chapter  4
22 Pages

Taylor and the Commercial Science Journal

Periodicals, including newspapers, emerged from the midseventeenth century onwards to serve the needs of booksellers as advertising media for their wares. Their advantage over books, where the risks of over-or under-printing were always great, was that print runs could be pegged to subscriptions.1 At the same time they guaranteed regular work for printers and frequently offered a ‘ladder by which individuals at a low level of activity could escape from the vicious circle of drudgery and poverty’.2 By the end of the eighteenth century periodicals had become extremely important for strengthening and linking together a country-wide network of liberals and radicals, as the imposition of government stamp duties on paper and advertisements suggests-though their imposition can also be interpreted as a measure of radical success as much as of the Government’s concern to suppress such views.3 As we have seen, one of the more successful radical periodicals was the Monthly Magazine, founded by the Leicester republican, Sir Richard Phillips (1767-1840) in 1796, edited by the Unitarian physician, John Aikin, and, from 1800, printed by Davis, Wilks and Taylor. Aikin had already edited an ephemeral monthly journal entitled Memoirs of Science and Arts in 1795, its purpose being ‘to afford by it full information of every thing new that is going forward in science and the arts…both at home and abroad’.4 He duly adopted this scheme in the Monthly Magazine.