LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
Chap. XXI.

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chap. XX.
‣ Chap. XXI.
Chap. XXII.
Chap. XXIII.
Chap. XXIV.
Chap. XXV.
Chap. XXVI.
Chap. XXVII.
Chap. XXIX.
Chap. XXX.
Chap. XXXI.
Chap. XXXII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
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We must now return to the Quarterly Review, to which, as it had been Mr. Murray’s first love, he continued faithful to the end. In spite of Mr. Gifford’s failing health and the incurable irregularity with which he prepared each number for publication, the circulation reached 12,000 in 1817, and 14,000 a few months later.

Southey was at this time one of the most constant and prolific contributors. “The most profitable line of composition is reviewing,” he wrote to J. T. Coleridge. . . . “I have [not yet received so much for the ‘History of the Brazils’ (in three volumes) as for a single article in the Quarterly.” To help Southey in this unfortunate work, Bishop Heber afterwards wrote a laudatory article in the Review. Mr. Murray, always willing to render assistance, offered Southey £500 a volume for a series of English Biographies, six in number, which he might collect from the Lives he had written for the Quarterly; but Southey was busy with his ‘Book of the Church,’ and did not accept the offer. He afterwards wrote an article on Cromwell for the Quarterly, but he did not, as Murray proposed, expand it into a regular biography.

The payments for his contributions were the principal source of his income. “Literature,” said Robinson, “is now Southey’s trade; he is a manufacturer, and his
study is his workshop—a very beautiful one, certainly. . . . His time is his wealth; and I shall therefore scrupulously abstain from stealing any portion of it.”*

By dint of experience, he was able to collect his information and write out his articles with great rapidity; and he could, without difficulty, have filled a whole number from his own head and pen alone. It was said of him that he was able to “tear the heart out of a book;” glancing down each page to see whether it contained anything that he was likely to make use of, he made certain notes which he slipped in as marks, and in the course of a few hours, with the help of his remarkable memory, he obtained enough materials to form the subject of an interesting paper. It was not merely a review with extracts, but a complete analysis, giving the gist of the book under consideration. He could, moreover, infuse a little sarcasm too. Rogers said of him: “The Laureate has two inkstands always at hand; the one is filled with gall, and the other with milk.”

He was at times, as has already been said, the despair of Gifford, who was occasionally under the necessity of abridging his articles, or, as Southey called it, “mutilating” them, at which the Laureate was usually very sore. No. 32 contained no fewer than three by him. When Southey’s article on ‘Parliamentary Reform’ came out in the previous number, it was immediately surmised that he was the author, and the Whigs and Radicals attacked him furiously. Hazlitt, who detested him, was the most severe, and he contrasted Southey’s article in the Quarterly† with his ‘Wat Tyler.’ Some of Southey’s enemies caused ‘Wat Tyler’ to be reprinted, on which Southey applied for an

* H. C. Robinson’sDiary, Reminiscences,’ &c., ii. 22.

Hazlitt’sPolitical Essays, with Sketches of Public Characters, 1819,’ pp. 190-240.

injunction against its re-publication. The circumstances of this early literary indiscretion have already been related in a letter from Murray to
Lord Byron.* On the appearance of the article in the Quarterly, Mr. William Smith, M.P., made an attack on Southey in the House of Commons, to which Southey replied in a ‘Letter to Mr. Smith,’ published by Murray in 1817. It is unnecessary to refer to the particulars of the case; but what Mr. Murray thought of the transaction may be learned from the following passage of a letter to Mr. Blackwood.

John Murray to Mr. Blackwood.
Feb. 27th, 1817.

“The Whigs are in a most infernal fury at our article on Reform. But the upshot is an abuse, not of the article, which is too masterly for them, but of the author, that it is a shame that he should write such an article who once thought so differently. I suppose I have had thirty applications to know the author (Southey), and half as many to print it separately, forsooth. ... I will send you down in post-mail parcel a copy of ‘Wat Tyler.’ It was written many years ago by Southey, and given to Ridgway to assist to pay his expenses when in prison. It was never printed, and was thought so little of that the MS. was never demanded. Some one has had the baseness to print it at this time. There is an injunction against it, and I give you this as a curiosity.”

There is an allusion in the foregoing letter to a difficulty which has always beset, and still besets, the owner of the Quarterly Review, in the constant applications which are made by well-meaning persons when any article of particular interest appears, to republish it at a low price, so that it may be spread abroad throughout the kingdom. To such correspondents Mr. Murray was not so accommodating.

* See vol. i. p. 383.

John Murray to Mr. W. Blackwood.
Feb. 22nd, 1817.

“What! am I to give away the result of the sweat of ten years? These good people, who never even sprinkled with water the root of my tree, would now thoughtlessly pluck all my plums and pears, the results of my long labours. Would not the least reflection teach them that they ought (two or three dozen of them) to buy a quantity of my Review, and thus encourage the publisher? I am just now answering another of these cost-me-nothing acts of philanthropy, received from my friend William Kerr of your Post-office. While rearing this machine, has it not nearly fallen and overwhelmed me? and did any of these men come to my help? ‘Pray, my Lord,’ said Johnson to Chesterfield, ‘is not a patron one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help?’”

Southey was a very keen politician, and did not confine his polemics to the pages of the Quarterly.

Mr. Southey to John Murray.
Keswick, July 21st, 1818.
My dear Sir,

I have made good way in a letter to Brougham in consequence of a false and slanderous attack which he made upon me from the hustings,—with the amicable intention, I believe, of setting my neighbours upon stoning me,—this being the fashion with the rabble of his party. As I was not present to give him the lie in the face of the multitude (as assuredly I would have done), I have given him such a castigation as such a thorough-paced scoundrel deserves—a William Smithiad. But I should hardly have taken the trouble for mere personal motives if I had not hoped to do some good by a full and complete exposure of his system of slander.

For this purpose in the body of the letter I want to give in order a clear, succinct and strong statement of all the calumnies in the House of Commons of which he has been convicted, with the documents in the Appendix (between
ourselves this is a suggestion of
Croker’s). Send me, therefore, the Debates of the last Parliament, from the time Brougham came in for Winchelsea—I forget whether in 1814, ’15, or ’16. The first part I shall very shortly send you through Bedford’s hands, and you will let Pople print it. By-the-bye, this printer has requested me to speak a good word for him to you, and if in the plenitude of your power you could sometimes employ him, you would confer a favour upon me, serving a very deserving man.

Jeffery and Sir E. K. come in for some tremendous blows in this letter. I expect also to have a letter from Wordsworth to append to it, addressed to myself. He was included in the attack.

You can have no conception of the Devilish spirit which Brougham has raised and left behind him in Westmorland. It has shocked many of his own party.

You want some German in the =Review, and I can help you to some. There is a neighbour of mine perfectly competent to give you an able and philosophical criticism upon Schiller’s works, if you will send the collected edition to Thomas De Quincey, Esquire, Grasmere, near Ambleside. I have been talking to him this day upon the subject.* He is a man of singular acuteness and ability.

Evelyn’s Memoirs’ would assist in furnishing materials for an essay of great pith and moment upon the reign of Charles II. and the spirit of that age. But my next paper must be ‘The New Churches and the Catacombs,’ easily and naturally connected.

There is a book upon Nonconformity lying for me at your house, written by Conder, the bookseller. Let it come in the next parcel,—I shall have occasion to touch upon it in my Life of Wesley.

What if I were to make a Life of Marlborough for the Review from Coxe’s book?

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Yours most truly,
Robert Southey.

I shall not fail in the copyright question.

* De Quincey never contributed to the Quarterly.


Mr. Croker contributed to No. 32 a review of Miss Plumptre’sResidence in Ireland.’ Gifford had struck out some of the sentences; but Croker was not so indignant as Southey would have been. He merely wrote to Murray: “I regret that Gifford struck out the beastly quotation from Miss Plumptre’s book. But I am one of those who never complain (on personal grounds) of the despotism of the Editor, which I think it absolutely necessary to maintain.”

No. 33 contained an article on Hazlitt’sRound Table,’ by Mr. Russell. Hazlitt attributed the article to Gifford, and attacked him, in a violent pamphlet, as an “ultra-crepidarian critic.” Gifford took no notice of such attacks, because he held that secrecy was necessary in conducting a Review, and shortly before his death, directed his executor, Dr. Ireland, Dean of Westminster, to destroy all his confidential letters and papers, especially those relating to the Quarterly. It was at times considered so necessary to keep the names of the principal contributors secret, that no regular record of them was kept. Hence the difficulty we have had in tracing the authorship of the several articles; in many cases it has been ascertained from letters addressed to Mr. Murray himself, or to his principal correspondents.

Mr. John Barrow took up the subject of Geography in the Quarterly, and the public was greatly indebted to him for the increasingly extended knowledge, not only of the colonies and dominions subject to England, but of all other parts of the globe. In his ‘Autobiography,’ he gives an interesting account of his connection with the Quarterly. After mentioning his articles on geographical subjects, he proceeds to say:—

“I had a letter from Murray to say that, in consequence of a certain article, the sale of the Review had very much
increased. This article was published in the year 1817-18, and the subject of it was an inquiry into the nature and extent of the Polar Sea, and the proofs of a communication through it between the waters of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. . . . When it was described and delineated as a large and nearly circular basin, it was treated in another Review as a joke. That
article, however,* and the extraordinary facts therein stated, not only produced Murray’s avowal of its successful results, but gave rise also to the recent Arctic voyages, by sea and land, that have added so largely to the geography and scientific discoveries made in these regions by a class of officers whose names will ever be remembered in the annals of the British Navy. I had the curiosity to ask Mr. Murray what was really the increase of the number of copies sold in consequence, as he said, of the above-mentioned article; and it appears, by the register which is kept, that the sale of each of the Nos. 33, 34, and 35 was 12,000; No. 36 (next after that containing the article in question) was 13,000, and this number was continued to No. 41, when it fell back to something less than it had been; in consequence it was pretty well ascertained, of two or three new Reviews having started up.”

When Mr. Murray proposed to publish Barrow’s articles on Polar Explorations, which had excited so much interest, in the form of a volume, he offered what Mr. Barrow considered an absurdly large price for the copyright, and received the following reply:—

Mr. Barrow to John Murray.

I will not, if I can help it, contribute to your ruin by your excessive liberality, and cannot therefore consent to a compliance with your offer. Whether the trifle will sell or not, I am no judge; it will depend greatly on the feeling or the whim of the public; but whether it does or not, it is entirely at your service; and to relieve you from any idea of an obligation, if it should be fortunate enough to require a second edition, I will then bargain with you for the copyright. You must alter the outside label, which

* Quarterly Review, vol. xviii., No. 35.

is a fallacy, and make it ‘
Voyages into the Arctic Regions,’ or, if you prefer it, into the Polar Regions; and I think you should not go above 12s. for the price, for as that point is just at this moment being discussed in the papers, your friend of the Times will be most ready to seize hold of it.

I am, my dear Sir, very faithfully yours,
John Barrow.

I shall want about a couple of dozen copies to give away.

As Barrow would take nothing for the first edition of his book, Murray sent him a handsome present, to which Barrow replied:—

Mr. Barrow to John Murray.

“I neither know how to accept nor refuse, much less how to thank you sufficiently for your magnificent present, which is the more to be appreciated as I had intended to treat myself with a copy of so valuable and necessary a library book. I shall never be out of your debt . . . .”

In Number 36 Mr. Cohen (afterwards Sir F. Palgrave) had an article on ‘Ancient and Modern Greenland.’ This was the subject of much correspondence between Gifford and Murray. Gifford, on sending him the revise of the article, wrote:—

Mr. W. Gifford to John Murray.

I wish you could induce our friend to make a few alterations. . . . Scarcely anything is said about the agriculture of Greenland. . . . Then what a pity it is that no notice is taken of the sun. This is characteristic; and here is a verse:—
“The people, whose unclouded day
Ends in a joyless half-year’s night,
Gaze wistful on the setting ray
That glitters on Spitzbergen’s height.”
These things might be easily introduced by a preliminary
line or two. But the translation wants pace, and is very inferior to the language of the article.
Mr. Cohen might, if it be thought worth while, look at it with his pencil in his hand. There is something interesting in the good priest’s journey, but it should be compressed. I was much struck by the bridge of ice, and wonder that our friend was not reminded by it of the bridge of the Estala. If you think nothing of what I have hinted, then the revise may go to press. I think ‘Thorgill’ long, but I can shorten it no more. There is really no one for whom I would labour with such interest as for our friend. His style is racy and vivid, and I think among the very best we ever had. What he wants is selection. All things ought not to be detailed at equal length, and it is woeful work to toil on what is not cared for. With all this, I cannot help thinking that Cohen will rise to distinction as a writer by practice, and condescending somewhat more than he does at present to the comparative ignorance of his readers. . . . I scrawl this with eyes half closed, and you may add, and brains too.

Ever yours,
W. G.

It is probable that the article in the same Number (36) on the ‘Ecclesiastical Computation of Easter,’ was written by Sir Alexander Boswell, son of James Boswell, author of the ‘Life of Johnson.’ He was an antiquary and an author in communication with Mr. Murray. He was invited to dine at Albemarle Street in July 1817, and in answer to Murray’s letter wrote:—

Sir Alexander Boswell to John Murray.
Dear Sir,

I shall wait upon you with much pleasure on Friday, and certainly you offer me an inducement which would have compensated for a disagreeable host. But although it is no doubt very gratifying to me to meet with one whose poems I have so highly appreciated [Campbell], I do not choose you to put it upon such grounds alone that I am to
be your guest. I have always had reason to be sensible of your polite attention, and shall be happy when you afford me an opportunity of marking my recollection of it.

Your most obedient Servant,
Alexander Boswell.*

Though Southey had only a single article in No. 36, that on the Poor Laws, he expressed his approval (an unusual thing) of the whole number.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.

Southey is quite pleased with the whole of our number, which he thinks a most amazing one. This was praise indeed from Southey, and never, I think, was so given to us before. He promises ‘Evelyn’ almost immediately. I shall see you on Wednesday, unless the patriots of Guildhall knock me on the head to-morrow; and then we will finally settle our mode of commencing this number.”

Southey was as good as his word. His ‘Evelyn’s Memoirs’ commenced the next number of the Quarterly, though Gifford was not quite satisfied with it, and wrote to Murray (August 1818):—

“A great card was lost when Southey was set upon Evelyn, in preference to Dr. W[hitaker], whom I regard as the best and most truthful painter of character in the country. . . . We have not a more valuable correspondent.”

It will be remembered that Scott also had expressed a desire to review this book.

The last article in No. 38 excited a great deal of interest. It was that entitled ‘Mr. Brougham—Education Committee.’ It was written in the first place by the Rev. Professor

* Sir Alexander Boswell was killed in a duel by Mr. Stuart of Dunearn, in 1822. Stuart immediately fled to America, and afterwards published an account of his visit in his well known ‘Three Years in North America.’

Monk, who no doubt wrote the substance of the article. At the same time, the pungent wit, the Attic salt, were inserted by Gifford, on the prompting of Canning and Croker. Of course the connection of Canning with the article was kept a profound secret, and the editor was prevented from avowing it. His task was, with the help of his other contributors, to render effective a paper in itself good, but prosy; and, at the same time, to prevent the original author himself from resenting the changes made in his paper.*

That the article was carefully pondered over, corrected, and amended by Croker and Canning, appears from the following letter from Croker to Murray, dated Munster House:—

Mr. Croker to John Murray.
Dear Murray,

I wrote to you and our friend from Gloster Lodge [Canning’s residence], I hope with some success, though I rather fear Mr. G[ifford]’s illness may render him unwilling to have any more changes made. I would not press it, if I did not in my conscience believe that the character and efficacy of the Review is concerned, vitally concerned, in the matter. . . . The Speaker longs to see the Review. Could you send him a number to-night? You might request him not to show it till Monday; I will get back the copy from him.

Murray paid Professor Monk handsomely for his “doctored” article, and received the following acknowledgment.

Professor Monk to John Murray.
Feb. 4th, 1819.

“I am ashamed of not having sooner acknowledged your obliging note, and the very handsome and indeed magnificent inclosure with which you are pleased to recompense

* How he did this is well shown in the correspondence published by Bishop Monk’s son in the Athenæum of March 20th, 1875, which, so far from confuting the time-honoured tradition, seems to confirm it.

my attempts to serve the
Review. The opinion expressed both by you and Mr. Gifford of the merits of this attempt is far beyond what I feel myself entitled to.”

The piles of the Quarterly laid out on the day of publication, before being issued to the booksellers, was a remarkable sight. Mr. W. B. Cooke, the engraver, who had done much work for Mr. Murray, wrote to him on the 24th December, 1818:—

“When you have the twelve thousand Quarterly Reviews printed and heaped up at Albemarle Street, I shall be glad to bring some friends to have a look at such a prodigy of press work—if Mr. Stewart will drop me a line.”

Amongst other books, Murray consulted Gifford about Sheil’sEvadne.’ But he did not like it; he thought the first and last acts claptrap. “The play,” he said, “is largely indebted to Shirley’sTraitor,’ but falls far short of it. Yet this is far the best thing that Sheil has done. It is more free, more spirited, and more poetical. What this young man wants is taste and judgment. I really think that he is likely to succeed at last.”

Evadne’ appeared in 1820, and it was greatly helped by Miss O’Neil’s acting, but it eventually failed. Miss O’Neil was a staunch supporter of her countryman, who subsequently wrote to Murray:—

Mr. Sheil to John Murray.

“The ‘Apostate’ is to be shortly acted in Dublin, which will, of course, increase the sale. Miss O’Neil assured me that she would act it everywhere in the country, so that I entertain little doubt that you will not ultimately prove a loser by your great liberality to me. The success of my play, instead of being any obstruction to me in my profession, has been eminently useful. I expect a considerable increase of professional employment. With regular and severe study, however, I hope to be able to produce a tragedy which shall surpass the ‘Apostate,’
and, at the same time, not neglect my more permanently useful pursuits. Will you be kind enough to present my compliments to
Mrs. Murray and to Mrs. Graham, to whom I am so much indebted for making me known to Sir James Mackintosh, whose advice was at once so judicious and so kind?”

Yours, &c.,
R. L. Sheil.

Mr. Murray was constantly sending presents to his friend and editor:—

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.

“I am really ashamed of your goodness—but what a poor creature am I? When I saw you, I thought myself much better than I had been at Ryde; in less than three hours I was labouring with a violent cough and fever—how brought on I cannot even guess. Last night, and all yesterday, I was very ill indeed, and could not keep my head from the pillow. To-day I feel a good deal relieved. . . . This is the first word that I have been able to write since we parted.

June 18th, 1819.

“The presentation of your valuable volume [a complete edition of Shakespeare] ought to satisfy your generosity, and I accept it with the sincerest pleasure and thankfulness; but I must not suffer your liberality to be abused. Consider, my dear friend, for what purpose I should enrich my library at the expense of such kindness. As old Welbjee once said to Hoppner, ‘Vat sold I save for? I have no posteriori.’ The meaning of all this gabble is, that I will accept a lease of your Shakespeare—probably a life interest in him, then to revert to the original landlord.”

Shrewd and cautious adviser as he was, even Barrow was liable to mistakes, as, for instance, when he wrote his review of Birkbeck’sNotes on America’ (Q. R. No. 37), on receiving the MS. of which Gifford wrote to Murray:—

“I am glad you sent Birkbeck, he appears to be the most dangerous man that ever wrote from America. Our friend had missed his character, and I have nearly rewritten the article.”


Another name which appears among the Quarterly reviewers for the first time in 1819 is that of Ugo Foscolo, whose article on ‘The Poems of the Italians’ occupied the place of honour in No. 42; but as the career of this strange man is fully dealt with in a subsequent chapter, we will only allude to him here.

Mr. Gifford was under the impression that the Quarterly Review did not receive sufficient support from the existing Government. George III. died on the 29th of January, 1820, and his son George IV. reigned in his stead. Lord Liverpool was then in power, and a plot was concocted by Thistlewood and his comrades for assassinating the Ministers, seizing the Bank of England, and establishing a provisional government. The number of the Quarterly (44) which was about to appear contained two articles by Robert Grant—one a ‘Letter to the Prince Regent;’ the other on ‘The State of Public Affairs,’ which Mr. Gifford thought of great value.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.

“This article will make a great impression. Three such magnificent speeches* have never been placed at the head of one before. The extracts are uncommonly fine, and in one place I must make an addition; but it will be the most striking part of Mr. Canning’s speech, which, as now given, reads rather abrupt.

* * * * *

“I have no patience with these Cabinet people. When it is too late they rub their eyes and begin to see that the Review might be of the ‘utmost importance’ to them, but they never condescend to write a thought on it when there is both time and an earnest will to serve them (i.e. the country), and nothing wanting but the means which they

* Mr. Plunket’s and Mr. Canning’s in the House of Commons, Nov. 23 and 24, 1819, and Lord Grenville’s in the House of Lords, Nov. 30.

are called on to supply. How often has this been urged! Yet who of them procures us a single line?

“They are happy to leave all to chance, and have neither the courage nor—but I am tired of this. Mr. Croker is the only link that unites us at all with the Ministers, and the service he has done them by his various papers is incalculable; but he cannot do everything, and it is certain that, to meet the present state of the country, an elaborate article is requisite.

“Ever yours,
W. G.

In No. 46 was an article by D’Israeli on ‘Spence’s ‘Anecdotes of Books and Men.’

Mr. D’Israeli to John Murray.
October, 1820.
Dear Murray,

I received your letter at Weston Green, and we have just returned home; they lamenting the loss of green fields, and I glad to get again into the woods and underwoods of my library. Your letter enclosed a draft of £50, which by the appearance comes from the Q. R. I think it extremely handsome, and begin to fear the article does not deserve it. However, be that as it may, the remuneration which the Review is now able to afford—the extraordinary skill and felicity of the Editor, supported by the large spirit of the Proprietor, will, be assured, command the richest talents in the literary world. It is worth sacrificing time and making an effort, when a writer secures both readers and profit.

Most truly yours,
I. D’I.

The difficulties of editors are almost as proverbial as the variety of opinions, and both facts are somewhat amusingly illustrated by the two following opinions of one number of the Quarterly Review written by contributors to its pages. Mr. Francis Cohen writes (21st December, 1821):—

“I have just dashed through the Review, and am delighted with it—particularly with my article [’Astrology
and Alchemy’]: however, that is neither here nor there. . . . Mind, you must keep the doing of the ‘Paston Letters’ for me. If you disappoint me, I shall never forgive you.”

On the other hand, Mr. Croker had his fling at the same number, which contained an article of his own on the French Revolution.

Mr. Croker to Mr. Murray.
December 22nd, 1821.
Dear Murray,

I am happy to tell you that your Review is abominably bad—happy for your sake, because, as you will, I dare say, sell 12,000, it only shows that you have an estate which produces wholly independent of its culture. All that ridiculous importance given to Dupin,* a wretched écrivas-seur, and that affectation of naval statistics, I think very unsuitable. Your ‘Alchemy’† is appropriate enough, great elaboration and pomp of work ending in smoke and dross. If Dalzell’s ‘Lectures’‡ are as obscure and as dull as your commentary, they were not worth reviewing, no more than the commentary is worth reading. There is a pretension of smartness about your pedant which reminds one of Vadices in the ‘Femmes Galantes.’ The article on Hazlitt§ is good, and that on the Scotch novelsexcellent. All the rest is what the shipowners call dunnage. In short, my dear Murray, bless your stars you have now sounded the bass string of humility, and you may be assured that your next number will be better than the last, and so good-bye.

J. W. Croker.

In May 1821, Gifford wrote to Murray: “I am very far from being well, but by taking James’s powder last night, I hope I have checked this fever.” He went to Ramsgate in July, and enjoyed the journey.

* ‘On the Navy of England and France,’ reviewed by Barrow.

† ‘Astrology and Alchemy.’ By Francis Cohen.

‡ ‘On the Ancient Greeks,’ reviewed by T. Mitchell.

§ By Col. Matthews. ‖ By Nassau Senior.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.

“The only accident which befell us, lighted upon poor Bid, who, in exhibiting her agility on the coach-box, cut an awkward caper, and tumbled over. I thought, as the man in the play says, that both the damsels would have swounded; however, she broke no bones, and is now as well as ever. . . . I seem to breathe freer already. ’Twas time to leave Town for I suffered more in the last week than I liked to tell, and could not have sat up much longer. A day or two to luxurious indolence, and then to work. I got my papers this morning, but pray buy, beg, borrow, or steal a John Bull for me, or I shall be as ignorant as a beast of the virtues of the Queen [Caroline] and her admirers. Let me have a line from you as often as you have leisure and convenience.”

July 18th, 1821.

“I have received a letter from some pretty Jessica to yourself. The object of sending me this I cannot make out, unless it be kindly to remind me that she is a widow; but I give you to understand that if I marry a widow I am already engaged; but I have some thoughts of waiting a few years for one of Mrs. Eaton’s youngest girls!

* * * *

“What are you dreaming of, my dear friend? If there was ever a time when I thought myself peculiarly obliged by your kindness and attention, it was certainly during the last week. Your letters were my chief source of amusement and information. . . . I am well, and I am not; for my face continues to worry me. The few teeth I have seem taking their leave—I wish they would take a French one; and after so long an acquaintance they do not like to part without pain. I shall pluck out no bone from any wolf’s throat alive hereafter, that I clearly foresee. With this exception I cannot complain, as my breath evidently improves. Ramsgate is still empty and dull; our good weather fled with the pomp of the Coronation. . . . Blessings on the Queen! I see by this morning’s paper that she is determined to make a part of the show. But her day is gone by, and there wanted but this last part of her farce to finish her character with the few respectable people that yet cling to her.”


After the great affair at Westminster had been accomplished, Gifford again wrote to Murray:—

“Your Coronation accounts were excellent. I would have grudged no sum to witness the sight, but ’twas physically impossible for me. All the world joins in calling it the most glorious spectacle that was ever seen.”

Gifford was not much the better for his visit to Ramsgate, for he was during that time confined to the house by bad weather, and affected by pain in his side, which prevented him sitting upright. While in this state, he saw from the papers that he had been drawn for the Militia! “Dismiss all fears,” he wrote to Murray; “if I once get arms in my hands, I shall play the devil with the foe. But what triple-turned asses are those Deputy-Lieutenants!”

Shortly after his arrival in London at the end of August, Mr. Barrow called upon him. “I sat an hour with Gifford the other evening,” he reported to Mr. Murray. “He is pretty well, but breathes short, and I think on the whole is gradually sinking, poor fellow! He is one of those whose place is not easily filled.” Nevertheless, Gifford went on with his work. He called upon the publisher with some of the articles for the next number of the Quarterly, and walked home from Albemarle Street to James Street, Buckingham Gate, a thing he had not done for two years. “The pain in my side,” he wrote to Murray, “still continues, but I can relieve it by resting or lying down. . . . What a magnificent edition of ‘Jonson’ you have sent me! What can I do with so fine a work? Put it in a frame! But there is no stopping your career, as Barrow says.”

Thus the Quarterly went on; Murray usually beating up for new contributors, as well as holding together the former authors. In 1822, he found a new contributor in
the Rev.
George Gleig, afterwards Chaplain-General to the Forces, who contributed several articles at different times, his first being on Dr. Chalmers and the Poor Laws, in No. 56. During Gifford’s now almost incessant attacks of illness, Mr. Croker took charge of the Review. The following letter embodies some of his ideas as to editing:—

Mr. Croker to John Murray.
Brighton, March 29th, 1823.
Dear Murray,

As I shall not be in Town in time to see you to-morrow, I send you some papers. I return the Poor article* with its additions. Let the author’s amendments be attended to, and let his termination be inserted between his former conclusion and that which I have written. It is a good article, not overdone and yet not dull. I return, to be set up, the article [by Captain Procter] on Southey’s ‘Peninsular War.’ It is very bad—a mere abstracted history of the war itself, and not in the least a review of the book. I have taken pains to remove some part of this error, but you must feel how impossible it is to change the whole frame of such an article. A touch thrown in here and there will give some relief, and the character of a review will be in some small degree preserved. This cursed system of writing dissertations will be the death of us, and if I were to edit another number, I should make a great alteration in that particular. But for this time I must be satisfied with plastering up what I have not time to rebuild. One thing I would do immediately if I were you. I would pay for articles of one sheet as much as for articles of two and three, and, in fact, I would scarcely permit an article to exceed one sheet. I would reserve such extension for matters of great and immediate interest and importance. I am delighted that W.† undertakes one, he will do it well; but remember the necessity of absolute secrecy on this point, and indeed on all others. If you were to publish such names as Cohen and Croker and

* ‘On the Poor Laws,’ by Mr. Gleig.

† Probably Blanco White.

Collinson and
Coleridge, the magical we would have little effect, and your Review would be absolutely despised—omne ignotum pro mirifico. I suppose I shall see you about twelve on Tuesday. Could you not get me a gay light article or two? If I am to edit for you, I cannot find time to contribute. Madame Campan’s poem will more than expend my leisure. I came here for a little recreation, and I am all day at the desk as if I were at the Admiralty. This Peninsular article has cost me two days’ hard work, and is, after all, not worth the trouble; but we must have something about it, and it is, I suppose, too late to expect anything better. Mr. Williams’s article on Sir W. Scott is contemptible, and would expose your Review to the ridicule of the whole bar; but it may be made something of, and I like the subject. I had a long and amusing talk with the Chancellor the night before last, on his own and his brother’s judgments; I wish I had time to embody our conversation in an article.

Yours ever,
J. W. C.

Southey is very long, but as good as he is long—I have nearly done with him. I write very slowly, and cannot write long. This letter is written at three sittings.

No sooner had Croker got No. 56 of the Review out of his hands than he made a short visit to Paris. On this Mr. Barrow writes to Murray:—

Mr. Barrow to John Murray.
April 2nd, 1823.

Croker has run away to Paris, and left poor Gifford helpless. What will become of the Quarterly? It is very cruel, and I assure you I am exceedingly sorry for it; for I much fear that what with its delay some sharp-witted fellow may take the advantage and start a rival. . . . Poor Gifford told me yesterday that he felt he must give up the Editorship, and that the doctors had ordered him to do so. As far, therefore, as he is concerned, I see no reason why you should not go on, and if, as I hope and trust, he may get a little better, he may then resume his labour on what remains undone.


Gifford did not, however, give in until he could neither revise, correct, nor write more. After the warm weather had set in, he went to Ramsgate as usual. He wrote some very disappointing letters to Murray.

Mr. Gifford to John Murray.
July, 1823.

“My cough increases daily. We have a July sun and a January wind. . . . I am inclined to think that my case is determining not very slowly towards a consumption. I have done nothing since I came down here, and feel that I can do nothing, which is worse. . . . Do not forget that it is not inclination which I want, but power. Above all, keep your eye steadfastly on the means of filling my place. Great activity will be required, I am sure, on your part; and you must buckle to, and meet all difficulties with firmness. They will but increase by evasion or postponement of them. I am entitled to speak on this head from experience.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Barrow had a letter from Rev. Dr. Buckland, in which he enclosed one from the Provost of Oriel, “all kindness and condescension,” in which he said that Gifford had said nothing to him “of giving in.” “Indeed,” said Barrow in his letter to Murray, “I believe he has no such intention, how much soever he may pretend it to you and me. But this is entre nous.” A few days later, Barrow wrote to Murray saying that he had seen Gifford that morning:—

Mr. Barrow to John Murray.
Aug. 18th, 1823.

“I told him to look out for some one to conduct the Review, but he comes to no decision. I told him that you very naturally looked to him for naming a proper person. He replied he had—Nassau Senior—but that you had taken some dislike to him.” I then said, ‘You are now

* This, so far as can be ascertained, was a groundless assumption on Mr. Gifford’s part.

well; go on, and let neither
Murray nor you trouble yourselves about a future editor yet; for should you even break down in the midst of a number, I can only repeat that Croker and myself will bring it round, and a second number if necessary, to give him time to look out for and fix upon a proper person, but that the work should not stop.’ I saw he did not like to continue the subject, and we talked of something else.”

Croker also was quite willing to enter into this scheme, and jointly with Barrow to undertake the temporary conduct of the Review. But he was so much occupied by his official business that he could not be depended upon for the continual editing. Here we must for the present break off the account of the Quarterly Review, leaving the close of Mr. Gifford’s career and the appointment of his successor to a subsequent chapter. The young barrister, Mr. J. T. Coleridge, was of much use to him, and assisted him in the editing. “Mr. C. is too long,” Gifford wrote to Murray, “and I am sorry for it. But he is a nice young man, and should be encouraged.”