W. (William) Roberts.

The earlier history of English bookselling online

. (page 8 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

pamphlets, single sermons, and maps, the average
would be much under one hundred. This (points
out one writer) will show an increase upon a former
period, namely, from 1471 and 1660, when the
average number of distinct works published each
year in this country was seventy-five. But as a
matter of fact very many more than are here in-
dicated were published, but as the means even in
Clavel's time of ascertaining an approximate esti-
mate of the actual number printed were very slender,
so it is now simply impossible to obtain anything
nearer than the foregoing figures. Clavel has been
very rightly described as ' an eminent bookseller/
and Dunton summarizes his virtues in the following
manner : ' Mr. Robert Clavel is a great dealer,
and has deservedly gained himself the reputation
of a just man. Dr. Barlow, bishop of Lincoln, used
to call him the honest bookseller. 1 He has been
Master of the Company of Stationers [1698 and
1699], and perhaps the greatest unhappiness of his
life was his being one of Alderman Cornish's jury.
He printed Dr. Comber's works.' It seems, however,
with reference to the last statement, that Henry
Brome, of the Gun, St. Paul's Churchyard, shared
the publication of certain of Dr. Comber's works :
at all events the two booksellers are more often than
not found sharing the expense of certain publications,
1 Ergo, were all the others the reverse ?

1 04 The Earlier History of English Bookselling,

and old books bearing their imprint are even now
commonly met with. The Brome family was con-
nected with the printing and publishing trades from
the early part of the sixteenth century ; and in 1591,
' the Widdowe Broome ' published one of Lilly's
works. Henry Brome may be almost regarded as
' cheery Mr. Cotton's ' bookseller, for in addition to
publishing the second part of the ' Complete Angler '
(1676), he issued Cotton's ' The Planter's Manual'
(1675), and his 'Catalogue of some books printed for
and sold by H. Brome since the dreadful fire of
London, to 1675,' includes Cotton's ' Virgil's Travesty/
which was sold at is. 6d. ; ' Lucian's Dialogues Bur-
lesques ' and ' The Fair One of Tunis/ each sold at
2s. 6d. ; and ' Horace, with a song at every Act/ for
which Mr. Brome asked the small sum of one shilling.
Of a more ambitious nature was ' The Commentaries
of M. Blaiz d'Montluck/ &c., a folio volume priced
at 14-r. ; and ' The Life of the Great Duke of Es/
pernon ' was another of Cotton's books which occurs
in a list which brings Brome's publications down to
a more recent date by three years (i.e. 1568). He
likewise ' undertook ' books in conjunction with T.
Bassett, to whom the great Jacob Tonson was ap-
prenticed, and so, as we have already endeavoured to
demonstrate, there is a strong and unmistakable
continuity in the annals of bookselling, if not of a
primary, then at least of a secondary nature.

Few books have attained so universal and per-
manent a fame as the first of all allegories, ' The
Pilgrim's Progress.' To Nathaniel Ponder, of the
Peacock, in the Poultry, near the church, belongs the

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 105

honour of having acted as sponsor to this immortal
book. It appears that Bunyan was released from
prison in 1676, and came up to London with the MS.
of his great work in 1677. Ponder's was a 'new
name on Bunyan's title-pages, but it was destined
frequently to reappear during the next ten years.'
On December 22, 1677, Ponder 'entered then for his
copy by virtue of a licence under the hand of
Mr. Turner, and which is subscribed by Mr. Warden
Vere, one book or copy intituled The Pilgrim's
Progress from this world to that which is to come,
delivered in ye Similitude of a Dream by John
Bunyan, \]d' Dr. John Brown, the latest and
perhaps most exhaustive of Bunyan's biographers,
states that the book was licensed February 18, 1678,
and ' therefore early in the year was in the hands
of that public which so quickly and for so long was
to give it hearty welcome.' It was published at
is. 6d., and printed in small octavo on yellowish-
grey paper, and extended to 232 pages in addition to
title, author's apology, and conclusion. ' A living
artist,' observes Dr. Brown, 'has given us an ideal
sketch of Nathaniel Ponder's shop at the time he
first sent forth the book. A scholar is coming out
from under the sign of the Peacock, and a peasant,
whip in one hand and money in the other, going in ;
while near the shop door are a gay gallant and a fair
lady, schoolboys, and grave men, all intently reading
that story of the Pilgrim they have just purchased over
the counter within. The picture is true to the time
then, and true to the time now.' Ponder published
eleven editions of ' Paradise Lost,' the twelfth (1689)

io6 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

being printed for Robert Ponder, and the fourteenth
was ' printed for W. P., and sold by Nat. Ponder,
in London House Yard, near the west end of St.
Paul's Churchyard' (1695). On May 10, 1676,
Ponder was committed by the Court at Whitehall
the king being present to the gatehouse, for print-
ing an unlicensed pamphlet, tending to the sedition
and defamation of the Christian religion. He was
discharged on the 26th ; was ordered to pay due
fees, and to enter into a bond of 5OO/. From one of
Bonder's later lists, we glean the interesting informa-
tion that both parts of ' Pilgrim's Progress,' and also
' Grace Abounding/ were sold at one shilling each ;
whilst for three other works, 'A Treatise of the Fear
of God,' 'The Life and Death of Mr. Badman,' and
' The Doctrine of Law and Grace Unfolded,' the
price of is. 6d. each was asked. But Bunyan's second
part of ' The Pilgrim's Progress ' was not the only
one that appeared from the Poultry, inasmuch as
Thomas Malthus, of the Sun, issued a ' second part '
in 1683 by T. S.' Query, was this the ' T. S.' for
whom Ponder published ' Divine Breathings ' at or
about the same time ? Bunyan's second part did not
appear until 1684, and only reached a new edition two
years afterwards. Dunton has the following ' sugary '
notice in his crack-brained memoirs: 'Nathaniel
(alias Bunyan} Ponder. He has sweetness and enter-
prise in his air, which plead and anticipate in his
favour.' Had Dunton not beslobbered nearly the
whole of his fraternity in a like manner, it would
have been an interesting question, How much was he
paid for this puff ?

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 107

Butler's booksellers, like those of Bunyan, were
comparatively few, in spite of the enormous popu-
larity of his one great book, ' Hudibras.' The
first part was printed for Richard Marriot (already
noticed), whose shop was under St. Dunstan's Church
in Fleet Street, and it appeared in 1663 ; and about
the same time the Public Intelligence contained the
following warning to the public against a literary
piracy : ' There is stolen abroad, a most false and
imperfect copy of a poem called ' Hudibras,' without
name either of printer or bookseller, as fitting so lame
and spurious an impression. The true and perfect
edition, printed by the author's original, is sold by
Richard Marriot, under St. Dunstan's Church, in
Fleet-street ; that other nameless is a cheat, and will
but abuse the buyer as well as the author, whose
poem deserves to have fallen into better hands.' The
second part appeared in 1664, under the auspices of
John Martyn and James Allestry, at the Bell, St.
Paul's Churchyard, and the title-page contains a very
curious emblem of the house. Ten years later, the
copyright appears to have been partly in the posses-
sion of Martyn and partly of Hcrringman, or at all
events they issued editions conjointly. The third
and last part was issued by Simon, of the Star, at
the west end of St. Paul's Churchyard, in 1678.

Francis Kirkman and Richard Head were two of
the few author-booksellers who ' adorned ' the latter
half of the seventeenth century, and perhaps it would
be difficult to instance two greater scamps in the book-
selling or any other trade. Kirkman (with Henry
Marsh) published Nevill's comedy, ' The Poor Scholar,'

1 08 The Earlier History of English Bookselling .

in 1662, when he was living at the Prince's Arms, in
Chancery Lane. He published ' Lust's Dominions '
as a play of Marlowe's, which it was not, and ascribed
'The Countrie Girle ' (1647) to Anthony [Tony]
Brewer, solely from the initials ' T. B/ which appear
on the title-page. In 1652 he translated 'the sixt
part' of 'Amadis de Gaule' from the French, and
also, nearly twenty years later, the second and third
parts of ' Beliaris of Greece' (1671-2). In 1673
he brought out 'The Unlucky Citizen,' and a very
curious and wretchedly printed little book called
'The Wits' about 1670. He entered into partnership
with Head on two occasions, and was assisted by
him in writing and publishing plays, farces, and
drolls. The two were well-met, and both appear to
have been intimately acquainted with the lowest type
of men and women, a result being seen in the scan-
dalous character of their books. Head was drowned
when crossing over to the Isle of Wight in 1678.

With a view, perhaps, of continuing the work of
Maunsell, London, and Clavel, the Mercurius Libra-
rius was published in 1680, the second number being
dated April 22. It seems to have been the first
periodical publication that anticipated the Publishers'
Circular of the present day. ' All booksellers ' (so
ran the notice) ' that approve of the design of pub-
lishing this catalogue weekly, or once in fourteen
days at least, are desired to send in to one of the
undertakers any book, pamphlet, or sheet they would
have in it, so soon as published, that they may be
inserted in order as they come out : their books shall
be delivered to them back again upon demand. To

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 109

shew they design the public advantage of the trade,
they will expect but 6d. for inserting any book ; nor
but \2d. for any other advertisement relating to the
trade, unless it be excessive long.' This 'undertaking '
had a very short life, and the next of its kind
made its appearance on October 7, 1680, under the
designation of Weekly Advertisement of Books. It
was printed by R. Everingham, ' and annexed to the
city mercury, from the office of the Royal Exchange,
No. 250.' The sixth number, dated November nth,
contains the following caution : ' It is not unknown
to booksellers, that there are two papers of this nature
weekly published ; which, for general satisfaction, we
shall distinguish. That printed by Thomas James is
published by Mr. Vile, only for the lucre of \2d. per
book. This printed by Robert Everingham is pub-
lished by several booksellers, who do more eye the
service of the trade, in making all books as public as
may be, than the profit of insertions. All men are,
therefore, left to judge who is most likely to prosecute
these ends effectually ; whether a person that is no
bookseller, nor hath any relation to that trade, or
those who have equal ends with all others of the
trade, in dispersing the said papers both in city and
country. All titles to be inserted in this paper are
either to be left with Robert Everingham, a printer,
or to be delivered to Mr. Orchard, a porter.' Ever-
ingham printed numerous books and pamphlets during
the last two decades of the seventeenth century, the
most notable example being an edition (1690) of 3000
Bibles and 1000 New Testaments in 8vo, for the use
of the Highlands of Scotland, and the Irish people

1 10 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

generally. Dunton refers (in 1705) to this printer
as being in partnership with one Whitledge, and
observes : ' I employed them very much, and looked
upon them to be honest and thriving men ; had they
confined themselves a little sooner to household love,
they might possibly have kept upon their own bottom ;
however, so it happened that they loved themselves
into journeymen printers again.'

Dryden was the central literary figure of the latter
part of the seventeenth century ; and so in a some-
what similar manner may Henry Herringman be
regarded in bibliopolic circles. It may therefore be
not uninteresting to consider how and when these two
men became connected. Dryden's unfortunate elegiac
ode to Cromwell, which was printed for William
Wilson, and ' sold at Well-Yard, near Little Bartho-
lomew's Hospital,' 1659, was* the incipient cause of
his taking to hack-work. For, by endeavouring to
obliterate the memory of these verses, he wrote
' Astrae Redux ' which was issued by Herringman
in 1660, which severed him for ever from the sup-
port of Cromwell's Lord Chancellor, Pickering, from
whose rooms of state Dryden removed to lodge in
the house of Herringman, which was in the New
Exchange. From this spot he continued to corre-
spond with several noblemen. Herringman was at
this time one of the leading London publishers, and
was, in addition to this, a personal friend of Davenant,
and most of the wits of the day were not only his
customers, but also his visitors. It was probably at
this shop that Dryden became introduced to the
leading literary men of the period. In 1668 Her-

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 1 1 1

ringman issued three plays of Dryden, ' Indian
Emperor,' ' Secret Love,' and ' Sir Martin Mar-all,'
besides the essay on ' Dramatic Poetry ' ; and in the
year following ' The Rival Ladies ' and ' The Wild
Gallant' came forth from the same house. These
were succeeded in 1670 by 'Tyrannick Love ' and ' The
Tempest.' Pepys has an entry, under date of June
22, 1668, which is worth quoting: 'To the King's
playhouse, and saw an act or two of the new play,
' Evening Love,' again, but like it not. Calling this
day at Herringman's, he tells me Dryden do himself
call it but a fifth-rate play.' This play does not
appear to have been printed by Herringman until
1691. In the meantime he had issued, among others,
' Aurenge-Zebe,' 1676, 'All for Love/ 1678. In 1667
Herringman issued ' Annus Mirabilis,' and another
edition in 1688, which was 'sold by J. Tonson.'
With the flight of James II., and the downfall from
the Poet-Laureateship, Dryden appears to have
worked almost solely for Jacob Tonson, although for
long after this period Herringman still published the
plays of Dryden which he had previously issued, and
Tonson's name occurs in many instances on these
as one of the booksellers. One of Herringman's
last publications appears to have been Etherege's
1 She Would if She Could' (1693) ; not long afterwards
he retired, and lived ' handsomely and hospitably ' at
Carshalton, where (according to Professor Morley) he
and his wife Alice, after fifty-eight years of wedded
life, died within six weeks and two days of each other
in 1703, two years after Dryden's decease.

Richard Bentley, who traded largely in plays, and

1 1 2 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

whose shop was for a long time at the Post House,
in Russel Street, Covent Garden, was another of the
few publishers who either employed, or was employed
by, Dryden. The connection was short and unhappy.
In 1675 Bentley issued 'The Mistaken Husband/
with the statement that it was revised by Dryden,
who, however, denied having had anything to do with
it. Although, as Mr. Saintsbury points out, Dryden
spoke of Bentley with considerable bitterness after-
wards, his name occurs frequently among the book-
sellers mentioned on the title-pages of Dryden's plays,
down, in fact, to 1693. Dryden and Lee's ' CEdipus '
appears to have been solely 'undertaken' by him, and of
which he issued editions in 1682 and 1692. A writer
in Notes and Queries states that about 1682 Bentley
issued a series of 'Modern Novels' to which he
gave his name and that he was also the publisher
of the first edition of Bishop Gibson's translation of
Camden's ' Britannia/ - Dryden, in a letter of
2 Gibson appears to have encountered "great difficulties in
bringing out his edition of Camden. He was greatly exer-
cised to avoid ' a storm upon the booksellers' heads.' They
were apparently a long time in arriving at a decision to under-
take this new edition, and a further delay arose on account of
paper : a large quantity was anticipated from Genoa, which
they expected would ' fitt their business.' Gibson consoled
himself with the reflection that ' the work is so generally known,
and their reputation in order to any future undertakings does
so much depend upon this, that I am confident the honour of
the one of 'em, and their interest of the other will put it out of
all danger of miscarrying.' In November, 1694, arose the dif-
ficulty, to whom should the new edition be dedicated ? How-
ever, the edition duly appeared in 1695, but it did not 'go off'
as was anticipated ; and in 1723 a new title-page was printed
for the remainder.

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 113

February 1695-6 speaks of ' Bentley, who cursed
our Virgil so heartily.'

It was not a usual practice for an author to
dedicate a play to his bookseller, and perhaps for
very obvious reasons. In the prefatory epistle,
' To my friend the Stationer/ to ' The Innocent
Usurper' (1694), Banks speaks in high terms of
Bentley's generosity 'to a good poet,' which said
generosity was, it appears, meted out ' suitable to the
author and his book.' And it is not going out of
the way to suppose, from some of his remarks, that
Mr. Banks was fishing, not for compliments, but
for something much more substantial. Evelyn,
writing on January 20, 1696-7, to Dr. Bentley, in
reference to the ' copy ' of ' Silva.' alludes to it as
being ' in the hands of Chiswell and your namesake,
Mr. Bentley (Booksellers), who have sold off three
impressions, and are now impatient for the fourth.'
Bentley, also, seems to have been one of the earliest
booksellers who advertised in the periodical press, as
witness The Present State of Europe for January 1697,
and possibly earlier. ' The New World of Words, or
a Universal English Dictionary,' is the subject of one
of these advertisements, but it was also sold by three
other booksellers.

Booksellers, as we have already seen, did not con-
fine themselves to selling books. Sir Robert Filmer's
'Patriarcha, or the Natural Power of Kings ' (1680),
was printed and sold by ' Walter Davis, bookbinder,
in Amen Corner.' This work has a more than passing
interest, inasmuch as it called forth Locke's ' Treatise
on Civil Government ' (1690). It is, however, a far


1 14 TkeEarlier History of English Bookselling.

cry from bookish matters to quack medicines, and yet
the step was much more often than not taken by the
old booksellers. Indeed, with many, books and pills
are equally important items. It is not so common
an incident to find booksellers offering not only a
particular ' medical ' work, but also the medicines
which it recommended. Salmon's ' Select Physical
and Chyrurgical Observations,' ' from my house at
the Blew Balcony by the Ditch side, near Holborn
Bridge, December 7, 1685,' contains the following
announcement : ' Whereas, Dr. William Salmon,
the author of this treatise, being some time gone
beyond sea, These are to give notice that all persons
that have an occasion for any of his medicines men-
tioned in his catalogues or books, may be supplied by
John Hollier, with whom the Dr. formerly lived.'
Mr. Hollier, it seems, ' may be spoken ' with at the
shop of Thomas Passinger, the bookseller, at the
Three Balls on London Bridge. Booksellers' shops,
likewise, appear to have been general receptacles
for letters : several of John Ray's letters to Hans
Sloane were directed to be left at 'Mr. Wilkinson's,
a Bookseller at the Black Boy over against St.
Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street/ in 1689.

The literary cause celebre of the dying years of the
seventeenth century owes its origin to a bookseller.
The contest between Bentley single-handed and Boyle
backed by all the wit and learning of Oxford has
been happily termed a splendid one. Thomas
Bennett, of the Half-Moon, in St. Paul's Church-
yard, was the bookseller who detained the MS.
' Phalaris ' much longer than was at all necessary, and

Bookselling in the Seventeenth Century. 1 1 5

so set the scholars at loggerheads. Bennett secured
more attention perhaps than he deserved, but
Bentley's letters to him are unique of their kind.
Dunton refers to his worthy as ' very much devoted
to the Church, has a considerable trade in Oxford,
and prints for Dr. South and the most eminent Con-
formists.' Atterbury was his friend and patron, and
preached his funeral sermon in 1706, in which his
religious and moral qualities were eloquently spoken
of. Among the many interesting incidents which
this quarrel occasioned, not the least was the book-
seller's own vindication, a tedious and somewhat
incoherent defence, entitled ' A Short Account of
Dr. Bentley's Humanity and Justice,' &c., 1699.
Bennet makes an elaborate attempt to justify himself,
but not successfully so.

I 2

1 1 6 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.



THERE is scarcely anything in the annals of book-
selling so remarkable as the comparatively narrow
compass in which the trade has thrived. Until
within the past few years, it was almost entirely
confined to a radius of half-a-mile, taking St.
Paul's Cathedral as the starting-point, and for over
three hundred years there were very few migratory
symptoms observable. Little Britain and London
Bridge are the only two localities in which the trade
has become entirely obliterated. The former is one
of the very many quaint and old-world-like nooks
that lie off the main thoroughfares- of the Metro-
polis, where the antiquary may for a while ponder
over the legends and stories of the place when in
the zenith of its fame, and where everything is con-
secrated into Religion by the footprints of Time.
Even within the past few years Little Britain has,
however, undergone changes which are improve-
ments only from a utilitarian point of view. The
street is narrow, and the houses high, and if there is,
here and there, a remnant or an architectural sug-
gestion of an old-world time, with its wigs, its

Bookselling in Little Britain. 117

coaches, its three-corner hats and its sleepy com-
placency, there is, we regret to say, much too much
of the nineteenth century element to permit the
lover of the past to linger long in his day-dream.
Even Washington Irving's charmingly fancical sketch
of the locality comparatively recent as it is only
serves to demonstrate the mutability of things, for,
other than by caretakers, the street is uninhabited :
Mr. Skryme, the undertaker with his quaint song,
and the Lambs, they, or their prototypes, have long
since passed into the inevitable unknown.

In the time of Edward II., the mansion of John,
Duke of ' Bretagne ' or Brittany, and Earl of Rich-
mond, was the centre of attraction of the neighbour-
hood, around which the elite of the capital gathered
with all its finery and its wit But slowly and also
surely the neighbourhood lost its aristocratic attrac-
tions, and so in due course the old family mansions
of nobility became converted into dwelling-houses for
well-to-do tradesmen ; and the next step was in the
direction of shops, mostly booksellers. The street
itself is bounded on the west by Christ Church
School and St. Bartholomew's Hospital, on the
north by Smithfield and Long Lane, and on the east
by Aldersgate Street, whilst Bull-and-Mouth Street
separates it from the purlieus of Newgate.

It is, of course, impossible to determine when the
locality became the habitat of booksellers. If not
actually the first, then certainly the first eminent
printer-bookseller who resided here was John Day,
or Daye, to whom reference has already been made
on page 42. We may, however, here quote a

1 1 8 The Earlier History of English Bookselling.

passage from Stowe's ' Survey,' in which, referring to
the old city gate called Aldersgate, it is stated :
' John Daye, stationer, a late famous printer of many
good bookes, in our time dwelled in this gate, and
built much upon the wall of the citie, towards the
parish church of St. Anne.' But Day's new build-
ings did not preserve the old gate, which was rebuilt
in 1617.

Alexander Lacy was living in Little Britain in
1566, when he printed 'The Poor Man's Benevolence
to Afflicted Church.' Owen Rogers, who was made
free of the Stationers' Company in 1555, lived in the
immediate vicinity, his shop being at the Spread
Eagle, ' neare vnto great saint Bartelmewes gate.'