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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, workmanship ought, 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 Ælai. 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 attend ance by a shilling profit on each book, and his chance of the quarterly-book.
“Mr. Dilly, who buys the book for fifteen shil, ļings, and who will expect the quarterly-book if he takes five and twenty, will send it to his countrycustomer at sixteen and sixpence, by whichi, at the hazard of loss, and the certainty of long credit, hę 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 time, 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 cedit as he gives.
“ With less profit than this, and more you see he
cannot have, the country bookseller cannot live; for 1776. his receipts are small, and his debts sometimes bad. S
Ætat. 67 “ Thus, dear Sir, I have been incited by Dr, *******'s letter to give you a detail of the circulation of books, which, perhaps, every man has not had opportunity of knowing; and which those who know it, do not, perhaps, always distinctly consider.
ço I am, &c, $6 March 12, 1776,
“ Sam. JOHNSON."
Having arrived in London late on Friday, the 15th of March, I hastened next morning to wait on Dr. Johnson, at his house ; but found he was removed from Johnson's-court, No. 7, 'to Bolt-court, No. 8, still keeping to his favourite Fleet-street. My reflection at the time upon this change as marked in my Journal, is as follows: “I felt a foolish regret that he had left a court which bore his name ;8 but it was not foolish to be affected with some tenderness of regard for a place in which I had seen him a great deal, from whence I had often issued a better and a happier man than when I went in, and which had often appeared to my imagination while I trod its pavement, in the solemn darkness of the night, to be sacred to wisdom and piety.” Being informed that he was at Mr. Thrale's, in the Borough, I hastened thither, and found Mrs. Thrale and him at breakfast, I was kindly welcomed. In a moment he was in a
7 I am happy in giving this full and clear statement to the pube lick, to vindicate, by the authority of the greatest authour of his age, that respectable body of men, the Booksellers of London, from vulgar reflections, as if their profits were exorbitant, when, in truth, Dr.Johnson has here allowed them more than they usually demand.
He said, when in Scotland, that he was Johnson of that Ilk.
1776. full glow of conversation, and I felt myself elevated Ætat. 67. as if brought into another state of being. Mrs. Thrale
and I looked to each other while he talked, and our looks expressed our congenial admiration and affection for him. I shall ever recollect this scene with great pleasure. I exclaimed to her, “I am now, intellectually, Hermippus redivivus,* I am quite restored by him, by transfusion of mind.” “ There are many (she replied) who admire and respect Mr. Johnson; but you and I love him.”
He seemed very happy in the near prospect of going to Italy with Mr. and Mrs. Thrale,
But, (said he,) before leaving England I am to take a jaunt to Oxford, Birmingham, my native city Lichfield, and my old friend, Dr. Taylor's, at Ashbourne, in Derbyshire, I shall go in a few days, and you, Boswell, shall go
with me.” I was ready to accompany him ; being willing even to leave London to have the pleasure of his conversation.
I mentioned with much regret the extravagance of the representative of a great family in Scotland, by which there was danger of its being ruined; and as Johnson respected it for its antiquity, he joined with me in thinking it would be happy if this person should die. Mrs. Thrale seemed shocked at this, as feudal barbarity ; and said, “ I do not understand this preference of the estate to its owner; of the land to the man who walks upon that land.” JOHNSON,
Nay, Madam, it is not a preference of the land to its owner; it is the preference of a family to an individual. Here is an establishment in a country, which is of importance for ages, not only to the chief but to
* See vol. 1. p. 385.
his people ; an establishinent which extends upwards 1776. and downwards; that this should be destroyed by one idle fellow is a sad thing."
He said, “Entails are good, because it is good to preserve in a country, serieses of men, to whom the people are accustomed to look up as to their leaders. But I ani for leaving a quantity of land in commerce, to excite industry, and keep money in the country; for if no land were to be bought in the country, there would be no encouragement to acquire wealth, because a family could not be founded there ; or if it were acquired, it must be carried away to another country where land may be bought. And although the land in every country will remain the same, and be as fertile where there is no money, as where there is, yet all that portion of the happiness of civil life, which is produced by money circulating in a country, would be lost.” BOSWELL. “ Then, Sir, would it be for the advantage of a country that all its lands were sold at once?” Johnson. “So far, Sir, as money produces good, it would be an advantage ; for, then that country would have as much money circulating in it as it is worth. But to be sure this would be counterbalanced by disadvantages attending a total change of proprietors.”
I expressed my opinion that the power of entailing should be limited thus: “ That there should be one third, or perhaps one half of the land of a country kept free for commerce; that the proportion allowed to be entailed, should be parcelled out so that no family could entail above a certain quantity. Let a family, according to the abilities of its representatives, be richer or poorer in different generations, or always rich if its representatives be always wise : but let its absolute permanency be moderate,