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214

PATERNOSTER-ROW, AND THE CHAPTER

COFFEE-HOUSE,

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The booksellers and publishers of modern times are the best patrons of literature, and authorship is no longer a condition of pauperism. Even mere penny-a-liners often make a decent livelihood, while reporters of a higher order are frequently barristers, or gentlemen of high character, who experience so much liberality at the hands of newspaper proprietors that they often find it wise to leave their profession in abeyance; while in Parliament, and elsewhere, they toil for the instruction or amusement of the public. Original authors, too, if really possessed of superior abilities, may make them extremely remunerative; and their taskmasters in the Row are always ready to reward them with both hands, if their headwork deserves it. Paternoster-row originally, perhaps, obtained that name from the circumstance that many vendors of paternosters, breviaries, and other church services had established themselves there, owing to its contiguity with old St. Paul's. Thus in Stow's Chronicle," p. 126, we read :

“Paternoster-row, so called, because of stationers and text-writers that dwelt there, who wrote and sold all sorts of books then in use, namely, A, B, C, with the paternoster, ave, creed, graces, et cætera.'

Strype, too, b. iii., p. 195, writes :

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- This street, before the fire of London, was taken up by eminent mercers, silkmen, and lacemen, and their shops were so resorted unto by the nobility and gentry in their coaches, that ofttimes the street was so stopped up that there was no passage for foot-passengers; but since the said fire those eminent tradesmen have settled themselves in several other parts, especially in Covent-garden, in Bedford-street, Henrietta-street, and King-street; and the inhabitants in this street are now (1720) a mixture of tradespeople, and chiefly tirewomen, for the sale of commodes, top-knots, and the like dressings for females. There are also many shops of mercers and silkmen, and at the upper end some stationers, and large warehouses for booksellers, well situated for learned and studious men's access thither, being more retired and private."

Hear old Pepys :“21 Nov., 1666.—My wife and I went to Paternoster

and there we bought some green watered moyre for a morning waistcoat."

Notice here modern fashion returning to the tastes of our ancestors; moire antique is now a very popular article of dress, though not for morning waistcoats. Take another bit of Pepys :

“May 17, 1662.-After dinner, my lady (Sandwich) and she (Mrs. Sanderson), and I, went on foot to Paternosterrow, to buy a petticoat against the Queen's coming for my lady, of plain satin.” And Lady Rachel Russel, in a letter to her lord says,

“ Was with your sisters at a Dutchwoman's, Paternoster-row, and the three Exchanges."

What a changeable world we inhabit! Think of Paternoster-row being remarkable for its quiet and privacy! Think of beaus and belles resorting thither on foot, to purchase their gay clothes. Alack, all the shine has long since been taken out of the queer narrow avenue of tall old houses. The mercers and tirewomen have departed

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westward, and have even relinquished their midway habitat in Covent-garden and Henrietta-street! True, Ludgate-hill rejoices still in a few fine butterfly shops, but Fashion's natural haunts are now to be sought in Regentstreet or Bond-street, and probably in another generation or two she will undertake an emigration to Belgravia. Vicissitude is the sovereign of those who worship the mode. Hoops a century ago, crinoline to-day-coal-scuttle bonnets in 1830, cap bonnets or flowers and bobs of ribbon at the back of the head in 1860.

Almost on the site of Dolly's Chop-house, Queen Elizabeth's famous clown, Tarlton, kept an ordinary dignified with the name of the Castle. In a house hard by dwelt Ann Turner, the notorious inventor of yellow starch, and a chief agent in the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.

Need we say that the shop of the Longmans is No. 39 ? The founder of the firm, Thomas Longman, died in 1755, and the earliest book bearing his name, now known, was printed "for Thomas Longman, at the Ship and Black Swan, 1725."

Very recently a volume, giving the history of this most remarkable firm, has been published, and it will be interesting to all lovers of literature. My first recollection of the firm dates in 1806, when it was “Longman, Hurst, Green, Orme, and Brown." They were the original London publishers of Sir Walter Scott's works. I well remember the immense popularity of the “Lay” and “Marmion,” and not less of “Waverley," and the wonderful series of novels it heralded. We can scarcely now understand the enthusiasm of the town on such subjects-when large 4to editions of the poems (price £2 28.) were eagerly bought up, and when a Scotch packet had for its sole cargo the first edition of the “ Antiquary;" or that upon a report that the vessel had been lost in a storm, the press spoke of the event as a national calamity. If the

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Longmans profited largely from their transactions with Scott, they certainly retained him on liberal terms, having paid him, so it is asserted on good authority, in less than fifteen years, a sum of fully £20,000. They dealt with Tom Moore with an equally free hand, giving him 3,000 guineas for the copyright of "Lalla Rookh" alone. Contrast this with Milton's literary gains-£10 for his “Paradise Lost;" with Curll's short payments to his writers—who were treated as harshly as day-labourers; or even with what was thought the liberality of Jacob Tonson. True, Pope obtained £3,000 for his “Homer," but it was by subscription; and many years after, Samuel Johnson, writing to Cave for the loan of a few shillings, added, at the foot of the note, "Impransus," as a motive for compliance with his demand.

The Longmans preserve on their premises some highly interesting literary portraits, and they have an invaluable collection of rare books, from which bibliopolists are allowed to choose the pets they desire on really low terms, considering the precious character of the works. Here premier editions of Tasso are possible; here tall uncut tomes, ancient and modern, delight the bookworm; choice bindings in wood, vellum, and leather, by the best artists. Often books are bought for their outsides merely. Illustrated missals—the “Romance of the Rose," in all its beauty-Caxtons of undoubted genuineness, enough to make their non-possessors weep-and folios of tracts and broad-sheets, not unfrequently absolutely unique, may be secured by those who are willing and able to barter gold for knowledge, or what they value more. Happy the sexagenarian, without wife or children, who takes to a library, and occupies all his harmless life in hunting out rare volumes : not to read them-oh, no!-but to display them on his shelves to admiring visitors. Incidentally, if not directly, he is a useful labourer for science and literature, as but for him such books would often be lost for ever,

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At Rivington's, the original sign of the old house, the Bible and Crown, let into the stone course over the window, might long be seen, and attracted great notice as the sole relic of a past custom once so common in the City.

We now are to speak of the Chapter Coffee-house—within a very short period still flourishing at the corner opposite Ivy-lane, but now finally closed. When I knew the quaint old establishment, probably built in the time of William III., though sobered much by age, it looked in sound condition; and while its heavy, small-paned windows and low ceilings made the coffee-room dusky even at midday, there was a great air of comfort and respectability about it. Rakes of the gay classes, or Hectors of the military, never came there; but studious men, members of the learned professions-proctors, attorneys-at-law, and especially clergymen and curates in abundance, and occasionally the beneficed in search of cheap helps, or, more rarely still, an economical dean or canon, and, at long intervals, a wearer of lawn sleeves, on business with less fortunate members of the Establishment, filled the benches and boxes, for the most part so quietly that their voices were scarcely heard above a whisper, the wisdom or the piety of their conversation being toned down so as to be inaudible except to themselves. Here are a couple of extracts relative to the place :

“I must notice the Chapter Coffee-house, frequented by those encouragers of literature, 'not the worst judges of men,' the booksellers. Their conversation naturally turns upon the newest publications, but their criticisms are somewhat singular. When they say 'a good book,' they do not mean to praise the style or sentiment, but the quick and extensive sale of it. That book is best which sells most, and if the demand for Quarles should be greater than for Pope, he would have the highest place on the rubric-post"--Connoisseur, Jan. 7, 1754.

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