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Memoir of John Murray
Chap. XXIV.

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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The book trade between England and America was in its infancy at the time of which we are now writing, and though Mr. Murray was frequently invited to publish American books, he had considerable hesitation in accepting such invitations, though he had, as we have seen, published Captain Riley’sNarrative,’ to the advantage of the author as well as himself. At an early period Mr. Washington Irving induced an American publisher, Mr. Thomas of Philadelphia, to send to Mr. Murray some of the best books published in that country—the ‘Life of Patrick Henry,’ Maclure’sGeology,’ ‘History of the War in the West Country,’ and Breckenridge’s ‘Louisiana’; but Mr. Murray considered the risk too great, and declined to republish these works in England. In 1807, at the early age of twenty-four, Washington Irving himself became an author, and published his ‘Salmagundi’ in numbers. Two years later he published his ‘History of New York,’ in mock heroic language, under the name of ‘Diedrich Knickerbocker.’ He entered into partnership with his two brothers, who had established an extensive mercantile firm at New York and Liverpool, and came to England in 1815 to superintend the operations of the business at the northern seaport.


While in London he called upon Mr. Murray, and was asked to dine, as distinguished Americans usually were. He thus records his recollections of the event in a letter to his brother Peter at Liverpool:—

Mr. Washington Irving to Mr. Peter Irving.
August 19th, 1817.

“I had a very pleasant dinner at Murray’s. I met there D’Israeli and an artist [Brockedon] just returned from Italy with an immense number of beautiful sketches of Italian scenery and architecture. D’Israeli’s wife and daughter came in in the course of the evening, and we did not adjourn until twelve o’clock. I had a long tête-à-tête with old D’Israeli in a corner. He is a very pleasant, cheerful old fellow, curious about America, and evidently tickled at the circulation his works have had there, though, like most authors just now, he groans at not being able to participate in the profits. Murray was very merry and loquacious. He showed me a long letter from Lord Byron, who is in Italy. It is written with some flippancy, but is an odd jumble. His Lordship has written some 104 stanzas of the fourth canto (‘Childe Harold’). He says it will be less metaphysical than the last canto, but thinks it will be at least equal to either of the preceding. Murray left town yesterday for some watering-place, so that I have had no further talk with him, but am to keep my eye on his advertisements and write to him when anything offers that I may think worth republishing in America. I shall find him a most valuable acquaintance on my return to London.”

In August, Washington Irving again visited Albemarle Street, when, as he says, “the town is quite deserted. I saw two or three of the lions of the Quarterly Review in Murray’s den; but almost all the literary people are out of town, and those that have not the means of travelling, lurk in their garrets and affect to be in the country, for you know these poor devils have a great desire to be thought fashionable.”


It is not improbable that Washington Irving’s visit to Abbotsford had encouraged his previous inclination to make literature his profession. At all events, his business in Liverpool having proved a failure, he was, in 1818, proceeding with the papers in his famous ‘Sketch Book,’ which he wrote in England, and sent to his brother Ebenezer in New York to be published there. The work appeared in three parts in the course of the year 1819. Several of the articles were copied in English periodicals and were read with great admiration. A writer in Blackwood expressed surprise that Mr. Irving had thought fit to publish his ‘Sketch Book’ in America earlier than in Britain, and predicted a large and eager demand for such a work. On this encouragement, Irving, who was still in England, took the first three numbers, which had already appeared in America, to Mr. Murray, and left them with him for examination and approval. Several days, however, elapsed before any answer was received, and then Irving, construing the publisher’s silence into a tacit rejection of his work, wrote to him, begging that the numbers might be returned. The following was Mr. Murray’s reply:—

John Murray to Mr. Irving.
October 27th, 1819.
My dear Sir,

I entreat you to believe that I feel truly obliged by your kind intentions towards me, and that I entertain the most unfeigned respect for your tasteful talents. My house is completely filled with workpeople at this time, and I have only an office to transact business in, and yesterday I was wholly occupied or I should have done myself the pleasure of seeing you. If it would not suit me to engage in the publication of your present work, it is only because I do not see that scope in the nature of it which would enable me to make those satisfactory accounts between us, without which I really feel no satisfaction in undertaking to publish
for you; but I will do all that I can to promote their circulation, and shall be most ready to attend to any future plan of yours. With much regard,

I remain, dear Sir,
Your faithful Servant,
John Murray.

Irving thereupon sought (but did not take) the advice of Sir W. Scott, and entered into an arrangement with Miller of the Burlington Arcade, and in February, 1820, the first four numbers were published in a volume. Miller shortly after became bankrupt, the sale of the book (of which one thousand had been printed) was interrupted, and Irving’s hopes of profit were dashed to the ground. At this juncture, Walter Scott, who was then in London, came to his help.

“I called to him for help as I was sticking in the mire, and, more propitious than Hercules, he put his own shoulder to the wheel. Through his favourable representations Murray was quickly induced to undertake the future publication of the work which he had previously declined. A further edition of the first volume was put to press, and from that time Murray became my publisher, conducting himself in all his dealings with that fair, open, and liberal spirit which had obtained for him the well-merited appellation of the Prince of Booksellers.”*

Irving, being greatly in want of money, offered to dispose of the work entirely to the publisher, and Murray, though he had no legal protection for his purchase, not only gave him £200 for it, but two months later he wrote to Irving, stating that his volumes had succeeded so much beyond his commercial estimate that he begged he

* Preface to the revised edition of ‘The Sketch Book.’

would do him the favour to draw on him at sixty-five days for one hundred guineas in addition to the sum agreed upon. And again, eight months later, Murray made Irving a second gratuitous contribution of a hundred pounds, to which the author replied, “I never knew any one convey so much meaning in so concise and agreeable a manner.”

Washington Irving having now made his mark as an author, his society was generally sought after; and his agreeable manners and conversation made him a general favourite in Murray’s drawing-room. The description he gives of Gifford in the following passage is very characteristic:—

“As I am launched upon the literary world here, I find my opportunities of observation extending. Murray’s drawing-room is a great resort of first-rate literary characters. Whenever I have a leisure hour, I go there, and seldom fail to meet with some interesting personages. The hours of access are from two to five. It is understood to be a matter of privilege, and that you must have a general invitation from Murray. Here I frequently meet with such personages as Gifford, Campbell, Foscolo, Hallam (author of a work on the Middle Ages), Southey, Milman, Scott, Belzoni, &c. The visitors are men of different politics, though most frequently Ministerialists. Gifford, of whom, as an old adversary, you may be curious to know something, is a small, shrivelled, deformed man of about sixty, with something of a humped back, eyes that diverge, and a large mouth. He is generally reclining on one of the sofas, and supporting himself by the cushions, being very much debilitated. He is mild and courteous in his manners, without any of the petulance that you would be apt to expect, and is quite simple, unaffected, and unassuming. Murray tells me that Gifford does not write any full articles for the Review, but revises, modifies, prunes, and prepares whatever is offered; and is very apt to extract the sting from articles that are rather virulent.”*

* Letter to James K. Paulding, May 27th, 1820.


While Washington Irving was in Paris in 1820, whither he had gone to help his brother to make a fresh start in business, he observed that a poem had been published entitled ‘The Lay of the Scottish Fiddle,’ which had been attributed to him. He immediately wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:—

Mr. Washington Irving to John Murray.
October 26th, 1820.
My dear Sir,

On taking up a London paper this morning, I found my name given at full length in an advertisement of Cawthorn’s as author of a poem he has just republished, entitled ‘The Lay of a Scottish Fiddle.’ As I wish to be answerable for no sins but my own, I would take it as a particular favour if you would contradict it in your next advertisement of the ‘Sketch Book.’ The work in question was written by a Mr. Paulding.* What particularly annoys me is that the poem is a burlesque on the writings of Sir Walter Scott, for whom I have so perfect an esteem and affection, and it contains political and national reflections of a different nature from those I entertain.

Mr. Murray’s letter to Washington Irving set his mind at rest as to any mischief that his friend Paulding’sLay’ might do to the reputation of Sir Walter Scott; and he informed Mr. Irving of the extraordinary success of his own ‘Sketch Book.’ Mr. Irving replied:—

Mr. Washington Irving to John Murray.
Paris, October 31st, 1820.
My dear Sir,

I have just received your letter of the 26th, which has almost overpowered me with the encomiums it contains. I am astonished at the success of my writings in England,

* Mr. J. K. Paulding was related to Washington Irving, and had taken part with him in preparing the ‘Salmagundi Essays,’ published in 1807.

and can hardly persuade myself that it is not all a dream. Had any one told me a few years since in America that anything I could write would interest such men as
Gifford and Byron, I should as readily have believed a fairy tale. If Mr. Gifford will be so good as to suggest what parts of ‘Knickerbocker’ might be curtailed with advantage, I shall endeavour to modify the work accordingly. I am sensible that it is full of faults, and would almost require re-writing to make it what it should be. But I find it very difficult to touch it now—it is so stale with me.

An edition of ‘Knickerbocker’s History of New York’ was, however, published in its original form by Mr. Murray in 1820, to prevent “a spurious edition,” as Irving called it, “being thrown into circulation.” The spurious edition was, however, brought out by Mr. William Wright, of Fleet Street, and Mr. Murray’s venture did not meet with any such success as had attended the ‘Sketch Book.’ The bent of Irving’s mind was towards literary and not commercial pursuits: whatever business affair he touched fell to pieces almost at once. A scheme for navigating the Seine by steamboats failed, and Irving, having thereby lost all the money he had made by his literary efforts, was driven back on his pen again for support. The next book he published through Mr. Murray was ‘Bracebridge Hall,’ which was written with amazing rapidity, 130 pages of the size of the ‘Sketch Book’ having been completed in ten days.

Murray had so much confidence in Washington Irving that he gave him looo guineas for his ‘Bracebridge Hall,’ together with a handsome donation of books. No other bookseller had as yet invaded his priority in publishing Irving’s books; and in the hope that the exclusive privilege might be left to him, he went so far as to offer a large sum for a new work, without even mentioning the name or choosing the subject. After ‘Bracebridge Hall’ had
appeared in 1822, Irving went to Paris, and was enjoying himself, when, in November, 1823,
Mr. Murray applied the following spur to his lagging pen:—

John Murray to Mr. Washington Irving.

Mr. H. Payne tells me he is a fellow-lodger with you at Paris, and as he is expected quickly to return, I cannot refrain from sending compliments to you, and from adding an inquiry as to your literary occupations, and what your publisher may be allowed to expect from you in the course of the winter. I am perfectly ready for you, and the sooner you take the field the better.”

Irving’s answer to Murray was, that he should probably have two volumes of a new ‘Sketch Book’ ready for him in the spring. He abandoned, however, his project of a second ‘Sketch Book,’ but proposed to bring out his new work as ‘Tales of a Traveller,’for the two volumes of which Murray at once offered him 1200 guineas without seeing the manuscript. Irving replied to this offer as follows:—

Mr. Washington Irving to John Murray.
March 25th, 1824.

“Your offer of 1200 guineas without seeing the MSS. is, I confess, a liberal one, and made in your own gentlemanlike manner; but I would rather you would see the MSS. and make it fifteen hundred. Don’t think me greedy after money; but in fact I have need of all I can get just now, as I can do five pounds’ worth of good with every pound I can spare; and since the world won’t let me live as I please, I find it very expensive to live with the world.”

Two months after the date of this letter, Irving returned to London, and related to his brother Peter, still at Paris, the result of his interview with the publisher:—


“I saw Murray on Saturday, and arranged the business in two minutes. He behaved like a gentleman; told me he had not replied to my last letter because he was in daily expectation of my arrival. That he agreed to my terms without seeing the MSS.; that it could be put to press the moment I was ready, and that it should be printed as fast or as slowly as I pleased. In a word, everything went as smoothly and pleasantly as heart could wish.”*

The ‘Tales of a Traveller’ were published in London in August 1824; and at New York, in parts, about the same time. The critics, both in England and America, were severe in their reviews of the work, and the author’s sensitive nature was very much hurt at this treatment.

Irving did what he could to help his literary fellow-countrymen in England, often entreating Murray to publish American books, but usually without success. In April 1822, Mr. Murray received a communication from Benjamin W. Coles, James Fenimore Cooper’s publisher in New York, respecting the publication of ‘The Spy’ in England. He afterwards received a letter from Mr. Cooper himself to the following effect:—

Mr. Cooper to John Murray.
November 29th, 1822.

The yellow fever has caused a delay in the appearance of ‘The Pioneer.’ But I now send you matter enough to make two of your volumes. I shall forward the remainder some time before publishing here. I have announced the book as a “descriptive tale,” but perhaps have confined myself too much to describing the scenes of my own youth. I know the present taste is for action and strong excitement; and in this respect I am compelled to acknowledge

* ‘Life and Letters of Washington Irving,’ by Pierre M. Irving, ii. 154.

that the two first volumes are deficient. I however am not without hopes that the third will be thought to make some amends. If there be any value in truth, the pictures are very faithful, and I can safely challenge a scrutiny in this particular. But the world must be left to decide for itself, and I believe it is very seldom that it decides wrong. . . . I ought, in justice to myself to say that, in opposition to a thousand good resolutions, ‘The Pioneer’ has been more hastily and carelessly written than any of my books. Not a line has been copied, and it has gone from my desk to the printers. I have not to this moment been able even to read it. The corrections I have made are from queries of
Mr. Wily, or by glancing over the work; so that if you find any errors in grammar, or awkward sentences, you are at liberty to have them altered, though I should wish the latter to be done very sparingly, both because one man’s style seldom agrees with another, and because a similar liberty was abused to a degree in ‘Precaution’ that materially injured the work.

Believe me, yours very faithfully,
James F. Cooper.

Mr. Murray, however, though urged by Washington Irving to republish Cooper’s novels in England, eventually declined to do so, especially when he found that they were pirated by other publishers; American authors were then beginning to experience the same treatment in England which English authors have suffered from in America. The wonder was that Washington Irving’s works so long escaped the same doom.

In 1819 Mr. Murray first made the acquaintance of Ugo Foscolo. A native of Zante, descended from a Venetian family who had settled in the Ionian Islands, Foscolo studied at Padua, and afterwards took up his residence at Venice. The ancient aristocracy of that city had been banished by Napoleon Buonaparte, and the conqueror gave over Venice to Austria. Foscolo attacked Buonaparte in
his ‘
Lettere di Ortis.’ After serving as a volunteer in the Lombard Legion through the disastrous campaign of 1799, Foscolo, on the capitulation of Genoa, retired to Milan, where he devoted himself to literary pursuits. He once more took service—under Napoleon—and in 1805 formed part of the army of England assembled at Boulogne; but soon left the army, went to Pavia (where he had been appointed Professor of Eloquence), and eventually at the age of forty took refuge in England. Here he found many friends, who supported him in his literary efforts. Among others he called upon Mr. Murray, who desired his cooperation in writing for the Quarterly. The article, already mentioned in a previous chapter, on ‘The Poems of the Italians,’ was his first contribution. Mr. Thomas Mitchell, the translator of ‘Aristophanes,’ desired Mr. Murray to give Foscolo his congratulations upon his excellent essay, as well as on his acquaintance with our language.

Mr. Thomas Mitchell to John Murray.

“The first time I had the pleasure of seeing M. Foscolo was at a table d’hôte at Berne. There was something in his physiognomy which very much attracted my notice; and, for some reason or another, I thought that I seemed to be an object of his attention. At table, Foscolo was seated next to a young Hanoverian, between whom and me a very learned conversation had passed on the preceding evening, and a certain degree of acquaintance was cemented in consequence. The table was that day graced with the appearance of some of the Court ladies of Stuttgard, and all passed off with the decorum usually observed abroad, when suddenly, towards the conclusion of the feast a violent hubbub was heard between M. Foscolo and his Hanoverian neighbour, who, in angry terms and with violent gestures, respectively asserted the superior harmonies of Greek and Latin. This ended with the former’s suddenly producing a card, accompanied with the following annunciation: ‘Sir, my name is Ugo Foscolo; I am a
native of Greece, and I have resided thirty years in Italy; I therefore think I ought to know something of the matter. This card contains my address, and if you have anything further to say, you know where I am to be found.’ Whether Foscolo’s name or manner daunted the young Hanoverian, or whether he was only a bird of passage, I don’t know, but we saw nothing more of him after that day. Foscolo, after the ladies had retired, made an apology, directed a good deal to me, who, by the forms of the place, happened to be at the head of the table; a considerable degree of intimacy took place between us, and an excellent man I believe him to be, in spite of these little ebullitions.”

Ugo Foscolo, who was eccentric to an excess, and very extravagant, and had many attached friends, though he tried them sorely, seems to have been one of the troubles of Murray’s private as well as publishing life. He had a mania for building, and a mania for ornamentation, but he was very short of money for carrying out his freaks. He thought himself at the same time to be perfectly moderate, simple, and sweet-tempered. He took a house in South Bank, Regent’s Park, which he named Digamma Cottage—from his having contributed to the Quarterly Review an article on the Digamma—and fitted it up in extravagant style.

Lady Dacre, who took a great interest in him, wished to see the sheets of his work before it was published. “I fear,” she writes to Mr. Murray (June 1822), “from what you say, that poor Foscolo, ill-fated and wrong- headed as he is, is losing your valuable friendship by some means or other. I believe his heart is in the right place, whichever way his head may turn; but he must not wrong your kindness and indulgence by his whimsical conduct.” She then enters into corrections of his proposed works on Ricciarda and Essays on Petrarch. She wishes for a number of prospectuses to send to her distinguished
friends and desires that he should be encouraged in the preparation of his proposed lectures on Italian Literature. Foscolo could scarcely live at peace with anybody, and, amidst his various altercations, he had to fight a duel. “We are,” Lady Dacre wrote to Murray (December 1823), “to have the whole of Foscolo’s duel to-morrow. He tells me that it is not about a ‘Fair lady:’ thank heaven!”

Foscolo was one of Mr. Murray’s inveterate correspondents—about lectures, about translations, about buildings, about debts, about loans, and about borrowings. On one occasion Mr. Murray received from him a letter of thirteen pages quarto, the first part of which related to a bill of £166 7s. 6d. for the printing of ‘Parga,’ which he asked Mr. Murray to pay. Then he went into a history of his debts, which were manifold. A few sentences of his letter may be worth quoting:—

Mr. Foscolo to John Murray.
South Bank, August 20th, 1822.

“During six years (for I landed in England the 10th September, 1816), I have constantly laboured under difficulties the most distressing; no one knows them so well as yourself, because no one came to my assistance with so warm a friendship or with cares so constant and delicate. My difficulties have become more perplexing since the Government both of the Ionian Islands and Italy have precluded even the possibility of my returning to the countries where a slender income would be sufficient, and where I would not be under the necessity of making a degrading use of my faculties. I was born a racehorse; and after near forty years of successful racing, I am now drawing the waggon—nay, to be the teacher of French to my copyists, and the critic of English to my translators!—to write sophistry about criticism, which I always considered a sort of literary quackery, and to put together paltry articles for works which I never read. Indeed, it
I have not undergone the doom of almost all individuals whose situation becomes suddenly opposed to their feelings and habits, and if I am not yet a lunatic, I must thank the mechanical strength of my nerves. My nerves, however, will not withstand the threatenings of shame which I have always contemplated with terror. Time and fortune have taught me to meet all other evils with fortitude; but I grow every day more and more a coward at the idea of the approach of a stigma on my character; and as now I must live and die in England, and get the greater part of my subsistence from my labour, I ought to reconcile, if not labour with literary reputation, at least labour and life with a spotless name.”

He then goes on to state that his debts amount to £600 or thereabouts, including a sum of £20 which he owed to Mr. Murray himself. Then he must have the money necessary for his subsistence, and he “finds he cannot live on less than £400 per annum.”

“My apartments,” he continues, “decently furnished, encompass me with an atmosphere of ease and respectability; and I enjoy the illusion of not having fallen into the lowest circumstances. I always declare that I will die like a gentleman, on a decent bed, surrounded by casts (as I cannot buy the marbles) of the Venuses, of the Apollos, and of the Graces, and the busts of great men; nay, even among flowers, and, if possible, with some graceful innocent girl playing an old pianoforte in an adjoining room. And thus dies the hero of my novel. Far from courting the sympathy of mankind, I would rather be forgotten by posterity than give it the gratification of ejaculating preposterous sighs because I died like Camoens and Tasso on the bed of an hospital. And since I must be buried in your country, I am happy in having insured for me the possession during the remains of my life of a cottage built after my plan, surrounded by flowering shrubs, almost within the turnpikes of the town, and yet as quiet as a country-house, and open to the free air. Whenever I can freely dispose of a hundred pounds, I will also build a small dwelling for my corpse, under a beautiful Oriental plane-
tree, which I mean to plant next November, and cultivate con amore. So far I am indeed an epicure; in all other things I am the most moderate of men.”

The upshot of the letter is, that he wishes Mr. Murray to let him have £1000, to be repaid in five years, he meanwhile writing articles for the Quarterly—one-half to be left with the publisher, and the remaining half to be added to his personal income. He concludes:—

“In seeking out a way of salvation, I think it incumbent on me to prevent the tyranny of necessity, that I might not be compelled by it to endanger my character and the interest of a friend whose kindness I have always experienced, and whose assistance I am once more obliged to solicit.”

Mr. Murray knew very well that if he were to hand over the £1000 to Foscolo there would be an end to his articles and an end to his lectures. He paid off some of his more pressing embarrassments—£30 to Messrs. Bentley for bills not taken up; £33 7s. to Mr. Kelly the printer; £14. to Mr. Antonini; and £50 to Foscolo’s builder—besides becoming security for £300 to his bankers (with whom Foscolo did business), in order to ensure him a respite for six months. On the other hand, Foscolo agreed to insure his life for £600 as a sort of guarantee. “Was ever” impecunious author “so trusted before”? At this crisis in his affairs many friends came about him and took an interest in the patriot; Mr. Hallam and Mr. Wilbraham offered him money, but he would not accept “gratuities” from them, though he had no objection to accepting their “loans.” Arrangements were then made for Foscolo to deliver a series of lectures on Italian Literature. Everything was settled, the day arrived, the room was crowded with a distinguished assembly, when at the last moment
Foscolo appeared without his MS., which he had forgotten.

The course of lectures, however, which had been designed to relieve him from the pressure of his debts, proved successful, and brought him in, it is said, as much as £1000; whereupon he immediately set to work to squander his earnings by giving a public breakfast to his patrons, for which purpose he thought it incumbent on him, amongst other expenses, to make a new approach and a gravelled carriage road to Digamma Cottage.

The lectures, when delivered, were greatly applauded. In September 1823, we find Sir Gore Ouseley writing to Mr. Murray, asking “when we may expect to see in print the lectures which delighted me so much from the mouth of Ugo Foscolo.”

Mr. W. S. Rose was another admirer of Foscolo. Towards the end of 1823 he was busily engaged in translating ‘Orlando Furioso.’ In a letter written by him to Mr Murray he said:—

Mr. Rose to John Murray.
Polygon, Southampton, Dec. 1823.
Dear Murray,

The neglect of the enclosures will be attended with no other inconvenience than the delay of the second volume of my ‘Furioso,’* which is a matter of little moment. My friends leave me in Boeotian darkness, and I know nothing of Foscolo’s duel. At any rate, he is now (in the strictest sense of the words) “alive and kicking,” judging him by a letter received from him this morning. I could have made the same report of myself a few days ago, but this weather freezes my liver, and when that mill does not

* Moore, in his diary, mentions a report that “Murray had offered W. Stewart Rose £2000 for a translation of ‘Ariosto.’” This was not the case. Murray published the work in 1823, and suffered considerable loss by the speculation.

grind, I am always more or less of a wretch. This wretchedness, however, which impedes my taking much active exercise, I may as well turn to some account, and will therefore beg you to tell the printer I should now like to proceed with the same expedition as in the first volume. I enclose the revised sheets, and will furnish the remaining MSS. in a few days.

Yours very truly,
W. S. Rose.

When sending in the last revise of the fifth volume of ‘Orlando Furioso’ he wrote to Mr. Murray:—

“I have now washed my hands of printer’s ink. A thousand thanks for the loan of sundry books conveyed to me by my doctor. Did you ever read, by-the-bye,’Klinius’s Journey to the World Underground,’ where doctors prescribe books instead of medicine, and where the author was cured of a long fit of sleeplessness by the perusal of Dr. Day’s Sermons? This is the way that some people go to church for the sake of having a sound sleep.”

Ugo Foscolo lived on credit to the end of his life, surrounded by all that was luxurious and beautiful. How he contrived it, no one knew, for his resources remained at the lowest ebb. Perhaps his friends helped him, for English Liberals of good means regarded as a martyr in the cause of freedom, one who would never bow the knee to Baal, and had dared the first Napoleon when his very word was law. But Foscolo’s friends without doubt became tired of his extravagance and his licentious habits, and fell away from him. Disease at last found him out; he died of dropsy at Turnham Green, near Hammersmith, in 1827, when only in the fiftieth year of his age, and was buried in Chiswick churchyard; but in June 1871 his body was exhumed and conveyed to Florence, where he was buried in Santa Croce, between the tomb of Alfieri and the monument of Dante.


Lady Caroline Lamb had continued to keep up her intimacy with Mr. Murray; but now that she was preparing a new work for the press, her correspondence increased. ‘While he was at Wimbledon during summer, she occasionally met literary friends at his house. She had already published ‘Glenarvon,’ the hero of which was supposed to represent Lord Byron, and was now ready with ‘Penruddock.’ “I am in great anxiety,” she wrote to Mr. Murray “about your not informing me what Gifford says. I think it might be a civil way of giving me my death-warrant—if ‘Penruddock’ does not.”

Whether the criticism of Mr. Gifford was too severe, or whether Mr. Murray was so much engaged in business and correspondence as to take no notice of Lady Caroline Lamb’s communication, does not appear; but she felt the neglect, and immediately followed it up with another letter as follows:—

Lady Caroline Lamb to John Murray.
December 8th, 1822.
My dear and most obstinately silent Sir,

From one until nine upon Tuesday I shall be at Melbourne House waiting for you; but if you wish to see the prettiest woman in England,—besides myself and William,—be at Melbourne House at quarter to six, at which hour we dine; and if you will come at half-past one, or two, or three, to say you will dine and to ask me to forgive your inexorable and inhuman conduct, pray do, for I arrive at twelve in that said home and leave it at nine the ensuing morning. What can have happened to you that you will not write?

The next work her ladyship prepared was a novel entitled ‘Ada Reis.’ On this subject her husband, William Lamb (afterwards Lord Melbourne), entered into a correspondence with Mr. Murray as follows:—

The Honble. William Lamb to John Murray.
December 20th, 1822.

The incongruity of, and objections to, the story of ‘Ada Reis’ can only be got over by power of writing, beauty of sentiment, striking and effective situation, &c. If Mr. Gifford thinks there is in the first two volumes anything of excellence sufficient to overbalance their manifest faults, I still hope that he will press upon Lady Caroline the absolute necessity of carefully reconsidering and revising the third volume, and particularly the conclusion of the novel. Mr. Gifford, I dare say, will agree with me that since the time of Lucian all the representations of the infernal regions, which have been attempted by satirical writers,, such as ‘Fielding’s Journey from this World to the Next,’ have been feeble and flat. The sketch in ‘Ada Reis’ is commonplace in its observations and altogether insufficient, and it would not do now to come with a decisive failure in an attempt of considerable boldness. I think, if it were thought that anything could be done with the novel, and that the faults of its design and structure can be got over, that I could put her in the way of writing up this part a little, and giving it something of strength, spirit, and novelty, and of making it at once more moral and more interesting. I wish you would communicate these my hasty suggestions to Mr. Gifford, and he will see the propriety of pressing Lady Caroline to take a little more time to this part of the novel. She will be guided by his authority, and her fault at present is to be too hasty and too impatient of the trouble of correcting and recasting what is faulty.

Ada Reis’ was published in March 1823, and shortly afterwards Lady Caroline wrote to Mr. Murray:—

Lady Caroline Lamb to John Murray.
Brocket Hall.

Lady Morgan says, after the severe castigation you gave her once, you must not refuse the first favour she has asked you, but send her ‘Ada Reis’ immediately. Now I wish you could come and see this place in its full beauty; but I conclude you will not. Pray, did William send the draft
Foscolo of ten guineas? How is Gifford? Pray send me some news and some books. Mrs. Opie has sent me a very complimentary letter about ‘Ada Reis.’”

May 1823.

“I am really too much delighted with my books, and we all laughed rather more than was seemly at nobody’s works. Oh! if you would come and see Brocket in its beauty, but I fear you cannot. If there is yet time, do tell Captain Lyon that I, and others far better than I am, are enchanted with his book.* Do pray write one line to me and tell me when you are to come, how my prettiest song out of ‘Graham Hamilton’ [another novel of her ladyship’s] is published. Is it not rather odd?—as if written on her death-bed by Mrs. Jordan. The words begin—
‘If thou couldst know.’
It is published by
Addison, the music by T. Close.”

The politics of the Quarterly Review did not in the least interfere with Mr. Murray’s publishing for the leading Whigs as well as for the Tories. He had published for Lord Holland and William and George Lamb, and now he was about to publish for Lord John Russell, who, in April 1823, wrote, intimating his intention of preparing a general sketch of the history of Europe, with its commerce, letters, and manners. He proposed to commence the history from the taking of Constantinople and to continue it down to the breaking out of the French Revolution. It would fill six or seven quarto volumes about the size of Gibbon’sDecline and Fall.’ He proposed that he should receive from the publisher a fourth of the price of every copy sold. The work seems to have been begun, because the proofs were ordered to be sent to Woburn, and the first volume of ‘The Affairs of Europe’ was completed by the end of 1824.

* ‘Private Journal during the recent Voyage of Discovery under Captain Parry, 1824.’

Lord John Russell to John Murray.
September 21st, 1824.

“At the same time it is fair to say that the plan has been so completely altered since it was first mentioned that Mr. Murray must consider himself entirely free to renounce the engagement, which, if he chooses, he may do without the smallest hesitation. If not, he is to consider that this is one of two volumes which will bring the history of Europe from the Peace of Utrecht to the Peace of 1763. After the first volume either party to be at liberty to change the terms, and no stipulation whatever to be made for any other part of the ‘History of Europe.’”

The first volume was published without the author’s name on the title-page, and a few years later another volume was published, but it remained an unfinished work. Lord John was an ambitious and restless author; without steady perseverance in any branch of literature; he went from poems to tragedies, from tragedies to memoirs, then to history, tales, translations of part of the ‘Odyssey,’ essays (by the Gentleman who left his Lodgings), and then to memoirs and histories again. Mr. Croker said of his ‘Don Carlos’: “It is not easy to find any poetry, or even oratory, of the present day delivered with such cold and heavy diction, such distorted tropes and disjointed limbs of similes worn to the bones long ago.”

Another work that excited greater interest than Lord John Russell’s anonymous history was Mr. James Morier’sHajji Baba.’ Mr. Morier had in his youth travelled through the East, especially in Persia, where he held a post under Sir Gore Ouseley, then English Ambassador. On his return to England, he published accounts of his travels; but his ‘Hajji Baba’ was more read than any other of his works. Sir Walter Scott was especially pleased with it, and remarked that ‘Hajji Baba’ might be termed
the Oriental ‘
Gil Blas.’ Mr. Morier afterwards published ‘The Adventures of Hajji Baba in England,’ as well as other works of an Eastern character. The following letter, written by the Persian Envoy in England, Mirza Abul Hassan, shows the impression created by English society on a foreigner in April 1824:—

Letter from the Persian Envoy, Mirza Abul Hassan, to the London Gentleman without, who lately wrote letter to him and ask very much to give answer.
April 3rd, 1824.
Sir, My Lord,

When you write to me some time ago to give my thought of what I see good and bad this country, that time I not speak English very well. Now I read, I write much little better. Now I give to you my think. In this country bad not too much, everything very good. But suppose I not tell something little bad, then you say I tell all flattery—therefore I tell most bad thing. I not like such crowd in evening party every night. In cold weather not very good, now hot weather, much too bad. I very much astonish every day now much hot than before, evening parties much crowd than before. Pretty beautiful ladies come sweat, that not very good. I always afraid some old lady in crowd come dead, that not very good, and spoil my happiness. I think old ladies after 85 years not come to evening party, that much better. Why for take so much trouble? Some other thing rather bad. Very beautiful young lady she got ugly fellow for husband, that not very good, very shocking. I ask Sr Gore [Sir Gore Ouseley] why for this. He says me—“perhaps he very good man, not handsome; no matter, perhaps he got too much money, perhaps got title.” I say I not like that, all very shocking. This all bad. I know now I say good. English people all very good people. All very happy. Do what they like, say what like, write in newspaper what like. I love English people very much, they very civil to me. I tell my King English love Persian very much. English King best man in world, he love his people very good much; he speak very
kind to me, I love him very much. Queen very best woman I ever saw. Prince of Wales such a fine elegant beautiful man. I not understand English enough proper to praise him, he too great for my language. I respect him same as my own King. I love him much better, his manner all same as talisman and charm. All the Princes very fine men, very handsome men, very sweet words, very affable. I like all too much. I think the ladies and gentlemen this country most high rank, high honour, very rich, except two or three most good, very kind to inferior peoples. This very good. I go to see Chelsea. All old men sit on grass in shade of fine tree, fine river run by, beautiful place, plenty to eat, drink, good coat, everything very good. Sir Gore he tell me King Charles and King Jame. I say Sir Gore, They not Musselman, but I think God love them very much. I think God he love the King very well for keeping up that charity. Then I see one small regiment of children go to dinner, one small boy he say thanks to God for eat, for drink, for clothes, other little boys they all answer Amen. Then I cry a little, my heart too much pleased. This all very good for two things—one thing, God very much please; two things, soldiers fight much better, because see their good King take care of old wounded fathers and little children. Then I go to Greenwich, that too good place, such a fine sight make me a little sick for joy. All old men so happy, eat dinner, so well, fine house, fine beds—all very good. This very good country. English ladies very handsome, very beautiful. I travel great deal. I go Arabia, I go Calcutta, Hyderabad, Poonah, Bombay, Georgia, Armenia, Constantinople, Malta, Gibraltar. I see best Georgia, Circassian, Turkish, Greek ladies, but nothing not so beautiful as English ladies, all very clever, speak French, speak English, speak Italian, play music very well, sing very good. Very glad for me if Persian ladies like them. But English ladies speak such sweet words. I think tell a little story—that not very good. One thing more I see but I not understand that thing good or bad. Last Thursday I see some fine horses, fine carriages, thousand people go to look that carriages. I ask why for? They say me, that gentleman on boxes they drive their own carriages. I say why for take so much trouble? They say me he drive very well; that very good thing. It rain very hard, some lord some gentleman he get very wet. I
say why he not go inside? They tell me good coachman not mind get wet every day, will be much ashamed if go inside; that I not understand.

Sir, my Lord, good-night,
Abul Hassan.

Persia was at this time attracting a considerable amount of attention, and Sir John Malcolm, who had recently returned from India, resolved to supplement his ‘History of Persia,’ first published in 1815, by an account of the manners and customs of the natives, and his own experiences among them. In these ‘Sketches of Persia,’ remarks a critic, “the people are presented with all the interest but without the caricature of our amusing friend ‘Hajji Baba.’”

Sir John Malcolm to John Murray.
June 12th, 1824.
My dear Sir,

I saw Mr. Gifford yesterday, and from what passed I am determined to publish what will make one, or rather two, small volumes of from 250 to 300 pages, of the size of Walter Scott’sTales.’ . . . My present idea is to give the work the general name of ‘Oriental Sketches,’ to designate in a short advertisement its character, to characterise the first part as Persia, and to promise others on India. I could proceed with this series, provided the work succeeds. At my leisure I could, in the course of next year, give two or three volumes on India. The materials are all so arranged and prepared that little labour is required. . . . I will sell an edition, editions, or copyright. The terms of the bargain, if you are not confident, may be made progressive with success. I will not go halves, being confident myself; and I will, if I do not sell, publish myself. Let me know, under all views, what you think of the matter, and what you will do.

Yours faithfully,
J. Malcolm.

Mr. Murray continued his correspondence with Mrs. Graham, who was now residing at the Court of Brazil, and on intimate terms with the family of the Emperor. In fact, she taught the young princesses English, French, and other languages, and superintended their education. From Rio de Janeiro she wrote to Mr. Murray, informing him that she had a journal ready for publication on her return to England, illustrated with drawings, on the subject of her travels in Brazil. The work was duly brought out under the title of ‘Residence in Chili’ in 1822, and ‘Voyage to Brazil’ in 1823.

While at Rio de Janeiro, Mrs. Graham became intimate with that naval hero, Lord Cochrane.

Mrs. Graham to John Murray.

“The fall of Bahia, to Lord Cochrane, has done something for the immediate prosperity and tranquillity of the country, and we are anxiously looking for his return. He is a most extraordinary man, as gentle as he is determined, as kind-hearted as he is courageous, and as generous as either. I grudge him to these foreign services, and hope before I die to see him where he should be.”

Mrs. Graham’s desires were fulfilled, for, in 1831, Lord Cochrane was restored to his honours in the English peerage as Earl of Dundonald.

Mr. Murray also published about the same time (1823) ‘Captain Cochrane’s Pedestrian Journey through Russia and Siberian Tartary.’ It was edited and corrected by Mr. Barrow; “the remarks respecting the abuses and remedies in Kamchatka having been curtailed, and other parts taken out.” The work soon went to a second edition, because of its adventures and occasional eccentricities.

Mr. Murray invariably consulted Mr. Barrow as to any
works on voyages or travels he was required to publish, and found him a faithful adviser. Sometimes he was, like the publisher himself, disappointed at the sale of a book, for books, like plays, are a lottery.

Mr. J. Barrow to John Murray.
March 28th, 1823.

“I need not tell you that caprice rather than merit governs the sale of a work. If instances are wanting, I might quote those of Belzoni and Hamilton.* The first absolute trumpery when put in competition with the second; yet the former, I believe, sold about ten times the number of the latter.”

In 1822 there appeared a work which was to some extent the forerunner of those handbooks which for over sixty years have been so intimately associated with Mr. Murray’s name. The Continent of Europe was now thrown open, and the number of Englishmen rapidly increased who thought it necessary to make the Grand Tour. Lord Byron’sChilde Harold’ had given an immense impetus to foreign travel, and though it was in itself a guide-book, with the historical illustrations furnished by Mr. Hobhouse, yet a special manual, giving, in compendious form, all information relative to routes, methods of travel, passports, hotels, and money, was rendered more and more necessary from year to year.

Mrs. Marianna Starke was the first to devote her attention to a ‘Guide for Travellers on the Continent.’ She first brought out, in 1820, her ‘Travels on the Continent,’ which at Mr. Murray’s suggestion she put into the form of a Guide, and the book met with so much success that she

* This reference probably refers to Walter Hamilton’sDescription of Hindostan and adjacent Countries,’ published a few years before.

proceeded with its improvement. In June 1822, we find her in communication with
Mr. Murray as to its development and alteration, and the addition of a map of Europe. The first issue had described France by way of Dijon, the Jura Mountains, the Simplon, Chamouni; and in her new edition she added Florence, Modena, the Apennines, Rome, Naples, Herculaneum, Pompeii and Sorrento.

About this time Mr. Murray also published Crofton Croker’s ‘Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland,’ for the first series of which he gave the author £80, but the work proved so popular that he gave him £300 for the second series. Another little book published about this time has a curious history, and illustrates the lottery of book publishing. Mrs. Markham’sHistory of England’ was first published by Constable, but it fell stillborn from the press. Mr. Murray, discerning the merit of the work in 1824, bought the remainder of 333 copies from Constable, and had it revised, corrected, and enlarged, and brought out in an entirely new form. He placed it in his list of school books, and pushed it among the teachers throughout the country, until at length it obtained a very large and regular circulation. The book has subsequently undergone frequent revision, and down to the present date it continues to be a great favourite, especially in ladies’ schools.

Allan Cunningham, who had already obtained some eminence as a poet and dramatist, made the acquaintance of Mr. Murray through Mr. Chantrey, the sculptor, of whose establishment he was the chief clerk and overseer. The first letter we find of a long and intimate correspondence between Allan Cunningham and Mr. Murray is dated January 1823, in which he offers “a medal head of Sir Walter Scott by a young Scottish lad of the name of
Bain.” He proceeds to say that he was “afraid
Lord Byron felt displeased with me—an ordinary person—for presenting my little book of verse to one so distinguished by rank and genius as himself, for he has taken no notice of it.”

Allan Cunningham was about this time meditating a drama or a romance, as will be seen from the following letter to Mr. Murray on the subject, but it does not appear that the proposal was accepted:—

Mr. Allan Cunningham to John Murray.
Eccleston Street, Pimlico, April 26th, 1823.
Dear Sir,

I have to thank you for your very welcome present of our pleasant historian of New York; I have seldom found so much amusement in a book of that kind, and certainly never met with illustrations* which embodied so truly the peculiar and happy spirit of the author.

I am afraid you will think I take an ungenerous advantage of your kindness in adding to my thanks something about myself. I have long felt like Burns the wish to write “a Book or sing a song at least,” and this I have accomplished with more success than I had any right to expect; but here I have no wish to stop. I am anxious to put forth all my strength, my knowledge of nature, and character, and all my sympathy with the purer feelings and superstitious beliefs of my native land. I wish to put them forth in a Poem or a Prose Romance. Something of this kind it has long been my wish to do, and Sir Walter Scott was so good as urge me to imagine a Romantic Drama, and fill it with lyrics; and he went farther—he pointed out a subject. It is true that in poetry and also in prose there are giants in the land, and by no person could such a circumstance be more felt than by the illustrious friend who gave me this counsel. To a mind which thinks and sees and feels for itself there is enough of originality in nature, and, possest as my heart is with an impressive

* They were by Charles Leslie, R.A.

subject, I would like to evoke the demon by poetry or by prose.

I could certainly find a way to the world for such a work as I shall write, and also obtain a moderate recompense; but need I tell you the reasons which induce me to think of you? The external grace which you cast over all your productions, the certainty of their winning public favour if they deserve it, and the liberality which you show to all those, and they are many, who are so fortunate as walk in the highway to fame, of which the English name is Albemarle Street.

I know that to many, a Book written by one in humble life suggests immediate images of rudeness and vulgarity. It is true I have not been so well educated as some of the foremost favourites of literature; but there are two kinds of knowledge and two kinds of taste—of the latter there is the natural and the acquired—the first is the more spirited monitor and the latter the dullest. Of education there is the kind infused by the stripes or the persuasion of a teacher, and that which is obtained by observing men, and musing on nature and seeking for knowledge among the works of the wise and the gifted which are open to all. In such a school has my mind been disciplined, and I can see nothing to interpose between a scholar of this sort and the greatest purity of thought and delicacy of expression. I have read much and observed much and stored my mind with the characters and feelings and actions and superstitious beliefs of the poetic people of a region into which the muse has but partially penetrated.

If you put faith in me, may I ask what encouragement you would offer for a Dramatic Romance in blank verse of three hundred octavo pages, or a Prose Romance in three volumes.

I remain, Dear Sir,
Your very faithful Servant,
Allan Cunningham.

The year 1824, as has been shown in a previous chapter, marked a crisis in the history of the Quarterly Review, and it becomes necessary to record the events to which the resignation of Mr. Gifford led.