LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of John Murray

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. XXXIII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
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About this time Frances Ann Kemble—better known as Fanny Kemble—daughter of Charles Kemble, the actor, became one of Mr. Murray’s regular correspondents. She was introduced to him in 1830, a few months after her first appearance on the stage as Juliet, when only eighteen years old. When only seventeen she wrote ‘Francis the First,’ a vigorous historic drama, full of delineation of character. After her appearance on the stage she proposed to publish this, her first effort in literature. The circumstances under which the drama was published are related by herself.*

“I was indebted to Sir John Macdonald’s assistance, most kindly exercised in my behalf, for the happiness of giving my youngest brother his commission in the army, which Sir John enabled me to purchase in his own regiment; and I was indebted to the great liberality of Mr. Murray, the celebrated publisher, for the means of thus providing for my brother Henry. The generous price (remuneration I dare not call it) which he gave me for my play of ‘Francis the First’ obtained for me my brother’s commission.”

Before making a definite offer for the purchase of the

* ‘Records of a Girlhood,’ 3 vols. 1879, ii. 100.

Mr. Murray communicated with Mr. Milman, an attached friend of the author, who replied—

The Rev. H. H. Milman to John Murray.

“I am much obliged by your account of Fanny Kemble in ‘Bianca’ [in his own ‘Tragedy of Fazio’]. Your description has so awakened our curiosity, that Mrs. Milman and myself cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of coming up to town to see the performance. I have written to Mr. C. Kemble about places for Monday, and shall regulate my motions by his answer.”

On returning the MS. of Miss Kemble’s drama, which had been sent down to Reading for his perusal, Mr. Milman observed to Murray:—

“I have made some marginal remarks in pencil which may be of use to her. I adhere to my favourable opinion. The minor poems are very unequal, one or two good; but I should not recommend publication. Let the ‘Tragedy’ stand by itself. . . . You would, I am sure, be inclined to stretch a point in favour of one so distinguished and deserving. But, in my opinion, there is no need of any such consideration. The play, for a girl of her age, is a most extraordinary performance. It is full of life, character and vigour. Without the very high vein of poetry of Joanna Baillie, she has much more dramatic talent. The only fault is that there is stuff enough for two or three tragedies. It is in fact constructed on the plan of the historical plays of Shakespeare, and in some of these there is a second, and even a third interest.”

Mr. Murray thereupon offered Mr. Charles Kemble 400 guineas for the copyright of the drama (Miss Kemble being then under age), and added in his letter:

“Neither Mr. Milman nor Mr. Lockhart would advise the publication of the smaller poems at this time; for, although exceedingly good, they would not increase the reputation of the author of the tragedy.”


The following letters are from Miss Kemble to Mr. Murray:—

Miss Kemble to John Murray.
March 7th, 1831.
My Dear Sir,

I return you my manuscript for your final sentence. I have read, and so far as my opinion warranted, have followed Mr. Milman’s improvements. I have nothing further to say, except avisez-vous. To derive profit from that which has already bestowed pleasure is, of course, desirable if possible; but if my work is worthless to others it has been worth too many happy hours to me for me to complain if it produces nothing else.

March 9th, 1831.

“My father has communicated to me your obliging note, and has left me to answer it by assuring you that I am perfectly satisfied with your offer, which I very gladly accept. I have but one favour more to ask of you, which is, whenever you publish my play to allow me to add a dedication to it. I wish very much to devote my first attempt to my mother,” &c.

May 8th, 1831.

I have heard something about your thinking a preface desirable. If it be necessary I will myself write it; but I should be sorry to trouble the public with reasons, hopes, fears, &c., which too often produce the very weariness they deprecate. Besides, I have no desire of entertaining the world at large with my private motives for publishing my play, or pleading as an exemption from criticism the early age at which it was written. If people are amused and interested by a work they need no reason for being so, and if not no reason can to them atone for dulness and disappointment. With many thanks,

Yours truly obliged,
Frances Ann Kemble.

The play was published and received with great favour by the reading public; not less than ten editions having
been issued within a few years.
Mr. Murray sent a copy to Mrs. Joanna Baillie, then residing at Hampstead, and received the following reply:—

Mrs. Baillie to John Murray.
March 16th, 1832.
Dear Sir,

I thank you very heartily for your great courtesy in sending me a copy of Miss Kemble’s tragedy. I have read it very eagerly and found it a very extraordinary work, written with much force and ability, containing many traits of real genius. It well deserves the success which I see by to-day’s papers it has met with, and I doubt not it will continue to enjoy the favour of the public. If you have an opportunity I should be very much obliged to you to convey my congratulations to the young authoress on this brilliant beginning of her career as a dramatic writer. I beg again to offer you my best thanks, and remain, dear Sir,

Your truly obliged and obedient Servant,
J. Baillie.

Miss Kemble was exceedingly pleased when she heard that Mr. Murray was willing to publish her brother John’s works, the translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem of ‘Beowulf,’ and shortly after, his well-known ‘History of the Anglo-Saxons.’

“The works,” she said, “are of a nature which cannot give either a quick or considerable return; but the offer, like all Mr. Murray’s dealings with me, is very kind and liberal, for a publisher is not easily found, any more than readers, for such materials.” “The article in the Quarterly,” she again said, “on my ‘Francis the First,’* more than satisfied me, for it made me out a great deal cleverer than ever I thought I was, or ever, I am afraid, I shall be.”

After appearing at the principal British theatres, she went to America in 1832, and, while in that country, was married to Mr. Pierce Butler, a Southern planter and

* Quarterly, No. 93, written by Mr. Milman.

proprietor. Her pen was not idle, and during her sojourn in the States she began her
Journal of her residence in America, the first portion of which she sent to Mr. Murray, who, writing on the 16th of August, 1834, urgently requested that the work might be published in London a few days before it appeared in America, in order that she might secure the copyright, in which case he offered 400 guineas for it. But so much interest had been excited in America about the forthcoming work, that some of the sheets were abstracted from the printing office in Philadelphia and sent to the newspapers—the editors of which attacked the author most furiously.

Mrs. Butler to John Murray.
Philadelphia, February 8th, 1835.
My dear Sir,

I despatched to you some time ago the whole of the first volume of my ‘Journal,’ and received the other day from you an acknowledgment of sixteen sheets. I don’t know quite what to make of this, but where so wide a distance intervenes chances and delays are things of course, and should be taken patiently. Some portion of the book has been stolen from the printing office of my publisher here, and the wrath of the natives is excited to such a pitch against me that I can only promise the second volume if I live. The papers here have opened like a pack of hounds (as they are) upon the matter, and I have had some thoughts of forwarding a few of the paragraphs to you, for your special edification. Indeed, I think a string of these elegant specimens of criticism wouldn’t do amiss, just like the commendatory notices from such and such reviews at the beginning of my book. It may want a puff, you know, and I assure you this would be a new one. I fear I shall not see dear England again this year—perhaps never again. I am, my dear Sir,

Yours, very truly,
Fanny Butler.

(or, as they write me here, Mrs. Frances Ann Kemble Butler).


The next letter was from her husband to Mr. Murray, enclosing the ‘Journal,’ printed as far as p. 136 in the second volume, and requesting that certain alterations should be made in the first volume, offering to pay the expenses of reprinting.

Mr. Pierce Butler to John Murray.

I also send, an assignment of the copyright to the Rev. Mr. Harness, an old and much valued friend of my wife’s. The ‘Journal’ will be completed in about 60 pages more. . . . The public and the publishers here are very anxious for its appearance. A few proof sheets having been stolen from the printing office, found their way into the hands of some newspaper editor who, as a matter of course, instantly published them. As there were one or two remarks not very laudatory of the manners of the natives, their ire was raised at once to an extraordinary pitch; and taking it for granted that the whole book is to be abusive, they, the newspaper critics, have lavished their abuse in no small degree. This is rather comical, inasmuch as they are criticising what they have not read. However, they are determined to be beforehand. All this will turn out to the advantage of the publishers, for my countrymen never think of buying a book written about the country unless it abuses it. Indeed, unless a book contains a certain quantity of censure—the more the better—it would not pay for the printing, no matter how great its merit as a book might be.

Yours very respectfully,
Pierce Butler.

The next letter was from Fanny Butler herself.

Mrs. Butler to John Murray.
Philadelphia, May, 1835.
My Dear Sir,

I send you by our faithful and trustworthy friend (Maywood), an entire copy of my book, and also a second copy of the preface I wish published with it. The gentleman
who has taken charge of them for me is very desirous of knowing you. He is a countryman of your own, and as far as I know, an exceedingly “decent body.” Pray receive him for my sake and like him for his own. You can’t think how sorry I am that I didn’t accept your positive offer of 400 guineas for my book. I thought it a shabby one to be sure, but I’ve a great notion it will not fetch sixpence, and that’ll be shocking, won’t it. Pray tell me if it don’t.

Yours very truly,
Fanny Butler.

The ‘Journal’ was published in 1835, but was not very well received, either in England or America. Mr. Croker wrote a review of it in the Quarterly (No. 107), beginning, “This is a work of very extraordinary talent, but, both in its conception and execution, of exceeding bad taste.” The Athenaeum described Mrs. Butler as “the authoress of this very lamentable journal,” and questioned whether the Chancellor should not have granted an injunction to restrain its publication. In America the ‘Journal’ was reviewed by Mr. A. H. Everett in the North American Review, with more indulgence than it had received at home; though the Rev. Sydney Smith praised it. While the sheets were passing through the press, Mr. Murray sent a copy of them to his friend Lady Dacre.

Lady Dacre to John Murray.
May 27th, 1835.

Thousands of thanks, dear Mr. Murray, for allowing us to read those sheets of the wonderful Fanny’sJournal’ in their rough state. I cannot tell you the entertainment they have proved to Lord Dacre, and how strongly they interest me, who have always been a greater enthusiast about her than he has. The depth of thought, the vigour of writing, the high tone of poetry in her descriptions, the absolute reality of all she portrays, make her work enchanting and piquant in the extreme. One sees her own
self, with her peculiarities, her great qualities and her faults, in every page. That little nostril tucking up more than its fellow is before me in all the sarcastic flings and droll passages. I hear her deep melodious voice in her descriptions of the sea, with her particular pronunciation of the first vowel. Oh, that I may really ever hear it again! We have not heard her side of the story—she cannot be so wrong towards her parents; as in all quarrels both are to blame, depend upon it; and there are two violent tempers among them we are pretty well assured of. In short, I cannot give up my Fanny. Her extraordinary powers of mind enthrall me too forcibly.

I am a little amused by her leaving in all her breakfasts, dinners, and suppers, goings to bed and gettings up, puttings out of her dresses for acting, and recording every stitch she sets in that nightcap (which must be the most richly embroidered in the world); while she gives us so many stars for passages omitted, where sometimes one’s curiosity is excited. I want to know which of her Mr. ——’s is Mr. Butler. I think it must be the sender of nosegays. The vigorous style shows the advantage of having studied the older authors as she has done. I wish she would not “progress.” How I hate that word as a verb. A few more American expressions I would fain change for the honest English she delights in. But I am chatting as if I were sitting in your own library.

Yours truly,
B. Dacre.

A copy of the work was also sent to Sir Francis B. Head, who pronounced a very characteristic opinion of it.

Sir F. B. Head to John Murray.
July 2nd, 1835.
My Dear Murray,

I have not had time to finish Fanny Kemble’s book, but I have seen enough of it to feel that she has been most unkindly and unjustly treated by the reviewers. I have no time, but if I had I know of no subject I would more willingly undertake than her vindication. People say she is vulgar! So was Eve, for she scratched whatever part of
her itched, and did a hundred things we should call vulgar. But the fact is, everything is vulgar now-a-days. It is vulgar in London to eat cheese or pease with a knife. It is vulgar to say you are hungry or thirsty, that you perspire, even when it is supposed that you do nothing. Poor Fanny Kemble has fallen a victim to this tyranny. Her book is full of cleverness, talent, simple-heartedness, nature and nakedness. Her style is a little rough spot, but did you ever know a woman who was without one? I have no patience with the way she has been treated.

Mrs. Butler’s next letter to Mr. Murray referred to the “disobliging review of her book in the Quarterly” and after praising the admirable work of M. de Beaumont on America, she proceeded:

Mrs. Butler to John Murray.
Philadelphia, August 3rd, 1835.

’Tis a queer people and country, I can tell you. They fell into a phrenzy at Mrs. Trollope, because she said they put their feet over their heads (which is true), and with me because I said they eschewed finger-glasses (which is also true), and yet they are quite charmed with M. de Beaumont’s work, which says that commercial and conjugal contracts are held in like slight respect, and that the violation of either the one or the other does not prevent a man’s retaining his footing in society, and being held worthy of all trust, respect, and consideration (which is also true). You appear to be, just now, in a strange chaotic state in England; and as for the good folks here they are going on in the strangest way in the world; mobs in every part of the country, burning, tarring and feathering, hanging ad libitum, without judge, jury, or other warrant than their own sovereign pleasure. The Slave question is becoming one of extreme excitement. The Northern folks push the emancipation plans with all the zeal of people who have nothing to lose by their philanthropy, and the Southerners hold fast by their slippery property like so many tigers. The miserable blacks are restricted every day within narrower bounds of freedom, and the result of all is clear enough to my perception; the abuse is growing
to its end, but it will not be done away with quietly. There will, I fear, be a season of awful retribution before right is done to these unfortunate wretches. Our property lies principally in Georgia. If we are ruined I think I will return to England and take up my old trade, if O’Connell has no objection.

Yours very truly,
Fanny Butler.
Mrs. Butler to John Murray.
Near Philadelphia, March 26th, 1836.

I am much obliged to you for the intelligence respecting that “excellent piece of work,” my book. Mr. Butler desires me to tell you, with his best compliments, that he will forewarn you when he means to reap the wages of iniquity. And now, permit me to tell you that to lithograph a challenge is not an American custom. They are determined and desperate duellers, and universally the most reckless of any people, not savages, in the world. But Mr. Willis, I beg you to believe, is by no means a sample of either a good or a bad American. I have never heard him mentioned in this country but with unfavourable comments, and I should almost be sorry that you fancied he was a pattern Yankee. What is to befall him I can’t think, for surely Captain Marryat is not a man to be trifled with; he don’t write as if he were. How much I like his books, and how much I should like to know him! A friend of mine is about to publish a journal of his stay in England. I think it will be rather better than your friend, Mr. Slidell’s, and I will send it to you.

Yours truly obliged,
Fanny Butler.

Mr. Murray frequently consulted Lady Callcott about books, and her natural shrewdness rendered her a very useful critic. About Fanny Kemble’s ‘Journal’ she wrote:

Lady Callcott to John Murray.

Let me thank you for Mrs. Butler: very clever, very romantic, some excellent feelings, but (may I say) not as
womanly as I could have liked. A little too much of the tone of one living chiefly with men—the green-room, in short. I have read a volume and a half.

* * * * *

Mrs. Butler’sJournal’ appears to me to improve as she goes on. The things to be objected to appear more seldom, and her criticisms on her own art and what is connected with it are so good that I should like to see them separated and much enlarged. She is a clever, and moreover a shrewd observer; and setting apart the intentional descriptions, there are traits throughout that mark a strong and fine hand.

Mrs. Somerville was a lady of extraordinary accomplishments, but in a department very remote from that of Mrs. Butler. Her early life, eccentric education, and marvellous aptitude for mathematics have already been recorded in her biography, and need not be repeated in these pages. Her first book, ‘The Mechanism of the Heavens,’ founded on the Mécanique Céleste of Laplace, was undertaken by the advice of Mr. Brougham, and was at first intended for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge; but being found too voluminous, it was afterwards published independently. The MS. was submitted to Mr. Herschell, who pronounced it a book for posterity, and above the class for whose instruction it had been intended by Mr. Brougham. It was then offered by Dr. Somerville to Mr. Murray, in August 1830. The opinion of Mr. Herschell was enclosed as to the merits of the work. Mr. Murray, though there was but little prospect of a large demand for a work so purely scientific by an, as yet, unknown author, wrote:—

John Murray to Dr. Somerville.
August 2nd, 1830.

“As Mr. Brougham has said that he can ensure the sale of 1500 copies (which I confess I cannot refrain from
doubting) I will, if you please, print one edition consisting of 1500 copies, at my own cost and risque, and in case of their selling will give the author two-thirds of the profits; and after the sale of this 1500 copies, the copyright shall be the sole property of the author, to dispose of in any way hereafter that may appear best for her advantage. By this proposal, I mean to try the success of the work at my own expense, merely for the author’s future benefit, without occasioning her any previous risk or expense. I give you full liberty to communicate this letter to Mr. Brougham, and if, after trying other publishers, you do not obtain a more satisfactory arrangement, you will find me still ready to fulfil what I have above proposed.”

No publisher, however, was likely to exceed or even to equal the proposed terms, and accordingly Mrs. Somerville’s first work, ‘The Mechanism of the Heavens,’ was published by Mr. Murray in 1831, and proved the forerunner of many admirable works by the same authoress. Mrs. Somerville shared in Mr. Murray’s opinion that 1500 copies could not be so readily disposed of as Mr. Brougham had imagined, and accordingly the first edition consisted of only 750 copies. The work, however, received admirable reviews from the scientific critics, and was soon entirely disposed of.

Mr. Murray, in rendering Dr. Somerville an account of the sales of the work (21st March, 1833), wrote:—

“I do not intend to diminish the profit by taking any portion of it myself; for I am overpaid by the honour of being the publisher of the work of so extraordinary a person. I have therefore only charged a commission on the actual long paid expenses for interest and bad debts.”

Mrs. Somerville herself was in Paris at the time; but on learning the results of the publication, she wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:—

Mrs. Somerville to John Murray.
Paris, April 2nd, 1833.
My dear Sir,

When I consider the very unpromising nature of my work, and the small probability there was of success, I am more and more sensible of what I owe to your kindness and liberality, and beg you will accept of my sincere thanks for all you have done in this affair. I am quite surprised at the number of copies that have been sold, and I must add very much pleased, for independently of myself, I should have been truly grieved had you been a loser by having generously undertaken what appeared so hopeless. I am happy to find you have ventured on my new attempt,* and trust it will be more popular. I have done all I can to make it so, and shall be glad of any advice you may give on the subject.

We have spent the winter most agreeably, and are much delighted with Paris and the attention we have met with.

Yours, my dear Sir, very sincerely,
Mary Somerville.

Mr. Murray’s next letter to Mrs. Somerville, on her return to London, contained a request that she would sit to Mr. Phillips, R.A., for her portrait. She answered:—

Mrs. Somerville to John Murray.
February 4th, 1834.

I cannot on such an occasion deny myself the pleasure of expressing to you how much I am gratified by the compliment, and I can with truth assure you that no one can feel it more strongly than,

Your sincere friend,
Mary Somerville.

* ‘On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences.’


Mrs. Somerville’s next letter was written from Italy, whither she went in 1841-42 ; after alluding to family affairs, she proceeds:—

“There have been comparatively few strangers here this season, so the gaiety has been less than usual, but we always have a kind welcome and good society in the Italian houses. The Romans no longer look upon us as strangers, and we like them very much; both men and women have less information and less education than the English, but they have natural talents to fit them for anything, and when better times come, Italy will stand high among the nations. Even now, I could name some that would be remarkable in any country; they have great merit; but there is a deplorable want of books at Rome, at least books of modern date—divinity and classics plenty, but as for science or geography they are little beyond the dark ages. You will be horrified when I tell you that I mean to inflict a book on you (if you will have anything to do with it) on Physical Geography; and truly, had I depended on the public libraries here, it would not have gone beyond the time of Marco Polo. But, fortunately, I have had private sources chiefly from Englishmen settled here, and also when at Florence I had the use of the Grand Duke’s library, and made ample extracts; so I trust my pages will not be very much behind the present times. I have tried to make it more of a readable book than geographical works generally are, but of all that you are the best judge, so I hope you will tell me when you see it whether you think it likely to succeed. The first part only is ready for the press, and the rest will be forthcoming should you think it worth while. . . . Don’t suppose that you are to be let off with one volume; you shall have two, if not three, if it does not alarm you too much.”

The work on physical geography appeared in 1848, and went through many editions. It may be added that Mrs. Somerville lived to complete and publish her ‘Molecular
and Microscopic Science’ at the age of 80—long after the death of her first literary patron and publisher.

Another of Mr. Murray’s correspondents, differing in the nature of her accomplishments both from Mrs. Butler and Mrs. Somerville, was Mrs. Norton. As early as 1834 she proposed that he should publish for her ‘The Maiden’s Dream.’

The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.
Aug. 2nd, 1834.

When my poem, ‘The Undying One,’ was first written, it was offered to you with a very over-rated idea of what it was worth, in many respects.

You refused to publish it, and favoured me at the time with some criticisms on the style and subject, which I have always remembered, though the temptation to publish it, at the time, was very strong, and I therefore agreed with Mr. Colburn, who made your refusal a plea for fulfilling only one half of his original agreement.

I have now another, a shorter poem by me, called ‘The Maiden’s Dream.’ I have taken pains with it, and have avoided, as far as I could, all the faults imputed to my first attempt. My wish is to print it with fugitive pieces, in one vol., and sell the MS. for £100; but I would willingly give the manuscript without the last-mentioned condition, if you would undertake the publication. I saw that you had printed Lady Emmeline Wortley’s poems: for many years you have been the encourager and supporter of poetical talent; and as I am still as eager (though I hope more humble than when I set out), I hope you do not mean to make me the exception to your rule.

If you would see me on this subject to-morrow, before five, and would name the hour most convenient, Mr. Norton would accompany me to Albemarle Street. I mention to-morrow, because it is one of Mr. Norton’s very few leisure days, and if that is inconvenient I shall hope to be able to fix another.

I am, Sir, your obedient Servant,
Caroline Norton.

The offer was not accepted, nor was that of ‘The Undying One,’ in 1835, though Mr. Murray gave the author some good advice. She was not baffled by his refusal, but went on writing poetry, and at the end of September 1836, proposed to Mr. Murray that he should publish for her a little poem, entitled ‘A Voice from the Factories’—the subject having been brought into prominent notice by the pamphlets and speeches of Lord Ashley. Mr. Murray accepted her proposal.

The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.
Hampton Court Palace,
October 7th, 1836

“I thank you for the promptitude with which you have replied to me, nor do I wish to express any disappointment at the terms on which you propose to print my little poem; having long since found out how very common the degree of literary talent is, of which I used to be so vain, and therefore no longer looking on either verse or prose as a heap of uncoined gold. . . . There is, I believe, no question but that I might publish my brief effort perhaps in one sense more advantageously among the set of publishers who do not even ask to see a book, but pay you for it because it is yours; but it is a wish—a vanity of mine—to be published by you. You know it is, for this is the third time I have endeavoured to appear under your auspices. I have sometimes thought that friends of yours who are not friends of mine have thwarted me in this particular. . . . You ought to encourage me, for you never gave any advice more faithfully followed than that which you offered when I was ambitious you should publish my ‘Undying One;’ viz.: not to attempt strained and unnatural subjects. My ‘Voice from the Factories’ is in the style you bid me adhere to; and I will still hope that you will take me under your charge.”

John Murray to the Honble. Mrs. Norton.
Abbot’s Langley, Oct. 8th, 1836.

Thanks, my dear Madam, for your beautiful, and kindly confidential letter. Had I not previously determined to
fulfil, in every respect, your wishes as regards the publication of the poem, I must have been sufficiently convinced by the reasons which you have adduced (and so happily illustrated) of the necessity for its immediate appearance.

I will therefore leave this place for Albemarle Street on Tuesday, and, hoping to find the MS. on my arrival, I will instantly send it to the printer, and I can now venture to assure you that it shall be announced and published in strict conformity with the desire of its author.

I beg you to believe that I am, dear Madam,
Your faithful Servant,
John Murray.
The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.
16, Green Street, Oct. 19th, 1836.
Dear Sir,

Owing to my absence from Hampton Court, I have only received the proofs this evening, and return them to you: hoping that you will kindly hasten the printing, in the form decided upon, as I wish to see it completed before I leave town for Dorsetshire.

I trust dining with Adam Blair* did not make you “catch a dislike to me,” as poor Douglas Kinnaird once told me he did, after he had dined with some “friends of his who were not friends of mine.” He was very cross, and when I tried to coax him out of it, he said: “the fact is I caught cold last night where I dined; there was such a draft of air; and I also caught a dislike to you, there was so much abuse and fault-finding.”

Praying that you may be kept from such sickness,

Believe me, dear Sir,
Yours truly,
C. E. Norton.

The ‘Voice from the Factories’ was published in the following November. The authoress was greatly pleased with the style and appearance of the volume. “Send three copies to me at 16 Green Street, a copy each to Lords

* Mr. Lockhart.

Holland and Lansdowne, and to Lord Ashley, not as from me, but merely inscribed by you ‘By desire of the Author.’”

A second edition was speedily called for, to which Mrs. Norton added several of her earlier poems.

The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.

“I am fond of the poem, and if you would allow me to reprint it, you would do me a great service; for I am in many troubles and difficulties from which I look to my pen to extricate me, as the soldier trusts to his sword to cut his way through. . . . I wish to make my volume as complete as possible, hoping under your guidance henceforward to forsake Poetry for Prose. You know you hinted to me that the door of your Review would open to me if I thought I could write for it.”

The next letter from Mrs. Norton to Mr. Murray was on a very different subject; it is without date, but it was probably written about the beginning of 1837.

The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.
24 Bolton Street, Monday.
Dear Sir,

You have been very kind in sending me books. I send you a very interesting one, in my opinion, though I fear not one of general interest. It is a Letter to the Lord Chancellor on the subject of the Infant Custody Bill; and in the course of which (in answer to a direct and most bitter personal attack made on me by Mr. J. Kemble) the facts of my case are briefly given.

I hope you will read the letter and let me know your opinion upon it. Mr. Kemble’s attack wrung from me a contradiction last summer, which first appeared in the Examiner (signed with my name), and afterwards was copied into other papers. It is so easy to crush a woman, especially one whose reputation has been already slandered, that I do not think his triumph is very great, in having created a prejudice by inventing a gross false-
hood; attributing to me that which I never wrote, and then abusing me in very foul and gross language as the author. I might in the same way assert that the Bishop of London wrote
Little’s Poems, and that he was therefore a disgrace to the Bench of Bishops. Dear Sir, I do not suppose this “Letter” will be of sufficient consequence to be reviewed in the Quarterly, but the subject of the letter will perhaps be noticed, as it is one of the questions to be mooted this session. I entreat of you, if such shall be the case, to use your influence to prevent my name (which has grown to be only the watchword of insult and cruel abuse) from being any more alluded to. Let those who dislike me be satisfied in the assurance that I have suffered and do suffer as much I believe as my worst foes could wish. I have one poor boast, and that is, that my foes are all among strangers; it is reserved for those who never knew me personally, who perhaps never saw me in their lives, to erect themselves into judges of my character and motives, to invent an imaginary Mrs. Norton, something between a barn actress and a Mary Woolstonecraft; and to hunt her down with unceasing perseverance; while the reality of this shadow is perhaps lying ill and broken-hearted, as I was at the time when Mr. Kemble wrote against me, vainly endeavouring through the mediation of those who do know me, to arrange a quarrel I never sought, and which took place under circumstances the very reverse of those supposed by “the world.” I have trespassed on your indulgence with a very long note: pray excuse it and

Believe me, yours truly obliged,
Caroline Norton.

When Mr. Murray’s fine edition of the poems of Lord Byron appeared in 1837, he forwarded a copy of ‘Don Juan’ to Mrs. Norton. Her answer was as follows:

The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.
November 4th, 1837.
Dear Sir,

I have received ‘Don Juan’ and the October Quarterly. . . . In thanking you for the two volumes of Byron
belonging to the present beautiful edition, I must tell you that I had never read ‘Don Juan’ through before, which very few women of my age in England could say,—and which I do not mind owning, since it adds greatly to the pleasure with which I perused the poem. I am afraid, in spite of the beauty, the wit, and the originality of the work, I think, with the
Guiccioli—“Mi rincrese solo che Don Giovani non resti al inferno.” It is a book which no woman will ever like, whether for the reasons given by the author, or on other accounts, I will not dispute. To me the effect is like hearing some sweet and touching melody familiar to me as having been sung by a lost friend and companion, suddenly struck up in quick time with all the words parodied.

I am in town for a short time, occupied with lawyers and law—as usual. I used to boast of my partiality for the Bar as a profession, but I begin to think it would be pleasanter to follow a marching regiment than to see the seamy side of this intellectual trade.

Who has sprung up as Mrs. Norton in Bentley’s Miscellany! It is pretty cool of the lady taking the name and title of my husband’s wife; and I do not much like the mistake, as I have been too ill to write for those to whom I was bound by the bond of hire.

Yours ever,
Caroline Norton.
Bolton Street, March 4th, 1840.
Dear Sir,

Thanks for Lord Jocelyn’s book,* which, just now that we are all gaping for Chinese information, is very acceptable; and especially to me, who am too ill to go out and gossip with the rest of the world, and depend on the “dumb oracles” I find in type. Blessed be he who invented letters,—Cadmus, as I was early taught! Blessed be he who invented printing, whose name at this moment I forget! Blessed be all engravers, printers, designers, lithographers, facsimile copiers, and makers of steel plates! Blessed, even beyond these, be all publishers, especially

* ‘Six Months in China.’ By Lord Jocelyn, late Military Secretary to the Chinese Expedition.

those who send me new books! Blessed be authors and authoresses!—but in a minor degree—a sort of beggarly blessing, such as mocked poor Esau for one, having sold his birthright. Blessed be the stitchers of pamphlets, for they are read sooner than bound books! Blessed be he* who lately wrote ‘
Cecil’ (though it be but a novel), for it beguiled me through a weary night, and made me forget I had a pain in my side. I cease the Kyrie of blessings, for fear you should add, “blessed be he who first thought of note paper, to confine women’s correspondence within bounds.”

Mrs. Norton wrote the following friendly greeting to Mr. Murray in the English Bijou Almanack for 1842:

John Murray! Dare I call thee John?
Yes: for who calls thee Mister Murray?
The first familiar name’s the one
Which puts us authors in a flurry:
The first familiar name is that
Long linked with memories bright and pleasant;
With hours of intellectual chat
O’er claret, venison, grouse, and pheasant;
And all the sunshine, clouds, and blame
Which hang round Byron’s chequered story,
Whom thy discernment led to Fame
When fools denied the wreath of glory!”

In September 1840, there appeared an article in the Quarterly, by H. Nelson Coleridge, on Modern English Poetesses. Mrs. Norton’s name headed a long list of authors criticised; her works were highly praised and she herself was styled “the Byron of modern poetesses.” Lady Emmeline Wortley and an anonymous authoress “V,” were handled in after a somewhat severe and sarcastic fashion.

The different writers were likened to various flowers. “Mrs. Norton to the Rose, or, if she prefers it, to the ‘Love-lies-a-bleeding.’ Miss Barrett must be Greek Valerian.

* Mrs. Gore was the authoress of ‘Cecil.’

Lady Emmeline is a Magnolia Grandiflora, and a Crocus too. V. is a Violet, with her leaves heart-shaped,” and so on.

On receipt of the number, Mrs. Norton wrote:

The Honble. Mrs. Norton to John Murray.
24 Bolton Street, October 31st, 1840.
Dear Sir,

I ought to have thanked you from Ventnor, instead of waiting till my return to town, for your kindness in sending me an early copy of the Quarterly, containing all that comfortable flattery respecting ‘The Dream.’ I assure you I felt almost ashamed at seeing my name “first on the list called over”; but very grateful for the indulgent spirit in which the article was written, and would be glad to know to which of your Slaves of the Lamp I stand indebted. I was conscious of the egoism of the volume when I saw, collected into that form, the many scattered occasional pieces, added to the principal poem. I hope to do better yet, and will carefully avoid any faults that have been pointed out.

As to V., you have of course been made aware that she is since engaged to be married, to Mr. C , a very handsome, agreeable, well-informed clergyman (as I hear).* Now as she is forty, nothing shall persuade me that the proposal and the marriage are not the result of the Review; all the single ladies noticed in that article should instantly think of changing their names, retaining merely the floral name allotted to them in the Quarterly. I half wish I could change mine (especially since Mrs. Erskine Norton has ingeniously taken to playing at being me to all the publishers), but I dare say I should not change it to my satisfaction at this time of day; though I want ten years of “V.” and “V.” is very little, and very lame, and has not (as I am credibly informed) nearly such a straight nose as I have.

Her poetry is wonderful; I hardly believed it was a woman’s at first.

If the author of the article knew Lady E. Wortley he

* The lady in question wrote to Mr. Lockhart: “Two things have happened to me in one day which I never dreamed of. My Poems have been reviewed in the Quarterly, and I have received a proposal of marriage.”

would be too much in love with her to be able to laugh at her. She is the truest, simplest woman that ever was bit by romance; but you are an infidel, and don’t believe in women, because your
Byron wrote some clever lines against the sex—yet how was so profligate a man to know good women?

Not that I defend my lady’s high-flown language and “starry sublimities” at all times; but she is so gentle and earnest and real, that I felt a little unhappy when I read the review. Poisoned daggers are a joke to being laughed at in the Quarterly!

Believe me, Dear Sir,
Yours very truly obliged,
Caroline Norton.

The discovery of the North-West Passage was an enterprise which half a century ago continued to excite great interest, and in 1829 Captain James Ross started on his second expedition to Baffin’s Bay, for which he subsequently obtained the honour of knighthood. In 1833 Mr. Murray wrote to his son:—

John Murray to John Murray, junior.
October 22nd, 1833.

Captain Ross and his crew are all arrived, with the exception of three men who died. When in the utmost distress for provisions they fell in with the wreck of Captain Parry’s cast-off vessel the Fury, and in it they found all the provisions preserved by the ice. They are all in London: the instant I heard of their arrival at Hull I went and applied to my useful friend Nutland* at the Admiralty, who I found was intimate both with Ross and his nephew. He called upon him the moment of their arrival, and obtained a promise to give me the publication of their ‘Journal.’ We have got to settle terms. I have not yet seen them, but left cards yesterday. I have received a very kind letter from Mr. Barrow, who has undertaken to get a confirmation of the promise.”

* The head messenger at the Admiralty.


In 1836, Sir John Franklin was appointed Governor of Van Diemen’s Land, and on his departure from London, Mr. Murray made a present of some books to Lady Franklin and her daughter.

Lady Franklin to John Murray.
August 26th, 1836.
My dear Sir,

Nothing can be kinder than your valuable present to my little girl, and I promise you that it will ensure, as you desire (though it was not necessary for this purpose), our most friendly remembrance of the giver. I will only add that the choice you have made could not have suited me better had it been of my own selection, and that some of the books you have sent for Eleanor are precisely those which I should have purchased for her had I been aware of their being in print. You are well aware, I am sure, that my husband values your friendship, and can never be so far from home as not to hope that he will live in your remembrance; and I beg you to believe that these sentiments are also very sincerely those of your obliged friend,

Jane Franklin.
Sir John Franklin to John Murray.
My Dear Mr. Murray,

I know not how to thank you as I ought for your very kind and valuable remembrances sent to Lady Franklin and my child. We take them with us, and shall be often reminded, by the perusal and sight of these books, of your friendship and regard. Lady Franklin would have written her own acknowledgment of your kindness if she had not been quite overpowered by the preparations for our voyage, and with the prospect of separating for so long a time from her father and family. She feels deeply the mark of kindness you have shown, and begs me to express her best thanks to you, with every good wish and kind regards to Mrs. Murray and your family. You may rely on my bearing in mind your recommendations of the gentleman you have mentioned in V[an] D[iemen’s] Land.
I have placed your note with others that will receive my best attention and consideration after my arrival. Believe me, my dear Sir, with every kind regard and good wish for all your family,

Ever most truly yours,
John Franklin.

P.S.—If you should hear any news that would be interesting to us in a strange and distant land, I should be obliged by hearing it from you, or perhaps your son would allow me to ask the favour of an occasional communication from him. My letters will be forwarded by the Colonial Office. Kind regards to your son.

Mr. Murray offered Mr. Scrope Davies a copy of the new and illustrated edition of his old friend and companion Byron’s works. Mr. Davies was in Paris at the time, but was about to proceed to Dunkirk to take up his residence there.

Mr. Scrope Davies to John Murray.
May 17th, 1837.
My dear Sir,

Nimrod* informs me that it is your wish and intention to present me with a copy of Byron’s works. I need not remark how much flattered I am by this mark of your recollection of one who has been so long and so entirely secluded from the world. The pleasure I feel too is not a little enhanced by hearing that, like the Thane of Cawdor, you are a “prosperous gentleman,” and I pray that good fortune may long attend you and yours. You deserve it; your conduct towards Byron when, in the autumn of 1816, I put the third canto of ‘Childe Harold’ and the ‘Prisoner of Chillon’ into your hands, was noble, as your previous conduct during his difficulties was beyond all praise. Does he still look down with a temperate scorn on the dissecting-table of your Inquisition Chamber? Of him and many others I have some notices which I much wish you to see. They are original, and I think interesting, nor am I willing that they should die with me. There was

* Mr. C. Apperly, author of the ‘Turf, the Chase, and the Road.’

scarcely a man of any celebrity during my time that I had not the good fortune some time or other to meet. With some of these beings of a finer mould I was on terms of friendship, with many familiar, and more or less acquainted with nearly all. Barring the ‘
Bubbles’ (which I read because you recommended it to Nimrod) and Washington Irving’s works, I know but little of modern publications, and that little causes no regret at not knowing more. I was seduced into reading Washington Irving by accidentally stumbling on his ‘Stout Gentleman.’ The Lady Morgans, Bulwers and Trollopes of the day, have no charms for me. What is good in them is a réchauffé from others—what is their own is bad. “C’est un bonheur pour la plupart des écrivains d’aujourd’hui d’avoir la mémoire, comme c’est un malheur pour leur lecteurs.” Swift says it is a great art in writing to know when to leave off, as I am sure it is to know what to leave out—to sink the offal, as the carcase butchers say. But these writers give you the offal and sink the carcase. As you desire me to mention where you may send this splendid present of yours, I beg that it may be deposited at 47, Great Ormond Street, the mansion of my good and esteemed friend Mr. John Hibbert; and if I can be of any service to you on any occasion and in any way, you may command me. I shall quit Paris in a few days for my little residence at Dunkirk, where I intend to pass the summer. Should you visit this part of the world it would afford me much pleasure to see you, chez M. Crepin, Rue de l’Eglise, Dunkirk. Believe me,

Yours most truly,
Scrope Davies.

A copy of the same work was sent to Sir Robert Peel, and gave occasion for the following correspondence:

John Murray to the Right Hon. Sir R. Peel.
Albemarle Street, April 17th, 1837.
Dear Sir,

As the invaluable instructions which you addressed to the students of the University of Glasgow have as completely associated your name with the literature of this
country, as your political conduct has with its greatest statesmen, I trust that I shall be pardoned for having inscribed to you (without soliciting permission) the present edition of the works of one of our greatest poets, “your own school- and form-fellow,” Byron.

I have the honour to be, &c.,
John Murray.
The Right Hon. Sir R. Peel to John Murray.
Whitehall, April 18th, 1837.
My dear Sir,

I am much flattered by the compliment which you have paid to me in dedicating to me a beautiful edition of the works of my distinguished “school- and form-fellow.”

I was the next boy to Lord Byron at Harrow for three or four years, and was always on very friendly terms with him, though not living in particular intimacy out of school.

I do not recollect ever having a single angry word with him, or that there ever was any the slightest jealousy or coldness between us.

It is a gratification to me to have my name associated with his in the manner in which you have placed it in friendly connection; and I do not believe, if he could have foreseen, when we were boys together at school, this continuance of a sort of amicable relation between us after his death, the idea would have been otherwise than pleasing to him.

Believe me,
My dear Sir,
Very faithfully yours,
Robert Peel.

In the same year the Countess Guiccioli was in London, and received much kindness from Mr. Murray. After her return to Rome, she wrote to him a long letter, acknowledging the beautifully-bound volume of the landscape and portrait illustrations of Lord Byron’s works. She complained however of Brockedon’s portrait of herself.

Countess Guicdoli to John Murray.

“It is not resembling, and to tell you the truth, my dear Mr. Murray, I wish it was so; not on account of the ugliness of features (which is also remarkable), but particularly for having this portrait an expression of stupidity, and for its being molio antipatico, as we say in our language. But perhaps it is not the fault of the painter, but of the original, and I am sorry for that. What is certain is that towards such a creature nobody may feel inclined to be indulgent; and if she has faults and errors to be pardoned for, she will never be so on account of her antipatia! But pray don’t say that to Mr. Brockedon.”

Mr. Murray continued to exercise his hospitality, and was especially fond of making up a party to meet any foreigner of distinction who came to him with letters of introduction. Amongst others was Count Cavour, who visited London as a youth of twenty-one, not yet entered on public life. He was introduced by William Brockedon, who had made his acquaintance on one of his Alpine journeys, while Cavour was a military cadet and a semi-prisoner in an Alpine fortress. On the eve of his departure he wrote to Mr. Murray, acknowledging his “gratitude for all your kindness to me and my friend during our stay in London. Certainly, if I could freely dispose of my time, one of the principal reasons for remaining in this great metropolis should be the desire of cultivating your very valuable friendship.”

De Beaumont and De Tocqueville were entertained on their return from America, with many distinguished persons. Theodore Hook, in one of his letters to Mr. Murray, says:—

“My project of coming to you is, I regret to say, put an end to by the fog of which I am the victim. I shall sigh and lament me in vain for all the brilliancy, wit and wisdom of which your hospitable house will be the
receptacle—as I say to all my friends. Perhaps you will ask me again when the spring comes.”

Theodore Hook came to Murray’s dinners again and again. He was the soul of wit and humour, sparkling in repartee, and genial in manner and conversation. On one occasion, he met at Murray’s the Scottish lawyer and wit Lord Robertson, familiarly known as Lord Peter, judge of the Supreme Court of Session, Edinburgh, who had the reputation of being one of the wittiest men of his time. The heroes of the North and South were well matched. Lockhart backed Lord Peter, and Monckton Milnes King Theodore. Jerdan gives an account of the fair set down fight and keen encounter.

“During dinner,” he says, “the conversation was lively and sparkling, and Hook’s wonderful ready wit carried all before it. He was in high feather, inexhaustible and inextinguishable. It seemed as if the Scotchman had a very poor chance, and would be what the jockey’s term ‘nowhere.’ But Mr. Lockhart was an able tactician, and knew better. He suffered Hook to expend some of his brilliant fire, and after the cloth was removed brought out his man. He gave us at due intervals a Gaelic sermon without a syllable of the Erse language, and an Italian operatic scene without a word of Italian, and postprandial speech after speech of military, political, and other characters, to which bursts of laughter did homage for their racy performance and extraordinary ingenuity. The imitative speeches were certainly inimitable in matter and manner; and the identity of the meaningless sounds, with the tongues in which they purported to be delivered, was so perfect that it was scarcely possible to fancy that they were not bond fide exhibitions of text and discourse, and recitation and song in the Gaelic and Italian. Stimulated by this most amusing display, Hook was primed in superb trim to answer the calls for various improvising interludes, and never afforded more entertaining proofs of his marvellous talent in his astonishing natural gift. Flash upon flash burst upon every man at the table, his own backers
were glorified in a superb vein of satirical ridicule, nor did the Scotch artist and his Scotch supporter escape Scot-free from the scoffing criticism of the pseudo-provoked flagellator. It was truly a day to be marked with a white stone. I shall never spend the like again.”*

Mr. Planché, in his ‘Recollections,’ gives an amusing account of one of these literary reunions; this time, however, at the house of Horace Twiss. Murray, James Smith (of the ‘Rejected Addresses’), and others, remained in the dining-room until it became very late, for Hook was giving some of his extempore songs. Being pressed for another, he proposed that the subject should be on John Murray but the publisher opposed Hook most vehemently, and chased him round the table to stop the song. Planché only remembered the beginning of the recitative:—
“My friend, John Murray, I see, has arrived at the head of the table,
And the wonder is, at this time of night, that John Murray should be able.
He’s an excellent hand at supper, and not a bad hand at lunch,
But the devil of John Murray is, he never will pass the punch!”

Tom Moore was a frequent diner at Murray’s. He writes in his Diary (December 1833):—

“Dined, Fielding and myself, at Murray’s; company, the Lockharts, Sir Charles and Lady Bell, Phillips the artist and his wife, Turner the artist, and Henry Ellis.” At a later date, he writes: “Am getting into scrapes about dinners. Company at Murray’s, Lord Mahon, Sir Francis Head and his daughter, Lockhart, &c. In the evening, Miss Head sang, and very prettily; I was of course called into play, and sang a good deal. Much surprised to find Sir Francis Head such a mild and gentle person, and so little of the ‘Bubbles of the Brunnen’ in either his look or manner. Murray sends by me to Bessie a copy of the beautiful edition of ‘Childe Harold’ he has just published.”

* ‘Autobiography of William Jerdan,’ iii. 17-20.


Mr. Murray was in the habit of residing out of town during the summer. Wimbledon was his favourite place, from a very early period, but in 1833 he took a cottage on Hampstead Heath. After an attack of his old enemy, the rheumatism, Mr. Murray went to Cheltenham in 1837, for the benefit of consulting Dr. Jephson, the famous physician. He wrote to his son (3rd November, 1837):—

“Whether I am destined to leave my bones at this place I know not, but certainly I have had sharper and more frequent illness in a small space of time than I ever remember.”

Notwithstanding his illness, he remained at Cheltenham, and afterwards at Leamington, for some time, constantly communicating with his son in Albemarle Street about works in course of publication, and about the articles in the Quarterly. His directions were most minute and particular. Regarding his dinner parties as an institution, he requested his son to invite Mr. Appleton, the American bookseller (who was then in London) to dinner, and he named certain persons whom he wished to be included in the various entertainments: the Longmans, Charles Knight, Foss, Brockedon, Macculloch, Finden, and Dickinson; as well as Milman, Croker, Lockhart, Murchison, Palgrave, Westmacott, Wilkie, Head, and others.

Dr. Robinson was a distinguished American Biblical scholar who had been making a series of journeys through Palestine, which, as described by Professor Carl Ritter of Berlin, “opened the second great era of our knowledge of the Promised Land.” He called upon Mr. Murray in October, 1840, for the purpose of publishing through him his Travels in Palestine. Mr. Murray at once agreed to undertake the work, and it appeared in the course of the following year. Dr. Robinson and his wife were agreeably
entertained by Mr. Murray, and on their arrival in New York Dr. Robinson wrote:—

Dr. Robinson to John Murray.
November 2nd, 1840.

“Dr. and Mrs. Robinson would express to Mr. Murray their deep and grateful sense of his kindness and liberality as manifested in the many interesting and beautiful volumes with which he has enriched their library. Mr. Murray can perhaps hardly estimate the peculiar feeling with which, after having from childhood devoured the productions of his press in foreign lands, we have now found ourselves introduced to his acquaintance and to his house, where so many of the most brilliant minds of English literature have been wont to congregate. This is perhaps a pleasure which none but one of English descent, born in other lands, can feel in its full strength.”