LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

Memoir of John Murray
Chap. XXXVI.

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.
Creative Commons License

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
(  484  )

In November 1840 a tall athletic gentleman in black called upon Mr. Murray offering a MS. for perusal and publication. The proposed author had been a travelling missionary of the Bible Society in Spain, though in early life he had prided himself in being an athlete, and had even taken lessons in pugilism from Thurtell, who was a fellow-townsman. George Borrow was a native of Dereham, Norfolk, but had wandered much in his youth, first following his father, who was a Captain of Militia. He went from south to north, from Kent to Edinburgh, where he was entered as pupil in the High School, and took part in the “bickers” so well described by Sir Walter Scott. Then the boy followed the regiment to Ireland, where he studied the Celtic dialect. From early youth he had a passion, and an extraordinary capacity, for learning languages, and on reaching manhood he was appointed agent to the Bible Society, and was sent to Russia to translate and introduce the Scriptures. While there he mastered the language, and learnt besides the Sclavonian and the gypsy dialects. He translated the Testament into the Tartar Mantchow, and published versions from English into thirty languages. He made
successive visits into Russia, Norway, Turkey, Bohemia, Spain and Barbary. In fact, the sole of his foot never rested. While an agent for the Bible Society in Spain, he translated the Testament into Spanish, Portuguese, Rommany, and Basque—which language, it is said, the devil himself never could learn—and when he had learnt the Basque he acquired the name of Lavengro, or word-master.

Such was George Borrow when he called upon Murray to offer him the MSS. of his first book, ‘The Gypsies in Spain.’ Mr. Murray could not fail to be taken at first sight with this extraordinary man. He had a splendid physique, standing six feet two in his stockings, and he had brains as well as muscles, as his works sufficiently show. The book now submitted was of a very uncommon character, and neither the author nor the publisher were very sanguine about its success. Mr. Murray agreed, after perusal, to print and publish 750 copies of ‘The Gypsies in Spain,’ and divide the profits with the author. But this was only the beginning, and Borrow reaped much better remuneration from future editions of the volume. Indeed, the book was exceedingly well received, and met with a considerable sale; but not so great as his next work, ‘The Bible in Spain,’ which he was now preparing.

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray.
Aug. 23rd, 1841.

“A queer book will be this same ‘Bible in Spain,’ containing all my queer adventures in that queer country whilst engaged in distributing the Gospel, but neither learning, nor disquisition, fine writing, or poetry. A book with such a Bible and of this description can scarcely fail of success. It will make two nice foolscap octavo volumes of about 500 pages each. I have not heard from Ford since I had last the pleasure of seeing you. Is his book out? I hope that he will not review the ‘Zincali’ until the
Bible is forthcoming, when he may, if he please, kill two birds with one stone. I hear from Saint Petersburg that there is a notice of the ‘Zincali’ in the Revue Britannique; it has been translated into Russian. Do you know anything about it?”

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray.
Oulton Hall. Lowestoft, Jan. 1842.
My dear Sir,

We are losing time. I have corrected seven hundred consecutive pages of MS., and the remaining two hundred will be ready in a fortnight. I do not think there will be a dull page in the whole book, as I have made one or two very important alterations; the account of my imprisonment at Madrid cannot fail, I think, of being particularly interesting. . . . During the last week I have been chiefly engaged in horse-breaking. A most magnificent animal has found his way to this neighbourhood—a half-bred Arabian. He is at present in the hands of a low horse-dealer, and can be bought for eight pounds, but no one will have him. It is said that he kills everybody who mounts him. I have been charming him, and have so far succeeded that he does not fling me more than once in five minutes. What a contemptible trade is the author’s compared with that of the jockey’s!

Mr. Borrow prided himself on being a horse-sorcerer, an art he learned among the gypsies, with whose secrets he claimed acquaintance. He whispered some unknown gibberish into their ears, and professed thus to tame them.

He proceeded with ‘The Bible in Spain.’ In the following month he sent to Mr. Murray the MS. of the first volume. To the general information as to the contents and interest of the volume, he added these words:—

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray.
Feb. 1842.

“I spent a day last week with our friend Dawson Turner at Yarmouth. What capital port he keeps! He gave me some twenty years old, and of nearly the finest flavour that I
ever tasted. There are few better things than old books, old pictures, and old port, and he seems to have plenty of all three.”

May 10th, 1842.

“I am coming up to London to-morrow, and intend to call at Albemarle Street. . . . I make no doubt that we shall be able to come to terms; I like not the idea of applying to second-rate people. I have been dreadfully unwell since I last heard from you—a regular nervous attack; at present I have a bad cough, caught by getting up at night in pursuit of poachers and thieves. A horrible neighbourhood this—not a magistrate that dares to do his duty.

“P.S.—Ford’s book not out yet?”

There seems to have been some difficulty about coming to terms. Borrow had promised his friends that his book should be out by October 1, and he did not wish them to be disappointed:—

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray.
July 4th, 1842.

Why this delay? Mr. Woodfall [the printer] tells me that the state of trade is wretched. Well and good! But you yourself told me so two months ago, when you wrote requesting that I would give you the preference, provided I had not made arrangements with other publishers. Between ourselves, my dear friend, I wish the state of the trade were ten times worse than it is, and then things would find their true level, and an original work would be properly appreciated, and a set of people who have no pretensions to write, having nothing to communicate but tea-table twaddle, could no longer be palmed off upon the public as mighty lions and lionesses. But to the question: What are your intentions with respect to ‘The Bible in Spain’? I am a frank man, and frankness never offends me. Has anybody put you out of conceit with the book? There is no lack of critics, especially in your neighbourhood. Tell me frankly, and I will drink your health in Rommany. Or, would the appearance of ‘The Bible’ on the first of October interfere with the Avatar, first or second,
of some very Lion or Divinity, to whom
George Borrow, who is neither, must, of course, give place? Be frank with me, my dear sir, and I will drink your health in Rommany and Madeira. In case of either of the above possibilities being the fact, allow me to assure you that I am quite willing to release you from your share of the agreement into which we entered. At the same time, I do not intend to let the work fall to the ground, as it has been promised to the public. Unless you go on with it, I shall remit Woodfall the necessary money for the purchase of paper, and when it is ready offer it to the world. If it be but allowed fair play, I have no doubt of its success. It is an original book, on an original subject. To-morrow, July 5, I am thirty-nine. Have the kindness to drink my health in Madeira.

Ever most sincerely yours,
George Borrow.

Terms were eventually arranged to the satisfaction of both parties. Borrow informed Murray that he had sent the last proofs to the printer, and continued:—

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray.
Nov. 25th, 1842.

Only think, poor Allan Cunningham dead! A young man, only fifty-eight, strong and tall as a giant, might have lived to a hundred and one; but he bothered himself about the affairs of this world far too much. That statue shop [of Chantrey’s] was his bane! Took to bookmaking likewise—in a word, was too fond of Mammon. Awful death—no preparation—came literally upon him like a thief in the dark. I’m thinking of writing a short life of him; old friend of twenty years’ standing. I know a good deal about him; ‘Traditional Tales,’ his best work, first appeared in London Magazine. Pray send Dr. Bowring a copy of the Bible—another old friend. Send one to Ford, a capital fellow. God bless you—feel quite melancholy.

Ever yours,
G. Borrow.

The Bible in Spain’ was published towards the end of the year, and created a sensation. It was praised by many critics, and condemned by others, for Borrow had his enemies in the press.

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray, Junior.
Lowestoft, December 1st, 1842.
My dear Sir,

I received your kind letter containing the bills. It was very friendly in you, and I thank you, though, thank God, I have no Christmas bills to settle. Money, however, always acceptable. I dare say I shall be in London with the entrance of the New Year; I shall be most happy to see you, and still more your father, whose jokes do one good. I wish all the world were as gay as he; a gentleman drowned himself last week on my property. I wish he had gone somewhere else. I can’t get poor Allan out of my head. When I come up, intend to go and see his wife. What a woman! I hope our book will be successful. If so, shall put another on the stocks. Capital subject; early life, studies, and adventures; some account of my father, William Taylor Whiter, Big Ben, &c., &c. Had another letter from Ford; wonderful fellow; seems in high spirits. Yesterday read ‘Letters from the Baltic’; much pleased with it; very clever writer; critique in Despatch harsh and unjust; quite uncalled for; blackguard affair altogether.

I remain, dear Sir, ever yours,
George Borrow.
December 31st, 1842.
My dear Sir,

I have great pleasure in acknowledging your very kind letter of the 28th, and am happy to hear that matters are going on so prosperously. It is quite useless to write books unless they sell, and the public has of late become so fastidious that it is no easy matter to please it. With respect to the critique in the Times, I fully agree with you that it was harsh and unjust, and the passages selected by no means calculated to afford a fair idea of the contents of
the work. A book, however, like ‘
The Bible in Spain’ can scarcely be published without exciting considerable hostility, and I have been so long used to receiving hard knocks that they make no impression upon me. After all, the abuse of the Times is better than its silence; it would scarcely have attacked the work unless it had deemed it of some importance, and so the public will think. All I can say is, that I did my best, never writing but when the fit took me, and never delivering anything to my amanuensis but what I was perfectly satisfied with. You ask me my opinion of the review in the Quarterly. Very good, very clever, very neatly done. Only one fault to find—too laudatory. I am by no means the person which the reviewer had the kindness to represent me. I hope you are getting on well as to health; strange weather this, very unwholesome, I believe, both for man and beast: several people dead, and great mortality amongst the cattle. Am tolerably well myself, but get but little rest—disagreeable dreams—digestion not quite so good as I could wish; been on the water system—won’t do; have left it off, and am now taking lessons in singing. I hope to be in London towards the end of next month, and reckon much upon the pleasure of seeing you. On Monday I shall mount my horse and ride into Norwich to pay a visit to a few old friends. Yesterday the son of our excellent Dawson Turner rode over to see me; they are all well, it seems. Our friend Joseph Gurney, however, seems to be in a strange way—diabetes, I hear. I frequently meditate upon ‘The Life,’ and am arranging the scenes in my mind. With best remembrances to Mrs. M. and all your excellent family,

Truly and respectfully yours,
George Borrow.

Mr. Richard Ford’s forthcoming work—‘The Handbook for Spain,’ about which Mr. Borrow had been making so many enquiries, was the result of many years’ hard riding and constant investigation throughout Spain, one of the least known of all European countries at that time. Mr. Ford called upon Mr. Murray, after ‘The Bible in Spain’ had been published, and a copy of the
work was presented to him. He was about to start on his journey to Heavitree, near Exeter. A few days after his arrival Mr. Murray received the following letter from him:—

Mr. Richard Ford to John Murray.

“I read Borrow with great delight all the way down per rail, and it shortened the rapid flight of that velocipede. You may depend upon it that the book will sell, which, after all, is the rub. It is the antipodes of Lord Carnarvon, and yet how they tally in what they have in common, and that is much—the people, the scenery of Galicia, and the suspicions and absurdities of Spanish Jacks-in-office, who yield not in ignorance or insolence to any kind of red-tapists, hatched in the hot-beds of jobbery and utilitarian mares’-nests . . . Borrow spares none of them. I see he hits right and left, and floors his man wherever he meets him. I am pleased with his honest sincerity of purpose and his graphic abrupt style. It is like an old Spanish ballad, leaping in res medias, going from incident to incident, bang, bang, bang, hops, steps, and jumps like a cracker, and leaving off like one, when you wish he would give you another touch or coup de grâce. . . He really sometimes puts me in mind of Gil Blas; but he has not the sneer of the Frenchman, nor does he gild the bad. He has a touch of Bunyan, and, like that enthusiastic tinker, hammers away, à la Gitano, whenever he thinks he can thwack the Devil or his man-of-all-work on earth—the Pope. Therein he resembles my friend and everybody’s friend—Punch—who, amidst all his adventures, never spares the black one. However, I am not going to review him now; for I know that Mr. Lockhart has expressed a wish that I should do it for the Quarterly Review. Now, a wish from my liege master is a command. I had half engaged myself elsewhere, thinking that he did not quite appreciate such a trump as I know Borrow to be. He is as full of meat as an egg, and a fresh laid one—not one of your Inglis breed, long addled by over-bookmaking. Borrow will lay you golden eggs, and hatch them after the ways of Egypt; put salt on his tail and secure him in your coop, and beware how any poacher coaxes him with ‘raisins’ or
reasons out of the Albemarle preserves. When you see Mr. Lockhart tell him that I will do the paper. I owe my entire allegiance to the Q. R. flag . . . Perhaps my understanding the full force of this ‘gratia’ makes me over partial to this wild Missionary; but I have ridden over the same tracks without the tracts, seen the same people, and know that he is true, and I believe that he believes all that he writes to be true.”

Mr. Lockhart himself, however, wrote the review for the Quarterly (No. 141, December 1842). It was a temptation that he could not resist, and his article was most interesting. ‘The Gypsies in Spain’ and ‘The Bible in Spain’ went through many editions, and there is still a large demand for both works. Before we leave George Borrow we will give a few extracts from his letters, which, like his books, were short, abrupt, and graphic. He was asked to become a member of the Royal Institution.

Mr. George Borrow to John Murray.
Feb. 25th, 1843.

“I should like to become a member. The thing would just suit me, more especially as they do not want clever men, but safe men. Now, I am safe enough; ask the Bible Society, whose secrets I have kept so much to their satisfaction, that they have just accepted at my hands an English Gypsy Gospel gratis. What would the Institution expect me to write? I have exhausted Spain and the Gypsies, though an essay on Welsh language and literature might suit, with an account of the Celtic tongue. Or, won’t something about the ancient North and its literature be more acceptable? I have just received an invitation to join the Ethnological Society (who are they?), which I have declined. I am at present in great demand; a bishop has just requested me to visit him. The worst of these bishops is that they are skin-flints, saving for their families. Their cuisine is bad, and their port wine execrable, and as for their cigars!—I say, do you remember those precious ones of the Sanctuary?
A few days ago one of them turned up again. I found it in my great-coat pocket, and thought of you. I have seen the article in the
Edinburgh about the Bible—exceedingly brilliant and clever, but rather too epigrammatic, quotations scanty and not correct. Ford is certainly a most astonishing fellow; he quite flabbergasts me—handbooks, reviews, and I hear that he has just been writing a ‘Life of Velasquez’ for the ‘Penny Cyclopaedia’!”

Oulton Hall, Lowestoft, March 13th, 1843.

“So the second edition is disposed of. Well and good. Now, my dear friend, have the kindness to send me an account of the profits of it and let us come to a settlement. Up to the present time I do assure you I have not made a penny by writing, what with journeys to London and tarrying there. Basta! I hate to talk of money matters.

“Let them call me a nonentity if they will; I believe that some of those who say I am a phantom would alter their tone provided they were to ask me to a good dinner; bottles emptied and fowls devoured are not exactly the feats of a phantom: no! I partake more of the nature of a Brownie or Robin Goodfellow—goblins, ’tis true, but full of merriment and fun, and fond of good eating and drinking. Occasionally I write a page or two of my life. I am now getting my father into the Earl of Albemarle’s regiment, in which he was captain for many years. If I live, and my spirits keep up tolerably well, I hope that within a year I shall be able to go to press with something which shall beat the ‘Bible in Spain.’”

And a few days later:—

“I have received your account for the two editions. I am perfectly satisfied. We will now, whenever you please, bring out a third edition.

“The book which I am at present about will consist, if I live to finish it, of a series of Rembrandt pictures, interspersed here and there with a Claude. I shall tell the world of my parentage, my early thoughts and habits, how I became a sap-engro, or viper-catcher: my wanderings with the regiment in England, Scotland, and Ireland, in which last place my jockey habits first commenced: then
a great deal about Norwich,
Billy Taylor, Thurtell, &c.: how I took to study and became a lav-engro. What do you think of this for a bill of fare? I am now in a blacksmith’s shop in the south of Ireland taking lessons from the Vulcan in horse charming and horse-shoe making. By the bye, I wish I were acquainted with Sir Robert Peel. I could give him many a useful hint with respect to Ireland and the Irish. I know both tolerably well. Whenever there’s a row, I intend to go over with Sidi Habesmith and put myself at the head of a body of volunteers.”

A few of the works may be mentioned which Mr. Murray published in 1841, 1842, and the beginning of 1843. Sir Charles Fellows had continued his ‘Excavations in Lycia,’ and published his second journal in 1841, containing “more recent discoveries in Ancient Lycia; being a journal kept during a second excursion in Asia Minor.” The results are to be seen in the splendid array of Lycian temples and monuments preserved in the British Museum.

While arranging for the publication of Mr. Horace Twiss’sLife of the Earl of Eldon,’ Mr. Murray wrote to Mr. Twiss:—

John Murray to Mr. Twiss.
May 11th, 1842.

“I am very sorry to say that the publishing of books at this time involves nothing but loss, and that I have found it absolutely necessary to withdraw from the printers every work that I had in the press, and to return to the authors any MS. for which they required immediate publication.”

Mr. Murray nevertheless agreed to publish the ‘Life of Eldon’ on commission, and it proved very successful, going through several editions.

Another work offered to Mr. Murray in 1841, was ‘The Moor and the Loch,’ by John Colquhoun, of Leney House, Callander. He had published the first
edition at Edinburgh through
Mr. Blackwood; and, having had some differences with that publisher, he now proposed to issue the second edition in London. He wrote to Mr. Murray desiring him to undertake the work, and received the following reply:—

John Murray to Mr. Colquhoun.
March 16th, 1841.

I should certainly have had much pleasure in being the original publisher of your very interesting work ‘The Moor and the Loch,’ but I have a very great dislike to the appearance even of interfering with any other publisher. Having glass windows, I must not throw stones. With Blackwood, indeed, I have long had particular relations, and they for several years acted as my agents in Edinburgh; so pray have the kindness to confide to me the cause of your misunderstanding with that house, and let me have the satisfaction of at least trying in the first place to settle the matter amicably. In any case, however, you may rely upon all my means to promote the success of your work, the offer of which has made me, dear Sir,

Your obliged and faithful Servant,
John Murray.
Mr. Colquhoun to John Murray.
March 20th, 1841.
Dear Sir,

I am much obliged by your note which I received yesterday. I shall endeavour to see you directly, and when I explain the cause of my dissatisfaction with Messrs. Blackwood, I am sure you will at once see that it would be impossible for us to go on comfortably together with my second edition; and even if any adjustment was brought about, I feel convinced that the book would suffer. I do not mean to imply anything against the Messrs. Blackwood as men of business, and should be sorry to be thus understood; but this case has been a peculiar one,
and requires too long an explanation for a letter. In the meantime I have written to you under the strictest confidence, as the Messrs. B. are not aware of my intention of bringing out a second edition at the present time, or of my leaving them. My reasons, however, are such that my determination cannot be altered; and I hope, after a full explanation with you, that we shall at once agree to publish the book with the least possible delay. I shall be most happy to return your note, which you may afterwards show to Messrs. B., and I may add that had you altogether refused to publish my book, it could in no way have affected my decision of leaving them.

I remain, dear Sir, faithfully yours,
John Colquhoun.

Mr. Colquhoun came up expressly to London, and after an interview with Mr. Murray, who again expressed his willingness to mediate with the Edinburgh publishers, Mr. Colquhoun repeated his final decision, and Mr. Murray at length agreed to publish the second edition of ‘The Moor and the Loch.’ It may be added that in the end Mr. Colquhoun did, as urged by Murray, return to the Blackwoods, who still continue to publish his work.

Allan Cunningham ended his literary life by preparing the ‘Memoirs’ of his friend Sir David Wilkie. Shortly before he undertook the work he had been prostrated by a stroke of paralysis, but on his partial recovery he proceeded with the memoirs, and the enfeebling effects of his attack may be traced in portions of the work. Towards the close of his life Wilkie had made a journey to the East, had painted the then Sultan at Constantinople, and afterwards made his way to Smyrna, Rhodes, Beyrout, Jaffa, and Jerusalem. He returned through Egypt, and at Alexandria he embarked on board the Oriental steamship for England. While at Alexandria, he had complained of
illness, which increased, partly in consequence of his intense sickness at sea, and he died off Gibraltar on the 1st June, 1841, when his body was committed to the deep.
Turner’s splendid picture of the scene was one of Wilkie’s best memorials. A review of Allan Cunningham’s work, by Mr. Lockhart, appeared in the Quarterly, No. 144. Previous to its appearance he wrote to Mr. Murray as follows:—

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
February 25th, 1843.
Dear Murray,

I don’t know if you have read much of ‘The Life of Wilkie.’ All Cunningham’s part seems to be wretched, but in the ‘Italian and Spanish Journals and Letters’ Wilkie shines out in a comparatively new character. He is a very eloquent and, I fancy, a deep and instructive critic on painting; at all events, Vol. ii. is full of very high interest . . . Is there anywhere a good criticism on the alteration that Wilkie’s style exhibited after his Italian and Spanish tours? The general impression always was, and I suppose will always be, that the change was for the worse. But it will be a nice piece of work to account for an unfortunate change being the result of travel and observation, which we now own to have produced such a stock of admirable theoretical disquisition on the principles of the Art. I can see little to admire or like in the man Wilkie. Some good homely Scotch kindness for kith and kin, and for some old friends too perhaps; but generally the character seems not to rise above the dull prudentialities of a decent man in awe of the world and the great, and awfully careful about No. I. No genuine enjoyment, save in study of Art, and getting money through that study. He is a fellow that you can’t suppose ever to have been drunk or in love—too much a Presbyterian Elder for either you or me.

In the beginning of 1841, Mr. John Sterling, who had already published poetry in Blackwood’s Magazine, and through Moxon, but without attracting much attention, wrote to Murray about the publication of a new poem,
entitled ‘
The Election,’ which consisted, in its first draught, of about two thousand verses. Murray so far departed from his usual rule not to publish poetry, as to intimate to Mr. Sterling’s father—Mr. Edward Sterling, then one of the leader-writers for the Times —that he would agree to print from 750 to 1250 copies of ‘The Election,’ at half profits. The number was eventually limited to 750 copies, and the author wrote to Mr. Murray, that he was quite satisfied with his arrangements, and that he “considered it a great advantage to his poem to be published by him.” Thomas Carlyle, in his ‘Life of Sterling,’ refers to the poem. It might, he said, “be called the mock-heroic, or sentimental Hudibrastic, reminding one, a little, too, of Wieland’sOberon’—it had touches of true drollery, combined not ill with grave, clear insight; showed spirit everywhere, and a plainly improved power of execution.” ‘The Election—a Poem,’ was published at the end of 1841, but notwithstanding Carlyle’s eulogy, it did not prove a success.

“This new poetic Duodecimo,” says Carlyle, “as the last had done and as the next also did, met with little or no recognition from the world; which was not very inexcusable on the world’s part; though many a poem with far less proof of merit than this offers, has run, when the accidents favoured it, through its tens of editions, and raised the writer to the demigods for a year or two, if not longer.”

Mr. Sterling had, about this time, an opportunity of meeting Mr. Lockhart, and his impression of him confirms the opinion already given of the kindness of the man.

“I made my first oral acquaintance with Lockhart of the Quarterly, and found him as neat, clear, and cutting a brain as you would expect; but with an amount of knowledge, good nature, and liberal anti-bigotry, that would surprise many. The tone of his children towards him seemed to me decisive of his real kindness.”


Mr. Murray received another communication from Mr. Sterling (16th December, 1841). “Not,” he said, “respecting his own literary affairs, but those of a friend.” The friend was Mr. John Stuart Mill, son of the historian of British India. He had completed his work on Logic, of which Mr. Sterling had the highest opinion. He said it had been the “labour of many years of a singularly subtle, patient, and comprehensive mind. It will be our chief speculative monument of this age.” Mr. Mill himself addressed Mr. Murray, first on the 20th December, 1841, while he was preparing the work for the press, and again in January and February, 1842, when he had forwarded the MS. to the publisher, and requested his decision. We find, however, that Mr. Murray was very ill at the time; that he could not give the necessary attention to the subject; and that the MS. was eventually returned.

The Quarterly went on as usual. Lockhart often exceeded even himself in the spirit and entertainment of his articles. In No. 137 he wrote a paper on the Copyright Question:—

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
Dec. 13th, 1841.

“As to my own article, you can, if you please, reject it in toto; but if so, I am pledged to Mr. Wordsworth, and it must go to Blackwood. I don’t at present feel at all disposed to take thought about Peel’s or any other politician’s opinion. I have studied the subject, and so has Wordsworth, who is at least as likely to study any question to advantage as Sir Robert Peel. I propose no plan for an Act of Parliament. But I think I have shown that unless more protection be given to authors and publishers—whose interests I have treated as identical, which they are—our literature must expire in a muddled heap of fraudulent and worthless compilations, and base appeals to the lower passions. After all, just ask yourself whether the Editor of the Quarterly Review has not a right to express his own
deliberate opinion on a subject of this sort whenever he pleases? It seems to me that if he has not that right, he has none.”

Mr. Thomas Mitchell also wrote to Mr. Murray on the same subject:—

Mr. Mitchell to John Murray.
Jan. 15th, 1842.

“I do sincerely hope that whatever may be the fate of the next Copyright Bill, which, it seems, is to be introduced to the new Parliament, as far as authors are concerned, that effectual steps will be taken to secure publishers from the infamous piracies of the foreign market. Two years ago, I remember that a travelled friend told me that you had yourself suffered largely from this conduct, which is as disgraceful to our legislature as ruinous to individuals. Protection to publishers would, I believe, be the best protection to nine-tenths of us authors. I don’t know who is the author of the paper in the Quarterly on the subject, but I am reading it a second time from the interest which I feel in it.”

* Mr. Mitchell made very little by his authorship. Towards the end of his days, when he found his powers failing, Sir Robert Peel had the generosity to place £150 at his disposal. Mr. Mitchell was then preparing an edition of Aristophanes for the use of schools. Mr. Lockhart, with whom he was intimate, was much annoyed to find that he had introduced so many political notions into the ‘Notes to Aristophanes.’ “Nothing,” he wrote to Murray, “can be in worse taste than the mingling up of ephemeral politics with the ‘Notes on Aristophanes.’ I declare I never could have fancied anything so preposterous as allusions to Benjamin Hawes, soap-boiler, M.P. for Lambeth, and others of that order, in the sheets now returned. . . . What should we think of an edition of Aristophanes stuffed full of Wilkes or Dr. Sacheverell? But you must not tell T. M. that I consider his wit and humour anything but Aristophanic. Worse drivelling have I seldom encountered than all this about the savants of Birmingham. Why make a School Book a Tory Book? You won’t get it into Rugby.” Before the school book was issued, all the offensive political notes were expurgated.


When Copyright became the subject of legislation the following year, Mr. Murray received a letter from Mr. Gladstone.

Mr. Gladstone to John Murray.
Whitehall, February 6th, 1843.
My dear Sir,

I beg leave to thank you for the information contained in and accompanying your note which reached me on Saturday.

The view with which the clauses relating to copyright in the Customs’ Act were framed was that those interested in the exclusion of pirated works would take care to supply the Board of Customs from time to time with lists of all works under copyright which were at’ all likely to be reprinted abroad, and that this would render the law upon the whole much more operative and more fair than an enormous catalogue of all the works entitled to the privilege, of which it would be found very difficult for the officers at the ports to manage the use.

Directions in conformity with the Acts of last Session will be sent to the Colonies.

But I cannot omit to state that I learn from your note with great satisfaction, that steps are to be taken here to back the recent proceedings of the Legislature. I must not hesitate to express my conviction that what Parliament has done will be fruitless, unless the law be seconded by the adoption of such modes of publication, as will allow the public here and in the colonies to obtain possession of new and popular English works at moderate prices. If it be practicable for authors and publishers to make such arrangements, I should hope to see a great extension of our book trade, as well as much advantage to literature, from the measures that have now been taken and from those which I trust we shall be enabled to take in completion of them; but unless the proceedings of the trade itself adapt and adjust themselves to the altered circumstances, I can feel no doubt that we shall relapse into or towards the old state of things; the law will be first evaded and then relaxed.

I remain, my dear Sir,
Faithfully yours,
W. E. Gladstone.

Shortly after his second marriage, Southey’s intellect began to fail him, and he soon sank into a state of mental imbecility. He would wander about his library, take down a book, look into it, and then put it back again, but was incapable of work. When Mr. Murray sent him the octavo edition of the ‘Peninsular War,’ his wife answered:—

Mrs. Southey to John Murray.
Greta Hall, May 15th, 1840.

If the word pleasure were not become to me as a dead letter, I should tell you with how much I took possession of your kind gift. But I may tell you truly that it gratified, and more than gratified me, by giving pleasure to my dear husband, as a token of your regard for him, so testified towards myself. The time is not far passed when we should have rejoiced together like children over such an acquisition.

Yours very truly and thankfully,
Car. Southey.
May 23rd, 1840.
Dear Sir,

Very cordially I return your friendly salutations, feeling, as I do, that every manifestation of kindness for my husband’s sake is more precious to me than any I could receive for my own exclusively. Two-and-twenty years ago, when he wished to put into your hands, as publisher, a first attempt of mine, of which he thought better than it deserved, he little thought that in so doing he was endeavouring to forward the interests of his future wife; of her for whom it was appointed (a sad but honoured lot) to be the companion of his later days, over which it has pleased God to cast the “shadow before” of that “night in which no man can work.” But twelve short months ago he was cheerfully anticipating (in the bright buoyancy of his happy nature) a far other companionship for the short remainder of our earthly sojourn; never forgetting, however, that ours must be short at the longest, and that “in the midst of life we are in death.” He desires me to thank you for your kind
expressions towards him, and to be most kindly remembered to you. Your intimation of the favourable progress of his 8vo ‘
Book of the Church’ gave him pleasure, and he thanks you for so promptly attending to his wishes about a neatly bound set of his ‘Peninsular War.’ Accept my assurances of regard, and believe me to be, dear Sir,

Yours very truly,
Caroline Southey.

On September 17th, 1840, Mr. Murray sent to Mr. Southey a draft for £259, being the balance for his ‘Book of the Church,’ and informed him that he would be pleased to know that another edition was called for. Mrs. Southey replied:—

Mrs. Southey to John Murray.

“He made no remark on your request to be favoured with any suggestions he might have to offer. My sad persuasion is that Robert Southey’s works have received their last revision and correction from his mind and pen.”

Greta Hall, October 5th, 1840.
Dear Sir,

I will not let another post go out, without conveying to you my thanks for your very kind letter last night received. It will gratify you to know that its contents (the copy of the critique included), aroused and fixed Mr. Southey’s attention more than anything that has occurred for months past—gratifying him, I believe, far more than anything more immediately concerning himself could have done. “Tell Murray,” he said, “I am very much obliged to him.” It is long since he has sent a message to friend or relation.

Now let me say for myself that I am very thankful to you—very thankful to my indulgent reviewer—and that if I could yet feel interest about anything of my own writing, I should be pleased and encouraged by his encomium—as well as grateful for it. But if it did not sound thanklessly,
I should say, “too late—too late—it comes too late!” and that bitter feeling came upon me so suddenly, as my eyes fell upon the passage in question, that they overflowed with tears before it was finished.

But he did take interest in it, at least for a few moments, and so it was not quite too late; and (doing as I know he would have me), I shall act upon your most kind and friendly advice, and transmit it to Blackwood, who will, I doubt not, be willingly guided by it.

It was one of my husband’s pleasant visions before our marriage, and his favourite prospect, to publish a volume of poetry conjointly with me, not weighing the disproportion of talent.

I must tell you that immediately on receiving the Review, I should have written to express my sense of your kindness, and of the flattering nature of the critique; but happening to tell Miss Southey and her brother that you had sent it me, as I believed, as an obliging personal attention, they assured me I was mistaken, and that the numbers were only intended for “their set.” Fearing, therefore, to arrogate to myself more than was designed for me, I kept silence; and now expose my simplicity rather than leave myself open to the imputation of unthankfulness. Mr. Southey desires to be very kindly remembered to you, and I am, my dear Sir,

Very thankfully and truly yours,
Car. Southey.

P.S.—I had almost forgotten to thank you for so kindly offering to send the Review to any friends of mine, I may wish to gratify. I will accept the proffered favour, and ask you to send one addressed to Miss Burnard, Shirley, Southampton, Hants. The other members of my family and most of my friends take the Q. R., or are sure of seeing it. This last number is an excellent one.

A final letter reached Mr. Murray from Mrs. Southey announcing the approaching end of Robert Southey’s life:—

Mrs. Southey to John Murray.
Feb. 27th, 1843.

“There has been little alteration in my husband’s state until about three weeks ago, when he had a slight—a very slight—apoplectic seizure. He was promptly relieved, and there has been no recurrence of alarming symptoms. But the warning was an impressive one.”

As in the case of Sir Walter Scott, the seizures returned. Southey became less able to resist them, and died on the 21st of March, 1843.

Thomas Mitchell was much distressed by the deaths of his old friends.

“Disease and death,” he wrote to Murray, “seem to be making no small havoc among our literary men—Maginn, Cunningham, Basil Hall, and poor Southey, worst of all. Lockhart’s letters of late have made me very uneasy, too, about him. Has he yet returned from Scotland, and is he at all improved?”

Lockhart, however, was still working as industriously as usual for the Quarterly. When he was ill or absent, he left the Review in charge of the indefatigable Mr. Croker. Theodore Hook was one of those literary men who had recently departed. Mr. Lockhart wrote for the May number of the Quarterly an account of his life, which proved to be one of the most charming and entertaining of his compositions.

Mr. Lockhart to John Murray.
Mar. 28th, 1843.
Dear M.,

I am sorry indeed to find that you have been so unwell. Let me hope you are now yourself, and that we shall meet now and then. I have been myself neither well nor in good spirits, but I worked hard for a while on Hook’s papers,
and am willing to work again at
Wilkie’s’,* though I don’t like the character. It wants generosity and openness, and without these qualities who can care much about any man? The real merit is his critiques on Art. If you encourage me, after reading my sketch of Theodore Hook, I will try. but I don’t often please you, I know, and have little heart, therefore, for writing with a view to Q. R.

Many important books about Afghanistan were published about this time. Mr. Murray had already brought out a ‘Residence in Cabool,’ by Sir Alexander Burnes, afterwards murdered in that city, and this was in due course succeeded by Lieutenant Eyre’sMilitary Operations in Cabool,’ which appeared in January 1843. Mr. Murray presented a copy of the work to Mr. W. E. Gladstone, who, after perusing it, wrote to him:—

“I have read it with great pain and shame, which are, as I fear one must say in such a case, the tests of its merits as a work. May another occasion for such a narrative never arise!”

But the most important work of the kind was Lady Sale’sJournal.’ Sir Robert H. Sale was the general who commanded the British forces sent to redeem the British name in Afghanistan. He forced the Jugdullock Pass, stormed the fort of Mamoo Khail, and retreated to Jellalabad, where, after a siege by the Afghan troops, he attacked and utterly routed them. Finally, he advanced upon Cabool, and contributed to its capture. Lady Sale’s narrative related to the memorable retreat from Afghanistan, and will not soon be forgotten.

Sir Francis B. Head, in acknowledging the receipt of the book, wrote:—

* The article on Wilkie appeared in the following number (144).

Sir F. B. Head to John Murray.
April 19th, 1843.

Your kind present of ‘Lady Sale’ reached me on the day of the arrival of my eldest son from India after an absence of seven years. He has returned to me in such robust health that, to tell you the truth, I have been too overjoyed to read, or do anything rational but look at him. Tomorrow, however, I shall leave my young man for your old woman, of whose charms I can give you the following proof. I was at a committee this morning, when I heard a gentleman say: “My friend, Mr. Bouverie, got hold of Lady Sale’s book yesterday evening, and sat reading it till five o’clock this morning.” In fact, he passed the night with Lady Sale instead of with his own wife. I mention this as one of the sins for which, as a publisher, you will some of these days have to account.

Yours, my dear friend, very sincerely,
F. B. Head.

Mr. Lockhart, on receiving his copy of the work (April 3rd, 1843), wrote that he thought—

“It must have a great vogue, especially among the ladies. I am truly delighted,” he continued, “to hear that you are yourself once more, and that news will do much good, I assure you, as well as myself. I dined yesterday with Lord Mahon, where we had only Peel, Brougham, Hallam and Follet. Brougham charming, and the Premier very funny, but looking, I thought, very worn and bloated, and not happy until he had had some wine.”

This was the last important work that Mr. Murray published: in the autumn of 1842 his health began to fail rapidly, and he found it necessary to live much out of London, and to try various watering-places; but although he rallied at times sufficiently to return to his business for short periods, he never recovered, and passed away in sleep on the 27th of June, 1843, at the age of sixty-five.