Page images
[ocr errors]

have been two out of each, to represent the part translated. The mistake is to be corrected, as already hinted, by the English divines sent to Dort in 1618. Among them was Dr. Samuel Ward, himself one of the translators, and in giving their account to the synod, they stated that tue ve men met to review, and correct the whole work.

Twelve men paid at the rate of thirty shillings each, was equal to £18 weekly, and for the thirty-nine weeks, £702 must have been expended : but with regard to the Paymasters for this service, it is presumed that the reader is already fully prepared to doubt, if not deny the strange assertion, that this could have come from the Company of Stationers. Lewis has remarked that it “ seems a confirmation of what was before observed, that the proposal of raising a thousand marks on the Bishops, &c., was rejected by them.” And of this there can be no question; but after the game played with the Stationers' Company by Christopher Barker, and the state in which we left the parties, how could one farthing be expected from that Company? They had no interest whatever in the affair, from first to last. At the Hall, as a matter of courtesy, these twelve men might be accommodated, but so far from the Company having any concern in the publication, we have already seen the whole fraternity of printers and booksellers up in arms against the arrangement by a monopoly.

But why then might not his Majesty be supposed to defray this trifling amount? Because that when only such a sum was anticipated at the beginning, he himself informed us, it was“ not convenient." And if it was not so then, it was much more inconvenient now. As a source of supply, James was more thoroughly out of the question than ever before ; and, indeed, there is actually no evidence that he took any farther concern in the whole affair, after the solitary letter in 1604, and a slight allusion to the subject in 1606 ; except that when the Bible was finished at press, he must have given his sanction, and was then praised to the skies. But as for any money being ever paid by him since the time that he himself last spake, one glance at his progress will amply suffice.

[ocr errors]

Parliament having been opened on the 9th of November 1606, the chief business of the session was the voting of a subsidy. As reported to the House, and recorded on the journal of the Commons, the debts of the late Queen were £400,000, and £20,000 for her funeral. The entrance of James with his family into England, and his coronation, had cost £30,000 ; upon ambassadors and their entertainment, he had lavished £10,000 ; and the expenses of Ireland had been £350,000. Thus the sum to be reduced was £840,000 : the debts of Elizabeth, at the close of her long reign, and those of James's first three years, being now precisely of equal amount, or £420,000 each! By this time his Majesty could neither pay his household, nor decently support his own table. In point of fact, the Earl of Dorset, at the age of seventy-nine, his Lord Treasurer, had been stopped on the street, by servants of the household, claiming their wages, and the purveyors had refused farther supplies. Within eighteen months after this,

[ocr errors]

on the 19th of April 1608, the accomplished Sackvile, Lord Treasurer Dorset, died suddenly, when actually sitting at the Council table ; and being succeeded by Cecil, now Earl of Salisbury, he not only found an exhausted exchequer, but that the King's debts had now risen to three times the amount already stated. Amidst all this, the high tone of James's pretensions remained undiminished, though the steps taken by him for supply, without application to Parliament, served to disclose still farther the baseness of his mind. He was supporting the heir-apparent, partly by a pension from the States-General ; for a certain amount, he had sold to the Dutch a license to fish off the coasts of England and Scotland ; and by his prerogative alone, he had levied duties on the import and export of goods ! Salisbury had laboured hard, in every way, to reduce his Royal Master's embarrassment ; but by the meeting of Parliament in 1610 how stood his affairs ? The Lord Treasurer stated to the House that the King's debts were still about half a million sterling, while his ordinary expenses were exceeding his income by £81,000 a-year: but after all that his great purveyor could say, Parliament voted no more than a subsidy, which amounted to not onesixth part of the needy monarch's demands. “ After the dissolution,” says Hallam," James attempted as usual to obtain loans ; but the merchants, grown bolder with the spirit of the times, refused him the accommodation. He then had recourse to another method of raising money, unprecedented, I believe, before his reign, though long practised in France, the sale of honours. He sold several peerages for considerable sums, and created a new order of hereditary knights, called Baronets, who paid £1000 each for their patents. Two hundred were intended, but only ninety-three were sold for six years to come.” In this race of royal prodigality, therefore, we need to run no farther, for by this time the Bible of 1611 had been published. It has been affirmed of James that he never did a great or generous action throughout the course of his reign ; but certainly, with regard to the SCRIPTURES, so far from his having personally contributed towards the undertaking, it will be well if he ultimately escape from having actually receired money for allowing them to be printed !


Pecuniary aid, however, it is certain, had been required ; and so at last after receiving no such assistance from any other quarter, we must turn to the patentee and inquire how he had been proceeding all this time. And well might Barker pay whatever was required. If £700 had already been expended, the translation had still to be superintended through the press; a process which seems to have involved much more expense, as well as attention, for nearly two years to come, under the eye of Dr. Miles Smith, already mentioned, and Thomas Bilson, Bishop of Winchester, to say nothing of other underlings. But whatever may have been the cost, we have no evidence of one-farthing contributed from any quarter, save one.

The death of Christopher Barker, the first patentee, at the age of 70, in November 1599, we have already noticed ; but fully ten years before, (8th August 1589,) as soon as he had received his second patent, or the first from Queen Elizabeth direct, for his own life and that of his son, he had retired from the fatigue of business, and ever after printed the Scriptures by deputies, or by George Bishop and Ralph Newbery, well-known printers of other things. The son, Robert, pursuing his father's advantage, by right of the running patent, first affixed his name to the Bible press of the

of 1601 ; and by the time that James ascended the throne, he comes before us as Robert Barker, Esq. of Southley or Southlee in Bedfordshire. The King, however, had been little more than two months in England, when Barker had secured from him a special license, dated the 19th of July, for printing all the statutes during his life : and in two months more he was again in contact with his Majesty. On the 28th of September, in consideration of the sum of £300 paid to the King, and an annual rent of £20, he had granted him the manor of Upton for 22 years; but raising the rent to £40 in two years after. Barker, by this time, being a married man, had a family growing up. His lady, the daughter of Day, Bishop of Winchester, the immediate predecessor of Bilson, now engaged with the Bible, had died in 1607, leaving him at least four children, Christopher, Robert, Charles, and Matthew. These, the grandsons of a prelate, were all to be provided for, and by an improvement on the method by which Christopher Barker had at first secured a patent to his only son. In the meanwhile, a considerable amount in money was demanded to defray the expenses connected with the superintendence at


that is, our present version of the Scriptures. The entire cost was defrayed, but certainly not by any Bishop, and much less by King James himself.

One writer, in the middle of the seventeenth century, here comes to our aid. Although Robert Barker had actually been fined for incorrect printing, in 1634, this writer strangely enough argues in favour of the monopoly ; “ lest in a book of so high importance, not only dangerous errors, but even pernicious heresies be imprinted, and the book of life be undecently printed in letter and paper." “ And forasmuch as propriety rightly considered is a legal relation of any one to a temporal good ; I conceive the sole printing of the Bible and Testament with power of restraint in others, to be of right the propriety of one Matthew Barker, citizen and stationer of London, in regard that his father paid for the amended or corrected Translation of the Bible £3500 : by reason whereof the translated copy did of right belong to him and his assignes." Herbert, accordingly, ascribes this sum to the expenses of “making the new translation.”'16

In perfect harmony with this payment, immediately after Barker had printed the Bible of 1611, we find him on the 10th of May following, 1612, obtaining from the King a patent for Christopher, his eldest son, to hold the same after the death of his father ; but with an additional proviso, that if the son should die first, his heirs were to enjoy the benefits, for four years after Robert the father's death.17

Within five years

16 See "A briefe Treatise concerning the regulating of Printing, Humbly submitted to the Parliament of England. By William Ball, Esq. London. Printed in the year 165)."

17 This, by mistake, has sometimes been placed in 1602, when Elizabeth was on the throne, and in 1603, only three days after the arrival of James in London.

after this the son died, and so in the fourteenth year of his reign, or on the 11th of February 1616-17, the King granted the same patent to Robert the second son, for thirty years, to commence after the death of his father. Now at such a time, it might be fairly questioned, since James was haunted by poverty to the day of his death, whether these patents were granted for nothing; and if not, then the parallel between Henry VIII. and James I. is more complete. But be this as it might, the Barkers, resolving not to trouble themselves any longer with presswork, had on the 20th of July 1627, or the third of K. Charles, assigned their rights to Bonham Norton and John Bill, which the King confirmed. Robert Barker, the father, was however still alive ; and still not satisfied, on the 26th of September 1635, he actually succeeded in obtaining the same patent in reversion to Charles and Matthew, his younger sons, after the expiration of the four years to Christopher's heirs, and the thirty to Robert their brother !18 Thus the interests and the emoluments of this one family are seen to extend from the nineteenth year of Elizabeth, through the successive reigns of James I., Charles I. and II., James II., of William and Mary, to the eighth year of Queen Anne, or to the long period of 132 years ! From 1577 down to 1709, not a single copy of the Sacred Volume had issued from the press, in which this family, father, son, and grandsons, had not a personal pecuniary interest.

In all this, it may appear to some persons, that, in the beginning, Christopher Barker did nothing more than secure an inheritance to himself and his posterity, for the greater part of a century and a half; though at this distance of time, no one who considers the subject would stand up to justify the course, whether in its strange, not to say dishonourable commencement, or its as strange continuance. But in a historical point of view, a family of three generations, so aggrandized, presents a subject of grave consideration. They were the mechanical agents employed in issuing out to their country, thousands upon thousands of the Sacred Volume, the book of the soul, intended by its Divine Author to convey the knowledge of saving truth to every reader, or life that shall never end. In the days of health, and in the hurry of mercantile pursuit, the only considerations worth notice might seem to be gain and successful returns; but in a course such as this, there was a personal responsibility involved, of no ordinary character. Less might have been said, had the family appeared to have been benefited by the volume itself, which they issued so long ; but there is actually nothing

' upon record to encourage any such hope. On the contrary, the father of these four sons had no sooner obtained the last patent for his youngest children in September 1635, than, from some cause or other, he became seriously involved in difficulties, not indeed specified, but he landed in

18 For this reversionary patent, Mr. Ball informs us that Matthew Barker had paid £100.



prison. After he had been there more than six years, a committee on the subject of printing having been appointed; on the 7th of March 1612, the Printers of London presented a petition before it " for the better regulating of the art of printing, and the calling in of four several patents, which they conceived to be monopolies.” These four were that granted to the Barkers, a second for Law books, a third for books in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, and a fourth for printing all broadsides. The three last died away, but the first, as it is well known, survived untouched. When first incarcerated, Robert Barker had yet ten years to live, but there he lived, and there also he died ! 6. These are to certify, whom it may concern, that Robert Barker, Esq. was committed a prisoner to the custody of the Marshal of the King's bench, the 27th of November 1635, and died in the prison of the King's bench the 10th of January 1645." He was buried in two days after, or the 12th, where, we are not informed ; but such was the end of the man who printed the first edition

; of our present version, as well as many others after it. He must be ranked only among the mere “hewers of wood and drawers of water," before and after him.



To return then for a few moments, and finally, to the Bible of 1611; after neither his Majesty, nor the Bishops, nor the Stationers' Company, had afforded any pecuniary aid, we have found the money furnished, and very properly, by the only party who was to receive the profits. The honour of payment for the whole concern, so often ascribed to James the First, is by no means to be taken from him, if one shred of positive evidence can be produced; but this, it is presumed, lies beyond the power of research. In this case, therefore, to speak correctly, we have come at last, not to an affair of government, not to a royal undertaking at his Majesty's expense, according to the popular and very erroneous historical fiction, but simply to a transaction in the course of business. If we inquire for any single royal grant, or look for any act of personal generosity, we search in vain.20

19 Certified by Thomas Wigg, clerk of the papers to the Marshal of the King's bench, 16 Jan. 1679. See Ames, p. 363. Smith's Obituary by Peck.

20 We are not unacquainted with the language which has frequently been employed in our Courts of Law; where it seems to have been taken for granted, merely as a matter of course, that even Henry VIII. and, above all, James I. had acted as kings in this matter; but in the absence of proof, to say the least, the terms employed both at the Bar, and from the Bench, sound the more extraordinary. In the case of the Stationers' Company against Partridge, the Crown's sole right to publish was founded on property. Mr. Salkeld, in arguing for the defendant, after denying any prerogative in the Crown over the press, or any power to grant any exclusive privilege, said_“I take the rule in all these cases to be, that where the Crown has a property or right of copy, the king may grant it. The crown may grant the sole printing of Bibles in the English translation, because it was made at the King's charge." " The King,"

« PreviousContinue »