The Press In 18th Century

In September, 1768 the following notice was found affixed to the Council Hall and other public places of Calcutta. To The Public: “Mr. Bolts takes this method of informing the public that the want of a printing press in this city being a great disadvantage in business and making extremely difficult to communicate with intelligence to the community, as is of importance to every British subject, he is ready to give the best encouragement to any person or persons who are versed in the business of printing, to manage a press, the types and utensils of which he can produce.

In the meantime, he begs chance to inform the public that having in manuscript things to communicate, which most intimately concern every individual and persons who may be induced by curiosity or other more laudible motives, will be permitted at Mr. Bolts’ house to read or to take copies of the same. A person will give due attendance at the hourse from ten to twelve any morning”.

Those who read it before the council took it down, must have been puzzled by the appearance among the general notices and advertisements. It was fairly common knowledge that Mr. Boltsf ex-servant of the East India Company, and olderman or judge of the \f|yor’s Court of Calcutta, was about to be deported. A ship had been detained in port to cariry Mr. “Bolts back to England and the captain of the vessel was vexed; on both sides by the Council’s pressure and the intimidations of Mr. Bolts. Nor was there any indication as to how Mr. Bolts proposed in the very few days left to him to get together a printing press.

At any rate, Mr. Bolts was forcibly removed to a local port and taken away from India and nothing came to his offer. The hero of this drama, William Bolts, was remarkable individual even for those times which abounded in adventure. A Dutch by birth, he had, at the age at which the English East India Company recruited its writers, joined a British Merchant House in London.

Later, he has gone to Lisbon, where he worked in an English business house/ Losing everything in the Lisbon earth-quake of 1755-Bolts applied for a factor’s post in the Company. The Bengal service had Sufered serious depletion as a result of the hostilities around Calcutta. On reaching India, he learnt Bengali language, an unusual choice, since the company’s servants were satisfied to gain a small knowledge of Persian or “Hindusutani” the early stage of Urdu.

His undoubted talent helped him in acquiring of a fortune of about 90 thousand pounds by private trade in collaboration with other two members of the Bengal Council, John Johnstone and William Hayes. ^ Thus, the first attempt to install a printing press or to start a newspaper failed before its maturity, or it can be said, if one is allowed to use the medical terminology that the proposed first newspaper of India suffered a miscarriage”.

Posted in: Journalism

Leave a Comment