The Collected Letters, Volume 12


JWC TO ANNA BROWNELL JAMESON ; 6 October 1840; DOI: 10.1215/lt-18401006-JWC-ABJ-01; CL 12: 277-278


Chelsea, Tuesday morning [6 October? 1840]

Dearest Mrs. Jameson—I have seen Fraser; have held a most animated debate with him for upwards of an hour; and ended where I began,—or rather a little further back than where I began. I stated to him in the modest language of innocence and truth, that I would have £150 for my Book or would have back the MS. He on the other hand demonstrated to me by his Bookseller Arithmetic, that no edition of the Book, whether large or small, whether sold at 7s.6d. or at 10s.6d., could under any conceivable human circumstances, yield one farthing more than just £150 as the whole amount of profit; so that if this sum were paid to the Author, “what,” he asked with a look of blank pathos, “remained for the Publisher?” “Plainly nothing,” I told him, “which I regarded as a clear intimation of Providence that no such character as a Publisher should exist!” But still he thinks that he has a right to exist, and will exist, I am afraid; but it shall not be by eating up the best part of this £150.

Confused and almost driven to despair by his numerical figures,—knowing all the while there was “a do at the bottom of them,”1 tho' I, poor Ignorama, could not point it out, I took my stand on your authority, your more comprehensible arithmetic, and turned a deaf ear to the voice of the tempter.— At last, seeing that I would swear by my Egeria,2 let him talk as he would, he offered me to wait upon you, and “make you also sensible, etc.,”—a proposal which I sanctioned with perhaps a too selfish readiness.

Accordingly he proposes to call upon you on Thursday at twelve o'clock. Will this visit bore you? If so, say it without hesitation and I will crush it in the bud.

As I know that the MS. would yield upwards of £150 if cut up into Review Articles, he absolutely is not to have it for less. We can try some other consequence of the Fall of Adam in the shape of Publisher, and if they all prove alike desperate of getting anything out of it, and averse to publishing it for virtue's own reward, why then it can lie there, eating no bread, until some blessed “three days”3 in Book-sellerdom have brought out a new order of things; or it can get published among his posthumous Works. … Pardon me giving you all this trouble; it is the result of your own rash kindness.4— Fraser wished me to assist at the interview, but I do not see what I can say to him more than I have already said.

Kind regards to my Lover;5 for I take it for granted when a man admires my Notes, the joint production of such a head and such a pen, he must certainly be in love with me.

Your affec., /