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Memoir of John Murray
John Gibson Lockhart to John Murray, 27 November 1825

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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Sunday, Chiefswood, Nov. 27th, 1825.
My dear Murray,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* The eminent surgeon.

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

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

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

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