Grand Designs: John Murray and The Representative
Extract of coded letter to John Murray, 25 Sept. 1825
Reproduced with permission of the John Murray Archive
The 1820s were a period of frenzied speculation. Investing in Mexican mining companies was one of the get-rich-quick schemes - a nineteenth-century dotcom boom. Disraeli, barely 20 years old and working as John Murray's assistant, become part of a mining shares partnership and involved the publisher in the scheme and in publishing promotional pamphlets. By 1825 the enterprise had a £7,000 deficit. Disraeli's exact share of the losses is unclear but the financial consequences haunted him for years (John Murray Archive, Box 13). Undeterred by these events he encouraged Murray to realise the latter's longstanding ambition to launch a daily newspaper. This volume includes letters in coded passages describing Disraeli's discussions in Edinburgh with Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) and his son-in-law J.G. Lockhart, who was invited to join the enterprise. In letter No. 11, September 1825, Disraeli and his belief that Scott and Lockhart are in 'perfect and complete compatibility' with him. When gripped by an idea Disraeli could find himself impaled on reality. Back in London Disraeli recruited the Representative's correspondents but the scheme ended in disaster partly through Murray placing too much faith in Disraeli's abilities, a factor Disraeli later recognised. In the failed enterprise Murray lost £26,000.
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