In Making of a Great Power (Chs 22-3) reference was made to the voracious appetite of the reading public in post-Revolution England: and in particular to its taste for political propaganda and for religious controversy. Without this appetite and the ceaseless effusions of those who fed it it is hard to believe that the strife of parties, whether in church or state, would have been so passionate and abandoned, or its influence so pervasive, from the Exclusion period down to the 1720s. It is unlikely, too, that in the next decade opposition to the Walpole regime could have been whipped up so effectively (Ch. 5); that extra-parliamentary political life would have grown rather than declined in vigour after the great age of party conflict was over (Chs. 3,21), or that violent popular passions could have been so readily aroused at street level over such matters as Excise, the Jew Bill or Catholic relief (Ch. 12). With these things in mind two very material questions suggest themselves. How large, roughly, was this English reading public? And what educational provision existed in the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries for creating it and, subsequently, preparing its members for the diverse roles they would ultimately play in society and the economy? From these questions a natural next step is to consider briefly those who wrote for this public, and the growth and influence of the press and publishing trade which enabled the writers to communicate with it. It was not, of course, only news, information, comment and propaganda which they purveyed. As weIl as aiming to inform and proselytise for political or religious ends, they also communicated ideas, at greater depth, or they sought either to entertain or instruct their public - themes to which the next chapter will return.