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An imprudent man of common goodness of heart, cannot but wish to turn even his impru. dences to the benefit of others, as far as this is possible. If therefore any one of the readers of this semi-narrative should be preparing or intending a periodical work, I warn him, in the first place, against trusting in the number of names on his subscription list. For he cannot be certain that the names were put down by sufficient authority; or should that be ascertained) it still remains to be known, whether they were not extorted by some over zealous friend's importunity ; whether the subscriber had not yielded his name, merely from want of courage to answer, no! and with the intention of dropping the work as soon as possible. One gentleman procured me nearly a hundred names for The Friend, and not only took frequent opportunity to remind me of his success in his canvas, but laboured to impress my mind with the sense of the obligation, I was under to the subscribers; for (as he very pertinently, admonished me) “ fifty-two shillings a year was, a large sum to be bestowed on one individual, where there were so many objects of charity with strong claims to the assistance of the benevolent.” Of these hundred patrons ninety, threw up the publication before the fourth number, without any notice; though it was well knową to them, that in consequence of
the distance, and the slowness and irregularity of the conveyance, I was compelled to lay in a stock of stamped paper for at least eight weeks beforehand ;- each sheet of which stood me in five pence previous to its arrival at my printer's ; though the subscription money was not to bę received till the twenty-first week after the commencement of the work ; and lastly, though it was in nine cases out of ten impracticable for me to receive the money for two or three numbers without paying an equal sum for the postage.
In confirmation of my first caveat, I will select one fact among many. On my list of subscribers, among a considerable number of names equally flattering, was that of an Earl of Cork, with his address. He might as well have been an Earl of Bottle, for aught I knew of him, who had been content to reverence the peerage in abstracto, rather than in concretis. Of course The FRIEND was regularly sent as far, if I remember right, as the eighteenth number : i. e. till a fortnight before the subscription was to be paid. And lo! just at this time I received a letter from his Lordship, reproving me in language far more lordly than courteous for my impudence in directing my pamphlets to him, who knew nothing of me or my work ! Seventeen or eighteen numbers of which, however, his Lordship was pleased to retain, probably
for the culinary or post-culinary conveniences of his servants.
Secondly, I warn all others from the attempt to deviate from the ordinary mode of publishing a work by the trade. I thought indeed, that to the purchaser it was indifferent, whether thirty per cent. of the purchase-money went to the booksellers or to the government; and that the convenience of receiving the work by the post at his own door would give the preference to the latter. It is hard, I own, to have been labouring for years, in collecting and arranging the materials ; to have spent every shilling that could be spared after the necessaries of life had been furnished, in buying books, or in journies for the purpose of consulting them or of acquiring facts at the fountain head; then to buy the paper, pay for the printing, &c. all at least fifteen per cent. beyond what the trade would have paid ; and then after all to give thirty per cent. not of the net profits, but of the gross results of the sale, to a man who has merely to give the books shelf or warehouse room, and permit his apprentice to hand them over the counter to those who may ask for them ; and
; this too copy by copy, although if the work be on any philosophical or scientific subject, it may years
before the edition is sold off. All this, I confess, must seem an hardship, and one, to which the products of industry in no
other mode of exertion are subject. Yet even this is better, far better, than to attempt in
any way to unite the functions of author and publisher. But the most prudent mode is to sell the copy-right, at least of one or more editions, for the most that the trade will offer. By, few only can a large remuneration be expected; but fifty pounds and ease of mind are of more real advantage to a literary man, than the chance of five hundred with the certainty of insult and degrading anxieties. I shall have been grievously misunderstood, if this statement should be interpreted as written with the desire of detracting from the character of booksellers or publishers. The individuals did not make the laws and customs of their trade, but as in every other trade take them as they find them. Till, the evil can be proved to be removable and without the substitution of an equal or greater inconvenience, it were neither wise or manly even to complain of it. But to use it as a pretext for speaking, or even for thinking, or feeling, unkindly or opprobiously of the tradesmen, as individuals, would be something worse than unwise or even than unmanly ; it would be im-. moral and calumnious! My motives point in a. far different direction and to far other objects, as will be seen in the conclusion of the chapter.
A learned and exemplary old clergyman, who many years ago went to his reward ifol-,
lowed by the regrets and blessings of his flock, published at his own expence two volumes octavo, entitled, a new Theory of Redemption. The work was most severely handled in the Monthly or Critical Review, I forget which, and this unprovoked hostility became the good old man's favorite topic of conversation among his friends. Well! (he used to exclaim) in the SECOND edition, I shall have an opportunity of exposing both the ignorance and the malignity of the anonymous critic. Two or three years however passed by without any tidings from the bookseller, who had undertaken the printing and publication of the work, and who was perfectly at his ease, as the author was known to be a man of large property. At length the accounts were written for; and in the course of a few weeks they were presented by the rider for the house, in person. My old friend put on his spectacles, and holding the scroll with no very firm hand, began-Paper, so much: 0 moderate enough-not at all beyond my expectation! Printing, so much: well! moderate enough! Stitching, covers, advertisements, carriage, fc. so much.-Still nothing amiss. Selleridge (for orthography is no necessary part of a bookseller's literary acquirements) £3. 3s. Bless me! only three guineas for the what d'ye call it ? the selleridge? No more, Sir! replied the rider. Nay, but that is too moderate! re