Page images
PDF
EPUB

son removed from remote Peckham to the merrie ruralities of Islington in 1814, and afterward lived at Kensington, so that he might be within easier call of the Chiswick Press. Nephew often walked from Chiswick of a night to Thompson's home at Kensington, where he would sup with the admirable engraver and play chess with him till nearly midnight, when he would trudge off to his own lodgings at Hammersmith.

Pierce Egan's “Life of an Actor,” dedicated to Edmund Kean, and containing Theodore Lane's spirited and curious colored plates and several cuts by Thompson, was printed for C. S. Arnold, of Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, who was already doing a good business with the Whittinghams.

But in this year, 1825, nearly all the booksellers in town and country were buying the ten-volume Shakespeare which Singer had just edited for Whittingham, and for which the Rev. Charles Symmons, D. D., “late of Jesus College, Oxford,” had written a life of the bard. Stothard, Corbould, and Harvey had drawn sixty designs for this edition, and John Thompson had engraved them. Even John Murray could no longer stand out against the demand for Chiswick books, so he bought many sets of this Shakespeare.

William Harrison Ainsworth went to Chiswick one day in December, 1827, and ordered three thousand copies of “A Christmas Box” to be

[graphic]

From the title-page of Pierce Egan's “Life of an Actor."

Edition of 1825.

printed and sent to a shop in Old Bond Street, where he had recently started in business as a publisher and bookseller. A few days later he sent in the manuscript of a “Life of Washington.” The book does not appear to have been issued, but one hundred and fifty specimen pages were printed. Ainsworth was then in his twenty-third year.

He had turned his back upon the dreary prospect of the law, with which his father, a solicitor, had vainly endeavored to lure him. He had tried authorship; had already, at the age

of twenty, followed a budget of ballads and short tales with a novel (“Sir John Chiverton”), and now he brought his inexperience to the trade of publishing To this rash excursion there could be but one end, and Ainsworth reached it speedily. Poorer and disappointed for his pains, he abandoned the business and went abroad, returning before he was thirty to write “Rookwood,” the first of a long series of novels, which brought him notoriety and profit.

The Whittinghams, Uncle and Nephew, dissolved partnership in 1828, as I find by an advertisement in the “Gazette” in August of that year:

or

OTICE is hereby given that the partnership named,

, Whittingham the elder and Charles Whittingham the younger, of Chiswick, in the County of Middlesex, Printers, was this day dissolved by mutual consent. All debts owing by or to the said partnership concern to be paid and received by the said Charles Whittingham the elder only, as witness our hands this 16th day of August, 1828.

Nephew went to London, and started a printing business there at No. 21 Took's Court, Chancery Lane. That he was still on friendly terms with his Uncle is proved by the fact that the latter made him a present of useless type and a couple of small presses which were out of repair, and stood in with him on the lease of the premises newly taken. But the Uncle had no interest in the town business, and he made no further ventures apart from his own press at Chiswick. In fact, he had sold the paper-stock factory five years before to a Mr. Nichols, and for the rest of his life he gave his attention wholly to the art of printing.

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small]

FOLLOW the Uncle Whittingham's career to its close. What he did of importance during the dozen years of life that were left to him, though here concisely set down,

had not less influence than his earlier efforts in making an art of the old trade of printing in England. The earliest in date of his famous illustrated books during that period was the first series of Northcote's “ Fables,” or, as the title runs, “One Hundred Fables, Original and Selected : by James Northcote, R. A., etc., etc. Embellished with Two Hundred and Eighty Engravings on Wood.”

This was printed for George Lawford, of Saville Passage, in May, 1829. James Northcote,

[graphic]
« PreviousContinue »