"St. Paul's Walk" and the "Paul's Walkers": the "Darknet" of Print and Manuscript Culture in Elizabethan and Jacobean London

    Everyone on the Internet knows that Francis Osborne (1593-1656) wrote this in his memoir of London during the reigns of Elizabeth I, Charles I, and Charles II:

It was the fashion of those times, and did so continue till these . . . for the principal gentry, lords, courtiers, and men of all professions not merely mechanic, to meet in Paul's Church by eleven and walk in the middle aisle till twelve, and after dinner from three to six, during which times some discoursed on business, others of news. Now in regard of the universal there happened little that did not first or last arrive here...And  those news-mongers, as they called them, did not only take the boldness to weigh the public but most intrinsic actions of the state, which some courtier or other did betray to this society. Amongst whom divers being very rich had great sums owing them by such as stood next the throne, who by this means were rendered in a manner their pensioners. So as I have found little reason to question the truth of which I heard then, but much to confirm me in it.

        To read some of the 350+ surviving "libels" or scurrilous satirical poems, visit Early Stuart Libels, a site produced by the Early Modern Literature group.

        If you search the 'net for "Paul's Walkers" you will find that numerous sites have copied-and-pasted the identical passage, all seemingly originating in Wikipedia's entry for "St. Paul's" which cites the 9th edition of Osborne's collected works.  Because you are scholars working at Goucher, you can go further if you are curious about how this human-powered, voice and paper and parchment network operated.  A rare copy of Osborne's book,  from the collection of James Wilson Bright, is located in Special Collections, and the book has the distinction to have been owned by Joseph Mazzini Wheeler, a famous Victorian atheist and free-thinker:

The works of Francis Osborn esq : divine, moral, historical, political. In four several tracts. Viz. I. Advice to a son, in two parts. 2. Political reflections on the government of the Turks, &c. 3. Memoires on Q. Elizabeth and K. James. 4. A miscellany of essays, paradoxes, problematical discourses, letters, characters, &c
London : Printed, and are to be sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, 1689.
The ninth edition.
LOCATION Call No. Status
Special Collections PR3607 .O7 1689   LIB USE ONLY
[12], 628 p. ; 20 cm. (8vo)
Signatures: A-Z8, Aa-Rr8.
Numerous errors in paging.
Title within double line border. Marginal notes.
"Advice to a son", parts 1 and 2, "Political reflections upon the government of the Turks", and "Historical memoires of the reigns of Q. Elizabeth and King James" each has special title-page, the last two dated 1683.
Purchase; James Wilson Bright; 1926 45790
Provenance: Goucher copy has autograph of Joseph Mazzini Wheeler, A5r
Goucher copy bound in full calf, blind-tooling, Cambridge style.
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