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Memoir of John Murray
John Murray to Archibald Constable, 14 December 1805

Vol. 1 Contents
Chapter I.
Chapter II.
Chapter III.
Chapter IV.
Chapter V.
Chapter VI.
Chapter VII.
Chapter VIII.
Chapter IX.
Chapter X.
Chapter XI.
Chapter XII.
Chapter XIII.
Chapter XIV.
Chapter XV.
Chapter XVI.
Chapter XVII.
Chapter XVIII.
Chapter XIX.
Vol. 2 Contents
Chap. XX.
Chap. XXI.
Chap. XXII.
Chap. XXIII.
Chap. XXIV.
Chap. XXV.
Chap. XXVI.
Chap. XXVII.
Chap. XXIX.
Chap. XXX.
Chap. XXXI.
Chap. XXXII.
Chap. XXXIV.
Chap. XXXV.
Chap. XXXVI.
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Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Produced by CATH
December 14th, 1805.

Mr. Hunter’s obliging letter to me arrived this morning. That which he enclosed with yours to his brother last night, Charles gave me to read. The contents were very flattering. Indeed, I cannot but agree with Mr. H. that his brother has displayed very honourable feelings, upon hearing of the probable separation of your house, and that of Messrs. Longman & Co. Mr. Longman was the first who
mentioned this to him, and indeed from the manner in which Charles related his conversation upon the affair, I could not but feel renewed sensations of regret at the unpleasant termination of a correspondence, which, had it been conducted upon Mr. Longman’s own feelings, would have borne, I think, a very different aspect. Longman spoke of you both with kindness, and mildly complained that he had perceived a want of confidence on your part, ever since his junction with Messrs.
Hurst and Orme. He confessed that the correspondence was too harsh for him to support any longer; but, he added, ‘if we must part, let us part like friends’ I am certain, from what Charles reported to me, that Mr. L. and I think Mr. R. (Rees) are hurt by this sudden disunion.

Recollect how serious every dispute becomes upon paper, when a man writes a thousand asperities merely to show or support his superior ability. Things that would not have been spoken, or perhaps even thought of in conversation, are stated and horribly magnified upon paper. Consider how many disputes have arisen in the world, in which both parties were so violent in what they believed to be the support of truth, and which to the public, and indeed to themselves a few years afterwards, appeared unwise, because the occasion or cause of it was not worth contending about. Consider that you are, all of you, men who can depend upon each other’s probity and honour, and where these essentials are not wanting, surely in mere matters of business the rest may be palliated by mutual bearance and forbearance. Besides, you are so connected by various publications, your common property, and some of them, such as will remain so until the termination of your lives, that you cannot effect an entire disunion, and must therefore be subject to eternal vexations and regrets which will embitter every transaction and settlement between you.

You know, moreover, that it is one of the misfortunes of our nature, that disputes are always the most bitter in proportion to former intimacy. And how much dissatisfaction will it occasion if either of you are desirous in a year or two of renewing that intimacy which you are now so anxious to dissolve—to say nothing of your relative utility to each other—a circumstance which is never properly estimated, except when the want of the means reminds us
of what we have been at such pains to deprive ourselves. Pause, my dear sirs, whilst to choose be yet in your power; show yourselves superior to common prejudice, and by an immediate exercise of your acknowledged pre-eminence of intellect, suffer arrangements to be made for an accommodation and for a renewal of that connexion which has heretofore been productive of honour and profit. I am sure I have to apologize for having ventured to say so much to men so much my superiors in sense and knowledge of the world and their own interest; but sometimes the meanest bystander may perceive disadvantages in the movements of the most skilful players.

You will not, I am sure, attribute anything which I have said to an insensibility to the immediate advantages which will arise to myself from a determination opposite to that which I have taken the liberty of suggesting. It arises from a very different feeling. I should be very little worthy of your great confidence and attention to my interest upon this occasion, if I did not state freely the result of my humble consideration of this matter; and having done so, I do assure you that if the arrangements which you now propose are carried into effect, I will apply the most arduous attention to your interest, to which I will turn the channel of my own thoughts and business, which, I am proud to say, is rising in proportion to the industry and honourable principles which have been used in its establishment. I am every day adding to a most respectable circle of literary connexions, and I hope, a few months after the settlement of your present affairs, to offer shares to you of works in which you will feel it advantageous to engage. Besides, as I have at present no particular bias, no enormous works of my own which would need all my care, I am better qualified to attend to any that you may commit to my charge; and, being young, my business may be formed with a disposition, as it were, towards yours; and thus growing up with it, we are more likely to form a durable connexion than can be expected with persons whose views are imperceptibly but incessantly diverging from each other.

Should you be determined—irrevocably determined (but consider!) upon the disunion with Messrs. Longman, I will just observe that when persons have been intimate, they have discovered each other’s vulnerable points; it
therefore shows no great talent to direct at them shafts of resentment. It is easy both to write and to say ill-natured, harsh, and cutting things of each other. But remember that this power is mutual, and in proportion to the poignancy of the wound which you would inflict will be your own feelings when it is returned. It is therefore a maxim which I laid down soon after a separation which I had, never to say or do to my late colleague what he could say or do against me in return. I knew that I had the persona! superiority, but what his own ingenuity could not suggest, others could write for him.

I must apologize again for having been so tedious, but I am sure that the same friendliness on your part which has produced these hasty but well-meant expostulations will excuse them. After this, I trust it is unnecessary for me to state with how much sincerity,

I am, dear sirs,
Your faithful friend,
John Murray.