Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


High Street.] MESSRS. W. & R. CHAMBERS. 225 fortyyfve years ago. This little work came out in the Augustan days of Edinburgh, when Jeffrey and Scott, Wilson and the Ettrick Shepherd, Dugald Stewart and Alison, were daily giving the producpublic victory, and in a few days the sale in Scotland alone was 50,000 copies, while No. 3 rose to 80,ooo in the Esglish market. Robert threw himself heart and soul into the successful periodical ; tions of their minds to the public, and while yet Archibald Constable acted as the unquestioned emperor of the publishing world.? In 1826 Robert published his ? Popular Rhymes of Scotland,? and the ? Picture of Scotland,? and shortly afterwards five volumes of Scottish history, for Consiable?s Miscellany. The brothers were now making money, and in tolerably prosperous c i r cu m s t a n c es, though they lost much of their hardwon savings by assisting their father in a piece of unsuccessful litigation. About that time William produced the ?Book of Scotland,? a work describing the institutions of the country, for which he got A30, while Robert got 6100 for preparing a ?Gazetteer of Scotland ;? and in I 83 2 William projected the great work ADVOCATES? CLOSE. which made the firm prosperous and famous wherever the English language is spoken-- Chambers?s Edinburgh journal, the vanguard of all that is wholesome, sensible, and unsectarian in cheap literature, as it ap peared six weeks before the famous Penny Magazin~ The first weekly number appeared on the 4th February, 1832. Robert thought the speculation a hazardous one, but William?s courage achieved a 29 and speaking of partnership with him, his brother writes : ?? Such was the degree of mutual confidence between us that not for the space of twenty-one years was it thought expedient to execute any deed of agreement.? While constantly contributing to the Journal, Robert, in 1835, completed his ?Biographical Dictionary of Eminent Scotsmen,? in foul volumes. The brothers issued, in the preceding year, their ?? Information for the People,? and after this venture came a series of about a hundred school books-the ? Chambers?s Edu, cational Course,? still so familiar to many middle-class school-boys. While collecting information upon the subject of public education, William got together materials in 1839 for his ?Tour in Holland and the Rhine Countries i and about this time, twenty volumes of a series entitled ? Chambers?s Miscellany ? were issued by the firm, which had an enormous circulation j but the great and crowning enterprise of Messrs. W. and R Chambers was unquestionably their ?? Encyclopzedia, or Dictionary of Uni;ersal Information for the People,? a work begun in 1859 and completed in 1868-a work unrivalled by any in
Volume 2 Page 225
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