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'1776. “ I am very sorry that your melancholy should Ætat. 67. return, and should be sorry likewise if it could have
no relief but from my company. My counsel you may have when you are pleased to require it ; but of my company you cannot in the next month have much, for Mr. Thrale will take me to Italy, he says, on the first of April.
“ Let me warn you very earnestly against scruples. I am glad that you are reconciled to your setilement, and think it a great honour to have skaken Lord Hailes's opinion of entails. Do not, however, hope wholly to reason away your troubles; do not feed them with attention, and they will die imperceptibly away. Fix your thoughts upon your business,
your intervals with company, and sunshine will again break in upon your mind. If come to me, you must come very quickly; and even then I know not but we may scour the country together, for I have a mind to see Oxford and Lichfield, before I set out on this long Journey. To this I can only add that I am, dear Sir,
- Your most affectionate humble servant, “ March 5, 1776.
" SAM. JOHNSON."
TO THE SAME,
“ Very early in April we leave England, and in the beginning of the next week I shall leave London for a short time ; of this I think it necessary to inforin you, that you may not be disappointed in any of your enterprises. I had not fully resolved to go into the country before this day.
“ Please to make my compliments to Lord Hailes;
and mention very particularly to Mrs. Boswell my 1776. hope that she is reconciled to, Sir,
Ætat. 67. " Your faithful servant, - March 12, 1776.
66 SAM. JOHNSON."
Above thirty years ago, the heirs of Lord Chancellor Clarendon presented the University of Oxford with the continuation of his History, and such other of his Lordship's manuscripts as had not been published, on condition that the profits arising from their publication should be applied to the establishment of a Manège in the University. The gift was accepted in full convocation. A person being now recommended to Dr. Johnson, as fit to superintend this proposed riding school, he exerted himself with that zeal for which he was remarkable upon every similar occasion. But, on enquiry into the matter, he found that the scheme was not likely to be soon carried into execution ; the profits arising from the Clarendon press being, from some mismanagement, very scanty. This having been explained to him by a respectable dignitary of the church, who had good means of knowing it, he wrote a letter upon the subject, which at once exhibits his extraordinary precision and acuteness, and his warm attachment to his ALMA MATER,
S TO THE REVEREND DR. WETHERELL, MASTER
OF UNIVERSITY-COLLEGE, OXFORD.
6 DEAR SIR,
“ Few things are more unpleasant than the transaction of business with men who are above knowing or caring what they have to do; such as the
1776. trustees for Lord Cornbury's institution will, per
*'s Ætat. 67.
haps, appear, when you have read Dr. ****
« The last part of the Doctor's letter is of great importance. The complaint? which he makes I have heard long ago, and did not know but it was redressed. It is unhappy that a practice so erroneous has not been altered; for altered it must be, or our press will be useless with all its privileges. The booksellers, who, like all other men, have strong prejudices in their own favour, are enough inclined to think the practice of printing and selling books by any but themselves, an encroachment on the rights of their fraternity ; and have need of stronger inducements to circulate academical publications than those of another ; for, of that mutual co-operation by which the general trade is carried on, the University can bear no part. Of those whom he neither loves nor fears, and from whom he expects no reciprocation of good offices, why should any man promote the interest but for profit ? I suppose, with all our scholastick ignorance of mankind, we are still too knowing to expect that the booksellers will erect themselves into patrons, and buy and sell under the influence of a disinterested zeal for the promotion of learning.
“ To the booksellers, if we look for either honour or profit from our press, not only their common profit, but something more must be allowed ; and if books, printed at Oxford, are expected to be rated at
1 I suppose the complaint was, that the trustees of the Oxford press did not allow the London booksellers a sufficient profit upon vending their publications,
a high price, that price must be levied on the pub- 1776. lick, and paid by the ultimate purchaser, not by the
Ætat. 67. intermediate agents. What price shall be set upon the book, is, to the booksellers, wholly indifferent, provided that they gain a proportionate profit by negociating the sale.
Why books printed at Oxford should be particularly dear, I am, however, unable to find. We
pay no rent; we inherit many of our instruments and materials; lodging and victuals are cheaper than at London; and, therefore, workmanshipought, at least, not to be dearer. Our expences are naturally less than those of booksellers; and in most cases, communities are content with less profit than individuals.
“ It is, perhaps, not considered through how many hands a book often passes, before it comes into those of the reader; or what part of the profit each hand must retain, as a motive for transmitting it to the next.
“ We will call our primary agent in London, Mr. Cadell, who receives our books from us, gives them room in his warehouse, and issues them on demand; by him they are sold to Mr. Dilly, a wholesale bookseller, who sends them into the country; and the last seller is the country bookseller. Here are three profits to be paid between the printer and the reader, or in the style of commerce, between the manufacturer and the consumer; and if any of these profits is too penuriously distributed, the process of commerce is interrupted.
“ We are now come to the practical question, what is to be done? You will tell me, with reason, that I have said nothing, till I declare how much,
1776. according to my opinion, of the ultimate price ought
to be distributed through the whole succession of Ætat. 67.
“ The deduction, I am afraid, will appear very great: but let it be considered before it is refused. We must allow, for profit, between thirty and thirtyfive per cent. between six and seven shillings in the pound; that is, for every book which costs the last buyer twenty shillings, we must charge Mr. Cadell with something less than fourteen.
We must set the copies at fourteen shillings each, and superadd what is called the quarterly book, or for every hundred books so charged we must deliver an hundred and four.
- The profits will then stand thus:
“ Mr. Cadell, who runs no hazard, and gives no credit, will be paid for warehouse room and attendance by a shilling profit on each book, and his chance of the quarterly-book.
“ Mr. Dilly, who buys the book for fifteen shillings, and who will expect the quarterly-book if he takes five and twenty, will send it to his countrycustomer at sixteen and sixpence, by which, at the hazard of loss, and the certainty of long credit, he gains the regular profit of ten per cent. which is expected in the wholesale trade.
“ The country bookseller, buying at sixteen and sixpence, and commonly trusting a considerable tine, gains but three and sixpence, and if he trusts a year, not much more than two and sixpence; otherwise than as he may, perhaps, take as long credit as he gives.
“ With less profit than this, and more you see he