimination, which, combined with his rapidly growing knowledge of men and authors, rendered him afterwards so useful, and even powerful, in the pursuit of his profession.

Mr. Murray came of age on the 27th of November, 1799; but he was prudent enough to continue with Highley for a few years longer. After four years more, he determined to set himself free to follow his own course, and the innumerable alterations and erasures in his own rough draft of the following letter testify to the pains and care which he bestowed on this momentous step.

John Murray to Mr. Highley.
Great Queen St.
Friday, Nov. 19, 1802.
Mr. Highley,—

I propose to you that our partnership should be dissolved on the twenty-fifth day of March next: That the disposal of the lease of the house and every other matter of difference that may arise respecting our dissolution shall be determined by arbitrators—each of us to choose one—and that so chosen they shall appoint a third person as umpire whom they may mutually agree upon previous to their entering upon the business:

I am willing to sign a bond to this effect immediately, and I think that I shall be able to determine my arbitrator some day next week.

As I know this proposal to be as fair as one man could make to another in a like situation, and in order to prevent unpleasant altercation or unnecessary discussion, I declare it to be the last with which I intend to trouble you.

I take this opportunity of saying that, however much we may differ upon matters of business, I most sincerely wish you well.

John Murray.

In the end they agreed to draw lots for the house, and Murray had the good fortune to remain at No. 32, Fleet Street. Mr. Highley removed to No. 24 in the same street, and took with him, by agreement, the principal part of the medical works of the firm. Mr. Murray now started on his own account, and began a career of publication almost unrivalled in the history of letters.

Although he consulted many surgeons, Murray never regained the sight of his right eye. “What?” said Chantrey the sculptor to him one day, after a long acquaintance, “are you a brother Cyclops?” To a sculptor, the loss of the sight of one eye must have been a very formidable hindrance, but to a publisher of books, provided he have brains enough, the loss is not nearly so great. As his nephew, Robert Cooke, afterwards said: “Mr. Murray could see sharper with one eye than most other people can with two.”

Before the dissolution of partnership, Mr. Murray had seen the first representation of Colman’s Comedy of “John Bull” at Covent Garden Theatre, and was so fascinated by its “union of wit, sentiment, and humour,” that the day after its representation he wrote to Mr. Colman, and offered him £300 for the copyright. No doubt Mr. Highley would have thought this a rash proceeding.

John Murray to Mr. Colman.

“The truth is that during my minority I have been shackled to a drone of a partner; but the day of emancipation is at hand. On the twenty-fifth of this month (March 1803) I plunge alone into the depths of literary speculation. I am therefore honestly ambitious that my first appearance before the public should be such as will at once stamp my character and respectability. On this account, therefore, I think that your Play would be more advantageous to me than to any other bookseller; and as ‘I
am not covetous of Gold,’ I should hope that no trifling consideration will be allowed to prevent my having the honour of being
Mr. Colman’s publisher. You see, sir, that I am endeavouring to interest your feelings, both as a Poet and as a Man.”

Mr. Colman replied in a very pleasant letter, thanking Mr. Murray for his very liberal offer.

Mr. Colman to John Murray.

“But,” he added, “I am more pleased (strange as the assertion may be from a poor poet) by the manner of your proposition than by its solidity. . . . When a play has passed the public ordeal, it is the custom to offer the refusal of the copyright to the proprietor of the theatre in which it has been produced; and in addition to considerations of custom, I owe this attention to Mr. Harris on other accounts.”

The result was, that the proprietor of the theatre retained the copyright of “John Bull,” and thereby disappointed Mr. Murray in the publication of the play as his first independent venture in business.

Six days after the dissolution of partnership, Murray addressed the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, already mentioned in the previous chapter, in these terms:—

John Murray to Rev. E. Cartwright.
March 31st, 1803.
Dear Sir,

I have much pleasure in acquainting you that my partnership being dissolved, the obstacle which has hitherto prevented me from entering upon any works of merit is now removed, and I should be very happy, if it be agreeable to you, to make some arrangement for the publication of a new edition of ‘Armine and Elvira,’* with a

* The legendary tale of ‘Armine and Elvira’ originally appeared in 1787. Mrs. Fletcher, in her Autobiography, thus refers to the author:—“While visiting Doncaster (in 1788) I incidentally became acquainted with the Rev. Edmund Cartwright, who had lately pub-

selection of your other poems. It has cost me so much more than I could well afford to pay to retain the house of my father, that I am not over-rich at present. But I am willing, if you please to take one half of the risk of publication, and divide with you the profits which may arise when the impression is sold. The actual profit upon so small a work will not be much, but it will serve to keep your name before the world as a favourite poet.

The times, however, were very bad. Money was difficult to be had on any terms, and Mr. Murray had a hard task to call in the money due to Murray and Highley, as well as to collect the sums due to himself. To the Rev. Mr. Hodgson of Market Rasen he wrote:—

“That he had already exceeded the term of credit which he could allow; and really the times press so heavily by reason of taxes, failures, and the stagnation of trade, that he should feel very thankful for an early remittance. Besides, many of the books he had sent to Mr. Hodgson more than a year before had been old and scarce, and that he (Mr. Murray) had already paid for them in ready money.”

Mr. Joseph Hume had not been very prompt in settling his accounts; and Mr. Murray wrote to him accordingly, on the 11th of July, 1804:—

“On the other side is a list of books (amount £92 8s. 6d.), containing all those for which you did me the favour to

lished a legendary tale, ‘Armine and Elvira,’ along with other poems of considerable merit. . . . He was a grave-looking man, considerably turned of forty, of very gentie and engaging manners. He was acquainted with the family with whom we had spent the day, and he accompanied us to their house to pass the evening; and the next day he took us to see some power-looms of his invention—set to work, not by steam or water, but by a large wheel turned by an ox. . . . He honoured me with his confidence and friendship so far as to wish me to become the mother of his five amiable children by uniting my fate to his. I had not confidence in my own worthiness for such a trust, but in refusing it, I neither forfeited his good opinion nor his friendship.”

write: and I trust that they will reach you safely. . . . If in future you could so arrange that my account should be paid by some house in town within six months after the goods are shipped, I shall be perfectly satisfied, and shall execute your orders with much more despatch and pleasure. I mention this, not from any apprehension of not being paid, but because my circumstances will not permit me to give so large an extent of credit. It affords me great pleasure to hear of your advancement; and I trust that your health will enable you to enjoy all the success to which your talents entitle you.”

He was, for the same reason, under the necessity of declining to publish several new works offered to him, especially those dealing with medical and poetical subjects.

On one occasion he wrote to Mr. Bidlake, who asked to have his remaining poems published.

“The threat of invasion, and the magnitude of our taxes, fill the mind with apprehension, and swallow up the sums that have been usually appropriated to literature. . . . I am really so hemmed in by literary engagements, that I do not think I shall be able to publish any more on my own account for some time; and I expect to lose considerably from the present unfavourable aspect of the times.”

Mr. Archibald Constable of Edinburgh, and Messrs. Bell and Bradfute, Mr. Murray’s agents in Edinburgh, were also communicated with as to the settlement of their accounts with Murray and Highley. “I expected,” he said, “to have been able to pay my respects to you both this summer (1803), but my military duties, and the serious aspect of the times, oblige me to remain at home.” What Mr. Murray’s “military duties” were, may be easily explained.

Napoleon Buonaparte had declared war against England. He had arrested and imprisoned about 10,000 British subjects then residing in France. His “Army of England”
was then assembled on the heights near Boulogne; and the broad-bottomed boats were in readiness to ferry over the French troops to the shores of England. The most enthusiastic patriotism was exhibited throughout the country. No less than 300,000 men enrolled themselves in volunteer corps and associations. In London alone, the volunteer corps numbered 12,500, at a time when the metropolis contained less than half its present population. They were reviewed in Hyde Park in the summer of 1803; and amongst them was
John Murray, Ensign in the 3rd Regiment of Royal London Volunteers.

Although Mr. Murray necessarily gave much of his time to drill and military work, he continued to take increasing interest in his publishing affairs. Being desirous of extending more widely the knowledge of Dr. Jenner’s great discovery of vaccination for the prevention of the ravages of Small-pox, he wrote the following letter to Dr. Ring on the subject:—

Mr. John Murray to Dr. Ring.
August, 1803.
Dear Sir,

I am so fully convinced of the advantages that would arise to the cause of vaccination, from any publication from the pen of Dr. Jenner, that I am more than ever surprised that he is not induced to give to the public a less expensive edition of his useful treatise, in a more portable form. At present its size and price preclude it from general circulation, and the consequence is, that it is superseded by numerous other publications, to the authors of which accrue that honour and emolument which otherwise might have rested with the glorious discoverer alone.

Should Dr. Jenner allow himself to be persuaded of the truth of this remark, I should feel myself much flattered to be employed in the execution of a plan which might be made to answer the end that I propose, without occasioning to Dr. Jenner either expense or trouble. I will undertake
at my own cost to print a large impression of Dr. Jenner’s work in a popular form, and will cause it to be circulated through the medium of my correspondents, in England, Scotland, Ireland, and the Continent; and when the whole is sold, I will give Dr. Jenner two-thirds of the clear profits. In this proposal I have considered the cause which I should serve and the honour of being Dr. Jenner’s publisher, rather than my own immediate emolument; and I should not feel displeased if it were mentioned to any other bookseller.

At the same time I can assure you with great sincerity, that I do not think there is in the whole trade a more regular or more respectable man than Mr. Hurst; but as I am professedly a Medical Bookseller, I am really anxious to be the publisher of so important a work.

Dr. Jenner’s work does not appear to have been brought out by Mr. Murray, but he published about this time Dr. Graves’sPharmacopoeia.’ When it was proposed that the name of his late partner Highley should be included in the imprint, Murray objected.

“I cannot,” he said, “suffer my name to stand with his for two reasons—first, because he advertises himself as ‘successor to the late John Murray,’ who died not less than ten years ago, with the intent to make the public believe that I, his son, have either retired from business, or am dead. That this wicked insinuation has had this effect, I have the letters of two or three persons to prove. And secondly,—because he undersells all other publishers at the regular and advertised prices.”

In conclusion, Mr. Murray said:—

“Make the case your own—‘utrum horum mavis accipe.’ However you may determine in this matter, you may rely upon my interest to promote the sale of your work; and I request that you will do me the favour to send me 100 copies as soon as it is ready, for which I will pay you whenever you call upon me.”


Publishers suffered much from the general depression of trade during the war. Among other failures was that of Mr. Murray’s friends, Messrs. G. and J. Robinson. In order to assist them, he corresponded with the booksellers throughout the country, offering to take care of their interests, until the Robinsons had arranged their affairs so as to recommence their business transactions.

Besides his medical works, Mr. Murray sought to extend his connection in bringing out those of a miscellaneous character. He published for Mr. Williams, of Plymouth, his ‘Picturesque Excursions,’ and for Nathaniel Howard, of the same place, his volume of poems. The latter book was to be sold at 5s., and the author expected that the publisher would receive 1s. 6d. profit on every copy sold. It was accordingly necessary to undeceive the over-sanguine author. “What you infer might be the case if I sold every copy at 5s. But when another publisher wants a copy, I sell it to him at three-fifths the price. He sells it to a bookseller in the country, and he perhaps to another, or to a schoolmaster, all of whom must have a certain allowance. You will find a very satisfactory letter on the subject in Boswell’sLife of Johnson.’”

Towards the end of 1803 Mr. Murray published the ‘Revolutionary Plutarch.’ This remarkable work, written by a French officer, but published anonymously, soon passed into a second and third edition. It contained brief memoirs, or sketches drawn by no friendly hand, of all the members of the Buonaparte family, and those who had aided in their rise to the supreme power. It formed, in short, a biographical history of the French Revolution. We gather Mr. Murray’s views about the work from his letter to Messrs. Gilbert and Hodges, booksellers. Dublin:—

John Murray to Messrs. Gilbert and Hodges.

“A recent occurrence in Dublin, respecting the publication of a too favourable account of Buonaparte, has led me to suppose that the volumes of the ‘Revolutionary Plutarch’ will meet with a favourable reception in Ireland; I have therefore doubled the number which you did me the favour to order, in hopes of saving the expense of carriage, should there be a demand for them. They are charged to you at a reduced price, in order to encourage your exertions to promote their circulation. I wish it to be advertised twice in each of your best papers, both morning and evening. I did inclose in the parcel the form of an advertisement; but since that, it has been rendered more attractive by the insertion of the names of the Buonaparte family, and this latter I wish to be used. The work is original; and as it has been written with a view of exhibiting to the minds of the wavering a true portrait of the villainies of the present rulers of the French Republic, in opposition to a work which extols their abilities and brilliant exploits, I think it should be entitled to the patronage of the loyal in Ireland.”

Mr. Murray forwarded a copy of this work to Mr. Addington, whose administration had terminated in the previous May, accompanied by the following letter.

John Murray to Right Hon. H. Addington.
32, Fleet Street,
September 5th, 1804.

The accompanying volumes were written at a time when your judicious administration had roused the patriotic exertions of every citizen. Their object was to exhibit to the public mind a faithful picture of the crimes of the rulers of the French Republic, and to excite against them a just abhorrence. As their quick and extensive circulation leads me to suppose that they may have effected some service, I presume to offer a copy of them to you as the prime cause of it, and as my mite of respect to a truly
great man under whose administration I lived with so much confidence and comfort.

I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
John Murray.

To this Mr. Addington replied as follows:—

Right Hon. Henry Addington to John Murray.
Richmond Park, Oct. 1st, 1804,

Having been absent from home for several weeks, I did not receive till Saturday last your acceptable present and the letter with which it was accompanied, for each of which you are entitled to my sincere thanks. The publication is highly interesting, and calculated to produce the most useful effects. I cannot forbear adding that I feel the value of those favourable sentiments which you have had the goodness to express towards myself.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient, humble servant,
Henry Addington.

The work was followed by the ‘Memoirs of Talleyrand’ and the ‘Female Plutarch’; the latter of which Mr. Murray published in conjunction with the Messrs. Longman and Co. These books were not, in his opinion, so satisfactory as the ‘Revolutionary Plutarch.’ In writing to his fellow-publishers he said:—

John Murray to Messrs. Longman.

“I regret that the ‘Memoirs of Talleyrand’ and ‘The Female Plutarch’ have not added to a respectability of which, like yourselves, I am exceedingly tenacious. Indeed, the many improper passages which have been suffered to appear in the volumes alluded to, have subjected my name to aspersions which, I confess, I very little expected to have been the result of a confidence in gentlemen, to whose friendship and liberality upon other occa-
sions I feel so much indebted. . . . I propose, with your approval, to omit the improprieties in the ‘Memoirs of Talleyrand.’”

Mr. Murray afterwards got rid of both the ‘Memoirs’ and the ‘Female Plutarch,’ and refused to sell any more copies of the works. He preferred to publish books of a more solid character—Travels, Voyages, medical and philosophical works. In 1805, we find him printing a splendid new edition of ‘Bruce’s Travels,’ in seven volumes octavo, with a Life of the author.

It is necessary here to introduce a name which constantly appears in the records of Mr. Murray’s career, and a friendship which was only interrupted by a series of untoward events to be narrated in a subsequent chapter.

It cannot now be ascertained what was the origin of the acquaintance between the D’Israeli and Murray families. The first John Murray published the first volumes of Isaac D’Israeli’sCuriosities of Literature,’ and though no correspondence between them has been preserved, we find frequent mention of the founder of the house in Isaac D’Israeli’s letters to John Murray the Second. His experiences are held up for his son’s guidance, as for example, when Isaac, urging the young publisher to support some petition to the East India Company, writes, “It was a ground your father trod, and I suppose that connection cannot do you any harm;” or again, when dissuading him from undertaking some work submitted to him, “You can mention to Mr. Harley the fate of Professor Musæus’Popular Tales,’ which never sold, and how much your father was disappointed.” On another occasion we find D’Israeli, in 1809, inviting his publisher to pay a visit ‘to my father, who will be very glad to see you at Margate.”


The earliest letter which can be found is addressed to the firm of Murray and Highley as follows:—

Mr. Isaac D’Israeli to Messrs. Murray & Highley.
Exeter, March 3rd, 1796.

I think it very incumbent on me to inform you that a book published by Ridgways, called ‘A Dictionary of Literary Conversation,’ is a mere republication ad verbatim, of many articles from ‘The Curiosities,’ with a very few new articles of their own. The book has sold very rapidly, and is now in a second edition. They threaten another volume. If they go on publishing ‘The Curiosities’ at a cheaper rate, and you tamely submit to it, there is an end of all literary property. I have just now written a note to the Monthly Review and the British Critic to notice this depredation. All this I conceive to be my duty. The work is your own, and not mine. If you act in this affair at all, I shall be glad to know what will be done. If you want any information further, you may write to me.

I am, gentlemen, yours, &c.
I. D’Israeli.

What the result of this remonstrance was we have now no means of discovering, but when young John Murray started in business on his own account, his acquaintance with D’Israeli, who was twelve years his senior, soon ripened into an intimate friendship. A very large mass of letters, notes, and scraps of memoranda testify to the constant, almost daily communication which was kept up between them, for D’Israeli, in addition to his own work, very soon became the literary adviser to his friend.

In Oct. 1803, he writes, “By letter from Margate” (where his father was then living) “I find a cutter had yesterday come into the Downs with a number of wounded men and for reinforcements. This does not appear in the Times nor Press this morning. It shows we have sustained
loss of men, however, and the action was very hot. I hope to hear to-day that these gun-boats have not escaped us after all.”

In 1804 Mr. D’Israeli was engaged upon a work which is now all but forgotten, and of which Lord Beaconsfield does not seem to have been aware, as he makes no mention of it in the Memoir of his father prefixed to the ‘Curiosities of Literature’ in 1865.

The author, however, as is evident from his constant allusions to it, and his anxiety about its success, attached great importance to this book, which was entitled ‘Flim-Flams! or the Life and Errors of my Uncle, and the Amours of my Aunt, with Illustrations and Obscurities, by Messrs. Tag, Rag, and Bobtail.’ The work is rather ridiculous, and it is difficult now to discern its purpose, or even the humour on which the author would appear to have prided himself. It is slightly in imitation of Sterne; but without his sentiment, wit or humour.

In April 1804, D’Israeli writes:—

Mr D’Israeli to John Murray.
Dear Murray,

The last letter you wrote, was received at a moment that I could not properly attend to it. I am extremely obliged by the real solicitude you have shown on the occasion—nor has it been entirely useless. I have had that proof returned and made two or three additional touches, besides retaining the rejected note of the Edinburgh Review which I like well. You are probably too deeply engaged in serious business at the present moment, to attend to such Nugæ and flim-flams as the world are on the point of being illuminated by.

However, I write this, to give you some hopes. I confided the three sheets printed to two friends, and I have every reason to believe I succeed to the best of my wishes. One writes me, that it will “provoke perpetual laughter and
at the same time preserve a great deal of curious information.” I have observed how it worked upon a grave mind (the friend who read carefully the sheets before me). He acknowledges the satire to be very just and much wanted; and is of opinion that a volume annually of the same kind, would be a pleasant companion to the Literati. What I liked better than his opinion—he laughed most seriously! However every year cannot produce such a heap of extravaganzas as I have registered, nor so merry a crew of lunatics, as I shall have the honour of putting into a procession.

As I have written an account of the death of the author—who dies with laughter—whom nothing can revive but the galvanic science of Professor Murray, I must consult you on this before it is printed. I mention that I prefer you to Professor Davy, because by many patient experiments you, to my knowledge, have more than once restored a dead author to life!

There was no avoiding Clarke’s* knowing I was the author, nor the printer. In the present case we must trust to their honour, for, as Mark Antony says—“They are all honourable men!”

Mrs. D’I. is most sensible to your enquiries and has taken it into her profound views that you have gone off† to be married! and though I speak so much in favour of your wisdom, still she thinks it will so end.

Again he writes on the eve of publication: “I think the third volume abounds with that kind of story or incident which will be found entertaining.”

The work appeared in due course in the early part of 1805, but it was never appreciated by the public; it was severely criticised in the Critical Review, and the author’s exaggerated expectations gave place to the deepest disappointment. “An idea has spread abroad,” he writes, “that the F. F. is a libel. Longman and Rees will not suffer the book to lie on their table. I wrote to know if

* Mr. Murray’s head clerk.

Mr. Murray was then residing at Hartley Row in Hampshire.

Edinburgh Review really considers it a libel whether we ought not to retain Erskine.”

No libel action, however, was brought, and in due course a second edition, “with an apology for the author and the work” was prepared, but here again D’Israeli’s nervous anxiety is displayed in the following letters:—

Mr D’Israeli to John Murray.

“It is absolutely necessary to stop going on with our second edition.

“Your personal interest is more deeply involved in this, than mine. You will incur a great risk, which I have very strong doubts will never be repaid.

“Secondly, my own ease of mind is as much as possible at risk. The work certainly gives great offence to many; the execution is at times most bunglingly performed, and I am convinced the curiosity of a certain part of the public was stirred, which occasioned the demand. Whatever real merits may be in the work are entirely outnumbered by the errors of its author.

“The printer has only done three sheets, perhaps a fourth. These sheets may at present be deposited in your warehouse. The expense of the printer may be divided between us, or I will repay you. Dagley* I will undertake myself to satisfy.

“I have maturely considered this affair. To prevent a serious loss to you, and deep vexation for myself, I have immediately hit on this plan. What has just passed cannot be recalled, and I will bear the consequences.

“Pray then return the MS.; stop the printer.

“If it were really necessary, the work might be resumed a year hence. If there’s no second edition, no other reason need be given than that the authors would not give any.

“When it is out of print, if ever the few on hand are sold, it may be more talked of; at present the current runs all against it.”

* The engraver.

Mr D’Israeli to Mr. Murray.
Dear Murray,

I begin to think the book is not half so bad as some choose to think. What I am doing will convince you, that I want not spirit and confidence, as well as modesty and timidity. I am preparing to set down. I hugely like my address to be prefixed to the Second Edition, which I am putting in order. I am certain that the Second Edition will be improved, but I wish also to have wit enough to convince the Wronghead family, in this new preface, that the odium they would throw on me is unjust. You will judge how I succeed in this.

I. D’I.
Mr D’Israeli to Mr. Murray.
Dear Murray,

I sent you an alteration for the advertisement, to run thus—“To this edition is prefixed an Apology for the Author and the Book.”

Since yesterday I have now the satisfaction of adding that the Apology is quite finished—and to my content! I do think it to be much superior to anything in the work itself; and I am very desirous of you and Dr. Grant seeing it. It is very entertaining; I think the sense is not heavy, and the humour genuine and pointed. I am sure there are several original views in it, as the whole is a defence of ‘Flim-Flamming.’ I think it ought to be expressed thus in the advertisement.

You mentioned something about the Doctor’s dining at your house to-morrow. Does he? I am going to the Institution to hear Mr. Dibdin on British Literature.

I. D’I.

The foregoing correspondence has been printed as illustrating the character of a remarkable man, and throwing light on a little known episode of his literary career.

Besides the ‘Curiosities of Literature,’ and ‘Flim-Flams,’ Mr. D’Israeli published through Murray, in 1803, a small volume of ‘Narrative Poems’ in 4to. They con-
sisted of “An Ode to his Favourite Critic;” “The Carder and the Currier, a Story of Amorous Florence;” “Cominge, a Story of La Trappe;” and “A Tale addressed to a Sybarite.” The verses in these poems run smoothly, but they contain no wit, no poetry, nor even any story. They were never again reprinted.

Before leaving the year 1804 it is necessary to print the following letter, which is of especial interest, as fixing the date of an event which has given rise to much discussion—the birth of Benjamin D’Israeli.

Mr. Isaac D’Israeli to John Murray.
Dec. 22nd, 1804.
My dear Sir,

Mrs. D’Israeli will receive particular gratification from the interesting note you have sent us on the birth of our boy—when she shall have read it. In the meanwhile accept my thanks, and my best compliments to your sister. The mother and infant are both doing well.

Ever yours,
key="IsDIsra1848"I. D’I.

The following letters will afford an insight into the nature of the friendship and business relations which existed between Isaac D’Israeli and his young publisher as well as into the characters of the two men themselves.

Mr D’Israeli to John Murray.
Brighton, August 5th, 1805.
My dear Sir,

Your letter is one of the repeated specimens I have seen of your happy art of giving interest even to commonplace correspondence; and I, who am so feelingly alive to the “pains and penalties” of postage, must acknowledge that such letters, ten times repeated, would please me as often.

We should have been very happy to see you here, provided it occasioned no intermission in your more
serious occupations, and could have added to your amusements.

With respect to the projected ‘Institute,’* if that title be English—doubtless the times are highly favourable to patronize a work skilfully executed, whose periodical pages would be at once useful for information, and delightful for elegant composition, embellished by plates, such as have never yet been given, both for their subjects and their execution. Literature is a perpetual source opened to us; but the Fine Arts present an unploughed field, and an originality of character. The progress of the various Institutions is so much sunshine to this work. These will create an appetite, and while they provoke the curiosity, will impart a certain degree of understanding to the readers, without which a work can never be very popular. Could you secure the numerous Smatterers of this age, you will have an enviable body of subscribers. But the literary department of the work may be rendered of more permanent value. You are every day enlarging your correspondence with persons of real talent. Shee† is a man of genius, with a pen rather too fluent. Various passages in his prose might have been thrown out in the second edition, but an ardent Irishman is rarely known to eat his own words. “General” Duncan‡ may command the Oxford troops, though some of them perhaps are the “Heavy Horse.” Diversified talents are useful. You ask for a definite plan. Put into action, these and many more quarters will provide a number of good things, and it will not be difficult to lay out the tables.

But Money, Money must not be spared in respect to rich, beautiful, and interesting Engravings. On this I have something to communicate. Encourage Dagley§ whose busts of Seneca and Scarron are pleasingly executed; but

* This was a work at one time projected by Mr. Murray, but other more pressing literary arrangements prevented the scheme being carried into effect.

Martin Archer Shee (afterwards President of the Royal Academy) published in 1805, ‘Rhymes on Art; or, the Remonstrance of a Painter.’ Lord Byron thought well of the work.

‡ Two brothers of this name, Fellows of New College, Oxford, were intimate literary friends of the Murrays and D’Israelis.

§ The engraver of the Frontispiece of ‘Flim-Flams.’

you will also want artists of name. I have a friend, extremely attached to literature and the fine arts, a gentleman of opulent fortune; by what passed with him in conversation, I have reason to believe that he would be ready to assist by money to a considerable extent. Would that suit you? How would you arrange with him? Would you like to divide your work in Shares? He is an intimate friend of
West’s, and himself too an ingenious writer.

How came you to advertise ‘Domestic Anecdotes?’ Kearsley printed 1250 copies. I desire that no notice of the authors of that work may be known from your side.

I have seen nothing of the Prince [of Wales] here: Brighton has had a dull season. But a Prince called on me, whom I much esteem—Prince Hoare; he is Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy, and lent me the third number of his ‘Academic Annals,’ a very useful project which the Academy has now adopted. He is to give an annual account of the state of the Arts throughout Europe. Perhaps he might contribute to your Institute.

At this moment I receive your packet of poems, and Shee’s letter. I perceive that he is impressed by your attentions and your ability. It will always afford me one of my best pleasures to forward your views; I claim no merit from this, but my discernment in discovering your talents, which, under the genius of Prudence (the best of all Genii for human affairs), must inevitably reach the goal. The literary productions of I. D[’Israeli] and others may not augment the profits of your trade in any considerable degree; but to get the talents of such writers at your command is a prime object, and others will follow.

I had various conversations with Phillips* here; he is equally active, but more wise. He owns his belles-lettres books have given no great profits; in my opinion he must have lost even by some. But he makes a fortune by juvenile and useful compilations. You know I always told you he wanted literary taste—like an atheist, who is usually a disappointed man, he thinks all belles lettres are nonsense, and denies the existence of taste; but it exists! and I

* Sir Richard Phillips, bookseller.

flatter myself you will profit under that divinity. I have much to say on this subject and on him when we meet.

At length I have got through your poetry: it has been a weary task! The writer has a good deal of fire, but it is rarely a very bright flame. Here and there we see it just blaze, and then sink into mediocrity. He is too redundant and tiresome. ’Tis possible enough, if he is young, he may one day be a Poet; but in truth there are few exquisite things and too much juvenility. There is nothing sufficiently defined, no pictures with finished design and bright colouring, and the greater part is a general vague commonplace. The poem on the “Boy blowing Bubbles” pleased me the best. That on “Sensibility” I do not see contains anything very novel. The whole is composed with some fancy not yet matured, with art not yet attained, and with too great a facility for rhyming. Compression, condensation, and nicety of taste are much wanted; and on the whole I think these poems will not answer the views of a bookseller. ’Tis a great disadvantage to read them in MS., as one cannot readily turn to passages; but life is too short to be peeping into other peoples’ MSS. I prefer your prose to your verse. Let me know if you receive it safely, and pray give no notion to any one that I have seen the MS.

I see there is a third edition of ‘The Sabbath,’ in spite of the cold insolence of the Edinburgh Review. I observe that you are meditating an important expedition to Edinburgh. A Scotchman is a good test of his adversary’s sagacity; I am sure you do not want for any. Mrs. D’Israeli’s best regards: she received a letter from your sister.

Believe me, as ever, yours, &c.,
I. D’Israeli.
Mr D’Israeli to Mr. Murray.

It is a most disagreeable office to give opinions on MSS.; one reads them at a moment when one has other things in one’s head—then one is obliged to fatigue the brain with thinking; but if I can occasionally hinder you from publishing nugatory works, I do not grudge the pains. At the same time I surely need not add, how very confidential such communications ought to be.

When you write, make your letter as short as you choose,
for I see you are deeply occupied. The
Prince’s band is now arranged before my house, and I shall be overtaken by a storm of music! Mellish has been the grand dasher here; had £25,000 depending on two or three races! Had his horse Sancho not been extraordinarily successful ’tis said he meant to have shot himself. He kissed and hugged him on the grounds. At length closes his present account with a poor £5000 winner. Rode a donkey-race with Lord Petersham, who, Phaethon-like, could not manage his ass, and was dashed into a cloud of dust, rolling on the earth by (like Phaethon) carrying himself too near it. I have not done with Mellish; I hope one day to begin on him. He has thrown out a fine estate in Yorkshire, from a dice-box; anticipated his mother’s jointure; drives round the Steyne all the morning, to the terror of nurses and children; bursts into the shops of milliners. This delightful boy of folly has not yet shot himself; but the time ought to be very near. He is getting old—twenty-five! he has lasted a good while, and the chink of his last guinea will soon be heard.

Your humble and affectionate nephew,
I. D’I.
Mr D’Israeli to John Murray.
Dear M.,

A very particular friend of mine has sent me a pair of fine birds, one of which I mean to have dressed for supper at ten o’clock to-night. I shall be employed on the ‘Curiosities’ till ten, and if you will partake of this fine bird (and bottle) you have only to cast up your weekly accounts and be with me at the moment of its unspitting. Meanwhile,

Always yours,
I. D’I.
Saturday, 5 o’clock.
Mr D’Israeli to Mr. Murray.
Dear M.,

You will please to call on me to go to the theatre, as I shall take a coach going and returning. Pray let us be there at the Prologue.

The ‘Honeymoon’ is not the production of a person
known to you. The author was a
Mr. Tobin, and died some time back.

I thank you much for pens, paper, &c. I have such high hopes of what I shall hereafter write, that nothing less than the wing of the poetical Swan can carry me in my flights. I have hitherto had no great luck with a goose-quill.

Your last note has so much personal feeling for me in one part, and so much real wit in the other, that I have begun to calculate the expenditure of your genius. Notes of this kind will exhaust you, I think, in the course of the winter season. What a pity you should incur such a waste!

Semper Idem.
Mr. I. D’Israeli to John Murray.
Dear Murray,

I am delighted by your apology for not having called on me after I had taken my leave of you the day before; but you can make an unnecessary apology as agreeable as any other act of kindness.

I think you have admirably well disposed of a part of your wine, and it is done with your accustomed ingenuity, which always triples the value of a gift. Hunter should be instructed to return the same number of empty bottles—the only opportunity you have is to get rid of them on these occasions. They break and perish in the heap at home. Empty bottles, too, is an old cant term at the University to characterise a certain set of dull fellows, or frivolous scribblers—so that a bookseller, of all men, should be cautious of harbouring them.

You are sanguine in your hope of a good sale of ‘Curiosities,’ it will afford us a mutual gratification; but when you consider it is not a new work, though considerably improved I confess, and that those kinds of works cannot boast of so much novelty as they did about ten years ago, I am somewhat more moderate in my hopes.

What you tell me of F. F. from Symond’s, is new to me. I sometimes throw out in the shop remote hints about the sale of books, all the while meaning only mine; but they have no skill in construing the timid wishes of a modest author; they are not aware of his suppressed sighs, nor
see the blushes of hope and fear tingling his cheek; they are provokingly silent, and petrify the imagination.

I shall certainly not hint at your further absence from Fleet Street. And then, a great event in your life, a fortunate one as I am persuaded, must succeed—that will also produce great dissipation of mind; but I hope that after a few months you will be fixed as the centre point of all your operations, and have the orb you describe moving correctly about you. To drop the metaphor, be assured your presence is absolutely necessary in and about your shop. You had to emigrate to find a solid business; you seem to have succeeded; you must now transplant it to your own bit of ground, and nurse it with the skill and industry of the gardener. You must employ your talents in this great town, as well as elsewhere, and in your house as well as in the town. You will not be offended with the ardent zeal I feel for your welfare; I wish to see you rooted in the earth as well as spreading out in blossoms and flowers.

Mrs. D’Israeli desires to be particularly remembered to you, love to Jane, compliments to Mr. and Mrs. Paget, and will be very happy to be introduced to Mary Anne, whom she thanks for her polite wishes. Pray include me in all these; I remember a beautiful Cupid’s head, which just laid its chin upon your father’s table, some twelve years ago. When I see Mary Anne I shall then be able to judge if I know her; a metamorphosis into a Venus from a Cupid might perplex me.

Believe me, with the truest regard,
Yours ever,
I. D’Israeli.
Mr D’Israeli to John Murray.
Saturday, May 31, 1806.
King’s Road.
My dear Friend,

It is my wish to see you for five minutes this day, but as you must be much engaged, and I am likely to be prevented reaching you this morning, I shall only trouble you with a line.

Most warmly I must impress on your mind the necessity of taking the advice of a physician. Who? You know many. We have heard extraordinary accounts of Dr. Baillie, and that (what is more extraordinary) he is not
mercenary. I should imagine that one or two visits will be sufficient to receive some definite notion of your complaint. It will be a very great point if a medical man can ascertain this. Do not suppose that it is mere rheumatism which afflicts you, and bends your whole frame. The expense of a physician is moderate, if the patient is shrewd and sensible. Five or ten pounds this way would be a good deal. You also know Dr. Elaine, even intimately.

I have written this to impress on your mind this point. Seeing you as we see you, and your friend at a fault, how to decide, and you without some relative or domestic friend about you, gives Mrs. D’I. and myself very serious concerns—for you know we do take the warmest interest in your welfare—and your talents and industry want nothing but health to make you yet, what it has always been one of my most gratifying hopes to conceive of you.

Yours very affectionately,
I. D’Israeli.

In another letter from Brighton, without date, Mr. D’Israeli writes:—

Mr D’Israeli to John Murray.
Dear Murray,

I have repeatedly felt a secret satisfaction at the spirit with which, by Clarke’s communications, I heard you pursued your expedition; and have no doubt but it will repay you, in proportion to the talent and industry you have exerted, and are so capable of exerting.

I have received the three vases you have so kindly presented me. Were they of crystal, they would hardly be more precious than they now become, as your gift. I admire the feeling of taste which led you to fix on them. With me the moral feeling unites with that of Taste, and I contemplate at once the work of Art and the gift of Friendship.

I have various things to say; the most important is, that having waited to the last moment, the chapter of the Edinburgh Review has been obliged to be finished, but is still just in time for any fortunate insertion, if you have any to offer. This evening, I imagine I shall be at home.
To-morrow evening (Sunday) I conceive I shall be in town at nine o’clock. Monday evening I am to be alone: will you take your tea then? It will be alone with me, as my wife has a child’s party. Suit, however, your own convenience.

Believe me, truly yours.
I. D’Israeli.

The nature of Mr. Murray’s important expedition to Edinburgh, mentioned in the last and in a previous letter, will be related in the following chapter.