LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
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Memoir of John Murray
Isaac D’Israeli to John Murray, 5 August 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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Brighton, August 5th, 1805.
My dear Sir,

Your letter is one of the repeated specimens I have seen of your happy art of giving interest even to commonplace correspondence; and I, who am so feelingly alive to the “pains and penalties” of postage, must acknowledge that such letters, ten times repeated, would please me as often.

We should have been very happy to see you here, provided it occasioned no intermission in your more
serious occupations, and could have added to your amusements.

With respect to the projected ‘Institute,’* if that title be English—doubtless the times are highly favourable to patronize a work skilfully executed, whose periodical pages would be at once useful for information, and delightful for elegant composition, embellished by plates, such as have never yet been given, both for their subjects and their execution. Literature is a perpetual source opened to us; but the Fine Arts present an unploughed field, and an originality of character. The progress of the various Institutions is so much sunshine to this work. These will create an appetite, and while they provoke the curiosity, will impart a certain degree of understanding to the readers, without which a work can never be very popular. Could you secure the numerous Smatterers of this age, you will have an enviable body of subscribers. But the literary department of the work may be rendered of more permanent value. You are every day enlarging your correspondence with persons of real talent. Shee† is a man of genius, with a pen rather too fluent. Various passages in his prose might have been thrown out in the second edition, but an ardent Irishman is rarely known to eat his own words. “General” Duncan‡ may command the Oxford troops, though some of them perhaps are the “Heavy Horse.” Diversified talents are useful. You ask for a definite plan. Put into action, these and many more quarters will provide a number of good things, and it will not be difficult to lay out the tables.

But Money, Money must not be spared in respect to rich, beautiful, and interesting Engravings. On this I have something to communicate. Encourage Dagley§ whose busts of Seneca and Scarron are pleasingly executed; but

* This was a work at one time projected by Mr. Murray, but other more pressing literary arrangements prevented the scheme being carried into effect.

Martin Archer Shee (afterwards President of the Royal Academy) published in 1805, ‘Rhymes on Art; or, the Remonstrance of a Painter.’ Lord Byron thought well of the work.

‡ Two brothers of this name, Fellows of New College, Oxford, were intimate literary friends of the Murrays and D’Israelis.

§ The engraver of the Frontispiece of ‘Flim-Flams.’

you will also want artists of name. I have a friend, extremely attached to literature and the fine arts, a gentleman of opulent fortune; by what passed with him in conversation, I have reason to believe that he would be ready to assist by money to a considerable extent. Would that suit you? How would you arrange with him? Would you like to divide your work in Shares? He is an intimate friend of
West’s, and himself too an ingenious writer.

How came you to advertise ‘Domestic Anecdotes?’ Kearsley printed 1250 copies. I desire that no notice of the authors of that work may be known from your side.

I have seen nothing of the Prince [of Wales] here: Brighton has had a dull season. But a Prince called on me, whom I much esteem—Prince Hoare; he is Secretary for Foreign Correspondence to the Royal Academy, and lent me the third number of his ‘Academic Annals,’ a very useful project which the Academy has now adopted. He is to give an annual account of the state of the Arts throughout Europe. Perhaps he might contribute to your Institute.

At this moment I receive your packet of poems, and Shee’s letter. I perceive that he is impressed by your attentions and your ability. It will always afford me one of my best pleasures to forward your views; I claim no merit from this, but my discernment in discovering your talents, which, under the genius of Prudence (the best of all Genii for human affairs), must inevitably reach the goal. The literary productions of I. D[’Israeli] and others may not augment the profits of your trade in any considerable degree; but to get the talents of such writers at your command is a prime object, and others will follow.

I had various conversations with Phillips* here; he is equally active, but more wise. He owns his belles-lettres books have given no great profits; in my opinion he must have lost even by some. But he makes a fortune by juvenile and useful compilations. You know I always told you he wanted literary taste—like an atheist, who is usually a disappointed man, he thinks all belles lettres are nonsense, and denies the existence of taste; but it exists! and I

* Sir Richard Phillips, bookseller.

flatter myself you will profit under that divinity. I have much to say on this subject and on him when we meet.

At length I have got through your poetry: it has been a weary task! The writer has a good deal of fire, but it is rarely a very bright flame. Here and there we see it just blaze, and then sink into mediocrity. He is too redundant and tiresome. ’Tis possible enough, if he is young, he may one day be a Poet; but in truth there are few exquisite things and too much juvenility. There is nothing sufficiently defined, no pictures with finished design and bright colouring, and the greater part is a general vague commonplace. The poem on the “Boy blowing Bubbles” pleased me the best. That on “Sensibility” I do not see contains anything very novel. The whole is composed with some fancy not yet matured, with art not yet attained, and with too great a facility for rhyming. Compression, condensation, and nicety of taste are much wanted; and on the whole I think these poems will not answer the views of a bookseller. ’Tis a great disadvantage to read them in MS., as one cannot readily turn to passages; but life is too short to be peeping into other peoples’ MSS. I prefer your prose to your verse. Let me know if you receive it safely, and pray give no notion to any one that I have seen the MS.

I see there is a third edition of ‘The Sabbath,’ in spite of the cold insolence of the Edinburgh Review. I observe that you are meditating an important expedition to Edinburgh. A Scotchman is a good test of his adversary’s sagacity; I am sure you do not want for any. Mrs. D’Israeli’s best regards: she received a letter from your sister.

Believe me, as ever, yours, &c.,
I. D’Israeli.