1891 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Horace Smith

Samuel Smiles, "Rejected Addresses" A Publisher and his Friends: Memoir of John Murray (1891) 2:77.



The refusal of the "Rejected Addresses," by Horace and James Smith, was one of Mr. Murray's few mistakes. Horace was a stockbroker, and James a solicitor. They were not generally known as authors, though they contributed anonymously to the New Monthly Magazine, which was conducted by Campbell the poet. In 1812 they produced a collection of supposed "Rejected Addresses, presented for competition at the opening of Drury Lane Theatre." They offered the collection to Mr. Murray for 20, but he declined to purchase the copyright. The Smiths were connected with Cadell the publisher, and Murray, thinking that the MS. had been offered to and rejected by him, declined to look into it. The "Rejected Addresses" were eventually published by John Miller, and excited a great deal of curiosity. They were considered to be the best imitations of living poets ever made. Byron was delighted with them. He wrote to Mr. Murray that he thought them "by far the best thing of the kind since the Rolliad." Crabbe said of the verses in imitation of himself, "In their versification they have done me admirably." When he afterwards met Horace Smith, he seized both hands of the satirist, and said, with a good-natured laugh, "Ah! my old enemy, how do you do?" Jeffrey said of the collection, "I take them, indeed, to be the very best imitations (and often of very difficult originals) that ever were made, and considering their extent and variety, to indicate a talent to which I do not know where to look for a parallel." Murray had no sooner read the volume than he spared no pains to become the publisher, but it was not until after the appearance of the sixteenth edition that he was able to purchase the copyright for 131.