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Memoir of John Murray
Chap. XXVII.

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 have in the last chapter forestalled the appointment of Lockhart as Editor of the Quarterly Review. Mr. Coleridge had conscientiously set himself to carry out the task he had assumed as Mr. Gifford’s successor; he wrote for each number of the Quarterly, and spared no pains in the fulfilment of the duties of his post. Soon after his appointment, however, he became so absorbed in his professional engagements, that after the issue of four numbers, he was obliged to resign his position. His engagements at the Bar had nearly doubled during the year that he remained Editor,* and he merely held the Editorship until a competent successor could be appointed.

We have already described in detail the negotiations which led to the acceptance of the post by Mr. Lockhart. In addition to various Reviews and Essays, he had already published one or two books anonymously,† but as an author he was chiefly known by his admirable metrical translation of ‘The Ancient Spanish Ballads, Historical and Romantic,’ published in 1823, which proved him to be a poet of fine genius. Before he accepted the Editorship

* He eventually became the Right Hon. John Taylor Coleridge, one of the Judges of the Court of King’s Bench.

† 1. Peter’s ‘Letters to his Kinsfolk,’ 1819; 2. ‘Valerius, a Roman Story,’ 1821; 3. ‘Adam Blair, a Novel,’ 1822.

he had many letters from the old contributors, warning him, and cautioning him, as to the performance of his duties. Some even went so far as to pronounce him unequal to the task. These expressions reached the ears of
Sir Walter Scott, and drew from him the following remarkable letter:—

Sir Walter Scott to John Murray.
Abbotsford. November 17th, 1825.
My dear Sir,

I was much surprised to-day to learn from Lockhart by letter that some scruples were in circulation among some of the respectable among the supporters of the Quarterly Review concerning his capacity to undertake that highly responsible task. In most cases I might not be considered as a disinterested witness on behalf of so near a connection, but in the present instance I have some claim to call myself so. The plan (I need not remind you) of calling Lockhart to this distinguished situation, far from being favoured by me, or in any respect advanced or furthered by such interest as I might have urged, was not communicated to me until it was formed; and as it involved the removal of my daughter and of her husband, who has always loved and honoured me as a son, from their native country and from my vicinity, my private wish and that of all the members of my family was that such a change should not take place. But the advantages proposed were so considerable, that it removed all title on my part to state my own strong desire that he should remain in Scotland. Now I do assure you that if in these circumstances I had seen anything in Lockhart’s habits, cast of mind, or mode of thinking or composition which made him unfit for the duty he had to undertake, I should have been the last man in the world to permit, without the strongest expostulation not with him alone but with you, his exchanging an easy and increasing income in his own country and amongst his own friends for a larger income perhaps, but a highly responsible situation in London. I considered this matter very attentively, and recalled to my recollection all I had known of Mr. Lockhart both before and since his connection with my family. I have no hesitation in saying that when he was paying his addresses in my family I
fairly stated to him that however I might be pleased with his general talents and accomplishments, with his family, which is highly respectable, and his views in life, which I thought satisfactory, I did decidedly object to the use he and others had made of their wit and satirical talent in
Blackwood’s Magazine, which, though a work of considerable power, I thought too personal to be in good taste or to be quite respectable. Mr. Lockhart then pledged his word to me that he would withdraw from this species of warfare, and I have every reason to believe that he has kept his word with me. In particular I know that he had not the least concern with the Beacon newspaper, though strongly urged by his young friends at the Bar, and I also know that while he has sometimes contributed an essay to Blackwood on general literature, or politics, which can be referred to if necessary, he has no connection whatever with the satirical part of the work or with its general management, nor was he at any time the Editor of the publication.

It seems extremely hard (though not perhaps to be wondered at) that the follies of three- or four-and-twenty should be remembered against a man of thirty, who has abstained during the interval from giving the least cause of offence. There are few men of any rank in letters who have not at some time or other been guilty of some abuse of their satirical powers, and very few who have not seen reason to wish that they had restrained their vein of pleasantry. Thinking over Lockhart’s offences with my own, and other men’s whom either politics or literary controversy has led into such effusions, I cannot help thinking that five years’ proscription ought to obtain a full immunity on their account. There were none of them which could be ascribed to any worse motive than a wicked wit, and many of the individuals against whom they were directed were worthy of more severe chastisement. The blame was in meddling with such men at all. Lockhart is reckoned an excellent scholar, and Oxford has said so. He is born a gentleman, has always kept the best society, and his personal character is without a shadow of blame. In the most unfortunate affair of his life he did all that man could do, and the unhappy tragedy was the result of the poor sufferer’s after-thought to get out of a scrape. Of his general talents I will not presume to speak, but they are
generally allowed to be of the first order. This, however, I will say, that I have known the most able men of my time, and I never met any one who had such ready command of his own mind, or possessed in a greater degree the power of making his talents available upon the shortest notice, and upon any subject. He is also remarkably docile and willing to receive advice or admonition from the old and experienced. He is a fond husband and almost a doating father, seeks no amusement out of his own family, and is not only addicted to no bad habits, but averse to spending time in society or the dissipations connected with it. Speaking upon my honour as a gentleman and my credit as a man of letters, I do not know a person so well qualified for the very difficult and responsible task he has undertaken, and I think the distinct testimony of one who must know the individual well ought to bear weight against all vague rumours, whether arising from idle squibs he may have been guilty of when he came from College—and I know none of these which indicate a bad heart in the jester—or, as is much more likely, from those which have been rashly and falsely ascribed to him.

Had any shadow of this want of confidence been expressed in the beginning of the business I for one would have advised Lockhart to have nothing to do with a concern for which his capacity was called in question. But now what can be done? A liberal offer, handsomely made, has been accepted with the same confidence with which it was offered. Lockhart has resigned his office in Edinburgh, given up his business, taken a house in London, and has let, or is on the eve of letting, his house here. The thing is so public, that about thirty of the most respectable gentlemen in Edinburgh have proposed to me that a dinner should be given in his honour. The ground is cut away behind him for a retreat, nor can such a thing be proposed as matters now stand.

Upon what grounds or by whom Lockhart was first recommended to you I have no right or wish to inquire, having no access whatsoever to the negotiation, the result of which must be in every wise painful enough to me. But as their advice must in addition to your own judgment have had great weight with you, I conceive they will join with me in the expectation that the other respectable friends of this important work will not form any decision to
Lockhart’s prejudice till they shall see how the business is conducted. By a different conduct they may do harm to the Editor, Publisher, and the work itself, as far as the withdrawing of their countenance must necessarily be prejudicial to its currency. But if it shall prove that their suspicions prove unfounded, I am sure it will give pain to them to have listened to them for a moment.

It has been my lot twice before now to stand forward to the best of my power as the assistant of two individuals against whom a party run was made. The one case was that of Wilson, to whom a thousand idle pranks were imputed of a character very different and far more eccentric than anything that ever attached to Lockhart. We carried him through upon the fair principle that in the case of good morals and perfect talents for a situation, where vice or crimes are not alleged, the follies of youth should not obstruct the fair prospects of advanced manhood. God help us all if some such modification of censure is not extended to us, since most men have sown wild oats enough! Wilson was made a professor, as you know, has one of the fullest classes in the University, lectures most eloquently, and is much beloved by his pupils. The other was the case of John Williams, now Rector of our new Academy here, who was opposed most violently upon what on examination proved to be exaggerated rumours of old Winchester stories. He got the situation chiefly, I think, by my own standing firm and keeping others together. And the gentlemen who opposed him most violently have repeatedly told me that I did the utmost service to the Academy by bringing him in, for never was a man in such a situation so eminently qualified for the task of education.

I only mention these things to show that it is not in my son-in-law’s affairs alone that I would endeavour to remove that sort of prejudice which envy and party zeal are always ready to throw in the way of rising talent. Those who are interested in the matter may be well assured that with whatever prejudice they may receive Lockhart at first, all who have candour enough to wait till he can afford them the means of judging will be of opinion that they have got a person possibly as well situated for the duties of such an office as any man that England could afford them.

I would rather have written a letter of this kind concern-
ing any other person than one connected with myself, but it is every word true, were there neither son nor daughter in the case; but as such I leave it at your discretion to show it, not generally, but to such friends and patrons of the
Review as in your opinion have a title to know the contents.

Believe me, dear Sir,
Your most obedient Servant,
Walter Scott.

Mr. Lockhart himself addressed the two following letters to Mr. Murray:—

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
Chiefswood, November 19th, 1825.
My dear Sir,

I am deeply indebted to Disraeli for the trouble he has taken to come hither again at a time when he has so many matters of real importance to attend to in London. The sort of stuff that certain grave gentlemen have been mincing at, was of course thoroughly foreseen by Sir W. Scott and by myself from the beginning of the business. Such prejudices I cannot hope to overcome, except by doing well what has been entrusted to me, and after all I should like to know what man could have been put at the head of the Quarterly Review at my time of life without having the Doctors uttering doctorisms on the occasion. If you but knew it, you yourself personally could in one moment overcome and silence for ever the whole of these people. As for me, nobody has more sincere respect for them in their own different walks of excellence than myself; and if there be one thing that I may promise for myself, it is, that age, experience, and eminence, shall never find fair reason to accuse me of treating them with presumption. I am much more afraid of falling into the opposite error. I have written at some length on these matters to Mr. Croker, Mr. Ellis, and Mr. Rose—and to no one else; nor will I again put pen to paper, unless some one, having a right to put a distinct question to me, does put it.

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
Sunday, Chiefswood, Nov. 27th, 1825.
My dear Murray,

I have read the letter I received yesterday evening with the greatest interest, and closed it with the sincerest pleasure. I think we now begin to understand each other, and if we do that I am sure I have no sort of apprehension as to the result of the whole business. But in writing one must come to the point, therefore I proceed at once to your topics in their order, and rely on it I shall speak as openly on every one of them as I would to my brother.

Mr. Croker’s behaviour has indeed distressed me, for I had always considered him as one of those bad enemies who make excellent friends. I had not the least idea that he had ever ceased to regard you personally with friendship, even affection, until B. D. told me about his trafficking with Knight; for as to the little hints you gave me when in town, I set all that down to his aversion for the notion of your setting up a paper, and thereby dethroning him from his invisible predominance over the Tory daily press, and of course attached little importance to it. I am now satisfied, more particularly after hearing how he behaved himself in the interview with you, that there is some deeper feeling in his mind. The correspondence that has been passing between him and me may have been somewhat imprudently managed on my part. I may have committed myself to a certain extent in it in more ways than one. It is needless to regret what cannot be undone; at all events, I perceive that it is now over with us for the present. I do not, however, believe but that he will continue to do what he has been used to do for the Review; indeed, unless he makes the newspaper business his excuse, he stands completely pledged to me to adhere to that.

But with reverence be it spoken, even this does not seem to me a matter of very great moment. On the contrary, I believe that his papers in the Review have (with a few exceptions) done the work a great deal more harm than good. I cannot express what I feel; but there was always the bitterness of Gifford without his dignity, and the bigotry of Southey without his bonne-foi . His scourging of such poor deer as Lady Morgan was unworthy of a work of that rank. If we can get the same information elsewhere, no fear that we need equally regret the secretary’s
quill. As it is, we must be contented to watch the course of things and recollect the Roman’s maxim, “quæ casus obtulerint ad sapientiam vertenda.”

I am vexed not a little at Mr. Barrow’s imprudence in mentioning my name to Croker and to Rose as in connection with the paper; and for this reason that I was most anxious to have produced at least one number of the Review ere that matter should have been at all suspected. As it is, I hope you will still find means to make Barrow, Rose, and Croker (at all events the two last) completely understand that you had, indeed, wished me to edit the paper, but that I had declined that, and that then you had offered me the Review.

No matter what you say as to the firm belief I have expressed that the paper will answer, and the resolutions I have made to assist you by writing political articles in it. It is of the highest importance that in our anxiety about a new affair one should not lose sight of the old and established one, and I can believe that if the real state of the case were known at the outset of my career in London, a considerable feeling detrimental to the Quarterly might be excited. We have enough of adverse feelings to meet, without unnecessarily swelling their number and aggravating their quality.

I beg you to have a serious conversation with Mr. Barrow on this head, and in the course of it take care to make him thoroughly understand that the prejudices or doubts he gave utterance to in regard to me were heard of by me without surprise, and excited no sort of angry feeling whatever. He could know nothing of me but from flying rumours, for the nature of which he could in no shape be answerable. As for poor Rose’s well-meant hints about my “identifying myself perhaps in the mind of society with the scavengers of the press,” “the folly of your risking your name on a paper” &c. &c., of course we shall equally appreciate all this. Rose is a timid dandy, and a bit of a Whig to boot. I shall make some explanation to him when I next have occasion to write to him, but that sort of thing would come surely with a better grace from you than from me. I have not a doubt that he will be a daily scribbler in your paper ere it is a week old.

To all these people—Croker as well as the rest—John Murray is of much more importance than they ever can be
to him if he will only believe what I know, viz. that his own name in society stands miles above any of theirs. Croker cannot form the nucleus of a literary association which you have any reason to dread. He is hated by the higher Tories quite as sincerely as by the Whigs: besides, he has not now-a-days courage to strike an effective blow; he will not come forward.

I come to pleasanter matters. Nothing, indeed, can be more handsome, more generous than Mr. Coleridge’s whole behaviour. I beg of you to express to him the sense I have of the civility with which he has been pleased to remember and allude to me, and assure him that I am most grateful for the assistance he offers, and accept of it to any extent he chooses. I shall be most happy to have his paper on the West Indies as soon as he finds it convenient to do it, and shall wait upon him as soon as I get to London, in order that I may have the benefit of his advice and instruction as to the affairs of the Review in general. I hope Mr. Southey will execute the proposed article on the Law Society, a subject which I should think is eminently suited for him, and trust that you will put him in possession of the materials he requires forthwith if you have not already done so.

The subject of Medical Jurisprudence is one which I think ought to be taken up in the Quarterly Review. Two very good English books have recently been published on this subject, but neither of them equal to the great French one they pillage. The topic is interesting, or ought to be so, to every man who is liable to act as a grand juryman, and it is in that view, and with relation to that class, that I should wish to see a luminous article written by some first-rate hand. Could Mr. Laurence* do this? at all events, could you consult with him in regard to it? What an amusing essay Southey could write if he had those books before him! but then he would want the scientific knowledge.

I have had a great deal of conversation with Scott about Byron. He desires me to tell you, in the first place, that it is his decided opinion you ought forthwith to put forth a complete edition of all his works,Don Juan’ and everything. It was right in you not to encourage even him in the writing of such things when he might be writing others.

* The eminent surgeon.

But he is now dead, and he is a great English classic; and you ought to give an edition of him with exactly the same feeling as you might one of
Massinger, or, indeed, Shakespeare. ‘Othello’ has more filth, and the ‘Merry Wives’ as much blasphemy as all the works of Byron can furnish. A proper preface would set all this in its true light, and you would bring a most valuable property into the market, which no one else can do. Further, Sir W. is of opinion that an article on the Life and Writings of Byron ought to appear immediately in the Quarterly Review. If it do not, undoubtedly such an one will be attempted ere long in the Edinburgh, and why should we lose the credit of daring to speak out both the ill and the good which in justice and manliness ought to be spoken in regard to the most remarkable man and poet of our time? I, for my part, think that so far from displeasing any sensible reader of the Quarterly, no fair estimate could be given of his history and his works without conveying a most valuable moral lesson, and therefore gratifying them. Of course we must not think of people whose delusion equals that of Wordsworth, when he calls Voltaire “a dull scoffer of a heartless race:” depend on it there are not many people who are incapable of drawing the line between the genius of Byron and its perversion; and really, if we are to shrink from such subjects, with what face are we to claim attention as representing the literature of England in its course? I persuade myself that Mr. Gifford would take the same view of the matter. Would to God he had strength and spirits to execute what I fear I can only dream of!

I wrote to Disraeli yesterday about my motions southwards. I much regret that it is not possible for me to be in town now before the 10th or 11th; by that last day I can promise that I shall be there. Mrs. Lockhart is most sensible, as well as I, to the kindness with which you and Mrs. Murray have offered us shelter in Whitehall Place. We have connections, however, who would take it amiss did we place ourselves under any private roof but theirs. She has an old godmother in Piccadilly, &c. &c. In short, I believe we must decline your proffered kindness; though, if circumstances should appear to admit of our coming to you, be assured we shall avail ourselves of your hospitalities without hesitation. At all events, I shall be in town and at your service then, and if other arrangements admit of
your starting the paper earlier in the year, even at the beginning of it, I certainly shall hold myself prepared to bear my part. I daresay
Disraeli has engaged a house ere this reaches you. I hope so, for I have ordered various packages to be sent from Edinburgh to your care, and should be sorry to have them lumbering your warehouses; and, besides, I should like, of course, to be actually settled as soon as possible, for I have formed habits which render it difficult for me to do any serious work out of my own snuggery. I depend on you, then, to set matters right, if possible, with Rose. If you cannot throw dust in his eyes, act decidedly. Tell him the whole story, and any story will be safe with him, for he is a gentleman. But I trust this confidence is unnecessary. I do not choose to write to him on the subject at any length, as I cannot tell to what extent Barrow’s imprudence may have gone, or even had the means of going.

My wife joins me in best compliments and thanks to Mrs. Murray, and I assure you I sign myself with the most perfect sincerity,

Yours, and yours faithfully,
J. G. Lockhart.

Sir W. Scott also wrote again on the subject of his previous letter:—

Sir Walter Scott to Mr. Murray.
My Dear Sir,

I have your letter this morning. Besides yourself, I only write to Heber, on whose friendship, long-tried, and prudence, I could perfectly rely; mentioning the rumours in question, and my reasons for being confident that they were perfectly groundless, so far as Lockhart’s temper and disposition were implicated. In fact, I think that in sacrificing a competent revenue, leaving his native country, and quitting at once his views in life and his natural connections, he gives the deepest pledge he can do that no light or trivial temptation could induce him to risk the safety of the concern in which he may now be said to have embarked his all.

If I had not felt absolutely confident that Lockhart had the same deep and serious views in the matter which I
have expressed, I would not, for half my fortune, have given my opinion in favour of his removal. I have written also to
Southey, not with reference to this subject in particular, but because I thought he might with justice suppose that I knew all about this change while at his house in September, and that I ought to have spoken to him about it as an old friend. I think this was incumbent on me at any rate, and took the opportunity to rectify any opinion which he might have entertained of Lockhart from some passages in Blackwood’s which could not but be disagreeable to himself and Wordsworth, and which I was instructed positively to deny. I thought this species of explanation due to Southey, both as my own much respected friend, and as an old contributor to the Review, indeed a most valued supporter of it. I never thought Mr. Barrow had the least personal ill-will against Lockhart, but it was easy for him to be led into forming an erroneous opinion of his character by hearing old stories imperfectly mixed up with new matter to which he had no access. Some of his earlier flights were certainly not prudent, but I am sure there was none of them different in character from the frolics which young men of talent so often indulge in. I am sure he has now added both prudence and experience to his considerable talents, and hope he will do well for himself and for you.

Believe me, yours very truly,
Walter Scott.

What Southey thought of the change of editorship may be inferred from his letter to John Rickman (Dec. 4th, 1825), in which he wrote:—

“I do not know for what reason Murray has thought proper to change his editor. . . . The new editor (Lockhart), Scott’s son-in-law, is a person whom I know only by sight. . . . I lose by the change an editor whom I know, and on whom I can rely; but I am released from any motive for continuing to work at that occupation longer than my own convenience may render necessary.”*

* ‘Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey.’ By the Rev. J. W. Walter, iii. 514.


A few months later, Southey changed his opinion with regard to the editorship; nor did his own convenience render it necessary for him to discontinue the occupation of a Quarterly Reviewer so long as he was capable of writing. He remained a regular contributor down to 1839. “That the Quarterly Review” he wrote in 1826, “is out of John Coleridge’s hands I am (with all my regard for him) heartily glad; for he has got a twist upon the cursed Catholic question;—but in other respects, the change of editors is not for the better.”*

Mr. Coleridge was delighted to give up his charge. When finishing his last number (65), he wrote:—

Mr. J. T. Coleridge to John Murray.
Dec. 21st, 1825.

I have now put the finishing hand to my last number, and return you with this, the little key of your paper box, for Mr. Lockhart’s use. You can hardly believe how light-hearted I feel, or how fortunate I consider myself in being relieved at this moment from a burthen which would have impeded me most seriously in the professional course which seems, and is, I trust, opening upon me. With the best possible wishes for the welfare of the Review and of its proprietor, I remain, my dear Sir,

Yours faithfully,
J. T. Coleridge.

The last number of the Quarterly edited by Coleridge was one of his best, and contained articles by two new contributors—Dr. Gooch and Blanco White. That by Dr. Gooch,† on Plague, was one of the most useful essays

* ‘Selections from the Letters of Robert Southey,’ iv. 67.

† Dr. Gooch was a native of Yarmouth; he first practised in Croydon, and subsequently in London. He was a man of great eminence and distinction. Mr. Murray afterwards published for him his work on ‘Diseases Peculiar to Women.’

which had ever appeared in the
Review, and it was in consequence of its appearance that the English Quarantine Act was pushed through Parliament by the ministers of the day. Southey said of it: “Perhaps the Q. R. has never contained any single paper that has done so much good as that upon Contagion. It has done its work. Ministers consider it completely conclusive (as most undoubtedly it is), and they are resolved to act on it. If they had been deceived into the opinion of the non-contagionists, it is hardly possible that we should have escaped the Plague.”

Mr. Lockhart succeeded to a most influential position in his control of what his friend John Wilson called “a National Work”; and he justified the selection which Mr. Murray had made of him as editor: not only maintaining and enhancing the reputation of the Review, by securing the friendship of the old contributors, but enlisting the assistance of many new ones. Sir Walter Scott, though “working himself to pieces” to free himself from debt, came to his help, and to the first number which Lockhart edited, he contributed an interesting article on ‘Pepys’ Memoirs.’ Barrow, Mitchell, Southey, Palgrave, and others, contributed excellent papers. Mr. Isaac D’Israeli,—for the crisis of the Representative which was to interrupt his intercourse with Murray had not yet occurred—wrote

Mr. D’Israeli to John Murray.

“It is certainly one of the very best numbers we have long had. The article on Pepys, after so many have been written, is the only one which, in the most charming manner possible, shows the real value of these works, which I can assure you many good scholars have no idea of, as I observed when ‘Evelyn’s Diary’ was published. These, as the critic points out, have, for a great variety of readers, their own peculiar tastes and objects; this is the philosophy of Biography! Now, my good friend, if you go on under the new administration as well as you have begun, you may yet hope
to keep up the sale and influence of the
Quarterly, which was so long under an eclipse, by another of your Wooden Idols!”

Lockhart’s literary taste and discernment were of the highest order; and he displayed a moderation and gentleness, even in his adverse criticism, for which those who knew him but slightly, or by reputation only, scarce gave him credit. There soon sprang up between him and his publisher an intimacy and mutual confidence which lasted till Murray’s death; and Lockhart continued to edit the Quarterly till his own death in 1854. In truth there was need of mutual confidence between editor and publisher, for they were called upon to deal with not a few persons whose deep interest in the Quarterly tempted them at times to assume a somewhat dictatorial tone in their comments on and advice for the management of the Review. When an article written by Croker, on Lamennais’ ‘Paroles d’un Croyant,’* was under consideration, Lockhart wrote to the publisher:—

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
November 8th, 1826.
My Dear Murray,

It is always agreeable and often useful for us to hear what you think of the articles in progress. Croker and I both differ from you as to the general affair, for this reason simply, that Lamennais is to Paris what Benson or Lonsdale is to London. His book has produced and is producing a very great effect. Even religious people there applaud him, and they are re-echoed here by old Jerdan, who pronounces that, be he right or wrong, he has produced “a noble sacred poem.” It is needful to caution the English against the course of France by showing up the audacious extent of her horrors, political, moral, and

* The article by J. W. Croker was afterwards published in No. 104 of the Quarterly.

religious; and you know what was the result of our article on those vile tragedies, the extracts of which were more likely to offend a family circle than anything in the ‘
Paroles d’un Croyant;’ and which even I was afraid of. Mr. Croker, however, will modify and curtail the paper so as to get rid of your specific objections. It had already been judged advisable to put the last and only blasphemous extract in French in place of English. Depend upon it, if we were to lower our scale so as to run no risk of offending any good people’s delicate feelings, we should soon lower ourselves so as to rival ‘My Grandmother the British’ in want of interest to the world at large, and even (though they would not say so) to the saints themselves.— Verb. sap.

Among the many foreigners introduced to Mr. Murray was the Rev. Edmund D. Griffin, a young American clergyman of literary tastes, who visited England in 1827-28 for the benefit of his health, and called upon Mr. Murray in London, with a letter of introduction from a familiar friend of his, an old lady in Edinburgh. Finding him an agreeable and accomplished man, Murray invited him to join a select dinner party at 50, Albemarle Street. Mr. Griffin died soon after his return home, and his friends subsequently published his ‘Reminiscences,’ which include the following graphic description of Murray and his friends:—

“I dined, yesterday, with a very distinguished party, at Mr. Murray’s, consisting of Moore, Lockhart, Washington Irving, Smith, one of the authors of the ‘Rejected Addresses,’ and other beaux esprits; Mitchell, the translator of ‘Aristophanes;’ and some others, of less name and fame. The first is, certainly, a most unpoetical figure. Nor is his countenance, at first sight, more promising than his person. When you study it, however; when you consider the height of the bald crown, the loftiness of the receding pyramidal forehead; the marked, yet expanded and graceful lines of the mouth; above all, when you catch the bright smile and the brilliant eye-beam, which accompany the flashes of his wit and the sallies of his fancy; you forget, and are ready
to disavow your former impressions. To Moore, Lockhart offers a strong and singular contrast. Tall, and slightly, but elegantly formed, his head possesses the noble contour, the precision and harmony of outline, which distinguish classic sculpture. It possesses, too, a striking effect of colour, in a complexion pale, yet pure, and hair black as the raven’s wing. Though his countenance is youthful (he seems scarce more than thirty), yet I should designate reflection as the prominent, combined expression of that broad, white forehead; those arched and pencilled brows: those retired, yet full, dark eyes; the accurately chiselled nose; and compressed, though curved lips. His face is too thin, perhaps, for mere beauty; but this defect heightens its intellectual character. Our distinguished countryman [Irving] is of about the ordinary height, and rather stout in person. His hair is black, and his complexion ‘sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought.’ His eyes are of a pale colour: his profile approaches the Grecian, and is remarkably benevolent and contemplative. Mr. Smith carries a handsome, good-natured countenance; and Mr. Mitchell’s physiognomy, though not handsome, is, at least, amiable.

“The conversation at dinner consisted chiefly in the relation of anecdotes. To my great disappointment, no discussion of any length or interest took place. It must be admitted that the anecdotes were select, and told with infinite wit and spirit. Many of them, I doubt not, were the inventions of the narrators. Such seemed to be peculiarly the case with those of Mr. Moore and Mr. Smith; who, though seated at different ends of the table, frequently engaged each other, from time to time, in a sort of contest for superiority. This contest, however, was still carried on in the same way. Both tried only which could relate the most pungent witticism, or tell the most amusing story. The subjects of the anecdotes in general were extremely interesting. Lord Byron, and other eminent men, with whom the speakers had been familiar, were frequently brought upon the stage. Mr. Lockhart, meantime, though he seemed to enjoy the pleasantries of others, contributed none of his own. Whatever he did say, was in a Scottish accent, and exhibited strong sense and extensive reading. Mr. Irving seems to be one of those men who, like Addison, have plenty of gold in their pockets, but are almost destitute of ready change. His reserve, however, is
of a strikingly different character from that of the editor of the
Quarterly. The one appears the reserve of sensibility; the other that of thought. The taste of the one leads him apparently to examine the suggestions of his own mind with such an over scrupulosity, that he seldom gives them utterance. The reflection of the other is occupied in weighing the sentiments expressed, and separating the false from the true. Mr. Irving is mild and bland, even anxious to please. Mr. Lockhart is abstracted and cold, almost indifferent.

“On returning to the drawing-room, the scene was changed, though the great actors remained in part at least the same. Music was substituted for conversation, Mr. Smith gave an original song, full of humour and variety. Mr. Moore was induced to seat himself at the piano, and indulged his friends with two or three of his own Irish melodies. I cannot describe to you his singing; it is perfectly unique. The combination of music, and of poetic sentiment, emanating from one mind, and glowing in the very countenance, and speaking in the very voice which that same mind illuminates and directs, produces an effect upon the eye, the ear, the taste, the feeling, the whole man in short, such as no mere professional excellence can at all aspire to equal. His head is cast backward, and his eyes upward, with the true inspiration of an ancient bard. His voice, though of little compass, is inexpressibly sweet. He realized to me, in many respects, my conceptions of the poet of love and wine; the refined and elegant, though voluptuous Anacreon. . . . But the author of the ‘Fire Worshippers’ gave us, in the course of the evening, an Irish rebel’s song, which was absolutely thrilling. Anacreon was, however, afterwards restored to us in a drinking song, composed to be sung at a convivial meeting of an association of gentlemen.

“I cannot conclude this brief sketch, without saying a few words of my host. He is a good-looking man, with a preoccupied and anxious air. This gives way, however, to true Scottish sense and cordiality in conversation. He has a strong understanding, and a good memory; and is exceedingly interesting from the long intercourse which he has maintained with, and the intimate knowledge he possesses, of all the eminent literary characters of the age. The memoirs of himself and his times would be invaluable.
He has been the
Mæcenas of his day; and though not the favourite of an emperor, has conferred more substantial rewards on merit, than even the distinguished Roman. Such has been his liberality, that, though millions have passed through his hands, he is, I am told, by no means exorbitantly rich.”

Like most sagacious publishers, Murray was free from prejudice, and was ready to publish for all parties and for men of opposite opinions. For instance, he published Malthus’sEssay on Population,’ and Sadler’s contradiction of the theory. He published Byron’s attack on Southey, and Southey’s two letters against Lord Byron. He published Nugent’sMemorials of Hampden,’ and the Quarterly Review’s attack upon it. Southey’s ‘Book of the Church’ evoked a huge number of works on the Roman Catholic controversy, most of which were published by Mr. Murray. Mr. Charles Butler followed with his ‘Book on the Roman Catholic Church.’ And the Rev. Joseph Blanco White’sPractical and Internal Evidence against Catholicism,’ with occasional strictures on Mr. Butler’s ‘Book on the Roman Catholic Church.’ Another answer to Mr. Butler came from Dr. George Townsend, in his ‘Accusations of History against the Church of Rome.’ Then followed the Divines, of whom there were many: the Rev. Dr. Henry Phillpotts (then of Stanhope Rectory, Durham, but afterwards Bishop of Exeter), in his ‘Letter to Charles Butler on the Theological Parts of his Book on the Roman Catholic Church;’ the Rev. G. S. Faber’sDifficulties of Romanism;’ and many others.

Southey, when sending the first part of his MS. of ‘Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ,’ for publication—comprising his ‘Essays on the Romish Religion,’ and vindicating his ‘Book of the Church’—wrote to Mr. Murray:—“Mr. Butler will not complain of any want of courtesy—
though it is really like breaking a butterfly on a wheel to be engaged in combating such flimsy sophistries, and in exposing calumnies and misstatements which have been again and again confuted and held up to scorn.” Mr. Butler, however, thought differently. He wrote to Mr. Murray:—“I shall not answer any of my answerers, unless Southey should add himself to their number; and, as he has so long delayed his answer, I shall think twice before I answer him.” But when Southey’s ‘Vindiciæ Ecclesiæ Anglicanæ’ finally appeared, Mr. Butler answered his objections in a letter addressed to the
Right Rev. C. J. Blomfield, then Bishop of Chester; and, afterwards, in his ‘Vindication of the Book of the Roman Catholic Church.’

Mr. Southey to John Murray.
March 5th, 1825.

“I look upon myself as grand author of all the works which the ‘Book of the Church’ has produced. The wind which I have raised has been no ill one for you. . . . It is not often that you have published so prolific a book as the ‘Book of the Church,’ which is father to Mr. Butler’s volume, grandfather to all the rejoinders to it, great grandfather to the second volume; and the family tree is growing still.”

Mr. Butler subsequently published, through Mr. Murray, his ‘Life of Erasmus,’ and his ‘Reminiscences,’ a most interesting work. The way in which he accomplished so much was by never wasting a moment of time; and also, as he himself said to Murray, “in directing his attention to one literary subject at a time; to read the last work upon the subject, consulting others as little as possible; when the subjects were contentious, to read the best book on each side; to find out men of information, and when in their society, to listen, not to talk.” The way of Southey was different. He read and studied many sub-
jects at a time. While he was busy with his controversy with Butler, he was also occupied with his ‘
History of the Late War in Spain and Portugal,’ writing his ‘Sir Thomas More,’ or his ‘Colloquies on the Prospects and Progress of Society,’ finishing his poem of the ‘Tale of Paraguay,’ and writing articles on a variety of subjects for the Quarterly. When explaining to Murray that the reason for his want of copy was that he was proceeding with his poem, he added:—

Mr. Southey to John Murray.

“There may be some imprudence in my undertaking so many things at once; but there is this advantage, that I never pursue any subject with a flagging mind. If I do not see readily how to combine the materials advantageously, I lay the narrative aside, and take up something else; then to return to it in some happier mood; and thus it is that there is a life and freshness in my narrative. Nothing is done hastily, or crudely; nothing is constrained.”

Southey’s second volume of the ‘History of the Peninsular War’ appeared in April, 1826. His first volume was much objected to. Mr. Carrick Moore refers to his “base persecution of the memory of Sir John Moore,” adding that the Duke of Wellington had spoken most warmly and liberally to Colonel Napier (who was also writing an account of the Peninsular War) on the subject of these calumnies against Moore. Southey said of Napier, “his history will be the standard un-literary history of his campaigns—mine the philosophical, moral, and popular one, of the Peninsular War.” Southey was greatly deceived. His history is now comparatively unknown, while Napier’s is not only the standard military authority, but by far the best literary work on the subject.

Mr. Murray continued to publish many important works on voyages and travels. As he had published the first and
second, so he published the third voyage of
Captain Parry to the Polar Regions. These works excited great interest at the time of their appearance.

Captain Parry, R.N., to John Murray.

“It is very gratifying to my feelings, to be assured that my task is so well spoken of by those whose judgment is the most to be valued on such subjects. Too much is, in these book-making days, expected of naval officers in this respect; for they are accustomed to act more than to write—but both are expected from us now.”

While voyages to the Arctic Regions, amidst ice and floes, were read with interest, travels under the burning sun of Africa, were equally popular. The ‘Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa,’ by Denham, Clapperton, and Oudney, were brought out in a magnificent volume, splendidly illustrated. Major Denham looked closely after his personal interests, and required £1500 for the copyright of his work. Mr. Murray said, in answer to his proposal, “This is more than ever was given for any volume of voyages or travels, and it is not in my character to be illiberal in my proposals when I see my way. Unwilling, however, not to show a disposition to do something when you have been so complimentary, I will venture to offer you £1200 for the copyright of your travels, drawings,” &c. Major Denham accepted the offer, “with the exception of the French edition,” but as Mr. Murray was at the expense of the illustrations, and subsequently paid the author £200 for a second edition, the sum paid for the work actually exceeded the amount originally demanded. Captain Hugh Clapperton afterwards published through Mr. Murray, his ‘Journal of a Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa.’

Mr. Murray was proud of his voyagers and travellers.
He had their portraits painted by
Jackson, and added to the Murray gallery in Albemarle Street. “I took the liberty,” wrote Parry to Murray, “of taking my friend Mr. Stanley, the brother of Sir John, to see your Polar and other portraits in your dining-room the other day. He is quite an enthusiast in enterprise, and was much gratified by your collection.”

While most authors are ready to take “cash down” for their manuscripts, there are others who desire to be remunerated in proportion to the sale of their works. This is especially the case with works of history or biography, which are likely to have a permanent circulation. Hence when the judicious Mr. Hallam—who had sold the first three editions of ‘Europe during the Middle Ages’ to Mr. Murray for £1400—had completed his ‘Constitutional History of England,’ he wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:—

Mr. Hallam to John Murray.
Wimpole Street, June 13th, 1825.
Dear Sir,

You are well acquainted with the nature of a literary undertaking which has occupied my time for several years, and which I am now prepared to submit to the public eye. To describe it however more particularly, it will contain the Constitutional History of England from the accession of Henry VII. to the death of George II., and will bear this or some equivalent title. I consider it in a great degree as a continuation of the eighth chapter of the ‘View of the Middle Ages,’ in which the progress of the English government was deduced, to the reign of Henry VII., at which the present work begins.

The length, as far as I am able to judge, will be very nearly the same as that of the former; namely, two volumes in quarto, containing from 1100 to 1200 pages. The octavo editions I rather conceive should be in four volumes, and consequently each rather smaller than those of the corresponding editions of the ‘Middle Ages.’ I should wish to put the first part of the copy into the
printer’s hands about the 15th of September, and, if he can undertake to furnish me with five sheets a week, it will be easily practicable to publish the work in the next season.

I have every reason to be satisfied with your fairness and liberality on the former occasions, when I was comparatively a stranger to the world of letters, and the success of so extensive a work as the ‘View of the Middle Ages’ was very precarious. But as I have a right to calculate at present on a speedy sale, I think it reasonable to ask a larger proportion of the profits than before, and conceive that a sum equivalent to two-thirds of the net receipts, will be no more than a just price. I should propose on these terms to print 750 copies in quarto, so as to enable the purchasers of the first edition of the ‘Middle Ages’ to complete their set in the same form, and to proceed as nearly as possible at the same time with an edition in octavo, so that there may be no great interval in the publication.

It does not occur to me that I have omitted anything very important; but if so it will be easy for us to come to an explanation.

Believe me, my dear Sir,
Your faithful Servant,
Henry Hallam.

Mr. Murray immediately complied with Mr. Hallam’s request, and he agreed to print and publish at his own cost and risk the ‘Constitutional History of England,’ and pay to the author two-thirds of the net profits (not “receipts” as stated by Mr. Hallam) arising from the sale of the same. And these were the terms on which Mr. Murray published all Mr. Hallam’s subsequent works.

Mr. Murray still continued to publish poems. Gabriele Rossetti—a refugee from Italy, but then Professor of the Italian language in King’s College, London—published through Mr. Murray his ‘Divina Commedia’ of Dante, with Analytical Comments. Mr. Murray also published
MR. W. S. ROSE.243
Mr. T. M. Musgrave’s translation of Camoen’s ‘Lusiad,’ and Mr. William Sotheby’s translation of Wieland’sOberon.’ While the fourth volume of Mr. W. Stewart Rose’s translation of ‘Orlando Furioso,’ which has already been mentioned, was at the printers, Mr. Rose wrote to Mr. Murray:

Mr. W. S. Rose to John Murray.
Polygon, Southampton, Jan. 6th, 1826.

“It would require the power of Satan to keep so many devils as you drive, in order; and I only wonder that you manage them so well. I wish, however, that you would also put a light to the furioso-devil who does not justify his name. Why does this devil hang fire? I would be content if he would but keep smouldering.”

While Mr. Rose was busy with his translation, the sea broke in upon his Italian villa, Gundimore, situated on a peninsula on the shore of Hampshire, and cost him about £300 to repair the premises and restore the ramparts. He could ill afford this at the time, but he endeavoured to earn the money by his pen.

Mr. W. S. Rose to John Murray.

“I am too proud to beg or borrow: but would willingly work for the money, and with this purpose (on receiving the bad news) sat down to the composition of what, I thought, might be a popular piece of nonsense, and of which I once spoke to you, between jest and earnest. The intended volume is to be a duodecimo or small octavo, much in the manner of some of Southey’s animal stories in his ‘Omniana,’ to be entitled ‘Apology: Anecdotes of Monkeys,’ or what the bookseller best likes; always premising that my name is not to appear on the title-page. . . . My monkeys will not be at all in the way of my knights-errant, as I shall take my ape-ology and the Furioso, like bread and cheese.”

Among the original poems published by Mr. Murray about this time, were Alaric A. Watts’ ‘Lyrics of the
Mrs. Hemans’sForest Sanctuary,’ and Mr. Milman’sAnne Boleyn.’ It was with considerable difficulty that Mr. Murray could be persuaded to publish the two last-mentioned poems. Mrs. Hemans’s Muse had not proved so attractive as formerly, and Mr. Milman’s poems had lain upon the bookshelves. The ‘Forest Sanctuary’ was sent back to the author, to be improved and condensed; and after Mrs. Hemans had made “considerable retrenchment” it was given to the world. Mr. Milman’s poem was sent to Mr. Lockhart for perusal in manuscript; and his judgment was as follows:

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.

“I think Milman’s Poem contains about half-a-dozen passages of stately and noble versification, but it is, as a dramatic work, feeble and poor in the extreme. However, the subject is very good, and I daresay the book may be popular for the moment. It is quite clear that he never ought to have been a Poet, for he becomes every day more artificial, and that is a sad symptom at his time of life. He has fine talents, but no genius; and if he would learn to write prose as well as he does write verse, he might make a figure worth speaking of.”

Anne Boleyn” was published, but attained no success. Mr. Milman, however, acted upon Lockhart’s hint, and betook himself to prose, in which department he eventually acquired his most lasting reputation.

In 1826 Thomas Hood—wit, poet, and novelist—armed with an introduction from Mr. Barron Field—offered Mr. Murray his book of ‘Whims and Oddities,’ illustrated by forty woodcuts. Hood had already published, in conjunction with his brother-in-law, Reynolds, ‘The Odes and Addresses to Great People’; but beyond this he was scarcely known. “You want a light book,” said Mr. Field to Murray, “to relieve all your Voyages and Histories;
and I think this will just suit you, and that you will find Mr. Hood a very pleasant acquaintance.” But Mr. Murray had more publications on hand at the time than he could well manage, and he consequently declined Mr. Hood’s work, which was published elsewhere.

Mr. Wordsworth desiring to republish his Poems, made application with that object to Mr. Murray, who thereupon consulted Lockhart.

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
July 9th, 1826.

“In regard to Wordsworth I certainly cannot doubt that it must be creditable to any publisher to publish the works of one who is and must continue to be a classic Poet of England. Your adventure with Crabbe, however, ought to be a lesson of much caution. On the other hand, again, W.’s poems must become more popular, else why so many editions in the course of the last few years. There have been two of the ‘Excursion’ alone, and I know that these have not satisfied the public. Everything, I should humbly say, depends on the terms proposed by the great Laker, whose vanity, be it whispered, is nearly as remarkable as his genius.”

The following is the letter in which Mr. Wordsworth made this formal proposal to Mr. Murray to publish his collected poems:

Mr. Wordsworth to John Murray.
Rydal Mount, near Ambleside,
December 4th, 1826.
Dear Sir,

I have at last determined to go to the Press with my Poems as early as possible. Twelve months ago they were to have been put into the hands of Messrs. Robinson and Hurst, upon the terms of payment of a certain sum, independent of expense on my part; but the failure of that house prevented the thing going forward. Before I
offer the publication to any one but yourself, upon the different principle agreed on between you and me, as you may recollect, viz.: the author to meet two-thirds of the expenses and risk, and to share two-thirds of the profit, I think it proper to renew that proposal to you. If you are not inclined to accept it, I shall infer so from your silence; if such an arrangement suits you, pray let me immediately know; and all I have to request is, that without loss of time, when I have informed you of the intended quantity of letter-press, you will then let me know what my share of the expense will amount to.

I am, dear Sir,
Your obedient servant,
Wm. Wordsworth.

As Mr. Murray did not answer this letter promptly, Mr. H. Crabb Robinson called upon him to receive his decision, and subsequently wrote:

Mr. H. C. Robinson to John Murray.
Feb. 1827.

“I wrote to Mr. Wordsworth the day after I had the pleasure of seeing you. I am sorry to say that my letter came too late. Mr. Wordsworth interpreted your silence into a rejection of his offer; and his works will unfortunately lose the benefit of appearing under your auspices. They have been under the press some weeks.”

About the beginning of 1825, Messrs. Constable, of Edinburgh, started the idea of publishing works for the million. Their first project was a plan for bringing out an ‘Encyclopædia for Youth;’ but this idea was discarded, or at least altered, and eventually developed itself in the publication of ‘Constable’s Miscellany.’ Already before this Murray, entertaining the idea of a cheap and popular series of Voyages and Travels, had actually set in type a pocket edition of Parry’s and Franklin’s ‘Voyages.’
Although these works did not appear until after ‘Constable’s Miscellany,’ Murray had given a specimen copy to
Basil Hall, who showed it to Constable. Financial difficulties were now overwhelming the firm, and Mr. Archibald Constable, the head and founder of it, went to London to arrange money matters with the London agents, and, after a long interval of about fifteen years, during which they had no business transactions whatever, Murray and Constable renewed their friendship. In October 1825 Mr. Constable was paying a visit at Wimbledon, when Mr. Murray addressed his host—Mr. Wright, whose name has already occurred in the Representative correspondence—as follows:

John Murray to Mr. Wright.
October, 1825.
My Dear Wright,

Although I intend to do myself the pleasure of calling upon Mr. Constable at your house to-morrow immediately after church (for it is our charity sermon at Wimbledon, and I must attend), yet I should be most happy, if it were agreeable to you and to him, to favour us with your company at dinner at, I will say, five to-morrow. Mr. Constable is godfather to my son, who will be at home, and I am anxious to introduce him to Mr. C., who may not be long in town.

Mr. Constable and his friend accordingly dined with Murray, and that the meeting was very pleasant may be inferred from Mr. Constable’s letter of a few days later, in which he wrote to Murray, “It made my heart glad to be once more happy together as we were the other evening.” The rest of Mr. Constable’s letter referred to Hume’s Philosophical Writings, which were tendered to Murray, but which he declined to publish.


“I know,” said Mr. Constable, “your rejection of the work will be a source of mortification to its proprietor. I cannot, however, offer any advice to you on such an occasion; only, before showing the Book elsewhere, I cannot avoid saying that your accepting it would have obliged more than one friend.”

Mr. Constable’s visit to London did not stave off the pecuniary difficulties by which he was beset; for little more than a month after the above meeting the crash came. So soon, however, as Constable could arrange matters with his creditors, he pursued his scheme of the ‘Miscellany.’ The first number appeared on the 6th of January, 1827, about a year after his failure, and consisted of the first part of Capt. Basil Hall’sVoyage to Loo-Choo,’ which had originally been published by Mr. Murray. In July 1826, six months before the first number of Constable’s ‘Miscellany’ was published, Capt. Hall wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:

Captain Hall to John Murray.
July 1826.
My Dear Sir,

Upon considering the matter over, which you spoke to me of the other day, and more attentively, I do not think, all things considered, that I can without indelicacy write to Edinburgh on the subject of the ‘Miscellany,’ still less about the other works. You will observe I am almost in total darkness as to the actual state of affairs, and without some plea or other, my writing, I think, would not have that business-like air which you would wish it to have, and without which it would have no effect. It has occurred to me, however, that you have a perfectly fair and obvious plea for writing to me. ‘Loo-Choo’ was first published by you, also the second edition; and my friends in the trade in Edinburgh have often heard me say how handsomely you had behaved upon the occasion of that publication, and with what particular courtesy and liberality of spirit you had at once relinquished all claim to the work when it was proposed to incorporate it in another publica-
tion belonging to a rival publisher. All this being the case it does appear to me quite natural that, upon the ruin of that project, you should apply to me on the subject of your former bantling ‘Loo-Choo,’ now that he has grown, if not in stature, at least in years, and I hope in taste and understanding. If you address me such a letter I shall of course then have some materials to work upon, and I shall, with the greatest pleasure back your wishes with all the weight which your legal possession of the copyright gives me.

Mr. Murray, however, had no wish to interfere with Mr. Constable’s project, and now that the Edinburgh publisher was in difficulties, he desired to see him well out of them, believing that the success of the ‘Miscellany’ would probably revive the fortunes of the firm. He therefore did not write the proposed letter, but desired Capt. Hall to continue his engagement with Constable. In the next letter addressed to Mr. Murray, Capt. Hall wrote:

Captain Hall to John Murray.
August 15th, 1826.

Mr. Constable proposes to carry on the ‘Miscellany’ by-and-by, when he is disentangled from the affairs of the sequestrated estate. Possibly, also, he will go on with the ‘Encyclopædia Britannica,’ but at present nothing is certain; and I regret to add that our worthy friend’s health has not been improved by these severe trials of fortune. . . . I saw the Great Unknown several times; he is altogether unshaken by these catastrophes. The gale has made him close-reef his sails, and send his top-gallant masts on deck; but his hull is without a leak and his rigging entire. Any ordinary man would have been dismantled and driven on the coast, whereas he keeps the sea like a Nelson.”

Mr. Constable, though in failing health, still persevered in his arrangements for the early publication of his ‘Miscellany,’ and his endeavours to secure new and popular works for the succeeding numbers, are proved by the
following letter addressed to
Mr. Murray only a week before the publication of the first number of the ‘Miscellany.’

Mr. Constable to John Murray.
December 29th, 1826.

Between old friends like you and myself it would be needless, at least I feel it so, in a communication like the present, to go back on the recent events, in which you know I have had a deep and an unfortunate interest, and of which I little dreamt when we last met. I shall therefore enter at once into the chief business of this letter, which, in the first place, is to tell you that, after many months of very poor health, I am again, though leaving a sick-bed, about to embark in some of the world’s cares; but I shall do so with greatly abridged anxieties, I trust, compared to those in which it was my lot to be so long involved. I hope your health, my dear sir, has stood its ground. Without that blessing, there are but few of us who could boast of much happiness in this world of change and uncertainty.

I believe you thought well of my ‘Miscellany.’ I am just about to enter on a new career, making it for the present my sole and only object. The times, I am aware are wonderfully changed since my undertaking was first announced; and I am looking forward to nothing but moderate doings, and these I think I can say are likely to be realized. I have made considerable changes in the list of publications, as you will see if you have leisure to glance over the copy of it enclosed. I take the liberty of sending you our friend Captain Hall’s Voyages, which from his uncommon kindness still holds the first place in my undertaking.

I heard some time ago with astonishment (and it is not everything nowadays, that does so) that a proposition had been made to you to purchase your literary property. Ambition and folly often go together; and perhaps in the present instance you will say so of myself, though the scale be a small one. I ask whether, as a great favour, you will grant me the right of printing Southey’sLife of Nelson’ in the ‘Miscellany’? In making this proposition, I know I am doing it to a friend of most liberal feelings, and,
whether the favour is granted me or not, you will not take any offence at the question being put, which is done entirely under the impression that in a matter of merchandize, in which only the present application can be treated, there is no offence intended, or likely to be taken. It is entirely impossible for me to estimate the value of what I am now wishing to treat about. The sale of Mr. Southey’s work, taken by itself, could not fail to be great, and the effect upon my publication would be considerable. I shall therefore be prepared to meet you in regard to terms, whatever they may be; on the understanding that it is for the ‘Miscellany’ alone, and in no other shape that it will be used. This is the only favour of the kind which I have asked for my work, and you will excuse my adding that you are the only individual in the trade from whom I would ask it; or, to say a little more, anything else.

Mr. Murray could not comply with the request of his old friend and correspondent, for this reason, amongst others, that he had for many months been in correspondence with Mr. Charles Knight and the Rev. Edward Edwards as to the publication of a series of volumes, under the title of the ‘National Library,’ in which it was proposed to include a revised edition of Southey’sLife of Nelson.’ The prospectus had been prepared by Mr. Knight, but the scheme was not proceeded with at that time. Mr. Murray afterwards developed it, and republished ‘Nelson’s Life’ in ‘The Family Library.’

Only six months had passed since the issuing of the first number of the ‘Miscellany,’ when Mr. Constable, then far gone in dropsy, died suddenly, July 21st, 1827.

John Ballantyne, Scott’s partner, had died a few years before. Scott wrote in his Diary: “It is written that nothing shall flourish under my shadow: The Ballantynes, Terry, Nelson, Weber, all came to distress. Nature has written on my brow, Your shade shall be broad, but there shall be no protection derived from it to aught you favour.”