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buy except the minister.” During the ninety years which elapsed between the date of this letter, and that period which I may assign for the opening of the Oxford Bible Warehouse by Guy, there had probably been very small competition for the sale of the Holy Scriptures between the King's printer and the two Universities. The Church Bible was well printed by each ; but the smaller Bible for private use was as dear as it was ill-printed. The demand by the laity produced the attempt of associated booksellers to print the Bible in Holland. The attempt failed; and if Guy, or some other spirited bookseller, had not stepped in to render the Oxford privilege an active principle, instead of a dead letter, as regarded the general circulation of the Bible, the same state of things would have gone on, as that over which the King's printer lamented in 1682, namely, that some books which partially supplied the place of the Common Prayer Book were in general use.
It required no acquaintance with Christopher Barker's letter to satisfy Thomas Guy that a cheap book sold largely would be “a profitable copy;" that where Field's great Bible would sell one copy, a hundred common Bibles might be sold at a tenth of its price. Guy called forth a real competition between two privileged bodies, and this neutralised the evil of their monopoly. In the present day the same limited competition has produced a cheapness which excites the wonder of those who are not aware of what results can be produced in the price of books by an universal demand.
N a copy of verses prefixed to · The Life
and Errors' of John Dunton — which poem is entitled “The Author's Speak
ing Picture, drawn by Himself, in 1705, there is the following couplet :
6. I love to know the inside of a man,
Let who will gaze o' th’ shadow of him then.”
I must be content to gaze on the shadow of this man, without too much regard to his moral or intellectual peculiarities. These procured for him the name of a o lunatick among his contemporaries. Warburton described him as “an auction bookseller and an abusive scribbler;" and the elder D'Israeli notices him as “a cracked-brain scribbling bookseller, who boasted he had a thousand projects, fancied he had methodised six hundred, and was ruined by the fifty he executed.” And yet, in spite of all this, I must call up the shadow of John Dunton to say something for himself, and to usher in other shadows of his contemporaries—booksellers, printers, authors, journalists, licensers of the press—around whom he has gathered many illustrations of the literary history of the time from James II. to
George II., which I should in vain look for in the graver records of a sober bibliographer. So I wade, for the third or fourth time, through a volume of seven hundred pages, vilely printed upon the most wretched paper, whose title-page is itself emblematic of the “inside of the man,” as setting forth not only his “life and errors,” but his “idea of a new life; his “ discoveries made in his travels already, and in his private conversation at home;” together with “the lives and characters of a thousand persons now living in London, &c.” This volume, “written by himself in solitude,” was published by R. Malthus, in 1705, and was reprinted by Mr. John Bowyer Nichols, in 1817. John Dunton's "speech is like a tangled chain, nothing impaired, but all disordered;" so I will endeavour to arrange some of its more interesting portions into some method.
From an early age to his ninth year, there was a boy growing up almost as an orphan, in a school at Dungrove, near Chesham, in Buckinghamshire. His father was born at Little Missenden, in the same county, of which parish two previous John Duntons had been the ministers. He records that he was born on the 14th of May, 1659. His father was then rector of Graff ham in Huntingdonshire. Losing his wife when his only child was an infant, the father went away to Ireland, with the resolution not to marry again for seven years. Meanwhile the little boy was left to strangers, appearing by his own account to have learnt little, and to have led an idle life, playing on the pleasant banks of the Chess, and rambling amongst the Chiltern hills. His father returning to England after his long exile, was presented to the living of Aston Clinton. He then married a second time, and sent for his little son home, to superintend his education, with a view to his becoming a faithful preacher of the doctrines that had come down from the old Puritans, but were growing into disrepute after the restoration of the Stuarts and the re-establishment of episcopacy. He was doomed to disappointment. Young John, describing himself at the age of fourteen as being “wounded by a silent passion for a virgin in my father's house,” says,
my father tried all the methods with me that could be thought of, in order to reconcile my mind to the love of learning, but all of them proved useless and ineffectual. My thoughts were all unbent and dissolved in the affairs of love." What he calls his “unsettled mercurial humour," destroyed his father's hopes that he might be able to transmit “ the priesthood to his own posterity." He learnt Latin, but the difficulties of the Greek quite broke all his resolutions. So the worthy man, seeing that his son's inclinations did not lead him to learning, “thought to make it his interest to be a friend to learning and the Muses." He was to be apprenticed to a London bookseller. He was now, he says, “only to traffic with the outside, the shell, and the casks of learning." His intended master, Mr. Parkhurst, “a religious and a just man,” was kind to the youth upon trial, but having gratified his curiosity, John took horse to Aston Clinton without leave. His father sent him back again, with a kind and sensible letter of excuse, and so he was bound
apprentice. Better thoughts came upon him, and “ from that very time I began to love books to the same excess that I had hated them before.” His father died in 1676, giving young John his dying counsels “to know, fear, love, obey, and serve God, your Creator and Deliverer, as he hath revealed Himself, through His Son, by the Spirit, in His Holy Word.” Amidst all his “errors,” the thought of his father's instruction seems to have had some influence upon his wayward nature, and to have kept him from greater evils than the misfortunes which sprang from his instability. The bookseller's apprentice had then five more years to serve. These he accomplished without any other outbreak, beyond that of taking a prominent part in a political movement of Whig apprentices against the Tory; and when his apprenticeship was just expiring, he “invited a hundred apprentices to celebrate a funeral for it, though it was no more than a youthful piece of vanity.” He was soon a bookseller on his own account, occupying “ half a shop, a warehouse, and a fashionable chamber.” The young man had inherited some property, which might be available for his business. His excellent father, amongst other counsels, had advised him to use all possible prudence in the choice of a wife, further exhorting him to keep something more solid than investments in publishing speculations. “Sell not,” he said, “any part of your estate in land, if either your wife's portion, or your borrowing of money upon interest, may conveniently serve to set up your trade.” “Even," said the cautious father, “ if you shall, by some remarkable