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wards explains thus : “ We trust we shall not be disposed | abandonment of the professed method even while it is preto countenance the practice of making use of narrative as a tended to be preserved. With all her ingenuity, Miss Martrap to catch idle readers, and make them learn something tineau has not been able to make her tales tell by any means they are afraid of. We detest the practice, and feel our the whole of what she wished to communicate to her readers. selves insulted whenever a book of the trap kind is put into Not to speak of the summaries which conclude the several our hands. It is many years since we grew sick of works volumes, and without the aid of which it would, we apprethat pretend to be stories, and turn out to be catechisms of hend, be frequently impossible for any reader previously some kind of knowledge which we had much rather become unacquainted with the subject to carry away anything acquainted with in its undisguised form. The reason why beyond the most confused and imperfect notion of the docwe choose the form of narrative is, that we really think it trines the tale was intended to teach,—the tale itself is frethe best in which political economy can be taught, as we quently made up in great part of disquisitions and didactic should say of nearly every kind of moral science. Once statements, cut down, indeed, into the shape of dialogue, but more we must apply the old proverb, “ example is better not on that account partaking the less of the character of than precept.' We take this proverb as the motto of our mere reasonings or lectures. In these cases the science is design. We declare frankly that our object is to teach really not taught by means of the tale at all. We have here political economy, and that we have chosen this method not not the pictorial illustration, but the letter-press at its foot, only because it is new, but because we think it the most or on the opposite page. We are far from objecting to the faithful and the most complete."
intermixture. On the contrary, we are quite sure that we If we rightly understand this passage, the writer would get through the subject much faster, and also much more draw a distinction between some sciences and others, in satisfactorily, for being thus released occasionally from the regard to their fitness for being taught through the medium task of interpreting symbolical incident, and carried through of fictitious narratives. She contends that nearly every some of the more impracticable demonstrations in the direct kind of moral science may be best taught in this way, but prosaic way. Each method is good in its proper place ; for speaks of other kinds of knowledge as most fitly introduced the accomplishment of the whole purpose the combination of to the mind in their undisguised form. We gather, for in- both is best. We have no objection to be interrupted here stance, that although she would teach the principles of and there in reading “Paradise Lost" by one of Martin's political economy by tales, she would not think of explain- fine imaginative mezzotints frowning or gleaming over ing the elements of geometry in a series of tragedies. against the poet's lines, but we should not like the whole
In the title which she has given to her work Miss Marti- poem to be volatilized away into pictures even by his conneau has scarcely claimed the same office for the fictitious genial pencil. So we like Miss Martineau's stories much; narratives it consists of which she here attributes to them. but we like her “ discourse of reason" too. We only fear She calls them “ Illustrations of Political Economy," that that a good many of her readers, hurried away by the seducis, if we are to understand the words in their ordinary tions of the former, may be wicked enough sometimes to meaning, lights thrown upon the science, with the view of skip the latter altogether; and then we suspect their system exhibiting certain parts of it in unusually full development of political economy would show a few rather awkward and exemplification, or in a peculiarly vivid form. We think rents, or a somewhat preternatural scantiness in one or that this title gives a more accurate description of what the other of its dimensions. work really is than the passage we have extracted from the We must acquit our conscience before we conclude, by preface, and also expresses more truly what such a method merely noticing another point. We do not feel quite reconof treating the science of political economy is essentially ciled to the mixture of fact and fiction which such a work as adapted to accomplish. The science is indeed a moral one the present exhibits. The story, we think, is not improved in this sense, that many of its lessons have a direct bearing by the science—nor the science by the story. It may be upon the conduct of life, and also in the more important truth that is presented to us; but there is no getting over respect for the purpose of such illustrations as we are at the feeling that it is, after all, painted truth. We apprepresent considering, that the operation of its principles may, hend it will be found that we never read a fictitious narra. for the most part, be distinctly traced or forcibly displayed in tive, even when we are most deeply interested in it and the actual doings and fortunes of men in society. We shall most completely carried away by it, with the trust and full not deny the possibility of even imagining a set of fables assent which we accord either to a true history or to a dry that should comprehend an ingenious reduction to the piece of reasoning. We retain all the while a lurking conpicture form of every one of its doctrines and demonstrations. viction that the whole is nothing better than an imposition. But we should question the advantage of such a method of It would be unfortunate if the readers who derive their first teaching the science. We look upon the employment of notions of political economy from Miss Martineau's tales tales for the illustration of this or any other subject nearly should in this way acquire at the same time a habit of reas we do upon the employment of wood-cuts or other en. garding the science itself as nothing more than a plausible gravings for the same purpose. It would be practicable, fiction. Might not the science be still more successfully and we do not doubt, to contrive a series of such designs, dimly more safely taught by a series of illustrations consisting not visioning forth the truths of any science whatever, or the of fictions but of facts-of narratives gathered from history facts of any history, or even the notions and deductions that and real life? The difficulty of the task would be great, make up any metaphysical speculation. If the Mexicans from the extent and variety of the ground to be gone over, had any treatises upon political economy, they must have and we are not sure that Miss Martineau's brilliant talents been composed upon this plan. By dint of great per- might not be more effectively employed in another way; spicuity and pains-taking, a reader might, perhaps, in but if she would undertake such a work, many parts of her most cases get at something like the meaning of such present performance assure us that it could scarcely be in a mere picture-book; but we prefer having the aid of a better hands. little explanatory letter-press. "In other words, although we allow that there are some parts of political economy, and of many other sciences, that admit very well
MR. COLBURN'S CHEAP LIBRARIES OF of being elucidated in the mode Miss Martineau has adopted, and which such illustrations as she has given us
MODERN FICTION. are calculated to present in a very effective manner, we
Issued monthly, crown 8vo. 4s. per volume. hold that there is much, too, which can be more shortly, There are some, no doubt, who have seen the sun rise in more naturally, more distinctly, and in every way more London ; and there are more who have ventured through conveniently and better taught, by plain and direct state- her desolate streets when the sun is up, but man is not. At ment, or in what she has herself called the “undisguised such an hour,-before form." We conceive it, therefore, to be a needless and pedantic adherence to the mere formalities of method, and
“ The slip-shod prentice from his master's door the application of a good instrument beyond its proper
Has pared the dirt and sprinkled round the floor," service, to attempt to make tales do the whole work in the the curious observer may descry one set of shops open and explanation of any department of knowledge whatever. ready for the activity of commerce. These are the marts of Indeed the thing can only be done by every now and then the pastry-cooks. Where the exquisite sips his ice or resorting to the most forced and awkward processes, to the minces his vol-au-vent three hours after noon, the chimneydistortion both of the precept and of the example, or under sweeper rejoices in his stale custard six hours after midnight. cover of an evasion which amounts really to a surrender and One by one a little knot of anxious customers, or would be
customers, gather round the window. There lie the brown we suspect, will in future buy, on the first opening of the and horny buns, not in goodly rows, but in chaotic disorder; market, even “ the most sterling and admired works of there the tartlets, “ sicklied o'er with the pale cast" of fiction that have emanated from the pen of living writers," age, carry their own chronology in their faces; there the or " the most celebrated works of modern times," or “the jelly, no longer quivering and transparent, shows damp choicest productions of modern times," as each of these liand dirty, having passed through the atmospheres of seven- braries is described by Mr. Colburn to be, when, with small teen at homes," and returned at last to perish in the patience, they may obtain the commodities “at a cost little place of its birth; and there the twelfth-cake, whose “un- exceeding one-third of their original prices.". Let us not be timely frost " now looks like the snow of a city kennel in a misunderstood. The wares which Mr. Colburn now offers tedious thaw, condescends to solicit the appetite of the at four shillings per volume are the identical wares which dustman, without any of the ceremonial of king and queen. a year ago he offered at half-a-guinea a volume. He does Slowly, but certainly, the cates that will no longer keep not, as his successor Mr. Bentley has wisely done, make a Fanish down uncritical throats. As the hour of new pro- selection from those copyrights of which he has sold a dear duction draws on, the price of the old wares gradually falls; edition, and by reprinting them closely, yet legibly and the fourpenny pie descends to an inglorious penny, and the elegantly, render them generally accessible to a new set of penny tart to a still more inglorious farthing. At length readers, at one fifth of their original price. Mr. Colburn's when the sweeps, and the charity boys, and the imps that cheap libraries of fiction are not reprints at all ; new titles know by instinct when a horse is to be held, are supplied, only are put to the old “island of text in a sea of margin ;' the remnant of the buns and tartlets and plum-cakes are and to this extent only does Mr. Colburn adapt himself to gathered into one ignoble basket, and sold, hard fate, for the “principles of economy and general convenience." The what he will give, to the kennel-raker.
public, if they are inclined to purchase these things at all, A few years ago the stale pastry of literature was not will now obtain them at the diminished prices that always eased in its descent to the vitermost destruction, by any result from a glut of the market. The cook has made too such gradual process of trying a new set of customers, many sweet-cakes for the natural demand ; an artificial at the original manufactories. A few scraps were smuggled demand must be created by offering the stale pastry at a into by-places, and looked tempting on the stalls ; but these cost little exceeding one-third of their original prices." did not constitute a market. Novels, indeed, were produced Now this, as we shall endeavour to explain, is a mere in profitless gluts; and they were called into being by the equivocation with the principle of cheapness. The complete double folly of author and publisher,
development of this principle rests, as we before have shown “ Soon to the mass of nonsense to return,
in another paper, upon the extent of the market. Some Where things destroyed are swept to things unborn.”
books, and those may be of the best under particular circumBut there was a great gulf between the half-a-guinea per be expensive; and it would be commercially unwise, and
stances, are not addressed to the many : such books must volume of the boudoir and the fourpence per lb. of the trunk injurious therefore to the interests of the public, as well as maker. The gulf, however, was to be passed by too many, of men of letters, to publish them at a low price. Others and the stale pastry of letters in that case went at once to may not appear to the author or the publisher to be calcuthe scales. The condemned books were thrown, like Mil-lated for a large sale ; but experiment may show that the ton's condemned angels, “ Sheer o'er the crystal battle- author and publisher were mistaken: in that case,
when ments.” It is true that one immortal publisher of novels, a dear edition has been fairly sold, it is just and politic to Fho had not only the art of persuading a legion of cox- bring out a cheap edition. Lastly, there are at present a combs,
class of books, and the class will shortly be much enlarged,
which are calculated to be sold by thousands instead of by Of nature and their stars, to write,"
hundreds and tens; and in that case the truest wisdom is but the greater art of cajoling the circulating libraries to not to attempt to raise a tax upon the few by a high-priced buy-the sale-compelling Jove of New Burlington Street - first edition, but to go boldly for the widest market, and had a sort of mysterious process of shipping off the stale having fixed the lowest price that prudence will permit, pastry to the innocent feeders upon the Susquehana or the adhere to that price without wavering. Each of these courses Orinoco, who, dwelling far away from the fame's trumpet is to act upon a scientific understanding of the principle of Literary Gazettes and Court Journals, might not hear of which especially determines price in the commerce of litewhat “ the swans of Thames " had been singing, till the rature. The course which Mr. Colburn has followed in swans and their songs had died together. It is said, too, these “ Libraries " is essentially different. It is upholding that the stale pastry now and then peeped up in small frag- the principle of dearness by an equivocation with the prinments upon the shelves of some village library in Cornwall ciple of cheapness. If it were generally pursued it would or the Hebrides, looking as smirking with a new title-page destroy all faith in publishers on the part of the factors and as if it had not gone through all the phases of puff and consumers : it would convert the profession into a knot of oblivion in “ the World before the Flood" of the previous mere hucksters and gamblers. Let us trace its operation season. But still it is manifest that these contraband | through a single instance. operations could not have been carried on upon a large A manuscript novel is purchased of a “person of quality" scale. Mr. Colburn, however, knows well (to use his own for 2001. The number of volumes, of course, three-the happy expression) how “ to work a book.” He has at price of the three a guinea and a half. This price, by va
prepared the public mind" (to employ another of his rious allowances, is reduced to a net guinea to the pubfelicitous phrases) for a new æra of cheapness after his own lisher. The expense of setting up the types, or compofashion. The Stale Pastry is now ADVERTISED at less sition, will be about 1001, for the three volumes. Here, than half price.
then, is a cost of 3001. to be incurred, whether the work sell We do not, in the slightest degree, object to these pro- ten copies or ten thousand. If a thousand copies are esticeedings. We rejoice to behold the goodly phrases in which mated to be sold (an average edition) the cost of authorship Mr. Colburn “
prepares the public mind for his “ Select and composition for each copy would be 6s. ; and 3s. per Library of Modern Fiction," his “ Cheap Library of Irish copy, or 18. per volume, for paper and press-work will comRomańce," and his “ Naval and Military Library of En- plete the cost of production. But there is the cost of pubtertainment." We delight to see him announce the first lication to be added, and this, with a “fashionable novel," series " at a cost little exceeding one-third of their original is no slight affair. The newspapers will not insert for noprices ;" we applaud the liberality which proposes to do, thing the “ we are credibly assured that a certain duchess, * on behalf of Irish story, by the reproduction, on the much not very far removed from the highest person in the land, is approved plan of cheap monthly publications," that which the authoress," &c.; or, “it is whispered at Almack's that be says has been done by the uniform collection of Sir various disagreements have taken place between a noble Walter Scott's Novels; and we revere the munificence which lord and his lady, in consequence of the free remarks of the bestows“ upon every mess and gun-room at home and latter in her forthcoming novel," &c.; or, “ the circles are abroad" “ The Naval and Military Library of Entertain- in breathless suspense for the appearance," &c. All this ment," upon “ the principles of economy and general con- costs money, and the public must pay for their own gullirenience which have already suggested, in several successful bility in the price of the book. This process will certainly instances, the cheap monthly publication of works per- raise the cost of the goodly three volumes at least 3s. per taining to the lighter and more amusing departments of copy. The account, therefore, will stand thus, of the cost literature." We rejoice in these changes, because no one, 1 of producing and publishing each of a thousand copies :
" In spite
Authorship, 4s.; composition, 28.; paper and print, 38.; remained for the encouragement of other literary enterprises, advertising, 38.;-total, 12s. We do not say that the cost --amounts to the enormous sum of 281,7001. of production and the price at which the book is sold leave We do not, of course, mean to say that this sum has gone an extravagant profit. We think quite the reverse ; for the into Mr. Colburn's pocket. But we do mean to say, that the whole affair of publishing luxurious books for the few is excessive price has been applied, in a great degree, to very much dependent upon chance, and it requires a genius worthless objects. The eaves-droppers of the aristocracylike Mr. Colburn's for preparing the public mind" to get “ The constant critics at the great man's board, back the expenses that are permanent, whatever number
To fetch and carry nonsense for my lord," are sold. We do not object that two-fifths of the wholesale have received a large portion of the price of the copyprice of a thousand copies are profit, any more than we object that the winner of the Derby clears 10,0001. The rights ;-—the charges of the printer and the paper-maker game is not a sure one. But we do object to the calcula- have not more than equalled the cost of “ preparing the tion of price being made upon a thousand copies, while 1250 public mind." One fourth, at least, of the cost has not or 1500 are printed ; and we still more object to the stale entered into the material or intellectual quality of the books. 250 or 500 being, after a year or so, brought into the market Mr. Colburn, in receiving 281,7001. beyond what he himself
It has been spent in paragraphs. We do not think that “ at a cost little exceeding one-third of their original prices," for the delusion of the many under the pretence of cheap. duced all his stock at nearly two-thirds less than their original
now estimates the market value of his novels, could have proness, after the few have been deluded under the pretence of fashion. The remainder," as the trade calls the “stale pas- never hope to command a market beyond the few agape for
prices;-the books, with very inconsiderable exceptions, could try," having cost only the paper and press-work, or one shil the novelty of the hour. Here is the real crime. The publing per volume, the principles of economy and general con- lisher who produces a class of books at 108. 6d., which he venience," advocated by Mr. Colburn, leave him a higher acknowledges can be sold at 48., has taken from the funds rate of profit upon his second prices than he had upon first. We apprehend that if the system were general, of by which useful literary labour is supplied all that differfirst stimulating an artificial demand for a dear book by a
ence, if not the entire cost. The publisher of bad books, machinery of puffing whose
cost enters largely into its price; and of dear books, is the great enemy of men of letters, and then, when the exclusives were satiated, of giving the properly so called, if by any machinery he can compel the very same article to the cheap markets, under the pretence fund, just as the idle pauper is a plunderer of the physical
He is a plunderer of the intellectual labour that the cheapness is produced by reprinting a large number
labour fund. for the many, as the Waverley Novels have so properly been
Out of these 497 works how many are printed, while the process is simply to print, in the first in the mark-in the next generation ? One-twentieth may
even now recollected ? How many will be read,
God save stance, a larger number than the exclusives can consume we apprehend that if these practices were general, the now and then be looked at for amusement; but where are dealers in cast-off clothes (our friends the pastry-cooks have the books of instruction, where are the authorities? The not tact enough for the operation) might unite with “ the account, if it were analysed, would look much like Falstaffs
score :trade" in the art of vamping up cast-off books, and, without any superfluous division of labour, erect a new and flourishing
" Item; a capon, 28. 2d.-(Modern Travels.) corporation in their common Rag-Fair ;-Paternoster-Row
Item; sauce, 4d.-(English Memoirs.) and Monmouth Street might shake hands.
Item; sack, two gallons, 58. 8d.—(Novels.) The injury to the public by Mr. Colburn's operations of
Item; anchovies and sack, after supper, 28. 60.-(French business, during some twenty years, may be estimated upon
memoirs and other translations.) his own data. The three “ Cheap Libraries " advertised by
Item; bread, a halfpenny-(Evelyn's and Pepys' Mr. Colburn amount to seventy-two volumes. At their ori
Diaries.) ginal price of 108. 6d. per volume; the price which a large
One halfpenny worth of bread to this intolerable deal portion of the public has paid for a single set of each is
of sack." 371. 168. A set of the seventy-two volumes is now adver- The remaining nineteen twentieths of the whole are gone tised for 141. 8s. Let it be remembered, that the article at out of life, if their hot-bed existence could be called life. a low price is literally the same as the article at a high | A premature decrepitude came over them almost at their price. There is no compression of type, and no consequent birth: from the first they looked saving of paper, as in the new editions of the Waverley
“ Like stunted hide-bound trees that just have got Novels, of the Standard Novels, of Byron, of Scott, of
Sufficient strength at once to bear and rot.” Crabbe. Be it, therefore, profit to the publisher, or capital Peace to their no-memories ; may they never “ revisit the wasted in unnecessary expenses, each purchaser of these glimpses of the moon," and be fished out of their tombs to seventy-two volumes, at 108. 6d., has paid 231. 8s. more than walk the earth again in “Cheap Libraries of Modern FicMr. Colburn now asks him to pay for the same artiele. tion," upon "principles of economy and general conUpon 1,000 copies, therefore, the first purchasers have been venience." seduced into an outlay of 23,4001. more than Mr. Colburn's Having, then, these high claims upon the public gratitude, estimate of the present value of the commodity. For what by a long course of successful endeavours to enact sumphave they paid this difference? For novelty; for fashion, tuary laws for literature; and having now, in deference to perhaps: or is it for the happiness of being well deceived the prejudices of the age in favour of economy, slightly reby an ingenious puff? But let us carry the inquiry a little laxed those laws in the case of the “ Select Library of further. We have endeavoured thoroughly to inform our Fiction," &e. &c., Mr. Colburn is resolved to vindicate the selves of the statistics of Mr. Colburn's trade for twenty-two public from the injuries they are receiving, and are likely years. We have gained no secret information; but we have to receive, in a totally opposite direction. Mr. Colburn has made a list of all his publications as they appear in the Lon-mounted the heavy horse of his “ New Monthly Magazine," don Catalogue of New Books, published from 1810 to 1832, and his squire bas taken the field upon the ambling ass of a very authentic and complete work. Moreover, we have his “ Court Journal ;"—the Quixote and the Sancho have analyzed this list, both as to the classes and the prices of sallied out together, and have, in their valorous rashness, his books; and we can tell him that, during all these years, undertaken to do vengeance on the rabble-rout of " Penny he has published 655 volumes of novels, and 597 volumes Magazines " and " Penny Cyclopædias." The lesson of the of works in every other class,-travels, memoirs, translations, windmills has no instruction for them : they charge boldly and French re-publications,-making a total of 497 separate upon the imaginary giants that are really doing the necessary works, with an aggregate of 1,252 volumes ;—that the total work of preparing the people's plain and nutritious intellectual sum the publie has paid for a single set of all the works food; they swear that the industrious sails are arms to rob and published by him is, 6411. 188. 6d.; and that the average murder the helpless public;—and even when they are down, price per volume is, 108. 4d. As Mr. Colburn, therefore, after the first onslaught, they roar out at Paul's Cross, in now values a 108. 6d. volume at 4s.,--the average excess of the self-same words as the Vicar of Croydon used in the price upon all his publications beyond Mr. Colburn's estimate same place three centuries ago, “ Root out (cheap) printing is, 6$. 4d. per volume, say 68.; and multiplying the total or (cheap) printing will root out us." number of volumes published by 750, the number estimated The child and champion" of the half-guinea dignity to be printed of each (a low estimate), the capital that has and the four shilling cheapness of “ the choicest productions been unnecessarily paid for Mr. Colburn's publications, of modern times " has issued a bulletin, pregnant with which capital, if it had not been thus wasted, would have I meaning
“ 13, Great Marlborough Street, January 1st, 1834. ciety, as it has declared ' in its published Reports, ar“ Mr. Colburn requests attention to the enclosed article, ranged to purchase the copyright of the author, and to extracted from the New Monthly Magazine,' relative to receive a certain sum upon the sale of each thousand the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, and begs copies from the publisher. The Society risked only the leave to suggest the propriety and expediency of calling a difference of price between what it might pay to the author Meeting of the Trade, for the purpose of considering of the and what it might obtain from the publisher ;--the publisher best means of bringing the Charter and the Commercial risked his paper, his printing, his advertising, and his payTransactions of the Society under the consideration of a ment to the Society. This is the sort of risk which the Committee of the House of Commons."
Society has incurred from first to last in all its publications. We desire to extend the circulation of this bulletin. Our It has risked the advance of money to its authors as the publisher has already extended the knowledge of some por- negotiator and perfecter of the transaction between the tion of the dainty "criticism” which it recommends to the author and the publisher ;-the publisher has risked all impartial consideration of Mr. Colburn's fancied allies. The that any other bookseller risks when he purchases a manuchampion prints his bulletin for some dozens of persons whom script, prints, and publishes. Mr. Baldwin risked in his he believes, in many cases incorrectly, to be wedded to the transactions with the Society as much in degree as Mr. Colopinion that the commerce of books must be maintained burn has risked in his transactions with the authors of the upon the same principle as the old commerce of nutmegs six hundred and fifty-five volumes of "the choicest producby the Dutch colonists,--sell
, but do not let others grow. tions of modern times." We beg pardon. He has not We print it for the consideration of those who have learnt risked, as Mr. Colburn has done, the large expense of “preto rejoice that the demand for books and the supply of books paring the public mind." The public mind was prepared, have begun to be balanced. Mr. Colburn prints it for the when a body of men distinguished in several ways, but “Perigord-pie“ fraction of the trade, who believe, or affect especially for exact knowledge in many branches of learning, to believe, that nothing in the world of letters is of any came forward with their names, as correctors before publivalue, except what is artificial, and stimulating, and ex- cation, of works in which accuracy was justly considered the clusive, and costly; and who, like Sylvester Daggerwood, most important quality. The we are credibly informed still exhibit their wares" at the particular request of several that an eminent literary character " &c. &c., was, in this ladies and gentlemen of distinction." We print it for the case, unnecessary; the costly machinery of puffing was not thousands who now constitute the trade throughout Eng- required :—the books, therefore, were produced at a cheaper land, Scotland, and Ireland; and who, while the “stale rate than Mr. Colburn's “most sterling and admired works," pastry” still cumbereth the market, see hundreds of thou- because the cost of blowing up bubbles for the children to sands crowding to purchase the cheap sheets and volumes gaze at did not enter into the price. But still, there was a great which have now, for the first time in the history of letters, risk. At the cheap rate at which the Society determined bestowed the wholesome bread and the pure waters of sound these works should be sold, a sale of seven or eight thousand knowledge upon those who were hungering and thirsting for was required for the remuneration of the publisher. There the supply. Mr. Colburn prints his bulletin for the few was no precedent existing in 1827 for such a sale of works dealers in literary luxuries,—we print it for the many devoted to useful information ;-the Society had to create dealers in literary necessaries.
the precedent. That “the trade so taken up was attended Mr. Colburn and ourselves, then, being at issue as to the with a degree of risk which the merchant would not be constitution of the trade, may naturally each request “ at- willing to encounter," may be inferred from one circumtention" to the " article from the New Monthly Magazine stance of public notoriety :- the great publishing house that relative to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Know- originally undertook the “ Library of Useful Knowledge," ledge,"—but with very different views. Mr. Colburn be- declined to proceed with it before the appearance of the first lieves that cheap books are injurious to the trade, and he number. The experiment, no doubt, appeared perilous; therefore calls a meeting to consider of the propriety and and was not reducible to the ordijary calculations of their expediency of petitioning parliament to suppress the Society commerce. Mr. Baldwin had therefore the honour of leading which has given the greatest impulse to the publication of the way in that fearful inroad upon the dearness of the good cheap books. We, on the contrary, believe that cheap books old times of publishing, which first developed itself in the are beneficial to the trade; and we therefore, gladly avail wicked birth of what the literary exclusives of that day ourselves of this manifesto against cheap books, to moot the called the “ sixpenny sciences." whole question, in this article and elsewhere, commercially It is not our intention to trace the onward progress of the and morally-not only as between the publishers and the Society very minutely. What the Society has accomplished, booksellers, but as between the booksellers and the public. and the principles upon which it has acted, are clearly and With regard to the Society for the Diffusion of Useful impartially detailed in the 9th number of its own “ QuarKnowledge, we take our stand upon the only resting-place terly Journal of Education" - an article to which its deof argument that “the article in the New Monthly Ma- tractors never condescend to refer. In that article it is gazine" supplies. The “ criticism" we leave to float on the shown that the Society has invariably held to its great surface or sink into the mud, as fate may decree. To answer principle of confining its risk, when it incurred any risk at it would be “ as easy as lying ;but “ le jeu ne vaut pas all, to its dealings with authors ;-or what is even a clearer la chandelle."
course, of devolving all the risk, even the risk of the entire " When an association of noblemen and gentlemen, who amount of authorship, upon its publisher, receiving a rent diselaim the acquisition of personal gain, comes forward for per thousand copies for its superintendence. This risk was any desirable public object, and enters into a branch of successively enlarged by the diminution of the selling price general trade already carried on by private individuals, we of the Society's new works, as the public confidence in its apprehend that, in justice to those individuals, it must be intentions was built upon the public gratitude for its exshown that the particular department of a trade so taken up ertions. The diminution was caused by the Society, and by is attended with a degree of risk, which the merchant would all concerned with the Society, relying more implicitly upon not be willing to encounter.” This is the hypothesis which the large numbers of the purchasers that had crowded into the writer in the “New Monthly Magazine" assumes as the the new marts of literature. At last the boldest experiment proper condition of the existence of such a society as that was made, without any guarantee to the publisher but the for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. It is a just hypo- credit of the Society-that of publishing a magazine which thesis. The particular department of the trade of publish- should only reimburse its expenses upon a sale of fifty ing taken up, encouraged, and brought to maturity by the thousand. "Here was a risk to be run which no “merchant" Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, was attended of letters ever before grappled with. The wood-cuts alone with a degree of risk which the merchant in books was not of a single number of this little sheet, involve as great an willing to encounter-which he did not encounter - and outlay as would have bestowed immortality, as a patron of which, without the impulse of the Society, he never would art, upon many an old caterer of books for the few. But have encountered.
the risk was met, because there was confidence that the This risk, which the Society and its first publisher, British people were prepared to receive something fresher, Mr. Baldwin, encountered in 1827, by the issue of the and broader, and more akin to the wants of a searching and
Library of Useful Knowledge," may be described in a few intelligent curiosity, than the “ hole-and-corner" literature, words. The Society resolved to employ men of adequate whose crumbs they had so long been obliged to pick up. abilities to write a body of treatises on science, which The “ Penny Magazine," in the preface to its first volume, treatises should be published at sixpence each. The So- has declared that it “ stands upon the commercial principle alone;" and so did all the other works of the Society. If the commerce of literature, forty-eight farthings are as good they were bolstered up by subscriptions and patronage, as a shilling. Let them turn the knowledge to account in which these drivellers call'“ vast resources," they would their own speculations, and they will have no temptation perish in a day. There are no vast resources for literature to make the desperate experiment of a reduction of their but in the erchange with the many. Those, therefore, wares “to one-third of their original prices." who talk about the Society being dealers and chapmen, protected by their corporate character from the ordi- THE WORKS OF ROBERT BURNS; WITH HIS nary risks of trade-those who prate about the Society's
; LIFE, BY ALLAN CUNNINGHAM. large funds raised by subscriptions—those who maintain that the Society by their vast resources “may destroy
Royal 18mo. pp. 318. Cochrane. every commercial house in the country with which they This bids fair to be a very good edition of the collected think fit to compete"-will do well to imitate the principles works upon which the Society has built up its success, instead of “Of him who walked in glory and in joy, deluding themselves and others. These principles are no Following his plough along the mountain side" mystery; they are, first to make a book as cheap as a pru--of the Ayrshire peasant Burns, who was indisputably one dent, but not timid, calculation of the probable number of of the brightest poetical geniuses of modern times. The purchasers will allow ; secondly, to make it as exact and as publishers have sensibly adopted the now prevailing plan of attractive as a liberal outlay to authors and artists, and a monthly issue-a plan which will never fail when properly a careful division of labour in the responsible superin- applied to works of sterling merit, though it may certainly tendence of the work before publication, will ensure. This prove fruitless enough to those who attempt through such a is, in our judgment, the real mode of "working a book "- medium to dispose of the residue and “remainder" of inthis is the true way of “preparing the public mind,” by ferior literary wares. This edition is to be completed in six leading the public to rely upon the quality itself, and not monthly volumes, costing 58. each, with two engravings to upon newspaper puffs of the quality. The “ public mind" each volume. was prepared by the excellence alone of the Waverley novels Under a similar mode of publication the works of Walter to purchase the collected edition of them to an extent un- Scott and Byron have sold to an infinitely greater extent paralleled in the history of letters. The “public mind and rendered much larger profits than when they were was, in the same way, prepared to reimburse Mr. Murray issued at high exclusive prices. This is easily explained. more liberally for the large sums he had paid Lord Byron, | A great portion of the reading public had, no doubt, made by the purchase of his cheap edition of that great writer, themselves acquainted with the immortal tales and poems than in the previous purchase of the dear editions. They of these great writers through circulating libraries and other will do the same with his Crabbe; they will do the same means within their compass; but it is a characteristic, which, even with Wordsworth, when the proprietors of the works if not peculiar to Englishmen, is at least more strongly of that illustrious man shall give them to the people in a marked in them than in other people, that they love to have cheap and tasteful form. The sale of Wordsworth's poems a property in what amuses and instructs them—they like to within the last year has, we are informed, been double that be able to call a book “ their own"—to have it, and at all of any previous year: how is this ? the despised “ Penny times, at their own disposal, to ornament their own shelf Magazine," the destroyer of literature, has made Words- with it, to take it up and lay it down as they list-to read it worth familiar to half a million of people: he is now beyond by their own fireside. And in truth such a possession and the sneers of the coteries. As the sale of large cheap edi- the faculty of reperusal and of recurring at will to a favourite tions of Scott and Byron has been built upon the public con- or a half-forgotten passage, are essential to the obtainment fidence in these immortal writers, so the sale of large cheap of the full benefit of any good work. editions of the works of the Society has been built upon the Accordingly when the sterling productions we have public confidence in their quality, as well as their cheapness. mentioned were issued at a low price and at convenient inCheapness without excellence would be a perilous experi- tervals of time, a host of purchasers who had hitherto been ment for the Society and for its publishers. When it is precluded by high prices and their inability to buy a large attempted, the “stale pastry" will accumulate very rapidly. I work or a series of works at one time, and by one great outlay, Mr. Colburn, instead of calling upon parliament to put down rushed joyfully into the market, and showed, by what was the Society in the fulness of its fame, ought to pray that it collectively a shower of gold, how highly and justly the may become corrupt and careless through success; for then middling and poorer classes appreciated literature and its“ remainders " would naturally descend to his fostering genius. Was not this another proof that taste is not confined charge ; and he mightexercise his genius in producing a to the high places ?--that the people of these countries did new birth of Useful Knowledge, and Entertaining Know- not merit to be (as they had so long been) considered withledge, and Maps, and Portraits, and even Penny Magazines out the pale of elegant letters - as a mass to be confined to and Cyclopædias, “at less than one-third of their original horn-books, to the uncertain and sometimes dangerous misprices." The day has not yet arrived, nor do we think it cellany of the street book-stall, or to the childish tract and will arrive, till Colburn and Curll have compared notes in dogmatical digest that insulted the taste and understanding the Elysian fields, and have transmitted us a new “Dialogue of those they pretended to instruct? And what was this of the Dead," on the most improved mode of "working a new mode of publishing on the part of the booksellers, but book." Then may we hope that some greater than Curll or a measure of diffusion ? It was nothing else! The ConColburn shall arise,
stables, the Cadells, the Murrays, thus became diffusionists, “Imbibe new strength, and scour, and stiuk along,"
and we heartily congratulate them on their success in their
new vocation. instructed, by the misfortunes of the one, to heware of poets and the pillory, and not misled, by the success of the other, striking likeness of Robert Burns, is occupied by, a life of
The whole of the volume now before us, which contains a to expose the stale pastry” to the noon-day gaze of the the poet, which offers little that is new, though it may be idle and the luxurious. Why could not the maids of honour read with some advantage by those who are not acquainted of the “Select Library of Modern Fiction," the jumbles of with the superior memoir written by Mr. Lockhart or the the “Cheap Library of Irish Romance," and the crown cakes of the “ Naval and Military Library of Entertain- Burns, the poet's amiable and virtuous brother.
more copious one published by Dr. Currie, and Gilbert ment" have been sold "in the top of the morning" before the general world was awake? Mr. Colburn has retired with all those who have preceded him in writing the diffi
It appears to us that Mr. Allan Cunningham, in common from the business of manufacturing new dainties, and does cult life of Burns, though he has stated some curious but not now mind “ spoiling the market." He leaves to his successor to earn the fame which Warton assigned to the strong light the course of education, and afterwards of self
now generally known facts, has not placed in a sufficiently mutton-pie maker of Oxford :
instruction, by which the Ayrshire peasant was enabled to "No relics stale, with art unjust,
The Lurk in disguise beneath his crust."
take his place among the great masters of song.
biographer has an evident leaning to a belief in the all-sufWe give him joy of the occupation of his leisure-that of ficing powers of original genius ; and does not sufficiently enacting the Peter the Hermitof a new crusade against cheap. bear in mind what Dugald Stewart has said of Burns's ness. What Falstaff did for his ragged regiment, the trade" various attainments and of the fluency and precision of his will do for their leader: they “ will not march through Co- language even in conversation, which could only have been ventry with him." They have learnt that, in the returns of acquired by long study.