Page images
[merged small][merged small][merged small][graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

What the PRINTING-Press did for the instruction of the masses in the fifteenth century, the PRINTING-MACHINE is doing in the nineteenth. Each represents

an æra in the diffusion of knowledge; and each may be taken as a symbol of the intellectual character of the age of its employment." - Penny Magazine.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Notice. The separate articles which compose this First Number of our the mean time this preliminary view will, if we mistake

Review for the Many." are calculated chiefly for the development of the not, establish one great truth-that at every step of the principles and modes of thought upon which we intend to conduct this little diffusion of knowledge, from the first slow efforts of the work. There may probably, therefore, appear somewhat of sameness in the common end which each article has in view. This is an objection incidental rude Printing Press of 1460, to the last rapid workings of

the Printing Machine of 1833, the foundations of the prolo a First Number. We have preferred making our declaration of faith as regards the diffusion of intellectual wealth, in separate papers which refer sperity, the independence, and the consequent excellence of to some of the great branches into which knowledge and taste are divided, literature, have been deepened and widened ; and the conrather than crowd our opinions into one looy introduction.

dition of every labourer and chapman in the market of literature successively ameliorated. If we do not show

this by computation, we shall be content to believe, for the THE MARKET OF LITERATURE.

rest of our lives, that good horses and good books will never

appear again in England; and that, as the Bristol mail is the THERE was an ingenious gentleman in the seventeenth destruction of travelling, so the ‘Penny Cyclopædia’ is the century who was greatly alarmed lest the breed of horses destruction of literature. We are not obstinate. should be annihilated in England, by the introduction of We may probably simplify this large subject, by deterpublic conveyances. The people that were accustomed to mining to confine this introductory paper to the progress ride their good pad-nags' wickedly preferred, he says, the of printing in England, and by dividing this progress into smaller cost of making their journeys in the stage-coaches five periods, viz. :that go to almost every town within twenty or twentyfive miles of London, at very low rates; so that, he adds,

I. From 1471 (the introduction of printing by Caxton) • by computation, there are not so many horses, by 10,000,

to the accession of James I., 1603. kept now in these parts, as there were before stage-coaches

II. From 1603 to the Revolution, 1688. set up.'

III. From 1688 to the accession of George III., 1760.

IV. From 1760 to 1800. It would be very easy now, by computation, to show that the establishment of public carriages has multiplied the

V. From 1800 to 1833. breed of horses fifty-fold more than it would have multi- I. It is a remarkable characteristic of the first century of plied, had the rich only continued to use horses. But that printing, not only in this country but wherever a press was is not our present business. What the worthy encourager erected, that the highest and most constant efforts of the of travelling maintained would happen, and, indeed, had new art were addressed to the diffusion of the old stores of happened, by the extension of the advantages of travel- knowledge, rather than to an enlargement of the stores. ling from the few to the many, a considerable number of The early professors of the art on the continent,-in Gerthe worthy encouragers of knowledge maintain will hap- many, Italy, and France, — were scholars who knew the impen, and, indeed, has happened, by a similar extension of portance of securing the world's inheritance of the knowthe benefits of knowledge. They show, by computation, ledge of Greece and Rome from any further destruction, that the breed of books has deteriorated—that the market such as the scattered manuscripts of the ancient poets, for books is narrowed—and that there are not so many and orators, and historians had experienced, through books, by 10,000, used now in these parts, as there were neglect and ignorance. The press would put them fairly before books for all, at very low rates, were set up.' The beyond the reach of any new waste. But after the first complaint may be just; but we shall take the liberty of half century of printing, when these manuscripts had been investigating its correctness with a care proportioned to the copied in type, and the public libraries and the princes and alleged magnitude of the evil.

nobles of Europe had been supplied, a fresh want arose To conduct this investigation upon data that may be out of the satisfaction of the former want. Men of letters, satisfactory to ourselves and our readers, we must open a who did not belong to the class of the rich, anxiously devery wide field of inquiry. It embraces the literary history, manded copies of the ancient classics, and their demands not only of England, but of every other country where were not made in vain. The Alduses, and Stephenses, books are printed. The subject is a most interesting one; and Plantins, did not hold it good to keep books dear but its facts are to be sought for in barren and thorny for the advancement of letters ; they anxiously desired places. In the present paper we can only bring together to make them cheap; and they produced, therefore, not some of the more striking results which lie upon the sur- expensive folios only, as their predecessors had done, face. It is possible that we may occasionally devote some but neat and compactly printed octavos and duodecimos, other papers to particular branches of the inquiry. In for the general market. The instant that they did this,


(W11.11AX Clowns, Priuter, Duke Stroot, Lambeth.]


Books gra

the foundations of literature were widened and deepened. | however, were only single sheets; but, on the other hand, They probably at first overrated the demand ; indeed, we there are, doubtless, many not here registered. Dividing know they did so--and they suffered in consequence. But the the total number of bookis printed during these 130 years, time was sure to come when their labours would be rewarded; we find that the average number of distinct works proand, at any rate, they were at once placed beyond a servile duced each year was 75. dependence upon patrons. When they had their customers When Leo X. gave a privilege, in 1553, to the second in every great city and university, they did not wait for the Aldus for printing : Varro,' the Pope required that the approving nod of a pope or a cardinal before they began to book should be sold cheap. Cheapness in books is a print.

relative term : it must depend upon the probable number A new demand very soon followed upon the first demand of purchasers. If Varro' were likely to be extensively for cheap copies of the ancient classics; and this was read, Aldus could afford to sell it cheaply: if he counted even more completely the demand of the people. The only upon a small impression, it must of necessity have doctrines of the Reformation had proclaimed the Bible as been dear. The principle that chiefly determines price, in the best spiritual guide and teacher, -- and the people would the commerce of books, is the number of the purchasers. have Bibles. The first English Bible, was bought up and It is sufficiently evident that, long after the invention of burnt ; those who bought the Bibles contributed capital printing, and its introduction into England, books were for making new Bibles, and those who burnt the Bibles dear. In the ‘Privy Purse Accounts of Elizabeth of York,' advertised them. The first printers of the Bible were, published by Sir H. Nicolas, we find that, in 1505, twenty however, cautious-they did not see the number of readers pence were paid for a ‘Primer' and a 'Psalter.' În 1505, upon which they were to rely for a sale. In 1540 Grafton Twenty pence would have bought half a load of barley, and printed but 500 copies of his complete edition of the were equal to six days' work of a labourer.

In 1516, Scriptures; and yet, so great was the rush to this new 'Fitzherbert's Abridgment;' a large folio law-book, then first supply of the most important knowledge, that we have published, was sold for forty shillings. At that time, forty existing 326 editions of the English Bible, or parts of the shillings would have bought three fat oxen. Bible, printed between 1526 and 1600.

dually became cheaper, as the printers ventured to rely The early English printers did not attempt what the upon a larger number of purchasers. The exclusive pricontinental ones were doing for the ancient classies. Downlvileges that were given to individuals for printing all sorts to 1540 no Girek book had appeared from an English of books, during the reigns of Henry VIII., Mary, and press. Oxford had only printed a part of Cicero's Epistles; 1 Elizabeth,-although they were in accordance with the Cambridge, no ancient writer whatever :-only three or spirit of monopoly which characterized that age, and four old Roman writers had been reprinted, at that period, were often granted to prevent the spread of books,-offer throughout England. But a great deal was done for a proof that the market was not large enough to enable public instruction by the course which our early printers the producers to incur the risk of competition. One with took ; for, as one of them says-- Divers famous clerks and another, 200 copies may be estimated to have been printed learned men translated and made many noble works into of each book during the period we have been noticing; our English tongue, whereby there was much more plenty we think that proportion would have been quite adequate and abundance of English used than there was in times to the supply of the limited number of readers,-to many past. The English nobility were, probably, for more than of whom the power of reading was a novelty, unsanctioned the first half century of English printing, the great encou- by the practice of their forefathers. ragers of our press : they required translations and II. The second period of the English press, from the acabridgments of the classics - versions of French and cession of James I. to the Revolution, is, perhaps, all cirItalian romances - old chronicles, and helps to devout cumstances considered, the least favourable to the diffusion exercises. Caxton and his successors abundantly supplied of knowledge of any period in our whole literary history. these wants; and the impulse to most of their exertions was In the reign of the first Stuart came an inundation of pegiven by the growing demand for literary amusement on dantry, which surrounded the court with verbal criticism the part of the great. Caxton, speaking of his ‘ Boke of and solemn quibble ;- the people, indeed, had their gloriEneydos,' says - This present book is not for a rude ous dramatists, but Bacon was looked upon as an impracuplandish man’ to labour therein, nor read it; but only for ticable dreamer. Controversy, too, began to be rife in a clerk and a noble gentleman, that feeleth and under England; and the spirit at last exploded in such a torrent standeth in feats of arms, in love, and in noble chivalıy.' of civil and ecclesiastical violence in the reign of James's But a great change was working in Europe; the rude successor, as left the many little leisure for the cultivation uplandish man, if he gave promise of talent, was sent to of their understandings. The press was absorbed by the school. The priests strove with the laity for the education productions of this furious spirit. There is, in the Briof the people, and not only in Protestant, but in Catholic tish Museum, a collection of 2000 volumes of Tracts issued countries were schools and universities everywhere founded. between the years 1640 and 1660, the whole number of Here, again, was a new source of employment for the which several publications amounts to the enormous quanpress-A, B, C's, or Absies, Primers, Catechisms, Gram- tity of 30,000. This most curious collection was made by mars, Dictionaries, were multiplied in every direction. a bookseller of the name of Tomlinson, in the times when Books became, also, during this period, the tools of pro- the tracts were printed ;-was bargained for, but not fessional men. There were not many works of medicine, bought, by Charles II. ;-and was eventually bought by but a great many of law. The people, too, required in- George III., and presented by him to the British Museum. struction in the ordinances they were called upon to obey; The number of impressions of new books unconnected with

and thus the Statutes, mostly written in French, were controversial subjects, printed during these stormy days, translated and abridged by Rastell, our first law-printer.

must have been very small. Dr. Johnson has well reAfter all this rush of the press of England towards the marked that the nation, from 1623 to 1664, was satisfied diffusion of existing knowledge, it began to assist in the with two editions of Shakspeare's Plays, which, probably, production of new works, but in very different directions. together did not amount to a thousand copies. Much of the poetry of the sixteenth century, which our press

At the Restoration our national literature, with a very spread around, will last for ever: its controversial divinity few grand exceptions, put on the lowest garb in which litehas, in great part, perished. Each, however, was a natural rature can be arrayed, it was the toy of the king and his supply, arising out of the demand of the people; as much courtezans. Charles II. and his followers brought hither as the chronicles, and romances, and grammars were a the spirit of the literary parasites of Louis XIV., with natural supply; and as the almanacs, and mysteries, and whom the great were everything, the people nothing. ballads, which the people also then had, were a natural sup- Small, indeed, must have been the consumption of books ply. Taken altogether, the activity of the press of England, amongst those who during the first period of our inquiry, was very remarkable. Ames and Herbert have recorded the names of 350 printers

'Hated not learning worse than asp or toad,' in England and Scotland, or of foreign printers engaged looking upon men of letters as the old monarchs looked in producing books for England, that flourished between upon their jesters. Under such a state of things, Milton 1471 and 1600. The same authors have recorded the received fifteen pounds for the copy of Paradise Lost;' titles (we have counted with sufficient accuracy to make and an Act of Parliament was passed that only twenty the assertion) of nearly 10,000 distinct works printed printers should practise their art in the kingdom. We see amongst us during the same period. Many of these works, by a petition to Parliament in 1666, that there were only 110 “ working printers” in London. They were quite “ Pamphlet of News.” Before the Revolution, there enough to produce the gimcracks of literature for the were several London papers, regulated, however, by privicourt.* Burton, who lived near these days, has drawn a leges and surveyors of the Press. Scon after the beginning fearful picture of the abject condition of men of learning, of the eighteenth century, (1709) London had one daily before they had a public to rely upon :- Rhetoric only paper, fiiteen three times a week, and one twice a week: serves thein to curse their bad fortunes; and many of this was before a stamp-duty was imposed on papers. them, for want of means, are driven to hard shifts. From After the stamp-duty in 1724, there were three daily grasshoppers they turn humble-bees and wasps, plain papers, six weekly, and ten three times a week. Provincial parasites, and make the Muses mules, to satisfy their newspapers had been established in several places at this hunger-starved paunches, and get a meal's meat. This period. The reign of Anne also saw a new and most sucis the high and palmy state of men of genius, which some cessful species of literature-the issue of a periodical paper, amongst us are desirous of bringing hack, by redeeming which should contain something less exciting and more literature from the contaminating touch of the multitude. conducive to a healthy state of the public intellect, than These persons must be ignorant that nearly all that is the mere rumours of foreign wars or domestic scandals. glorious and enduring in our literature has been built upon | The “Tatler, Spectator,' Guardian,' and other popular the demands of the people. Our dramatists were essen- works, were, to the middle classes of those days, what the tially the ministers of taste, ay,and of knowledge, to the peo- Penny Knowledge' is to the humbler classes, and the ple; and so were our fine old divines. Who have perished young of all classes, at the present day. We never heard -the verbal pedants (we forget even their names), who that the remnant of the old literary court-tinkers of the were doing homage to the first James as the Solomon of Stuarts ventured to predict the downfall of English literahis age, or the Beaumonts and Jonsons, who were living ture, because the “Spectator' was published at a penny: or upon the breath of the mob's applause at the Globe Thea- that the Tonsons and Lintots maintained that Pope could tre? Who are banished to utter oblivion - the Sedleys and not produce them a translation of Homer, because he had Rochesters, who were exciting the gross passions of the written in a penny Guardian. They were wiser in their second Charles; or the Taylors and Souths, who were generation; and believed, as an old French bookseller pouring forth their fervid eloquence and their poignant wit believed, or is said to have believed, “ Plus on lit, plus on upon the vulgar many?

lira--plus il faut, plus il faudra des livres*.” At the fire of London, in 1666, the booksellers dwelling The creation of another new species of literature in this about St. Paul's lost an immense stock of books in quires, period, is to be ascribed to the strong good sense of a amounting, according to Evelyn, to 200,0001., which they printer, who saw that, even with their daily and weekly were accustomed to stow in the vaults of the metropolitan papers, the middle classes were ill-supplied with miscelcathedral, and of other neighbouring churches. At that time laneous information. Cave, in this spirit, projected the the people were beginning to read again, and to think ;- Gentleman's Magazine. He offered a share in it to half and as new capital naturally rushed in to replace the con- the booksellers in London ; they one and all rejected the sumed stock of books, there was considerable activity once project as absurd. They had not learnt, even by the more in printing. The laws regulating the number of prin success of the Essayists, to rely upon a large number of ters soon after fell into disuse, as they had long fallen into con- purchasers. In 1731, Cave, at his own risk, produced the tempt. We have before us a catalogue (the first compiled first Magazine printed in England-the Gentleman's.' Its in this country) of all the books printed in England since success was so great, that in the following year the bookthe dreadful fire, 1666, to the end of Trinity Term, 1680, sellers, who could not understand Cave's project till they which catalogue is continued to 1685, year by year. A knew its value by experiment, set up a rival magazine, great many-we may fairly say one-half-of these books, * The London.' In 1749, the first Review, · The Monthly;' are single sermons and tracts. The whole number of books was started; and in a few years was followed by “The printed during the fourteen years from 1666 to 1680, we Critical. It is not our purpose to trace the history of our ascertain, by counting, was 3550, of which 947 were divi- monthly reviews and magazines. They did an immense deal nity, 420 law, and 153 physico-so that two-fifths of the for literature and the literary character. They took the whole were professional books ; 397 were school books, and patronage of men of letters out of the hands of the great 253 on subjects of geography and navigation, including and the fashionable, and confided it to the people. They maps. Taking the average of ihese fourteen years, the total might not create poets and philosophers, but they prenumber of works produced yearly was 253 ; but deducting vented kings and lords pretending to create them. the reprints, pamphlets, single sermons, and maps, we

• Un Auguste peut aisément faire mu Virgile,' may fairly assume that the yearly average of new books looked like a truism in the court of Louis XIV.; it became was much under 100. Of the number of copies constitut

a bad joke when, relying upon the humble printer of the ing an edition we have no record; we apprehend it must * Gentleman's Magazine,' Johnson dared to describe the have been small, for the price of a book, as far as we can patron and the gaol’ as the common curses of the scholar. ascertain it, was considerable. Roger North, speaking of Johnson learnt in the school of the people to depend upon those booksellers of his day who had the knack of getting the people, through their interpreters, the booksellers, as up volumes on temporary matters, says, They crack their the only patrons whose resources would last beyond the brains to find out selling subjects, and keep hirelings in hour of sunshine. He was in the transition state from the garrets, on hard meat, to write and correct by the grate; patronage of the few to the patronage of the many, and so puff up an octavo to a sufficient thickness, and there is he therefore endured great privations. But he clearly saw six shillings current for an hour and a half's reading. In the time was coming, when the literary man would find, in a catalogue, with prices, printed twenty-two years after the extension of the demand for knowledge, the broadest the one we have just noticed, we find that the ordinary and surest foundation for his own reward as a labourer in cost of an octavo was five shillings.

the vineyard of knowledge. III. We have arrived at the third stage of our rapid The periodical literature of the era we are speaking of, and imperfect sketch-from the Revolution to the acces- swallowed up a vast number of the pamphlets through sion of George III.

which writers used to communicate their thoughts to the This period will be ever memorable in our literary his world. Disputants in a little circle found in the magatory for the creation, in great part, of periodical literature. zines a vent for their opinions, theological, moral, poTill newspapers, and magazines, and reviews, and cyclo- litical, and antiquarian. This circumstance, of course, pædias were established, the people, even the middle greatly reduced the number of merely temporary books ; classes, could not fairly be said to have possessed them and it had thus the advantage of imparting to our literaselves of the keys of knowledge.

ture a more solid character. Making a proportionate de. The publication of intelligence began, as many of our duction for the pamphlets inserted in the catalogues we readers know, during the wars of Charles I. and his Par- have already referred to, it appears to us, however, that liament. But the 'Mercuries' of those days were little the great influx of periodical literature, alt

gh constimore than occasional pamphlets. Burton speaks of a tuting a most important branch of literary commerce,

had, in some degree, the effect of narrowing the pul* La letteratura era una chingaglieria per la corte.'-See an able dissertation, by Count Pecchio, on the application of the * The more people read the more they will read—the more general laws of production to literary and scientific productions.- the world wants books the more they will want.”-Histoire des Lugano, 1832.

Français des divers états, vol. vi., p. 121.

had increased, in most cases 50 per cent., in others, 100 per cent. The 2s. 6d. duodecimo had become 4s.; the 68. octavo, 10s. 6d.; and the 12s. quarto 1. 1s. It would appear from this that the exclusive market was principally sought for new books; that the publishers of novelties did not rely upon the increasing number of readers; and that the periodical works constituted the principal supply of the many. The aggregate increase of the commerce in books must, however, have become enormous, when compared with the previous fifty years; and the effect was highly beneficial to the literary character. The age of patronage was gone.

V. The last period is still more remarkably a period of extended commerce in books. We may at once go to the proof of this position.

The number of new publications issued from 1800 to 1827, including reprints altered in size or price, but exclusive of pamphlets, was, according to the London Catalogue, 19,860. Deducting one-fifth for the reprints, we have 15,888 new books in twenty-seven years,-shewing an average of 588 new books per year,-being an increase of 216 per year over the last eleven years of the previous century. Books, however, were still rising in price. The 4s. duodecimo of the former period became 68., or was converted into a small 8vo. at 10s. 6d.; the 10s. 6d. octavo became 12s. or 14s., and the guinea quarto very commonly two guineas. Here, we think, was still an evidence that the new books were for an exclusive market, whether of individual customers or circulating libraries. Circulating libraries and reading societies did a vast deal for literary production; they rendered the demand to a considerable degree certain; but they would have done a great deal more if prices had not been so extravagantly raised. The libraries would have taken duplicates and triplicates instead of single copies; the publisher and author would have been paid as well, and the public would have been better supplied. The publishers of new books did not rely for a demand upon a great body of purchasers. For the many, however, the periodical works went on largely increasing, and their quality was decidedly improved.

lication of new books; and perhaps wholesomely so. That the growth of periodical literature would produce the incontestible effect of general knowledge, that of causing the appetite to grow by what it feeds upon, we cannot doubt; but the new body of readers that periodical literature had won from the middle classes, might rather desire the old solid dishes, than crave after hastily-produced novelties. Be this as it may, the number of new books published in this period was not large. We have before us a Complete Catalogue of Modern Books published from the beginning of the century to 1756;'-from which all pamphlets and other tracts' are excluded. We find that in these fifty-seven years, 5280 new works appeared, which exhibits only an average of ninety-three new works each year.


We are inclined to think that the numbers of an edition printed had been increased; for, however strange it may appear, the general prices of the works in this catalogue are as low, if not lower, than in a priced catalogue we also have of books printed in the years 1702 and 1703. A quarto published in the first half of the last century seems to have averaged from 10s. to 12s. per volume; an octavo, from 58. to 6s.; and a duodecimo from 2s. 6d. to 3s. In the earlier catalogue we have mentioned, pretty much the same prices exist and yet an excise had been laid upon paper; the prices of authorship, even for the humblest labours, were raised, at least, two hundred per cent. above the prices of the time of John Dunton, who says his great talent lies at collection, and he will do it for you at six shillings a sheet ;'* and, more than all, the cost of the necessaries of life was much advanced. We can only account for this upon the principle, that the publishers of the first half of the eighteenth century knew their trade, and, printing larger numbers, adapted their prices to the extension of the market. They also, in many cases, lessened their risk by publishing by subscription-a practice now almost disreputable, but possessing great advantages for the production of costly books. This was, in many respects, the golden age for publishers, when large and certain fortunes were made, when there was not a great deal of a gambling spirit in the business. Perhaps much of this proceeded from the publishers aiming less to produce novelty than excellence-selling large impressions of few books, and not distracting the public with their noisy competition in the manufacture of new wares for the market of the hour. Publishers thus grew into higher influence in society. They had long ceased to carry their books to Bristol or Stourbridge fairs, or to hawk them about the country in auctions for the unwary. The trade of books had gone into regular commercial channels.

In the year 1827, Constable's Miscellany' was first published, and the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge commenced its operations. The aim of each was to produce books at the old rate of cheapness, without any diminution of excellence,-so that the duodecimo might again be purchased by the home reader for 3s. or 48., and the octavo for 68. or 7s. The example was followed by many publishers of eminence,-by Messrs. Longman, Mr. Murray, Messrs. Oliver and Boyd, in Scotland, and others. Series of great value, whether regarded as works of useful instruction or innoxious entertainment, were produced ;and some of the best writers of the country assisted in their production. In the year 1832, however, the demand of the great masses of the people for cheap information became so manifest, and that demand was so imperfectly supplied, that a new mode of publication in our times required to be created. The penny sheet of the reign of Queen Anne was to be revived in the reign of William IV. The success of the experiment has produced already a visible influence upon the condition of society. The public feel the benefit that they have received; a few of the dealers in dear books say that literature is ruined. Let us examine this by figures.

The following Table exhibits the number of new publications, without pamphlets or reprints, of each year, from 1828 to 1833, with the number of volumes, the aggregate price of a single copy of each new work, the price of 500 copies, and the average price per volume.

[ocr errors]

IV. The period from the accession of George III. to the close of the eighteenth century, is marked by the rapid increase of the demand for popular literature, rather than by any prominent features of originality in literary production. Periodical literature spread on every side; newspapers, magazines, reviews, were multiplied; and the old system of selling books by hawkers was extended to the rural districts, and small provincial towns. Of the number books thus produced, the quality was indifferent, with a few exceptions; and the cost of these works was considerable. The principle, however, was then first developed, of extending the market, by coming into it at regular intervals with fractions of a book, so that the humblest customer might lay by each week in a savings-bank of knowledge. This was an important step, which has produced great effects, but which is even now capable of a much more universal application than it has ever yet received. Smollett's History of England' was one of the most successful number-books; it sold to the extent of 20,000 copies.



We may exhibit the rapid growth of the publication of new books, by examining the catalogues of the latter part of the eighteenth century, passing over the earlier years of the reign of George III. In the Modern Čatalogue of Books,' from 1792 to the end of 1802, eleven years, we find that 4096 new works were published, exclusive of reprints not altered in price, and also exclusive of pamphlets: deducting one-fifth for reprints, we have an average of 372 new books per year. This is a prodigious stride beyond Here, then, we see, that from the time when' Cheap the average of 93 per year of the previous period. But we are Libraries' were set up in 1827, the number of new publicanot sure that our literature was in a more healthy conditions has been every year steadily increasing. But we see tion. From some cause or other, the selling price of books something which pleases us as well. Since 1828 the average price per volume has been decreasing, and the decrease now amounts to about a sixth. It appears to us.



842 1105

Price. £. s. d. 668 10 0 1064 1413 0 879 1 1142 1592 873 5 3 1105 1619 939 9 3 1152 1525 807 19 6 403,987 10 7 1180 1567 831 8 0 415,300 10 7

Price of Price per Vol. 500 Copies. S. d. £334,250 12 J 439,525 12 5 416,570 11

• Life and Errors, vol. i. p. 181.


469,740 11 7

tions. Vols.

[ocr errors]

Per Annum.



10 Annuals Almanacs

to every reader.

therefore, that the publishers of new books are beginning cognizant of what is taking place in some of the most im. to rely upon the principle of numbers co-operating to pur- portant departments of knowledge. 'chase, and will make up in increased returns what they When we look back only two centuries, we find that works may lose in diminished profits. The fact of the regular upon the higher branches of science were uniformly written increase of new publications since the era of cheapness, is in Latin. This was a great convenience to all men of edu-a sufficient answer to those who maintain that cheapness cation ; it saved them from the necessity of acquiring sehas ruined our current literature.

veral modern languages, since a knowledge of Latin was The present state of the Periodical market of English the portion of a very much larger part of the reading com. literature is, however, one of the most remarkable proofs munity than at present. But after the gradual abolition of of the influence of cheapness upon the commerce of books, the learned language, comes more than a century, during that can be offered. At the end of 1831, before the public which it has been usual to employ our common idiom in cation of the ' Penny Magazine,' the great offender in the works of every degree of difficulty. Has the public, during eyes of those who will not look beyond their own narrow that century, profited to the extent which might have been circles, there were 177 monthly periodical works, a single predicted by older speculators, who might reasonably imacopy of each of which cost inl. 12s. 6d. At the end of gine that the learned tongue, in which all scientific know1833, when the Penny Magazine' and its allies had done ledge was communicated, was the main obstacle to its getheir wicked work of driving all competitors from the field, neral diffusion? The universal ignorance upon such subjects as some maintain, there were 236 monthly periodical works, seems to attest the contrary; but there were several diffia single copy of which cost 231. 38. 6d.

culties in the way, independent of the language of commuWe subjoin to these melancholy details of the decay of nicaticn. the commerce of literature, the following estimate, which In the first place, the only road to accurate and indewe have formed upon tolerably accurate data :

pendent knowledge of most of the sciences lies through the

study of mathematics, which appears in most eyes divested TOTAL LITERARY RETURNS OF THE UNITED KINGDOM, 1833.

of everything that can please the imagination or interest

curiosity. And while its outward form and preliminary 1180 New Books, averaging 500 of cach sold

£415,300 difficulties will always prevent the number of mathemaSchool Books, and Reprints, at least 21 Weekly Periodical Works, sold by respectable

ticians from becoming very large, the study itself renders Booksellers, and included in the lists of the large 100,000 popular explanation difficult to those who have acquired it. wholesale houses (aggregate sale 300,000)

The mathematician treats a question of mechanics in a way 21 Ditto, made up in Monthly Parts (aggregate sale

of which any other person cannot form an idea; and as he

100,000 300,000). 12 Libraries; Galleries of Portraits, and Illustrated

overcomes all difficulties in a manner perfectly incompre,

150,600 hensible to the general reader, he is naturally very little Works, published Monthly (aggregate sale 60,000) 208 Magazines, and other Monthly Periodicals

150,000 prone to stop to consider (if indeed after a certain time it 35 Quarterly Periodicals .

75,000 were easy for him to do so) how the latter would view the 30,000 question upon which he is engaged. We could name several

50,000 splendid exceptions; one in particular ought to suggest itself Newspapers (30 millions English)

1,000,000 Engravings and Music

100,000 Scotch and Irish Publications:

Such want of communion with the many has naturally 50,000

led men of science to associate together, and to give the £2,420,900 results of their inquiries more to one another than to the

public, in the shape of the transactions of learned societies. The literary returns of the United Kingdom, in 1733, The busy intercourse which takes place between the several were, unquestionably, little more than 100,000l. per annum.

clans of the different capitals and large towns is almost unWhat has multipled them twenty-fold ? Is it the contraction or the widening of the market--the exclusion or that can be expected of an individual, that he knows there

suspected by the world in general; in which it is the most the diffusion of knowledge? We leave the enemies of the instruction of the people to answer. They will tell us that Memoirs of the Institute," &c., and has all due respect for

are such works as the “ Philosophical Transactions," “ The literature is a luxury, and that it can only be supported by books which he neither has seen, nor could have read if he luxurious prices. They cannot see that the whole course of

had. our literature has been that of a gradual and certain spread from the few to the many-from a luxury to a necessary

In the second place, the scientific classes have not, as a

body, so acted as to claim exception from the charge of culas much so as the spread of the cotton or the silk trade. pable negligence, which so long attached to all the educated Henry VIII. paid 128. a yard for a silk gown for Anne classes of this country, as to matters connected with the Boleyn-a sum equal to five guineas a yard of our day. spread of information. That we are improving in this l'pon whom do the silk mercers now rely—upon the few respect, we hope and believe ; and that the followers of phiAnne Boleyns, or the thousands who can buy a silk gown losophy are likely to take the post in which their attainments at 28. 6d. a yard? But these reasoners will also maintain that the quality of popular literature must be low. To naturally place them, we do not doubt. They ought to do

so in self-defence, as we shall immediately show. that we have already replied; but there is one triumphant

Whatever may be the fate of individuals, the good and analogy which they will infallibly use. They will tell us wholesome rule of trying to cultivate private talent for that literature is a stream-to be deep it must be narrow; general benefit is not violated by classes with impunity. If if the stream is diffused it must be shallow. Well then, there be gout in store for the epicure, and apoplexy for the we will call literature, a Sea. We leave them to their drunkard, pestilence for the unswept city, and insurrection conceits. In the mean time, with no ynpatriotic wish, we exclaim,“ SPEED the PRINTING MACHINE !"

for the tyrant, there is no less certainly a moral evil in store for any body of inquirers after truth, which shall place its

end in improving the mechanical results of science, and DIFFUSION OF THE RESULTS OF SCIENTIFIC neglect the task of putting the sound maxims of thinking,

and good habits of observation, derivable from it, among the INVESTIGATIONS.

propelling causes of moral civilization. It is the pubiic

itself, which, thus negatively injured, takes its own revenge. 1. Abstracts of the Papers printed in the Philosophical Transac- First, it does so by the indifference with which it regards

tions of the Royal Society of London, from 1800 to 1830 inclu- the pursuit in question—no great wonder, when there are sive. 2 vols. 8vo., pp. 516 and 448.

so few who can see the channel through which science be(To be had at the Society's apartments.)

nefits the world. 2. Monthly Notices of the Astronomical Society of London, from February 1827 to June 1833. 2 vols. 8vo. London. Priestley the advancement of science, when an object is to be gained

This leads it to refuse all succour, in order to promote and Weale. 3. Abstracts of the Transactions of the Geological Society.

too expensive for private societies to attempt. So that those

who really know how our government is situated with reWe have not chosen these works as being decidedly fit for spect to pecuniary matters, and what they do for science, every reader, but as forming the first link of a chain which are rather inclined to wonder how they do so much, seeing will one day, we hope, connect the various scientific societies their judges care so little about the matter, than to join in with the public, and which at present so far answer that the cry which has been before now raised against them; end, as they make a larger number of persons generally:) and instead of asking why the “ Nautical Almanac

Price 158.




« PreviousContinue »