I condiscended against all thought and purpose on my part [...] not onely to coppie it out and put it in paper, for the private use of some; but to commit it to the Presse, for the more publike good of many, which were not present auditors: Every good thing being so much the better the more common it is; and writing being ordayned of GOD to be a meane of the teaching of his Church, as well as lively voyce. (Thomas Wilson, preacher, 1614)2

While the London-based scribal culture of the year 1614 explored the contours and implications of the disagreement between king and commons with relative freedom and energy, the press was silent on the matter. This terseness of the print medium speaks both to revisionist and post-revisionist debate over the nature of the conflict in 1614, and to the constitution and status of the book trade, or the trade in inexpensive, topical books, in Jacobean England.3 In the same letter to Alice Carleton that first mentioned the writs for what was to become known as the ‘Addled Parliament’, the newsletter-writer John Chamberlain mentions the disgrace of a woman, and a threat ‘to publish her fowle faults in print to her further shame’ (the letter is torn and so the identities and circumstances of his subjects are uncertain).4 Writing to Dudley Carleton six weeks later, in the dog days of the parliament, Chamberlain describes the excitability of Sir Henry Wotton over news of court and parliament: ‘having Master Pories discourse there with me, and making some mention of it by chaunce, he was with child till he had seen it [...] Touching the printing of it, you need not doubt, for there was never any such purpose but only spoken merely.’5 The printing of John Pory’s newsletter had itself become the subject of rumour, it seems; but for those who could not afford an expensive subscription to a manuscript newsletter service, or who did not move among those who could, this itch of news was unlikely to be scratched but only chafed with further rumour. Recent research has demonstrated the very lively culture of manuscript communication and exchange sustained in early modern England. Historians of the book have tended to reify the smudged boundary between manuscript and print, and to understate the capacity of manuscript

circulation to reach beyond the coterie to a large and diverse audience.6 Yet for Carleton and Thomas Wilton, in the preface to a published sermon, print had a special quality. It seemed, in theory if not in practice, to embrace an even larger audience than the warm voice or the ‘private use’ of hand copies, to promise ‘further shame’ than word of mouth, to carry further than that which was ‘merely’ spoken; to be, in Milton’s phrase of 1644, ‘more publick then preaching’.7 The purpose of this paper is to consider how far these powers of publicity extended in the year 1614.