chapter  5
14 Pages

The Licensed Press

The two decades between the summoning of the Short Parliament and the restoration of Charles II had been as difficult for the book trade as they were for the nation as a whole. The obvious wish to go back to at least some of the old ways in 1660 was an expression of a deeper desire for familiarity and stability. Yet not everything was, or could be, restored. On one level, the prerogative courts had gone for ever, and with them at least some of the powers of the crown. At another level, however, what had been lost was the mutual confidence of the governors and the governed. The desire for domestic peace was not for peace at any price; the lessons of the Great Rebellion could not be ignored, but the ideas which it inspired were never entirely forgotten. Within the book trade, the lesson was clear enough: the alternative to control was chaos. This was not, however, a complete analysis, satisfactory as it may have seemed to the Master and Wardens of the Stationers’ Company as they joined in the City’s official welcome to Charles II in the summer of his return.