Page:Dictionary of National Biography. Sup. Vol I (1901).djvu/45
Memoir of George Smith
copies had been printed and bound for her private use, she was persuaded to permit an edition to be prepared for the public. This appeared in December 1867. It was in great request, and reprints were numerous. Meanwhile, at Helps's suggestion, Smith prepared for publication under very similar conditions General Grey's 'Early Years of the Prince Consort,' which was written under the queen's supervision. A first edition of five thousand copies appeared in August 1867. There naturally followed the commission to undertake the issue of the later 'Life of the Prince Consort,' which Sir Theodore Martin, on Helps's recommendation, took up after General Grey's death. Smith was a lifelong admirer of Sir Theodore Martin's wife, Helen Faucit, the distinguished actress, whose portrait he had published in his second publication (of 1844), Mrs. Wilson's 'Our Actresses.' He already knew Theodore Martin, and the engagement to publish his biography of Prince Albert, which came out in five volumes between 1874 and 1880, rendered the relations with the Martins very close. To Sir Theodore, Smith was until his death warmly attached. In 1884 Smith brought out a second instalment of the queen's journal, 'More Leaves from the Journal of a Life in the Highlands, 1862-1882,' which, like its forerunner, enjoyed wide popularity.
In 1868 a new act in the well-filled drama of Smith's business career opened. He determined in that year to retire from the foreign agency and banking work of the firm, and to identify himself henceforth solely with the publishing branch. Arrangements were made whereby his partner, King, took over the agency and banking business, which he carried on under the style of 'Henry S. King & Co.' at the old premises in Cornhill and at the more recently acquired offices in Pall Mall, while Smith opened, under the old style of 'Smith, Elder, & Co.,' new premises, to which the publishing branch was transferred, to be henceforth under his sole control. He chose for Smith, Elder, & Co.'s new home a private residence, 15 Waterloo Place, then in the occupation of a partner in the banking firm of Herries, Farquhar, & Co. It was not the most convenient building that could be found for his purpose, and was only to be acquired at a high cost. But he had somewhat fantastically set his heart upon it, and he adapted it to his needs as satisfactorily as he could. In January 1869 he with many members of the Cornhill staff permanently removed to Smith, Elder, & Co.'s new abode.
The increase of leisure and the diminution of work which the change brought with it had a very different effect on Smith's health from what was anticipated. The sudden relaxation affected his constitution disastrously, and for the greater part of the next year and a half he was seriously incapacitated by illness. Long absences in Scotland and on the continent became necessary, and it was not till 1870 was well advanced that his vigour was restored. He characteristically celebrated the return of health by inviting the children of his numerous friends to witness with him and his