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JOHN FRANCIS, 1881–1882. This sketch of some of the work of the Athenæum has now been brought down to the date of the death of John Francis, who had been its publisher since October 4th, 1831. He had been the fortunate possessor of almost perfect health, and during the thirty years that the paper was published on Saturday morning at four o'clock he was absent only once on account of illness.
It was not until the commencement of 1881 that the first signs of any permanent weakness appeared. He then found the daily journey to and from his house in the suburbs to be beyond his strength, and at once resolved, rather than give up the work he loved so well, to return to his old rooms above the office in Wellington Street. In March his illness had so increased that his friend Dr. Jones wished to have further advice, and at his suggestion Dr. GowlVOL. II.
land and he had a consultation. Mr. Francis, at his own especial request, was informed of the result, and, when told that his life could only be prolonged for a few months, spent the rest of the day in quiet thought, and on the morrow was prepared to resume his ordinary work, and so
continued as long as strength would permit. Death of On the 14th of June his second son, * Edward rancis. James, died at the early age of thirty-seven,
This sorrow much increased his weakness, but he still persisted in taking an active part in the business management of the Athenæum, and
had it read to him with the greatest regularity, Death of this practice being continued until his death, John Francis. which took place on the eve of Good Friday,
Then why should my soul be so sad?
* Edward James Francis was apprenticed to Mr. James Holmes in 1858, and on the retirement of that gentleman in 1869 took over the business, when he became the printer of the Athenæum, Notes and Queries, and other publications. In addition to this he went into partnership with Mr. Ashton Dilke, and became manager of the Weekly Dispatch, the circulation of which he was the means of largely increasing.
And hope, the sweet singer that gladden'd the earth, Lies asleep on the bosom of bliss.” The Atheneum of the 15th of April contains the following obituary notice :-"On Thursday, Obituary
notice in the the 6th, Mr. John Francis passed away after a Athenæum. long illness, during which he displayed the high courage and patience that always distinguished him. Mr. Francis had been the publisher of this journal for over fifty years, and till within a short time of his death he continued to superintend the many details of its business arrangements. John Francis was born in July, 1811, and after having attended for a short time a dame's school in Bermondsey, he was placed at a middle-class school in the same neighbourhood, and afterwards at a Nonconformist free school in Tooley Street. Through the instrumentality of the secretary of the Tooley Street school he was apprenticed in his fourteenth year to Messrs. Marlborough, then as now among the chief newspaper agents in London. When his apprenticeship was at an end, Mr. Francis answered an advertisement for a junior clerk inserted in the Athenæum, and in consequence he entered, in August, 1831, the office of this journal, which had some time before passed out of the hands of John Sterling, and was then edited by the late Mr. Dilke, Two months afterwards, such was the ability he had shown,
he was appointed publisher of the journal. In 1831 it was still the habit of the majority of business people to live near their shops and offices; the hours were long, the doors being opened very early in the morning, and not closing till late in the evening. So Francis went to live in Catherine Street, where the Atheneum was then published, and a few years afterwards he removed with the journal to Wellington Street. In the arduous task of establishing the young paper on a sound footing he took his full share; he firmly grasped the principle asserted by Mr. Dilke, that the first virtue of a journal is independence, and he speedily obtained the respect and confidence both of publishers and the newspaper trade. Nor when the success of the Athenæum was assured did his industry abate. He continued throughout a long and prosperous life as careful and active a man of business as when he first went to Catherine Street. During his apprenticeship at Marlborough's Francis had been struck by the heaviness of the taxation laid on the newspaper press, and when the success of the Athenæum gave him leisure he turned his attention to the fiscal restrictions then in force, and became treasurer of the committee for obtaining the repeal of the advertisement duty. In securing the abolition of that tax, and subsequently of
the compulsory stamp and the paper duty, he
On the 18th of April he was buried in the family grave at Highgate Cemetery, close to the tomb of Michael Faraday.
At the annual meeting of the Newsvendors' Benevolent and Provident Institution following his death, it was resolved that a public fund