Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Millar, Andrew

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MILLAR, ANDREW (1707–1768), publisher, a native of Scotland, was born in 1707. About 1729 he established himself in the Strand, first near St. Clement's Church, and afterwards at Tonson's old shop, ‘The Shakespeare's Head’ (re-christened Buchanan's Head), over against Catherine Street, where he speedily realised a handsome fortune. Though no great judge of literature himself, he was careful to surround himself with capable advisers as to the purchase of copyright. His liberality to authors led Johnson to say of him in 1755: ‘I respect Millar, sir; he has raised the price of literature’ (Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. Hill, i. 287). He paid Thomson in 1729 137l. 10s. for ‘Sophonisba’ and ‘Spring,’ and in 1738 105l. for the sole right of publishing the ‘Seasons.’ For Armstrong's ‘Œconomy of Love’ he gave fifty guineas. Fielding received from him 183l. 11s. for ‘Joseph Andrews’ (1742), 600l. for ‘Tom Jones’ (1749), and an additional 100l. upon its success (Walpole, Letters, ed. Cunningham, ii. 163), while 1,000l. was allowed for ‘Amelia’ (1751), of which, thanks to some ingenious devices adopted by Millar, a second edition was called for on the day of publication. Fortunately for Millar, Mallet refused his offer of 3,000l. for the copyright of Bolingbroke's ‘Works;’ the editor had afterwards to borrow money from Millar to get the book printed. On Millar devolved the chief responsibility of conducting Johnson's ‘Dictionary’ through the press, His patience was sorely tried by Johnson's unpunctuality, and when the last sheet was brought to him he could not help exclaiming ‘Thank God I have done with him!’ On this being repeated to Johnson he replied, with a smile, ‘I am glad that he thanks God for anything.’ He was also the publisher of the histories of Robertson and Hume. The latter had much correspondence with Millar, generally of a grumbling or suspicious order. Dr. Alexander Carlyle met Millar in 1763 at the ‘Dragon’ in Harrogate, a favourite resort of persons of quality. The gentry staying in the house, having failed to take the precaution of ordering newspapers, were dependent upon Millar, ‘who had two papers sent to him by every post, and were civil accordingly; and yet when he appeared in the morning in his old, well-worn suit of clothes, they could not help calling him Peter Pamphlet; for the generous patron of Scotch authors, with his city wife and her niece, were sufficiently ridiculous when they came into good company’ (Autobiog. pp. 434–5). A monument to James Thomson was erected in Westminster Abbey in 1762, the cost being defrayed by the sale of a splendid quarto edition of the poet's works, of which Millar generously relinquished the copyright for the purpose (Baker, Biog. Dram 1812, i. 712). In 1767 Millar resigned his business to Thomas Cadell the elder [q. v.], his partner since 1765, and retired to Kew Green, where he died on 8 June 1768; he was buried in Chelsea cemetery. His three children died in infancy. His widow, Jane, remarried Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk, Aberdeenshire, and died at her house in Pall Mall on 25 Oct. 1788, aged 81. In his will (P. C. C. 250, Secker) Millar left legacies to David Hume and to William and Allen Fielding, sons of Henry Fielding, the novelist.

Among the Additional MSS. in the British Museum are letters from Millar to Sir Hans Sloane (4059), Dr. Thomas Birch, 1736–50 (4314), the Society for Encouragement of Learning, 1736–9 (6190), for which he published, Sir Andrew Mitchell, 1760–4 (6858), and J. Caryll, 1747 (28230, f. 377). His correspondence with Bishop Warburton, whose ‘Divine Legation’ he published, is in Egerton MS. 1959, f. 15.

[Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 386, and elsewhere; David Hume's Letters, ed. Birkbeck Hill, passim; Knight's Shadows of the Old Booksellers; Timperley's Encyclopædia; Walpole's Letters (Cunningham), ii. 509.]

G. G.