Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hall, Samuel Carter
HALL, SAMUEL CARTER (1800–1889), author and editor, was born in the Geneva barracks, near Waterford, on 9 May 1800. His father, Robert Hall (1753–1836), was born at Exeter on 20 June 1753, entered the army as an ensign in the 72nd regiment in 1780, and served at Gibraltar during the siege. In 1794, while at Topsham, he raised a regiment known as the Devon and Cornwall Fencibles, which he accompanied to Ireland in the following year, and there served with it until 1802, when it was disbanded. While in Ireland he engaged in working copper mines, by which he was ruined. He died at Chelsea on 10 Jan. 1836. He married at Topsham, on 6 April 1790, Ann Kent, born at Ottery St. Mary, Devonshire, 30 Sept. 1765. After the ruin of her husband Ann Hall established a business at Cork by which she supported her family of twelve children.
The fourth son, Samuel Carter, at an early age printed a small work, entitled ‘The Talents, a Dramatic Poem,’ a jeu d'esprit. Leaving Cork in the beginning of 1821, he came to London, and in the following year served as literary secretary to Ugo Foscolo. In 1823 he was acting as parliamentary reporter in the House of Lords. By the recommendation of Sir Robert Wilson he was appointed in the same year secretary to ‘the shortlived committee to aid the Spanish Cortes.’ At the same period he was writing reviews and criticisms on art for the ‘British Press.’ On 3 July 1824 he was entered as a student of the Inner Temple, but was not called to the bar until 30 April 1841, and never practised. While continuing to work as a reporter, he contributed to the ‘Representative,’ 1823, and the ‘New Times,’ 1825. He founded and edited an annual called ‘The Amulet, a Christian and Literary Remembrancer,’ in 1826, and continued it yearly till 1837, when the publishers, Westley & Davis, became bankrupt. He then found that owing to his having participated in the profits he was held answerable for the debts of the firm, and ruined. In 1823 he had edited the ‘Literary Observer,’ which ran only for six months; in 1826 he edited the ‘Spirit and Manners of the Age,’ and in 1829–30 the ‘Morning Journal.’ By the desire of Henry Colburn, he became sub-editor of the ‘New Monthly Magazine’ in 1830, in place of Cyrus Redding, and on the retirement of Thomas Campbell succeeded him as editor. Afterwards, in 1831, he was again sub-editor under Lytton Bulwer, again became editor in 1832, and held that post until 1836, when he was displaced to make room for Theodore Hook. In February 1831 he visited Paris for the first time. In 1830 he wrote for Colburn's Juvenile Library a ‘History of France.’ He worked incessantly for eighteen days, almost night and day, and at the conclusion of his task was laid up with a brain fever. After this he started a newspaper called ‘The Town,’ a conservative whig journal, in which he had the assistance of Chitty, Gilbert à Beckett, Lytton and Henry Bulwer, and other good writers, but failed in getting a circulation. In 1835 he wrote a few leading articles for the ‘Watchman,’ a Wesleyan methodist newspaper. The ‘John Bull’ was sub-edited by him in 1837, and he was general manager of the ‘Britannia’ in 1839.
In the latter year Hall was employed by Hodgson & Graves, the print publishers of 6 Pall Mall, to edit the ‘Art Union Monthly Journal.’ The first number, consisting of 750 copies, appeared on 15 Feb. 1839, price eightpence, post free. After a short interval he purchased a chief share of this periodical for 200l. and became the principal proprietor. From that time he endeavoured to encourage British art, and in 1843 began giving engravings of sculpture, then considered a novelty. Nine years passed before the magazine paid its expenses. In it he ruthlessly exposed the trade in old masters, printing month after month the custom-house returns of the pictures imported, and also showing how paintings were manufactured in England. In consequence of these articles such pictures became almost unsaleable, and a Raphael could be purchased for 7l. and a Titian for 3l. 10s. It was claimed for this periodical that it was the only journal in Europe that adequately represented the fine arts and arts of manufacture. In 1848 Robert Vernon, before presenting his pictures to the National Gallery, gave permission to Hall to engrave and publish the whole of them in the ‘Art Union Journal.’ The circulation of the periodical grew, and in 1851 the queen and Prince Albert accorded leave to engrave 150 pictures from their private collection. The illustrated report of the Great Exhibition of 1851 in the ‘Art Journal’ (a change of title adopted in 1849) was very popular, and its sale brought in 72,000l. This sum, however, did not cover the cost of production, and Hall was obliged to sell his share to his co-proprietors, and from that time he was only the paid editor on 600l. a year, retiring in December 1880 with a pension. In 1874 he was presented with a testimonial to commemorate his golden wedding; 1,600l. was collected and spent for him in an annuity. On 9 March 1877, at the request of John, marquis of Townshend, he undertook the editing of ‘Social Notes,’ a weekly publication, with which he continued connected up to the forty-eighth number. This engagement led to several actions at law, much to Hall's annoyance, as he had done his best to discharge his duties faithfully and honourably. Lord Beaconsfield on 28 April 1880 granted him a civil list pension of 150l. a year ‘for his long and valuable services to literature and art.’ He was intimate with most of the well-known celebrities of his day, and had a general acquaintance with all the artists and actors. He was an original member of the society of Noviomagus, 11 Dec. 1828, and president from 1855 until his retirement in 1881. On 7 April 1842 he was elected a fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He was a believer in spiritualism and a patron of Daniel D. Home. With his wife he aided in the formation of many charitable institutions. He died at his residence, 24 Stanford Road, Kensington, London, on 16 March 1889, and was buried at Addlestone, Surrey, on 23 March. He married in 1824 Anna Maria Fielding, who is noticed separately.
Although Hall was a most industrious literary man, and edited with annotations numerous books, he did not publish many original works; his chief productions were:
- ‘The Amulet,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1826–36, 11 vols.
- ‘The Book of Gems, the Poets and Artists of Great Britain,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1836–1838, 3 vols.; another ed. 1866.
- ‘The Book of British Ballads,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1842; other editions, 1879 and 1881. This work was illustrated by British artists from designs drawn on wood. The idea of it was taken from the ‘Nibelungenlied,’ and the book was dedicated to Louis, king of Bavaria.
- ‘Gems of European Art, the Best Pictures of the Best Schools,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1843–5, 2 vols.
- ‘The Beauties of the Poet Moore,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1844.
- ‘The Acquittal of the Seven Bishops,’ a descriptive history, 1846.
- ‘The Baronial Halls and Picturesque Edifices of England,’ 1848.
- ‘The Gallery of Modern Sculpture,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1849–54.
- ‘The Vernon Gallery of British Art,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1849–54, 3 vols.
- ‘Poems,’ &c., 1850.
- ‘The Royal Gallery of Arts, Ancient and Modern,’ 1858–9, edited by S. C. Hall.
- ‘Selected Pictures from the Galleries and Private Collections of Great Britain,’ edited by S. C. Hall, 1862–8, 4 vols.
- ‘A Book of Memoirs of Great Men and Women of the Age from personal acquaintance,’ 1871; 2nd edit., 1877.
- ‘Wimbledon, illustrative details concerning the Parish and Wimbledon Park Estate,’ 1872.
- ‘The Trial of Sir Jasper: a Temperance Tale in Verse,’ 1873; another edit. 1874.
- ‘An Old Story: a Temperance Tale in Verse,’ 1875; 2nd edit. 1876.
- ‘Words of Warning addressed to Societies for Organising Charitable Relief,’ 1877.
- ‘Social Notes,’ directing editor S. C. Hall, 1878.
- ‘A Memoir of T. Moore,’ 1879.
- ‘Rhymes in Council. Aphorisms versified,’ 1881.
- ‘Retrospect of a Long Life from 1815 to 1883,’ 1883, 2 vols.
He also wrote many works in conjunction with his wife.
[Retrospect of a Long Life, 1883, with portrait; Cassell's Family Mag. September 1883, pp. 587–91, with portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Hall; Times, 17, 19, 23 March 1889; Illustrated News of the World, vol. viii. 1861, with portrait; Graphic, 30 March 1889, pp. 319, 320; Illustrated London News, 30 March 1889, p. 407, with portrait; Standard, 19 March 1889; Athenæum, 23 March, 6 April 1889; Goss's Life of Llewellyn Jewitt, 1889, pp. 39 et seq.]