The Myth of the Britannica by Harvey Einbinder

By Harvey Einbinder

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By Harvey Einbinder

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His articles were not hasty exercises written for a fee, but elaborate essays prepared near the close of his life. His biography of Pitt filled more than seventy octavo pages; and his essays on Bunyan, Johnson and Goldsmith still appear in the set because of their literary brilliance. Macaulay's style is notable for its vividness and persuasive rhetoric. He did not feel it neces sary to heap up a mass of biographical facts—rather he sought to capture the essential spirit of his subject in eloquent prose— it is understandable that editors should have retained his essays for four generations.

When they were reprinted in a slim volume in 1828, the whole substance of radical thought was fully expounded 36 / The Myth of the Britannica between a pair of pasteboard covers. In March, 1829, Mill's essay on Government was subjected to a slashing assault by the youthful Macaulay in the conservative Edinburgh Review. " This attack was answered in the Westminster Review, and the resulting con troversy was part of the political agitation culminating in the great English Reform Bill of 1832. During the nineteenth century, many gifted writers were able to express their views in the Encyclopaedia.

50 / The Myth of the Britannica The addition of Cambridge as a sponsor solved many pressing financial problems. Where Hooper had been able to obtain only $200,000 in bank loans, he could now raise five times that amount, thanks to the prestige of the University in banking circles. Despite this key role, royalties were calculated on a sliding scale that reached a maximum of ten shillings on each set sold— or only half as much as received by the Times. Instead of issuing the eleventh edition piecemeal, as had been the practice in the past, an effort was made to publish the entire work at once.

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