Letters from a Publisher

From a long-dead publisher, that is. As you might know, the doctor-hat-wearing me is working on a postdoctoral project on Punch, the famous Victorian British magazine. I love researching 19th-century periodicals — it’s such an exciting field and so much wonderful research is getting done right now. (Case in point: Patrick Leary’s The Punch Brotherhood, which is simply brilliant!) But since I have a lot of catching-up do, I spent yesterday afternoon looking at different digital projects and online archives of old periodicals and publishing houses. Thereby I stumbled across two very sweet letters written by John Murray to his wife Annie in 1808 while he was staying in Scotland.

On September 27 he was Edinburgh and wrote:

Upon my word thou art the most impudent baggage to write so little to thy husband for whom I conclude, out of sight out of mind, you think very little about. In your letter to your mother today you say that as you have written me so many letters, & pray Miss how many more letters have you received from me? This the Eighth I believe in return for which I have got only Three—and moreover as you never condescend to ask me to write again I am inclined to suppose that you find the postage too heavy a tax upon your private purse and so I have half a mind to trouble you no more in this & to give you no further account of your husband’s (if you have not forgotten that you have one) operations—write me this instant you saucy rogue or expect to hear from me no more.

Hehe. 🙂

On October 5 he was back in Edinburgh after a visit to Sir Walter Scott. All that time, his wife Annie, it seems, was never far from his mind as he writes:

When Mr Ballantyne & I left Mr Scott & Mr Heber at Melrose & travelled to Kelso—my first attention was to secure the room where my dearest love and & I rested once before, & I did not sleep, she will believe me, without a thousand thoughts of her whom I now love a thousand times more dearly than when we were there together.

Awww! Isn’t that sweet?

He ends this letter with

My most dear Girl

Your faithful husband

John Murray

More sweetness!

All in all, I found these two letters rather charming and just couldn’t help sharing them with you. If you like to have a look at the full-length letters, head over to the correspondence archive of the Quarterly Review.

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