THE CASE OF WILLIAM BENTLEY, Printer at FINSBURY near LONDON, touching his Right to the Printing of BIBLES and PSALMS.

THat in 1644. the late Kings Printers (who before did solely print Bibles at London) were Delinquents in Arms, and no Impressions of Bibles then made: By means whereof the books became very scarce, and the prices very dear: Which gave occasion to the Dutch to print them beyond Seas, and import them hither; but so notoriously false, and erroneous, as that the then Assembly of Divines, taking notice thereof, and desiring to redresse so great a mischief (for the better Communication of the word of God to all sorts of people in its purity) sent for the London Stationers to know at what rates they would undertake to serve the Common-wealth with Bibles & Psalms, who affirmed, they could not, under 4. s. 6. d. per book in quires, and so declined the work.

That thereupon Bentley gave over a very good trade in London, and sold above 40. l. per annum Lands of Inheritance, and for the publick good did, by the favour of the Parliament, erect a Printing-house on purpose, and undertake to furnish the Common-wealth with Bibles and Psalms, (better printed and corrected than any former Editions) in Octavo (with Marginal references) and in twelves, at 2. s. per book. And (finishing five considera­ble Impressions) did accordingly afford the same.

That in 1649. upon the Armies advance to Ireland, Bentley supplied them with 4000 of the said books in Octavo bound up in Leather, at no more than 2. s. 4. d. per book.

And thereupon, and for his former services, The Parliament in the Act for regulating Printing, dated 20. Sept. 1649. made an explicite Proviso, that (notwithstanding the particular Restrictions thereby made) That Act should not extend to the printing Presse at Finsbury, for printing Bibles and Psalms: but that it should continue to all intents and purposes, as if that Act had not been had, or made.

That in 1650. upon the Armies advance to Scotland, Bentley furnished them with 5000 of his said books in Octavo in Quires, at no more than 20. d. per book.

That in 1652. Robert Barker the younger, claiming a title and Interest to the sole printing of the translated Copy of the Bible, called the new Trans­lation, endeavoured to have it confirmed to him by Act of Parliament; And to that end before the passing of the Act 7. Jan. 1652. for reviving the former Act for regulating Printing, put in a Proviso to the House: which being twice read, and after full Debate put to the question was with a Nega­tive Vote cast out (the Parliament no wayes intending to Monopolize the Printing of the Bible.) And the said 7. Jan. upon reading Bentley's Petition to have a Liberty according to his Proviso in the Act 20. Sept. 1649. the Parliament passed the Act, reviving and continuing all the clauses and things of the former. As by the Records of Parliament may appear. By which Bentley's right is Implicitely confirmed, both Acts being relative and con­nexive, and now in force as a Law.

That Bentley provided himself with Letter and Materials for several impressions of Bibles and Psalms, above twelve moneths since, to be afforded at reasonable rates, engaging himself and friends to a very great value.

But by some irregular dealings, and upon misinformation, the Company of Stationers have been enforced the sixth of March last, to make an un­due Entry in their Registry, contrary to their custome, to Henry Hills and John Field (his Highnesse Printers) of that Individual Copy of Barker, which the Parliament rejected, and adjudged as a Monopoly; Notwithstanding, that Bentley and others had put in their Caveats upon better grounds before hand, but never were heard, contrary to all right and equity. Whereby Hills & Field have sought to appropriate to themselves by abusing the Supream Authority, that Book, which is the common Interest, and evidence of all Christians indefinitely, and concern's the State no further than to have it well Translated, and published by a prudential securing the doing of the work by able men in that Mystery; neither ought it to be restrain'd to the Ceremony of an Entry as any mans private Copy, It being (truely Translated) the Word of God and infallible truth, and not to be conceived in the qualification of mens private works, though never so Divine.

That 7. March last, Hills and Field (pretending good service to the Common-wealth) obtained Deputations to themselves from Sir John Barkstead, and Mr. Foxcroft, (his Highnesse Commissioners for regulating of printing) in pursuance of his Highnesse Instructions of 28. August 1655. onely to search for, and seize all scandalous, and unlicensed books and Pamphlets: Who unlawfully, and contrary to the purport of their Deputations, abusing their power by prostituting it to their own private ends, suppresse all printing of the Bible and Testament, by those who were upon the work, or bring them to unreasonable compositions with them; whereby the prices of Bibles and Testaments are very much raised: And in particular the 28. Au­gust last, Hills and Field assisted by some Souldiers, and producing nothing, but the said Deputations, did carry away from Bentleys house the Form and Materials for printing part of the New Testament, and seized the Sheets to his Highnesse use, as if the same were scandalous. And several times before, and since have otherwise wrongfully disturbed him; So that he, his Wife, and 7. Children being debarred of their livelyhood, so advisedly provi­ded, for by the Parliament, are likely to be utterly ruined and undone.

That Bentleys Bibles (being for the fairnesse of the print, and truth of the Editions generally approved of to be the best that ever were printed) are now sold at 8. s. per book in Quires, at the least, by the Book-sellers: And Field hath so far advanced the prices of his Bibles, that he will get above 1500. l. in one bargain, more, than otherwise he could have done, if Bentley was not obstructed. And those singing Psalms which Bentley sold at 2. d. and 3. d. are now sold at 6. d. by the Stationers Company; to the apparent charge and losse of the people as well of the three Nations, as of all the forreign Plantations. And moreover, Bentley during the time that he printed his said Impressions, did constantly keep an able, and Judicious Corre­ctour in his House, and allowed him above 100 Marks per Annum, for his care and pains. But in 1653. Field made an Impression of the Bible and Psalms in 24o;. which for the smalnesse to carry in a pocket, hath sold very much: but it is so egregiously and wilfully false printed, (In which notwith­standing, Field standeth peremptorily to justifie himself, upon this nugatory pretence; that because a society of Stationers having a great stock, did un­der-sell him, he could not bear the charges of the carefull, and well correcting, and printing his books) That if these Texts (amongst many hundreds of other dangerous, and pernicious faults and errours) viz. John 9.21. (wherein these words are omitted) Or who hath opened his eyes, we know not) 1 Cor. 6.9. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the Kingdom of God, Rom. 6.13. Neither yield ye your Members as instruments of righteousnesse unto sin, &c. Rom. 8.3. Rom. 9.29. 1 Cor. 6.15. 2 Epist. Joh. vers. 5. Rev. 22.16.) be all of them severally compared with the true, & Authentick translation, Those Bibles are worthy of some remarkable distinction, to prevent the danger of the losse of many poor ignorant Souls, who ground their belief up­on what they hear, or read, or of others, who being wickedly inclined, will found to themselves a Doctrine of licentiousnesse, by avouching a cor­rupted Text; The very publishing whereof shall bear a kinde of allowance, and approbation of Authority, being past over in silence.

That Hills never yet perfected, or published any Impression of the Bible; And if his knowledge and experience in the Art of printing be duely in­quired into, he may perhaps upon some good grounds, be adjudged no proper qualified person for so serious Employment.

That his Highnesse 2. July last, upon Bentley's Petition referred his right, and matter of fact to be examined, and certified by several honourable and reverend persons: Who 10. Sept. last, after a full hearing have reported in writing their opinion, As to his right to the printing of Bibles and Psalms by virtue of the said Acts of Parliament: But (through the great affairs of the Common-wealth) Bentley hath had no opportunity to present it to his Highnesse.

And whereas a Bill is preparing to be offered to the Parliament by Hills and Field, and the Company of Stationers, to have (according to their pretences of several proprieties) the sole power of printing Bibles and Psalms, and totally to exclude Bentley's Interest so provided for by the said Acts of Parliament. Therefore least any thing should be done for regulating of printing in general, or particular, (being of such grand concernment to this Common-wealth) to his prejudice for want of a true Information of the premises, (which he is ready to make good) Bentley doth humbly pre­sent this to your Honour; And prayes your noble favour and assistance, that he may be truely represented to his Highnesse, and the Parliament, and receive Justice, as to their wisdomes shall seem meet.

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