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Memoir of John Murray
Chapter XIV.

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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Thomas Campbell appeared like a meteor as early as 1799, when, in his twenty-second year, he published his ‘Pleasures of Hope.’ The world was taken by surprise at the vigour of thought and richness of fancy displayed in the poem. Shortly after its publication, Campbell went to Germany, and saw, from the Scottish Monastery of St. James’, the battle of Hohenlinden. On his return to Scotland, he published the beautiful lines beginning, “On Linden when the sun was low.” In 1801 he composed ‘The Exile of Erin,’ and ‘Ye Mariners of England.’ The ‘Battle of the Baltic,’ and ‘Locheil’s Warning’ followed; and in 1803 he published an edition of his poems. To have composed such noble lyrics was almost unprecedented in so young a man; for he was only twenty-six years of age when his collected edition appeared. He was treated as a lion, and became acquainted with Walter Scott and the leading men in Edinburgh. In December 1805 we find Constable writing to Murray, that Longman and Co. had offered the young poet £700 for a new volume of his poems.

Murray soon became intimate with Campbell, though he was kept waiting for many long years for the ‘Selections from British Poets,’ with an introductory memoir
of each, which Campbell had agreed to write for him. The first idea of such a work occurred to Campbell in 1805, and he communicated his views to
Walter Scott, through whom negotiations with Ballantyne and Cadell were opened; and though they were broken off for a time, Campbell pursued his idea. Soon after his first introduction to Murray he removed to London, taking up his residence at Sydenham.

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.
February 28th, 1806.
Dear Sir,

I very much regret that an indisposition which, though slight, is not such as will permit me to make a journey to town, must prevent me from what would be no small pleasure, the forming of your more intimate acquaintance by a friendly meeting to-day. I console myself, however, on my absence from your agreeable party with the idea that I was invited to it. I also feel unfeigned pleasure at the prospect of seeing you at any future time without the reserve of unacquainted people. I am not a little flattered at your expression of so much good disposition on my behalf. . . . I should bid you to see me at Sydenham if it were not winter; but in summer I hope you will not unfrequently see, Sir,

Yours, with great respect,
Thomas Campbell.

One of the earliest results of the association of Campbell with Murray was a proposal to start a new magazine, which Murray had long contemplated. This, it will be observed, was some years before the communications took place between Walter Scott and Murray with respect to the starting of the Quarterly. After the meeting Mr. Campbell wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:—

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.
March 3rd, 1806.
My dear Sir,

As I put down in my own memorandum book all the desultory ideas respecting the new publication which we have in contemplation that occur to me, I think it may not be improper to transmit them to you also. You will be so good as to pardon the unsystematic appearance which those ideas must have, but which I trust will alter for the better as our scheme gets riper, and nearer being put in execution.

I have thought on many respectable names (since I had the pleasure of your society), of persons who, I think, may in all probability be brought to lend us their aid, Although our scheme is not scientific, yet a very pleasant mixture of science may enter it, and I have recollected since we met that Charles Bell, of Edinburgh, has come to London to settle—a man of really superior genius, as his forthcoming publication will show. I think we shall get something from him on his own favourite pursuit, the anatomy of painting.

Alison, the author of ‘Essays on Taste,’ is my particular friend. I am pretty sure he will give me important support. John Allen, a most admirably ingenious man, will assist me in a track of study which I mean immediately and eagerly to pursue—Spanish literature, as the little knowledge I possess of it may be easily improved, into what may usefully promote our magazine.

Professor Playfair, an elegant writer as well as philosopher, will contribute, I know, with my other northern friends, to give some éclat to our work. There are names I forgot to mention to you. Miss Baillie, I hope, will also give us a bit of poetry now and then. I have the honour to be her particular acquaintance. Let us by all means keep our scheme to ourselves till great aids are quite secure—till we are ready to step forward before the public without a hem or an apology, but boldly, and as becomes men conscious of deserving notice. I dread of all things the hue and cry getting up before we are ready. I trust, however, implicitly in the great degree of judgment and discretion which I know you to possess.


Let us also, my dear Sir, while we court great aids, keep ourselves disentangled from little ones. It is an invidious thing to hunt down tolerable though second-rate writers. It is breaking the peace and wounding their feelings by severe sayings or writings in public; but when our fame and fortune are staked on a plan like this, we must have no second-rates—especially in poetry.

In your plan of the ancient classics I feel myself warmly interested. I shall take very great pleasure indeed in every opportunity that you give me of suggesting what some fourteen years’ experience in the original and translated authors may make of use to the plan. I have little doubt also, that I could put you on a plan of supplying the “hiatuses” in poetical translation. These thoughts come at random.

From your very respectful and sincerely obliged,
Thomas Campbell.

The projected magazine seems, however, to have dropped out of sight, and Campbell then reverted to his proposed ‘Lives of the British Poets, with Selections from their Writings.’ Toward the close of the year he addressed the following letter to Mr. Scott:—

Mr. T. Campbell to Mr. Scott.
November 5th, 1806.
My Dear Scott,

A very excellent and gentlemanlike man—albeit a bookseller—Murray, of Fleet Street, is willing to give for our joint ‘Lives of the Poets,’ on the plan we proposed to the trade a twelvemonth ago, a thousand pounds. For my part, I think the engagement very desirable, and have no uneasiness on the subject, except my fear that you may be too much engaged to have to do with it, as five hundred pounds may not be to you the temptation that it appears to a poor devil like myself. Murray is the only gentleman, except Constable, in the trade;—I may also, perhaps, except Hood. I have seldom seen a pleasanter man to deal with. I foresee no chance of our disagreeing about the minuter arrangements, should the affair proceed. I
think our choice of the lives for each would not be likely to set you and me by the ears. And, what makes me excessively desirous of the engagement, independent of its being pleasant work and good reward, is that it would probably fix me beside you in Edinburgh. . . . Our names are what Murray principally wants—yours in particular. The size, the manner, the time, and the whole arrangement of this work will be in our hands. . . . For my own part, I am not assuming any mock modesty, when I say that, so thankful shall I be to have an engagement to the amount of £500, that I will think no effort too great to show my sense of the good fortune to be associated with you in the undertaking. I have too much respect for you, and for myself, to importune you to join names with me; but I cannot disguise that I am deeply anxious for your answer. I will not wish, even in confidence, to say anything ill of the London booksellers beyond their deserts; but I assure you that, to compare this offer of Murray’s with their usual offers, it is magnanimous indeed.
Longman and Rees, and a few of the great booksellers, have literally monopolised the trade, and the business of literature is getting a dreadful one indeed. The Row folks have done nothing for me yet; I know not what they intend. The fallen prices of literature—which is getting worse by the horrible complexion of the times—make me often rather gloomy at the life I am likely to lead. You may guess, therefore, my anxiety to close with this proposal; and you may think me charitable indeed to restrain myself from wishing that you were as poor as myself, that you might have motives to lend your aid.

Scott entered into Campbell’s agreement with kindness and promptitude, and it was arranged, under certain stipulations, that the plan should have his zealous cooperation; but as the number and importance of his literary engagements increased, he declined to take an active part either in the magazine or the other undertaking. The loss of Scott’s name seems to have been fatal to the progress of the periodical, but Campbell continued to hold to his idea of preparing ‘Selections from the British
Poets.’ Communications took place between
Constable and Murray on the subject, Campbell proposing that Constable should be the publisher. Murray replied to Constable’s letter (19th December, 1806):—

“I saw Campbell two days ago, and he told me that Mr. Scott had declined, and modestly asked if it would do by himself alone; but this I declined in a way that did not leave us the less friends.”

Campbell continued writing about the publication of his work to Constable, who seems to have disregarded his letters. Then he wrote to Mr. Jeffrey, who gave him no answer. At last he wrote to Henry (afterwards Lord) Cockburn, expressing his regret at Constable’s and Jeffrey’s silence, and requesting his intercession. “If Jeffrey does not take any interest in this affair of the ‘Selections,’ will you do me the kindness to call upon Mr. Constable and request an answer?” But no answer came; and Campbell was at length driven back upon Mr. Murray. The friendship between them grew closer, and Campbell was a frequent guest at Murray’s literary parties. To one of these invitations he replied:—

Mr. Campbell to John Murray,
April 9th, 1807.
Dear Murray,

I do assure you that none of your present guests (not even excepting the landlord!) will more sincerely regret than I do the absence of that worthy gentleman, myself, from your expected and pleasant party. But the unforeseen event being no less than a summons from his Majesty’s deputy-lieutenant to answer respecting my free-will and consent to be draughted by the Training Act to serve (should it please His Majesty—God bless him) in a regiment of the Line, the absence of my company among the deputy-lieutenants might be attended with still more unpleasant consequences than absenting myself from your
party. I hear you are to have
Scott, whose address I have unfortunately lost. If he should dine with you I shall be much obliged if you will present my respects to him and tell him to remember Sydenham. I wish I could have been among you, but you see what comes of the Training Act. Mrs. Campbell joins me in best respects to Mrs. Murray. Believe me, dear Murray,

Truly yours,
Thos. Campbell.

At length, after many communications and much personal intercourse, Murray agreed with Campbell to bring out his work, without the commanding name of Walter Scott, and with the name of Thomas Campbell alone as Editor of the ‘Selections from the British Poets.’ The arrangement seems to have been made towards the end of 1808. Campbell’s letter describes the nature of the proposed work:—

Mr. Campbell to John Murray.
January 28th, 1809.

I am inclined to believe that the more popular form of the ‘Elegant Extracts’ is the best adapted for our work. It is surely a fair competition in which we shall start, with that ill-constructed but as I understand very saleable compilation. With respect to the form of the work, however, I feel myself an incompetent adviser. I am confident enough in my power to make the merit of the book independent of its form. Its title I should call ‘The Selected Beauties of British Poetry, with lives of the Poets and Critical Dissertations. By T. C.,’ &c. This titlepage, however, may be arranged at our leisure. I begin with Chaucer, and continue through the whole succession of English Poets to the last of our own day. Many lives, and of course criticisms annexed to these lives, will be included which are not found in any preceding collection. Many anonymous Poems must also be inserted, with merely a notice of the name to which they are attributed, upon grounds too uncertain to admit of a Biography.
Already I have done much in bringing together a number of excellent little poems which have been but partially noticed—known only to amateurs, and transcribed in their commonplace books, but most of them rarely, and some of them never, introduced into collections of Poetry. The bulk of these need not alarm you for the space they will occupy, as it is the common quality of excellence not to be bulky; but though these little stars of poetical excellence may be individually small, I hope they will form a brilliant constellation.

My Biographies I mean to be short, but I dare say you will remember that shortness is not always incompatible with being satisfactory. By short I don’t mean scanty. Where the merit of the Poet is not very interesting, I will endeavour to make his biography more interesting. Extreme accuracy I trust I shall always attain—indeed, with the prospect of such aid as you are so kind as to promise me, I need not fear falling into errors with the industry I propose to exert. At the same time I do not promise you a book of antiquarian dissertation. I mean to exert the main part of my strength on the merits and writings of each Poet as an Author, not on discoveries of little anecdotes, and of his residence and conversation as a man, unless such things are striking, and can be obtained without sacrificing the great object of my efforts, viz. to make a complete body of English Poetical Criticism. The Poets are all to be reviewed in their chronological succession, but both in my preface and in my biographies I mean to class the minor poets in the different orders of their general merit and particular characteristics. To the great Poets, such as Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Dryden, Pope and Thomson, I devote a separate and elaborate disquisition, treating them as they deserve, like great writers, having nothing in common but their greatness.

I mean to devote a year exclusively to this effort. It is not my part to say any more than I have said (I hope it will not appear immodestly) on my own competency to the task. I shall only add that I have written a good deal on the subject matter of it, and read and thought a great deal more. Independent of my duty as a fair dealer, which I trust would always deter me from performing a task in a slovenly manner, where the capital of an
employer is risked and employed, I have every motive that can stimulate to industry, and that can make me anxious without being intimidated about the public opinion. With great respect and regard, believe me, dear

Your sincere friend,
T. Campbell.

Fortified with these admirable resolutions, Campbell proceeded with his work, but the labour it involved was perhaps greater than he had anticipated. It was his first important prose work; and prose requires continuous labour. It cannot, like a piece of poetry, be thrown off at a heat while the fit is on. Moreover, Campbell stopped occasionally in the midst of his work to write poems, by which he hoped to subsist. It is true he had already, in his twenty-eighth year, obtained a pension of £200 a year; but this was not enough. In 1809 he published his ‘Gertrude of Wyoming’ and other poems, which confirmed his poetical reputation. Murray sent a copy of the volume to Walter Scott, and requested a review for the Quarterly, which was then in its first year. What Campbell thought of the review will appear from the following letter:—

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.
June 2nd, 1809.
My Dear Murray,

I received the review, for which I thank you, and beg leave through you to express my best acknowledgments to the unknown reviewer. I do not by this mean to say that I think every one of his censures just. On the contrary, if I had an opportunity of personal conference with so candid and sensible a man, I think I could in some degree acquit myself of a part of the faults he has found. But altogether I am pleased with his manner, and very proud of his approbation. He reviews like a gentleman, a Christian, and a scholar.


Although the ‘Lives of the Poets’ had been promised within a year from January 1809, four years had passed, and the work was still far from completion.

In the meantime Campbell undertook to give a course of eleven Lectures on Poetry at the Royal Institution, for which he received a hundred guineas. He enriched his Lectures with the Remarks and Selections collected for the ‘Specimens,’ for which the publisher had agreed to pay a handsome sum. The result was a momentary hesitation on the part of Mr. Murray to risk the publication of the work. On this, says Campbell’s biographer, a correspondence ensued between the poet and the publisher, which ended to the satisfaction of both. Mr. Murray only requested that Mr. Campbell should proceed with greater alacrity in finishing the long projected work. It is only right, however, to give the poet’s letter to Mr. Murray in reference to his application for payment on account:—

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.
January 29th, 1814.
Dear Murray,

I will finish your work, and never more trouble you on the subject of money. What I sought was not as a matter of right, but of pure favour. I am sorry it has annoyed you. You are bound to forgive me, I think, when I say that I regret the application. You have a right to refuse me on the score of a legal claim, but you do me some injustice in stating the grounds of your right of refusal. It is because my work is unfinished that this just denial must be admitted by me, but you should not found it on a circumstance which never existed—that of my having used your library for the purpose of other undertakings. Brewster, whose articles* I agreed to write by your express sanction before beginning our work, gave me a full order upon his bookseller, Richardson, for all books necessary for his biographies. They were, from the nature of the articles,

* For the ‘Edinburgh Encyclopædia.’

very few and of slight importance. Again, out of eleven lectures delivered at the Royal Institution, only two were upon the subjects of our ‘Criticisms’: the other nine were upon the philosophy of poetry, the Spanish, French, and Greek drama, and even upon our own dramatic writers, respecting whom I had not a single volume to assist me among your books.

The lengthened delay of the work has been occasioned by the nature of its materials, which lie so diversely scattered, that with all your zeal and liberality, and my own exertions, it has been physically impossible to collect them into one mass at one time. The other things on which I have been engaged have been resorted to as the mere supports of my family at certain intervals when I saw my finances near a close, and found that by the utmost progress I could make in our work, I could not have a just claim on you in time enough for my necessities. I wrote, not to ask from you or to annoy you, but to vindicate myself for past delays. Believe me, they have not been voluntary. Even now I believe I shall be obliged to cast about for some scheme of lecturing to make money wherewith to finish the ‘Criticisms,’ or at least to stand out the time when I shall be engaged in correcting the proofs, which I should not wish to be put too hastily off. I do not by this mean to insinuate the slightest wish again to trouble you. I feel that your refusal is perfectly just.

I thank you for expressing a wish that we should continue friends. I meet it cordially. I trust that the entire MSS. will convince you that instead of the Lectures starving the ‘Criticisms,’ they have enriched them much. The tone of our future intercourse will depend on your reception of this letter.

I remain, disposed as ever,
To be sincerely, &c., yours,
T. Campbell.

The following is Mr. Murray’s answer:—

John Murray to Mr. T. Campbell.

Mr. Davison (the printer) has some Government work, which has engrossed him too much of late. He now
promises to put all his force upon the ‘
Specimens,’ and to make up for his recent delays. I take the opportunity of assuring you how much I feel obliged by the labour which you are now bestowing upon the ‘Lives,’ which have become very interesting, and cannot fail to do you honour. I will send you Hayley’sCowper;’ it affords material for a very long and a peculiarly interesting life,—in which you can weave innumerable passages of great beauty from his letters, and all the touching part of the life written by himself. I assure you I think, when you have given scope to yourself, that your prose is not to be surpassed. I expect very very great things in your ‘Life of Burns.’ Don’t be afraid of room.

Most truly yours,
John Murray.

On June 19th, 1815, Campbell writes:—

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.

“I condole with you very much on the misfortune of my being absent from your party on Friday; but still more with myself, since instead of having the honour of imbibing your wine, I had the honour of spending the day in profuse perspiration between blankets, and giving out more humidity than I could have possibly taken in if I had been drinking wine with you.”

The book was still long in coming out. The patience of author and publisher were alike exhausted. More letters passed between them. Many books were required, and sent to Sydenham. After the lapse of two years, the following letter was sent by Campbell to Murray:—

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.
April 28th, 1818.

I am divided in my opinion as to the quantity of extracts I should give from Goldsmith. Upon the whole, I think the ‘Deserted Village’ and ‘Traveller’ are so beautiful that they should not be broken up; but I don’t like to direct their being printed without its meeting your ideas of the
work. You are in reality likely to judge much more accurately than I can do of the problem I have stated. If you can spare but a snatched moment to say Yes or No as to the whole or a part, I shall be obliged to you. I confess I should lean strongly to giving them entire.

Yours very faithfully,
T. Campbell.

The books were sent. The work was now approaching completion, and at length, about the beginning of 1819, fourteen years after the project had been mentioned to Walter Scott, and about ten years after the book should have appeared, according to Campbell’s original promise, the ‘Essays and Selections of English Poetry’ were published by Mr. Murray. The work was well received. The poet was duly paid for it, and Dr. Beattie, Campbell’s biographer, says he “found himself in the novel position of a man who has money to lay out at interest.” It will be evident, however, from the following letter, that this statement must be received with considerable deduction. His final letter is:—

Mr. T. Campbell to John Murray.
March 28th, 1819.
Dear Murray,

After having been so kindly accommodated by you, I am afraid you will think me very troublesome in the present application, but on settling my account with Messrs. Longman & Co.,* I find to my dismay that I have drawn so much from them as to leave me nothing for the payment of many debts which yet remain against me. Before the last two hundred pounds, I had received, according to my memorandum, four hundred on account of the ‘Specimens.’ I have then in all had six. Of the four

* Longman & Co. were the publishers of Campbell’s collected ‘Poems.’

remaining hundred which you have been so liberal as to destine for me, I am not anxious for the one half sooner than it may be perfectly convenient; but if it were not troublesome to you, I should esteem it a very great favour to be allowed to draw upon you in small sums which I owe in London to the amount of two hundred. You would possibly also indulge me so far as to let my creditors present their cheques, which I should give them (in the event of receiving your permission for this arrangement) at your house. If this, however, should be in the least disagreeable, I hope you will frankly tell me so.

I have already thanked you in person, but feel it due to repeat my acknowledgments for your very handsome and liberal allowance for the ‘Specimens’ beyond our formal contract. It would be the most avaricious and unreasonable spirit in me not to be perfectly satisfied with the honourable and gentlemanlike spirit which you have shown in estimating my remuneration. What I have to say in apology for thus applying to you sooner than I meant to have done, cannot possibly be misunderstood as at variance in the slightest degree with my sense of absolute obligation to you; but as an apology for this application I feel it no excuse to state that the time which I devoted to the ‘Specimens’ has involved me very much in debt. I discovered in truth too late that it was a work which none but an author who possessed an independent fortune, or a collection of books such as Mr. Heber’s, should have undertaken; and that it was impossible in the nature of things that it could remunerate either you or myself at the first edition. I saw through my difficulties, however, so far as to anticipate that, having conquered the first edition, it would ultimately be capable of yielding advantage to both in subsequent editions.* It is a great thing to have made myself master of the subject and acquainted with the books that relate to all its most important parts. On the scheme which you suggested regarding the ‘Dramatic Poets,’ I shall have the pleasure of talking with you fully when we meet.

The length of this letter need not frighten you, as it will require but a very short answer. Whatever answer that should be (and I have not the slightest objection to be treated with a frank refusal if my request should be incon-

* The second edition appeared in 1841, in one thick volume, 8vo.

venient), may I only beg that you will have the goodness to send it soon.

With sincerity, I remain, your obliged friend,
T. Campbell.

Mr. Murray complied with Mr. Campbell’s request, and paid the money for the cheques presented, as he had desired. It appears that besides the £1000, which was double the sum originally proposed to be paid to Campbell for the ‘Selections,’ Mr. Murray, in October 1819, paid him £200 “for books,” doubtless for those he had purchased for the ‘Collections,’ and which he desired to retain.

We cannot conclude this account of Campbell’s dealing with Murray without referring to an often-quoted story which has for many years sailed under false colours. It was Thomas Campbell who wrote “Now Barabbas was a publisher,” whether in a Bible or otherwise is not authentically recorded, and forwarded it to a friend; but Mr. Murray was not the publisher to whom it referred, nor was Lord Byron, as has been so frequently stated, the author of the joke.

While Campbell’sSelections’ were in slow and gradual progress through the press, Scott was throwing off his poems and novels with extraordinary rapidity; Murray had a share with Blackwood in some of the novels, but a number of other important works demanded his attention. Byron was now at the height of his fame; Southey was producing his works with prolific rapidity. Milman was beginning to issue his poems and dramas; Malthus was publishing his works on Rent and the Corn Laws; and numerous works on Voyages and Travels, on Philosophy, on Classics, on Antiquities, were issuing from the house in Albemarle Street. Murray himself was the head and front of the whole negotiations and corre-
spondence. The great burden of the correspondence entailed by the
Quarterly Review now fell on him, for Gifford was physically incapable of bearing it. On the other hand, Croker and Barrow were becoming more and more active helpers of the publisher in this branch of his responsibilities.

On one of Gifford’s letters we find these words in Murray’s handwriting: “By mistake I had made his draft for No. 29, £125 instead of £150. I sent the difference with an apology.” Gifford’s answer was as follows:—

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
August 11th, 1816.

“I have always found you liberal and generous, and have rather feared for you than for myself. I am always safe in your hands. I shall set out to-morrow with my damsel at a very early hour. Phyllis has taken a little lodging for me at Dover, which she says is full. I rejoice in the sale of yesterday, as I shall in any success of yours.”

Gifford was nothing the better for his stay at Dover. Shortly after his return he wrote to Murray from James Street, Buckingham Gate (1st Sept., 1816):—

“I am now suffering from confirmed jaundice. This is quite a novelty to me. My head is as heavy as lead, and I can do nothing. You never saw such a wretch as I appear—green and yellow, and every colour but the right one. They give me a quantity of nauseous stuff, and tell me it is for my good! Two or three days must, I think, decide what I am to hope. Meanwhile I can do nothing.”

Like the creaking gate that hangs long on its hinges, Gifford continued to live, though painfully. He became gradually better, and in the following month Mr. Murray presented him with a chariot, by means of which he might
drive about and take exercise in the open air. Gifford answered:—

“I have a thousand thanks to give you for the pains you have taken about the carriage, without which I should only have talked about it, and died of a cold. It came home yesterday, and I went to Fulham in it. It is everything that I could wish, neat, easy, and exceedingly comfortable.”

Gifford’s edition of ‘Ben Jonson’ came out about this time, for he added:

“I am really gratified by your opinion of poor ‘Ben,’ but you must read some of his plays—‘The Fox,’ ‘The Alchemist’—miraculous things—and some of the minor pieces, ‘The Vision of Delight,’ &c.”

Among the other works published by Mr. Murray in 1816 a few more remain to be mentioned. Mr. John Cam Hobhouse, afterwards Lord Broughton, wrote to Murray from Whitton Park as to the publication of his Letters from Paris during the last reign of Napoleon. Mr. Hobhouse had already appeared as an author, principally in his ‘Journey through Albania and other Provinces of Turkey, with Lord Byron,’ which was published in 1812. In the case of his ‘Last Reign of Napoleon’ he informed Mr. Murray that he desired the book to be published without his name, at least at first, but he did not object to the publisher informing any inquirer who was the author.

Mr. Hobhouse to John Murray.
January, 1816.

“Tell me when your press is ready, and you shall have the MS. by five or six sheets at a time. I shall correct the press, and I must also premise that when the whole is completed, I must have the liberty of cancelling what sheets I please, for a reason that I now tell you in the strictest confidence: the Letters are to go to Paris previously to publication, and are to be read carefully
through by a most intimate friend of mine, who was entirely in the secrets of the late Imperial Ministry, and who will point out any statements as to facts, in which he could from his knowledge make any necessary change.”

The book was published in 2 vols. 8vo., and created a considerable sensation at the time. The first edition was rapidly exhausted, and Hobhouse offered a second to Murray, proposing at the same time to insert his name as author on the title-page.

“If I do,” he said, “I shall present the book to Lord Byron in due form, not for his talents as a poet, but for his qualities as a companion and a friend. I should not write ‘My dear Byron,’ à la Hunt.”*

Meanwhile Mr. D’Israeli was busy with his ‘Inquiry into the Literary and Political Character of James the First.’ He wrote to his publisher as follows:—

Mr. D’Israeli to John Murray.
May, 1816.
Dear Murray,

Pray does ‘James’ advance with you? Is there a second sheet? If so I should like to have it. Mr. Gifford will give it a reading no doubt. I am sorry to say every one I have mentioned the subject to revolts from it as a thing quite untenable, and cares nothing about ‘James.’ This does not stop me from finishing. The weather and other things confine me to the house.

Yours always,
I. D’I.

Mr. Croker, in the midst of his work at the Admiralty, his articles for the Quarterly and his other literary labours, found time to write his ‘Stories for Children from the

* Leigh Hunt had dedicated his ‘Rimini’ to the noble poet, addressing him as “My dear Byron.”

History of England.’ In sending the later stories Mr. Croker wrote to
Mr. Murray:—

The Rt. Hon. J. W. Croker to John Murray.

“I send you seven stories, which, with eleven you had before, brings us down to Richard III., and as I do not intend to come down beyond the Revolution, there remain nine stories still. I think you told me that you gave the first stories to your little boy to read. Perhaps you or Mrs. Murray would be so kind as to make a mark over against such words as he may not have understood, and to favour me with any criticism the child may have made, for on this occasion I should prefer a critic of 6 years old to one of 60.”

Thus John Murray’s son, the present Mr. Murray, was early initiated into the career of reading for the press. When the book came out it achieved a great success, and set the model for Walter Scott in his charming ‘Tales of my Grandfather.’

It may be mentioned that ‘Croker’s Stories for Children’ were published on the system of division of profits. Long after, when Mr. Murray was in correspondence with an author who wished him to pay a sum of money down before he had even seen the manuscript, the publisher recommended the author to publish his book on a division of profits, in like manner as Hallam, Milman, Mahon, Croker, and others had done. “Under this system,” he said, “I have been very successful. For Mr. Croker’s ‘Stories from the History of England,’ selling for 2s. 6d., if I had offered the small sum of twenty guineas, he would have thought it liberal. However, I printed it to divide profits, and he has already received from me the moiety of £1400. You will perhaps be startled at my assertion; for woeful experience convinces me that not more than one
publication in fifty has a sale sufficient to defray its expenses.”

Sir John Malcolm was a great friend of Murray’s. When home from India in 1816, he dined often at Albemarle Street, where he made the acquaintance of Lord Byron, Campbell, Rogers, Hallam, and others. Murray published his ‘History of Persia,’ one of his greatest works. On his return to India, the ship in which he had embarked was lying in the Downs, waiting for a fair wind down Channel, when he wrote the following parting letter:—

Sir John Malcolm to John Murray.
Deal, October 16th, 1816.
Dear Murray,

I have waited to the last, that I might condense all my say into one short sheet. To begin, I have had every reason to be satisfied with your conduct towards me on all occasions, and, what is more, I am quite convinced I must have always the same feelings on this score, as the motives and principles on which you act can never give rise to any other. I was as surprised as gratified when I went on board the Miles, at your handsome present of amusement for the passage, and sincerely thank you. I shall neither forget you nor Mr. Gifford. The packet for the latter will be sent from the Cape, if it please God we reach that port. Colonel Worsley has the work prepared for the printer. It is very curious to all who take any interest in India, and to officers in India quite an invaluable work.

The latter portion of the letter probably refers to his ‘Instructions to Young Officers,’ which he had left ready for the press.

The success of Scott’s, and especially of Byron’s Poems, called into existence about this time a vast array of would-be poets, male and female, and from all ranks and professions. Some wrote for fame, some for money; but all were agreed on one point, namely that if Mr. Murray
would undertake the publication of the poems the authors’ fame was secured: “that their works would excite the admiration of the world,” or that “the author would become independent and celebrated throughout Great Britain.”

Mr. Murray was inundated with productions of this kind, but could usually dispose of them without troubling his literary advisers. The authors of these rejected addresses did not always take the publisher’s decision in good part, and not a few retaliated by round, personal abuse.

This, however, was not generally the case. When Miss Jane Porter sent him a poem—‘Lord Ronald, by a Border Minstrel,’—and asked him to peruse it with a view to publication, he informed the lady (July 12th, 1817) that he had “waded through seven hundred rejected poems in the course of a year.” The lady assented to his view, and willingly took back the manuscript.

When Mr. Murray was in doubt about any manuscript, he usually conferred with Croker, Campbell, or Gifford, who always displayed the utmost kindness in helping him with their opinions. Croker was usually short and pithy. Of one poem he said: “Trash—the dullest stuff I ever read.” This was enough to ensure the condemnation of the manuscript. Campbell, when sending his “confidential opinion on the poem of ‘Woman,’”* said, “In my opinion, though there are many excellent lines in it, the poem is not such as will warrant a great sum being speculated upon it. But, as it is short, I think the public, not the author or publisher, will be in fault if it does not sell one edition.”

Of a poem sent for his opinion, Gifford wrote:—

“Honestly, the MS. is totally unfit for the press. Do not deceive yourself: this MS. is not the production of a

* Most probably Mrs. Hemans’Records of Woman.’

male. A man may write as great nonsense as a woman, and even greater; but a girl may pass through those execrable abodes of ignorance, called boarding schools, without learning whether the sun sets in the East or in the West, whereas a boy can hardly do this, even at Parson’s Green.”

The following letter may be given from John Wilson, then an advocate at Edinburgh, afterwards Professor of Moral Philosophy, relating to the second edition of his ‘City of the Plague’:—

Mr. John Wilson to John Murray.
December 18th, 1815.

“Circumstances connected with my professional duties have prevented me from returning an answer to your letter. . . . I have by this day’s mail-coach sent to you the only copy which I possess of the ‘City of the Plague.’ I have relinquished the idea of publishing a larger volume, and now offer you that single dramatic poem by itself, and, if you choose, a few smaller ones of a different character, to make up the volume to 170 or 180 pages. If you think the Poem worth £100, and a dozen copies to the author, the copyright of it is yours; if not, you will return me the manuscript as soon as possible. You will peruse it yourself, and request Lord Byron to give you his opinion. I do not mention his name from believing that he entertains a favourable idea of my poetical character, as indeed I have some reason to think the contrary. But as he is a man of power and genius, I know that in his hands my poem will have the certainty of a fair trial by a good judge.”

It appears that Murray declined Wilson’s offer of his poem. A few days later Murray communicated his views to Blackwood of Edinburgh, when Blackwood replied:—

Mr. Wm. Blackwood to John Murray.
January 1st, 1816.

Wilson is a very extraordinary kind of person: he is a man of strong mind and powerful talents, but so outré and
unsettled, that one never can be sure of his having taken sufficient pains upon anything. You have probably done right in declining his poem, though I have no doubt of there being a great deal of genius in it; and that, if he were to take more pains, he is perfectly capable of producing a beautiful and interesting poem.”

This was the Edinburgh publisher’s view—no doubt a true one. Yet John Wilson (afterwards known as Christopher North) proved one of his best friends,—especially in the establishment of Blackwood's Magazine; with which Murray himself was for a time connected.

James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd, was another of Murray’s Scottish correspondents, with whom he had some interesting intercourse. The publication of ‘The Queen’s Wake’ in 1813 immediately brought Hogg into connection with the leading authors and publishers of the day. Hogg sent a copy of the volume to Lord Byron, his “brother poet,” whose influence he desired to enlist on behalf of a work which Hogg wished Murray to publish.

The poem which the Ettrick Shepherd referred to was ‘The Pilgrims of the Sun,’ and the result of Lord Byron’s conversation with Mr. Murray was, that the latter undertook to publish Hogg’s works. The first letter from him to Murray was dated “Grieve and Scott’s, Edinburgh, 26th December, 1814,” though the post-mark shows it was not delivered until the 12th of January, 1815.

Mr. Hogg to John Murray.
Dear Murray,

What the deuce have you made of my excellent poem that you are never publishing it, while I am starving for want of money, and cannot even afford a Christmas goose to my friends? I think I may say of you as the country-
man said to his friend, who asked him when his wife had her accouchement, “Troth, man,” said he, “she’s aye gaun aboot yet, and I think she’ll be gaun to keep this ane till hirsel a thegither.” However, I dare say that, like the said wife, you have your reasons for it; but of all things a bookseller’s reasons suit worst with a poet’s board. I should be glad to know if you got safely across the Tweed and what number of the little family group you lost by the way betwixt Edinburgh and London, and how everything in the literary world is going on with you since that time. . .. Be sure to let me hear from you, and tell me how you are likely to come on with the copies of ‘
The Queen’s Wake’ which I sent you. It has been a losing business, and you must get me as much for it as you can. I hope you will soon find occasion for sending me an offer for a fifth edition. I am interrupted, so farewell for the present. God bless you!

James Hogg.

A few days later Hogg again wrote a long letter, complaining that Blackwood’s name was placed above Murray’s in the advertisement of his book. This was followed by a third epistle.

Mr. Hogg to John Murray.
January 21st, 1815.
My dear Sir,

I wrote to you a few days ago terribly chagrined about the advertisement. You have now explained it, and above all things in this world, I love a man who tells me the whole simple truth of his heart, as you have done, and I freely forgive you, for if I had thought the same way I would have acted the same way. But I cannot help smiling at your London Critics. They must read it over again. I had the best advice in the three kingdoms on the poem—men whose opinions, even given in a dream, I would not exchange for all the critics in England, before I ever proposed it for publication. I will risk my fame on it to all eternity. You may be mistaken, and you may be misled, my dear Murray, but as long as you tell me the simple truth as freely, you and I will be friends. Will
you soon need an edition of ‘
The Wake’? I think you should. Will our ‘Repository’ not go on? I have at least a volume of very superior poetry.

Yours very truly,
James Hogg.

The ‘Repository,’ which Hogg refers to in his letter, was intended to be a miscellaneous collection, edited by himself, of pieces written by the principal popular poets of the day. He afterwards altered the proposed name to ‘The Thistle and the Rose,’ or ‘The Poetic Mirror,’ and requested Byron and Scott to write for the ‘Miscellany,’ but they both eventually declined his proposition.

Mr. Hogg to John Murray.
March 15th, 1815.

“I want Lord Byron’s promised assistance. If I had but thirty lines from him, I would be content; but I cannot consent to put the book to press without something from him. Though it would be a material loss to me to want his name engraved on ‘The Thistle and Rose,’ yet I would not for the world pester or dun him. Think seriously of these things, my dear friend; tell me, as usual, freely what you think; the conditions shall always be of your own making, for though I am somewhat needy I am not greedy. . . . The Duke of Buccleuch has been so kind as, all unsolicited, to give me a farm on Yarrow, rent free for life. I have that farm to stock, and a cottage to build this summer; so that you need not think it strange that I would like to raise a few pounds as soon as I can. However, do not let any casualty induce you to enter upon anything that appears contrary to your interest; for, as you shrewdly hinted formerly, whatever is against that will prove much more against mine finally. But let me hear from you soon. . . . ”

Another letter followed (31st March, 1815), requesting an answer—wishing to know what number of copies of ‘The Queen’s Wake’ were on hand. At length, Murray answered:—

John Murray to Mr. Hogg.
London, April 10th, 1815.
My Dear Friend,

I entreat you not to ascribe to inattention the delay which has occurred in my answer to your kind and interesting letter. Much more, I beg you not for a moment to entertain a doubt about the interest which I take in your writings, or the exertions which I shall ever make to promote their sale and popularity. . . . They are selling every day, and I have no doubt that they will both be out of print in two months. It is really no less absurd than malicious to suppose that I do not advertise, and by every other means strive to sell these works in which I am so much interested. Respecting the collection of poems, I really think Lord Byron may, in a little time, be relied upon as a contributor. He continues to be exceedingly friendly to you in all respects, and it will be reciprocity of kindness in you to make large allowance for such a man. Newly married—consider the entire alteration which it has occasioned in his habits and occupations, or the flood of distracting engagements and duties of all kinds which have attended this change.

He has just come to town, and is in every respect very greatly improved. I wish you had been with me on Friday last when I had the honour of presenting Scott to him for the first time. This I consider as a commemorative event in literary history, and I sincerely regret that you were not present. I wish you had dashed up to London at once, and if you will do so immediately I will undertake to board you if you will get a bed, which can easily be obtained in my neighbourhood.

Could you not write a poetical epistle, a lively one, to Lady Byron—she is a good mathematician, writes poetry, understands French, Italian, Latin and Greek—and tell her that as she has prevented Lord B. from fulfilling his promise to you, she is bound to insist upon its execution, and to add a poem of her own to it by way of interest.

* * * * *

I have forgotten to tell you that Gifford tells me that he would receive, with every disposition to favour it, any critique which you like to send of new Scottish works. If I had been aware of it in time I certainly would have
invited your remarks on ‘
Mannering.’ Our article is not good and our praise is by no means adequate, I allow, but I suspect you very greatly overrate the novel. “Meg Merrilies” is worthy of Shakespeare, but all the rest of the novel might have been written by Scott’s brother or any other body. Adieu for the present: pray write to me immediately to tell me that you forgive my silence, and believe me, dear Sir,

Your faithful friend,
John Murray.

Hogg’s reply was as follows:—

Mr. Hogg to John Murray.
April 17th, 1815,
My dear Sir,

On reading your kind and enthusiastic letter, I determined to come to London and join the illustrious bards, but to my great grief I find I cannot accomplish it. I enter to my farm at May-day, which is fast approaching, and at that time I must be in Yarrow; and besides I have not money to spare. I am, however, much vexed and disappointed because I cannot accept your warm invitation; and I am only comforted by the hope that by-and-by I may be enabled to appear among you to more advantage than I could have done at present . I am obliged to you for your fair statement of the sale. Such a thing lets one see precisely what they may expect, and when to expect it. I never had the slightest apprehension that you were dilatory or careless about pushing the works, and I do not know how I came to mention it. . . .

If Southey’sRoderick’ is not bespoke, I should be very happy to review it, but I must warn you that I am very partial to that bard’s productions. It would be a most interesting thing to have a small piece of Lady Byron’s in ‘The Thistle and Rose,’ and the thing which you propose for me to do is a good subject both for humour and compliment. But there is nothing I am so afraid of as teazing or pestering my superiors for favours. Lord B. knows well enough that without his support at first, the thing will not go on, and as I am sure he is a kind soul, I think I will for the present trust to himself.

Most truly,
James Hogg.

Murray sent the Shepherd some “timeous” help, to which Hogg replied—still from Edinburgh—by asking a novel favour; no less than that Mr. and Mrs. Murray should look out for a wife for him!

Mr. Hogg to John Murray.
May 7th, 1815.
My dear Sir,

I thank you with all my heart for the little timeous supply you have lent me at present. I did intend shortly to have asked from you what little you could spare from the copies of ‘The Wake’ sold, but I had no thought that the final payment of ‘The Pilgrims’ would have been made to me sooner than November. You are the prince of booksellers, if people would but leave you to your own judgment and natural generous disposition.

I leave Edinburgh on Thursday for my little farm on Yarrow. I will have a confused summer, for I have as yet no home that I can dwell in; but I hope by-and-by to have some fine fun there with you, fishing in Saint Mary’s Loch and the Yarrow, eating bull-trout, singing songs, and drinking whisky. This little possession is what I stood much in need of—a habitation among my native hills was what of all the world I desired; and if I had a little more money at command, I would just be as happy a man as I know of; but that is an article of which I am ever in want. I wish you or Mrs. Murray would speer me out a good wife with a few thousands. I dare say there is many a romantic girl about London who would think it a fine ploy to become a Yarrow Shepherdess!

Believe me, dear Murray,
Very sincerely yours,
James Hogg.

Here, for the present, we come to an end of the Shepherd’s letters; but we shall find him turning up again, and Mr. Murray still continuing his devoted friend and adviser.