University of Virginia Library


The list of books printed by Richardson given in Professor Sale's Samuel Richardson: Master Printer (Ithaca, 1950) is so comprehensive that random and incidental additions would be of little use. The following title, however, deserves special consideration:

The / Matchless Rogue: / Or, An / Account / of the / Contrivances, Cheats, Stratagems and Amours / of / Tom Merryman, / commonly called / Newgate Tom: / Who Stiled Himself, / Baron of Bridewell, Viscount of New-Prison, / Earl of Holborn-Hill, Marquiss of Newgate, / And Duke of Tyburn. / With / A particular Detail of his Life and Actions, both / Comical and Tragical, from the Time of his / Birth in Newgate, to the Hour of his Unhap-/py Exit at Tyburn. / [Rule] / [Motto] / [Rule] / London: / Printed for A. Moore, near St. Paul's. MDCCXXV. / [Price 1s. 6d.]
The presence of Sale's ornaments 20, 29, and 65, with identifying defects, shows that this fictionalized criminal biography is from Richardson's press. The name of the pamphletshop proprietor A. Moore appears in the imprint of a few other early pieces of Richardson's printing. I have examined copies of The Matchless Rogue in the Newberry Library and the British Museum, but it is not listed by Arundell Esdaile.

Before Pamela, Richardson seems to have printed very few works that can be classified as prose fiction. Sale's findings give us, besides Ramsay's Travels of Cyrus and an abridgement of Gulliver, only Defoe's New Family Instructor, and, in part, the New Voyage Round the World and Religious Courtship. The eighty-seven pages of The Matchless Rogue carry Tom through a series of varied and disconnected adventures to his final condemnation. The Preface emphasizes the intention to convey a moral with every incident, whether related in "a Serious, Ludicrous, Tragical, or Comical Manner." For example, "The unhappy tale of the Mercer's Daughter, ought to caution all young Women from giving Credit to the Promises; nay, even to the Oaths of deluding Men" (p. v). A passage on the importance of paying heed to dreams as warnings sent by Providence (pp. 52-53) may be imitative of Defoe. Nine years later Richardson in his Apprentice's


Page 215
Vade Mecum expressed his disapproval of Newgate characters on the stage.[1] Despite the professed didactic intention of The Matchless Rogue, there is nothing here that he could not have got elsewhere and little of which he could have approved, but the existence of this ignoble little story helps us to realize that his work as a printer gave him an enforced familiarity with the popular fiction of the day.