Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Darling, James

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DARLING, JAMES (1797–1862), bookseller and publisher, was born in Edinburgh in 1797, and in 1809 apprenticed to Adam Black, the well-known publisher. Having completed his term he came to London in 1818 and at once entered the establishment of Ogle, Duncan, & Cochran, 295 High Holborn, who then carried on a trade in theological books, where he had opportunities of increasing his knowledge of literature. Here he remained until 1825, when he commenced business on his own account at Little Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields. For many years he was a member of the Scottish presbyterian church, and was one of the friends of the Rev. Edward Irving; subsequently he joined the church of England. Acting on a suggestion of several clergymen, he in 1839 commenced a library for the use of theological students. It was at first named the Clerical Library and afterwards the Metropolitan Library. Every subscriber of one guinea was to have the privilege of borrowing from the library any volume he pleased, a boon hitherto unheard of, and subscribers were also entitled to make use of the reading-room as a kind of club, papers, reviews, and magazines being liberally supplied. To render the benefit more complete, Darling compiled in 1843 the ‘Bibliotheca Clericalis, or the Catalogue of the Books in the Clerical Library and Reading Rooms, 21, 22, and 23 Little Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Fields,’ a volume of 316 pages, giving an abstract of the contents of all the principal works. The Clerical Library was of admitted usefulness, but not pecuniarily successful. Its contents were sold by auction, and its proprietor resumed his business as a bookseller. In 1851 he brought out the first part of the ‘Cyclopædia Bibliographica, or Library Manual of Theological and General Literature: Authors,’ which, next to Watt and Lowndes, is the most important bibliographical work ever produced in England. The first portion, ‘Authors,’ was completed in 1854. It contains the names of all theological authors of note, gives a short biographical or descriptive notice of their writings, and then an analysis of each volume. The second volume appeared in 1859. It contained ‘Subjects,’ and gave an account of all works bearing upon the scriptures, a list of commentators upon every book, and a list of all the sermons upon every verse of the Bible. The labour of preparing such a book was enormous, but latterly Darling had an able assistant in his son. A promised third volume of ‘General Subjects in Theology’ was never published. Another work bearing his name is ‘Catalogue of Books belonging to Sir William Heathcote at Hursley Park, 1834,’ lithographed in imitation of manuscript. He died at his residence, Fortess Terrace West, Kentish Town, London, on 2 March 1862.

[Bookseller, 29 March 1862, pp. 174–5; Gent. Mag. April 1862, p. 512.]

G. C. B.