1775 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Christopher Smart

Samuel Johnson, 1775; Boswell, Life of Johnson (1791); ed. G. B. Hill (1891) 2:394-95.



JOHNSON. "Old Gardner the bookseller employed Rolt and Smart to write a monthly miscellany, called The Universal Visitor. There was a formal written contract, which Allen the printer saw. Gardner thought as you do of the Judge. They were bound to write nothing else; they were to have, I think, a third of the profits of this sixpenny pamphlet; and the contract was for ninety-nine years. I wish I had thought of giving this to Thurlow, in the cause about Literary Property. What an excellent instance would it have been of the oppression of booksellers towards poor authours!" (smiling.) Davies, zealous for the honour of the Trade, said, Gardner was not properly a bookseller. JOHNSON. "Nay, Sir; he certainly was a bookseller. He had served his time regularly, was a member of the Stationers company, kept a shop in the face of mankind, purchased copyright, and was a bibliopole, Sir, in every sense. I wrote for some months in The Universal Visitor, for poor Smart, while he was mad, not then knowing the terms on which he was engaged to write, and thinking I was doing him good. I hoped his wits would soon return to him. Mine returned to me, and I wrote in The Universal Visitor no longer.