« iepriekšējāTurpināt »
vantage to the author and printer, and place the publisher midway between heaven and earth, where he is likely to suffer abuse from everybody. Yet he has a relation to the literary public the importance of which can hardly be exaggerated, and without which literature would almost cease to prosper. The author creates, the publisher simply puts his wares on the market ; but between the publishing of books that deprave the public taste and those that elevate it, no one stands in a more responsible position than the man who puts them on the market. The quarrels of authors with publishers would make a long story, and, on the other hand, the encouragement which publishers have given to authors has often been the making of them, and has given direction to the development of a generation of readers.
Their business has its mechanical and secular side, but it also has its moral and educational side. They can much more easily degrade than they can elevate the public taste, and where a publisher has chosen to bring out only good books, and has put conscience into his business, he has always risen through his work to a position of commanding influence. One does not hesitate a moment to buy the books issued by the leading English and American houses on the score of their morality, and hardly on the score of literary merit. The reputation of the best houses is so jealously guarded in this respect that no inducements can prevail on them to bring out a work of questionable character, especially with an eye to the making of money out of it, while their pecuniary interests are sufficiently at stake to prevent the publication of works that are only fit for the waste-basket. And the securing of the reputation of a hightoned publisher has been the aim, as it is also the present aim, of nearly all the publishers who have been connected with our literature.
“One recalls the names of several Americans who have stood in such relations to authors and readers that their imprint carried immense influence, making them not only benefactors to authors, but the purveyors of the best books to those for whom they were written.
Eminent among these was George P. Putnam, who brought a sensitive conscience and excellent literary taste to the business of a
bookseller and publisher, and is always to be named as one of the best friends American authors have ever had.
“He published books on their merits, and drew around him the men who had something to say to the public; and the magazine which he started in 1853 is still remembered, although long ago discontinued, for the noble character and excellent quality of the contents. He filled out the idea of what the public needed, and had the largeness of conception requisite to the undertaking and the proper business capacity to make it a success. No man knew better how to help authors forward, or how to furnish the public with readable books of the best character.
* The late James Brown, who lifted the house of Little, Brown, & Co. into its present high rank, was the first American to import the best English books at reasonable prices. Greater as a bookseller than as a publisher, he was eminent in both directions, and from 1837 to 1855 did more than any other man to bring the best thought of Europe into contact with the best minds of America. He had the power to ascertain the contents of a book by glancing through its uncut pages, which is said to have been the secret of the poet Percival's wonderful acquisitions while leaning over the counters of George Howe's book-store in New Haven fifty years ago. His word about a book had the weight of the best critical judgment. He developed a taste for the best editions, and was the publisher of Bancroft's, Palfrey's, Everett's, and Winthrop's works, in a style that was an honor to our literature.
“The old house of Ticknor & Fields must be mentioned in this connection. Mr. Fields rendered excellent and peculiar services to our literature, but the character of the house had been established before he became a member of it. His persistency and literary enthusiasm had an influence in the right direction, but the cool, clear judgment of Mr. Ticknor gave the house its proper weight and character. There are many instances of the highest type of the publisher in Boston to-day, where business capacity is allied with literary instinct, and where the publisher is forgotten in the scholar and the gentleman, the business by which one lives being almost forgotten in the enthusiasm for good books and in the desire to keep our literature at its highest and best. This ideal is so steadily aimed at, and in many instances so largely realized, that it may be said that our best publishers have lifted their business up to the dignity of the great professions.
“ But, perhaps, no better type of the bookseller and publisher has ever been known than is disclosed in Thomas Hughes's · Memoirs of Daniel Macmillan. The house of Macmillan & Co. now ranks with that of John Murray and the Longmans in point of honor and influence in English literature, and here the story of the way in which it was founded is told by an accomplished and sympathetic writer. * No man,' says Mr. Hughes, 'who ever sold books for a livelihood was more conscious of a vocation ; more impressed with the dignity of his craft and of its value to humanity; more anxious that it should suffer no shame or diminution through him.' Bound out as a bookbinder's apprentice in his eleventh year ; carrying the burdens of a large business as if he were a man, before he was well out of his boyhood; thirsting, like a hundred other Scotch peasant boys of his time, for the freedom of a large career ; improving every leisure moment for the education which his poverty denied him, at the University of Glasgow, he was in Cambridge, in a university book-store, in his twentieth year, and at the end of a twelvemonth's service there was not a book on the shelves of the shop with whose contents he was not familiar.
“Ten years later, through the generosity of Archdeacon Hare, whose friendship had been won because the young Scotchman had been built up into a higher type of manhood by studying his · Guesses at Truth,' and whose loan of £500 enabled the Macmillan brothers, Daniel and Alexander, to start in business on their own account as university booksellers and publishers, he returned to Cambridge to develop a career as noble as it was honest and sincere. Mr. F. J. Furnivall, in the Academy for August 12th, confesses himself among the young men who owed to him 'the best of such teachings as they got from the university. The man who taught us to think, to read books that made us think, and opened our minds,' he says, was Daniel Macmillan, along with our college friends. As long as his health lasted, and he was able to stir up undergraduates and graduates by his talk, he was a real power in the university.'
" Mr. Hughes, in the memoir, the reading of which is so thrilling that one's heart leaps into his throat half a hundred times while going through it, brings out his university work, carried on while looking death in the face almost weekly for the last twelve years of his life, in even stronger light than Mr. Furnivall does ; but this work was really only incidental to his great purposes, the overflow of the mind and heart of a deeply religious and earnest man who knew the power of good books to enlarge men's souls.
There was so much of live substance in this man, and he had put his heart and soul sɔ truly into the great publishing house that he founded, that he could not be forgotten, and the new generation of to-day has demanded that the story of the way in which he illustrated the possibilities of the publisher's vocation should be known to the world.”
In this connection the editor of the present volume, at the risk of being thought personal, thinks it may be considered of interest to quote a letter from Washington Irving to the founder of the firm whose imprint this volume bears.
Den 27 th 1852
Ja parcel of books reached me on cheshwas morning,
letters not being addressed to Dearman
2 . to danny doors and ched not
neces join with me in thanking You for the beautiful books you have receta as, an to Eore and mus Partran
Your werthes for a merry
cluestwas and hobby am Jana
my own external part det mestay how sensibly I exareciate the kid tere and expressions of your letter, buh, as to que calk of obligations to we