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Minute Particulars

THE REV. DR. JOHN TRUSLER (1735-1820)

In his Preface to The Letters of William Blake, 2nd ed., 1968, p. 16, Sir Geoffrey Keynes mentions that Trusler “established a business as a bookseller with the object of abolishing publishers.” A printer friend, Bernard Roberts, has recently sent me a booklet which he wrote and printed, Writers and Printers in Clerkenwell, Printed for their friends by The John Roberts Press 14 Clerkenwell Green London E.C. 1 [n.d.]. This contains further information about Trusler, “a clergyman turned printer and publisher, [who] was in a fair way of business in Red Lion Street during the 1780’s, being also the author of The Honours of the Table and The Principles of Politeness. . . . Dr. Trusler also wrote, printed and published collections of sermons. He had the curious idea of printing these in a script type, so that a preacher would sound (so Trusler imagined) as though he was reading from his own manuscript rather than from a printed book.” Sir Geoffrey says that his “mind was wholly antipathetic to Blake’s, and they could never have come to terms.” It does strike me, however, that, if the business about the drawing “Malevolence” had not interfered, Blake and the Rev. Dr. might have spent a pleasant hour or two discussing the abolition of publishers, and also the unsuspected advantages of script as a type from which to read.

Ruthven Todd of Mallorca is well known as the editor of the Everyman Life of Blake by Gilchrist, and as the author of numerous books and articles on Blake and related subjects. The most recent is Blake the Artist (Studio Vista, 1971).

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