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worthy of imitation to all who desire to regard the publisher as something higher and worthier than the ordinary John o' the Scales :
“To suppose that a person employed in an extensive trade lived in a state of indifference to loss and gain would be to conceive a character incredible and romantic ; but it may be justly said of Mr. Tonson that he had enlarged his mind beyond solicitude about petty losses, and refined it from the desire of unreasonable profit. He was willing to admit those with whom he contracted to the just advantage of their own labours; and had never learned to consider the author as an under-agent to the bookseller. The wealth which he inherited, or acquired, he enjoyed like a man conscious of the dignity of a profession subservient to learning. His domestic life was elegant, and his charity was liberal. His manners were soft, and his conversation was delicate; nor is, perhaps, any quality in him more to be censured than that reserve which confined his acquaintance to a small number, and made his example less useful, as it was less extensive. He was the last commercial name of a family which will be long remembered; and if Horace thought it not improper to convey the Sosii to posterity; if rhetoric suffered no dishonour from Quintilian's dedication to Trypho; let it not be thought that we disgrace Shakspeare by appending to his works the name of Tonson.”
The house in which the first Tonson carried on business in his latter years was, as described in the imprint of his books, at “Shakspeare's Head, over against Catherine Street in the Strand,” That house, No. 141, was remarkable as the shop of three of the most eminent amongst the old booksellers.* Here the elder Jacob might have looked out upon “the furies of the football war,” which Gay has so well described in his Trivia. Here Andrew Millar concluded, over many a hospitable entertainment in his upper-rooms (for the old days of booksellers' bargains at taverns were over), his treaties with Fielding and Thomson, with Hume and Robertson. Here Thomas Cadell smiled with honest exultation as he wrote to Gibbon, to tell him how. wonderful was the success of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.' Illustrious shadows flitted about that venerable house, which, long since rebuilt, is now an insurance-office.
N the first year of the reign of James II.,
1685, an ingenious artisan-a joiner, who was a good draughtsman, and understood
architecture — hastily left his business in London, and took up his abode somewhere in Derbyshire. The execution of the Duke of Monmouth had terrified this humble man, whose name was Richardson ; for he had received favours from the unhappy son of Charles II., and also from the Earl of Shaftesbury. He was suspected in that awful time; and, had he not found a secure hiding-place, would probably have been one of the sufferers whom Chief-Justice Jeffreys sent to the gallows, or to a life of field-labour in America. In 1689 Samuel Richardson was born. Though concealment from political motives was no longer necessary as regarded his father, he has carefully forborne to mention the precise place in Derbyshire where he first saw the light, and where he passed his childhood.
In 1753, the Rev. J. Stinstra, a Dutch minister, who had translated “Clarissa,' wrote to this famous novelist :-“May I ask you—(although I am too bold my letter blushes not)—in what kind of life been conversant from your youth? Have you, as
you have fame reports, been constantly employed in bookselling? Whence did you attain so accurate a knowledge of the various dispositions of nature, and of the manners of mankind ? What was the first occasion of your application to writing? By what means have you compiled your immortal works? Did they flow from your invention ? or, had you a model of a true action before your eyes, which you adorned with additional colourings?" To questions so searching and so flattering as these the complacent author replies without reserve, as to the facts of his early life. Out of these revelations let me call up the shadow of a precocious boy, in his obscure home in Derbyshire.
It is a summer afternoon; school is over; the village boys are playing at ball, or kite-flying, on the green, in front of a row of decent cottages. A matron, with laughing girls about her, looks out of her woodbine-covered lattice, and exclaims, “There is that poor little Gravity again, moping about by himself. Bring him in, Susan, and let us hear some of his fine stories.” Susan runs out, and salutes the little fellow with, “Mr. Serious, why don't you play like the rest of your schoolfellows?” “I don't want to play, Miss.” “Well, then, come in with me, and you shall have a glass of gooseberry-wine.” Sammy Richardson takes her hand, and he, seated on a low stool, soon begins to tell a story of a servant-man preferred by a fine young lady for his goodness, to a lord who was a libertine. Two or three summers, and two or three winters, pass away, and still the little boy is in great request; for when half-a-dozen young
women are gathered together in a neighbourly fashion to work with their needles, Sammy is reading to them, or telling fresh stories, “all of which carried with them an useful moral." He had a talent for letterwriting, from his earliest youth; and when scarcely eleven years old, got into some trouble for writing spontaneously an epistle, full of Scripture texts, to a widow of fifty, who pretended to a zeal for religion, and was a constant frequenter of church ordinances, but who was continually fomenting quarrels amongst all her acquaintances by backbiting and scandal. This was dangerous work for the critical boy, as his handwriting was known. He has attained his thirteenth year, having made no acquisitions of knowledge out of the range of the few English books that are within his reach. But he was gathering up materials, in a strange way, for the exercise of his future art. Let me view him as he is walking by the side of a streamlet under a Derbyshire hill, in earnest conversation with one of his “
young women of taste and reading.” She it is who is eloquent in talk; he is only an attentive listener. Another evening comes, and he is reading to her a manuscript, which she carefully puts into her pocket, and smiles a sweet farewell. Are they lovers? Has the bashful boy thus early declared his affection ? It is not so; it ought not to be so. In a few weeks young Samuel has a private meeting with another young lady, and there is a similar earnest conference-sighs and tears on the maiden's part-silent acquiescence from the youth. Autumn succeeds to summer; the hedges and woods are getting bare of leaves; but far away