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Eustace Clare Grenville Murray

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Published : 84 Articles
Pen Names : None
Date of Birth : N/A
Death : 20/12/1881
Views : 1877

Journalist, member of diplomatic corps. Said to have been natural son of Richard Grenville, second Duke of Buckingham and Chandos. Matriculated at Oxford, 1848; did not take degree. Admitted at Inner Temple, 1850. In his early twenties began contributing to periodicals. Entered diplomatic service under patronage of Palmerston; from 1851 to 1868, held posts successively in Vienna, Hanover, Constantinople, Mytilene, and Odessa, in a career marked by bitter friction with officials under whom he served. Returned to England, 1868, and engaged in journalism. An article in an abusive society paper with which he was connected resulted in his being horsewhipped by Lord Carington: in legal proceedings that followed, was charged with perjury; left for France, 1869, while on bail; did not again return to England. In Paris, served as correspondent for Daily News; contributed to Pall Mall Gazette, Cornhill, Illustrated London News, and other English periodicals; also to French and American publications. According to Yates (Recollections and Experiences, p. 451) was rumoured to have conducted a kind of "literary manufactory", it being thought impossible that all the writing credited to him simultaneously should have sprung from one man. Co-founder, with Yates, of the World, 1874. Author of some thirty works, fiction and non-fiction, some of them reprintings of his periodical contributions. Among his well-known books were the "Roving Englishman" series; The Member for Paris, 1871; Young Brown, 1874; French Pictures in English Chalk, 1876, 1878.


Murray admired Dickens; in his Embassies and Foreign Courts (p. 356) he referred to him as "one of the greatest and kindliest public teachers England has ever known". Yates stated that before he made Murray's acquaintance in the 1860s, he "had often heard much [of Murray] from Dickens and others" (Recollections, p. 447). The "others" must have included Wills, who was a good friend of both Yates and Murray. It was to Wills that Murray dedicated The Roving Englishman. Murray became a H.W. contributor at Wills's suggestion. The collapse of certain "great expectations" having left him at his "wits' end", he went to the. Continent, apparently about 1850; it was in that year that Wills mentioned to him that Dickens "would have no objection" to publishing in H.W. "any useful, practical hints or sketches of foreign manners" that Murray might pick up. Murray acted on the suggestion, and with some pride saw his early contributions in print. The sketches soon began to appear under the collective title "The Roving Englishman"—which became one of Murray's pseudonyms. Having, meanwhile, been appointed to a diplomatic post, Murray wrote the sketches in his "moments of idleness" ("Preface", The Roving Englishman). His connection with H.W., stated Murray, "opened to me a new life". It launched him on the journalistic career that was to win him acclaim as "one of the most brilliant journalists of the day" (J. C. Francis, comp., John Francis, II, 492)—"the ablest journalist of the century" ("Anecdotal Photographs", Truth, December 29 1881).

According to Yates (Recollections, p. 448), Dickens greatly liked Murray's "Roving Englishman" series. In Dickens's letters, however, the few comments on Murray's contributions are for the most part critical of their content, and style. One of Murray's articles ("Common-Sense on Wheels") Dickens mistrusted in the matter of accuracy of information. Another contained statements "much too strong for me to commit myself to without a positive knowledge of the facts"; it was not to be used. The same article was reprehensible also for its slovenly writing (to Wills, March 29 1851; July 4 1853). Another was "conceited"; and one for A.Y.R. was objectionable in phraseology; Wills was to delete "anything 'swell'—such as the word 'shindy' or any similar yaw-yawdom" and to strike the entire paragraph touching the "gallant steed" (August 7 1854; November 25 1862). One of Murray's contributions to A.Y.R., however, Dickens did refer to as "very good" (to Wills, December 6 1867). The articles assigned in the Office Book jointly to Murray and Dickens were revised by Dickens; they were not actual collaborations of the two writers. (For versions of the revision of "Foreigners' Portraits of Englishmen", see Stone, ed., Charles Dickens' Uncollected Writings from Household Words, Appendix A).

It was the H.W. lead article "On Her Majesty's Service" that brought to public attention the most notorious of Murray's feuds with officialdom—that with Sir Stratford Canning, then ambassador to Turkey. Dickens, who worked on the article himself, was unaware that the "Sir Hector Stubble" of the satirical sketch was Canning, but Canning's friends and enemies immediately recognized the original and sent Canning copies of the H.W. number; thus, on arrival of the English mail at Constantinople, "the usual bags of the Foreign Office were found supplemented by an enormous number of newspaper sacks, all filled with copies of Household Words" (Yates, Recollections, pp. 448-449). Canning was furious and attempted, unsuccessfully, to wreck Murray's diplomatic career. The incident did not disrupt Murray's contributorship to H.W. Murray continued writing for the periodical to 1856, and wrote thereafter for A.Y.R.

An oblique reference to Murray appeared in Dixon's H.W. article "Quite Revolutionary", which mentioned the diversity of terrestrial landscape as more startling than what "the most roving Englishman" might create in his imagination.

Harper's reprinted, in whole or part, ten of Murray's H.W. contributions, one of them acknowledged to H.W.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

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