Warren, Samuel (1807-1877) (DNB00)
|←Warren, Samuel (1769-1839)||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 59
Warren, Samuel (1807-1877)
WARREN, SAMUEL (1807–1877), author of ‘Ten Thousand a Year,’ born at The Rackery, near Wrexham, on 23 May 1807, was the elder son of Dr. Samuel Warren (1781–1862), rector of All Souls', Ancoats, Manchester, by his first wife, Anne (1778–1823), daughter of Richard and Elizabeth Williams. He was brought up in an atmosphere of devout and very strict methodism.
The elder Warren, when thirteen, sailed as an apprentice in his father's ship, the Morning Herald, bound for Barbados. In May 1794, before she had got clear of the Channel, the vessel was captured by the French frigate L'Insurgent. The crew, with those of other captured merchantmen, was taken to Brest and thence to Quimper, where over half the prisoners (seventeen hundred out of three thousand) died of gaol-fever, and it was rumoured that the Convention intended to massacre the rest. The fall of Robespierre led to humaner measures. In March 1795 Warren and his father were transferred to Vendôme and kindly treated until arrangements were made for their exchange a few months later. The English prisoners set sail in two ships from La Rochelle, and Warren's vessel arrived safely at Mount's Bay (see ‘Narrative of an Imprisonment in France during the Reign of Terror,’ Blackwood's Mag. December 1831. The identity of the narrator is fixed in Gent. Mag. 1862, ii. 111). Samuel Warren the elder became a highly influential Wesleyan minister and preacher. In 1834, however, being then superintendent of the Manchester district, and jealous, it is said, of the rising influence of Dr. Jabez Bunting, he led an embittered opposition against the establishment of a theological training institution. Upon his being, in October 1834, suspended by the district committee, Warren took the step of applying to the court of chancery for an injunction against the trustees of chapels from which he was excluded. The application was refused (25 March 1835), and Warren was in the following August expelled by conference (Minutes of Conference, 1835, vii. 542 seq.; note kindly supplied by the Rev. A. Gordon). He had formed the Wesleyan Methodist Association, which went out with him, fifteen thousand strong and the body were temporarily styled ‘Warrenites.’ By amalgamations later on with other secessions from the main body [see Everett, James], they became ‘The United Methodist Free Churches,’ a flourishing body. In the meantime, in 1838, Warren was admitted to orders in the church of England by John Bird Sumner [q. v.], then bishop of Chester, and in December 1840 he was inducted into the living of All Souls', Ancoats. He died at Ardwick, Manchester, on 23 May 1862, aged 81. His portrait was engraved by W. T. Fry, after Jackson.
The future novelist studied medicine at Edinburgh in 1826–7, gaining a prize for English verse in 1827, and through it obtaining an introduction to Wilson (‘Christopher North’) and De Quincey. He left Edinburgh in 1828, and was admitted at the Inner Temple in that year. He practised as a special pleader between 1831 and 1837, when he was called to the bar. But Warren's early ambitions were literary rather than legal. In 1823 he consulted Sir Walter Scott on the propriety of publishing, and received a reply, dated 3 Aug., advising him to rely on the judgment of an intelligent bookseller. This letter, which is preserved among Warren's papers, is remarkable for an unqualified assertion by Scott, that ‘I am not the author of those novels which the world chooses to ascribe to me.’ Undeterred by Scott's cautious counsel, Warren began writing for the magazines, but met with little encouragement. His ‘Passages from the Diary of a late Physician,’ written in part during 1829, after being hawked from publisher to publisher, were at length accepted by William Blackwood. Twenty-eight of these papers, the morbid tone of which is shielded under a moral purpose, appeared in ‘Blackwood's Magazine’ at intervals between August 1830 and August 1837. Printed in collective form (1832, complete 1838), they went through numerous editions, were translated into several European languages, and extensively pirated in America, while they still sell largely in paper covers for sixpence. Their literary merit is slight, but their melodramatic power is considerable. The ‘Diary’ was attributed to (among others) Dr. John Ayrton Paris [q. v.], and the ‘Lancet’ protested strongly against the revelation of professional secrets.
Warren next published ‘A Popular and Practical Introduction to Law Studies’ (London, 1835, enlarged 1845; numerous American editions), an entertaining book under an unattractive title, which was pronounced by a glowing critic in the ‘Quarterly Review’ to contain ‘a spice of Montaigne.’ The book seems to have attracted to Warren a few legal pupils, among them Charles Reade [q. v.] A successful school-book, ‘Select Extracts from Blackstone's Commentaries’ (1837), was followed in 1840 by a tract on the ‘Opium Question,’ which ran through four editions.
The first chapter of ‘Ten Thousand a Year’ appeared in ‘Blackwood’ for October 1839, and at once excited a powerful interest. Warren was anxious to disguise the authorship, his main reason apparently being that he might ask every one what he thought of the new novel. He was enraptured when told that it ‘beat Boz hollow,’ and while forwarding successive parts to Blackwood wrote in terms of comical ecstasy about his work. ‘I knew you would all like it,’ he says in one of these letters, ‘for it is most true to human nature, and it cost me (though you may smile) a few tears while writing it. How I do love the Aubreys! How my heart yearns towards them!’ Thackeray was less benevolent towards these martyred aristocrats (cf. Book of Snobs, chap. xvi.)
When the novel was completed and appeared in three dense volumes in 1841, it had an enormous sale, was translated into French, Russian, and other languages, and was applauded in the ‘Revue des Deux Mondes’ as well as in the English reviews. The well-constructed plot turns upon the validity of certain title-deeds, and a number of legal points are involved. Warren's handling of these was criticised by experts, and was justified by the author in elaborate notes in subsequent editions. His legal portraits were declared to be caricatures, but the cleverness of the farcical portraits— Tittlebat Titmouse, Oily Gammon, and Mr. Quicksilver (Lord Brougham)—established the book as one of the most popular novels of the century.
In 1847 Warren published, under his name, ‘Now and Then,’ a story of some 125,000 words, which was written, according to its author, between 20 Nov. and 9 Dec. 1847, and was published on 18 Dec. The book rapidly went through three editions, and Warren was ‘inundated with congratulations;’ but it had a success of esteem only. Warren wrote to Blackwood suggesting, with charming ingenuity, the terms in which a review might fittingly be couched (William Blackwood and his Sons, 1897, ii. 238). His sole remaining essay in imaginative literature was ‘The Lily and the Bee: an Apologue of the Crystal Palace,’ written in honour of the Great Exhibition (London, 1851, 8vo). The style suggests comparison with Martin Tupper, but it is more absurd than anything Tupper wrote.
Warren published three more legal manuals of some value: ‘A Manual of the Parliamentary Law of the United Kingdom’ (London, 1852; again 1857), which was followed by ‘A Manual of the Law and Practice of Election Committees’ (London, 1853), and ‘Blackstone's Commentaries, systematically abridged and adapted to the existing State of the Law and Constitution with Great Additions’ (London, 1855 and 1856). He also published several lectures and tracts: ‘The Moral, Social, and Professional Duties of Attorneys and Solicitors’ (London, 1848 and 1852), four lectures delivered before the Incorporated Law Society; ‘The Queen or the Pope: the Question considered in its Political, Legal, and Religious Aspects,’ in a letter to Spencer Walpole (London, 1851; several issues); and ‘Labour: its Rights, Difficulties, Dignity, and Consolations’ (London, 1856, 8vo).
In the meantime Warren's progress at the bar was not rapid, and he consoled himself with the flattering belief that the attorneys were revenging themselves on him for the severe picture which he had drawn of their practices in his account in ‘Ten Thousand a Year’ of the firm of Quirk, Gammon, & Snap. He went the northern circuit regularly until 1851, when he was made a Q.C. and became a bencher of his inn, of which he subsequently acted as treasurer. The return of the conservatives to power in 1852 enabled his friend Spencer Walpole, the home secretary, to confer upon him the recordership of Hull, where shortly after his appointment he delivered an elaborate lecture upon the ‘Intellectual and Moral Development of the Present Age’ (printed in 1853).
On 9 June 1853, on the occasion of Lord Derby's installation as chancellor of the university, Warren (who had been elected F.R.S. on 2 April 1835) was made an honorary D.C.L. of Oxford, along with Macaulay, Lytton, Alison, Aytoun, and other men of letters. He sat in parliament for the borough of Midhurst from February 1856 to April 1859. A staunch upholder of the established church, the protestant interest, and religious education, he signalised himself in July 1858 by his protest against Baron Rothschild taking the oath in the abridged form. He was equally opposed to the extension of the franchise. He vacated his seat with some reluctance in 1859 when a mastership in lunacy (with a salary of 2,000l. a year) was offered him by Lord Chelmsford. The vaticination of Sir George Rose was thus partially fulfilled:
Though envy may sneer at you, Warren, and say,
‘Why, yes, he has talent, but throws it away;’
Take a hint, change the venue, and still persevere,
And you'll end as you start with Ten Thousand a year.
A report that he had rejected Lord Chelmsford's offer elicited from Disraeli the remark that a writ de lunatico inquirendo would have to be issued for Mr. Warren (see Newcastle Daily Chronicle, 15 Oct. 1877; cf. Law Times, 20 Oct., where a different version of Rose's epigram is given).
Warren retained his recordership down to 1874, but he wrote no more and devoted himself wholly to his profession. His appointment as master in lunacy was amply justified by the ability with which he fulfilled his functions. The masterly brevity with which he addressed the jury in the Windham inquiry (December 1861) branded as practically irrelevant the mass of the evidence produced at the trial, and prepared the public mind for the third section of the Lunacy Regulation Act of 1862, in which it is laid down that in the case of legal inquiry the question shall be confined to whether or not the alleged lunatic is of unsound mind at the time of such inquiry (Warren, Miscellanies, ii. 254; Olliver, Windham Trial, 1862; cf. Encycl. Brit. 9th ed., s.v. ‘Warren’).
Warren died at his house, 16 Manchester Square, London, on 29 July 1877, aged 70. He married, in 1831, a daughter of James Ballinger of Woodford Bridge House, Essex. His eldest son, Samuel Lilckendy Warren, was educated at Eton, became a scholar of Wadham College, Oxford, whence he gra- duated B.A. in 1859, became rector of Esher (a Wadham living) in 1870, and died in June 1895. He published in 1880 ‘The Prayer-book Version of the Psalms,’ with notes (Times, 7 June 1895).
In his colossal literary vanity Warren resembled Boswell. The stories in which he appears as the butt of Serjeant Murphy and other experienced wags are numerous; but when his literary reputation was not involved he was one of the gentlest, best-hearted, and most reasonable of men. As a writer he produces remarkable effects by the cumulative force of little points well made. In this he resembles Anthony Trollope. He was popular as a bencher of the Inner Temple.
As a young man Warren is stated to have resembled an actor in appearance, with ‘dark expressive eyebrows’ and a pale, restless, mobile face. His portrait, painted by Sir J. W. Gordon, P.R.S.A., was lent to the Victorian Exhibition by William Blackwood (Cat. No. 303).
Warren reprinted his miscellanies, critical, imaginative, and juridical (from ‘Blackwood's Magazine’), in two volumes, London, 1854. They include lengthy reviews of Alison's ‘Marlborough’ and ‘Uncle Tom's Cabin,’ and some interesting ‘Personal Recollections of Christopher North.’ A collective edition of Warren's ‘Works,’ including the novels, the ‘Lily and the Bee,’ and the miscellanies, was issued in five crown octavo volumes during 1854–5. An edition of the novels alone had appeared at Leipzig in the Tauchnitz series between 1844 and 1851, 7 vols. 8vo. The ‘Passages from the Diary of a Late Physician’ first appeared in book form at New York in 1831 (2 vols. 12mo). The first authorised edition appeared at London and Edinburgh in 1832 (2 vols. 8vo; 5th ed. 1838). The completed work was issued in 3 vols. in 1838, again 1841, 1842, 1848, 1853, and in one volume in 1853. An edition with illustrations by Whymper appeared in 1863. A sort of paraphrase appeared in the ‘Revue Britannique’ from the pen of Philarète Chasles, and was reprinted in the ‘Librairie Nouvelle,’ 1854, as ‘Souvenirs d'un Médecin’ (see Pichot, Une Question de Litt. Légale, Paris, 1855). ‘Ten Thousand a Year’ appeared in 3 vols. 8vo, London, 1841, and Philadelphia, 1841 (several issues). New editions appeared in 1845, 1849, 1854, 1855, and 1899 (‘Hundred Best Novels’). Translated by Georges Marie Guiffrey as ‘Dix mille livres de Rente,’ it ran through the ‘Journal pour Tous’ with great acceptance, and was translated into several European languages. It was also dramatised with success both in England (by R. B. Peake in 1841) and abroad.[Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1715–1886; Oliphant's House of Blackwood, 1897, vol. ii. passim; Blackwood's Magazine, September 1877; Memoirs and Select Letters of Mrs. Anne Warren, 1827; Marsden's Christian Churches and Sects, p. 430; Times, 10 June 1853, 1 and 2 Aug. 1877, and June 1895; Law Times, 4 Aug. and 20 Oct. 1877; Quarterly Review, lvi. 284; Appleton's Journal, vol. iv. (with portrait); Photographic Portraits, vol. ii.; Jeaffreson's Novels and Novelists, ii. 400; Yates's Recollections and Experiences, 1885; Sprigge's Life and Times of Thomas Wakley, 1897, p. 339; Alison's Hist. of Europe, 1815–52, chap. v.; Notes and Queries, 9th ser. iv. 163; Larousse's Dictionnaire Encycl. (a good article, in which, however, recorder is rendered archiviste).]