Tag Archives: Robert Campbell

Campbell on Bricklayers

In his London Tradesman, Campbell works through the building trades in Chapter 31, beginning with the architect and the stone mason, continuing:

The Bricklayer comes next under our Consideration. He differs from the Stone-Mason as much as his Materials; his Skill consists, considering him as a mere Bricklayer, only in ranging his Brick even upon the Top of one another, and giving them their proper Beds of Cements; for it is suppos’d, the Architect directs him in every thing related to Dimensions. But a Master-Bricklayer thinks himself capable to raise a Brick-House without the Tuition of an Architect: And in Town they generally know the just Proportion of Doors and Windows, the Manner of carrying up Vents, and the other common Articles in a City-House, where the Carpenter, by the Strength of Wood, contributes more to the standing of the House than all the Bricklayer’s Labour. He works by the Yard; that is, is paid by the Employer so much for every Yard of Brick-Work, either with or without the Materials, and is a very profitable Business; especially if they confine themselves to work for others, and do not launch out into Building-Projects of their own, which frequently ruin them: It is no new Thing in London, for those Master-Builders to build themselves out of their own Houses, and fix themselves in Jail with their own Materials. A Journeyman-Bricklayer has commonly Half a Crown a Day, and the Foreman of the Work may have Three Shillings, or perhaps a Guinea a week: But they are out of Business for five, if not six Months in the Year; and, in and about London, drink more than one third of the other Six.

Campbell is not wrong to warn of the dangers of speculation. During the rapid expansion of London and Westminster in the eighteenth century, a successful bricklayer may set himself up as a builder and build a row of houses speculatively.  Such projects did not always end well.

Mortimer, in the Universal Director, while not warning of bankruptcy, does illustrate the recent (in 1763) changes in funding house construction:

But of late years the capital Masters of the two branches of House and Ship Carpentry, have assumed the name of Builders, and Ship-Builders; for this reason, because they make an estimate of the total expence of a House or a Ship, and contract for the execution of the whole for the amount of their estimate; so that they take upon themselves the providing of all materials, and employ their own Masons, Plumbers, Smiths, &c. whereas formerly it was the custom form gentlemen and merchants to apply to the several masters in each branch, and employ them in executing their plans: this indeed is sometimes the case at present, but very rarely, particularly with regard to Houses, whole streets having lately been erected by Builders.

Related Posts:

Thomas Howlett, Bricklayer

Campbell on Painting

Campbell on Education

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers

Purse-Proud Title-Page Mongers

Robert Campbell, in his London Tradesman of 1747 had some pungent things to say about the relationship between authors and publishers, or booksellers.

The Bookseller is another Branch depending on the Printer. Their Business is, to purchase original Copies from Authors, to employ Printers to print them, and publish and sell them in their Shops; or to purchase Books from such as print them on their own Account, or at auctions, and sell them at an advanced Price: But their chief Riches and Profit is in the Property of valuable Copies. The Author, generally speaking, has but a very trifling Sum for his Trouble in compiling the Copy; and finds himself treated with an abundance of Slights by many of the ignorant Part of the Trade, who are sure to depreciate his Performance, though never so well executed; with no other intention but to beat own his Price. It is not One in Ten that is Judge of any more than a Title-Page; and though they take Time to peruse the work offered to then, yet they seldom dip farther than the Title: If that and the Subject is popular, they trouble their Heads no more about the Manner of the Performance. Yet, when the Author comes for an answer, after many affected Delays, the wise Bookseller tells him, with a Sneer, It will not do; the Subject is not interesting enough; and it is but indifferently performed: But, adds he, I do not care if I run the Risk of Printing it, if you will take so much —Perhaps, not the Tenth of what was asked, nor so much as a Hackney-Clerk would get from so many Sheets of Writing. Authors are generally poor, and perhaps know not where to get a Dinner without disposing of their Work, and therefore are necessitated to comply with hard Terms, and put up with the ungentleman-like Treatment of the purse-proud Title-page Monger. (128—129)

For more of Campbell’s fulminations, see:

Campbell on Education;

Campbell on Painting, and

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers.

For a modern analysis of the eighteenth-century book trade and the power dynamics involved, see

Raven, J (2007). The Business of Books. Booksellers and the English Book Trade. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Campbell on Mathematical Instrument Makers

Campbell’s London Tradesman naturally does not include mathematician as a trade, but he does, in Chapter 55, get around to mathematical instrument makers. We will have occasion to look at mathematical instruments, and, in particular, sectors, later on, so herewith is his brief chapter on the subject.

CHAP. LV. Of the Mathematical and Optical Instrument, and Spectacle-Maker.

The Mathematics-Instrument-Maker makes all kind of Instruments constructed upon Mathematical Principles, and used in Philosophical Experiments: He makes Globes, Orrerys, Scales, Quadrants, Sectors, Sun-Dials of all Sorts and Dimensions, Air-Pumps, and the whole Apparatus belonging to Experimental Philosophy. He ought to have a Mathematically turned Head, and be acquainted with the Theory and Principles upon which his several Instruments are constructed, as well as with the practical Use of them. He employs several different Hands, who are mere Mechanics, and know no more of the Use or Design of the Work they make, than the Engines with which the greatest Part of them are executed; therefore the Master must be a thorough Judge of Work in general.

The Optical-Instrument-Maker is employed in making the various sorts of Telescopes, Microscopes of different Structures, Spectacles, and all other Instruments invented for the Help or Preservation of the Sight, and n which Glasses are used. He himself executes very little of the Work, except the grinding the Glasses: He grinds his Convex-Glasses in a Brass Concave Sphere, or a Diameter large in proportion to the Glass intended, and his Concave-Glasses upon a Convex Sphere of the same Metal: His Plane-Glasses he grinds upon a just Plane, in the same Manner as the common Glass-Grinder, mentioned Chap. XXXII, Sect. 4. He grinds them all with Sand and polishes them with Emery and Putty. The Cases and Machinery of his Instruments are made by different Workmen, according to their Nature, and he adjusts the Glasses to them.

It is a very ingenious and profitable Business, and employs but a few Hands as Masters. The Journeymen earn a Guinea a Week, and some more, according as they are accurate in their Trade. Such a Tradesman designed for a Master ought to have a pretty good Education, and a penetrating Judgment, to apprehend the Theory of the several Instruments he is obliged to make, and must be a thorough Judge of such Work as he employs others to execute. A Youth may be bound to either of these Trades any time between thirteen and fifteen Years of Age, and does not require much Strength.

From the dry text, I get the impression that he does not know much about this business, nor care very much. You might argue that he was just tired by Chapter 55, but he is back to form in the following Chapter, on shagreen, trunk, and box makers.

So, I hear you ask, who were these instrument makers? Fortunately, Mortimer’s Universal Director of 1763, has the answer: Optical and Mathematical Instrument Makers

  • Adams, George, Mathematical Instrument-maker to his Majesty. Fleet-Street.
  • Ayscough, James, Optician. Ludgate-Street.
  • Bennet, John. Crown-court, near Golden-square
  • Bird, John. Strand, near the New Exchange-buildings. This ingenious Artist has improved several Astronomical Instruments; and the new Astronomical Instruments in the Royal Observatory at Greenwich were made by him.
  • Dollond, Peter, Optician to his Majesty and the Duke of York, and sole Maker of the Refracting Telescopes, invented by the late Mr. John Dolland, who obtained his Majesty’s Royal Letters Patent for the said invention. Strand, near Exeter-‘change.
  • Gilbert, John, Tower-hill.
  • Gregory, Henry, Mathematical Instrument-maker. Leadenhall-street, near the East-India-house.
  • Heath and Wing, Mathematical and Optical Instrument-makers; inventors of the new Theodolite for Surveying of Land; and of the Pantographer for Copying of Drawings. Strand, near the Savoy-gate.
  • Hill, Nathaniel, Globe-maker and Map-engraver. Chancery-lane, Fleet-street.
  • Johnson, Samuel, Optician. Ludgate-street.
  • Lincoln, Charles. Cornhill, near the Poultry.
  • Manning, Charles. Wapping-wall.
  • Martin, Benjamin, Optician and Mathematical Instrument-maker; inventor and improver of several Mathematical Instruments, and author of “The General Magazine.” Fleet-street. This Artist reads Lectures on Experimental Philosophy.
  • Nairne, Edward, Optical and Mathematical Instrument-maker. Cornhill, opposite the Royal Exchange.
  • Scarlett, Edward, Optician. Near St. Anne’s Church, Soho.
  • Short, James, A.M. F.R.S. and Acad. Reg. Suec. Soc. Optician, solely for Reflecting Telescopes. Surry-street, Strand. The six-feet Newtonian Telescope, In the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, was made by this Artist.
  • Sisson, Jeremiah. The Corner of Beauford-buildings in the Strand.
  • Stedman, Christopher. Leadenhall-street.

Related Posts:

Campbell on Painting

Campbell on Education

Campbell on Book-Sellers

Campbell on Painting

Among the many trades and professions Campbell covers in his London Tradesman is that of painting. He begins with a general disquisition on painting, and the state of the art in England, and then moves on to various subcategories. In his judgments, I think he is reflective of his times, but he offers his opinions with his characteristic robustness. Here are some extracts from his much lengthier chapter.

The Painter must be born, not made; that is, if he has not a natural Genius, all the Learning and Art on Earth cannot make him eminent or tolerable in his Profession. It may be discovered n Children in their Infancy, by their Inclination to be scrawling upon the Wall, or Paper, with whatever they can get: If a Boy is observed to amuse himself in this Manner, without an accidental Impression, such as I mentioned in the first Chapter, it is a plain Indication of a Genius disposed for this Art; which must be early improved; for the Joints and Fingers, if soon used to the Pencil, become pliable, and naturally answer the Dictates of the Mind: whereas, when a Child grows old, before he is taught to handle these delicate Instruments, the Muscles are not easily moved, and he may still retain his Liking and Taste for Painting, but prove a bungling Performer.

“Pencil”, of course, at this time, includes brushes. “Bungler” seems to be one of Campbell’s favorite words. Next we have the hierarchy of painting.

The History Painter is by far the noblest Branch of this useful Art; though we have very few in England that excel or have been eminent in the Part: Sir Godfery Kneller and Sir James Thornhill are most revered by Connoisieurs of our Nation; but these come far short of the Italian Masters.

He goes into a long rant about how much the English have spent on Italian painting over the past decades, including this choice passage:

Nothing goes down but the Works of Foreigners; let our own Hands excel ever so much, their Works do not bring them one Tenth of the Price that is afforded the meanest Italian Bungler. That this Country might produce as good Painters as any other on Earth, if they were equally encouraged, is what no Man in his Wits will deny.

Bunglers again. However, Campbell does acknowledge that the British are good at portrait painting, although even at that, talent is not enough.

Our present Excellence in Painting, consists in the Portrait Way; and in this, all our Neighbours justly yield us the Preheminence. There are as good Prices give, and Pieces as well executed in this Branch as any where on Earth; yet even to prosper in this Business depends oftener upon Chance, or Caprice than real Merit. The good Face-Painter must have the Name of having travelled to Rome; and when he comes Home, he must be so happy as to please some great Personage, who is reputed a Connoisieur, or he remains in continual Obscurity. If he should paint a Cobler, with all the Beauties of Art, and the most glaring Likeness, he must paint only Coblers, and be satisfied with their Price; but if he draws a Duke, or some dignified Person, though his Features should prove so strong that the mere Signpost Dauber could not fail to hit the Likeness, he becomes immediately famous and fixes what Price he pleases on his Work. This undiscerning Foible is a great Discouragement to modest Merit, and must check the Growth of the Art in every Country where it prevails. It is strange that a Nobleman would not pique himself, and take a Pride in searching for and encouraging concealed Worth; since none could remember a Horace but must hear of a Mecaenas, who received more Fame by the Countenance he gave that Poet, than by the high Honours he received from the Emperor of the World.

He goes on to Landskips, and the education required of the painter, before getting to advice to the parents.

By this general View of the liberal Part of this Art, it may be observed, that the true Genius for Painting is rarely to be met with; that the Education equired to compleat the young Student in this Profession, is expensive; and that, after he has attained all the Perfection which Art and his natural Endowments are capable of affording him, his Employment depends upon a happy Introduction to Business by some eminent Patron, and the Continuance of it be a large Acquaintance; therefore Parents ought to be cautious how they plunge a Child into this Business, to depend on it for his Livelihood, wiothout being previously assured that they can go through the Expense, and procure him those Friends to usher his Merit into the Knowledge of the Public. They ought likewise to be satisfied, that the Youth has a healthy Constitution: It does not require a robust Person; but he ought to have no Indication of a Consumption or a pthisicky Disposition, or any nervous Disorder: Persons of this Habit of Body have seldom a steady Hand; and they are apt to be affected by the Smel of the Oyls with which they are daily conversant. A sober Disposition, free from all Excess in the Use of Women of Wine, is absolutely necessary, not only to preserve the Hand from Tremors (the constant Attendant of Debauches of these Kinds) but to keep the Understanding clear and the Judgment unclouded.

I’m sure all London artists heeded these proscriptions, and if your “young student” wants to be an Art major, you have been warned. It’s expensive and uncertain. Some things haven’t changed that much.

Related Posts

Campbell on Education Campbell on Book-Sellers

Campbell on Education

Robert Campbell’s The London Tradesman was published in 1747. As his subtitle stated, he produced “A Compendious view of all the trades, profession, arts, both liberal and mechanic, now practiced in the cities of London and Westminster”. It is a great place to go if you want to know what an Upholder did, or what are the requirements to be a Mantua-maker, “It requires a vast Stock of Patience to bear the Tempers of most of their Customers, and no small Share of Ingenuity to execute their innumerable Whims”. I don’t know how popular his work was at the time, but his compendious view and robust prose have made him one of the go-to guys for commentators on 18th century trade. He does unfurl sentences in an 18th-century manner, though, so quoting him can get extensive quite rapidly. Campbell’s target audience was more than modern scholars. Besides a description of the various trades, he also wanted parents to buy the book to see what trade little Jane of Johnny should go into, “Calculated for the instruction of parents and instruction of youth in choice of business”. To this end he espoused (at length) an interesting philosophy of education. John Locke is often cited as important in the thinking of 18th-century education, but his advice was intended for the upper classes. Campbell was aiming at those whose children would go into trade. His position can be summarized as that all men are created unequal. There are many different trades and they require different skills and inclinations. Different people are differently endowed with tendencies towards different skills and wise parents will observe their children carefully and act accordingly. Chapter One of his work is entitled, “Advice to Parents, to study and improve the Genius, Temper, and Disposition of their Children, before they bind them Apprentices”. Campbell rails against the sad state of parenting in the world, “It must be lamented, that Parents, for the most part, are guided in the Management of their Offspring by a Set of Notions in no measure conducive to promote the great Ends of Life, the Happiness of Society, or the Prosperity of those to whom they have given a wretched Being: Pride, Avarice, or Whim are the chief Consellors of most Fathers, when they are deliberating the most serious Concern in Life, the Settlement of their Children in the World”. To instruct the parents who bought his book in the right way of raising children, Campbell used the metaphor of the garden. Children are like small plants, and the wise gardener trains up different plants according to their strengths and natures.

Man, in all respects, is like a Plant, and requires both in Mind and Body the same Culture and tender Care that is necessary for a mere Vegetable: The skillful Gardener knows the Disposition of his Plan, the Soil proper to nourish it, the Diseases and Casulaties to which it is liable; watches is several Changes, forwards its Growth, or checks its Luxuriancey, as Discretion directs him: In the same manner, the wise and tender Parent endavours to discover the Disposition of his Child, encourages the Grwoth of every Virtue that discovers iteself in its Infant Mind, stifles the Growth of Error, Obstinacy, and Self-Will, checks the luxuriant Over-flowings of Fancy, and gently guides the Understanding to Objects prper for its Enlargement. When the Parent has observed the Mind take a Bent to any particular Study, he ought to be carefule to obbserve if it is the natural Product of the Soul; if it owes its Original to Nature, or to Chance of Accident. Children naturally mimick every Thing they see, and are fond of imitating every Thing new that occurs … When by this String the Parent has found out the Natural Bent of the Mind, and thus distinguished it from the wanton Sallies of the Infant Imagination, of accidental Impressions, they are then to cultivate its Growth, check all Weeds that may stifle it, and guard against all Casulaties that may retard its Perfection. They are by no means to endavour to divert it, but improve it to the bset Advantages; and in its Education study every Thing that may improve it: Nature and Art thus co-operating, the Production must be perfect and arrive at Due Maturity.

There is more, much more, and he fully develops his arguments, of which I have given but a taste here. I find such a stance on eductation in 1747 really quite remarkable. Do read the book: you will not regret the couple of hours you lose dipping into it. You can use the link below.

See also:

Campbell on Book-Sellers