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Memoir of John Murray
Chapter XI.

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.
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We must now revert to the beginning of 1812, at which time Mr. William Miller, who commenced business in Bond Street in 1791, and had in 1804 removed to 50, Albemarle Street, desired to retire from “the Trade.” He communicated his resolve to Mr. Murray, who had some time held the intention of moving westward from Fleet Street, and had been on the point of settling in Pall Mall. Murray at once entered into an arrangement with Miller, and in a letter to Mr. Constable of Edinburgh he observed:—

John Murray to Mr. A. Constable.
May 1st, 1812.

“You will probably have heard that Miller is about to retire, and that I have ventured to undertake to succeed him. I had for some time determined upon moving, and I did not very long hesitate about accepting his offer. I am to take no part of his stock but such as I may deem expedient, and for it and the rest I shall have very long credit. How far it may answer, I know not; but if I can judge of my own views, I think it may prove an advantageous opening. Miller’s retirement is very extraordinary, for no one in the trade will believe that he has made a fortune; but from what he has laid open to me, it is clear that he has succeeded. In this arrangement, I propose of course to dispose of my present house, and my medical works, with other parts of my business. I have
two offers for it, waiting my decision as to terms. . . . I am to enter at Miller’s on the 29th of September next.”*

The terms arranged with Mr. Miller were as follows: The lease of the house, No. 50, Albemarle Street, was purchased by Mr. Murray, together with the copyrights, stock, &c., for the sum £3822 12s. 6d.; Mr. Miller receiving as surety, during the time the purchase money remained unpaid, the copyright of ‘Domestic Cookery,’ of the Quarterly Review, and the one-fourth share in ‘Marmion.’ The debt was not finally paid off until the year 1821.

The year after this arrangement had been completed, and after Mr. Murray had entered into possession of the premises, we find Miller making a claim upon his successor for “a copy of every work that he should publish.” This was a preposterous application, and Murray repudiated any such arrangement.

John Murray to Mr. Wm. Miller.
August 12th, 1813.

“I should be glad to know upon what grounds you can require the fulfilment of an ‘honorary contract’ who could sit down and in cold blood write your farewell demands upon your best customers without mentioning the name of your successor; though he but a few days before had paid you a sum that went far towards securing the comfort of your future existence. The fact is, Miller, I have never received from you any one act of friendship since I purchased your house, when you appeared

* The Fleet Street business was eventually purchased by Thomas and George Underwood. It appears from the ‘Memoirs of Adam Black,’ that Black was for a short time a partner with the Underwoods. But on the latter requiring double the money that had been agreed upon when the formal deed of partnership was drawn up, Adam Black quitted the business in 1813. Upon the failure of the Underwoods in 1831, Mr. Samuel Highley, son of Mr. Murray’s former partner, took possession, and the name of Highley again appeared over the door.

to leave me to my fate,—never entering the door, as was remarked by the common porter, except for your own convenience. Your ‘goodwill’ has never produced me one hundred pounds, and the books which you said ‘were you upon your deathbed, as my friend, you would advise me to take,’ will prove a considerable loss. . . . It was neither my wish nor my intention to have replied to your letter to me, because that letter was, in my opinion unnecessary; and because the explanations which it provoked were not calculated to make us better friends. But as you appear so much to desire an answer, you now have an answer. I will only add that the terms of our future acquaintance shall be regulated entirely by your own feelings.”

The step which Murray had taken was so momentous and the responsibility so great, that at times he was driven almost to the verge of despondency. On the other hand it was much more convenient for him to have his place of business near to the residences of his principal contributors and editor, for Gifford lived near at hand, in James Street, Buckingham Gate.

The Quarterly was gradually rising in importance, and taking position as the leading political and literary review. The circulation was gradually creeping up; new editions of the early numbers were called for, and the remuneration of the editor was doubled,—an evidence of no small importance as to the success of the periodical.

Amongst the miscellaneous works which Mr. Murray published shortly after his removal to Albemarle Street, were William Sotheby’s translation of the ‘Georgics of Virgil’—the most perfect translation, according to Lord Jeffrey, of a Latin classic which exists in our language; Robert Bland’sCollection from the Greek Anthology’; Prince Hoare’sEpochs of the Arts’; Lord Glenbervie’s work on the ‘Cultivation of Timber’; Granville Penn’sBioscope, or Dial of Life explained’; John Herman
Merivale’sOrlando in Roncesvalles’; and Sir James Hall’s splendid work on ‘Gothic Architecture.’ Besides these, there was a very important contribution to our literature—in the ‘Miscellaneous Works of Gibbon’ in 5 volumes, for the copyright of which Mr. Murray paid Lord Sheffield the sum of £1000. Mr. Murray’s publications were not confined to any special branches of literature, but he was always careful to accept only such works as possessed intrinsic worth of their own.

About this time Murray had the honour of making the acquaintance of Sir John Malcolm, and he retained the friendship of that most able, genial, and popular of men to the end of his life. In 1812 he published Malcolm’s ‘Sketch of the Sikhs,’ and in the following year Mr. Macdonald Kinneir’sPersia.’ Mr. D’Israeli also brought out the continuation of his ‘Curiosities of Literature.’ The ‘Calamities of Authors’ appeared in 1812, and Murray forwarded copies of the work to Scott and Southey.

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
July 2nd, 1812.

“I owe you best thanks for the ‘Calamities of Authors,’ which has all the entertaining and lively features of the ‘Amenities of Literature.’ I am just packing them up with a few other books for my hermitage at Abbotsford, where my present parlour is only 12 feet square, and my book-press in Liliputian proportion. Poor Andrew Macdonald I knew in days of yore, and could have supplied some curious anecdotes respecting him. He died of a poet’s consumption, viz. want of food.

“The present volume of ‘Somers’* will be out immediately; with whom am I to correspond on this subject since the secession of Will. Miller? I shall be happy to hear you have succeeded to him in this department, as well as in Albemarle Street. What has moved Miller

* Lord Somers’ ‘Tracts,’ a new edition in 12 volumes.

to retire? He is surely too young to have made a fortune, and it is uncommon to quit a thriving trade. I have had a packet half finished for
Gifford this many a day.”

Southey expressed himself as greatly interested in the ‘Calamities of Authors,’ and proposed to make it the subject of an article for the Quarterly.

Mr. Southey to John Murray.
August 14th, 1812.

“I should like to enlarge a little upon the subject of literary property, on which he has touched, in my opinion, with proper feeling. Certainly I am a party concerned. I should like to say something upon the absurd purposes of the Literary Fund, with its despicable ostentation of patronage, and to build a sort of National Academy in the air, in the hope that Canning might one day lay its foundation in a more solid manner.* And I could say something on the other side of the picture, showing that although literature in almost all cases is the worst trade to which a man can possibly betake himself, it is the best and wisest of all pursuits for those whose provision is already made, and of all amusements for those who have leisure to amuse themselves. It has long been my intention to leave behind me my own Memoirs, as a post-obit for my family—a wise intention no doubt, and one which it is not very prudent to procrastinate. Should this ever be completed, it would exhibit a case directly in contrast to D’Israeli’s view of the subject. I chose literature for my own profession, with every advantage of education it is true, but under more disadvantages perhaps of any other kind than any of the persons in his catalogue. I have never repented the choice. The usual censure, ridicule, and even calumnies, which it has drawn on me never gave me a moment’s pain; but on the other hand, literature has given me friends; among the

* Canning had his own opinion on the subject. When the Royal Society of Literature was about to be established, an application was made to him to join the committee. He refused, for reasons “partly general, partly personal.” He added, “I am really of opinion, with Dr. Johnson, that the multitudinous personage, called The Public, is after all, the best patron of literature and learned men.”

best and wisest and most celebrated of my contemporaries it has given me distinction. If I live twenty years longer, I do not doubt that it will give me fortune, and if it pleases God to take me before my family are provided for, I doubt as little that in my name and in my works they will find a provision. I want to give you a ‘
Life of Wesley.’ The history of the Dissenters must be finished by that time, and it will afford me opportunity.”

Southey’s ‘Life of Nelson,’ expanded from the Quarterly article, had now come out, and was received with general admiration. Southey himself said, “I like the ‘Life of Nelson’ well enough to be glad that I have written it.” He told Murray that Croker had sent him a very flattering opinion of it, and had “communicated some valuable facts for improving it in a second edition, if it should have the fortune to reach one.” “The entire book will arrive tomorrow, and I shall then have the greatest and last joy of an author—that of seeing his work for the first time as a whole, and in its printed form.”

In the course of the following year Southey proposed to Murray to write the ‘History of the Peninsular War.’ His connection with the Edinburgh Annual Register had now ceased, and he thought it better to erect a finished building for himself than to rest content with preparing materials for others. Murray was pleased with Southey’s proposal, and consulted Gifford on the subject, who cordially approved. Accordingly Murray offered 1000 guineas for the work to Southey, who shortly afterwards made a visit to London to collect materials, and on his return to Keswick wrote as follows:—

Mr. Southey to John Murray.
November 27th, 1813.

“Here then I am once more at my desk, with my books and papers about me, right glad to return to that
rest in labour which I have taken for my motto, because in it I find my happiness. The winter is before me. I shall have no interruptions from without, and please God that I have none from within, my progress in this campaign will be to my heart’s content, and as rapid as you could wish.”

He then proceeded to enumerate the books he required both for his ‘History of the Peninsular War’ and for ‘The Book of the Church;’ and added that he proposed to send for the Quarterly articles on ‘The Nicobar Islands,’ ‘The Copyright Question,’ and Montgomery’s ‘World before the Flood.’

Mr. Murray had arranged with the African Association to publish Mungo Park’s last ‘Travels in Africa,’ and to pay £1200 for the copyright, but on finding that the most important part of the travels had been published, without his knowledge, in the ‘Annals of Philosophy,’ he wrote to the managers expostulating with them and withdrawing his offer.

“You will be fully sensible,” he said in his letter, “that this premature publication has ruined completely my edition of Mr. Park’s Journal, of which Isaaco’s voyage forms as essential a part, as the fifth act does to a play; and I am confident that the justice of the managers of the African Association will immediately release me from an engagement which has been thus most unfortunately violated.”

The following letter to John Whishaw, Esq., Lincoln’s Inn, Secretary to the African Association, gives a further account of the transaction:—

John Murray to Mr. Whishaw.
November 9th, 1814.

“‘Isaaco’s Journal’ was always an important part of my calculation, and this importance to me is not only from its addition which enables me to form the papers into a saleable volume, but as the ‘Journal of a Native
African,’ written in the Arabic language by himself, and containing the result of his travels into the same countries visited by
Mr. Park, and presenting to the public the early authentic circumstances collected on the spot by this lamented traveller, it promised to create an interest with the world nearly as great as Mr. Park’s work itself. Hence it has always been an object of primary moment to the success of the publication. The anticipatory publication of Isaaco’s paper has not only deprived me of all this benefit, but has destroyed the largest part of the rest of the speculation. I did not offer £1200 on the idea that the present papers of Mr. Park were, like his former travels, of that intrinsic value that they would be saleable and popular on their own merit—unfortunately they are not—but both the Society and I know that Mr. Park’s disappearance had left an anxious curiosity in the public to know what had really become of him. This feeling is now gratified. ‘Isaaco’s Journal,’ containing all this information, has been published without my knowledge and contrary to my expectation and contract, in one of the most popular and respectable journals of the day, which goes to every part of the country. The circumstances as to the last scene of Mr. Park’s life have been extracted into almost all the newspapers, and thus every one knows what I meant no one to be informed of except from my book. All the sale from this popular curiosity is therefore gone.

“Thus circumstanced, I submit to the Institution that it is impossible that £1200 copyright can be given for the work, and therefore I trust that they will see the equity of rescinding the contract altogether, and leaving both parties as they stood before it was made. If the work is worth that, other booksellers may be applied to. If the value of the work is destroyed or diminished, I submit most respectfully that I ought not to be injured who have in no respect contributed to the act which has produced the injury. I have only to add that the same principles which urged me at first to offer so considerable a sum will induce me to cooperate in any new arrangement for the benefit of Mr. Park’s family, and I should be happy in any early opportunity of conversing upon this subject.”

The volume was accordingly published by the African Association at their offices in Lincoln’s Inn, though it
afterwards came into
Mr. Murray’s hands, as will be seen from future correspondence.

During the year 1813 the recklessness of the younger Ballantyne, combined with the formation of the incipient estate at Abbotsford, were weighing heavily on Walter Scott. This led to a fresh alliance with Constable, “in which,” wrote Scott, “I am sensible he has gained a great advantage;” but in accordance with the agreement Constable, in return for a share in Scott’s new works, was to relieve the Ballantynes of some of their heavy stock, and in May Scott was enabled “for the first time these many weeks to lay my head on a quiet pillow.” But nothing could check John Ballantyne. “I sometimes fear,” wrote Scott to him, “that between the long dates of your bills and the tardy settlements of the Edinburgh trade, some difficulties will occur even in June; and July I always regard with deep anxiety.” How true this forecast proved to be is shown by the following letter:—

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Edinburgh, 5th July, 1813.

I delayed answering your favour, thinking I could have overtaken the ‘Dæmonology’ for the Review, but I had no books in the country where it found me, and since that Swift, who is now nearly finished, has kept me incessantly labouring. When that is off my hand I will have plenty of leisure for reviewing, though you really have no need of my assistance. The volume of ‘Somers’ being now out of my hands I take the liberty to draw at this date as usual for £105. Now I have a favour to ask which I do with the more confidence because, if it is convenient and agreeable to you to oblige me in the matter, it will be the means of putting our connection as author and publisher upon its former footing, which I trust will not be disagreeable to you. I am making up a large sum of money to pay for a late purchase, and as part of my funds is secured on an heritable bond which cannot be exacted till
Martinmas, I find myself some hundreds short, which the circumstances of the money market here renders it not so easy to supply as formerly. Now if you will oblige me by giving me a lift with your credit and accepting the enclosed bills,* it will accommodate me particularly at this moment, and as I shall have ample means of putting you in cash to replace them as they fall due, will not, I should hope, occasion you any inconvenience.
Longmans’ house on a former occasion obliged me in this way, and I hope found their account in it. But I entreat you will not stand on the least ceremony should you think you could not oblige me without inconveniencing yourself. The property I have purchased cost about £5,000, so it is no wonder I am a little out for the moment. Will you have the goodness to return an answer in course of post, as, failing your benevolent aid, I must look about elsewhere.

You will understand distinctly that I do not propose that you should advance any part of the money by way of loan or otherwise, but only the assistance of your credit, the bills being to be retired by cash remitted by me before they fall due.

Believe me, very truly,
Your obedient Servant,
Walter Scott.

Mr. Murray at once replied:—

John Murray to Mr. Scott.
July 8th, 1813.
Dear Sir,

I have the pleasure of returning accepted the bills which I received from you this morning. In thus availing myself of your confidential application, I trust that you will do me the justice to believe that it is done for kindness already received, and not with the remotest view towards prospective advantages. I shall at all times feel proud of being one of your publishers, but this must be allowed to arise solely out of your own feelings and convenience when the occasions shall present themselves. I am sufficiently content in the belief that even negative obstacles to our perfect confidence have now subsided.

* Three bills for £300 each at three, four, and six months respectively.


When weightier concerns permit we hope that you will again appear in our Review. In confidence I may tell you that your long silence led us to avail ourselves of your friend Mr. Rose’s offer to review Ferriar,* and his article is already printing.

I will send you a new edition of the ‘Giaour’ in which there are one or two stanzas added of peculiar beauty.

I trust that your family are well, and remain, dear Sir,

Your obliged and faithful Servant,
John Murray.

Within a few months of this correspondence, Scott was looking into an old writing-desk† in search of some fishing-tackle, when his eye chanced to light upon the Ashestiel fragment of ‘Waverley,’ begun several years before. He read over the introductory chapters, and then determined to finish the story. It is said that he first offered it anonymously to Sir R. Phillips, London, who refused to publish it. ‘Waverley’ was afterwards accepted by Constable & Company, and published on half profits, on the 7th of July, 1814. When it came out, Murray got an early copy of the novel; he read it, and sent it to Mr. Canning, and wrote upon the title-page, “By Walter Scott.” The reason why he fixed upon Scott as the author was as follows. When he met Ballantyne at Boroughbridge, in 1809, to settle some arrangements as to the works which Walter Scott proposed to place in his hands for publication, he remembered that among those works were three—1st, an edition of ‘Beaumont and Fletcher’; and, a poem; and 3rd, a novel. Now, both the edition of ‘Beaumont and Fletcher’ (though edited by Weber) and the poem, the ‘Lady of the Lake’ had been published; and now, at last,

* Dr. Ferriar on ‘Apparitions.’

† This writing-desk was given, after Sir Walter’s death, to the wife of his friend Daniel Terry, and by her to her brother James Nasmyth, by whom it was bequeathed, in 1890, to John Murray, junior.

appeared the novel* He was confirmed in his idea that Walter Scott was the author after carefully reading the book.
Canning called on Murray next day; said he had begun it, found it very dull, and concluded: “You are quite mistaken; it cannot be by Walter Scott.” But a few days later he wrote to Murray: “Yes, it is so; you are right: Walter Scott, and no one else.”

In the midst of his labours and anxieties, Scott had not forgotten Gifford and the Quarterly Review.

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Edinburgh, January 6th, 1814.
My dear Sir,

I had quite forgot the unaccepted bill, which I took it for granted was returned to Edinburgh; but on calling at Sir W. Forbes’s they told me the proceeds were at my credit with them, which is quite as broad as it is long, so you may depend on having it with interest, etc., two days before it falls due. I am just now labouring to bring ‘Swift’ to a close, as Constable is not unreasonably very desirous to have it out. I trust to correct the last proof this month, and then I have not much to do, and I will turn to reviewing to make up leeway, but above all to please Gifford who has reason to complain of me. I think I shall be in town in spring, unless the state of Holland is such as to tempt me to go there, which I should like very much—but this is all contingent. If the roads were safe for a non-combatant I would endeavour to reach the camp of the allies, providing Lord Aberdeen were there, who is an old friend. As to subjects of reviews, I have a very curious American book of great humour, on which I have long meditated an article, as it is quite unknown in this country, and the quotations are very diverting; I should have done this at

* Indeed, in Ballantyne & Company’s printed list of ‘New Works and Publications for 1809-10,’ issued August 1810 (now before us), we find the following entry: “Waverley; or, ’Tis Sixty Years Since; a novel in 3 vols. 12mo.” The work was not, however, published until July 1814.

Abbotsford, but there I had no amanuensis, and here I have no time for the old growling
Dean of St. Patrick’s. I will also try the ‘Calamities of Authors,’ but was it not reviewed before? I can say little excepting in addition to the history of MacDonald and Heron, both of whom I knew; the former was a man of high genius, the latter a mere sot and beast—both were starved to death. I have read Lord Byron’sBride of Abydos’ with great delight, and only delay acknowledging the receipt of a copy from the author till I can send him a copy of the ‘Life of Swift.’ Is he in town at present?

Yours very truly,
Walter Scott.

Scott’s next letter is interesting as bearing witness to a fact which even Scott himself would appear to have overlooked in later years. In his diary for June 10, 1827, we read: “A good thought came into my head to write stories for little Johnnie Lockhart from the history of Scotland like those taken from the history of England.” Now it is obvious from the following letter that the idea had presented itself to his mind twenty years earlier; that the ‘Letters of a Father’ gave place to ‘Tales of a Grandfather’ is probably due to the brilliant fresh career which was, at the earlier date, first opening itself to the author of ‘Waverley.’

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Abbotsford, October 20th, 1814.
Dear Sir,

The dissensions of you great potentates of literature in the case of ‘Marmion’ was the only reason of my not proposing to you to be a sharer in ‘The Lord of the Isles.’ From personal regard I would willingly have given you (were you to think it as like to prove advantageous) the share you wish, but you know how disagreeable it is to be involved in disputes among one’s publishers which you cannot accommodate. In casting about how I might show you some mark of my sense of former kindness, a certain
MS. History of Scotland in ‘Letters to My Children’ has occurred to me which I consider as a desideratum; it is upon the plan of ‘
Lord Littleton’s Letters,’ as they are called. A small experimental edition might be hazarded in spring without a name, not that I am anxious upon the score of secrecy, but because I have been a great publisher of late. About this I shall be glad to speak with you, and I am happy to find I shall have an opportunity of seeing you at this place on Wednesday or Thursday next week, which will give me great pleasure, as I want to hear about Ellis and Gifford, but especially about Lord Byron.

Yours very faithfully,
Walter Scott.

Mr. Lockhart makes a passing allusion to these Letters, but doubts if any portion of them were actually written. The following passage, however, would seem to show that the work had advanced further than Mr. Lockhart was aware of.

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Saturday, Piccadilly, 1815.
My dear Sir,

I regret your accident much, of which I only learned the extent from the papers. I hope you will soon get well, and I am heartily sorry I cannot bid you good-bye in person. I intend to revise my letters on ‘Scottish History’ for you, but I will not get to press till November, for the country affords no facilities for consulting the necessary authorities. I hope it may turn out a thing of some interest, though I rather intend to keep to its original purpose as a book of instruction to children.

Yours very truly,
W. Scott.

In the autumn of 1814 Mrs. Murray went to Leith by sailing-ship from the Thames, to visit her mother and friends in Edinburgh. She was accompanied by her son John and her two daughters. During her absence,
Mr. Murray wrote to her two or three times a week, and kept her au courantwith the news of the day. In his letter of the 9th of August he intimated that he had been dining with D’Israeli, and that he afterwards went with him to Sadler’s Wells Theatre to see the ‘Corsair,’ at which he was “woefully disappointed and enraged. . . . They have actually omitted his wife altogether, and made him a mere ruffian, ultimately overcome by the Sultan, and drowned in the New River!”

Mr. Blackwood, of Edinburgh, was then in London, spending several days with Mr. Murray over their accounts and future arrangements. The latter was thinking of making a visit to Paris, in the company of his friend D’Israeli, during the peace which followed the exile of Napoleon to Elba. D’Israeli had taken a house at Brighton, from which place the voyagers intended to set sail, and make the passage to Dieppe in about fourteen hours. On the 13th of August, Mr. Murray informs his wife that, “Lord Byron was here yesterday, and I introduced him to Blackwood, to whom he was very civil. They say,” he added, “that Madame de Staël has been ordered to quit Paris, for writing lightly respecting the Bourbons.” Two days later he said:—

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.
Aug. 15th, 1814.

“I dined yesterday with D’Israeli, and in the afternoon we partly walked and partly rode to Islington, to drink tea with Mrs. Lindo, who, with Mr. L. and her family, were well pleased to see me. Mr. Cervetto was induced to accompany the ladies at the piano with his violoncello, which he did delightfully. We walked home at 10 o’clock. On Saturday we passed a very pleasant day at Petersham with Turner and his family. . . . .

“I have got at last Mr. Eagle’sJournal of Penrose, the Seaman,’ for which, as you may remember, I am to pay
£200 in twelve months for 1000 copies: too dear perhaps; but
Lord Byron sent me word this morning by letter (for he borrowed the MS. last night): ‘Penrose is most amusing. I never read so much of a book at one sitting in my life. He kept me up half the night, and made me dream of him the other half. It has all the air of truth, and is most entertaining and interesting in every point of view.’”

Of course Mr. Murray could not fail to refer to Gifford, his constant adviser in all literary matters, but Gifford was then rendered almost incapable of work by his close attendance on his faithful housekeeper Nancy, who was dying at the cottage he had taken for her accommodation at Ryde, in the Isle of Wight. Mr. Murray writes to Mrs. Murray, in Edinburgh:—

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.
Aug. 22nd, 1814.

“I have just seen Mr. Gifford again to-day, and find that we are really so backward with our number—owing to his constant attendance on his dying housekeeper, at Ryde, where he was at length forced to leave her, without the slightest hope of recovery—that we have got almost every article to give out; and it will be impossible for me to leave town until I can see this important business in some decided train for arrangement. If this detain me long, I shall begin seriously to think of postponing my journey to Paris; and as I must go to Scotland, this latter excursion will occupy as much time as I can or ought to allow, with so many important works upon my hands. . . . .

“My mind is overgrown with weeds, and I have not courage to pluck them out. Blackwood dines here to-day, and sails to-morrow in the Lord Wellington.

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.
Aug. 24th, 1814.

“I went down to the wharf of the old Shipping Company yesterday, to see Blackwood off in the Lord Wellington; and I cannot describe to you the regret and vexation
which I suffered at finding her one of the most beautiful, commodious, and sweet vessels that I ever entered—half as large again as the one you went in. I am convinced that, if you had gone in her, you would not have suffered one-third of the inconvenience you experienced from the vile pestiferous vessel in which you unfortunately sailed. You know we looked at several for Miss Crombie, but there did not appear to be a pin to choose between them. But the Lord Wellington is as different from any of these as our present house and situation are from those we left in Fleet Street. . . . .

Lord Byron set out for Newstead on Sunday. It is finally settled to be his again, the proposed purchaser forfeiting £25,000. ‘Lara’ and ‘Jacqueline’ are nearly sold off, to the extent of 6000, which leaves me £130, and the certain sale of 10,000 more in the 8vo. form. Mr. Canning called upon Gifford yesterday, and from their conversation I infer very favourably for my Review. We shall now take a decided tone in Politics, and we are all in one boat. Croker has gone down to the Prince Regent, at Brighton, where I ought to have been last night, to have witnessed the rejoicings and splendour of the Duke of Clarence’s birthday. But I am ever out of luck. ‘O, indolence and indecision of mind! if not in yourselves vices, to how much exquisite misery do you frequently prepare the way!’ Have you come to this passage in ‘Waverley’ yet? Pray read ‘Waverley’; it is excellent.”

Aug. 29th, 1814.

“I believe I told you,” he adds, “that my Review is likely to be all the better for the proposed change in affairs; and that the higher persons are more heartily disposed towards it. Mr. Canning goes to Lisbon after visiting the Lakes. I have now sold the whole of the 6000 of ‘Lara’; Longman, who took 500 at first, sent for 250 more on Saturday. After a time I will print it alone, and hope to sell at least 10,000 more. Tell Blackwood, by a short note, to ship for me 250 of his, if he finds them not certain of immediate sale, as I have not one copy left.”

On the 5th September, 1814, Mr. Murray communicated with Mrs. Murray as to the education of his son John, then six-and-a-half years old:—

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.

“I am glad that you venture to say something about the children, for it is only by such minutiæ that I can judge of the manner in which they amuse or behave themselves. I really do not see the least propriety in leaving John, at an age when the first impressions are so deep and lasting, to receive the rudiments and foundation of his education in Scotland. If learning English, his native language, mean anything, it is not merely to read it correctly and understand it grammatically, but to speak and pronounce it like the most polished native. But how can you expect this to be effected, even with the aid of the best teachers, when everybody around him, with whom he can practise his instructions, speaks in a totally different manner. No! I rather think it better that he should go to Edinburgh after he has passed through the schools here, and when he is sixteen or seventeen. He should certainly go to some school next spring, and I most confidingly trust that you are unremitting in your duty to give him daily lessons of preparation, or he may be so far behind children of his age when he does go to school, that the derision he may meet there may destroy emulation. All this, however, is matter for serious consideration and for future consultation, in which your voice shall have its rightful influence. . . . .

“I am in distress at not being able to find some letters of Dr. Brewster to me, written in 1813, particularly one which contains his proposal about Robison’s works, by which I expect to lose certainly £500. He and Blackwood have got me into this scrape.* I am in constant correspondence with my friend Lord Sheffield, who has invited me again to visit him. Lord Byron offers to send me game, and Lady Caroline Lamb has again invited me

* Robison’sMechanical Philosophy.’ This work consisted of the articles by Dr. Robison on the “Steam Engine,” principally published in the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ edited by Dr. Brewster, with an Introduction by James Watt. Dr. Brewster required £800 for the copyright. Murray thought this too much, as the greater portion of the work had already been published in a popular form. Eventually Mr. Murray consented to give £500 for the first edition, and £300 more should a second edition be called for.

to dine at Brocket to meet
Mr. Wilmot,* who, I am glad to find, speaks well of me.”

Mr. Murray was under the necessity of postponing his visit to France. He went to Brighton instead, and spent a few pleasant days with Mr. D’Israeli and his friends.

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.
Sept. 14th, 1814.

“I pass my time with the D’Israelis, with whom I board altogether, and they are very kind to me. I have now settled finally not to go to France, and Mr. D’Israeli puts up with the disappointment, which it certainly is both to him and Mrs. D’I., with more than good humour, and even lays it upon himself. . . . .

“I have had such a letter from Mrs. Rundell, accusing me of neglecting her book,† stopping the sale, &c. Her conceit surpasses everything; but, as she again desires the Reviews to be sent to her, she shall have them, with a little truth in a moderate dose of remonstrance from me.”

On the 24th of September Mr. Murray, having returned to London, informed his wife, still at Edinburgh, of an extraordinary piece of news.

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.

“I was much surprised to learn from Dallas, whom I accidentally met yesterday, that Lord Byron was expected in town every hour. I accordingly left my card at his house, with a notice that I would attend him as soon as he pleased; and it pleased him to summon my attendance about seven in the evening. He had come to town on business, and regretted that he would not be at Newstead until a fortnight, as he wished to have seen me there on my way to Scotland. Says he, ‘Can you keep a secret?’ ‘Certainly—positively—my wife’s out of town!’ ‘Then—I am going to be married!’ ‘The devil! I shall have no poem this winter then?’ ‘No.’ ‘Who is the lady who is to do me this injury?’ ‘Miss Milbanke—do you know her?’ ‘No, my lord.’

“So here is news for you! I fancy the lady is rich,

* Afterwards Wilmot Horton . † ‘Domestic Cookery.’

noble, and beautiful; but this shall be my day’s business to enquire about. Oh! how he did curse poor Lady C—— as the fiend who had interrupted all his projects, and who would do so now if possible. I think he hinted that she had managed to interrupt this connexion two years ago. He thought she was abroad, and, to his torment and astonishment, he finds her not only in England, but in London. He says he has written some small poems which his friends think beautiful, particularly one of eight lines, his very best—all of which, I believe, I am to have; and, moreover, he gives me permission to publish the octavo edition of ‘
Lara’ with his name, which secures, I think, £700 to you and me. So Scott’s poem is announced [’Lord of the Isles’], and I am cut out. I wish I had been in Scotland six weeks ago, and I might have come in for a share. Should I apply for one to him, it would oblige me to be a partner with Constable, who is desperately in want of money. He has applied to Cadell and Davies (the latter told me in confidence), and they refused.”

Sept. 26th, 1814.

“The instance which you mention brings very forcibly to my mind the loss which I have sustained by not keeping up my Scotch literary connexion, which I shall have much difficulty in revivifying. Had I been earlier in the field I cannot help thinking that Scott would have given me a share in his poem, which nevertheless I meditate to write to him about. Lord Byron sent me yesterday a hare and two brace of partridges; I was glad to send half of the latter to Gifford for his housekeeper, who is still very ill.”

At the beginning of October Mr. Murray went down to Nottingham for the purpose of visiting Newstead Abbey, Lord Byron having written to his steward to prepare for his reception. From Nottingham he writes to Mrs. Murray:—

John Murray to Mrs. Murray.
Nottingham, Oct. 3rd, 1814.

“Here I am, writing to you amidst the din of 30,000 people who are employed in making stockings for nearly
half as many millions. Moreover, I have been walking for two hours amongst some 30,000 well-dressed lads and lasses who have assembled at an immense fair held to-day in a market-place as large as Smithfield. It was really delightful to me, in the state of bachelorism to which you have reduced me, to come in contact with so many neat, healthy, and innocent damsels; but, when I add that there was not one amongst them who possessed the attractions of either your intellect or beauty, your alarm will yield to astonishment. Luckily for me, I have a letter from
Lord Byron to his steward. I stopped at his inn, as otherwise it would have been impossible to have obtained either bed or board, for the town is four times full and offers one of the most interesting sights I have seen in the whole course of my travels. I arrived at 3 o’clock, sent off my letter to Newstead by post, and wrote on the back that I should be there to-morrow before 10.”

The following is Mr. Murray’s account of his visit to Newstead. His letter is dated Matlock, 5th October, 1814:—

“I got to Newstead about 11 o’clock yesterday and found the steward, my namesake, and the butler waiting for me. The first, who is good-looking and a respectable old man of about sixty-five years, showed me over the house and grounds, which occupied two hours, for I was anxious to examine everything. But never was I more disappointed, for my notions, I suppose, had been raised to the romantic. I had surmised the possibly easy restoration of this once famous abbey, the mere skeleton of which is now fast crumbling to ruin. Lord Byron’s immediate predecessor stripped the whole place of all that was splendid and interesting; and you may judge of what he must have done to the mansion when I inform you that he converted the ground, which used to be covered with the finest trees, like a forest, into an absolute desert. Not a tree is left standing, and the wood thus shamefully cut down was sold in one day for £60,000. The hall of entrance has about eighteen large niches, which had been filled with statues, and the side walls covered with family portraits and armour. All these have been mercilessly torn
down, as well as the magnificent fireplace, and sold. All the beautiful paintings which filled the galleries—valued at that day at £80,000—have disappeared, and the whole place is crumbling into dust. No sum short of £100,000 would make the place habitable. Lord Byron’s few apartments contain some modern upholstery, but serve only to show what ought to have been there. They are now digging round the cloisters for a traditionary cannon, and in their progress, about five days ago, they discovered a corpse in too decayed a state to admit of removal. I saw the drinking-skull* and the marble mausoleum erected over Lord Byron’s dog. I came away with my heart aching and full of melancholy reflections—producing a lowness of spirits which I did not get the better of until this morning, when the most enchanting scenery I have ever beheld has at length restored me. I am far more surprised that Lord Byron should ever have lived at Newstead, than that he should be inclined to part with it; for, as there is no possibility of his being able, by any reasonable amount of expense, to reinstate it, the place can present nothing but a perpetual memorial of the wickedness of his ancestors. There are three, or at most four, domestics at board wages. All that I was asked to taste was a piece of bread-and-butter. As my foot was on the step of the chaise, when about to enter it, I was informed that his lordship had ordered that I should take as much game as I liked. What makes the steward, Joe Murray, an interesting object to me, is that the old man has seen the abbey in all its vicissitudes of greatness and degradation. Once it was full of unbounded hospitality and splendour, and now it is simply miserable. If this man has feelings—of which, by the way, he betrays no symptom—he would possibly be miserable himself. He has seen three hundred of the first people in the county filling the gallery, and seen five hundred deer disporting themselves in the beautiful park, now covered with stunted offshoots of felled trees. Again I say it gave me the heartache to witness all this ruin, and

* When the present Mr. Murray was a student in Edinburgh, he wrote to his father (April 10, 1827)—“I saw yesterday at a jeweller’s shop in Edinburgh a great curiosity, no less than Lord Byron’s skull cup, upon which he wrote the poem. It is for sale; the owner, whose name I could not learn (it appears he does not wish it known), wants £200 for it.

I regret that my romantic picture has been destroyed by the reality.”

One of Mr. Murray’s first duties on arriving at Edinburgh was to write to Lord Byron, and inform him of his visit to Newstead, and of the kindness with which he had been received by his steward and butler. He had also to convey to him the esteem in which his works were held across the border.

John Murray to Lord Byron.

“You will not be dissatisfied to learn how much you are esteemed by Dugald Stewart and his accomplished wife; they dined with me at my mother’s, and were minute in their enquiries about you, and vehement in their commendation. Ballantyne gave me a full account of the delightful manner in which Scott speaks of you. In one of his letters he says, ‘I want to hear about Ellis and Gifford, but especially about Lord Byron.’ I am neither chagrined nor vain at my spurious importance; but I do assure your lordship that I am very proud to see so completely realized all that my own mind and heart have felt for you.”

Among the friends that welcomed Mr. Murray to Edinburgh was Mr. William Blackwood, who then, and for a long time after, was closely connected with him in his business transactions. Blackwood was a native of Edinburgh; having served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Bell & Bradfute, booksellers, he was selected by Mundell & Company to take charge of a branch of their extensive publishing business in Glasgow. He returned to Edinburgh, and again entered the service of Bell & Bradfute; but after a time went to London to master the secrets of the old book trade under the well-known Mr. Cuthill. Returning to Edinburgh, he set up for himself in 1804, at the age of twenty-eight, at a shop in South Bridge Street
—confining himself, for the most part, to old books. He was a man of great energy and decision of character, and his early education enabled him to conduct his correspondence with a remarkable degree of precision and accuracy. Mr. Murray seems to have done business with him as far back as June 1807, and was in the habit of calling upon Blackwood, who was about his own age, whenever he visited Edinburgh. The two became intimate, and corresponded frequently; and at last, when Murray withdrew from the
Ballantynes, in August 1810, he transferred the whole of his Scottish agency to the house of William Blackwood. In return for the publishing business sent to him from London, Blackwood made Murray his agent for any new works published by him in Edinburgh. In this way Murray became the London publisher for Hogg’s new poems, and ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ which had reached its fourth edition.

During his visit to Edinburgh, he snatched a day to run out to Kinneil House,* near Boroughstoness, to see his relative and correspondent, Professor Dugald Stewart. After his return to Edinburgh, Mrs. Stewart wrote to him:—

Mrs. Stewart to John Murray.

“Next time you visit Scotland we must not be put off with a single day, but have a comfortable visit.” And with respect to literature she adds: “You, who live in novelties, can scarcely imagine the happiness a new book gives to us. We talk of it all day, and dream of it all night. It is only in that respect that the town is so superior to the country. Judge, then, how much obliged we are to any kind friend who allows us such a luxury.”

* Kinneil House is memorable as the place behind which, in the outhouse, Watt erected his first condensing steam engine for Dr. Roebuck, who then occupied the place. It was also the house in which Dugald Stewart wrote his ‘Philosophy of the Human Mind.’


Another visit which Mr. Murray paid at this time was to Mr. Scott, at Abbotsford. Towards the end of 1814, Scott had surrounded the original farmhouse with a number of buildings—kitchen, laundry, and spare bedrooms—and was able to entertain company. He received Murray with great cordiality, and made many enquiries as to Lord Byron, to whom Murray wrote on his return to London:—

John Murray to Lord Byron.

Walter Scott commissioned me to be the bearer of his warmest greetings to you. His house was full the day I passed with him; and yet, both in corners and at the surrounded table, he talked incessantly of you. Unwilling that I should part without bearing some mark of his love (a poet’s love) for you, he gave me a superb Turkish dagger to present to you, as the only remembrance which, at the moment, he could think of to offer you. He was greatly pleased with the engraving of your portrait, which I recollected to carry with me; and during the whole dinner—when all were admiring the taste with which Scott had fitted up a sort of Gothic cottage—he expressed his anxious wishes that you might honour him with a visit, which I ventured to assure him you would feel no less happy than certain in effecting when you should go to Scotland; and I am sure he would hail your lordship as ‘a very brother.’”

After all his visits had been paid, and he had made his arrangements with his printers and publishers, Mr. Murray returned to London with his wife and family. Shortly after his arrival he received a letter from Mr. Blackwood.

Mr. Wm. Blackwood to John Murray.
Nov. 8th, 1814.

“I was much gratified by your letter informing me of your safe arrival. How much you must be overwhelmed just now, and your mind distracted by so many calls upon your attention at once. I hope that you are now in one of your best frames of mind, by which you are enabled, as
you have told me, to go through, with more satisfaction to yourself, ten times the business you can do at other times. While you are so occupied with your great concerns, I feel doubly obliged to you for your remembrance of my small matters.”

After referring to his illness, he proceeds:—

“Do not reflect upon your visit to the bard (Walter Scott). You would have blamed yourself much more if you had not gone. The advance was made by him through Ballantyne, and you only did what was open and candid. We shall be at the bottom of these peoples’ views by-and-bye; at present I confess I only see very darkly—but let us have patience; a little time will develop all these mysteries. I have not seen Ballantyne since, and when I do see him I shall say very little indeed. If there really is a disappointment in not being connected with Scott’s new poem,* you should feel it much less than any man living—having such a poet as Lord Byron. Since I was a little better I have been again reading ‘Lara,’ and the delight it afforded me was exquisite. The very incongruities which a number of our small critics have been nibbling at, afforded me the highest enjoyment. . . . After the strong and kind interest Lord Byron has uniformly displayed to you, and the warmth and strength of his friendship, you may consider yourself a proud man indeed.”

Although Mr. Murray did not secure a share in Scott’s new poem, he succeeded in obtaining a share in ‘Don Roderick,’ one of Scott’s former poems, which he was about to reprint with considerable additions. When communicating with Murray on the subject, Scott said:—

Mr. Scott to John Murray.

“The property is with the Ballantynes, but, as I have an interest in it, I have desired them to offer you a third of the impression at the same terms as the other two publishers, as I think it will suit your sale better than any of

* This was ‘The Lord of the Isles,’ to which Murray had not been admitted as a partner by Ballantyne, though an understanding to that effect existed between the firms.

them, and as I would be happy to have your name on the title-page.”

The offer was accordingly made by the Ballantynes, and at once accepted.

Meanwhile the Quarterly continued to prosper, in spite of the irregularity of its appearance, and its circulation had increased to about seven thousand. Murray himself took the principal share in the correspondence. He beat up for new recruits, and regularly communicated with the old contributors. He tried again and again to induce Walter Scott to write more articles for the Review. We find him urging an article on Weber’s Romances.

“I trust,” he said, “that you have been prevented only by business. Is ‘Self-Control’ worthy of any review from you? It is rising into notice here, and perhaps you might like a subject that will not cost you much trouble. We are anxious for ‘Don Roderick,’ and wish one copy instantly for the Quarterly.”

Southey addressed all his letters and communications to Murray himself, and not to the editor. He greatly resented Gifford’s so-called “mutilations” of his articles, and often threatened to break away from the Quarterly. But the hundred guineas an article were more than he could resist, and he went on contributing regularly.

“I could get more money from the Quarterly,” he wrote to Miss Barker, “by one month’s employment than this volume (the second volume of ‘History of Brazil’) will produce me; but, on the other hand, this is for myself and posterity.”

On another occasion Southey wrote to his friend Bedford:—

“The more I consider the matter about emancipating myself from any engagement which subjects me to the
control of an editor, the more I perceive and feel the fitness of so doing; and regarding it, as I ought to do, without any feeling of anger, I shall consult my own perfect convenience in the matter, and leave the Murraymagne to discover that I find other modes of composition more agreeable, if not more profitable.”

At that time Southey was occupied with ‘The Tale of Paraguay’ and ‘Oliver Newman,’ both of which are now forgotten.

Croker, Barrow, Dr. Whittaker, and Dr. Young were always to be depended upon, and they were not so particular as Southey in being controlled by the editor. Croker wrote to Murray:—

November 1st, 1812.
Dear Murray,

I have now done my ‘Sketch of Brougham’; and as soon as I have got the whole in print I will endeavour to curtail and reduce into some kind of order, for Mr. Gifford’s final correction.

With respect to Croker’s article on Brougham, Gifford informed the publisher, “that at the suggestion of Mr. Canning, he proposes the postponement of the article on Brougham’s speech,” and it does not appear that it was ever published. In a subsequent letter to Mr. Murray he says:—

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.

“If we could do without such men as Southey and Mr. Ellis, perhaps it might be possible to act differently; but at any rate I prefer Mr. Canning to William Erskine. You are to consider that we have not hacks in pay like the Monthly and Critical Review, and that we are at least dealing with gentlemen. Spleen and ill-humour are out of place.”

Of Southey he said:—

Southey’s prose is so good that everyone detects him. But take care how you confess it. Mum is always the
safest word. When S. comes to town, let him do as he pleases.”

During the summer months, when the June number of the Quarterly was published, Gifford, as usual, went down to Ryde to regain his own health and look after his dying housekeeper.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
Ryde, July 12th, 1813.

“I have certainly gained something like health since I have been here, and I live all day long either on or by the water. Dr. Bell is here on a short visit, and contrived to find me out. He has been with me every day to take me out with some or other of his acquaintances; but as I positively came here to hide myself away, I have steadily refused to be known to any of them.”

July 29th, 1813.

“I have, as you conjecture, been touring—don’t make a mistake and read ‘towering,’ for my flights have been very humble, or rather none at all. The fact is, that I can do nothing here. Mr. Croker is very kind, and as we are both fond of sailing, we are much on the water together.”

In the following month he said that he was again suffering from a bad cough. Murray had sent him some present—what it was is not specified—to which Gifford replies:—

“You are too kind and munificent to me. I thank you very heartily, which is all you will allow me to do.”

While at Ryde Gifford received from Murray the news of the battle of Vittoria, and replied:—

“This seems to me the most important victory yet gained, and promises to free Spain. What a turn it would give to the affairs of the Allies if they could hear of it in time; but Buonaparte will be at least three weeks before them.” He added: “‘Coleman’ I see advertised. Would you have me try to get at Croker once more? If the book be worth
reviewing he is the only person to do it, and I will write to him.”

Croker reviewed ‘Coleman’s Vagaries’ in the eighteenth number, which was due in July, but did not appear until six weeks later.

In January 1814 Gifford wrote to Murray:—

“In one of his letters Lord Sheffield talks of my visiting him. If his lordship would give me his estate, I could not venture on such a thing; nor can I increase my stock of acquaintance, as I never go out. Though I am better, yet I have not breath enough to walk out.”

After his usual visit to Ryde he returned to London in the autumn. We find him writing to Murray, then in Edinburgh:—

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
James Street, October 20th, 1814.
My dear Sir,

What can I say in return for your interesting and amusing letter? I live here quite alone, and see nobody, so that I have not a word of news for you. I delight in your visit to Scotland, which I am sure would turn to good, and which I hope you will, as you say, periodically repeat. It makes me quite happy to find you beating up for recruits, and most ardently do I wish you success. Mention me kindly to Scott, and tell him how much I long to renew our wonted acquaintance. Southey’s article is, I think, excellent I have softened matters a little. Barrow is hard at work on Flinders [Q. R. 23]. I have still a most melancholy house. My poor housekeeper is going fast. Nothing can save her, and I lend all my care to soften her declining days. She has a physician every second day, and takes a world of medicines, more for their profit than her own, poor thing. She lives on fruit, grapes principally, and a little game, which is the only food she can digest. Guess at my expenses; but I owe in some measure the extension of my feeble life to her care through a long succession of years, and I would cheerfully divide my last farthing with
her. I will not trouble you again on this subject, which is a mere concern of my own; but you have been very kind to her, and she is sensible of it.

With respect to this worthy woman, it may be added that she died on the 6th of February, 1815, carefully waited on to the last by her affectionate master. She was buried in South Audley Street Church, Grosvenor Square, where Gifford erected a tomb over her, and placed on it a very touching epitaph, concluding with these words: “Her deeply-affected master erected this stone to her memory, as a faithful testimony of her uncommon worth, and of his gratitude, respect, and affection for her long and meritorious services.”*

* See Gentleman’s Magazine, January 1816. Hazlitt published a cruel and libellous pamphlet in 1819, entitled ‘A Letter to William Gifford,’ in which he hinted that some improper connection had subsisted between himself and his “frail memorial.” Hazlitt wrote this pamphlet because of a criticism on the ‘Round Table’ in the Quarterly, which Gifford did not write, and of a criticism of Hunt’sRimini,’ published by Mr. Murray, which was also the work of another writer. But Gifford never took any notice of these libellous attacks upon him. He held that secrecy between himself and the contributors to the Quarterly was absolutely necessary. Hazlitt, in the above pamphlet, also attacks Murray, Croker, Canning, Southey, and others whom he supposed to be connected with the Review.