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is meant of such as are writ to no end), yet I hope
this reducement of many into one, may prove of
some good advantage, and to some good end, and
that without prejudice to Solomon's text.' The en-
tries are full, as may be seen from this example :
' The Life of Tamerlane the Great, his Warres
against the great Duke of Moso, King of China,
Bajazet the great Turk, the Sultan of ^Egypt, the
King of Persia, &c., wherein are rare examples of
Heathenish piety, mercy, justice, humility, tempe-
rance, &c. 8vo.' As a slight and to some extent
approximate indication of the annual publications, we

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 89

may point out that in London's Supplement, dating
from August I, 1657, to June I, 1658, the number
of books on divinity was 63, on history 26, on law 9,
on physic and chirurgery 8, and on poetry 4.

Few books of the seventeenth century possess so
much interest as the first edition of Walton's ' Com-
plete Angler ' (1653). An advertisement of the book
runs as follows : ' There is published a Booke of
Eighteen-pence, called the Compleat Angler, or the
Contemplative Man's Recreation. Being a Dis-
course of Fish and Fishing, Not unworthy the
perusal. Sold by Richard Marriot, in St. Dunstan's
Churchyard, Flete-Street.' This very rare book is
now valued at 52 ! Richard Marriot published
several editions of this book up to and inclusive of
the year 1671, and also the first collected edition of
the ' Lives ' (1670). The second part of the ' Com-
plete Angler ' was printed for R. Marriot and H.
Brome, 1676. John Marriot, whose shop was
in St. Dunstan's Churchyard, Fleet Street, sold
various editions of Donne's poems, notably ' Poems
by J. D., with Elegies on the Author's Death,' the
first edition, dated 1633, that of 1635, and also the
' Poems/ ' to which is added divers copies under his
own hand never before in print,' of 1650. All these
were anonymous. Richard Marriot published
Donne's ' Letters to Several Persons of Honour '
(1651). The famous * Temple* of George Herbert
was printed and published at Cambridge.

The practice of one author having many pub-
lishers continued far into the seventeenth century,
for on the title-pages of Thomas Heywood we find,

9O The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

to quote a few examples, H. Lownes, of the Star,
Bread Street Hill, and close to Milton's father's
house ('Edward IV.,' 1613); N. Butter ('Rape of
Lucrece,' 1630, and 'If You Know Not Me/ 1639) ;
R. Ra worth, of Old Fish Street, near ' Saint Mary
Maudlin's Church ' (' The English Traveller,' 1633),
and Adam Islip (' Hierarchic of the Blessed Angells,'
1635). Raworth and Islip were printers rather than
booksellers ; but N. Okes, and subsequently J. Okes,
printed by far the greater number of Heywood's
books. John Ford was no exception to the rule, for
H. Seile, of the ' Tiger's Head,' Fleet Street, over
against St. Dunstan's Church, issued ' The Lover's
Melancholy' in 1629, and 'Fancies Chast and Noble'
eight years afterwards ; H. Shephard, of the Bible,
Chancery Lane, 'The Ladies Triall,' 1639; Hugh
Beeston, whose shop was near the Castle, Cornhill,
'Love's Sacrifice,' 1633 ; Richard Collins, of the
Three Kings, St. Paul's Churchyard, ' 'Tis Pity,' &c.,
1633; whilst ' J. B.' published that tragedy of tragedies,
'The Broken Heart,' 1633. T. Randolph's ' Hey for
Honesty ' (1650) may be noted here as furnishing
another example of a bookseller writing a dedication.
' Reader, this is a pleasant comedy, though some may
judge it satirical, 'tis the more like Aristophanes, the
father ; besides, if it be biting, 'tis a biting age we
live ; then biting for biting.' No doubt the readers
were duly thankful for this rather superfluous infor-
mation ; but perhaps it was more to the point when
the stationer declared * Tom Randal, the adopted son
of Ben Jonson, being the translator hereof, followed
his father's steps. They both of them loved sack

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 91

and harmless mirth, and here they shew it ; and I,
that know myself, am not averse from it neither.
This I thought good to acquaint thee with. Fare-
well. Thine, F. J.' Some of Randolph's books
were printed out of London, such as ' Poems, with
the Muses Looking Glass' (1638), which was printed
at the University Press of Oxford, and ' The
Jealous Lovers" (1634), which came from the kin-
dred institution at Cambridge. ' Aristippus ' (1630)
was printed for John Harriot.

We have already made an incidental reference to
the War of Pamphlets which commenced in 1640 ;
and perhaps, so far as we are concerned, the most re-
markable fact in connection with that episode is the
untiring industry with which George Thomason, a
bookseller, formed a collection of these ' books of an
hour.' The period embraced is one of twenty years,
and the aggregate'result 'about 30,000 pieces, uniformly
bound in 2000 volumes and accompanied by twenty
folio volumes of catalogue.' The collection was
amassed with the utmost secrecy, and with the aid of
a few faithful servants. At first, as the volumes were
completed they were buried in boxes. As the number
increased, this method became no longer feasible-
After constant removals, giving the army of either
party as wide a berth as possible, Thomason at last
contrived a very ingenious dodge : he placed the
volumes in his warehouse, in the form of tables round
the room, covered with canvas. On one occasion,
Thomason was dragged from his bed and imprisoned
for seven weeks, but the one object and anxiety of his
life remained undiscovered. When the Royalist cause

92 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

was thoroughly broken up at the execution of Charles,
a fictitious sale was made to the University of Oxford,
where the collection would be in much less jeopardy
than whilst it remained in the possession of a private
individual. Thomason died in 1666, his collection still
being at Oxford, in trust, to be sold for the benefit of
his children. But a sale was not really effected until
over a century afterwards, and not until several at-
tempts had been made to dispose of the incubus. In
1762 the nation purchased of the Mearne family this
very remarkable collection, which is now in the
British Museum under the general title of the King's

We can hardly realize the times when there were no
literary papers for the twofold object of indicating the
best books and of advertising all kinds of literary
merchandise. Under such conditions the public had
to find out for itself the best literary food, or to trust
to the recommendation of friends. But he would not
be a successful bookseller who had fewer than half-a-
score methods of getting rid of his ware. An old
advertising dodge was to place hand-bills of the titles
and general scope of new publications close to the
play-bills posted on the outside of the theatres, and in
such positions publicity followed as a matter of course.
Robert Heath, in his ' Epigrams ' (1650), refers to this
custom in the address


' I have common made my book ; 'tis very true ;
But I'd not have thee prostitute it too ;
Nor show it barefaced on the open stall
To tempt the buyer ; nor poast it on each wall
And corner poast, close underneath the Play

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 93

That must be acted at Black-Friers to-day ;
Nor see some Herring-cryer for a groat
To voice it up and down with tearing throat ;
Nor bid thy 'prentice read it and admire,
That all i' the shop may what he reads inquire ;
No : profer'd wares do smel : I'd have thee know
Pride scorns to beg : modestie fears to wooe.'

But selling books was not the only source of re-
venue tothe bookseller. The circle of bookbuyers has
always been much smaller than that of readers, and those
who from force or choice came in the latter category sim_
ply paid a small subscription which entitled them to read
at the booksellers' shops the most recent publication.
If the perusal were not completed in one day, the reader
noted the page at which he left off, and returned
again and again until the book was finished. This
curious practice, which was much in vogue during the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, had its origin in
ancient Rome. We are told that the celebrated French
publisher, M. Ladvocat. always kept five or six copies of
' his Poets ' upon the counter, and several chairs ready,
so that any respectable person could come in and read
without being at all obliged to buy. Another method,
once very popular, of disposing of books was in the form
of lotteries, especially during the middle of the seven-
teenth century. Ogilby, the author of ' Itinerarum
Angliae, or Book of Roads,' was a famous promoter of
book-lotteries, as witness several advertisements in the
Gazette during May 1668 ; he appears to have utilized
Vere Street Theatre, where ' all persons concerned *
were invited to 'repair on Monday, May 18, and see
the volumes, and put in their money.' The ' first and
greatest prize ' included an Imperial Bible (valued at

94 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

25/.), illustrated editions of Virgil, Homer, and
Fables, besides other books, the aggregate value of the
prize being 5i/. The prizes gradually decreased in
value down to the two last Nos. 35 and 36 each of
which was valued at 4/. The tickets were $s. each.
Raffles for books were very common in the earlier
years of the eighteenth century ; and Swift in his
'Journal to Stella,' under date April 27, 1711, speaks
of having lost 4/. "js. at play with a bookseller, and got
but half-a-dozen books.

To return, however, to the more concrete phases of
bookselling. The two booksellers who will for all time
be associated with Milton are Humphry Moseley and
Samuel Simmons. In the latter part of 1645, when
Milton was nearly forty years of age, and when the
Civil War was at its height, Moseley, who was then one
of the leading booksellers and publishers of dramatic
and poetical works in London, issued ' Poems, both
English and Latin.' This is noticeable from the fact
that it is the first book bearing Milton's name, and
also on account of its being the first collective edition
of poems by him. It is an octavo of over 200 pages,
and was ' sold at the Sign of the Princes Arms, in
Paules Churchyard.' Moseley's preface, ' The Stationer
to the Reader,' is of much interest, and if ever there
was a piece of bibliopolic sophistry written, it is this.
' It is not,' observes the philanthropic Moseley, ' any
private respect of gain, Gentle Reader (for the slight-
est Pamphlet is now-a-days more vendible than the
works of learnedest men), but it is the love I have to
our own language that hath made me diligent to col-
lect and set forth such pieces, both in Prose and Verse,

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 95

as may renew the wonted honour and esteem of our
English tongue.' He speaks of 'these ever-green
and not to be blasted laurels,' and thinks that ' I
shall deserve of the age by bringing into the light as
true a birth as the muses have brought forth since our
famous SPENSER wrote.' The circumstances which
attended the publication of ' Paradise Lost ' are pretty
well known, and so we need scarcely enter into the sub-
ject with any great degree of minuteness. Samuel
Simmons, whose shop was next door to the Golden
Lion in Aldersgate Street, purchased ' Paradise Lost '
from Milton at the rate of 5/. per impression. Milton
himself only received two payments, and in 1680, six
years after the poet's death, Simmons acquired the
copyright in perpetuity for 8/. from Milton's widow.
In writing harrowing accounts of the hardships and
under-payments of authors, fifth-rate journalists would
do well to remember that these sums are represented
by about four times the amount in our present cur-
rency. So that it is, in effect, inaccurate to state that'
' Paradise Lost ' was sold for iSL Each of the three
first impressions, it may be pointed out, was reckoned
at 1300 copies, although Simmons had the option of
going as high as 1 500 in the actual printing. There
are very many subjective points in connection with
this famous book to which we must allude. ' Why/
asks Professor Masson, ' though Simmons had acquired
the copyright in April 1667, and had entered the copy-
right as his in the Stationers' Books in August 1667,
is his name kept out of sight in all the title-pages prior
to that of 1668 . . . which is the first with preliminary
matter the preceding title-pages shewing no prin-

96 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

ter's'name, but only the names of the three booksellers
at whose shop copies might be had ? ' Mr. Masson
suggests that Simmons was timid about publishing a
book written by one ' whose attacks on the Church
and defences of the execution of Charles I. were still
fresh in the memory of all, and some of whose pamph-
lets had been publicly burnt by the hangman after
the Restoration.' The first edition of 'Paradise
Lost ' is a very creditably printed work in small quarto,
of 342 pages where the Argument and other pre-
liminary matter is absent, or 356 pages where this
extraneous matter is present. The selling price of
the volume was three shillings, which is now repre-
sented by at least half-a-guinea. One of the later
impressions of 1668 contains a very interesting three-
line advertisement : ' The Printer to the Reader.
Courteous Reader, There was no Argument as first
intended to the Book, but for the satisfaction of many
that have desired it, is procured. 6". Simmons? When
'Paradise Regained ' was finished, ' Paradise Lost ' had
been in circulation for four or five years, and a new
edition was, for some cause or other, delayed by Sim-
mons. This appears to have induced Milton to trust
his sequel into other hands, and accordingly John
Starkey, of the Mitre, Fleet Street, near Temple Bar,
was entrusted with the new work. From the fact that
the imprint declared it to be 'printed by J. M. for
John Starkey ,'&c. (1671), Professor Masson assumes
that the book was printed on Milton's own account
but this does not by any means follow. It wus a very
general rule for the printers to indicate their names
by initials only on title-pages, and the two ' J. M.'s

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 97

may therefore be merely a coincidence. Had it been
' printed for J. M./ there would be more reason for
concluding that Milton bore the whole cost of the
mechanical part. With it was first issued ' Samson
Agonistes.' A second edition did not appear until
1680, and this is in many respects inferior to the earlier,
although issued by the same publisher. Eight years
aftenvards a third edition came out under the auspices
of a new publisher Randal Taylor. It will perhaps
not be out of place to correct two very commonly
accepted errors, perpetrated by De Quincey in his re-
view of Schlosser's ' Literary History of the Eighteenth
Century/ in reference to ' Paradise Lost/ He ob-
serves : ' Then came a fellow, whose name was either
not on his title-page, or I have forgotten it [who put
the 'Paradise Lost' in rhyme]. Him succeeded a
droller fellow than any of the rest. A French book-
seller had caused a prose French translation to be
made of the ' Paradise Lost/ without particularly
noticing its English origin, or at least not in the title-
page. Our friend, getting hold of this as an original
French romance, translated it back into English
prose as a satisfactory novel for the season.' The
French version, 'The State of Innocence: and
Fall of Man. Described in Milton's Paradise Lost.
Render'd into Prose. With Historical, Philoso-
phical and Explanatory Notes. From the French
of the Learned Raymond De St. Maur. By a Gentle-
man of Oxford. London : Printed for T. Osborne,
in Gray's-Inn, and J. Hilyard, at York. MDCC.XLV./
was a paraphrase, evidently intended to assist
French students of the original poem ; and the


98 The Earlitr History of English Bookselling.

translator gives St. Maur's preface, which precludes
the supposition that he took it for ' an original French

The two Humphreys Moseley and Robinson
published several things conjointly, and the following
' epigram ' to these worthies from Sir Aston Cokain's
* Poems' (1658) will be read with interest :

' In the large Book of Plays you late did print
In Beaumont and in Fletcher's name, why in't
Did you not justice ? Give to each his due ?
For Beaumont of these many writ in few :
And Massinger in other few : the main
Being sole issues of sweet Fletcher's brain.
But how came I, you ask, so much to know ?
Fletcher's chief bosom-friend inform'd me so,
And print their old ones in one vol. too :
For Beaumont's works and Fletcher should come forth
With all the right belonging to their worth.'

In 1661, 'The Beggars' Bush ' of Beaumont and
Fletcher was issued by Humphrey Robinson and
Anne Moseley at their respective shops, and ten
years later 'young Mr. Robinson gave io/. to the
Company of Stationers to be bestowed upon a piece
of plate in memory of his father.' In addition to his
self-imposed task of editing Milton, Moseley, in 1650,
published Robert Heath's ' Clarastella,' together with
poems occasional, elegies, epigrams, satires, &c. The
'Stationer' in his address to 'the Reader' coolly
apologizes for his presumption in publishing the
.book without the author's knowledge and consent,
and urges as a plea of justification, 'the gallantness
and ingenuity ' of the author, whom he describes as
a gentleman ' so eminent in everything, that I could

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 99

not imagine but that the meanest of his recreation
(for such is this) might carry much in it worthy of
public view, besides, the approbation of some friends
hath heightened my desire of publishing it ; who,
upon their revising it, do assure me it is a sweet
piece of excellent fancie and worthy to be called the
author's own issue.' Heath was abroad when this
volume appeared. Moseley issued, inter alia, Sir
Walter Raleigh's 'Apologie' (1650), which was, it
seems, first published in the ill-fated author's ' Judi-
cious and Select Essayes,' and this likewise was first
published by Moseley, and contained a dedicatory
epistle to Sir Walter's son, Carew, from the pen of
the energetic bookseller.

The Great Fire of London, which commenced on
September 2, 1666, destroyed buildings covering
between four and five hundred acres, and extended
from the Tower to the Temple Church, involving
amongst the general wreckage the destruction of
books and literary property to the value of about
I5o,ooo/., according to Pepys' calculation, or nearly
200,000!. to Evelyn. R oughly speaking at our present
valuation, the amount would be very close upon
r,ooo,ooo/. sterling. Most of the booksellers, whose
stock fed the flames, were, as Pepys puts it, ' utterly
undone,' and ' my poor Kirton,' from being a sub-
stantial tradesman with about Sooo/. to fall back
on, was made 2000!. or 3<DOO/. worse than nothing.
Writing on September 27 to Sir Samuel Tuke
from ' Sayes Court,' Evelyn observes that, soon after
the fire had subsided, the other trades went on as
merrily as before, ' only the poor booksellers have been

H 2

ioo The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

indeed ill-treated by Vulcan; so manynoble impressions
consumed, by their trusting them to ye churches,'
and he further speaks of this loss as ' an extraordinary
detriment to the whole republic of learning.' Two
months after the letter from which we have just
quoted, Evelyn writes to the Lord High Chancellor,
Sir Edward Hyde, afterwards Lord Clarendon, in
this strain : ' I did the other day in Westminster
Hall give my Lord Cornbury, your lordship's son,
my thoughts briefly concerning a most needful re-
formation for the transmitting a clearer stream for
the future from the press, by directing to immaculate
copies of such books as being vended in great pro-
portions do for want of good editions amongst us
export extraordinary sums of money, to our no lesse
detriment than shame : And I am so well satisfied of
the honour which a redress in this kind will pro-
cure even to posterity (however small the present
instance may appear to some in a superficial view)
that I think myself obliged to wish that your Lordship
may not conceive it unworthy of your patronage.
The affair is this : Since the late deplorable confla-
gration, in which the Stationers have been exceedingly
ruined, there is like to be an extraordinary penury
and scarcity of classic authors, &c., used in grammar
schools, so as of necessity they must suddenly be
reprinted. My Ld. may please to understand, that
our booksellers follow their own judgement in printing
the ancient authors according to such text as they
found extant when first they entered their copy.'
Evelyn names certain authors who have been in this
way reprinted in a corrupt form, and vouchsafes this

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 101

explanation : ' The cause of this is, principally the
Stationer driving as hard and cruel a bargain with
the Printer as he can : and the Printer taking up any
smatterer in the tongues, to be the less loser ; an
exactness in this no ways importing the stipulation :
by which means errors repeat and multiply in every
edition, and that most notoriously in some most
necessary school-books of value, which they obtrude
upon the buyer, unless men will be at reasonable rates
for foreign editions.' To prevent all this abuse,
Evelyn suggested that, first, it should be decided
which particular text be in future followed ; secondly,
that a Censor be appointed ; and thirdly, that the
expense of the two be borne by the Company.

At last the grievance became so serious, that
on May 12, 1680, a Proclamation was issued for sup-
pressing the printing and publishing of unlicensed
news-books and pamphlets, which were characteristic
for inaccuracy and wilful perversion of news. All
persons whatsoever were thereby prohibited from
printing or publishing any news-letters or pamphlets
without his Majesty's authority. James II. had not
succeeded to the throne more than three months
when an order, dated May 21, 1685, was issued to
the Stationers' Company by the Censor of the press,
Sir Roger L' Estrange. This document referred to
the intolerable freedom of the press, and authorized
regulations by which law-books were to be licensed
by the Lord Chancellor, the Lord Keeper, the Lord
Chief Justice, or by some one appointed by them;
historical books by the Secretary of State, or deputy ;
books of Heralds by the Earl Marshal ; divinity,



1 02 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

physics, philosophy, arts and sciences, either by the
Archbishop of Canterbury or Bishop of London.
The Chancellors or Vice-Chancellors to have sole
jurisdiction in this matter in their respective Univer-
sities. The Stationers' Company had strict orders to
see that this law was enforced, and that no unlicensed
book be entered or published at their Hall. Clarendon,
writing from Dublin Castle to the Earl of Rochester,
March 14, 1685-6, speaks of the trashy news-letters
circulating throughout the kingdom, and that he has
ordered the prohibition of all such until properly

We have already described the first two important
book-catalogues, and the short reference to the Great
Fire brings us to a third of these lists. It was entitled
' A General Catalogue of Books, printed in England
since the dreadful fire, 1666, to the end of Trinity
term, 1676 ;' and its publisher was Robert Clavel,
who had, in 1658 and 1659, issued from the Stag's
Head, near St. Gregory's Church, -in St. Paul's
Churchyard, William Chamberlayne's 'Love's Victory'
and ' Pharomida.' The ' Catalogue/ which was con-
tinued every term till 1700, is a thin folio, and includes
an abstract of the bills of mortality. The books are
classified under their respective headings of divinity,
history, physic and surgery, miscellanies, chemistry,
poetry, and so forth, and the publisher's name of
each book is given. From this valuable publication
we learn that the number of books printed in England,
from 1666 to 1680, was 3550: of which 947 were
divinity, 420 law, and 135 physic, so that two-fifths
of the whole were professional books, 397 were

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 103

school-books, and 253 were on subjects of geography
and navigation, including maps. On the average of
the fourteen years, the total number of works pro-
duced annually was 253 ; but deducting reprints,

Online LibraryW. (William) RobertsThe earlier history of English bookselling → online text (page 7 of 26)