LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
Chap. XX.

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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Considerable space has been devoted to Blackwood’s Magazine during Murray’s part-ownership of that periodical, but it must not be supposed that the correspondence between the two publishers was confined to that topic; they were in constant communication about other matters of common interest, and chief among these were the works of Byron and Scott, in which they were jointly interested. Blackwood declared that he “was like to be torn to pieces for copies of Byron’s Poems.”

The first series of the ‘Tales of my Landlord’ had proved a great success, and while edition after edition was going off, Scott was busy with the second series, containing the ‘Heart of Midlothian’; but Murray and Blackwood had still 1500 copies of one edition of the first on their hands, when Ballantyne advertised a new edition of the work, in deliberate disregard of the existing arrangement with the other publishers. Blackwood expostulated with Ballantyne on this, as being “a piratical invasion of our property,” and threatened an action for damages. Counsel’s opinion was taken; Jeffrey and Cranstoun were
retained, and the publishers determined to proceed, but as this would have called forth the author—who still remained incognito—into the witness-box, the action was compromised, by the two publishers obtaining from Ballantyne the subscription price for the unsold copies. When this affair was settled, the books were transferred to

Murray and Blackwood were also jointly interested in the publication of the works of the Ettrick Shepherd. In 1816, his ‘Mador of the Moor’ came out; and successive editions of ‘The Queen’s Wake’ were also published.

Mr. Wm. Blackwood to John Murray.

“I am happy to hear that ‘Mador’ has been doing so well. The Shepherd will be quite elated when he hears of it. He is at present in the Highlands, exploring the wild scenery of Argyleshire. I have not seen ‘Waterloo’ advertised yet.* It is a misfortune that it is very much in Mr. Scott’s manner. As Mr. S. said to me himself the other day, when talking of ‘Ilderim,’† ‘It does not do, Sir; every man should have a trump of his own.’”

Scott himself was beginning to suffer from the terrible mental and bodily strain to which he had subjected himself, and was shortly after seized with the illness to which reference has been made in a previous chapter, and which disabled him for some time. Blackwood informed Murray (7th March, 1817), that Mr. Scott “has been most dangerously ill, with violent pain arising from spasmodic action in the stomach; but he is gradually getting better. Was it not Johnson who said that Garrick’s death had eclipsed the gaiety of nations? Ballantyne informed me that he had been bled and blistered.” A few days later, Blackwood wrote to Murray again, enclosing copy of a note from Scott,

* Mr. Canning’s ode. † By H. Gally Knight.

in which he said: “I am greatly better, but not able to write. The author’s copy of the third volume of the ‘
Curiosities of Literature’ reached me two or three days ago, as Robinson Crusoe says, to my exceeding refreshment. When you write to Murray, say I am still hors de combat. When anything new reaches you, I shall be glad to see it.”

For some time Scott remained in a state of exhaustion, unable either to stir for weakness and giddiness; or to read, for dazzling in his eyes; or to listen, for a whizzing sound in his ears—all indications of too much brain-work and mental worry. Yet, as soon as he was able to resume his labours, we find him characteristically employed in helping his poorer friends.

Mr. Blackwood to John Murray.
May 28th, 1817.

Mr. Scott and some of his friends, in order to raise a sum of money to make the poor Shepherd comfortable, have projected a fourth edition of ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ with a few plates, to be published by subscription. We have inserted your name, as we have no doubt of your doing everything you can for the poor poet. The advertisement, which is excellent, is written by Mr. Scott.”

Hogg wrote one of his very complimentary letters to Murray for the exertions he was making in his behalf.

Mr. James Hogg to John Murray.

“I heard of your liberal subscription for the Author’s copy of ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ set on foot by some of my friends, and likewise that you were interesting yourself warmly in it. I must now inform you that the two guinea subscriptions have come so slowly in, that it has been abandoned, and the subscription copy now is to be royal octavo, price one guinea. Pray could not you at your
sales get off a few of them for me among the trade; for as I have made nothing by my literary exertions for a long time bygone, I have enough need of it. You have quite given over writing to me; but pray do send me a few lines in answer to this, and tell me how you have been, and when I shall again have the pleasure of clinking a glass with you in Scotland.”

January 24th, 1818.
My dear Sir,

I do assure you that your kind letter has afforded me very great pleasure; for although our correspondence has been suspended by my own indolence, and no other cause, yet my regard for you has never diminished, and I should much rejoice in any occasion of doing you a service. I shall have great pleasure in taking a share in your new work, and in being its publisher in London. With regard to the projected quarto edition of ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ I am not sorry that it is at an end; for you will gain more, I think, by one in royal octavo. But I really think that you ought to print a thousand in demy octavo to sell for 9s., and throw off no more in the larger size than you are confident of obtaining subscribers for—otherwise you will absolutely stop the sale of your book by printing it in a form that is neither customary nor useful, and retard at the same time the advancement of your own fame. If Blackwood likes, I will join in giving you at once half the profit of the edition of 1000 copies to sell at 9s., and let you throw off copies for your subscribers in royal octavo, paying only for the paper and working. If you will draw out a neat advertisement of the royal octavo, and give me all the names of subscribers, I will print the whole for you, and insert it in the next number of the Quarterly Review—of which, by the way, the number printed is now equal to that of the Edinburgh Review, 12,000, and which I expect to make 14,000 after two numbers. I beg you, at any rate, to put my name down upon your list for twenty-five copies, at £1 1s. each, and I will try to get you other subscribers. This is the very best time, if you will send me your advertisement and list of subscribers. I am happy to say that I have your portrait in my room—the one done by a painter
in Edinburgh. I expect to receive the MS. of ‘
Childe Harold,’ Canto IV. and last, in a few days, as Mr. Hobhouse is on his way from Venice with it. Lord Byron was very well. With sincere regard, I remain, my dear Sir,

Your faithful friend,
John Murray.
Mr. James Hogg to John Murray.
March 28th, 1818.
My Dear Sir,

I have delayed answering your very friendly letter so long, that I might be in Edinburgh and consult with Mr. Blackwood personally about its contents. He is extremely glad that you are going to interest yourself in my tales as well as the edition of ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ and advises me to conform to your proposals with regard to the tall edition of the ‘Wake,’ as to one who knows better than any man what will do with the public. . . . In the meantime you must make a long pull and a strong pull in London for subscriptions, as you and Mr. Rogers are the principal men we have to depend on. Walter Scott will write to you himself within these few days. . . . Blackwood is keeping the literary world and the trade here alive by that d—d Magazine of his. . . . P.S. I have seen Mr. Scott this moment, and he says he will not write till he has an article for the Review to send along with it, to put you in better humour; but in the meantime you may use his name freely to any friend of yours that you think likely to forward the subscription. You will hear from him very shortly.

J. H.

Mr. Scott did send the article (though it does not seem to have been inserted), and, on forwarding it, wrote:

Mr. W. Scott to John Murray.

“I send an article on our friend Hogg. It is too long and rather too dogmatical; but if you have room for it, it may do our poor friend some good, who really requires to
have the public attention called to him now and then. Please to correspond on this subject with
Mr. Grieve, North Bridge, to whom the article may be returned if it does not suit, or the consideration transmitted if it should find favour in Gifford’s eyes. Remember me kindly to him.”

Hogg was tempted by the Duke of Buccleuch’s gift of a farm on Eltrive Lake to build himself a house, as Scott was doing, and applied to Murray for a loan of £50, which was granted. In acknowledging the receipt of the money he wrote:—

Mr. James Hogg to John Murray.
August 11th, 1818.

.... I am told Gifford has a hard prejudice against me, but I cannot believe it. I do not see how any man can have a prejudice against me. He may, indeed, consider me an intruder in the walks of literature, but I am only a saunterer, and malign nobody who chooses to let me pass. . . . I was going to say before, but forgot, and said quite another thing, that if Mr. Gifford would point out any light work for me to review for him, I’ll bet a MS. poem with him that I’ll write it better than he expects.

Yours ever most sincerely,
James Hogg.

As Scott still remained the Great Unknown, Murray’s correspondence with him related principally to his articles in the Quarterly, to which he continued an occasional contributor. Murray suggested to him the subjects of articles, and also requested him to beat up for a few more contributors. He wanted an article on the Gypsies, and if Scott could not muster time to do it, he hoped that Mr. Erskine might be persuaded to favour him with an essay.


“We look for the Killiecrankie article, which, from the peculiar appetite excited by these novels, will be most gratifying to the public. Would you like to dash off a few pages on the ‘Residence in Belgium,’ of which something may be said pro and con—mixed up with what yet remains in your mind upon the subject? The author is a Miss Waldie, a very amiable young lady; but I beg leave to remind you that its being my publication is not upon any account in the world to influence you even in the estimation of a hair. By the way, I send, as in duty bound, a letter which I got yesterday from Southey, in which he speaks of the ‘Tales,’ which Hallam, Frere, and W. S. Rose are discussing round my fire at this instant. Frere is repeating with delight whole passages of the Scotch.”

Scott, however, in the midst of pain and distress, was now busy with his ‘Rob Roy,’ which was issued towards the end of the year.

A short interruption of his correspondence with Murray occurred—Scott being busy in getting the long buried and almost forgotten ‘Regalia of Scotland’ exposed to light; he was also busy with one of his best novels, the ‘Heart of Midlothian.’ Murray, knowing nothing of these things, again endeavoured to induce him to renew his correspondence, especially his articles for the Review.

John Murray to Mr. Scott.
March 17th, 1818.
My dear Sir,

Totally unable to account for the interruption of all interesting correspondence with you, I content myself with believing that it arises from causes wholly independent of me, and that when these subside, the bird of correspondence will fly to me again. In a word, I take it for granted that you have been fully occupied, and, having no time to spare on me or mine, you have left it to my own sense at once to make the discovery
and to wait. Has the moment of temporary leisure yet arrived, and will you have the kindness to bestow it upon me? I sent you a volume of ‘
Lord Orford’s Letters,’ hoping that the amusement and lightness of their subject might tempt you to dash off a review of them. They would admit of copious judicious extracts, forming an interesting and lively picture of the fashion of the times in which they were written, and of the character of their author. It would be doing me a great service to attempt this, and I am anxious for so pleasing a paper for the next number of the Quarterly. It will appear absurd to ask for more, when I have so little claim to ask for anything, but if the subject happened to please you, perhaps you would give a curious as well as an amusing review of Mr. Rose’s translation of the Animali parlanti; Mr. Frere’sWhistlecraft,’ and (entre nous) Lord Byron’sBeppo,’ showing their origin and object, and detailing their beauties and fun. ‘Beppo,’ a copy of which I hope you have received, is really an extraordinary effort, written in two nights, in consequence of reading ‘Whistlecraft.’ The attack upon your valued friend Sotheby* arises from his temerity in sending the author an anonymous letter, and from his having cut his acquaintance abroad. I have received the Fourth Canto, which contains finer things than the author has ever yet written, comprising a noble tribute to yourself, whose kindness he will not easily forget. I should be very glad if, when you and your friends are making arrangements with Constable, you thought of me; for I fancy that neither of us have any objection to publish good books in conjunction. Perhaps a word from you might yet induce Ballantyne to ask for my junction in the ‘New Tales of my Landlord,’ as it will be thought to be from dissatisfaction in their mighty author, that I am not their continued publisher. But I have no right to ask, much less to expect, any exertion in this way from one to whom I am already so much obliged; and it is only if an opening arises which may be penetrated without difficulty, that I will venture to hope that you will thrust me in. At any rate, do allow me the pleasure of receiving a few words from you.

Yours very faithfully and much obliged,
John Murray.

* See page 24.


To this letter Scott replied—

Mr. Scott to John Murray.*
Abbotsford, March 23rd, 1818.
Dear Murray,
“Grieve not for me, my dearest dear,
I am not dead; but sleepeth here.”

I have little to plead for myself, but the old and vile apologies of laziness and indisposition. I think I have been so unlucky of late as to have always the will to work when sitting at the desk hurts me, and the irresistible propensity to be lazy, when I might, like the man whom Hogarth introduces into Bridewell with his hands strapped up against the wall, “better work than stand thus.” I laid Kirkton aside when half finished, from a desire to get the original edition of the ‘Lives of Cameron,’ &c., by Patrick Walker, which I had not seen since a boy, and now I have got it, and find, as I suspected, that some curious morceaux have been cut out by subsequent editors. I will, without loss of time, finish the article, and think you will like it. Blackwood kidnapped an article for his Magazine on the Frankenstein story, which I intended for you. A very old friend and school companion of mine, and a gallant soldier, Sir Howard Douglas, has asked me to review his work on ‘Military Bridges.’ I must get a friend’s assistance for the scientific part, and add some Balaam of mine own (as printers’ devils say) to make up four or five pages. I have no objection to attempt ‘Lord Orford,’ if I have time, and find that I can do it with ease. Though far from admiring his character, I have always had a high opinion of his talents, and am well acquainted with his works. The letters you have published are, I think, his very best—lively, entertaining, and unaffected. I am greatly obliged to you for these, and other literary treasures, which I owe to your goodness from time to time. Although not thankfully acknowledged as they should be in course, these things are never thanklessly received. I could have sworn

* A considerable part but not the whole of this letter is published in Lockhart’sLife of Scott.’

that ‘
Beppo’ was founded on ‘Whistlecraft,’ as both were on ‘Anthony Hall,’ who, like ‘Beppo,’ had more wit than grace. I am not, however, in spirits at present for treating either of these worthies, or my friend Rose, though few have warmer wishes for any of the trio. But this confounded changeable weather has twice brought back my cramp in the stomach. Attacks, however, are not at all of the formidable description they were at first, still they only give way to laudanum, a medicine which disagrees with me particularly. We have had snow and frost alternately, and I have so much the habits of robust health that I am too apt to run after my workpeople in all weathers, but I suppose time and pain will make me wiser at last.

I do not know anything about Mr. Ballantyne’s arrangements with Constable. I only understand generally that he had some unexpected difficulties in settling with Blackwood; and doing the best he can for an author who does not act for himself, I suppose he has tried to mend his market elsewhere. I have no reason to think my interference en the occasion could be of service in the way you mention.

The newspapers have been croaking, I hope inaccurately, respecting Lady Byron’s health. I should like much to know how she is. Adieu. My next shall be with a packet.

Yours truly,
Walter Scott.

P.S.—Direct to Edinburgh if anything occurs. How do you stand with ‘Paul’s Letters’? The other publishers are, I believe, out. I do not, however, mean to press a new edition unless I should go abroad again. Remember me kindly to Gifford.

It will be seen from the foregoing letter that Scott, with the best intentions regarding Murray, was practically powerless in the disposal of his own works, but perhaps on this account he was all the more ready to exert himself on behalf of the Quarterly.

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Edinburgh, May 15th, 1818.

I received your favour of Friday this morning, and now enclose the sheet. I wish some of your learned men would still give a glance at the algebra. I am not confident in these matters, and a blunder would be discreditable.

My delay to review Canto IV., ‘Childe Harold,’ does not arise from my not liking the conclusion of that extraordinary poem,—very much the contrary. But I would like to have full time to read over the former Cantos, and form something like a general view of the whole, and the time did not suffice for that purpose. I will endeavour to meet your wishes against the next number. By this you will have received Orford. I have got D’Israeli from Blackwood, and I enclose reference to the quotation, which you will patch together as well as may be, unless you have done it already.

Hogg’s Tales are a great failure, to be sure. With a very considerable portion of original genius he is sadly deficient, not only in correct taste, but in common tact. But I hope you will not cancel the title-page, because it would be doing the poor fellow irretrievable injury. We are now trying to get subscriptions for an edition of ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ his best poem, for his own immediate benefit, for by the failure of the bookseller he was deprived of all emolument from his most popular work. Now your withdrawing your name from his Tales would be a sad slap in the face. After all, you who print so many good books can suffer nothing from now and then publishing one which, for the sake of the author, we may all wish better.

In case you have time I add a curious quotation from ‘Kirkton.’ The copy I had in the country lacked the leaves which contain it, otherwise I would have inserted it before, for it is capital. I am here for two months, but I hope your journey and visit will rather take place when I am at Abbotsford.

What manner of book is ‘Evelyn’s Diary’? If there is stuff in it for a review I should like to try it.

Remember me kindly to Gifford, to whom I will write in two days. I trouble you with a letter for the twopenny post-bag.


I will give you an article on D’Israeli—I have notes lying by me—on the Calamities of Authors, which contain some curious literary anecdotes. I suppose they may be blended together.

Yours truly,
W. S.

What Scott thought of Byron may be inferred from his interview with Blackwood at Edinburgh.

Mr. Blackwood to John Murray.

“He told me that he had no objection in the least (but the contrary) to be known as the author of the critique. He said he had written it with the feeling that it was the only way to expect better things from Lord Byron to treat his conduct gently. He would not wonder, he said, if his Lordship should yet become a very different man, and as people often go from one extreme to another, he would not be surprised at seeing him a Methodist. I happened to remark that there was one evident amelioration in Lord Byron’s views, for in his later poems there was frequent reference to a great First Cause, and not the gloomy materialism which was too often seen in his former works. Mr. S. said he regretted he had not noticed this.”

John Murray to Mr. W. Scott.
June 6th, 1818.
Dearest Sir,

I have the pleasure of sending you a copy of the new number of my Review, to which your unabated kindness has contributed so much value. As we cannot afford to put all our plums into one pudding, Mr. Gifford has reserved the amusing paper on ‘Lord Orford’s Letters’ for our next number. I have therefore enclosed it to you revised, and shall be happy if it receive any enlargement of interesting extracts which may have occurred to you. . . I am sorry to say, Southey had nearly completed an article on Evelyn’s delightful memoirs before I had been favoured with your inquiry. But I would like to send for your consideration Miss Aikin’s very entertaining ‘Court of Queen Elizabeth,’ and Coxe’sMemoirs of the Duke of
Marlborough.’ Perhaps you will favour me with putting your memoranda together on
D’Israeli’s work. George Chalmers persists in his determination to publish the private life of Queen Mary, on the printing of which he has already made great progress. This will afford an opportunity for giving a most interesting account of this unfortunate woman, and of the characters and times of her reign. I have myself ten or twelve original letters,—from which something might be extracted—written during her confinement in Sheffield Castle. Now, if you would do me the favour to make your memoranda for such a subject,—and much preparation you must already have formed in spite of yourself,—and favour me by writing the life, which you could accomplish easily in three or four sheets of the Review, I shall have the pleasure of being your debtor in the sum of 100 guineas and a hundredweight of obligation. I have just parted with Mr. and Mrs. Somerville, who set out for Edinburgh on Wednesday. I hope to have the pleasure of seeing you before the autumn closes.

I remain, dear Sir, &c., &c.,
J. Murray.
Mr. Scott to John Murray.
Abbotsford, July, 1818.
Dear Sir,

I am busy with an article, which the General Election has sadly interrupted. Every one, you see, is worried on these occasions more or less; and I had two elections to attend. I hope to send ‘Harold’* early next week. I will also attempt the little article promised. I have however committed the blunder of locking up both the second part of the National Poem and Rose’s book carefully in Edinburgh; and I will be obliged to you to lend me other copies. I should also be glad to see Rose’s original ‘Gli animali parlanti’, if it can be bought or borrowed. I am here, in all hurry and bustle, taking possession of an instalment of my additional building, where you will find me on your coming this way; and I hope you will bring Mrs. Murray with you, in which request my wife joins. I have at present hardly a place to write upon, or a pen to write with.

* Review of the Fourth Canto of ‘Childe Harold,’ Q. R., No. 37.


Towards the end of the year, Mr. Murray paid a visit to Edinburgh on business, and after seeing Mr. Blackwood, and expostulating with him in person as to the personalities in the magazine—apparently without effect—he made his way southward, to pay his promised visit to Walter Scott at Abbotsford, an account of which has already been given in the correspondence with Lord Byron.

John Murray to Mr. Walter Scott.
September 3rd, 1818.
My very dear Sir,

I rejoice in the opportunity of presenting my best thanks to you for your very kind reception of me at your delightful Castle, and for the gratification which I derived from your amiable family. Long may your health and happiness last. Our confidential communication has made a great impression on my mind, and our friend Mr. Gifford appeared no less struck by its palpable good sense and propriety. With regard to the magazine, I have been obliged to write peremptorily to Blackwood to say that if the scurrilous part of the personality be continued, my name must be removed. Hunt and Hazlitt merit every exposure and chastisement, but it is not for me to inflict it in the way it has been done. Besides, it lowers completely the tone and character of the journal, to which respectable persons will cease to contribute, as they would soon find themselves exposed to the abuse of such fellows in return. Indeed, I cannot conceive how our friends, of so much character as well as genius, can condescend to the use of such language. Barrow, as the head of all my most respected friends, has told me that it would be utterly detrimental to my character to continue my name any longer; and there is no occasion for its use, for if the writers direct their minds to higher objects, to which they are fully competent, the journal will sell ten times better. I have already raised the sale 500 copies since I have joined in it. These personalities absolutely tied up my hands, for it is now a constant reproach. I think you must be equally aware of this. To be sure, I was not myself sensible of the effect, until I took upon myself the
responsibility. But now that I do feel its operation, I would not undergo it longer for any consideration.

I trust that you will have thought with every one here, that the number of the Quarterly is excellent. I don’t know if the subject of the ‘Translation of the Bible’* will yet have attracted you, but you will find it exceedingly interesting and most powerfully executed. I have got a copy of ‘Tales of the Dead,’ which I will take an early opportunity of sending to you, and perhaps you will send me a paper upon it. I am very much obliged by the two articles which you have contributed to our present number (No. 36). . . . There is no chance, I fear, that Sir John Malcolm will get the appointment which Sir Evan Nepean wants. Every one of his personal friends are out of the direction by rotation, and Elphinstone will get it. They are all alike deserving of it, and are the very best friends.

With the greatest esteem,
Yours sincerely,
John Murray.

James Hogg, who was present at the meeting of Scott and Murray at Abbotsford, wrote to Murray as follows:—

James Hogg to John Murray.
Edinburgh, February 20th, 1819.
My dear Sir,

I arrived here the day before yesterday for my spring campaign in literature, drinking whiskey, &c., and as I have not heard a word of you or from you since we parted on the top of the hill above Abbotsford, I dedicate my first letter from the metropolis to you. And first of all, I was rather disappointed in getting so little cracking with you at that time. Scott and you had so much and so many people to converse about, whom nobody knew anything of but yourselves, that you two got all to say, and some of us great men, who deem we know everything at home, found that we knew nothing. You did not even tell me what conditions you were going to give me for my ‘Jacobite Relics of Scotland,’ the first part of which will

* This article was by Dr. D’Oyly.

make its appearance this spring, and I think bids fair to be popular. . . . Our worthy friend, Scott, has again had an attack of the cramp in his stomach, and yesterday when I saw him he was very far from being well. He spoke in the very highest terms of both the
Quarterly and the Magazine.

Believe me, yours very faithfully,
James Hogg.

When young Walter Scott passed through London in June 1819, on the way to join his regiment, the 18th Hussars, at Cork, his father commends him to Murray.

As my son Walter passes through London to join his regiment, I have desired him to look in at Albemarle Street, about four or five o’clock, when he has a moment to spare. I do not send him any letters of recommendation; but I will be much obliged to you to name him to any of my friends that may chance to be with you, that he may say he has seen some of the English literati en passant.

Mr. Scott to John Murray.
July 3rd, 1819.
Dear Sir,

I desired John Ballantyne to show the little edition of ‘Cary’* (for the original manuscript of which I was many years since obliged to you), and to ask you whether you chose to take it at £105, or preferred accepting as many copies as would gratify your amateur friends. As he writes me that you have made the former option, I draw on you for £103 15s. at three months, instead of £105 at six. The bill may be easily renewed to the full term of credit; but I want the money just now to help out Walter’s appointments, which come pretty heavy.

I have to thank you for your kind attention to the young soldier, who wrote me that he was to spend a day with you before he left town. I thought of being in town myself; but though in some degree recovered, I am not stout enough for a long journey. So that if you come

* This was the ‘Memoirs of Robert Cary, Earl of Monmouth,’ published by Constable and Murray in 1808.

down to Scotland, you will find me stationary at Abbotsford, should you travel that way.

Yours, very truly,
Walter Scott.

After the discontinuance of Murray’s business connection with Blackwood, described in the preceding chapter, James Hogg wrote in great consternation:

Mr. James Hogg to John Murray.
Eltrive, by Selkirk, Dec. 9th, 1829.
My dear Sir,

By a letter from Blackwood to-day, I have the disagreeable intelligence that circumstances have occurred which I fear will deprive me of you as a publisher—I hope never as a friend; for I here attest, though I have heard some bitter things against you, that I never met with any man whatever who, on so slight an acquaintance, has behaved to me so much like a gentleman. Blackwood asks to transfer your shares of my trifling works to his new agents. I answered, “Never! without your permission.” As the ‘Jacobite Relics’ are not yet published, and as they would only involve you further with one with whom you are going to close accounts, I gave him liberty to transfer the shares you were to have in them to Messrs. Cadell and Davies. But when I consider your handsome subscription for ‘The Queen’s Wake,’ if you have the slightest inclination to retain your shares of that work and ‘The Brownie,’ as your name is on them, along with Blackwood, I would much rather, not only from affection, but interest, that you should continue to dispose of them.

I know these books are of no avail to you; and that if you retain them, it will be on the same principle that you published them, namely, one of friendship for your humble poetical countryman. I’ll never forget your kindness; for I cannot think that I am tainted with the general vice of authors’ ingratitude; and the first house that I call at in London will be the one in Albemarle Street.

I remain, ever yours most truly,
James Hogg.

Murray did not cease to sell the Shepherd’s works, and made arrangements with Blackwood to continue his agency for them, and to account for the sales in the usual way.

In recording the dealings of Murray with Blackwood we have already mentioned the name of one of the correspondents whom he secured for Blackwood’s Magazine, Mr. Thomas Mitchell, one of the first Greek scholars of his day, who on taking his B.A. degree at Pembroke College, Cambridge, had received a silver cup, valued at thirty guineas, for his remarkable scholarship. He also gained an open fellowship at Sidney-Sussex College. He was thoroughly Atticised, and yet his learning did not seem to be acquired, but to form a part of his nature and surroundings. After he left college he became a tutor in the family of Mr. Hope, the author of ‘Anastasius,’ and travelled with his sons. On his return to England he began to write for the press, and the high commendation which his translation of the ‘Birds of Aristophanes’ met with privately from Gifford, encouraged him to proceed with the translation of ‘The Knights,’ with a view to publication. Writing to Murray (27th July, 1817), he said, “Visiting your Critical Room does not tend to inspire confidence.” There he met John Hookham Frere—also a distinguished Greek scholar—Gifford, Hallam, and many other authors. He wished to include Mr. Frere’s translation of the Chorus in ‘The Knights’; but he eventually made one of his own. There was much correspondence between him and Murray on the subject, and at length his work was ready for publication.

Mr. T. Mitchell to John Murray.
Oct. 19th, 1818.

“To what has been already done I certainly look back with satisfaction; and I am more and more persuaded
that a translation of ‘
Aristophanes’ will be a real public service, in showing how many more blessings we enjoy in our constitution than young men of imagination are apt to allow themselves to believe. It is a very great satisfaction to me to find that Mr. Gifford’s eye has been upon the work in its progress. Be pleased to express to him how sensible I am of his kindness.”

Nov. 13th, 1818.

“Your letter of the 11th reached me too late to admit of being answered by return of post; but I should not do justice to the feelings which it excited in me if I did not seize the first opportunity of expressing in the warmest terms the sense I entertain of its kind, friendly, and, I may say, affectionate language. It will form a very satisfactory answer to all questions which continually assail me as to the reasons why ‘Aristophanes’ yet remains unpublished; and for all the rest I leave myself in your hands with the most perfect confidence. Your very liberal offer for writing in the Quarterly Review I duly appreciate; but as most of the materials which I have collected will be inserted at intervals in the ‘Aristophanes,’ I doubt whether what is left will be an adequate compensation for what is offered. It is too handsome, however, not to stimulate me to make the attempt. The season is now so much advanced, and my health so inadequate at present to any great exertion, that I believe we must drop the thoughts of bringing the ‘Aristophanes’ out this season. . . . With regard to my future plans in life, I will communicate with you on a future occasion: I am sufficiently aware of your value and estimation in society to know that, whatever my plans may be, they will stand a chance of being most materially assisted by your countenance and friendship.”

On the 22nd November, Mr. Mitchell sent part of the preface to ‘The Clouds,’ and wrote:

“It just strikes me that the enclosed would furnish no bad paper for the Quarterly Review, and if you should like it in that way, I could easily dress it up for the purpose. I thank you for your kind attention in sending me a draft for £50; but I am in no immediate want of money, and I would rather that all considerations of the kind were dropped, till we settle whether the work shall be
continued after the printing of ‘
The Clouds.’ I therefore return it. I will not fail to think of your wishes respecting the Quarterly Review and Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. I have already two or three subjects in my thoughts for each, and indeed whatever I do hereafter in literature, I should wish to confine myself entirely to those two publications, as my opinions on almost all matters are strictly in unison with them, and I begin to be of an age [he was then thirty-five] when opinions on all matters of importance should be no longer in any state of fluctuation. I live too much in a state of seclusion to know who are the writers in the latter work; but they seem to me very able men, and I have been exceedingly amused by some of their lucubrations. The ‘Mad Banker of Amsterdam’ pleased me beyond measure.”

From this time Mr. Mitchell, who became one of Murray’s most esteemed personal friends, continued to write articles for the Quarterly Review and Blackwood on the Grecian Philosophy, on the Convivial Parties of the Greeks, on the State of Female Society in Greece, on Grecian Women, on the Character of Socrates, the Characters of Xenophon and Plato, and other subjects connected with his translation of ‘Aristophanes.’ Mr. Murray maintained a regular correspondence with Mr. Mitchell, and occasionally gave his opinions of the articles which he transmitted. With respect to his article on Grecian Philosophy, Mitchell wrote:

Mr. T. Mitchell to John Murray.

“It may have rather a scholastic appearance, but I have given a light entrance to it in the hope of entrapping readers. Pray continue your remarks. It is to persons of your class—men of general intelligence and education, but whom other avocations have prevented from entering deeply into the more mechanical parts of the learned languages—that I wish chiefly to address myself. I do not believe that any age or country ever possessed a body of men so circumstanced as our own does at this present time; and which gives an opening to every species of literature being properly and justly appreciated.”


The number of new works now brought out by Mr. Murray was very great. He wrote to Lord Byron:

Sept. 1817.

“My hands are quite full. I am preparing several accounts of the unfortunate ‘China Expedition’—by Lord Amherst, Captain Hall, Mr. McLeod, surgeon, and last, but not least, Mr. Ellis (Lord Buckinghamshire’s son), who was second in command. I have also Captain Tuckey’s Journal, a very interesting one, of the Mission to Africa, right to the day of his death. All Burckhardt’s papers (the Sheikh Ibrim); two new novels, left by Miss Austen, the ingenious author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ who, I am sorry to say, died about six weeks ago; a ‘History of the Middle Ages’ (two vols. 4to.), by Mr. Hallam; cum multis aliis. I hope to be allowed to place at the head of the list ‘Childe Harold,’ Canto IV. . . . I am rejoiced at the prospect of again opening my Literary Campaign under such brilliant auspices.”

We have several times had occasion to refer to Mr. Frere’sWhistlecraft,’* a curious and brilliant jeu d’esprit. now almost forgotten, but which affords evidence that if Mr. Frere’s ambition had been equal to his genius, he might have placed his name high among the poets of his age. In a letter to Mr. Murray relating to the extravaganza, he writes:—

Mr. Frere to John Murray.
Tunbridge Wells, 27th April, 1818.
Dear Murray,

The stanzas which I now send, you have I believe seen before. There are in all upwards of a hundred, including a Whistlecraftian view of the æra of Pericles, Phidias, the

* ‘A Prospectus and Specimen of an Intended National Work, by William and Thomas Whistlecraft, of Stowmarket, in Suffolk, Harness and Collar Makers, intended to comprise the most interesting Particulars relating to Sir Arthur and his Round Table.’

Elgin Marbles, and the Peloponnesian War, after which a few stanzas will conclude the siege of the Convent, and bring round the unity of the story; but there are eighty which may be printed by themselves, though I should like to divide them differently. What you say of the style, as foreign to our general taste, is perfectly true. The public have no notion of wit or humour without malignity, and put themselves at a loss for a meaning which they conclude must be an ill-natured one; perhaps they will like this better, for it has seemed good to me to gibbet a couple of names en passant, and to make a political allusion which is pretty palpable. I was, I confess, mortified at seeing no notice of ‘Whistlecraft’ in the last
Quarterly. It might, I think, have occupied the place of ‘Adams on Cataract.’ What has the Quarterly to do with cataracts, or catheters, or cataplasms, or with any subjects which are neither of political, national, or literary interest?

With respect to advertising. The advertisements that I see are nothing to the purpose. ‘Whistlecraft, a National Poem,’ is nothing; but ‘Metrical Prospectus and Specimen’ gives an intimation of the possibility of good nonsense in the work. If you have a mind to advertise, I will furnish one—e.g. (after the old collar-making advertisement): “This article is confidently recommended to the public from its superior durability, being warranted not to wear out by the most repeated perusals.

“First purchase ‘Whistlecraft,’ and then
Peruse and re-peruse again,
A dozen times at least, or ten;
The flights of his Stowmarket pen
Require a keen attentive ken,
Soaring above all other men,
As much as hawks surpass the wren.
Let Envy grumble from her Den,
While Pindus yields from Dupham Fen.
Confucius, Poet-in-Ordinary to Her
Majesty’s Lottery Office Keepers,
Warren’s Blacking, &c., &c.”

If you have the spirit to put in a longer, I will send you an excellent one, containing the testimonies of posterity in the same manner as they sometimes put in the testimonies of the reviews. “The following testimonies to the merit
of this work may be expected to appear early in the ensuing century.” But it is too long to write unless you wish to have it, which you may let me know. Your usual prudery about advertising is quite out of place with such a work as this. A man comes into a room with a strange, uncouth foreign uniform. If he looks shy and diffident, he is immediately the last man in the company, and nobody troubles themselves about him. If he puts himself confidently forward, he becomes an object of general notice and curiosity. This is precisely the case with Whistlecraft’s title-page. What you say of the opinion of the best judges is very satisfactory in one respect, and might induce me to go on if the work were a serious one; but to write a burlesque poem for men of good taste to laugh at in private, is not an object of very exalted ambition. A sober man (
Burke says it of himself) may condescend to amuse the populace with innocent buffoonery, but it would not I apprehend become him to go on with his grimaces if the mob look grave. If I should be induced to go on with the work, you will have nothing to apprehend from the shortness of your term in it. My object was to prevent the possibility (as literary history furnishes some examples of quarrels between booksellers and authors) of having the first cantos of a work which I was continuing wholly out of my own hands. I shall rate my present stanzas at two guineas apiece. If you think this too much, I will beg you to return them. I will stand my trial with posterity upon the first cantos, and if you should ultimately be a loser, I will find some way or other of reimbursing you. But for the future I shall require a higher stimulus to withdraw me from playing backgammon of an evening, which has been my main occupation this winter. I was much pleased to find that Lord Byron was pleased with ‘Whistlecraft,’ but you do not mean to deny that ‘Beppo’ is W. Rose’s. I mean to assert it positively and distinctly. If I had seen it in his handwriting, I could hardly be more convinced of it than I am. It is much better than anything that he has done before, but there are his very phrases, and in some stanzas about the weather a sort of valetudinary tone, which belongs to him. I shall lose my walk if I write any more.

Believe me, sincerely yours,
J. H. Frere.

In a later letter, Mr. Frere says, “Do not insert the buffoonish advertisement which I sent you.”

Mr. Frere to John Murray.
May 4th, 1818.
My Dear Murray,

I send you the concluding stanzas of the fourth canto. . . . Lord Byron has paid me a great compliment indeed. You will have thought it odd that I should persist in my first impressions after your letter, but the expression was ambiguous, and I fancied that it was intendedly so. In fact, I was only convinced by seeing it in the printed list of his works. If I had been in the habit of laying wagers, I might have been finely taken in; for the attack on Botherby* appeared fully to me to account for its being attributed to Lord Byron, yet the expressions in it are such as (between ourselves) I have heard from W. Rose. But this is something like old Chalmers showing that he was in the right in believing the Ireland papers to be Shakespeare’s. By-the-bye, that Shakespearian faculty of transforming himself was a quality which I did not think belonged to Byron in so high a degree as ‘Beppo’ has shown that it does. I am obliged to walk to the Wells, and remain,

Yours very sincerely,
J. H. Frere.

The last letter of Frere’s that we shall give relates partly to ‘Whistlecraft,’ and partly to his ‘Translation of Aristophanes’:—

Mr. Frere to John Murray.
Tunbridge Wells, May 29th, 1818.
Dear Murray,

My brother has sent me an account of his negotiations with you. I certainly do not think that the office of buffoon to the public is which any one man ought to apply

* Meaning Sotheby. Byron supposed that he had sent him an anonymous letter, though Sotheby denied it. An account of ‘Whistlecraft’ is given, with extracts, in the large one-volume edition of Byron’s works, 1837, p. 142.

for a second time, especially at my time of life. But this may perhaps be considered as making a part of the first sample, and therefore you are welcome to print it gratuitously for the remainder of your term in the post. If the public before-mentioned would have been contented with mere humour and creative fancy, and what in the old style was “honest mirth,” I would willingly have condescended to “make sport for them.” I had done about 26 stanzas of a new canto, but I consider your pecuniary estimate of the value of the work as the only way in which I can receive from you an undisguised and uncomplimentary opinion as to the probability of its popularity, and I cannot go on rhyming for rhyming’s sake, or for the chance that posterity may laugh at my verses when I am dead. You are welcome, however, to what has been produced under a different impression.

With respect to ‘Aristophanes,’ I do not think it would be fair to the present translator to insert in his work those parts which I had selected and translated as the most capable of affording a good translation. This would be picking the plums out of the pudding. You may be assured, however, that if I publish anything, it will not be in a way calculated to injure your interest in the present translation; but rather I should hope to promote it by attracting attention to the merits of the original. I have translated about a third of two other plays which you have never seen, and which will probably see the light some time or other.* But I shall be glad to consult you as to the time and mode in which I shall do it. These, however, are things that will keep, and I am in no hurry either to finish or publish them.

I remain, yours sincerely,
J. H. Frere.

The name of Robert Owen is but little remembered now, but at the early part of the century he attained some notoriety from his endeavours to reform society. He was manager of the Lanark Cotton Mills, but in 1825 he emigrated to America, and bought land on the Wabash

* Mr. Frere published a collected Edition of his Translations of ‘Aristophanes,’ some twenty years after this, in Malta.

whereon to start a model colony, called New Harmony. This enterprise failed, and he returned to England in 1827. The following letter is in answer to his expressed intention of adding
Mr. Murray’s name to the title-page of the second edition of his ‘New View of Society.’

John Murray to Mr. Robert Owen.
September 9th, 1817.
Dear Sir,

As it is totally inconsistent with my plans to allow my name to be associated with any subject of so much political notoriety and debate as your New System of Society, I trust that you will not consider it as any diminution of personal regard if I request the favour of you to cause my name to be immediately struck out from every sort of advertisement that is likely to appear upon this subject. I trust that a moment’s reflection will convince you of the utter impropriety of my receiving the books of registry which I understand you talked of sending to my house. I beg leave again to repeat that I retain the same sentiments of personal esteem, and that I am, dear Sir,

Your faithful servant,
John Murray.

At the beginning of 1817 a curious correspondence took place with respect to the publishing of American books in England, and of English books in America. William Theobald Wolfe Tone—son of Theobald Wolfe Tone, who had, with the help of a French army under General Hoche, attempted to get up a rebellion in Ireland at the end of 1796—had emigrated to America, and, in the first place, endeavoured to obtain an honest living by entering into the bookselling and publishing business. He was not at all successful, and shortly after abandoned it, and entered the United States Artillery as lieutenant, having himself been a soldier under Napoleon I. He had, how-
ever, called upon
Kirk & Co., publishers of the Edinburgh and Quarterly Reviews in America, as well as of the works of Lord Byron—all pirated of course. Kirk communicated with Mr. Murray, and expressed himself as willing to enter into a mutual arrangement with him for the early sheets of works published by him in England, and which he thought might be worthy of republication in America.

His proposal may be regarded as the forerunner of what is now called the “Advance Sheets” system, which is practised by English and American publishers.

Mr. Kirk to John Murray.

“Gentlemen in the trade on your side of the Atlantic, largely interested in the publication of very valuable and expensive copyright works, have long and deeply felt the great inconveniences, and to them the injurious operation of the laws in this country, inasmuch as they do not recognise the copyright of any book published by citizens of another state or nation. In this state of things, a remedy has presented itself to our minds, to wit, to make an arrangement founded on principles of reciprocity and confidence, and divide the profits arising from the first republication of new works in this country with the publisher in England who first sends out the copy. With this view, we propose that you furnish us with the sheets as printed, to be forwarded by duplicate conveyances as speedily as possible, of all such books of merit and general interest as might be deemed suitable for republication in America. On all such books thus forwarded by you, and republished by us, we propose to allow you one-third of the net profits, the proportion due to you to be subject to your order in six or eight months from the time of republication.”

Mr. Kirk further stated that the first book which he proposed Mr. Murray to republish in England was the ‘Narrative of Captain James Riley’; and he at the same time desired Captain Riley to address Mr. Murray relating to his ‘Narrative,’ which arrived in due time.

Captain Riley to John Murray.

“The book which I am about to publish is an authentic account of my own shipwreck and sufferings on the Western Coast of Africa.* I was redeemed from the worst of barbarous slavery by an Englishman, who possesses not only all the virtues and all the sympathetic feelings so justly attributed to the British character, but an elevation of soul which will not fail to enrol his name high on the imperishable list of worthy benefactors of mankind—I mean William Willshire, Esquire, a native of London. This work, though written by a seaman, I am confident will be read with avidity and interest by every class of readers throughout the civilized world, and in Great Britain it cannot fail to prove a source of uncommon profit to its publisher and proprietors.”

This was certainly very high praise to come from the author of the work; yet it was justified by the result. Captain Riley desired that Mr. Murray should secure a copyright for the book if possible, and stated that he wished to share the profits with the widows and children of his unfortunate shipmates, who had been left destitute. Mr. Murray could not secure a copyright for the book, because it had already been published in the United States, but he at once published it, and subsequently sent Captain Riley half the profits of the sale. What was thought of the interest of the narrative may be understood from what Blackwood wrote to Murray.

Mr. Blackwood to John Murray.
May, 1817.

“What a treat you have given to Mrs. B. and me in ‘Riley’! I never read anything so affecting and interesting. We cried over it yesterday like children. Surprising and

* ‘The Authentic Narrative of the loss of the American Brig Commerce, on the Western Coast of Africa, with the sufferings of her surviving Officers and Crew.’

almost incredible as the events are, yet there is a verity and touching simplicity, with a natural eloquence of language, which have perhaps never been surpassed. Our philosophers laugh at religious feeling, but if it were no more than a matter of taste, if they thought justly, they would acknowledge its power.”

Among the other new books published by Mr. Murray in 1817 were Mr. Charles Bucke’sBeauties, Harmonies, and Sublimities of Nature’—described by Sir James Mackintosh as “one of the most beautiful works he had ever read, and that it must stand at the head of its class in modern times;” Mr. Charles Butler’sHistorical Memoirs of the English, Irish, and Scottish Catholics since the Reformation’—one of the ablest books of the time, which soon went to a third edition; Sheil’s tragedy of ‘The Apostate,’ for which Murray gave the author £400 the day after he had seen it acted at Covent Garden; William Stewart Rose’sLetters from the North of Italy,’ addressed to Henry Hallam, for which Murray gave the author 300 guineas; La Rochejaquelein’sNarrative of The Campaign in La Vendée’; G. F. Leckie’s work on the ‘Balance of Power in Europe’; John Macleod’sVoyage of H.M.S. Alceste to the Island of Loochoo’; and various other books, hereafter to be mentioned.

Mr. Murray received a letter from Sir John Malcolm, with a review of Captain Williams’ work on the Bengal Army.

Sir John Malcolm to John Murray.
Trincomalee, March 3rd, 1817.

You will not be sorry to hear that I am going on with my Letters with good success. Five are finished, and eleven or twelve will make a fair-sized quarto. They will include a journey across the Peninsula from Madras to Bombay, by Hyderabad and Poonah. The visit to these capitals in 1799 gave me the opportunity of writing what I am now revising—the account of the rise of Mahomedan and
Hindu power in the South of India, with a description of the country, buildings, and the characteristics and manners of its actual inhabitants. These letters will finish at Bombay, with a description of the character of the Indians. The next volume will be devoted to Persia. I once thought, from the fund of matter I had collected, that it would surpass the Indian series. But as I proceed, my opinion changes; and if I can manage to make the whole like those I have done, and I see no reason to doubt why I should, my Persian production will be a younger brother. The style of these letters is to my taste. I can be critically correct on historical facts, and strike off at pleasure into an interesting tale relating to a king, a dancing girl, a tomb, a queen, a palace, or a snake, and yet preserve unity; making the whole bear on one point, a full and faithful delineation of the usages, habits, and character of the natives of India. I am not yet resolved what I shall do with this production. If it never goes further, it will be of use, as it has served to condense all that is worth preserving of my letters, journals, &c. If I determine on its publication, you shall hear. But I see, from what is done, that I can form no judgment of its value till it is completed.*

Ever yours,
John Malcolm.

Mr. Murray had already begun to identify himself with works of voyages and travels—to the North Pole, and into the interior of Africa; his chief helper in the enterprise being his active friend, John Barrow, Under-Secretary of the Admiralty, who in May, 1817, brought to him the account of the ill-fated expedition to explore the Congo which was despatched by the Admiralty, with full equipment in 1816, to trace the river to its source. Fever, however, of a virulent type broke out among the members of the expedition, and nearly all of them, including Captain Tuckey, R.N., the commander, died.

* These letters were afterwards published in ‘Murray’s Home and Colonial Library.’

Journals were published for the benefit of the widows and orphans of the unhappy sufferers.

Mr. Murray gave £400 for the Journal, but, as in the case of Mungo Park’s narrative, it was soon discovered that some portion of the MS. had been surreptitiously printed and issued elsewhere.

Mr. Barrow to John Murray.
August 25th, 1817.

It is too true that the rascals have somehow or other got access to Tuckey’sJournal,’ through what channel I fear it will be utterly impossible to discover, or if we could discover, be able to prevent them going on; the extraordinary fact is that none but common artificers and seamen returned, all the officers, except the master, the surgeon, and a mate having died; and the master, as he thought, having secured all the Journals. I sent for our solicitor, and desired him to inquire if there were any means of laying an injunction on the further publication; but he thinks there are not, and if there were it could only be done by the Chancellor on affidavit that the MS. belonged to the public, and the Court of Chancery is closed till the end of October. Perhaps it will be better to take no notice of it, as it does not seem to have attracted any; and if we could print two sheets every day, the work might come out at the end of September; but then I doubt whether the colonial part would be ready. As far as relates to myself I am now ready with the Introduction, and could very soon have the remaining part in a state of forwardness. But your plates—when will they be ready?

August 30th, 1817.

“I would give something to detect the vagabond who has stolen it. I have written to the master, and to Mrs. Tuckey, but I don’t believe that they know the least about it. Could not you set to work some cunning fellow to get at it?”

September 1st, 1830.

“I have seen Mrs. Tuckey, and she tells me that Mrs. Eyre, the fat purser’s widow, informed her that among her husband’s things she found a copy of a journal which she
supposed to be her husband’s. I have sent her to Mrs. Eyre to desire her to call on me. This is no doubt the channel, and it is probably confirmed by her living in the Strand. If she comes, I will endeavour to frighten her so far as to prevail on her to endeavour to recover the MS.

“I sat up last night over Mr. Macleod’s* narrative till I had nearly got through it, which proves at least that it interested me, and I am much deceived if it will not interest others. There is no pretence of science or fine writing about it; but the story of the voyage, and the description of the Loo-Choo Islands in particular, is told in a plain, intelligible, and unaffected manner. It will certainly make a very entertaining readable octavo volume; and will afford a very pretty little article for the Review; so that you have it in two ways, and it will not in the least interfere with Ellis’s quarto.”

Mr. Murray continued to publish a few poems besides those of Lord Byron. Mrs. Hemans was not very successful at first. She regretted (26th February, 1817) the loss which had been occasioned through the publication of ‘The Restoration of the Arts,’ and requested Mr. Murray to suggest any subject, or style of writing likely to be more popular. Her poem on the ‘Elgin Marbles’ had not been satisfactory; and she seemed at a loss how to employ her pen. But on the death of the Princess Charlotte, in November 1817, there was a great outburst of poetry. Poems on the subject came from all quarters—from England, Scotland, and Ireland. Mrs. Hemans again tried her hand in the ‘Monody on the Princess Charlotte.’

Some time later Major H. Browne, on the part of Mrs. Hemans (his sister), sent Mr. Murray the first canto of the ‘Abencerrages,’ and requested “a liberal offer for the copyright.” He also showed his unfamiliarity with literary procedure by asking that Mr. Gifford would allot a page of the Quarterly to a review of the work.

* Voyage of the Alceste to China.


Mr. Murray kept up his correspondence and friendship with Mrs. Hemans for many years, and published several of her works. For the copyright of the ‘Vespers of Palermo,’ referred to in the following letter, he paid her 200 guineas.

Mrs. Hemans to John Murray.
Brownhylfa, March 31st, 1821.

I have had the pleasure of receiving your letter, and according to your desire, will draw upon you for the amount you authorize in the course of a few days. I have almost completed a Tragedy on the subject of the Sicilian Vespers, but am undecided whether to offer it for the Theatre or for publication. My friends advise the former, but, if I could dispose of the copyright to my satisfaction, I think I should prefer the latter. If you will favour me with your advice on the subject, I shall feel much obliged. We have been in a state of great anxiety and alarm for some time past, on account of my brother, Colonel Browne, of whose imminent danger you have doubtless heard. His recovery from the numerous wounds he received in struggling with the cowardly Bravos who attacked him in Dublin, has been very slow, but I trust in the course of the ensuing month he will certainly return to England.

Very truly yours,
F. Hemans.

Among the would-be poets was a young Quaker gentleman of Stockton-on-Tees who sent Mr. Murray a batch of poems. The publisher wrote an answer to his letter, which fell into the hands of the poet’s father, of the same name, but without the word “Junr.” The father answered:—

Mr. Proctor to Mr. Murray.
Esteemed Friend,

I feel very much obliged by thy refusing to publish the papers sent thee by my son. I was entirely ignorant of anything of the kind, or should have nipt it in the bud.
On receipt of this, please burn the whole that was sent thee, and at thy convenience inform me that it has been done. With thanks for thy highly commendable care,

I am respectfully, thy friend,
John Proctor.

The Rev. Francis Hodgson, the friend and correspondent of Lord Byron, published a poem entitled ‘The Friends,’ which was favourably noticed by the reviewers, but was soon forgotten. Hodgson afterwards said it should have been called ‘Foes’ instead of ‘Friends.’ In a letter to Murray (30th May, 1818), he wrote:—

“They have come late into the world, but with this you have nothing to do, and I (if possible) still less. In proportion to the slow arrival of a guest at a fashionable party, he should be loudly announced by the people at the stair-head. In plain English, every exertion will be necessary to prevent this last comer from dropping dead from the press.”

Few of the poems when published reached a second edition, and not unfrequently the unsuccessful poets blamed their publisher rather than themselves for the failure of their works.

Even Sharon Turner, Murray’s solicitor, wrote to him about the publication of his poems, which he had written “to idle away the evenings as well as he could.” Murray answered his letter:

John Murray to Mr. Sharon Turner.
17th November, 1817.

I do not think it would be creditable to your name, or advantageous to your more important works, that the present one should proceed from a different publisher. Many might fancy that Longman had declined it. Longman might suspect me of interference; and thus, in the uncertainty of acting with propriety myself, I should have little hope of giving satisfaction to you. I therefore refer
the matter to your own feelings and consideration. It has afforded me great pleasure to learn frequently of late that you are so much better. I hope that during the winter, if we have any, to send you many amusing books to shorten the tediousness of time, and charm away your indisposition.
Mrs. Murray is still up and well, and desires me to send her best compliments to you and Mrs. Turner.

Ever yours faithfully,
J. Murray.

Mr. Turner thanked Mr. Murray for his letter, and said that if he proceeded with his intentions he would adopt his advice. “I have always found Longman very kind and honourable, but I will not offer him now what you think it right to decline.”

Sir John Dillon sent Mr. MurrayThe Chieftain’s Daughter.’ He wished him to publish it, and to attend its performance when represented on the stage. Murray sent the drama to Mr. Gifford, who decided against it.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
Jan. 1st., 1818.

“I have got through three acts of the play, and do not think it necessary to travel further. It is very smooth, very pretty, very tame, very improbable, and very childish. I will engage to write you three such tragedies faster than a common letter. But we have audiences more silly than the silliest writer, and this perhaps may suit them. This is the first day of the year. I wish it may be a happy one to you.”—W. G.

Mr. Murray continued his kindness to literary men, no matter what their political opinions might be. The following note affords an illustration of this:—

Mr. James Mill to John Murray.
1, Queen’s Square, Westminster,
July 25th, 1817.

Mr. Mill presents his compliments to Mr. Murray, and begs he will accept his cordial thanks for the loan of the
Sanscrit Algebra. Mr. Mill is also desirous of expressing his high sense of the liberality of
Mr. Murray in offering to favour him with the sight of any book which he publishes; an offer which, on the scale of Mr. Murray’s transactions, is no small indulgence to a man of letters, and an indulgence of which Mr. Mill will often very gratefully avail himself.”

M. de Sismondi also wrote, acknowledging the receipt of several books which Mr. Murray had been kind enough to send him; and proceeded:—

Mr. J. C. L. de Sismondi to John Murray.
Geneva, 28th July, 1817.

Even were I to suppose some design to gain me over to the high-Tory principles which seem to pervade them all, I should be grateful for the attempt, though perhaps further than ever from surrendering, or from putting in my calendar such a saint as the Duchess of Angoulême. It is in a system every way opposite that I have finished my history [‘Républiques Italiennes’], and am ready to print the five last volumes, from xii. to xvi. I had no agreement with my bookseller at Paris; but from the complete downfall of freedom on the continent, I begin to doubt whether such a book as mine, under the protection of its enormous bulk, will be allowed in France, though there would be no suspicion in a country which preserved even a shade of liberty. I had once made you a proposal for printing the preceding volumes in England. You thought then that it would be impossible to vie with continental booksellers. Now it may very well be that the Holy Alliance would grant you a kind of exclusive privilege by prohibition for which I shall not be in the least disposed to thank them. However, it would change entirely the condition of the English bookseller who should take my work. An extensive sale in England, and a probable smuggling over, though not to a great extent, on the continent, would be the necessary consequences of the suspicions of the police. If that alteration in the case should change your mind, and if a price of £300 per volume of about thirty sheets, or £1500 for the whole, would be agreed to, I should go over to England in
about three months, to survey and correct the print. I would be very thankful for a ready answer to that proposal, which must have great influence on my other determinations. Believe me to be, with high gratitude and esteem,

Your most obedient humble Servant,
J. C. L. De Sismondi.

Mr. Murray, however, did not agree to this proposal to publish Sismondi’sHistory of the Italian Republics,’ and to smuggle the volumes surreptitiously into France.

Mr. Murray kept up his pleasant correspondence with Mrs. Graham, then living at Broughty Ferry on the Tay. She had woven a Scotch plaid for Mr. Murray’s use during the approaching winter season, and announced its completion in the following pleasant letter:—

Mrs. Graham to John Murray.
Broughty Ferry, 2nd November, 1817.
My dear Sir,

At length the plaid is woven and packed up, and only waits a fair wind to sail with my two brothers and sister to you. I hope you will like it as well as mine. I like it better, as it is both finer and softer. I also send Mr. Foscolo’s little book, which I had unintentionally purloined, and a book of Sir J. Mackintosh’s, which you may give him when you have an opportunity. If the five brace of grouse I send you arrive in good order, will you send one brace to him with the parcel, as I have forgotten his address; and I will send Mrs. Murray ptarmigan in about three weeks to make up for it.

I wish you would write me some news, for I have none here; and, to mend matters, I caught so bad a cold at Stormont, where I was paying a visit some weeks ago, that I have never been able to stir out of the house since, and therefore can’t work in the garden, or walk, or sail, or do anything agreeable out of doors—not even to go and see the famous attack made upon the whales by the inhabitants of Dundee, which was, I am told, ludicrous beyond the powers of description. We saw the shoal of fish go up
the river the day before, but little thought they were to afford such sport. Hector McIntyre’s combat with the Sealgh was nothing to that of a currier and a finner in the harbour. The currier ran up to his middle into the water with a dressing-knife, and manfully plunged it up to the hilt in the side of the finner. The whale turned sharp on the currier, and turned him head over heels in the water, but bearing off the knife of the half-drowning currier. Meanwhile a sailor leaped on the enraged animal’s back, and swam Arion-like round the harbour, holding by the back fin. I am half sorry to relate that the poor fish was at last mastered. The oil will probably illuminate the currier’s kitchen this very night. . . .

I am promised one of the first copies of ‘Rob Roy.’ What a mine the author possesses! I would rather have it than any of those in Peru. W. Scott, a short time ago, notified a visit to Sir James Colquhoun, near Loch Lomond. Sir James imagined that it must be for the purpose of obtaining certain MSS. which are in his family relative to ‘Rob Roy,’ and sent word that his house was full of plasterers and painters, and that he could receive nobody. W. S. therefore resolved to take him by surprise, and accordingly went unawares to the house, but when Sir James heard there was a gentleman at the front door he went out at the back, and so escaped, and also escaped contributing to the novel.*

Pray what is the 4th Canto of ‘Childe Harold’ doing? and where is Lord Byron? You know my admiration for his works, and my thoughts for the best, the very best, of the man. What is your friend the Laureate doing? Is he returned from the Continent? I have seen but one new book—a Danish account of the north of Africa, interesting and curious. Have any of your geographers got hold of it? It is straight from the Baltic, having been commissioned by my good friend, Dr. Ross, who has just received some chests full of German books, which he threatens me with a reading of. . . . My love to Mrs. Murray and the children, especially little Maria, and believe me ever,

Very truly and gratefully yours,
M. Graham.

* See allusion in Lady Abercorn’s letter, p. 65.