And so we have dried out, and have fared much better than the poor folk of Cockermouth. Back to business then ...
For the finale of this year's Bindman talks, Sir Geoffrey Bindman himself gave a lecture on a lesser-known character from the Romantic era. Daniel Isaac Eaton was a publisher in London, born in 1753. He inherited the family business bookselling and prospered. Eaton married and had a family and for 39 years he was a successful businessman. Then, between 1793 and 1812, he was prosecuted eight times for sedition. In his forties, Eaton proclaimed himself, 'Bookseller and Printer to the Supreme Majesty of the People'.
Eaton was inspired by the ideas that drove the French Revolution, and invigorated by the goings-on across the channel. It seems likely it was around this time that Eaton discovered the political writings of Thomas Paine and was moved to sell his books just at the time the government are suppressing his work with great vigour. In 1792, Eaton took up radical politics and joined the London Corresponding Society, a group that promoted universal suffrage and regular parliamentary elections. Eaton moved his business premises to Bishopsgate and started publishing the many pamphlets the society produced.
Eaton, and those publishers like him, were wily. The government might try to suppress publications but they were unlikely to take the matter to court. Books could be banned, but trial proceedings were allowed to be reproduced in full. When up before the judge the publishers could read the entirety of the work they were standing trial for circulating and then publish the account with the 'seditious' material recorded within it.
*For an overview of how Burke the Conservative strangely revolutionised politic writing, see Katey Castellano's article in Romanticism on the Net.