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flections on the Revolution in France,' of which it is recorded by Nichols that he sold eighteen thousand copies. For some years before his death, in 1797, he kept no public shop, but was a wholesale dealer in books which were his own copyright.
Robert Dodsley died in 1764, when on a visit to Mr. Spence, who was a prebendary of the Cathedral of Durham. He was buried in the Abbey Churchyard there; and his epitaph was written by this warm and constant friend :
“If you have any respect
regard this place,
MR. ROBERT DODSLEY; who, as an Author, raised himself much above what could have been expected
from one in his rank of life, and without a learned education;
and who, as a man, was scarce exceeded by any in integrity of heart, and purity of manners and conversation. He left this life for a better,
Sept. 25, 1764,
ANDREW MILLAR; CADELL AND STRAHAN.
N 1736 the booksellers of London were threatened with a competition which appeared likely to assume a very formidable
character. A Society was established for the Encouragement of Learning. Of this Society the Duke of Richmond was the President; noblemen of high character were members of its Committee of Management; learned doctors and professors were also of this committee; and literature had its representatives in the persons of Paul Whitehead and James Thomson. The Secretary of this society was an enthusiastic Scot, Alexander Gordon, who, ten years before, had his head full of a project to make a communication by a canal between the Clyde and the Forth, and who is described as having “made trial of all the ways by whicb a man could get an honest livelihood.” There is extant a letter from this gentleman in which he informs Dr. Richardson, the Master of Emanuel College, Cambridge, how they are determined to spare neither pains nor charges in what they shall publish. “In fine," he writes, “nothing is wanting but to set out with some author of genius or note, in order to give the public a specimen of their desire to serve them as well as the author.” He solicits therefore the good offices of Dr. Richardson to induce Dr. Middleton, who, he hears, is engaged upon the Life of Cicero, to give the Society the offer of publishing it. He adds “ that in point of interest, it will be a little estate to the author whose work they begin with, for every mortal will buy it.” Conyers Middleton was obstinate enough to take what was then the usual coursepublishing by subscription; and he made “a little estate” out of his two quarto volumes, although he had not the imprimatur of the Duke of Richmond. It was rather an evil omen also, that one of the most unmanageable and disputatious of English scholars turned away, and would not swallow the tempting bait. Gordon writes: “ You have no doubt heard in what a discouraging way Dr. Bentley has used our Society: for, though his work of Manilius was ready to be printed, and he desired by several persons to have it published by the Society, he not only raised such ill-grounded objections against the institution itself, but chose to throw it into the hands of a common bookseller, than in those of the Society, which has not only made several gentlemen of letters and high life exclaim against the discouraging and ungenerous act, but will be recorded to the learned world, perhaps, when he is dead and rotten.”* The Society, for the Encouragement of Learning, never proposed to accomplish any end beyond what was being accomplished by booksellers in the regular way of trade. It had no purpose of making knowledge more accessible to the general community by popularising it, or by promoting the
cheapness of books. It dragged on an existence for twelve years, sometimes contracting with booksellers, sometimes publishing on its own account at its own shop. It made an end, without publishing any work that had a chance of being profitable either to author or bookseller, and it left to some of its patrons, irresponsible or not, a legacy of two thousand pounds debt. Mr. Gordon had proclaimed as an argument for influencing Dr. Middleton, that “it is as much the duty of a great author to lend a helping hand to encourage and countenance so laudable an institution as is that of this Society, as it is for the Society to assist and encourage the author.” The great author would not listen to the voice of the charmer. James Thomson might have been flattered by sitting at the same board with dukes and earls, but he was not induced by their blandishments to desert his old friend, Andrew Millar, who had published the Seasons' in 1730, and who continued to be his publisher till his poetical career was closed with • The Castle of Indolence, in 1748.
Boswell records that, in 1755, when Millar had been established in London about a quarter of a century, Johnson said of him, “I respect Millar, sir. He has raised the price of literature.” The liberality of the bookseller in the purchase of copyrights was one of the principal causes of his own success. Many “a great author” was willing “to lend a helping hand” to him. “During the better half of the past century," writes the worthy John Nichols, “Jacob Tonson and Andrew Millar were the best patrons of literature, a fact rendered unquestionable by the valuable works produced under their fostering and
genial hands.” Again : "That eminent bookseller, Andrew Millar, the steady patron of Thomson and Fielding, and many other eminent authors." Yet it was long a pleasant delusion of the old booksellers, that patronage of authors had only changed from the Mæcenas of the Cabinet to the Mæcenas of the Counting-house. If the literary gossip of the last century is to be credited, Millar made more thousands by Fielding's novels than he paid hundreds to the needy and extravagant author. If Thomson's * Liberty' were a bad bargain, The Seasons' must have been “a little estate." Millar had seen the separate poems of · Winter,' 'Summer,' •Spring,' growing into popularity in the hands of other booksellers. He published • Autumn,' and then the complete poem, "The Seasons,' as it has come down to us, to be multiplied again and again by generations of publishers.
Millar, and the booksellers of the middle of the last century, gave large sums for copyright, because it was then considered a perpetuity. They were, of course, often mistaken in their estimates of value. When Lord Bolingbroke died in 1751, he left all his writings, published and unpublished, to Mr. Mallet. The fact has been preserved from oblivion by Johnson's invective, that one scoundrel loaded a blunderbuss and left another half-a-crown to fire it off. Davies, a good authority, says—“Mallet dreamt of getting golden mountains by Bolingbroke's legacy. He was 80 sanguine in his expectations, that he rejected the offer of three thousand pounds, tendered to him by Mr. Millar, the bookseller, for the copyright of that nobleman's works; at the same time he was so dis