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The truth has been told perhaps too It is the very thing which, well rendispassionately. There is an aura about dered, gives charm to biography. We every man to his friends, which they feel it here only when Mrs. Browning may fairly, and should justly, preserve. speaks.
A view of the literature of a whole dled, and the persons involved are themperiod from the publisher's counting- selves so notable, that there is no tediroom is as useful as it is novel, and the ousness even in this most barren part history of the house of Murray favors of knowledge. On the other hand, the us with such an outlook on the world of literary interest, though occasionally subbooks of the most interesting character. ordinated, is unflagging. Murray's own The time of Scott and Byron was a character is constantly felt in a human great literary epoch, and Murray was its way; and though the authors find it a most distinguished business agent. His hard matter to lay aside completely the name is associated with its annals so traditional hostility of the craft, they closely that if he has not a literary im- show appreciation of his excellent qualmortality, he is yet the most famous of ities. He was, as Sir Walter said, publishers; the memoirs ? of his house “much a gentleman ;” and, so far as are, personally and historically, most we observe, not only was his behavior in valuable. We already owed to him the business handsome, but as a man he best of the letters of Byron, and it was showed himself more creditably in diffinot to be expected that the papers of the cult circumstances than the genteel auhouse would yield anything of equal in- thors who found it almost impossible to dividual interest; but out of the mass of forget that he was “in trade.” authors' correspondence which came to He came in at a fortunate moment him a collection has been made that is in the development of bookselling, just extraordinary for the breadth and diver- at the time when the association of the sity of its literary information. Mur- trade had given a certain dignity and ray himself is the central figure, and the high standards of conduct to its memstory is of his transactions with authors. bers, and before individual competition It is a work of the memoirs of trade, had worked unfavorable effects. He with a leading attention to the financial was attached to the older methods which fortunes of literature. There is much were already breaking up before he died, about profit and loss, the prices paid, the and in his career more than one inciavarice of authors, the relations of the dent could be noted to show how fine a house with Edinburgh and with other strain of business honor he maintained. London firms, the condition of booksell- His relations with authors in the deliing in general, the plans and ventures cate sphere of pecuniary transactions are of business, and like unpromising mat
well known. If the time, in consequence ters; but these topics are so well han- of the gains of Scott and Byron, is often
1 A Publisher and his Friends. Memoir and Correspondence of the late John Murray, with an Account of the Origin and Progress of the House, 1768-1843. SAMUEL SMILES, LL. D.
In two volumes. With portraits. London: John Murray. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1891.
called the “golden age " of authorship, be little question that he paid his reguthis is always with a reference to Mur- lar contributors more than the market ray's generosity. No doubt Murray price. To those whom he regarded with found his advantage in large payments, special friendship, and to whom he felt especially to the great writers. He obliged for their advice and countewas a man of business first, and was nance, particularly Gifford, Croker, and not intentionally over-generous except Southey, and in later years Lockhart, he when he meant to be charitable ; he lost was unwearied in attention, and most of money, for example, on Crabbe, but he these supporters were frank to say that did not mean to do so. He was cer- they were so well treated as to feel tainly shrewd, but he was not sordid, uncomfortably overpaid. The policy of and he was able to take large instead of liberality to writers of distinction, and short-sighted views of his own interest. of fairness to those whose success was He was ambitious to be distinguished in still doubtful, worked well. He gave it his trade, and he knew that to be By as his opinion that not one book in fifty ron's publisher was worth much more to paid expenses, but, notwithstanding all him on business grounds than merely risks and at a time when several great the profits of the sales. He thus at houses failed, he made a fortune. His tracted authors to him, and he also ex- only error was in attempting, in contended his custom; and he was willing junction with the younger Disraeli, to to pay for the value of the reputation found a daily newspaper, with insuffiwhich being the publisher of celebrated cient preparation. He sank in the enauthors gave him, in addition to the terprise twenty thousand pounds in six price that would be justified by the months ; but on giving it up he wrote probable cash receipts from their works. that he hoped to replace the loss by his The Cookery Book might be, in fact, a shop ” in a few months, and this was more valuable property than Childe Har- at the time when Constable and others old, but he did not confuse the different broke. natures of their values. There is no rea These volumes, however, are far from son to think that he ever lost money on being only a record of the fortunes of Byron, but if he had it would not have trade. Their more important interest been a real loss ; and it was apparently lies in the wide view they give of bookon this liberal interpretation of his self- making in the first half of the century. interest generally that he adopted the The larger number of works mentioned, policy of large prices. There were some and a considerable part of the correspondisadvantages also in the rule. He set dence, do not belong to literature in the a standard of payment which led in- higher sense. The history of the curferior authors, like Leigh Hunt, to ask rent reading of the day is reflected on more for their work than it was worth; the page, and great works appear only but he always had a remedy by adopt- as incidents, just as they were at the ing the fair procedure of assuring to the time. We see the beginning of the vast author his full share, if he proved suc number of travels in the East and Africa, cessful, either by the system of division and of polar exploration, and the earliest of profits, or by bargaining for a limit- of the collections for popular reading, ed edition and leaving future contracts the “ cabinets” and “ libraries,” in which open. The business element is less dis- the increasing spread of information that cernible in the liberality with which he specially marks this century commenced. paid his reviewers for the Quarterly. In More curious, perhaps, to the student this it appears more plainly that he took of letters are the dead books, which in pride in being generous, and there can their time had a certain vogue, often
pears, and his
great, and are now swept away, — po- him in liberal measure the flattery of etical works, by Croker, Canning, Mil- the coterie, he stimulated his genius, man, and the rest. An occasional estray urged him to his best, and expressed of the literary life is met with, like Mat- his regrets at the errors of taste and urin, in whom a pathetic human interest heart that so much impaired the exsurvives apart from the dramas that have cellence of Byron's later and satirical perished even in their titles.
works. He shared in the reverence for moirs are rich in this sort of driftwood, Byron's genius which now appears so and not the least interesting passages are much exaggerated, but he also spoke those which concern these obscurities. as a man; and when Byron used someThe task of selection would be a hope- thing of the insolence of rank, Murray's less one.
reply, in the single instance in which Almost equally unsatisfactory would he noticed it, was excellent in temper. be any attempt to exhibit the wealth of The letters of the Byron connection also illustration of character here contained include several characteristic notes of concerning distinguished writers. Sir Lady Caroline Lamb. The whole ends Walter Scott shines wherever he ap- with a detailed account of the destruc
and life contribute to tion of the Byron Memoirs, an act the whole. His literary industry apart which, from the business point of view, from writing novels is astonishing, and was as honorable to him as anything in his large plans, such as that for the Murray's career. Of other writers, Colecollection of British novelists, show the ridge and Wordsworth both figure, but large .mind, the inexhaustible
not in any material way, and Southey that seems indifferent to the amount of comes in often, but usually in a disconlabor involved in any project ; and every- tented or perverse frame of mind, since where the natural kindness, the human- he was obliged to live by reviews and ity and tolerance, and the sound sense suffer Gifford to “mutilate " them, when of the Scott whom Lockhart first made he would have preferred to live by faknown to the world are delightfully re
mous histories and great poems. Campvealed. The attitude he held toward bell, Hogg, and Moore are also writers Byron, as it is shown here in several who do little more than appear on the letters, is the most considerate morally, page, but in each case long enough to and the finest so far as regards the per- yield a striking portrait of their personsonal aspect of the matter, that could alities. Irving is brought in principally, be conceived in the case. A letter re
it would seem, to illustrate how much commending Lockhart, or rather defend- better his bargains were for himself than ing him against some faultfinders when for Murray. Other authors of repute of about to become the editor of the Quar- whom we learn something are Hallam, terly, is perfect in taste and admirable Milman, Napier, Sir John Malcolm, Sir in substance, a model of what such a Francis Head, the elder D’Israeli, Maletter should be; and the letter to Mur- dame de Staël, Hope, Cunningham, ray, on the resignation by him of his Belzoni, Ugo Foscolo, Basil Hall, Lyell,
, copyright in Marmion, is faultless. Un- Murchison, Fanny Kemble, Mrs. Somerfortunately, Murray was seldom Scott's ville, Mrs. Norton, Borrow, and a host publisher. In the correspondence with of the less known whose books were the Byron, the other protagonist of the work, literature of the twenties and thirties. it is Murray who deserves the praise. The third leading interest of the work He addressed him as the noble lord, is the history of the great Quarterly, of but he retained much of the freedom which Murray was perhaps prouder than of the friend, and while conveying to of his connection with Byron. There was
some justice in the phrase which called ated to-day by authors who were more this a
“ National Work." The Edin- than hacks. His judgment, if hard, was burgh preceded it, and showed the power sound, and there can be no question that as well as the usefulness of such a pub- the quality of the Review, its Englishlication. The Quarterly was founded to thoroughbred quality, was due to him. be its rival, and was intended to have He acted besides as Murray's literary political weight from the start. Can- adviser, as did Croker and the elder ning's interest was engaged, and from D' Israeli, and in his intimate connectime to time an article was “ inspired.” tion with the house he became a sort Murray, nevertheless, was eventually of prime minister. Murray was devoted disappointed in his hopes of what the to him, and cared for him with the fidelparty in power would do for it. He ity and forethought of a brother. He was obliged to rely virtually upon the was highly regarded in many quarters, corps of contributors which was early and the perusal of these papers must do gathered about it and was always dili- much to convince the reader of the gross gently recruited. Sir Walter lent his injustice that has been done to an able powerful aid from the start, and many and conscientious, though sometimes bitreaders may be surprised at the consid
solid intellectual power. erable number of reviews that he wrote Under his guidance and with the assisfor its pages down to his death. Southey tance of Murray's untiring energy, the and Croker were a main dependence. Review became an organ of intellectual The former was particularly useful, both opinion of the first consequence. Its from his facility and range, and from the notable articles and their writers are folquality of his thought, which was largely lowed here year by year, and thus a leavened with the average opinion of the chapter is disclosed and given to the hisclass to which it appealed; while Croker tory of English writers of this century had qualities of a more effective if less which well deserved to be written. On admirable kind. But the strength of Gifford's death, Sir John Coleridge sucthe Review was its editor, Gifford. It ceeded for a short time, to be in turn is a pleasure to find out what sort of a followed by Lockhart. The reflections man he was, and here are excellent ma- made upon Gifford apply also in some terials for judgment. Gifford is per- degree to this latter much-disliked critic. haps as well hated a name as there is He had personal defects, but as a critic in English critical annals; or, if this he had excellent discernment. In regard be too strong a statement, there is cer- to his earlier life, — and he was barely tainly something sinister in his reputa- thirty when he took the Quarterly, tion. His early life, which was one of more particularly in all that relates to his uncommon hardship and difficulty, is writings in Blackwood's, the letter of Sir sketched in detail, and the fortunes of Walter Scott, already referred to, says the poor and misformed boy are followed the last word. All that we have space through childhood and college to the to
is that he had some of the best time when he was asked to preside over qualities of an editor for the authors and the destinies of the Review ; much be- public with which he had to deal. Mursides is told of his personal life and ray had been connected with Blackcharacter, but more noticeable than such wood's during the time of the personal biographical details, though honorable articles in that review, and it is in conto him, is the light thrown on his edi- sonance with his character that he contintorial work. He wrote nothing, but he ually protested against them, and finally
. rewrote a great deal. Such supervision severed his connection with it on this as he exercised would hardly be toler- ground alone. The Quarterly, though
sufficiently severe, was never afflicted by tell the publisher's side of the story; to the youthful wantonness of Blackwood's, literary scholars, they bring much infor
, and when Lockhart undertook the editor- mation about persons and books that is ship he had left that mood behind. The new and historically valuable. Murray conduct of the Review from its start to himself — and the work is essentially his the close of Murray's life is capitally biography, though his labors are dealt illustrated, and on the whole effectively with more than his life — is set forth defended.
with a character of honorable dealing The little that has been said of these and liberal ideas that is most pleasing, volumes, we are well aware, does them and with a personal attractiveness which scanty justice, and indicates only too su- is not the less strong because its main perficially the mine of literary informa- element is something that earns our retion which they contain. Their wealth spect. His portrait was needed to comis almost purely of details, and cannot plete the group of the authors of the be generally treated. To authors, they period.
CANADA AND THE CANADIAN QUESTION.
MR. GOLDWIN SMITH is an earnest and we cannot resist the suspicion that man, and he writes with an earnest the devils of Canadian Tories, bad as pen; he has strong convictions, and he we know them to be, are not as black is frank in expressing them. Enthusi- as their detractor has painted them. astic and confident, his diction is for- Mr. Smith's wealth of words, indeed, cible, and everything he produces is is as great as ever, in spite of the readable. His latest work 1 is reada- deterioration of style, and he is still ble, and all the more so, perhaps, be- master of apt expression. Raciness, incause it is one-sided. It is character- nuendo, banter, irony, and sarcasm, istic, too, of the later Smith. There now as of yore, heighten the effect of was an early Raphael and a later Ra- paragraphs, though they sometimes dephael. There was an early Smith, tract from the force of pages which whose orderly and decorous bearing re- Bryce would have treated with gravity flected the calmness and self-control of and Tacitus with severity. Neverthethe cloister, and there is a post-profes- less, with contemporary history itself sorial Smith, flitting hither and yon, to sustain him, nay, with the living with a style in literature which betrays scene before us,
- his statements carry one long steeped in controversy. We conviction. We may wish that it had tire of inversion, and grow impatient not been possible, from the nature of at turning sentences upside down in things, for any one to write the chapter order to get at their meaning. There on The Fruits of Confederation; but is a plentiful lack of tact: grates we know, from what is before our very upon our Yankee touchiness to have the
eyes, that, sooner or later, it would have Father of the Constitution stigmatized to be written. Is it true that in Canaas unconscientious, and to have Henry da the race from which we sprang has Clay styled an aggressive demagogue; been slipping backward? If so, all the
1 Canuda and the Canadian Question. By physical energy and all the material GOLDWIN SMITH, D. C. L. London and New advance of the British in Canada go York: Macmillan & Co. 1891.
for nothing, since it is revealed that