Home  »  Volume XI: English THE PERIOD OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION  »  § 26. Scot, Bateman, the Ballards

The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume XI. The Period of the French Revolution.

XIV. Book Production and Distribution, 1625–1800

§ 26. Scot, Bateman, the Ballards

One of the chief of these Little Britain booksellers was Robert Scot, whom North describes as no mean scholar and a very conscientious good man. He was not only an expert bookseller, but was “in his time the greatest librarian in Europe; for, besides his stock in England, he had warehouses at Frankfort, Paris and other places.” Here, also, was the shop of Christopher Bateman, who dealt principally in old books, and from whom Swift purchased “for our Stella” three little volumes of Lucian in French. In some shops, it was the practice to allow customers to turn over the books and, for a small payment, to read any of them on the premises. Bateman, however, would have none of this, nor would he, it is said, suffer any person to look into any book in his shop, giving as a reason:

  • I suppose you may be a physician or an author, and want some recipe or quotation; and, if you buy it, I will engage it to be perfect before you leave me, but not after; as I have suffered by leaves being torn out, and the books returned, to my very great loss and prejudice.
  • Before the middle of the eighteenth century, the tide had begun to ebb from Little Britain, and, with the death of Edward Ballard in 1796, there passed away the last of the profession who inhabited it, and the last representative of a family which, for over a century, had been famous there for its trade in divinity and school books.