Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eaton, Daniel Isaac

EATON, DANIEL ISAAC (d. 1814), bookseller, was indicted before the recorder of London, 3 June 1793, for selling the second part of Paine's ‘Rights of Man,’ and on 10 July following was tried before Lord Kenyon and a special jury in the court of king's bench for selling Paine's ‘Letter addressed to the Addressers.’ On both occasions verdicts equivalent to acquittal were given. In the same year he produced an ironical pamphlet, ‘The Pernicious Effects of the Art of Printing upon Society.’ He edited and published in 1794 ‘Politics for the People, or a Salmagundy for Swine,’ a periodical which ran to twelve numbers. It consists chiefly of miscellaneous extracts, with a few scraps of original matter. The publisher was tried by indictment before the recorder 24 Feb. 1794, for including a story about a game-cock, ‘meaning our lord the king.’ A verdict of ‘not guilty’ was returned. He again appeared before a special jury in 1795 for publishing Pigot's ‘Female Jockey Club,’ but the case was compromised by his counsel. The next year he was tried twice, once for Pigot's ‘Political Dictionary,’ the other time for the ‘Duties of Citizenship.’ To escape punishment he fled the country, was outlawed, and lived in America for three years and a half. On returning to England his person and property were seized, and he underwent fifteen months' imprisonment. Books to the value of 2,800l., packed for the American market, were burnt on his premises. He translated from Helvetius and sold ‘at his Ratiocinatory, or Magazine for Truths and Good Sense, No. 8 Cornhill,’ in 1810, ‘The True Sense and Meaning of the System of Nature.’ ‘The Law of Nature’ had previously been translated by him. In 1811 he issued an edition of the first and second parts of Paine's ‘Age of Reason,’ and on 6 March 1812 was tried before Lord Ellenborough and a special jury for issuing the third and last part. He was found guilty and ultimately sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment and to stand in the pillory, when, ‘to the credit of the populace, instead of saluting him with what his prosecutors desired, they cheered, and even endeavoured to convey him some refreshment’ (Newgate Monthly Calendar, 1825, i. 292). He brought out a pamphlet, ‘Extortions and Abuses in Newgate, exhibited in a memorial presented to the Lord Mayor, 15 Feb. 1813,’ and in the same year ‘A Continuation of the “Ago of Reason.”’ He has sometimes been credited with ‘Ecce Homo,’ translated from ‘Histoire Critique de Jésus-Christ’ of the Baron d'Holbach, which, although it bears his imprint at Ave Maria Lane in 1813 (while he was in Newgate), was either the work of Joseph Webb (Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. x. 297) or Houston (Newgate Monthly Magazine, i. 292). Eaton was tried for the publication, but not brought up for judgment in consideration of his advanced age.

He died in poverty at his sister's house in Deptford 22 Aug. 1814. An engraved portrait is prefixed to his report of the ‘Trial for Publishing the third part of Paine's “Age of Reason,”’ 1812.

[Eaton published reports of several of his trials. To some a page of advertisements of his publications is appended. See also Howell's State Trials, xxii. 753–822, xxiii. 1013–54, xxxi. 927–958. Some biographical information is to be found in an appeal for subscriptions addressed by him from Newgate, and printed at the end of Fréret's Preservative against Religious Prejudices, 1812; see also Gent. Mag. September 1814, p. 295; European Mag. September 1814, p. 276; Biog. Dict. of Living Authors, 1816, pp. 105, 427; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. x. 232, 296, 396.]

H. R. T.