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Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive 

in 2007 witli funding from 

IVIicrosoft Corporation 



littp://www.arcliive.org/details/caxtonartofprintOOIonduoft 



THE MONTHLY VOLUME, 

OCCASIONALLY ILLUSTRATED WITH ENGRAVINGS, AND CON- 
TAINING ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY-TWO PAGES, IN A 
GOOD, BOLD TYPE. 

SIXPENCE, IN FANCY PAPER COVERS. 
TENPENCE, IN CLOTH BOARDS, GILT EDGES. 



" I never wanted articles on religious subjects half so much as 
articles on common subjects, written with a decidedly Christian 
tone."— Dr. Arnold. 



The Committee of the Religious Tract Society have 
resolved to publish a volume every month, adapted to the new 
development and growing intelligence of the times. This 
series, with the exception of a few reprints, will be Original; 
from the pens of authors of ability in their respective depart- 
ments in literature and science:— Scriptural ; in the prin- 
ciples in which they are written :— Popular; in their style; so 
that instead of being limited to one class of the community, 
they may be generally acceptable:— Portable ; that they may 
serve as " hand-books " abroad and at home :— and Economical ; 
the twelve volumes of a year costing less than three half-pence 
per week. Thus while the MONTHLY SERIES will be fully 
adapted to the educated Families of our laud, to Day and 
Sunday Schools, and to the Libraries of mechanics and 
others, they will supply interesting and valuable reading to a 
large number of the people, who can only spare time enough 
for the perusal of a small volume, and whose means will not 
allow of a more costly -purchase. 



1. THE LIFE OF JULIUS CESAR. 

2. GLIMPSKS OF THE DARK AGES. 

3. WILD FLOWERS OF THE YEAH. 

4. JAMAICA, ENSLAVED AND FREE. 

5. OUR SONG BIRDS. By W. Martin, Esq. 

6. SOLAR SYSTEM. Part I. By Dr. Dick. 

7. THE TASK AND OTHER POEMS. By Wm. Cowper, Esq. 

8. SKETCHES OF THE WALUENSES. 

9. SOLAR SYSTEM. Part II. By Dr. Dick. 

10. LIFE OF LUTHER. 

11. BLIGHTS of the WHEAT. By the Rev. E. Sidney, m.a. 

12. ANCIENT JERUSALEM. By Dr. Kitto. 

13. PHILOSOPHY OF THE PLAN OF SALVATION. 



£i THE EELIGIOUS TEACT SOCIETY. 

14. MAN, IN HIS PHYSICAL, INTELLECTUAL, SOCIAL, 

AND MORAL RELATIONS. By W. Newnham, Esq. 

15. MODERxN JERUSALEM. By Dr. Kitto. 

16. LIFE OF CYRUS. 

17. GARDEN FLOWERS OF THE YEAR. 

18. DAWN OF MODERN CIVILIZATION. 

19. LIFE OF LADY RUSSELL. 

20. OUR DOMESTIC FOWLS. By W. Martin, Esq. 

21. TRUTH, AND OTHER POEMS. By Wm. Cowper, Esq. 

22. LIFE OF MOHAMMED. 

23. SKETCHES OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. 

24. THE CAVES OF THE EARTH. 

25. E.\IINENT MEDICAL MEN. 

26. LIFE OF MARTIN BOOS. 

27. SELF-IMPROVEMENT. 

28. COMPARISONS OF STRUCTURE IN ANIMALS. By W. 

Martin, Esq. 

29. PROTESTANTISM IN FRANCE. Part I. 

30. MAGIC, PRETENDED MIRACLES, etc. 

31. THE ATMOSPHERE AND ITS PHENOxMENA. ByDr.DiCK. 

32. SCHOOLS OF ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY. 

33. THE LIFE OF CRANMER. 

34. THE ORIGIN AND PROGRESS OF LANGUAGE. 

35. OUR ENGLISH BIBLE. 

36. THE TAHTAR TRIBES. By Dr. Kitto. 

37. LIFE OF NAPOLEON BONAPARTE. ^ 
33. PROTESTANTISM IN FRANCE. Part II. 

39. THE ARCTIC REGIONS By Captain Scoresby. 

40. THE COURT OF PERSIA. By Dr. Kitto. 

41. THE NORTHERN WHALE-FISHERY. By Captain 

Scoresby. 

42. THE CRUSADES. 

43. LIFE OF JOHN KASPAR LAVATER. 

44. LIFE'S LAST HOURS; or, THE FINAL TESTIMONY. 

45. THE PEOPLE OF PERSIA. By Dr. Kitto. 

46. LIFE OF ALFRED THE GREAT. 

47. PLANTS AND TREES OF SCRIPTURE. 

48. CHARACTERS, SCENES, AND INCIDENTS OF THE 

REFORMATION. Part I. 

49. BRITISH FISH AND FISHERIES. By W. Martin, Esq. 

50. CHARACTERS, etc., OF THE REFORMATION. Part II. 

51. THE SENSES AND THE MIND. 

52. THE GEOGRAPHY OF PLANTS. 

53. LIVES OF EMINENT ANGLO-SAXONS. Part I. 

54. LIFE AND TIMES OF LEO X. 

55. THE JORDAN AND THE DEAD SEA. 

56. GOOD HEALTH. 

57. lONA. 

58. LIVES OF EMINENT ANGLO-SAXONS. Part II. 

59. ANCIENT EG^PT. 

60. LONDON IN THE OLDEN TIME. 



THE MONTHLY VOLUME. 3 

61. IDUMjEA: with a Survey of Arabia and the Arabians. 

62. BABYLON AND THE BANKS OF THE EUPHRATES. 

63. NINEVEH AND THE TIGRIS. 

64. LIVES OF THE POPES. Part I. 

65. LONDON IN MODERN TIMES. 

66. MINES AND MINING. 

67. THE TELESCOPE AND MICROSCOPE. By Dr. Dick. 

68. THE JESUITS: A Historical Sketch. 

69. LIFE OF SIR ISAAC NEWTON. 

70. THE BRITISH NATION: Its Arts AND MANUFACTURES. 

71. LIFE AND TIMES OF JOHN DE WYCLIFFE. 

72. REMARKABLE DELUSIONS. 

73. LIVES OF THE POPES. Part II. 

74. VOLCANOES. 

75. JAMES WATT AND THE STEAM ENGINE. 

76. THE ANCIENT BRITISH CHURCH. 

77. THE PALM TRIBES AND THEIR VARIETIES. 

78. LIFE AND TIMES OF CHARLE.VIAGNE. 

79. WONDERS OF ORGANIC LIFE. 

80. TYRE: Irs Rise, Glory, and Desolation. 

Other Volumes are in course of preparation. 



Of the foregoing Series the following Double Volumes are 
formed, with engraved Frontispiece, 1*. 6d. each, cloth boards. 

Cowper's Task, Truth, and other Poems. 

Dr. Kitto's Ancient and Modern Jerusalem. 

Dr. Dick's Solar System. 

The Garden and Wild Flowers of the Year. 

Dark Ages and Dawn of Modern Civilization. 

Our Domestic Fowls and Song Birds. 

The French Revolution and Napoleon Bonaparte. 

Protestantism in France. 

The Arctic Regions and Northern Whale-fishery. 

By Captain Scoresby. 
Dr. Kitto's Court and People of Persia. 
Characters, Scenes, AND 1ncidents,ofthe Reformation. 
Eminent Anglo-Saxons. 

London; or, Skktches of the Great Metropolis. 
Babylon and Nineveh. 
Ancient Egypt and louMiSA. 
The Caves and Mines of the Earth. 



The Committee of the Religious Tract Society look with 
confidence to their friends, to aid them in widely distributing 
their Monthly Volume in Families, Schools, and General 
Libraries; while they entreat on this effort the effectual 
blessing of Almighty God. 



4 THE BELIGIOTJS TEACT SOCIETY. 

NEW SEEIES OF BOOKS. 

The Committee of the Religious Tract Society have long been 
convinced that a new series of Books for Schools and Families 
was greatly needed. Many of the works now in use have much 
merit, but they are generally destitute of that truth by which 
alone the understanding can be enlightened, the heart renovated, 
and the feet guided in "the paths of peace." It is to provide 
books adapted to supply this deficiency that the present effort 
is made. The pens of several esteemed writers have been secured 
for this series. 

In works of History, the object will be carefully to exclude 
those details which are objectionable, and to view all events as 
under the control of Divine Providence. In Biography, the con- 
duct of men will be estimated, not by the maxims of this world, 
as in most other publications, but by the only infallible standard, 
the word of God. In every book of general instruction, sound 
information will be imparted, on decidedly Christian principles. 

The following have been published, in 12mo., strongly bound 
in cloth, sprinkled edges. 

THE HISTORY OF ROME, with Maps, 3*. 

THE HISTORY OF GREECE, with Map, 2*. 6rf. 

LIVES OF ILLUSTRIOUS GREEKS, 3*. 

PaLEY'S EVIDENCES OF CHRISTIANITY, with Introduc- 
tion, Notes, and Supplement, by the Rev. T. R. Birks, a.m., 3*. 

PALEY'S HOR^ PAULINiE; with HORiE APOSTOLICiE, 
by the Rev. T. R. Birks, a.m., 3*. 

A UNIVERSAL GEOGRAPHY, in Four Parts: Historical, 
Mathematical, Physical, and Political. By the Rev. Thomas 
MiLNER, F.B.G.s. Ten Coloured Maps. 5*. 



A History of England, and other works, are in progress. 



Each volume wiU be complete in itself, printed in a good type. 
*»* These works will also be found worthy of the perusal of 
students and general readers. 

RELIGIOUS TRACT SOCIETY, 56, PATERNOSTER ROW, AND 65, 

ST. PAUL'S churchyard; and sold by the booksellers. 



CAXTON 



THE AET or FEINTING. 



C AXTON 



AST* 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 



> LONDON: 

THE 3JELIGI0US TKACT SOCIETY j 

JnttUuted 1799. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. 

Page 
Cylinders, the records of Babylon and Persepolis— Stamps 
used by the ancient Romans — Stencils employed m 
writing— Anticipation of the art of printing by the 
Chinese— Monog;rams — Story of the Cunios— The Ger- 
man figure-cutters— Print of St. Christopher from a 
wood-block — Various materials used to receive im- 
pressions—The papyrus— A portion of the Book of 
Psalms written on this substance— Parchment— The 
writinnf of ancient manuscripts — Palimpsests — Costli- 
ness and rarity of manuscripts—" The Silver Book "— 
Cotton paper — Paper from linen rags — Early instances 
of its use— Books of images— "The Poor Man's Bible" 
—Labours of Laurentius Coster— Gutten berg, Fust, and 
Schoefter— The first printed Bible— The value of the 
Sacred Scriptures 7 

CHAPTER II. 

The Weald of Kent— Birth of William Caxton— Oppres- 
sive law of Henry iv.— A school in the Weald— The 
Company of Stationers — English literature in early 
times— Proclamation for abolishing the French language 
— Travels of sir John Mandeville— The literature of the 
middleages— Tiiecarly trade in books— Geo ftrey Chaucer 
— Caxton's acquaintance with his writings — His appren- 
ticeship to Robert Large — Caxton, a Commissioner — His 
service to the duchess of Burgundy— Translation and 
printing of bis first work 47 

CHAPTER III. 

Settlement of Caxton in England— The story of Atkyns— 
The first press set up in Westminster— Caxton's first 
book, " The Game of Chess "—His other w orks-Cax- 
ton's patron the earl of Rivers— Why did he not print 
the Scriptures ? C8 

CHAPTER IV. 

Wyken do Worde— Extension of the art of printing— The 
first books— Blaew's improvement of the printing-press 
— Aldus Manutius — The Estiennes or Stephenes — 
Wolfe, the first king's printer- Immediate rcsnlts of 
the art of pnnting— Advancement of literature , . 88 



IV CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER V. 

Page 
Restrictions placed on the press— Bull of pope Pius iv.— 
The Congregation of the index — The Index Expurgato- 
rius — Singular results — Aonio Paleario — Hisiury of his 
book, "The Benefit of Christ's Death "—Whitgift's 
complaint to queen Elizabeth — Decrees of the Star 
Chamber — Incompetency of licensers of the press — 
Works seriously mutilated— Milton on the Liberty of the 
Press— freedom of the press in the reign of WiUiam iii. 
—State of the press on the continent of Europe . . 109 

CHAPTER VI. 

Facilities for publication— Singular collection of contro- 
versial tracts— Origin of newspapers— The Gazeta of 
Venice— News fiist wiitten— The correspondent of the 
wealthy— The "English Mercuric" a forgery— "The 
Weekly Newes" — Nathaniel Butler — Increase of news- 
papers — Marchmont Needham— The British essayists — 
Ichabod Dawks — The first magazine — The first review — 
Rapid composition — The newspaper office — Slow com- 
position— \arious examples— John Foster . . .124 

CHAPTER VII. 

Contrast between the printing-office of Caxton and a 
modern typographical establishment — Type-founding — 
William Caslon — Chief improvements in the style of 
typography— The compositor at work— The reader- 
Pressmen — Old fashioned press — Improvements by the 
earl of Stanhope— Baskerville's improvement of ink — 
Invention of inking cylinders — Stereotype— Logographic 
printing — Machine printing — Mr. William Nicholson — 
Printing by steam — Various improvements— Galvanic 
printing-press- Fourdrinier's patent for continuous 
lengths of paper— Curiosities of printing— 1 he Great 
Exhibition of 1851 144 

CHAPTER VIII. 

Marts for books— St. Paul's Churchyard— A Contrast- 
Little Britain— Paternoster Row— Pernicious produc- 
tions of the press— Religious Tract Society . . .181 



I 



CAXTON 



THE AET OP PRINTINa. 



CHAPTER I. 

Cylinders, the records of Babylon and Persepolis— Stamps 
used by the ancient Romans— Stencils employed in writing 
—Anticipation of the art of printing by the Chinese — 
Monooframs— Story of the Cunios — The German figure- 
cutters— Print of St. Christopher from a wood-block- 
Various materials used to receive impressions— The papyrus 
— A portion of the Book of Psalms written on this sub- 
stance — Parchment — The writing^ of ancient manuscripts — 
Palimpsests — Costliness and rarity of manuscripts — "The 
Silver Book "—Cotton paper— Paper from linen rags— Early 
instances of its use— Books of images— "The Poor Man's 
Bible "—Labours of Laurentius Coster— Guttenberg, Fust, 
and Schoeffer— The first printed Bible— The value of the 
Sacred Scriptures. 

It is accordant with the all-wise providence of 
God to suspend the bestowal of an inestimable 
benefit, not merely during the lapse of years, 
but of ages. Of this the art of navigation pre- 



8 CAXTON AND 

scnts a rcmarkcible instance. In the youth of 
the world, the trunk of a tree, hollowed out, 
formed, most probably, the first canoe. Slow 
were the advances towards the structure of 
a merchant- vessel, and even when that point 
was gained, much remained to be accomplished. 
The invariable time for sailing was summer, 
when the heavens were genial and the light of 
day was longer than the darkness of night. 
Except with a smooth sea and a fair wind, mari- 
ners could not venture out of sight of land, lest 
they should be drifted about over the apparently 
interminable waste of waters till they perished. 
Unless, too, under very favourable circum- 
stances, they did not continue sailing during 
the night, but, anchoring in some cove or shel- 
tered spot, drew up their vessels on the beach, 
and gave themselves to repose until the orb of 
day once more arose on the earth. As, however, 
the knowledge of astronomy advanced, and 
various observations of the heavenly bodies 
were made and collected, the situations and 
bearings of places were imperfectly sur- 
mised. The loadstone at last, with its mar- 
vellous powers, was discovered, and very 
gradually, navigation attained its present en- 
lightened and enterprising condition. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 9 

In a somewhat analogous manner was the 
art of printing imparted to mankind. " The 
images of men's wits," says lord Bacon, 
" remain unmaimed in books for ever, exempt 
from the injuries of time, being capable of per- 
petual renovation. Neither can they be pro- 
perly called images, because they cast forth 
seeds in the minds of men, raising and pro- 
ducing infinite actions and opinions in succeed- 
ing ages ; so that if the invention of a ship was 
thought so noble and wonderful, which trans- 
ports riches and merchandise from place to 
place, and consecrates the most distant regions 
in participation of their fruits and commodities 
— how much more are letters to be magnified, 
which, as ships passing through the vast seas of 
time, connect the remotest ages of wits aixl in- 
ventions in mutual traffic and correspondence." 
Lord Bacon's observation is a correct one ; yet, 
as thousands of years elapsed after the infancy 
of the human race, before any of them were 
borne along by — 

" the heaven-conducted prow 

Of navigation bold, that fearless brayes 
The burning line, or dares the wintry pole," 

•'-SO, lis we shall now proceed to show, similar 
cycles of years revolved before the art of print- 
2 



10 CAXTON AND 

ing arose, and became an engine of incalculable 
power. 

In the library of Trinity College, Cambridge,, 
there is an object on which an intelligent 
stranger will look with peculiar attention. It 
is a solid figure, about seven inches high, and 
three inches in diameter at each end, increasing 
gradually in circumference from the extremities 
to the middle, and thus bearing some resem- 
blance to the form of a wine-cask. On its 
surface are inscribed characters, very minutely 
and finely wrought, and arranged in vertical 
lines. These may be easily examined as the 
visitor causes the object to revolve on its marble 
pedestal ; while, if he be a lover of antiquity, 
his interest will be heightened by the considera- 
tion that it is probably not less than four 
thousand years old. 

The article in question has long been re- 
garded, on satisfactory grounds, as a cylinder 
found amidst. the ruins of Babylon or Persepolis, 
and it furnishes a specimen of one of the modes 
adopted in ancient times of preserving memo- 
rials of matters of national or family import- 
ance. In its date as well as in its use it is 
analogous to those Babylonian bricks of which 
there are so many specimens preserved ; but its 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 11 

rounded surface fitted it to contain a multipli- 
city of items much more compactly than a flat 
tablet could have done, while its figure preserved 
it also from injuries to which other objects were 
liable. Here, then, is an example belonging 
to a remote age of an indented surface, produced 
by some applied means of impression. 

Roman antiquities furnish us with a specimen 
of an impression of a different kind, and in a 
more advanced stage. Jn the British Museum, 
there is a metallic stamp, the letters of which, 
as well as the border, are cut in relief. At the 
back of it is a ring, answering the purpose of a 
handle, or perhaps intended to enable the owner 
to wear it as a signet. Its inscription is com- 
prised in two lines ; the letters of which are 
Roman capitals, well proportioned, but neither 
spaced nor divided, according to the practice in 
our own times. As the letters are reversed, the 
inscription is nearly as follows : — 

CICAECILI 
HERMIAE.SN. 

Which would be thus given according to the 
modern practice : — 

C. I. CiECILII HERMIyE SIGNUM. 
Caii Julii decUii Hermiae Signum. 

This signet of Caius Julius Ciecilius Hermlas 



12- CAXTON AND 

resembled in some respects the rings of the an- 
cient Romans, the figures engraved on which were 
employed for the same purposes as those upon 
modern seals. The ring of a Roman emperor 
was indeed a kind of state seal, allowed some- 
times to be used by persons who were specially 
appointed to be his representatives, and the 
keeping of which, like that of the great seal of 
our own country, was intrusted to a particular 
officer. The engravings on seals of a more or- 
dinary character were very various ; sometimes 
there was the name of its owner, at others there 
were portraits of ancestors, or friends ; figures 
connected with the popular mythology, and the 
worship of the gods ; while in many instances, 
a person had engraved on his seal symbol- 
ical allusions to the real or fabulous history of 
his family. Accustomed, then, as the ancients 
were to make impressions with their seals, it seems 
strange that printing, which is but the application 
in a more extended form of an analogous pro- 
cess, did not suggest itself to their minds. That 
they had very nearly caught the idea is indeed 
evident from the following circumstance. 

The signet of Hermias above alluded to 
was obviously designed for stamping the letters 
it contained, on parchment or some other 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 10 

flexible substance, as it is not adapted to make 
an impression on lead or any kind of metal. 
The rim and letters being exactly of the same 
height, and the part which has been cut away 
being very rough and uneven in point of 
depth, the signet must have been used to mark 
with ink on some small surface. Had it been 
designed to make an impression on wax, the 
part cut aAvay would certainly have been rai- 
dered as smooth and even as possible. The ex- 
periment of taking an impression from it on 
paper with modern printers' ink, has indeed 
actually been tried, and found to answer re- 
markably well. Thus it is apparent that the 
germ at least of printing was possessed by the 
ancient liomans. They needed only to have 
made a stamp, with lines three or four times as 
long, and containing twenty lines instead of two, 
to have formed a frame of types which would 
have printed a whole page. The embryo of 
this wondrous art, however, remained in their 
possession from age to age undeveloped ; it 
was the will of Providence that its full discovery 
should be reserved for a more important period 
of the world's history. 

Another practice in use amongst the Romans 
was also, we might suppose, well calculated to 



14 CAXTON AND 

suggest the art of printing to their minds. 
Quintilian, when alluding to the education of 
youth, thus expresses himself: — "When the 
boy has begun to trace the forms of the letters, 
it will be useful for him to have the letters of 
the tablet engraved, that through them, as 
through furrows, he may draw his style. For 
thus he will neither make mistakes, being pre- 
vented by the edges on both sides, nor will he 
be able to go beyond the proper bound, and by 
tracing quickly and frequently certain forms, 
he will strengthen his joints, and will not need 
the assistance of some one to put his hand 
above his own and guide it." * It is clear from 
this passage that the Eomans were acquainted 
with a method similar in principle to that on 
which the art of stencilling is founded. 

According to Procopius, the emperor Justin i., 
who lived in the sixth century, had a tablet of 
wood perforated, through which he traced in 
red ink the first four letters of his name. A 
plate of gold is stated to have been used in the 
same way, and for the same purpose, by Theo- 
doric, king of the Ostrogoths. 

The Chinese anticipated all other nations in 
the art of printing nearly a thousand years ago ; 
* Quintiliani Instit. Orator. 



THE ART OF PRINTIKG. 15 

the ruler Tang having ordered a work called 
the " Nine Classics" to be engraved, printed, 
and sold generally. The species of typography 
adopted by them is simpler, less costly, and, 
until recent improvements, more expeditious 
than our own. As their language consists 
principally of arbitrary characters, they have 
not considered it necessary either to cast or to 
cut an assortment of types, to be set up, worked 
off, distributed, and re-composed, but prefer 
cutting the characters on a block of wood, and 
using as many blocks for any particular work 
as there are separate pages. 

So few changes have the arts in China under- 
gone, that we can observe in the practice of the 
Chinese printer, at the present time, the pro- 
cess adopted by his ancestors in a remote age. 
He first writes out the page intended to be 
printed, and when this is done lays it on a 
block of wood, which is prepared to receive it, 
having been previously smoothly planed, and 
covered with a glutinous paste. After the paper 
has been affixed to the block it is rubbed till it 
is quite dry. It is then as much as possible 
removed, when the letters appear on the wood in 
an inverted form, somewhat ^im]j at first, but 
brought out fully and vividly by the application 
of oil. 



36 CAXTON AND 

The engraving of the block now begins. The 
workman cuts straight down by the sides of the 
letters, from top to bottom, clearing the spaces 
between the lines, with the exception of the 
stops. He proceeds then to the oblique strokes, 
and cuts the perpendicular ones throughout 
the entire line ; thus preventing the loss of 
time which would arise from turning the 
block round for every letter. He now pro- 
ceeds to the central parts, and the page, 
although it usually contains five hundred cha- 
racters, is speedily completed. His ordinary 
remuneration is equal to sixpence of English 
money for one hundred characters. 

The implements of the Chinese printer con- 
sist of a brush, a pot of liquid ink, a piece of 
wood bound round with the fibrous parts of a 
species of palm, to serve as a rubber, and a 
pile of paper ; — all placed on a table. The 
block is inked with the brush, a sheet of dry 
paper is then placed upon it, over this the 
rubber is rapidly passed once or twice ; and 
thus sheet after sheet is produced until the 
whole number required is worked off. With 
this extremely simple apparatus, three thou- 
sand impressions may be printed in a day. 

It has been supposed by some that the art of 



THE ABT OF PRINTING. 17 

engraving wood blocks, and of taking impres- 
sions from them, must have been introduced 
into Europe from China, but there is no neces- 
sity for adopting this theory. At an early 
period, marks called monograms, consisting of 
the initials of the names of individuals, or of other 
short arbitrary figures, similar to those which 
may be seen stamped on bales of goods, were 
in common use. Blocks for the purpose of 
stamping these were invented, and the transi- 
tion from this point to the invention of block^ 
for engraving was an easy and simple process. 
It was also a frequent practice in Europe from 
the twelfth to the fifteenth century to impress 
inked stamps on paper. If, indeed, the follow- 
ing account is to be credited, a still further 
stride in the art of engraving and printing had 
been made. 

Papillon, in his " Traite cle la Gravure en 
BoiSy^ tells a story of his seeing a work describ- 
ing the deeds of Alexander the Great, executed 
by Alexander Alberic Cunio, knight, and 
Isabella Cunio, his twin sister, and finished by 
them when they were only sixteen years of 
age, at the time when Honorius iv. was 
pope ; that is, at the period between the years 
1285 and 1287. Papillon adds, that the 



18 CAXTON AND 

following words among others were coarsely 
engraved on the block which formed the 
frontispiece, in bad Latin, or ancient Gothic 
Italian, with many abbreviations. "To our 
illustrious and generous father and mother, by 
us Alexander Alberic Cunio, knight, and 
Isabella Cunio, brother and sister, first reduced, 
imagined, and attempted to be executed in 
relief with a little knife, on blocks of wood, then 
joined and smoothed by his learned and beloved 
sister, and finished at Kavenna, after eight pic- 
tures of our designing, painted six times the size 
here represented, cut, explained in verse, and 
thus marked on paper to multiply the number, 
and to enable us to present them as a token of 
friendship and affection to our relations and 
friends." The narrative thus given by Papillon 
is interesting, and if established, would assign 
the Cunios a high place in the history of the 
typographical art; but, though its truth is 
asserted by Mr. Otley, in his celebrated work 
on the subject, strong reasons are advanced by 
others for doubting the credibility of the story. 
From the cheapness ot playing cards, which 
were used not only in the higher, but the lower 
ranks in the fourteenth century, it has been 
conjectured that the earliest sets of them were 



TllE ART OF PRINTING. 19 

produced by stencilling, and that the outline 
over which a brush dipped in liquid colour was 
smeared, was formed by some rude process of 
wood graving. The great cardmakers of the 
period referred to, were the Germans, who 
still give the name of fonnschneidery or figure- 
cutter, to a wood engraver. This term is said 
to occur in the town books of Nuremberg, that 
curious old city, the cradle of many arts, so 
early as the year 1441. At that time, cards 
were produced in great variety ; some, like 
the missals of the Komish church, were 
executed with pecuUar skill, being radiant 
with purple and gold ; while others descended 
in the scale of appearance, until they met the 
eye with a rude outline, smeared with colour. 

Another step was taken towards printing, 
when the paintings of saints, and other objects 
were copied in outline, and accompanied by a 
few words or sentences of Scripture. Grotesque 
as these were, they became exceedingly popular, 
and supplitd the people with an inducement to 
learn to read. The earliest print from a wood 
block, to which we can aflSx any certain date, is 
in the celebrated collection of earl Spencer. It is 
dated 1423, and represents St. Christopher 
carrying the infant Saviour across the sea. It 



20 CAXTON AND 

was found in one of the most ancient convents 
of Germany, pasted in one of the leaves of a 
Latin manuscript of the year 1417. 

But here it is desirable briefly to pause, in 
order to glance at the history of the substances 
used at various times to receive impressions 
from writing or printing implements. The 
ancients had recourse, when they wished to 
record any matter, to the leaves of the palm- 
tree, to table-books of wax, ivory, and lead ; 
to cloths of cotton and linen ; to the intestines 
and skins of animals, to the backs of tortoises, 
and to the inner bark of plants. 

Few, indeed, are the plants which have not, 
at some time, been used for such purposes, and 
hence many of the terms employed, as codex, 
originally signifying the trunk or stem of a 
tree ; liheVy the thin coat or rind ; and tabula, 
which properly means a plank, or board. The 
British Museum contains manuscripts on ivory, 
on plates of gold and of silver, and on other 
substances too numerous to detail. Among 
the last-mentioned are many written on the 
leaves of the talipot tree, a species of palm, 
peculiar to Ceylon, the Malabar coast, and the 
Marquesas and Friendly Islands, which is still 
employed for various purposes by the Cingalese. 



THE ART OF PRINTINO. 21 

The leaves of the tree in question are first 
soaked in boiling water and dried ; the letters 
are then engraved with a pointed steel instru- 
ment, and rubbed over with a dark-coloured 
substance, which renders them more easily 
legible. 

The papyrus J called by the Egyptians hybloSj 
formed an article of commerce long before the 
time of Herodotus, and wiis extensively used 
in the western part of Europe for records on 
rolls, as is proved by the number of such 
documents found at Herculaneum. A duty 
which existed on imported papyrus was 
abolished by Theodoric the Great, in the 
sixth century of the Christian era, on which 
occasion Cassiodorus congratulated the world 
in a letter upon the cessation of a tax alike 
unfavourable to the progress of learning and of 
commerce. 

The substance thus employed consisted of 
thin coats or pellicles of the papyrus tree, which 
grows in swamps to the height of ten, or more 
feet. According to Pliny, the different coats of 
this plant were joined together by the action of 
the turbid Nile water, which had a kind of 
glutinous property. To prepare it for writing, 
one layer of papyrus was placed flat on a 



22 CAXTON AND 

hoard, and a cross layer put over it; and 
when thus adjusted they were pressed, and 
afterAvards dried in the sun. The sheets were 
then fastened or pasted together, the best 
being taken first, and afterwards the inferior 
sheets. There were never more than twenty 
in a roll. The papyri found in Egyptian tombs 
differ very much in length, but not mate- 
rially in breadth, as this was probably deter- 
mined by the usual length of the strips taken 
from the plant. The length might be carried 
to almost any extent by fastening one sheet to 
another. The writing was in columns, with a 
blank slip between them. 

The papyrus became the most common mate- 
rial on which books were written by the Greeks 
and the Komans. The former derived their 
name for a book from byblos, the term applied 
to the papyrus by the Egyptians ; while from the 
coats or rind of the plant being employed for it, 
the Romans called a book liber. The paper made 
from the papyrus was of different qualities ; the 
best description of it bore in Rome during the 
imperial period the name of the emperor, as 
Augustus, or Claudius, while the inferior sort 
was not used for writing, but chiefly by mer- 
chants for packing their goods. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 23 

A portion of the Book of Psalms, written on 
papyrus — probably the earliest fragments of 
the Sacred Scriptures known to exist — has 
recently been brought from Egypt to England 
by Dr. Hogg, who says : * — " Among the 
various objects of antiquity which were pur- 
chased from the Arabs at Thebes, were two 
papyri, the one in Coptic and the other in 
Greek ; both in the form of books. The 
subject of the Coptic papyrus, now in the pos- 
session of sir William Gell at Naples, has not 
yet been ascertained ; but since my return to 
England, the Greek papyrus has been dis- 
covered to contain a portion of the Psalms. 
The leaves, of about ten inches in length, by 
seven in width, are arranged, and have been 
sewn together like those of an ordinary book. 
They are formed of strips of the papyrus, 
crossing each other at right angles. The 
writing, continued on both sides, is perfectly 
legible, the letters partaking both of the uncial 
and cursive forms, sometimes standing quite 
apart, unconnected by cursive strokes, with 
accents occasionally, but not regularly inserted. 

" The beginning of the manuscript is im- 
perfect, and it concludes with the second verse 
* Visit to Alexandria, Damascus, and Jerusalem. 



24 CAXTON AND 

of the tbirty-fourtli Psalm. The text, as far as 
it has been collated, has been found to be a 
good one, and to possess some interesting 
variations not found in other ancient versions. 
These papyri were both discovered among the 
rubbish of an ancient convent at Thebes, 
remarkable as still presenting some fragments 
of an inscription, purporting to be a pastoral 
letter from Athanasius, patriarch of Alexan- 
dria, who died a.d. 371, which has been con- 
jectured to be the age of the manuscript." 

Parchment was, next to papyrus, the most 
common material for writing on. It was 
formed for this purpose of prepared skins, 
chiefly those of sheep and goats, and is said to 
have been used for writing so early as the 
year B.C. 250, by Eumenes, king of Pergamus. 
As he was desirous of collecting a library 
which should vie with that of Alexandria, and 
was prevented from obtaining a sufficient 
quantity of papyrus by the jealousy of the 
Ptolemies, he had recourse to this substance, 
which derived its name from the site of his 
kingdom. 

It was upon this material that so many of 
the manuscripts both of the ancient classics 
and Sacred Scriptures were written by the 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 25 

monks in tlie Scriptona^ or writing rooms, of 
their convents. 

The picture drawn by one of our poets was 
strictly true during the lapse of many ages : 
for then — 



along the cloister's painted side, 



The monks,— each bending low upon his book. 
With head on hand reclined— their studies plied: 
Forbid to parley, or in fact to look. 
Lengthways their regulated seats they took ; 
The strutting prior gazed with pompous mien. 
And wakeful tongue, prepared with prompt rebuke. 
If monk asleep in sheltering hood were seen ; 
He wary, often peeped beneath that russet screen. 
Hard by, against the window's adverse light. 
Where desks were wont in length of row to stand, 
The gowned artificers inclined to write ; 
The pen of silver glistened in the hand ; 
Some on their fingers rhyming Latin scann'd ; 
Some textile gold from balls unwmding drew. 
And on strained velvet stately portraits planned; 
Here arms, there faces, shone in embryo view ; 
At last to glittering life their sober figures grew." 

Monks like those described in the quotation 
just given, were the real predecessors of our 
modern printers ; multiplying books, however, 
by a process of prodigious toil and labour. 
Ivichard de Bury, bishop of Durham, says, 
*' Many wrote out manuscripts with their own 
hands in the intervals of the canonical hours, 
and gave up the time appointed for bodily rest 
to the fabrication of volumes ; the sacred 



26 CAXTON AND 

treasures of whose labours, filled with cherubic 
letters, are at this day resplendent in most 
monasteries." But, though the copies of 
manuscripts were many, and the monks' 
labours incessant, the whole life of the most 
industrious of them employed in this task 
would add only a few to the number of books 
in the world. "When a volume was at 
last produced in fair parchment, after the 
arduous labours of years, it was covered with 
immensely thick lids of wood and leather, 
studded with large nails, and curiously clasped ; 
and was studiously preserved from the common 
gaze on the shelves of the monastic library. 

" Laymen," says the same prelate, " to whom 
it matters not whether they look at a book 
turned wrong side upwards, or spread before 
them in its natural order, are altogether un- 
worthy of any communion with books." Nor 
was this a solitary conclusion ; it was prac- 
tically and constantly acted on at this period 
when the bishop wrote his treatise entitled 
" Philobiblion ; or, The Love of Books " — more 
than a century before the art of printing was 
introduced. The splendid volumes produced 
in the manner referred to bore evidence, how- 
ever, not onlj^ of persevering industry but Oi 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 27 

great ingenuity ; the letters at the begirnning of 
each chapter or section being adorned witli 
curious devices ; frequently, too, a painting, 
called an illumination, was introduced, radiant 
with gold, crimson, and azure. But no vulgar 
eyes looked on their contents ; they were only 
unclasped on days of solemnity by the abbot 
or the prior, and then restored, like the jewels 
of the priesthood, to their dusty cases. 

There appeared to have been sometimes a 
difficulty in obtaining parchment for the pre- 
paration of these works ; for the practice arose 
of erasing the original writing from a manu- 
script, and of engrossing on it a second time. 
The name palimpsest was given to a parchment 
thus used, the term strictly meaning "twice 
prepared for writing." In this way, many 
valuable manuscripts were irrecoverably lost, 
but, in some instances, an important document 
has been recovered. A palimpsest manuscript, 
for example, was discovered in 1816 ; it con- 
sisted of 127 sheets of parchment; and as the 
result of prodigious labour, the " Institutes of 
Gains" were retrieved, though nearly the whole 
had been re-written with the Epistles of Jerome 
— the lines of the two works running in the 
same direction, while no fewer than sixty- 



28 CAXTON AND 

tliree pages had been covered with writing 
three times. 

The parchment employed for manuscripts 
was joined together, so as to form one sheet, 
and when the work was finished, it was rolled 
on a staff, and called a volumen, in which 
originated our word volume. For each book 
into which an author divided his work there 
was generally a separate volume : thus, Ovid 
calls his fifteen books of Metamorphoses fifteen 
volumes. The title of a book was written on 
a small strip of papyrus or of parchment, with 
a light red colour, and was fastened to the 
body of the manuscript. 

In the middle ages, none but kings, princes, 
and prelates, universities and monasteries, could 
have libraries ; and even the collection of books 
formed by them strangely contrasted with many 
since possessed by private individuals. The 
royal library of France, collected by the 
sovereigns Charles v., vi., and vir., and pre- 
served with great care in one of the towers of 
the Louvre, consisted of only about nine 
hundred volumes, and was purchased by the 
duke of Bedford, a.d. 1425, for one thousand 
two hundred livres. It appears from a catalogue 
still extant, to have been chiefly composed of 



THE ART OF FEINTING. 29 

legends, histories, romances, and books on 
astrology, geomancy, and chiromancy, which 
were the favourite studies of the times. 

The kings of England were not so well 
provided with books. Henry v. had a taste 
for reading, but his literary treasures could not 
satisfy it, and several books which he borrowed 
were claimed by the owners ai'ter his death. 
The countess of Westmoreland presented a 
petition to the privy council, a.d. 1424, stating 
that the king had borrowed a book from her, 
containing the " Chronicles of Jerusalem," and 
praying that an order might be given under 
the privy seal for its restoration. The order 
was granted with great formality. 

About the same time, John, the prior of 
Christchurch, Canterbury, presented a similar 
petition to the privy council, setting forth that 
the king had borrowed from his priory a 
volume containing the works of St. Gregory ; 
that he had never retiurned it ; but that in 
his testament he had directed it to be restored, 
notwithstanding which, the prior of Shire, who 
had the book, refused to give it up. The 
council, after mature deliberation, commanded 
a precept, under the privy seal, to be sent to 
the prior of Shire, requesting him to deliver 



^0 CAXTON AND 

Up the book, or to appear before the council to 
assign the reasons for his refusal. 

At the commencement of the fifteenth cen- 
tury, the manuscript books used in the service 
of the church were articles of great rarity and 
value. As an instance of this it may be men- 
tioned that, when a priest, named Henry Beda, 
in the year 1406, bequeathed his manuscript 
Breviary to the church of Jacques-la- Boucherie, 
he left, at the same time, to William I'Exale, 
the churchwarden of the said church, the sum 
of forty sols to pay the expenses of having a 
cage made in which the Breviary might be 
kept. The practice was for persons in those 
times to assemble round such books for the 
purpose of reading the prayers out of them ; 
but that no one might be tempted to take a 
book away, it was attached to a chain which 
was fastened in the wall. 

A translation of part of the New Testament 
into a very ancient dialect of the German lan- 
guage is commonly known by the name of the 
Gothic Gospels, or the Silver Book. It is de- 
posited in the Public Library at Upsal, in 
Sweden, and is one of the oldest books and 
most curious remains of ancient art known to 
be in existence. This work is composed of 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 31 

very thin smooth vellum, of a fine purple or 
violet colour, and of a folio size. The first 
three lines of each Gospel, the beginning of the 
Lord's Prayer, and of some other passages, 
deemed especially important, as well as the 
names of the Evangelists, are impressed in gold 
letters ; the other letters are all of silver. 
Much of the volume, in fact nearly one half, is 
now lost, but more than one hundred and sixty 
leaves are yet remaining, to show how beautiful 
the whole must have been when complete, and 
to suggest the means by which this extraor- 
dinary work was executed. 

To ascertain the latter point, we may refer to 
the mode often adopted by a bookbinder when 
inserting the gilt letters on the back of a book. 
He rubs on the part where these are to be 
placed some adhesive substance, such as white 
of egg, puts on this some gold leaf, and then, 
by means of a heated stamp, impresses the par- 
ticular letters which may be required. In this 
way, the gold is caused to adhere firmly on the 
leather in the places where the impression is 
made, and the remaining gold is wiped off with 
a rag. Such was, in fact, the old process of 
lettering, and nearly in this way the Silver 
Book must have been executed. 



32 CAXTON AND 

On a dispute arising in reference to the pro- 
cess wliich had been employed, professor Ihre 
instituted a very minute examination of this 
codex in the presence of four Hterary gentle- 
men, and came to the conclusion that the work 
could only be produced in the way which we 
have described. It was apparent, for instance, 
that each letter was respectively so exactly 
similar in form to every other, that it would 
have been absolutely impossible for the best 
writers to imitate its perfect regularity. And 
then there were the tangible remains of the 
impression ; for the form of every letter being 
hollow on the face of the vellum, on turning to 
the back of the leaf it was there found to be 
convex, and that so palpably that the simplest 
touch would immediately show the place where 
the type had been pressed down, the margin 
being quite smooth and the impressed part 
rough. In a hundred cases, the substance of 
the vellum appeared actually cut out by the 
impression of the tool, while the surrounding 
part was entire. To complete the evidence, a 
film of a glutinous or oleaginous nature was in 
many parts perceptible in a strong light, be- 
tween the metallic foil and the metal to which 
it adhered. It was, however, objected that 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 33 

vellum could not be impressed in this way 
without being wrinkled up ; but Gerard 
Meerman states that his bookbinder tried the 
process for him, and found it succeed as well 
in vellum as in leather. 

Since the discovery of this " Silver Book," 
some fragments of other portions of Scripture 
have been found in several places, particularly 
parts of the Epistle to the Romans, in the 
library of Wolfenbuttel ; these were published 
by Kinttel, who states that they appear to have 
been impressed in a similar way to the Upsal 
Book. It is very curious that this language — 
that of the old Franks — should be the only one 
in which evident proofs of the practice of this 
art should be found. It must have been too 
costly for ordinary use, and perhaps the onlj' 
persons rich enough to command such expen- 
sive luxuries were the monarchs of the con- 
quering tribes by whom the language was 
spoken. 

Montfaucon argues, and that with seeming 
conclusiveness, that cotton paper was discovered 
in the empire of the east, towards the end of 
the ninth or early in the tenth century. There 
are several Greek manuscripts, in parchment or 
vellum, and cotton paper, which bear the date of 

B 



84 CAXTON AND 

the year they were -written in ; but the greater 
part have no date. The most ancient manu- 
script in cotton paper, with a date, is that in 
the Hbrary of France, which was written in 1050 ; 
Montfaucon discovered some manuscripts of the 
tenth century. It is probable that, were all the 
libraries both of the east and the west dili- 
gently searched; others might be found still 
more ancient. It may be inferred that this 
bombycine, or cotton paper, was invented in 
the ninth century, or at latest in the beginning 
of the tenth. Towards the end of the eleventh, 
and the early part of the twelfth century, its 
use was common throughout the empire of the 
east, and even in Sicily. Eoger, king of Sicily, 
says in 1145, that he had- renewed on parch- 
ment a charter that had been written on cotton 
paper in the year 1102, and another dated in 
the year 1112. In the rule drawn up about 
the same time by the empress Irene, consort 
of Alexius Commenus, for the nuns she had , 
established at Constantinople, she says that she 
leaves them three copies of the rule, two on 
parchment and one on cotton paper. Cotton 
paper became, subsequently, still more in use 
throughout the Turkish empire. 

Nothing can be affirmed definitively as to 



THE ABT OF PRINTING. 35 

the origin of the paper now in use. Demster, in 
his Glossary on the Institutes of Justinian, 
declares that it was invented towards the close 
of the twelfth, or in the beginning of the thir- 
teenth century. Though he speaks of bomby- 
cine paper, there is reason to conclude that he 
also comprehends under that name the linen- 
rag paper, which is much, like that made from 
cottx)n. In Sicily, the state of Venice, and per- 
haps other countries, both kinds were equally 
used. Several editions of Aldus Manutius, 
produced at Venice, are on cotton paper ; its 
proximity to Greece had, no doubt, introduced 
the use of it there ; Demster seems, therefore, 
in the work, we have referred^ to, to speak of 
both. But in the " Treatise against the Jews," 
by Petrus Mauritius, a contemporary of St. 
Bernard, who died in 1153, it is expressly 
said : "The books we read every day are 
made of sheep, goat, or calf-skin ; or of oriental 
plants, that is, the papyrus of Egypt, or of ragsJ^ 
The word tlius employed, signifies undoubtedly 
such paper as is now in use ; there were books 
of it in the twelfth century ; and as public acts 
and diplomas were written on the Egyptian 
paper till the eleventh, the probability is that 
linen rag paper was invented about the same 



36 CAXTON AJiD 

century, and that it occasioned the disuse of the 
Egyptian paper in the west, as that of cotton 
did in the east. Petrus Mauritius affirms, that 
there had been already in his time some books 
of the linen rag paper, but they must have been 
very scarce. Though Montfaucon made the 
most diligent search both in France and Italy, 
he could not find a single leaf of paper such as 
that now used, of date prior to the year 1270 ; 
so that the precise period of its first fabrication 
must remain undetermined. 

One of the earliest specimens of paper from 
linen rags hitherto discovered, is a document, 
with the seal preserved, dated a.d. 1239 ; and 
signed by Adolphus, count of Schaumburg. 
But Casiri positively affirms, that there are 
many manuscripts in the Escurial, both upon 
cotton and linen paper, written prior to the 
thirteenth century. France used this kind of 
paper in 1314 ; England about the year 1342 ; 
and Italy in 1367. The Germans possess a 
specimen bearing date 1308, but it has been 
supposed that this is a mixture of linen with 
cotton. 

Some of the letters addressed to Hugh le 
Despencer, from Gascony, at various periods in 
the reign of Edward ir., are written on a very 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 87 

stout and beautiful vellum ; others on paper of 
a sound and strong fabric, well-sized, and such 
as may be pronounced a good article. In the 
Tower of London, there are a few letters upon 
cotton paper, but parchment or vellum was the 
material generally used for such purposes. 
The original register of the privy seal of 
Edward the Black Prince from July, 20 
Edward m. to January, 21^dward in., forming 
one volume, is, we may observe, on paper. It 
is highly probable that in the south of France, 
the supply of this paper was received from the 
Moorish merchants or manufacturers of Spain. 
The inventor of the linen rag paper, whoever 
he was, entitled himself to the remembrance 
and gratitude of posterity. The art of printing 
would have been, comparatively, of little value 
without the means of procuring a proper mate- 
rial to receive the impressions of the tyipe. 
Had the papyrus been the only substance, it 
would have been impossible to have procured 
it in sufficient quantities to make large editions 
of books. Cotton pap§r, though an improve- 
ment, was but a rude and coarse article, unfit 
for any of the delicate purposes which the press 
was employed to effect. The perfection of the 
arc of paper-making consisted in finding a 



88 CAXTON AND 

material, easily prepared, and which could be 
procured in sufficient quantities. 

Meanwhile the Italians, Flemings, Germans, 
and Dutch began to engrave on copper as well 
as on wood ; and books of images, as they were 
called, were produced, some with and some 
without a text. The pages were placed in 
pairs facing one another, and as only one side 
of the leaves was ^'inted, the blank pages also 
stood directly opposite. The text corresponding 
with the figures was sometimes placed below, 
at other times on the side, and not unfrequently 
it issued as a label, from the mouth of the 
person or figure. Among the treasures of the 
British Museum is the " Book of Canticles," 
printed on only one side of the paper from 
engraved wooden blocks. Only three complete 
copies are believed to be extant. Passages of 
text, engraved in large characters, are inter- 
spersed on scrolls fantastically disposed among 
the figures, and give to the pages a very sin- 
gular appearance. 

Another work of the same class, and in the 
same collection, is called " Biblia Pauperum," 
or the "Poor Man's Bible." It consists of 
forty small folio plates intended to illustrate 
sentiments drawn from the Scriptures ; the 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 39 

whole having been engraved on wood, printed on 
one side of the paper, and placed in the manner 
previously described. Each page contains four 
busts : the two upper ones represent the pro- 
phets or other persons, whose names appear 
beneath them ; the two lower busts are anony- 
mous. The middle of the pages, which are all 
marked by letters of -the alphabet, is occupied 
by three historical pictures, one of which is 
taken from the New Testament. The inscrip- 
tions, occurring at the top and the bottom of 
the page, consist of texts of Scripture and 
Leonine verses, so called from Leo the inventor, 
the end of each line rhyming with the middle 
of it, as in the following example : — 

" GlOTiti/Mitorum ttmere conceditnr horum.** 

The place in which the art of printing was 
invented has occasioned much controversy. A 
claim to the honour isput forth for Haarlem, in 
connexion with Laurentius Coster, so called 
from his father's holding the office of custos of 
the cathedral in that city. The story ge- 
nerally related of him is as follows : — He began 
with carving letters on the rind of beech trees, 
and impressing them on paper, for the amuse- 
ment and instruction of his grandchildren. 



40 CAXTON AND 

Having happily succeeded in printing one or 
two lines, he invented, with the aid of his son- 
in-law, Thomas Peter, a more glutinous writing- 
ink, because he found that the common ink 
sank and spread ; and thus formed whole pages 
of wood, with letters cut on them ; " of which 
sort," says Hadrian Junius, *' I have seen some 
essays in an anonymous work, printed only on 
one side, entitled ^Speculum Nostrce Salutis;^ 
in which it is remarkable that in the infancy of 
printing (as nothing is complete at the first 
invention) the back sides of the pages were 
pasted together, that they might not, by their 
nakedness, betray their deformity." 

Laurentius died in 1440. The works he 
produced, considering the difficulties he had to 
encounter, and the fact that they were printed 
with separate wooden types, fastened together 
with thread — must have cost years of labour. 
But they were at best rude and inelegant. 
The pages are not numbered ; there are no 
divisions at the end of the lines ; there is no 
punctuation ; the lines are uneven, and the 
pages are not always of the same size or shape. 
To Coster, however, credit is due for- what he 
accomplished ; he appears to have acted inde- 
pendently and zealously ; but we cannot trace 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 41 

in his works the beginning of the art on whose 
rise we are now dwelling. 

An ancient German chronicler, named Tri- 
themius, who appears to have personally known 
one of the three he describes, thus accounts for 
the origin of printing : — " At this time, in the 
city of Mentz on the Rhine in Germany, and 
not in Italy, as some have erroneously written, 
that wonderful and then unheard-of art of 
printing and characterizing books was invented 
and devised by John Guttenberg, a citizen of 
Mentz, who having expended almost the whole 
of his property in the invention of this art, and, 
on account of the difficulties which he experi- 
enced on all sides, was about to abandon it 
altogether ; when, by the advice, and through 
the means of John Fust, (or Faust,) likewise a 
citizen of Mentz, he succeeded in bringing it to 
perfection. At first, they formed (engraved) 
the characters or letters in written order on 
blocks of wood, and in this manner they printed 
the vocabulary called a * Catholicon.' But with 
these forms (blocks) they could print nothing 
else, because the characters could not be trans- 
posed in these tablets, but were engraved 
thereon, as we have said. 

" To this invention succeeded a move subtle 
d2 



•42 CAXTON AND 

one, for they found out the means of cutting the 
forms of all the letters of the alphabet, which 
they call matrices, from which again they cast 
characters of copper or tin of sufficient hardness 
to resist the necessary pressure which they had 
before engraved by hand. And truly, as I 
learned thirty years since from Peter Opilio, 
(Schoeffer) de Gernsheim, citizen of Mentz, 
who was the son-in-law of the first inventor of 
this art, great difficulties were experienced after 
the first invention of this art of printing, for in 
printing the Bible, before they had completed 
the first quaternion (or gathering of four 
sheets) 4,000 florins were expended. This 
Peter Schoeffer, whom we have before men- 
tioned, first servant, and afterwards as son-in- 
law to the first inventor, John Fust, as we have 
said, an ingenious and sagacious man, disco- 
vered the more easy method of casting the 
types, and thus the art was reduced to the com- 
plete state in which it now is. These three 
kept this method of printing secret for some 
time, until it was divulged by some of their 
workmen, without whose aid this art could not 
have been exercised ; it was first discovered at 
Strasburg, and soon became known to other 
nations. And thus much of the admirable and 



THE ART OF PRINTINO. 43 

subtle art of printing may suffice — the first in- 
ventors were citizens of Mentz. These first 
three inventors of printing, (videlicet) John Gut- 
tenberg, John Fust, and Peter Schoeffer, his 
son-in-law, lived at ^fentz, in the house called 
Lum Jungen, "which has ever since been called 
the Printing Office." 

It is a deeply interesting fact, that, after 
testing by humbler efforts the capabilities of 
his press and his movable types, Guttenberg 
actually succeeded in printing a complete edition 
of the Bible, between the years 1450 and 1455 
It was executed with cut metal types, in six 
hundred and thirty-seven leaves, and was 
printed on vellum. 

A story of this period is told which is very 
likely to have been a true one. It is stated 
that Fust went to Paris with some of his finest 
vellum Bibles, one of \\l ich was sold to the 
king for 750 crowns, and an fher to the arch- 
bishop of Paris for 800 crowns. The people, 
however, unwilling to give, even if they were 
able, so enormous a sum, were supplied, to 
some extent, at the price of 50 cro^vng. It is 
not to be supposed that all were equally orna- 
mented ; yet the beauty of the work, the 
elegance of the flower pieces, and the variety 



44 CAXTON AND 

of the finest colours which were intermixed 
with gold and silver, led many purchasers to 
show their purchases to their friends, each one 
thinking, as he produced his, that the whole 
world could not contain such another. 

The archbishop considering his Bible worth 
his majesty's seeing, carried it to the king, 
who regarded it with surprise, and in return 
showed his own. On comparing them, it was 
found that the ornaments were not exactly the 
same ; but as to the other part, which was 
supposed to be written, they observed such a 
conformity in the numbers of pages, lines, and 
words, and even letters, as soon convinced them, 
to their great astonishment, that they must 
have been produced by some other mode than 
transcription. Besides, to transcribe two such 
Bibles would have been the work of a man's 
life ; and on making inquiry Fust was found 
to have sold a considerable number. Orders, 
therefore, were given without delay to appre- 
hend the vendor, and to prosecute him as a 
practitioner of the Black Art. Fust now solved 
the mystery ; whereupon he was discharged 
from all prosecution, and honoured with a 
pecuniary reward, which, it is said, was also 
paid to his descendants. 



THE ART OF PRINTINa. 45 

Such, then, was the origin of this great 
power, which has " reformed religion, and re- 
modelled philosophy ; has infused a new spirit 
into laws ; which overrules governments with a 
paramount authority ; makes the communica- 
tion of mind with mind easy and instantaneous 
beyond example ; confers a perpetuity unknown 
before, upon institutions and discoveries, and 
gives those wings to science which it has taken 
from time." 

Of this art, as we have seen, the Bible was 
the earliest and most important specimen ; and 
perhaps many a reader of this volume has 
looked, as its writer has done, on a copy of this 
extraordinary work of Guttenberg with inde- 
scribable interest. The first he completed was, 
indeed, the parent of an innumerable race ; 
it was in Latin, but of how many languages 
may it now be said. Each one may read in 
his own tongue the wonderful works of God! 
In these pages, the great God, their Maker, 
their Lawgiver, their Redeemer, their Judge, 
speaks to the children of men. There they 
hear the voice of their Creator deigning to 
reveal truths by the inspiration of his Holy 
Spirit, which no human intellect ever con- 
ceived. What a portraiture is there of our 
fallen and helpless condition in consequence of 



44r CAXTON AND 

jin ! What a display of the exceeding riches 
of the grace of God in so loving the world as to 
bestow upon it the gift of his only begotten 
Son, that whosoever believeth in him might 
not perish, but have everlasting life ! What a 
rich provision for sanctification in the work of 
the Holy Spirit renewing the heart and changing 
it from the slavery of sin to the love and 
practice of holiness ! What rich supplies of 
promises adapted to meet all the temporal and 
spiritual wants of the children of men ! 

Precious Bible ! Where shall we find a trea- 
sure to be compared for a moment with that 
we find in thee ? " It cannot be gotten for gold, 
neither shall silver be weighed for the price 
thereof. It cannot be valued with the gold of 
Ophir, with the precious onyx, or the sapphire. 
The gold and the crystal cannot equal it : and 
the exchange of it shall not be for jewels of 
fine gold. No mention shall be made of coral, 
or of pearls : for the price of wisdom is above 
rubies. The topaz of Ethiopia shall not equal 
it, neither shall it be valued with pure gold." 
Spirit of the Lord ! Thou, by whose inspira- 
tion all Scripture was given, open our eyes to 
the truths it reveals ; sanctify our hearts that 
the}'- may delight in them all ; make us wise 
for a glorious immortality ! 



THE ART OF EBINTINa. 47 



CHAPTER II. 

The "Weald of Kent— Birth of 'WilHam Caxton— Oppressive 
law of Henry iv.— A school in the Weald— The Company 
of Stationers— English literature in early times— rroclama- 
tion for abolishing the French language— Travels of sir 
John Mandeville— The literature of the middle ages— The 
early trade in books — Geoffrey Chaucer — Caxton's ac- 
quaintance with his writings — His apprenticeship to Robert 
Large — Caxton, a Commissioner — His service to the 
duchess of Burgundy— Translation and printing of his first 
work. 

A TART of the county of Kent has been known 
by many successive generations as the " Weald ;" 
a modernization of the Saxon term **Wald," 
signifying a forest, which at one period most 
probably flourished there. The district must, 
however, have once been in a very different 
state from that which at present prevails ; for 
the visitor -who now digs beneath the green 
turf, will discover the remains of thin and 
delicate-shelled creatures, which must have 
tenanted some quiet stream. But at what 
period of our globe's history a river flowed 
through this part of Kent, or when it was 



48 CAXTON AKD 

intersected by many streams, we know not ; 
though that such was once the case seems 
beyond all reasonable dispute. 

Lambarde has thus described its state in the 
sixteenth century : — " It was a great while 
together nothing else but a desert and waste 
wilderness, not planted with towns or peopled 
with men as the outsides of the shire were, 
but stored and stuffed with herds of deer and 
droves of hogs only." He proceeds to say — 
" It came to be taken even as men were con- 
tented to inhabit it, and by piecemeal to rid it 
of the wood, and to break it up by the plough." 
It may naturally be supposed that the race of 
men who would undertake such a work would 
be rude and rustic ; and yet among them, and 
in some homely dwelling of this wild district, 
WiUiam Caxton was born, and passed some of 
his early years. 

At that period, an obstacle existed to indi- 
viduals rising from a lower to a higher grade 
of the social scale, the recollection of which, in 
contrast with our present opportunities for pro- 
gress, may well excite lively gratitude. A 
law in the time of Henry iv. recites that, ac- 
cording to ancient statutes, those who labour 
at the plough or cart, or other service of 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 49. 

husbandry till at the age of twelve years, shall 
continue to abide at such labour, and not be 
put to any mystery or handicraft ; notwith- 
standing which statutes, says this law, country 
people, whose fathers and mothers have no 
land or rent, are put to divers crafts within the 
cities and boroughs, so that there is great 
scarcity of labourers and other servants of hus- 
bandry. And then this statute enacts, " That 
no man nor woman, of what state or condition 
they be, shall put their son or daughter, of 
whatsoever age he or she be, to serve as 
apprentice to a craft or other labour within any 
city or borough in the realm, except he have 
land or rent to the value of twenty shillings by 
the year at least, but they shall be put to other 
labours, as their estates doth require, upon 
pain of one year's imprisonment." Thus, as it 
was decreed in India that the soodra cast should 
be perpetuated in each successive generation, 
so in our own country the Statute Book shows 
that there was a period when only the pro- 
prietor or tenant of land, to a specified extent, 
could be trained to the exercise of any handi- 
craft or trade. The citizens of London, how- 
ever, procured a repeal of this oppressive Act 
in the reign of Henry vi. 



bO^i CAXTON AND 

That a school had been planted within reach 
of the humble homesteads of the Weald is 
evident, for Caxton speaks in after life, and 
under the influence of the prevailing super- 
stition, of being *' bounden to pray for my 
father's and mother's souls, that in my youth 
sent me to school, by which, by the sufferance 
of God, I got my living, I hope truly."* And 
that he did not come under the operation of 
the obnoxious law just referred to is equally 
obvious from other circumstances. 

A school without books, suggests to our 
minds a strange spectacle, and yet the place 
to which Caxton went for instruction could 
scarcely have had books worthy of the name. 
There existed at this time, indeed, the Company 
of Stationers, or Text Writers, who wrote and 
sold the books then in use, and among them 
the Absies, as they were called, Alphabets in 
fact, accompanied by the Lord's Prayer, the 
Address to the virgin Mary, called Ave Maria, 
and a few similar things. This fraternity 
dwelt in the neighbourhood of St. Paul's, and 
gave rise to the names of places adjacent, as 
Creed Lane, Amen Corner, and Ave Maria 
Lane. 

* Preface to the Histories of Troy. 



THE ART OF PllINTING. 51 

Literature, properly so called, was then 
included within extremely narrow limits. 

Poetical literature had begun to be culti- 
vated with spirit and taste in France, prior to 
the Conqueror's invasion of England. Wace, 
the author of a narrative poem, entitled Le 
Brut d'Angleterre, (Brutus of England,) and 
some other works ; Benoit, a contemporary, 
author of a History of the Dukes of Normandy ; 
and Guernes, an ecclesiastic of Picardy, who 
wrote a metrical life of Thomas k Becket — are 
the Norman poets of most eminence whose 
writings can be connected with the literature of 
England. They composed most frequently in 
rhymed couplets, each line containing eight 
syllables. 

The only other compositions that have come 
down to us from the century following the Con- 
quest, as those of individuals living in, or con- 
nected with our country, are works written in 
Latin by learned ecclesiastics, the chief of 
whom were John of Salisbury, Peter of Blois, 
Joseph of Exeter, and Geoffrey of Monmouth, 
who wrote a history of England, about the year 
1138. According to Dr. Johnson, it was about 
1154 before the Saxon tongue began to take 
that form in which the beginning of the pre- 



52 CAXTON AND 

sent English may plainly be discovered. At 
that period, it did ^ot contain many Norman 
words, but its grammatical structure was con- 
siderably altered. Of a metrical Saxon or 
English version of one of Wace's works by 
Layamon, a priest of Ernely on the Severn, 
composed, it is believed, towards the close of the 
twelfth century, sir H. Ellis says ; " As it does 
not contain any word which we are under the 
necessity of referring to a French origin, we 
cannot but consider it as simple and unmixed, 
though very barbarous Saxon." 

Sir Henry Ellis further considers that certain 
peculiarities seem to prove that the pronuncia- , 
tion of our language had already undergone a 
considerable change. " Indeed," he observes, 
" the whole style of this composition, which is 
broken into a series of short unconnected sen- 
tences, and in Avhich the construction is as 
plain and artless as possible, and perfectly free 
from inversions, appears to indicate that little 
more than the substitution of a few French 
for the present Saxon words was now neces- 
sary to produce a resemblance to that Anglo- 
Norman, or English, of which we possess a few 
specimens supposed to have been written in the 
early part of the thirteenth century. On the 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 9S 

whole, it seems reasonable to infer, that 
Layamon's work was composed at, or very 
near, the period when the Saxons and Nor- 
mans in this country began to unite with 
our nation, and to adopt a common lan- 
guage." 

The age of chivalry and the Crusades gave 
rise to the English metrical romances, which 
are supposed to have originated in certain 
collections of stories and histories compiled by 
the monks of that period. For a long time, 
poetry appeared only in the garb of the chronicle 
or the romance. Familiar as we are now with 
it in various forms, not one trace of these forms 
was then discoverable. We must look to the 
middle of the thirteenth century, if we would 
observe the dawn of miscellaneous poetr3\ 
About a century later, we find the Vision of 
Piers Ploughman, a satirical poem, by Robert 
Longlands, which discovers the progress that 
was made towards a literary style, and the 
ascendency of the language of the Anglo- 
Saxons over that of the Normans. 

As, however, the French tongue kept 
possession of the court and higher circles, it 
required a man of no ordinary genius, attain- 
ments, and influence, to give literary permanence 



64 CAXTON AND 

and consistency to the native language poetry 
of England. 

A proclamation of Edward i. is stated to be 
extant, in which he endeavours to excite his 
subjects against the king of France, by im- 
puting to him the intention of conquering the 
country, and establishing the French tongue ; 
and this accusation is also frequently repeated 
in the proclamations of Edward in. The 
numerous translations into English of metrical 
romances at this period would seem to indicate, 
however, that the native language was becoming 
more familiar than French. An important change 
Was moreover effected in 1362 ; for by the thirty- 
sixth of Edward in. it was enacted, that for the 
future all pleas should be pleaded, shown, 
defended, answered, debated, and judged, in the 
English tongue, but should be entered and 
enrolled in Latin. Still the statutes of the 
realm long continued to be promulgated in 
French ; and it was only from the time of the 
accession of Eichard iir. that Englishmen Avere 
governed by laws written in their own language. 
The earliest English legal instrument knoWn to 
exist is said to bear date 1343 ; and there are 
not more than three or four entries in English 
on the rolls of parliament before the reign of 



THE ART OP PRINTING. 66 

Henry vi., after whose accession the use of the 
native tongue became very common. 

Sir John Mandeville, whose work dates not 
long after the time just mentioned, may be 
regarded as the father of English prose, no 
original work being so ancient as his Travels. 
But the translation of the Bible, and other 
writings of Wycliffe, nearly thirty years after- 
wards, give evidence of the copiousness and 
energy of which our native dialect was at that 
time capable. 

Of the literature of the middle ages it may 
generally be said, as Montgomery admirably 
remarks,* that it was " voluminous and vast. 
Princes, nobles, and even priests, were then 
often ignorant of the alphabet. The number 
of authors was proportionately small, and the 
subjects on which they wrote were of the driest 
nature in polemics — such were the subtleties of 
the schoolmen ; of the most extravagant cha- 
racter in the paths of imagination — such were 
the romances of chivalry, the legends and songs 
of troubadours ; and of the most preposterous 
tendency in philosophy, so called — such were 
the treatises on magic, alchemy, judicial 
astrology, and the metaphysics. 
* Lectnrea on Poetry. 



56 CAXTON AKD 

" To say all that could be said on any theme, 
whether in verse or prose, was the fashion of 
the times ; and as few read but those who were 
devoted to reading by an irresistible passion or 
professional necessity — and few wrote but those 
who were equally impelled by an inveterate 
instinct — great books were the natural produce 
of the latter, who knew not how to make little 
ones ; and great books were requisite to appease 
the voracity of the former, who, for the most 
part, were rather gluttons than epicures in their 
taste for literature. Great books, therefore, 
were both the fruits and the proofs of the igno- 
rance of the age ; they were usually composed 
in the gloom and torpor of the cloister, and it 
almost required a human life to read the works 
of an author of the first magnitude, because it 
was nearly as easy to compound as to digest 
such crudities. The common people, under 
such circumstances, could feel no interest, and 
derive no advantage from the labours of the 
learned, which were equally beyond their pur- 
chase and their comprehension. Those lihri 
elephantini (like the registers of the Roman 
citizens, when the latter amounted to millions,) 
contained little more than catalogues of 
things, and thoughts, and names, in words 



THE ART OF PRINTTNO. 57 

without measure, and often without meaning 
worth searching out ; so that the lucubrations, 
through a thousand years, of many a noble, 
many a lovely mind, which only wanted better 
direction how to unfold its energies, or display 
its graces, to benefit or delight mankind, were 
but passing meteors, that made visible the 
darkness out of which they rose, and into 
which they sank again, to be hid for ever." 

Long had the monks been accustomed to 
string together their miserable rhymes in bar- 
barous Latin, by hundreds and thousands ; but 
it was not till towards the close of the four- 
teenth century, that the first genuine English 
poet appeared. This was Geofirey Chaucer, 
who has been styled the father of English 
poetry. He was the first great improver and 
reformer of our language ; Spenser spoke of his 
writings as " the well of English undefiled ;" 
and he is entitled to high regard for those 
" ditees glad," through which he 

" Made first to distylle and rayne 
The gold dew-drops of speche and eloquence 
Into our tongue." 

With the works of Chaucer, Caxton became 
doubtless acquainted in his early days, most 
probably through the medium of the chanting 



58 CAXTON AND 

of minstrels, a considerable part of our old 
poetry being composed with the intention of 
being recited and not read. It is evident that 
the persons now alluded to led their contem- 
porary poets to practise a particular species of 
composition ; and as they went hither and 
thither at a time when reading and writing 
were rare accomplishments, they were the 
principal medium of communication between 
authors and the public. They were a numerous 
body a century before the time of Chaucer, and 
were most indefatigable in wandering up and 
down the country, chanting romances, and 
singing songs and ballads to the harp, the fiddle, 
and also to more humble and less artificial 
instruments. Through this medium, Caxton, 
as we have observed, probably became ac- 
quainted with the works of Chaucer, and of 
Gower also, who lived some time before the 
period of his youth. 

Caxton was apprenticed to Eobert Large, a 
member of the Mercers' Company, who was 
one of the sheriffs of London in 1430, and lord 
mayor in 1439-40. He died in the latter year. 
It may be inferred that Caxton served his appren- 
ticeship with fidelity, since his master bequeathed 
to him, as an expression of esteem, a legacy of 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 59 

twenty marks, which was, at that period no 
inconsiderable sum. In possession of this 
amount, he left his native land, having ae=- 
quired an intimate acquaintance with trade, and 
embarking in the character of a merchant, 
agent, or factor, he occasionally resided for 
many years in Brabant, Flanders, Holland, and 
Zealand. 

Great commercial importance was attached 
to the manuscripts which then supplied the 
place of books. The trade in them was largely 
conducted by the monks, who, as they were 
the principal transcribers of manuscripts, so 
they were also the only booksellers, and works 
being scarce, they sold them for very large 
prices Among other facts equally astonishing, 
it is stated that a learned lady, the countess of 
Anjou, gave for the Homilies of Haimon, bishop 
of Ilalberstadt, two hundred sheep, five quarters 
of wheat, and the saitie quantity of rye and 
millet. One reason for so large a sum being 
paid for manuscripts, appears to have been the 
skill, labour, and taste, expended on their 
execution. One work, *' The Book of the Pas- 
sion of our Lord Jesus Christ," for example, 
consists of the finest vellum, the text being cut 
out, instead of being inscribed on each leaf, and 



GO CAXTON AND 

being interleaved with blue paper, it was read 
with perfect ease. For this curiosity — the 
work probably of some ingenious and laborious 
English monk — the emperor Rodolph ii. of 
Germany offered 11,000 ducats. At a visita- 
tion of the treasury of St. Paul's cathedral in the 
year 1295, there were found twelve copies of the 
Gospels, all adorned with silver, and some with 
gilding, pearls, and gems, and one with eleven 
so-called relics, which were let into the plates 
of precious metal surrounding each page. •* 
The trade in manuscripts was revived and 
extended on the establishment of universities in 
different parts of the Continent; and, in 1259, 
the sellers of them became so numerous in 
Paris, as to be the objects of special regulations. 
We read of Ubrarii, the brokers and agents for 
the sale and loan of manuscripts ; and of stati- 
onarii, the sellers and copiers of manuscripts, 
who were so called from having stations at 
markets and in various parts of cities. One 
object of the law referred to, was to regulate 
the prices charged by these persons, which had 
become enormous. But the most profitable 
part of the business appears to have been the 
lending of books, which were so valuable that 
security was taken for their safe return. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 61 

Bookselling in Paris — then the chief seat of 
learning — seems to have thus been a profitable 
calling between the twelfth and fifteenth centu- 
ries. But wherever universities were established 
booksellers also resided, especially in Vienna, 
Palermo, Padua, and Salamanca. Gradually 
they spread themselves over less learned places, 
and at length, the Ubrarii and stationarii exer- 
cised their vocations in most of the larger 
European towns. There is reason to suppose 
that other persons entered into their trade; 
for " it is pretty certain," says Dibdin, " that 
mercers, in the time of Caxton, were general 
merchants, trading in all kinds of goods, and 
that they united a love of literature and of books 
with their other multifarious concerns. Hence, 
probably, Caxton acquired his passion for books 
and learning, a passion which seems never to 
have deserted him." 

That Caxton was not unknown at the court 
of England, is evident from his being ap- 
pointed, in the year 1464, one of two com- 
missioners to conclude a treaty of trade and 
commerce between Edward iv. and Philip, duke 
of Burgundy, surnamed " the good." This 
employment appears to have led to another ; 
for about four years after, Margaret Plantagenet, 



62 CAXTON AND 

the sister of the sovereign, was married to the 
young duke of Burgundy, on which occasion 
Gaxton formed one of her retinue. 

Eeferring to this period of his life, he after- 
wards said, in allusion to the " Kecuyel of the 
Historyes of Troye/* " TVhen I remember that 
every man is bounden by the commandment 
and counsel of the wise man to eschew sloth 
and idleness, which is mother and nourisher of 
vices, and ought to put myself into virtuous 
occupation and business, then I, having no 
great charge or occupation, following the said 
council, took a French book and read therein 
many strange marvellous histories, wherein I 
had great pleasure and^ delight, as well for the 
novelty of the same, as for the fair language of 
the French, which was in prose so well and 
compendiously set and written, methought I 
understood the sentence and substance of every 
matter. And for so much as this book was 
new and late made and drawn into French, and 
never had been seen in our English tongue, I 
thought in myself it would be a good busi- 
ness to translate it into our English, to the 
end that it might be had as well in the 
royaume of England as in other lands, and also 
for to pass therewith the time, and thus con- 



THE ART OP PRUCTING. 63 

eluded in myself to begin this said work, 
and forthwith took pen and ink, and began 
boldly to run forth, as blind- Biayard, in this 
present work." 

The work thus begun, was discontinued for 
nearly two years. At length, his patroness the 
duchess sent for him, and on his producing 
the part he had finished, she examined tliree or 
four leaves, criticising his English ; but so fiu: 
from discouraging him, she desired him to resume 
his labours. Unwilling to incur her displeasure, 
he renewed his task, and speedily brought it to 
a conclusion. It was begun in 1468, and was 
finished in 1471. The work was kindly re- 
ceived by the duchess, who liberally rewarded 
the translator. 

There is reason to conclude, that in complet- 
ing this work Caxton had a larger circulation 
of it in view than could be met by transcrip- 
tion. That he contemplated its use in his own 
country as well as abroad, is clear from his 
words: — *'I thought in myself it should be a 
good business to translate it into our English, 
to the end that it might be had as well in the 
royaume of England as in other lands." It is 
natural too, to conceive him, fond of litera- 
ture as he was, and withal a man of leisure, 



64 CAXTON AND 

intensely interested in the new art which was 
now springing up, and making himself ac- 
quainted, so far as circumstances allowed, with 
its practical details. 

His attention would also be directed specially 
to England, by circumstances that occurred 
while engaged in his translation. Edward iv. 
had arrived in Bruges, a fugitive from civil 
war, "attended by seven or eight hundred 
men, without any clothes but what they were 
to have fought in, and with no money in their 
pockets J " while he "was forced to give the 
master of the ship for his passage a gown 
lined with martens." Caxton was honoured 
with the confidence of the celebrated earl 
Elvers, the sovereign's brother-in-law, and as, 
after an exile of a few months, Edward again 
swayed the sceptre of England, it seems in the 
highest degree probable, that Caxton antici- 
pated the favour of the royal patronage in his 
native land. 

That he actually printed the work he had 
translated, is placed beyond all dispute. He 
says towards the conclusion, " Thus end I this 
book, and forasmuch as in writing of the 
same my pen is worn, my hand weary, and my 
eyes dimmed with overmuch looking on the 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 65 

white paper, and that age creepeth on me 
daily, and also, because I have promised to 
divers gentlemen, and to my friends to address 
to them as hastily as I might this said book, 
therefore I have practised and learned at my 
great charge and expense, to ordain this said 
book in print after the manner and form as ye 
may here see, that it is not written with pen and 
ink, as other books be, to the end that every 
man may have them at once, for all the books of 
this story named the ' Recuyel of the Historyes 
of Troye,' thus imprinted, as ye here see, were 
begun in one day, and also finished in one 
day." 

All who are conversant with old books will 
recognise here the style and language of the 
first printers. At the end of each of the first 
works issued from Mentz, they apprised the 
public that they were not drawn or written by 
a pen, but made by a new art and invention of 
printing or stamping them by characters or 
types of metal set in forms. Caxton says, 
moreover, the " work was begun in Bruges, 
and continued in Ghent, and finished in Cologne, 
in time of the troublesome world, and of the 
great divisions being and reigning, as well in 
the kingdoms of England and France as in all 
c 



66 CAXTON AND 

other places universally through the world, that 
is to wit, the year of our Lord one thousand 
four hundred and seventy-one." 

To say that Caxton printed his book is to 
describe, in few words, a work of great com- 
plexity and difficulty. To accomplish this he 
must have had types, either by buying them 
ready for use, or by procuring the moulds that 
would yield them ; and Avhen obtained, it 
would be no easy task duly to arrange them. 
Then a press was to be obtained, doubtless a 
very humble affair, a mere board, acted on by 
a screw, like a cheese-press or a napkin-press, 
so that the types would be pressed after 
they were inked, slowly, laboriously, and un- 
certainly. Ink, too, had to be made, and the 
balls by which it could be applied, a rude and 
disagreeable process, yet one tjiat was con- 
tinued for a long time, and which is even now 
in use. 

Assuredly, it was an arduous affair to be 
compositor and pressman under such circum- 
stances, and a due consideration of the matter 
will increase our sense of Caxton's ability and 
perseverance. " The Histories of Troy" would 
have no attraction for the reader in the present 
age ; but far different was it in the days of 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 67 

Caxton ; while the earliest work that issued 
from his press cannot but be regarded with 
lively interest, as the first sheaf of an extensive 
harvest, into which multitudes in after days 
have thrust in the sickle. 



6S CAXTON AND 



CPIAPTER III. 

Settlement of Caxton in England— The story of Atkyns— The 
first press set up in Westminster— Caxton 's first book, 
" The Game of Chess "—His other works— Caxton's patron, 
the earl of Rivers— Why did he not print the Scriptures ? 

The settlement of Caxton in this country, for 
the practice of the typographical art which has 
shed so much honour on his name, is generally 
admitted to have taken place in the year 1474, 
towards the close of the reign of Edward iv. 

It has, however, been argued by a writer 
named Atkyns, that printing was a royal pre- 
rogative, and that the art was brought into 
England at the expense of the crown, through 
another channel than Caxton. " Thomas 
Bourchier, archbishop of Canterbury," he says, 
"moved the then king Henry vi. to use all 
possible means for procuring a printing-mould 
(for so it was then called) to be brought into 
this kingdom. The king, a good man, and 
much given to works of this nature, readily 
hearkened to the motion ; and taking private 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 69 

advice how to effect this design, concluded it 
could not be brought about without great 
secrecy, and a considerable sum of money given 
to such person or persons as would draw off 
some of the workmen from Haarlem in Holland, 
where John Guttenberg had newly invented it, 
and was himself personally at work. It was 
resolved that less than one thousand marks 
would not produce the desired effect ; towards 
which sum the said archbishop presented the 
king with three hundred marks. 

" The money being now prepared, the ma- 
nagement of the design was committed to Mr. 
Robert Turnour, who then was keeper of the 
robes of the king, and a person most in favour 
with him of any of his condition. Mr. Turnour 
took to his assistance Mr. Caxton, a citizen of 
good abilities, who, trading much with Holland, 
might be a creditable pretence, as well for his 
going as for his staying in the Low Countries. 
Mr. Turnour was in disguise, his beard and 
hair shaven quite off, but Mr. Caxton appeared 
known and public. 

*' They having received the sum of one 
thousand marks, went first to Amsterdam, then 
to Leyden, not daring to enter Haarlem itself, 
for the town was very jealous, having impri- 



70 CAXTON AND 

soned and apprehended divers porsons, who 
came from other parts for the same purpose. 
They stayed till they had spent the whole one 
thousand marks in gifts and expenses. So, as 
the king was fain to send five hundred marks 
more, Mr. Turnour having written to the king 
that he had almost done his work, a bargain, as 
he said, being struck by him and two Hol- 
landers for bringing off one of the workmen, 
who should sufficiently discover and teach the 
new art. At last, with much ado, they got off 
one of the under workmen, whose name was 
Frederick Corsells, or rather Corsellis ; who 
late one night stole from his fellows in disguise, 
into a vessel prepared before for that purpose ; 
and so the wind, favouring the design, brought 
him safe to London. It was not thought so 
prudent to set him to work at London, but by 
the archbishop's means, who had been vice- 
chancellor, and afterwards chancellor of the 
university of Oxon, Corsellis was carried with 
a guard to Oxon, which constantly watched to 
prevent Corsellis from any possible escape, till 
he had made good his promise, in teaching how 
to print. So that at Oxford printing was first 
set up in England."* 

* History of the University of Oxford. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 71 

Anthony Wood, repeating the story, adds, 
" And thus the mystery of printing appeared 
ten years sooner in the University of Oxford 
than at any other place in Europe, Haarlem 
and Mentz excepted." It is unnecessary to 
dwell on the inconsistencies of this romantic 
tale, or its inaccuracies, as when it describes 
John Guttenberg as labouring at " Haarlem 
in Holland." It is possible that Henry vi. 
might have seen the Mazarine Bible, of which 
Mr. Hallam sayg, "It is a very striking cir- 
cumstance, that the high-minded inventors of 
this great art tried at the very outset so bold a 
flight as the printing an entire Bible, and 
executed it with astonishing success. It was 
Minerva leaping on earth in her divine strength 
and radiant armour, ready at the moment of 
her nativity to subdue and destroy her enemies." 
The story of Atlcyns also wants confirmation. 
He says, indeed, "a certain worthy person did 
present me with a copy of a record and manu- 
scripts in Lambeth House, heretofore in his 
custody, belonging to the see, and not to any 
particular archbishop of Canterbury. The 
substance whereof was this : (by this he refers 
to the narrative above given) — though I hope, 
for public satisfaction, the record itself, in its 



72 CAXTON AND 

due time, will appear." But that time never 
came ; and thus the tale wants the support 
which it was intimated it would one day receive. 

Atkyns speaks also of a book " printed at 
Oxon, A.D. 1468, which was three years before 
any of the recited authors would allow it 
(printing) to be in England." In this state- 
ment his position is somewhat improved. There 
is a little book, which little thought of before, 
fell under the notice of the curious about the 
time of the Restoration — a book which actually 
bears date at Oxford, in the year 1468, copies 
being yet extant. It is a small quarto, of 
forty- one leaves, entitled " Expositio Sancti 
Jeronimi in Symbolum Apostolorum ad Papani 
Laurentium." But this was a book produced 
from wooden types, a mode practised long be- 
fore the invention of Guttenberg, and clearly 
distinguishable from the metal types, which are 
traceable to him, and which Caxton was the 
first to employ in our country. A due con- 
sideration of the vast difference between the 
two modes of producing impressions would 
have prevented the controversy which has been 
waged on this subject. 

As to the site of the first printing-press in 
England, an old writer says it was " St. Ann's, an 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 73 

old chapel, over against which the lady Margaret, 
mother to king Henry vii., erected an alms- 
house for poor women, which is now (in 
Stowe's time) turned into lodgings for sing- 
ing men of the college. The place wherein 
this chapel and almshouse stood was called the 
Eleemosynary, or Almonry, now corruptly the 
Amlry (Aumlry),* for that the alms of the 
abbey were there distributed to the poor ; in 
which the abbot of Westminster erected the 
first press for book printing that ever was in 
England, about the year of Christ 1471, and 
where William Caxton, citizen and mercer of 
London, practised it." 

It is indeed very probable that Caxton, after 
the manner observed in other monasteries, set 
up his press near one of the chapels attached to 
the aisles of Westminster Abbey. The sup- 
position has, therefore, been indulged, 

" Each printer hence, howe'er unbless'd his walls, 
E'en to this day, his house a Chapel calls." 

But no remains of so interesting a place can 
now be ascertained, and there is a strong pre- 
sumption that the first printing-office was 
demolished to make room for the building of 
the far-famed chapel of Henry vii. Caxton's 

* It was so called within the last fifty years. 
C 2 



74 CAXTON AND 

office, it is said, was at a subsequent period re- 
moved into King-street just by, but its precise 
locality cannot be now pointed out. 

Bagford says, " Caxton's first book printed 
in the Abbey was * The Game of Chess,' a book 
in those times much in use with all sorts 
of people, and in all likelihood first desired 
by the abbot, and the rest of his friends and 
masters." It was a translation by himself 
of a work written by Dacciesole, a Dominican 
friar, so early, according to Hyde, as 1200. 
Of it Caxton says, " It is full of wholesome 
wisdom, and requisite unto every state and 
degree ; " a statement very inapplicable, we 
might have thought, to a work of this character. 
It appears, however, to have blended with in- 
structions for playing the game, counsels which 
would enable the people, according to Caxton's 
notions, " to understand wisdom and virtue ;" 
he therefore dedicates it to the duke of Clarence, 
saying, " Forasmuch as I have understood and 
known that you are inclined unto the common- 
weal of the king, our said sovereign lord, his 
nobles, lords, and common people of his noble 
realm of England, and that ye saw gladly the 
inhabitants of the same informed in good, 
virtuous, profitable, and honest manners." 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 75 

Of the character, reception, and effect of the 
works which subsequent!}^ issued from Caxton's 
press, Warton* gives the following account : — 
" By means of French translations, our coun- 
trymen — who understood French better than 
Latin — became acquainted with many useful 
books, which they would not otherwise have 
known. With such assistances, a commodious 
access to the classics was opened, and the 
knowledge of ancient literature facilitated and 
familiarized in England at a much earlier 
period than is imagined, and at a time when 
little more than the productions of speculative 
monks and irrefragable doctors could be ob- 
tained or were studied." 

How confused and barren the field of instruc- 
tion was in the most celebrated schools of the 
age, it is difficult now adequately to conceive. 
In philosophy, nothing was studied but mathe- 
matics and logic, and the latter was taught 
in a trifling and useless manner from a work 
attributed to Augustine. Neither preceptor 
nor pupil desired nor dared greater things. 
The circle of instruction, or the liberal arts, as 
the term was then understood, consisted of two 
branches, the trivium and the quadrivium. 

I * History of Poetry. 

I 



7(? CAXTON AND 

The trivium included grammar, rhetoric, and 
dialectics ; the quadrivium comprehended 
music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy. 
He who was master of these — as then taught — 
was thought to have no need of a preceptor to 
explain any books or to solve any questions 
which lay within the compass of human reason, 
the knowledge of the trivium being supposed to 
have furnished him with the key to all lan- 
guages ; and that of the quadrivium to have 
opened to him the secret laws of nature. 

The scholastic questions were called Questiones 
QuodlibeticWy and were generally so ridiculous 
that we have retained the word quodlibet in 
our vernacular style, to express anything 
absurdly subtle. They distinguished imiversalsj 
or what we call abstract terms, by the genera 
and species rerum; and they never could decide 
whether these were substances or names; that 
is, whether the abstract idea we form of a horse 
was not really a beiiig as much as the horse we 
ride. A favourite topic of discussion, and 
one which the acutest logicians never resolved 
was, " When a hog is carried to market with a 
rope tied about its neck, which is held at the 
other end by a man, whether is the hog carried 
to the market by the rope or the man ?" 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 77 

In the view of these circumstances Warton con- 
tinues, referring to what he had just styled " many 
useful books ;" "when these authors, therefore, 
appeared in a language almost as intelligible as 
the English, they fell into the hands of illiterate 
and common readers, and contributed to sow 
the seeds of a national erudition and to form a 
popular taste. Even the French versions of 
the religious, philosophical, historical, and alle- 
gorical compositions of those more enlightened 
Latin writers who flourished in the middle 
ages, had their use till better books came into 
vogue ; pregnant as they were with absurdities, 
they communicated instruction on various and 
new subjects, enlarged the field of information, 
and promoted the love of reading, by gratifying 
that growing literary curiosity which now 
began to want materials for the exercise of its 
operations." 

" These French versions," "Warton adds, 
"enabled Caxton, our first printer, to enrich 
the state of letters in this country with many 
valuable publications. He found it no difficult 
task, either by himself or the help of his friends, 
to turn a considerable number of these pieces 
into English, which he printed. Ancient learn- 
ing had as yet made too little progress in our 



78 CAXTON AND 

country to encourage this enterprising and 
industrious artist to publish the Koman authors 
in their original language ; and had not 
the French furnished him with these mate- 
rials, it is not likely that Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, 
and many other good writers would, by the 
means of his press, have been circulated in the 
English tongue so early as the close of the 
fifteenth century." 

Of all Caxton's contemporaries, the lord 
Eivers appears to have been the only one who 
rendered him any literary assistance. One of 
his works, " The Moral Proverbs of Christine 
de Pisa," a metrical translation of a little French 
poem, Caxton dismisses with the following 
words : — 

" Go thou little quire and recommend me 
Unto the good grace of ray special lord 
Th' earl Rivers, for I have emprinted thee 
At his commandment, following every word 
His copy, as his secretary can record, 
At Westminster, of Feuerer the xx day, 
And of king Edward the xvii day \Taye." 

This friend and patron of Caxton had no 
ordinary trials to endure. When Edward iv. 
Avas one day hunting in Northamptonshire, and 
had paid a visit to the duchess-dowager of Bed- 
ford, her grace's daughter Elizabeth, the widow 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 79 

of sir Joha Grey, of Groby, who had fallen on 
the Lancastrian side in the second battle of St. 
Albans, came and threw herself at the monarch's 
feet, imploring him to reverse her husband's 
attainder in favour of her innocent children. 
Captivated by her elegant form, her graceful 
and winning manners, and her language and 
sentiments, marked as they were by propriety 
and wit, the sovereign eventually married her. 
This led to the elevation of her family, and to 
the creation of her father — a baron in the late 
reign — as earl Rivers, amidst great jealousy on 
the part of the Nevilles, who had expected to 
enjoy a monopoly of power under the prince 
whom they had placed on the throne. An in- 
surrection of the peasantry soon after broke out 
in Yorkshire, a county in which the influence 
of the Nevilles chiefly lay. After being de- 
feated, and witnessing the capture and execution 
of their leader, other parties placed themselves 
at the head of the insurgents, requiring the 
removal of the Woodvilles — the family of the 
earl Rivers. The king was in great perplexity ; 
he wrote to Clarence and Warwick ordering them 
to hasten to him from Calais. Lord Herbert 
advanced from Wales with eight thousand men, 
and lord Stafford joined him at Banbury with 



80 CAXTON AND 

five thousand. The next day the rebels fell 
on Herbert at Edgecote, and killed him, with 
five thousand of his followers. In the pursuit 
which followed this engagement, the victors 
found lord Rivers and his son John in the 
forest of Dean, and brought them to Northamp- 
ton, where they were executed by a real or 
pretended order from Clarence and Warwick. 

It was after this catastrophe, in which his 
father and brother had fallen, that the second 
lord Rivers wrote his book, entitled " Cordial, ' 
which Caxton says was delivered to him " for tc 
be imprinted and so multiplied to go abroad 
among the people, that thereby more surely 
might be remembered the last four things 
undoubtedly coming." A third work of his lord- 
ship, published by Caxton, was the " Dictes 
and Sayings of the Philosophers." Lord Rivers, 
however, had not reached forty years of age 
when death came to him in a terrific form. 
He was murdered in Pomfret Castle by order 
of Richard m. 

It is not our purpose to describe in detail 
the labours of Caxton ; we shall satisfy our- 
selves, therefore, with the summary statement 
of Dr. Dibdin : " Exclusively of the labours 
attached to the working of his press as a new 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 81 

aif, our typographer contrived, though well 
stricken in years, to translate not fewer than 
five thousand closely printed folio pages. As 
a translator, therefore, he ranks among the 
most laborious, and I would hope not the least 
successful of his tribe. The foregoing con- 
clusion is the result of a careful enumeration of 
all the books translated as well as printed by 
him ; which, (the translated books,) if pub- 
lished in the modern fashion, would extend to 
nearly twenty-five octavo volumes." 

The first printed books had some marked 
peculiarities, apart from those which, if de- 
scribed, would only be understood by persons 
who are well acquainted with the technicalities 
of the art. Thus, they were generally either 
large or small folios, or at least quartos ; the 
lesser sizes not being in use. Some of them 
have no titles, nor number of pages, nor were 
there in any divisions into paragraphs. The 
character employed was purposely designed to 
imitate the hand-writing of the time ; the 
words were printed so closely together that to 
read was difficult and tedious, while the inat- 
tentive reader was frequently led into mistakes. 

In the early ages of printing, the uniform 
character employed was an imitation of the old 



82 CAXTON AND 

Gothic or German, from which our old English 
was formed — a character now obsolete in the west 
of Europe, except for the purpose of printing 
ancient works in fac-simile, or giving variety to 
other forms of typography. In Germany, how- 
ever, and the states and kingdoms which lie 
round the Baltic, works for ordinary use are 
still printed in type of this description, which is 
popularly known as German text. 

The orthography employed by the early 
typographers was various, and often arbitrary. 
They made use of abbreviations, which in time 
grew so numerous, that a key was published as 
necessary to explain them. An oblique stroke 
answered the purpose of our comma. No 
capital letters were used to begin a sentence, or 
for proper names of men or places. The early 
printers, too, left blanks for the places of titles, 
initial letters, and other ornaments, that they 
might be supplied by ingenious artists. Such 
ornaments were exquisitely fine, and curiously 
variegated with the most beautiful colours, and 
even with gold and silver. The margins were 
likewise adorned with a variety of figures of 
saints, birds, beasts, flowers, and monsters, 
which sometimes had reference to the con- 
tents of the page, though often it is impossible 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 83 

to trace between them and the author's subject 
the most remote analogy. These embellish- 
ments were very costly ; but there were others 
of an inferior kind, at a proportionately lower 
expense. 

Nor should it be overlooked that the early- 
printer was a bookbinder also, placing his 
leaves literally between hoards, and making 
some books so heavy as to give rise to the say- 
ing, " No man can carry them about, much less 
get them into his head." 

It has sometimes been asked, " How was it 
that Caxton did not print the Bible?" And 
the question is natural, especially as this was 
the first great work of the typographic art, 
with which he must have been fully acquainted. 
Nor were the Sacred Scriptures, as in the 
edition of Guttenberg and Fust, restricted to 
the Latin tongue. Before the days of Wycliffe, 
portions of them had been translated into 
English, and passed, probably, in some in- 
stances, into the hands of wealthy and distin- 
guished persons among the laity ; but it 
remained for the English reformer to form the 
sublime purpose of translating the whole of 
them from Latin into English, and to cany it 
into full accomplishment. 



84 CAXTON AND 

In venturing to take tins step, Wycliffe, as is 
well known, exposed himself to the displeasure 
of the priests. Knighton, the canon of Lei- 
cester, did not hesitate to say, " Christ delivered 
his doctrine to the doctors of the church, that 
they might minister to the laity and weaker 
persons, according to the state of the times, 
and the wants of men. But this master John 
Wycliffe translated it out of Latin into English, 
and thus laid it more open to the laity, and to 
women who could read, than it had formerly 
been to the most learned of the clergy, even to 
those of them who had the best understanding. 
And in this way the gospel pearl is cast abroad, 
and trodden under foot of swine ; and this 
which was before precious to clergy and laity, 
is rendered, as it were, the common jest of 
both. The jewel of the church is turned into 
the sport of the people ; and what was hitherto 
the principal gift of the clergy and divines, is 
made for ever common to the laity." 

In the feeling thus discovered by Knighton, 
the English clergy fully sympathized, for when 
assembled in council, under the presidency of 
archbishop Arundel, they issued an enactment 
as follows : — " The translation of the text of 
the Holy Scriptures out of one tongue into 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 85 

another is a dangerous thing, as St. Jerome 
testifies, because it is not easy to make the 
verse in all respects the same. Tiierefore we 
enact and ordain that no one henceforth do, by 
his own authority, translate any text of the 
Holy Scriptures into the English tongue, or 
any other, by way of book or treatise ; nor let 
any such book or treatise, now lately composed 
in the time of John Wycliflfe aforesaid, or since, 
hereafter to be composed, be read in whole or 
in part, in public or in private, under the pain 
of the greater excommunication." It is to this 
enactment that sir Thomas More attributes the 
conduct of Caxton. " On account," he says, 
" of the penalties ordered by archbishop 
Arundel's institution, though the old transla- 
tions that were before Wycliflfe's days remained 
lawful, and were in some folks' hands had and 
read, yet he thought no printer would lightly 
be so hot to put the Bible in print at his own 
charge, and then hang upon a doubtful trial 
whether the first copy of his translation was 
made before Wycliffe's days or since ; for if it 
were made since, it must be approved before 
the printing." 

The labours of Caxton closed with his trans- 
lation iroui the French into English of a work 



86 CAXTON AND 

which thus begins : — " When it is so, that 
what a man maketh or doeth it is made to 
come to some end, and if the thing be good or 
well made it must needs come to good end ; 
then by better and greater reason every man 
ought to intend in such wise to live in this 
world, in keeping the commandments of God, 
that he may come to a good end. And then 
out of this world, full of wretchedness and 
tribulations, he may go to heaven unto God 
and his saints unto joy ever durable." In this 
work he was engaged on the last day of his 
life, the 15th of June, 1490, when he was about 
eighty years of age. 

This work was entitled, " The Art and Craft 
to Know well to Die." To know well to die I 
This is indeed a knowledge of all others the 
most desirable. Man is a guilty sinner ; his 
heart and his life are stained with countless 
transgressions ; he has violated the holy and 
perfect law of God, and in consequence is 
exposed to ruin and everlasting woe. To 
know, then, how to have solid peace in that 
hour which ushers the soul from time to 
eternity, must be unspeakably important. 
This knowledge the word of God supplies. 
Man is guilty, but the Saviour hath made an 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 87 

atonement ; he hath brought in an everlasting 
righteousness ; he hath come as foretold by 
prophecy, to finish transgression, and make an 
end of sin. He hath borne the curse of a 
violated law, and now repentance and remission 
of sin, through faith in his blood, are freely 
proclaimed. The soul that trusts in the Saviour 
with a living faith ; that has surrendered itself 
up to be sanctified by his Holy Spirit; that 
from a principle of love takes up his light and 
easy yoke, and walks in obedience to all his 
holy will — that soul has learned how to die 
well. When it passes through the dark valley 
the Saviour shall be with it to give it light, and 
shall enable it to exclaim, "O death, where 
is thy sting ? O grave, where is thy victory ? 
The sting of death is sin ; and the strength of 
sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which 
giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus 
Christ." 



88 CAXTON AND 



CHAPTER IV. 

Wynken de Worde— Extension of the art of printing— The 
first books— Blaew's improvement of the printing-press- 
Aldus Manutius— The Estiennes or Stephenses— Wolfe, 
the first king's printer— Immediate results of the art of 
printing— Advancement of literature. 

England's first printer was now removed from 
the world, but "the office" in which he had 
toiled even till the coming of the messenger of 
death was not to be closed, or appropriated to 
different purposes. Wynken de Worde, who 
was born in the dukedom of Lorraine, and who 
accompanied Caxton to England, continued 
with him, in some capacity, till the death 
of the latter. He was Caxton's successor/ 
too, in his house at Westminster, and styled' 
himself " Printer to Margaret, etc., the king's 
grandame." He printed the Acts of Parha- 
ment with the royal arms for some years, using 
an imprint cut and seal similar to what Caxtou 
had employed. Some of the Acts of Pailiu- 



THE ABT OF PRINTING. 89 

ment bear the imprint "Fleet-street, at the 
sygn of the Sonne, by Wynken de Worde." 

It is probable that he kept both shops for 
some time, where, by himself and his servants, 
he performed all parts of a printer's business, 
and also supplied other printers in the metro- 
polis. He is said to have printed several Latin 
as well as English volumes, and to have done 
so till 1533, if not beyond that time. No 
Greek works, appear however, to have issued 
from his press. Though the immediate suc- 
cessor of Caxton, he made many improvements 
in the art. On commencing business for him- 
self, his first care was to cut a new set of 
punches ; he sunk these into matrices, and cast 
several sorts of printing letters, which he after- 
wards used. He was the first English printer 
who introduced the Koman letter in England, 
employing it to distinguish anything remark- 
able. So true was the type he used, and so 
well have its impressions stood the test of time, 
that it is not considered to have been since 
excelled. 

Most of his books now remaining were 
printed in St. Bride's parish, Fleet-street, at the 
sign of the Sun. The exact situation of his 
place of business is not, however, easily deter- 



90 CAXTON AlTD 

mined. His residence is usually said to have 
been " over against the conduit." This conduit, 
founded by sir William Eastfield, was at the 
south end of Shoe-lane. It was rebuilt in 
1582, but was superseded by the introduction 
of water from the New Eiver into London. Its 
remains perished in the Great Fire of London. 
The art of printing was speedily extended 
to other places in England besides London. 
Theodoric Rood, a native of Cologne, practised 
it in the city of Oxford in 1480, and continued 
to do so for several years. Into the University 
of Cambridge it was introduced at a very early 
period after its rise in England, but it is un- 
certain who were the persons that carried the 
art thither. A schoolmaster conducted a 
printing-press at St. Albans so early as 1480, 
and many others were set up in different 
places ; among which may be mentioned York, 
Canterbury, Worcester, Ipswich, and Norwich, 
besides South wark, Greenwich, and Moulsey, 
near Kingston. Two copies of a Breviary of 
the Church of Aberdeen, printed thirty-five 
years after the first labours of Caxton at West- 
minster, have been found. The Common Prayer 
was printed in Dublin by Humphrey Powell, 
in quarto, black letter, in 1551. Previously, 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 91 

and even subsequently to that period, the 
authors of Ireland caused their works to be 
printed abroad. 

The first Bible with a date is in Latin, and 
was printed, as we have seen, on vellum, in 
1462, by Fust and Schoeffer. The first book in 
Greek characters is a " Grammar" of the Greek 
language, bearing date 1476. " -<Esop's Fables" 
was the first Greek classic printed ; it was 
executed at Milan, about 1480. The first 
Latin classic printed was Cicero's " Offices ; " 
it appeared in 1465, the work of Fust and 
Schoeffer. One of the first books printed 
with diagrams was ■" Euclid's Geometry," in 
Latin ; it was printed at Venice, by Ratdoldt, 
in 1482. The works of Virgil, printed there 
by Aldus, in 1501, formed the first book 
printed in italic types, and was the result of 
the earliest attempt to produce cheap books. 
One of the earliest books of travels, and the 
first illustrated with folding plates, was printed 
at Mentz in 1486. It is, like all the rarities 
now enumerated, in the British Museum. The 
earliest book in which engravings are found is 
a copy of Dante, printed at Florence, in 1481. 

An ingenious person named Blaew is enti- 
tled to particular notice in a history, however 



92 CAXTON AND 

brief, of the printing-press. He served his 
apprenticeship as a joiner, but being of an 
inquisitive disposition, he rambled from Amster- 
dam to Denmark, at a time peculiarly favour- 
able to his purposes. There the celebrated 
Tycho Brahe had established his astronomical 
observatory, and Blaew was emj^loyed in mak- 
ing his mathematical instruments. It is said 
that in these he made many improvements, and 
that all or most of the sidereal observations pub- 
lished in Tycho's name, were due to him. 

To gratify Blaew, Tycho gave him copies of 
them before they were published to the world ; 
and with these he went to Amsterdam, and 
practised the making of globes. As his trade 
increased, he found it necessary to deal in geogra- 
phical maps and books, and became so particu- 
lar as to his plates, that many of them were 
engraved with his own hand. He also set up a 
printing-office, and being sensible of the incon-t 
veniences attending the rudely-constructed typo-, 
graphical machine which had now been in use^^j 
about a hundred years, he made in it many 
considerable improvements. Having constructed 
nine printing-presses, he bestowed on them the 
names of the nine muses. The excellence of 
their workmanship soon became known, so that 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 93 

in a few years presses of his construction 
became almost general throughout the Low 
Countries, and from thence were introduced 
into England. 

Special honour is also due, in connexion 
with the history of the art of printing, to Aldus 
Manutius. He received a learned education, 
passed his early life in literary pursuits, and in 
the society of some of the most distinguished 
scholars of his time, and was forty years of age 
before he set up his printing-office at Venice. 
His means were limited, and he had much to 
suffer from the distracted state of his country. 
He was even obliged to retire from Venice 
altogether for twelve months, and on quitting 
Milan, where he had found a refuge, he was 
seized as a spy, and consigned to a dungeon, 
from whence he only obtained deliverance by 
the interposition of a friend, who happened to 
be the vice-chancellor of the Milanese senate. 
And yet, during his career of twenty-six years 
as a printer, he gave to the world editions 
of nearly all the Greek and Roman authors 
then known to exist. Nor did these publica- 
tions involve ordinary labour ; for in almost 
every instance he transcribed the text from 
manuscripts, which it required great learning, 



94 CAXTON AND 

patience, and sagacity, to decipher, and selected 
from the various readings, those which he ' 
regarded as the most correct. He, there- ' 
fore, acted the part of editor as well as that 
of printer and publisher. Aldus Manutius 
was also the author of several works of great 
erudition. Aniong these were grammars of 
the Gree]c and Latin languages, and a Dic- 
tionary of them, forming a folio volume, the 
first of the kind that had ever been prepared. 
In the first years also of his residence at Venice, 
he delivered several courses of lectures on 
Greek and Roman literature, and founded 
a literary association — the Aldine Academy, 
which obtained for itself, from the learning 
of its members, a high celebrity. He also 
invented the beautiful letter now generally in 
use, and known by the name of Aldine, or 
Italic. 

The Estiennes or Stephenses of France were 
celebrated as printers for nearly a hundred and 
fifty years. Robert Stephens was born at Paris 
in 1503, and for some time acted as chief manager 
of the establishment of his father-in-law, Simon 
de Colines, where he superintended an edition 
of the New Testament. The publication of 
this work was a grave offence to the doctors of 



THE AJJT OF PRINTING. 95 

the theological college — the Sorbonne — and ex- 
cited suspicions of his favouring Protestantism, 
to which he afterwards openly adhered. He 
commenced business as a printer in his native 
city, in 1526. 

Like Mauutius, he was greatly distinguished 
by his scholarship. The works which issued 
from his press \vere remarkable for their 
exquisite typography and their great correct- 
ness. It is said he was accustomed, on many 
occasions, to exhibit the proof-sheets for public 
inspection, and to offer a reward for any 
error which might be detected in them. To 
him has been attributed the divisions of the 
Scriptures into chapters ajjd verses, but his 
claims in this respect have been over-stated. 
The invention of chapters has been ascribed by 
some to Lanfranc, who was archbishop of Can- 
terbury in the reigns of Wilham the Conqueror 
and William ii. Others attribute it to Stephen 
Langton, who was archbishop of that see in the 
reigns of Jolm and Henry in. But the real 
author of this division was cardinal Hugo, who 
flourished about the middle of the thirteenth 
century, and wrote a celebrated Commentary 
on the Scriptures. 

Robert Stephens was, however, the fii'st 



96 CAXTON AND 

inventor of the verses into which the New 
Testament is now divided, and introduced them 
in his edition of it, published in the year 1551. 
The arrangement was soon adopted into all 
other versions of the New Testament; but it 
may be observed, that he placed the figures in 
the margin, without forming every verse into a; 
distinct paragraph. The method now com- 
monly in use was first exhibited in the Geneva 
English Bible, printed about the year 1560. 

Henry, the eldest son of Robert Stephens, 
was one of the most learned men of his time ;• 
his mother, the daughter of lodocus Badius, 
also a printer, was a woman of extraordinary 
acquirements, and used the Latin language in 
common conversation, with the rest of the 
family. Henry, who gave proof of his predilec- 
tion for literature from his earliest years, soon 
made himself famihar with Greek, and, at the- 
age of eighteen, assisted his father in collating 
the manuscripts of Dionysius. He then tra- 
velled in Italy, whence he brought the Odes of 
Anacreon, which he afterwards published ; and' 
having visited England and the Netherlands, 
he returned to Paris. 

The death of Francis i. exposed the elder 
Stephens to peril as a Protestant, and he, in 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 97 

consequence, retired to Geneva, where he re- 
sumed his business as a printer. Henry ac- 
companied his father to that city, but returned 
to Paris, where he established a printing-office 
in 1557, and began printing the works of various 
Greek authors, the manuscripts of Avhich he 
had collected during his travels ; all being 
corrected by himself and enriched with annota- 
tions from his own pen. In this way, like his 
parent, he obtained distinction, not only for his 
ability and taste as a typographer, but for his 
thorough acquaintance with classical lore. 

He attained, however, the pinnacle of his 
fame by the publication of his Thesaurus — a 
dictionary of the Greek language, which was 
the result of twelve years' devoted application. 
This work, imhappily, involved him in serious 
pecuniary difficulties, with which he struggled 
unsuccessfully for several years. Its sale was 
not sufficiently rapid to reimburse him for its 
cost, and Avhen he was looking for the time at 
which it might be expected to do so, his hope 
was suddenly extinguished by a circumstance 
which he had not anticipated. A person named 
Scapula, employed in his office, secretly and 
treacherously abridged the Thesaurus, and 
ruined its sale by a cheaper and briefer edition 
D 



98 CAXTON AND 

of it. It is considered by some, however, that 
Scapula's "work was an original composition. 

With unwearied diligence Stephens con- 
tinued his labours for some years as an author 
and a printer, sustained by the promises of 
Henry in., which brought upon him many 
bitter disappointments. The death of his wife, 
whom he tenderly loved, increased his sorrows, 
and leaving Paris, he spent several years in 
wandering from one place to another ; now at 
Orleans, again at Paris, and afterwards in 
Germany, Switzerland, and Hungary. He died 
in an almshouse at Lyons, where he was at- 
tacked by disease, at the age of seventy. 

A foreigner named Wolfe, a native either* of 
Germany or Switzerland, set up a printing- 
house in St. Paul's Churchyard, at the sign of 
the Brazen Serpent, which was a device used by 
foreign prinj;ers. He followed his business with 
great reputation for many years, and published 
most of the pieces of archbishop Cranmer. 

Wolfe was the first who had a patent, dated 
A.D. 1543, for being printer to the king in 
Latin, Greek, and Hebrew ; thus being author- 
ized to be his majesty's bookseller and stationer, 
and to print all kinds of books in these lan- 
guages, and also charts, maps, and whatever 



THE ART OP PRINTING. 99 

might at any time be useful or necessary. He 
was permitted to exercise this office by himself, 
or by sufficient deputies ; and enjoyed an 
annuity of twenty-six shillings and eightpence, 
besides all other profits and advantages belong- 
ing to his office during his life. All other 
booksellers and printers were forbidden to sell 
or print any books printed by him at his own 
charge, or in his name, on pain of forfeiting 
the books. It appears he desisted from print- 
ing during the reign of queen Mary, and spent 
his time in collecting materials for his English 
chronicles, afterwards digested and printed by 
Holinshed. 

" Every branch of modern science," says an 
eminent living writer,* '* abounds with instances 
of remote correspondences between the great 
system of the world and the artificial condition 
to which knowledge raises man. If these cor- 
respondences were singular or rare, they might 
be deemed merely fortuitous, like the drifting 
of a plank athwart the track of one who is 
swimming from a wreck. But when they meet 
us on all sides and invariably, we must be reso- 
lute in atheism not to confess that they are 
emanations from one and the same centre of 
* Isaac Taylor, esq. 



100 CAXTON AND 

goodness. Is ifc nothing more than a lucky 
accommodation which makes the polarity of 
the needle to subserve the purposes of the 
mariner ? Or may it not be safely affirmed, 
both that the magnetic influence (whatever its 
primary intention may be) had reference to the 
business of navigation — a reference incalculably 
important to the spread and improvement of the 
human race ; and that the discovery and the 
application of this influence arrived at the des- 
tined moment in the revolution of human affairs, 
when, in combination with other events, it 
would produce the greatest effect ? Nor should 
we scruple to aflirm that the relation between 
the earth's axis and the conspicuous star which, 
without a near rival, attracts even the eye of 
the vulgar, and shows the north to the wanderer 
in the wilderness or on the ocean, is in like 
manner a beneficent arrangement ? Those who 
would spurn the supposition that the celestial 
locality of a sun immeasurably remote from our 
system, should have reference to the accommo- 
dation of the inhabitants of a place so incon- 
siderable as our own, forget the style of the 
Divine works, which is to serve some greater 
principal end, compatible with ten thousand 
lesser or remoter interests," 



THE AUT OF PRINTING. 101 

In connexion with these observations it may 
be remarked, that the accordance of the art of 
printing with the spirit of the times which gave 
it birth, must be regarded as singuhirly provi- 
dential. Had the invention been made known 
at a much earlier period, it might have been 
disregarded or forgotten, from the mere want of 
materials on which to exercise it ; and had it 
been, on the contrar}', further postponed, it is 
probable that many works which are now re- 
garded as among the noblest monuments of the 
human intellect, would have been totally lost. 
In less than a century from the invention of 
printing, Copernicus discovered the true theory 
of the planetary motions ; and, in a very few 
years afterwards, he was succeeded in his astro- 
nomical career by the three great precursors of 
Newton — Tycho Brahe, Kepler, and Galileo. 
The advances made in other departments " of 
science and literature were also correspondingly 
rapid. 

" For us," says Diigald Stewart, " who have 
been accustomed from our infancy to the use of 
book?, it is not easy to form an adequate idea 
of the disadvantages which those laboured under 
who had to acquire the whole of their know- 
ledge through the medium of universities and 



102 CAXTON AND 

schools ; blindly devoted, as the generality of 
students must have been, to the peculiar 
opinions of the teacher, who first unfolded to 
their curiosity the treasures of literature and the 
wonders of science. Thus error was perpetu- 
ated ; and instead of yielding to time, acquired 
additional influence in each succeeding gene- 
ration. But the art of printing, by rendering 
the taught less dependent on their teachers, 
and by opening more widely the sources of 
knowledge, served quickly to break down these 
ancient barriers, and emancipated the human 
mind from its bondage." 

One instance of that vassalage to prescriptive 
authority here alluded to, appears in the influ- 
ence acquired by the writings of Aristotle ; an 
influence which, in some universities, was sup- 
ported by statutes, requiring the teachers to 
promise, on oath, that they would foster no 
other guide in their public lectures. And yet, 
as Dr. Reid observes, "his writings carry 
too evident marks of that philosophical pride, 
vanity, and envy, which have often sullied the 
character of the learned. He determines boldly 
things above all human knowledge, and enters 
on the most difficult questions, as his royal 
pupil, Alexander of Macedon, entered on a 



THE ART OF PRINTINa. 103 

battle, with full assurance of success. He de- 
livers his decisions oracularly, and without any 
fear of mistake. Rather than confess his igno- 
rance, he hides it under hard words and am- 
biguous expressions, of which his interpreters 
can make what they please. There is even 
reason to suspect that he wrote often with 
affected obscurity, either that the air of mystery 
might procure great veneration, or that his 
Dooks might be understood only by the adepts 
who had been initiated into his philosophy." 
Deep-seated, however, as was the attachment of 
the learned to the philosophy of Aristotle, the 
time had arrived when it was to be shaken to 
its foundation. 

Contemporary with the invention of printing 
various events occurred, all calculated to im- 
prove the mental condition of the people. 
Civil wars had diminished the power of the 
nobles, and the lower classes, who had grievously 
suffered from their oppressions, began to emerge 
from slavery. The policy of the sovereign had 
also tended to depress the aristocracy, and he 
restricted the number, of their retainers ; and 
thus, those who had previously spent their 
time in following some great lord to the wars, 
or in hanging idly about his gates in time of 



104 CAXTON AND 

peace, were driven to apply themselves to in- 
dustrious efforts, and from helpless dependents 
became useful subjects. The more general 
diffusion of wealth and extension of commerce 
consequent upon the discovery of the New 
"World, and of the passage to India by the 
Cape of Good Hope, concurred also with other 
causes to raise the condition of the middle 
and lower classes of the community. But for 
this elevation in their state, the advantages 
derived from the invention of printing would 
have been extremely limited ; for a certain 
degree of ease and independence is absolutely 
necessary to awaken in the mind the desire of 
knowledge, and to afford leisure for its pursuit. 
So long, too, as education and books are con- 
fined to one privileged class, they only furnish 
an additional engine for debasing and mislead- 
ing an inferior one. 

In consequence of the revival of letters, 
towards the close of the fifteenth century, a 
number of learned Greeks repaired to Italy, 
where the taste for literature already introduced 
by Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio, together 
with the liberal patronage of the illustrious house 
of the Medici, secured them a welcome recep- 
tion. A kuowledo:e of the Greek tono:ue soon 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 105 

became fashionable ; and the learned, encouraged 
by the rapid diffusion which the art of printing 
now gave to their efforts, presented the Greek 
authois, by means of Latin translations, to a 
still wider circle of readers. 

In England, also, literature revived, in conse- 
quence of the stimulus given to it by the use 
of the printing-press. Sir John Fortescue, and 
a few other writers, have left favourable speci- 
mens of prose composition, and their successors 
made still further improvements in style. 
Among these sir Thomas More is entitled to 
honourable mention, as occupying a distin- 
guished place in the ranks of the literati of his 
age. So intimate and critical was his ac- 
quaintance with the Greek and Latin languages 
before he had reached maturity, that he wrote 
and conversed in both of them with elegance 
and ease. His celebrated work, entitled " Uto- 
pia," was quickly translated into most of the 
European languages. With him, too, must be 
associated archbishop Cranmer, sir Thomas 
Elyot, and Roger Ascham. 

Warton very beautifully and justly compares 

the appearance of Chaucer in our language, to 

a premature English spring, after which the 

gloom returns, and the birds and blossoms 

d2 



106 CAXTON AND 

which have been called forth by a transient 
sunshine, are nipped by frosts and scattered by 
storms. The causes of the relapse of our 
poetry after Chaucer are but too apparent in 
the annals of English history, which, during 
five reigns of the fifteenth century, continue to 
display only a tissue of conspiracies, prescrip- 
tions, and bloodshed. Before the death of 
Henry vi., it is said one-half of the nobility 
and gentry in the kingdom had perished on the 
field or on the scaiFold. 

In noticing the rise of English literature, 
flowing from the introduction of the printing- 
press, one name is entitled to honourable 
notice — Henry Howard, earl of Suri^y, and 
heir-apparent to the duke of Norfolk, whom, 
however, he did not long survive. He was 
conspicuous in all the military achievements of 
the age ; and in 1544, as field marshal, he 
commanded the English army in an expedition 
against Boulogne ; but the tide of his success 
was <m the ebb. The despot Henry became 
jealous of his talents and popularity; certain 
frivolous and groundless charges were preferred 
against him ; the result was a mock trial, and, 
notwithstanding his manly and eloquent defence, 
he was executed in the thirtieth year of his age. 



THE ART OF PBINTING. 107 

Though cut off, however, before the full 
maturity of intellectual vigour, he lived long 
enough to effect some very material improve- 
ments in English poetry. The versification of 
preceding poets was more properly rhythmical 
than metrical. Although some improvements 
had been introduced by Chaucer, he left the 
number of syllables too indefinite, and did not 
reach the harmony and compression of which 
this noble poet afterwards exhibited an example. 

" Among the numerous poets," says Camp- 
bell, " belonging exclusively to Elizabeth's 
reign, Spenser stands without a class and with- 
out a rival. In the other poets of his age we 
chiefly admire their language, when it seems 
casually to advance into modern polish and 
succinctness. But the antiquity of Spenser's 
style has a peculiar charm. Much of his ex- 
pression is now become antiquated, tliough it 
is beautiful in its antiquity, and like the moss 
and ivy on some majestic building, covers the 
fabric of his language with romantic and vener- 
able associations." 

From that age to the protectorate of Crom- 
well, inclusively, there rose in a continued 
succession of distinguished authors, minds of 
all orders, >vriters in poetry, philosophy, 



108 CAXTON AiSD 

history, and theology, who have bequeathed 
to posterity many precious treasures of genuine 
EngHsh literature. The translation of the 
Scriptures, settled by authority, and which can 
never be materially changed, has secured per- 
petuity to the best model of the English tongue. 
Pope indeed said : 

" Our sons their fathers' failing language see, 
And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be." 

But this prediction is far less likely to be ful- 
lilled now than it was then, if we consider the 
slight departure there has been from the style 
of the great authors of the age of Elizabeth, 
and of those that followed in the succeeding 
reigns. And if, in some directions, a disposi- 
tion has been occasionally discoverable to under^ 
value the simplicity and force of our mother- 
tongue, even that disposition seems to have 
declined, if it be not now extinct. The art o. 
the confectioner will never displace our house- 
hold bread, nor the florid compositions of the 
musician the simple melodies which touch all 
hearts. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 109 



CHAPTER V. 

Restrictions placed on the press— Bull of pope Pins iv.— Tlie 
Congregation of the Index— Tlie Index Expnrgatorius— 
Singular results — Aonio Paleario— History of his book, 
"The Benefit of Christ's Death "—Whitgift's complaint to 
queen Elizabeth— Decrees of the Star Chamber— Incompe- 
tency of licensers of the press— Works seriously mutilated— 
Milton on the Liberty of the Press— Freedom of the oress 
in the reign of William iii.— State of the press on the con- 
tinent of Europe. 

The press, though adapted to confer on society 
distinguished advantages, wiis not allowed to 
pour forth its productions in one unimpeded 
stream. Obstructions to its free exercise arose 
at an early period in its history. It is said that 
the monks had a part of their libraries called 
the InfeimOf in which were hidden all prohibited 
books, a free course being allowed to extremely 
few. In the Council of Trent, the spirit of 
restriction assumed its most formidable shape, 
and put forth its most terrific power. The 
triple-crowned pontiff had in vain launched the 
thunders of the Vatican, in order that he might 



liO CAXTON AND 

Strike out of the hands of men the volumes of 
Wycliffe, IIuss, and Luther ; a new machinery 
was therefore to be contrived and set in action. 

On pope Pius iv. being presented with a 
catalogue of books, the perusal of which, it was 
said, ought to be forbidden, he not only con- 
firmed their condemnation by a bull, but added 
rules by which all should in future be judged. 
His papal successors followed in his footsteps. 
Literary inquisitors were appointed at Madrid, 
Lisbon, Naples, and the Low Countries, to carry 
the papal restrictions into vigorous effect. The 
catalogues of prohibited books were called 
" Lidexes," and the inquisitors have been, and 
are still, known at Rome as " The Congregatioa 
of the Index." 

Of these indexes there are two kinds ; one is 
a list of condemned books which are never to 
be opened ; the other comprehends those works 
which are only prohibited till they have under- 
gone a puiification. The latter lisfc is accordingly 
known by the name of " The Intiex Expurgato^ 
rius." As the caliph Omar directed that all 
the works in the far-famed library of Alexan- 
dria which contravened in the slightest degree 
the dictum of Mohammed should be consigned 
to the flames, so the Council of Trent placed 



THE ABX Q£^ ?BfNTING. Ill 

under a ban any volume, whatever might be 
its nature, which breathed a hint against the 
authority of the Komish church ; and this pro- 
hibition has been carried out from age to age. 

Such a tyrannical policy, however, has failed 
in its object. Works which to the Romanist 
party were objects of dislike, had a singular 
and powerful attraction for those whose reli- 
gious opinions were of a different character, 
and a demand for them was in consequence 
created in spite of the interdict. So it has been, 
and so it will still be, in other matters besides 
those connected with religion, where a just 
liberty is restrained or denied. 

As Mr. D'Israeli says : * " The results of these 
indexes were somewhat curious. As they were 
formed in different countries, the opinions were 
often • opposite to each other. The learned 
Arias Montanus, who was a chief inquisitor in 
the Netherlands, and concerned in the Antwerp 
index, lived to see his own works placed in the 
Koman index ; while the inquisitor of Naples 
was so displeased with the Spanish index, that 
he persisted to assert that it had never been 
printed at Madrid. Men who began by insisting 
that all the world should not differ from their 
* " Curiosities of Literature." 



112 CAXTONAND 

opinions, ended by not agreeing with them- 
selves. A civil war raged among the index- 
makers ; and if one criminated, the other 
retaliated. If one discovered ten sentences 
necessary to be expurgated, another found 
thirty, and a third inclined to place the whole 
work in the condemned list. The inquisitors 
at length became so doubtful of their own opi- 
nions, that they sometimes expressed in their 
license for printing, that 'they tolerated the 
reading, after the book had been corrected by 
themselves, till such time as the work should 
be considered worthy of some further correc- 
tion. The expurgatory indexes excited louder 
complaints than those which simply condemned 
books, because the purgers and castrators, as 
they were termed, or, as Milton calls them, 
* the executioners of books,' by omitting or 
interpolating passages, made an author say, or 
unsa}'', what the inquisitors chose ; and their 
editions, after the death of the authors, were 
compared to the erasures or forgeries in records ; 
for the books which an author leaves behind 
him, with his last corrections, are like his last 
will and testament, and the public are the legi- 
timate heirs of the author's opinions." 

The history of one book is of extraordinary 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 113 

interest. Aonio Paleario was appointed by the 
senate of Sienna public teacher of Greek and 
Latin, and also lecturer on philosophy and the 
belles-lettres. His true piety imbued his in- 
structions with a spirit very different from that 
of his colleagues, and this, while it gratified his 
pupils, provoked the anger of the authorities. 
In one of his letters, he says, " Cotta asserts 
that if I am allowed to live, there \ri\\ not be 
a vestige of religion left in the city. Why? 
Because, being asked one day, what was the 
first ground on which men should rest their 
salvation? I replied, * Christ!' Being asked 
what was the second? I replied, 'Christ!' 
And being asked what was the third ? I still 
replied, 'Christ.'" 

Paleario published in his native language 
a treatise entitled " The Benefit of Christ's 
Death," which gained a vast reputation, and 
three hundred persons leagued with Cotta to 
efiect his destruction. In order to secure Pa- 
leario's condemnation, twelve of them were 
selected to be his accusers. Arraigned before the 
senate of Sienna, he pleaded his own cause with 
a hallowed and impressive eloquence which led 
to his acquittal. Being, however, arrested on 
another charge of heresy, he was condemned 



H4 CAXTOlg. AND 

to die, and suffered tlie cruel penalty of death 
by fire. 

Of Paleario's treatise, so great was the popu- 
larity that 40,000 copies, are said to have been 
sold in six years ; and it was translated into 
several other languages. But it was forbidden 
in the various prohibitory indexes. The 
spirit displayed in reference to it is thus cor- 
rectly expressed by Mr. Macaulay ? " It was 
not on moral influence alone that the Catholic 
church relied. In Spain and Italy, the civil 
sword was unsparingly employed in her support. 
The Inquisition was armed with new powers, 
and inspired with a new energy. If Protestant- 
ism, or the semblance of Protestantism, showed 
itself in any quarter, it was instantly met, not 
by party-teasing persecution, but by persecu- 
tion of that sort which bows down and crushes 
all but a very few select spirits. Whoever was 
suspected of heresy, whatever his rank, his 
learning, or his reputation, was to purge himself 
to the satisfaction of a severe and vigilant tri- 
bunal, or to die by fire. Heretical books were 
sought out and destroyed with unsparing rigour. 
Works which were once in every house were so 
efifectually suppressed, that no copy of them is 
now to be found in the most extensive libraries. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 115 

One book in particular, entitled * Of the Benefit 
of the Death of Christ,' had this fate. It was 
written in Tuscan, was many times reprinted, 
and was eagerly read in every part of Italy. 
But the inquisitors detected in it the Lutheran 
doctrine of faith alone. They proscribed it, 
and it is now as utterly lost as the second 
decade of Livy." 

Mr. Macaulay's opinion, however, as to the 
entire destruction of this work, proved not to be 
strictly correct. Three copies of it in English 
were discovered, made from a French version, 
most probably by Arthur Golding, who was long 
and laboriously employed in queen Elizabeth's 
reign, in rendering into English the works of 
several of the foreign reformers, as well as of 
other writers. That it is a faithful rendering 
from the original is apparent from many cir- 
cumstances.* 

The restraint of the press, however, even to 
persecution and death, does not lie entirely at 
the door of Komanists ; the shame and the guilt 
are indissolubly associated with others also. 

* The Religious Tract Society recently sent forth a new 
edition of this remarkable and interesting work. A transla- 
tion of the same book has likewise been issued in Italian 
with a view to its being ag^aia circulated in the native coiuitry 
of its author. 



116 CAXTON AND 

Whitgift complained to queen Elizabeth of the 
liberty that was taken by many persons ' of 
publishing their religious opinions, upon which 
he obtained a memorable decree in the Star 
Chamber, " That there should be no printing- 
presses in any private places, nor in any part 
of the kingdom besides London and the two 
universities ; and these to be allowed by the 
license of the archbishop, or the bishop of 
London. That if any person willingly printed, 
sold, or bound any book against the form and 
meaning of any statute of the realm, or any of 
the queen's injunctions, or any letters patent, 
commissions, or prohibitions, such persons 
should suffer three months' imprisonment ; and 
that the wardens of the Stationers' Company 
might search for all such books, and seize 
them to her majesty's use." * How rigorously 
and cruelly this decree was enforced, the records 
of the times affectingly declare. 

The same course was taken in after times. 
On the 1st of July, 1637, the Star Chamber 
issued a decree " for reducing the number of 
master printers, and punishing all others -who 
should follow the trade, and for prohibiting 
as well the impression of new books without 

* Strype's Whitgift. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 117 

license, and of such as had been licensed for- 
merly without a new one, as the importation of 
all books in the English tongue, printed abroad, 
and of all foreign books whatever, till a true 
catalogue thereof had been presented to the 
archbishop of Canterbury and the bishop of 
London, and the books themselves had been 
received by their chaplains, or other learned 
men of their appointment, together with the 
masters and wardens of the Stationers' Com- 
pany." 

Memorable, indeed, are the declarations of 
Milton on this subject : " He who is made 
judge to sit upon the birth or death of books, 
whether they may be wafted into this world or 
not, had need to be a man above the common 
measure, both studious, learned, and judicious ; 
there may be else ho mean mistakes in his cen- 
sure. If he be of such worth as behoves him, 
there cannot be a more tedious or unpleasing 
journey-work, a greater loss of time levied upon 
his head, than to be made the perpetual reader 
of unchosen books and pamphlets. There is no 
book acceptable, unless at certain seasons ; but 
to be enjoined the reading of that at all times, 
and in a hand scarce legible, whereof three pages 
would not down at any time, is an imposition 



118 CAXTON AND 

which I cannot beHeve how he that values time 
and his own studies, or is but of a sensible 
nostril, should be able to endure. 

"What advantage is it to be a man over 
what it is to be a boy at school, if we have only- 
escaped the ferula to come under the fescue of 
an imprimatur ? — if serious and elaborate writ- 
ings, as if they were no more than the theme 
of a grammar lad under his pedagogue, must 
not be uttered without the cursory eyes of a 
temporizing licenser ? When a man writes to 
the world, he summons up all his reason and 
deliberation to assist him, he searches, medi- 
tates, is industrious, and likely consults and 
confers with his judicious friends, as well as 
any that writ before him ; if in this, the most 
consummate act of his fidelity and ripeness, no 
years, no industry, no former proof of his 
abilities, can bring him to that state of matu- 
rity, as not to be still mistrusted and suspected, 
unless he carry all his considerate diligence, all 
his midnight watchings, and expense of Palla- 
dian oil, to the hasty view of an unleisured 
licenser, perhaps much his younger, perhaps 
inferior in judgment, perhaps one who never 
knew the labour of book writing ; and if he be 
not repulsed or slighted, must appear in print 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 119 

like a Punic with his guardian, nnd his censor's 
hand on the back of his title to be his bail 
that he is no idiot or seducer, it <w«inot be but 
a dishonour and derogation to the author, to 
the book, to the privilege and dignity of 
learning." 

Of the iooompetency of some who acted as 
censors, there is anrple evidence. The simile of 
Satan with the rising sun was supposed to con- 
tain a treasonable allusion, and nearly occasioned 
the suppression of Paradise Lost, Malebrauche 
said, that he <;ould never obtain an approval for 
his " Research after Truth," because it was 
unintelligible to his censors ; at length M^ze- 
ray, the historian, approved of it as a work 
on geometry. Not a few of these critics were 
but a little wiser than the Austrian censor, 
who found that a volume on the " Destruction 
of Insects " had a covert allusion to the Jesuits, 
who, he conceived, were thus malignantly de- 
signated. It was, however, perhaps only a 
joke of one who said to a geometrician, ** I 
cannot permit the publication of your book ; 
you dare to say, that between two given points 
the shortest line is the straight line. Do you 
think me such an idiot as not to perceive your 
allusion? If your work appeared, I should 



120 CAXTON AKD 

make enemies of all those who find, by crooked 
ways, an easier admittance into court than by 
a straight line."* 

The list would be no inconsiderable one of 
the works that have suffered serious mutila- 
tion. Camden declared that he was not suffered 
to print all his " Elizabeth," and sent the 
omitted passages over to De Thou, the French 
historian, who printed his history faithfully two 
years afterwards. In like manner, lord Herbert's 
History of Henry viii. has never been given to 
the world according to the ojiginal, which is 
still in existence. A poem of twenty pages 
from the works of lord Brooke was cancelled by 
the order of archbishop Laud. Sir Matthew 
Hale ordered that none of his works should 
be printed after his death, as he apprehended 
that, in the licensing of them, some things 
might be struck out or altered, which he had 
observed, not without some indignation, had 
been done to those of a learned friend. He 
therefore preferred bequeathing his uncorrupted 
MSS. to the Society of Lincoln's Inn, as their 
only guardians, hoping that they were a treasure 
worth keeping. 

Another passage of Milton's Defence of the 
* D'Israeli's "Curiosities of Literature." 



THE ART OP PRINTING. 121 

Liberty of the Press must not be omitted : 
" Books are not absolutely dead things, but 
do contain a progeny of life in them to be as 
active as that soul whose progeny they are ; 
nay, they do preserve, as in a vial, the purest 
efficacy and extraction of that living intellect 
that bred them. I know they are as lively, 
and as vigorously productive as those fabulous 
dragon's teeth ; and being sown up and down, 
may chance to spring up armed men. And 
yet, on the other hand, unless wariness be used, 
as good almost kill a man as kill a good book. 
Who kills a man, kills a reasonable creature, 
God's image ; but he who destroys a good book, 
kills reason itself, kills the image of God as it 
were in the eye. IMany a man bears a burden 
to the earth ; but a good book is the precious 
life-blood of a master spirit, embalmed and 
treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. 
It is true no age can restore a life, whereof 
perhaps there is no great loss ; and revolutions 
of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected 
truth, for the want of which whole nations fare 
the worse. We should be wary, therefore, what 
persecution we raise against the living labours 
of public men, how we spill that seasoned life 
of man, preserved and stored up in books ; since 



122 CAXTON AND 

we see a kind of homicide may be thus com- 
mitted, sometimes a martyrdom, and if it 
extend to the whole impression, a kind of 
massacre, whereof the execution ends not in 
the slaying of an elemental life, but strikes at 
the ethereal and fifth essence, the breath of 
reason itself; slays an immortality rather than 
a life." 

It was not, however, till the reign of Wil- 
liam III. that the press obtained its perfect 
freedom, of which the following is a remarkable 
illustration. When the Danish ambassador 
complained to the king that lord Molesworth 
had reflected on his master's government, in 
his account of Denmark, and hinted that if 
a Dane had so treated a king of England he 
would, on complaint, have taken the author's 
head off — the king naively replied, " That I 
cannot do ; but, if you please, I will tell him 
what you say, and he shall put it into the 
next edition of his book." 

Even now, on the continent of Europe, there 
is no liberty of the press. But it is otherwise 
in this highly favoured land. The words of 
sir James Mackintosh, in his brilliant defence 
of the exile Peltier for a libel on Napoleon, 
are still true : " One asylum of free discussion 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 128 

is yet inviolate. There is still one spot in 
Europe where man can freely exercise his 
reason on the most important concerns of 
society, where he can boldly publish his judg- 
ments on the acts of the proudest and most 
powerful tyrants ; the press of England is still 
free. It is guarded by the free constitution 
of our forefathers. It is guarded by the hearts 
and arms of Englishmen ; and I trust I may 
venture to say, that if it be to fall, it will fall 
only under the niins of the British empire." 



124 CAXTON AND 



CHAPTER VI. 

Facilities for publication— Singular collection of controversial 
tracts— Origin of newspapers — The Gazeta of Venice — News 
first \Yritten— The correspondent of the wealthy— The 
"English Mercurie" a forgery— *' The Weekly Newes "— 
Nathaniel Butler— Increase of newspapers— Marchmont 
Needham— The British essayists — Ichabod Dawks— The 
first magazine— The first review— Rapid composition— The 
newspaper office— Slow composition— Various examples- 
John Foster. 

Although, as we have just seen, there were for 
a long period very grievous restrictions on the 
liberty of the press, yet the time came in which 
facilities for publication were enjoyed which 
had no parallel in any former age. 

After the accession of James i., the press was 
for a time almost entirely devoted to the issue of 
controversial works. A bookseller, named Tom- 
linson, collected 2,000 volumes of pamphlets 
issued between the years 1640 and 1660. The 
number of the publications included in this 
collection amounts to 30,000. They were 
bargained for, but not purchased, by Charles ii.. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 125 

and were eventually bought by George in., 
who presented them to the British Museum. 

An extraordinary impluse was given to the 
printing-press by the publication of newspapers, 
an event in its history at which it becomes us 
to glance. Newspapers did not originate in 
England ; for about the middle of the sixteenth 
century, when the republic of Venice was 
engaged in a momentous war with the Turks, 
the expedient was adopted of recording occa- 
sional accounts of its naval and military opera- 
tions on written sheets. These were deposited 
at particular places, where they were accessible 
to any one desirous of learning the news on 
the payment of a small coin, called a gazeta — 
a name which was gradually transferred to the 
paper itself. Thus Blount* defines the word 
*' Gazette " as " a certain Venetian coin, scarce 
worth one farthing ; also a bill of news, or 
short relation of the general occurrences of the 
time, printed most commonly at Venice, and 
thence dispersed every month into most parts 
of Christendom." 

A file of these written Venetian papers, of an 
early date, and published under the immediate 
surveillance of the government, is still preserved 
* GlosBOgjaphia. 



126 CAXTON AND 

in one of the libraries of Florence. Although 
the art of printing had after its discovery been 
nowhere more speedily brought into use than 
at Venice, yet the jealousy of the government 
forbade the issue of a printed newspaper, and 
the Venetian Gazeta continued in consequence 
to be distributed in manuscripts for upwards of 
a century after the introduction of the printing- 
press. When the Venetian newspaper, however, 
was printed instead of written, all Christendom 
became indebted to it for political information, 
as the ships of the republic traversed every 
known sea, and its maritime power shone forth 
resplendently in the midst of the nations. Some 
of these ancient printed newspapers we have 
just referred to may still be seen in good 
preservation at Venice. Newspapers subse- 
quently appeared in several cities in Italy, but 
were prohibited in that countrj'- by pope 
Gregory xiii. 

We have alluded to the newspapers of Venice 
being originally distributed in a manuscript 
form. Something of a similar kind was also 
common in our own country. 

The desire of receiving intelligence from the 
metropolis, which was felt by the wealthier 
country residents, led to the common establish- 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 127 

ment of a very curious trade, that 'of news- 
correspondents, who, for a subscription of three 
or four pounds per annum, wrote a letter of 
news every post-day to their subscribers in the 
country. A writer of the seventeenth century, 
describing one of this trade, puts into his mouth 
the following words as descriptive of his avoca- 
tion : — 

"This is the outer room, where my clerks sit. 
And keep their sides, the register i' the midst ; 
The examiner, he sits private there, within : 
And here I have my several rolls and tiles 
Of news by the alphabet, and all put up 
Under their heads." 

The news-correspondent as thus drawn was 
undoubtedly the precursor of our newspaper 
editor. 

The "English Mercuric" was long supposed 
to be the earliest printed newspaper, but Mr. 
Thomas Watts of the British Museum,* by a 
series of ingenious proofs, successfully demon- 
strated it to be a literary forgery. *' The first 
thing," he says, " that arouses suspicion in the 
printed number — the first thing that catches 
the eye — is the form of the type. Instead of 
being that of two centuries and a half, it is 
that of about a century back, the 'English 

* Letter to A. Panizzi, Esq. 



128 CAXTON AND 

fount,' in fact, bearing a strong resemblance to 
that in Caslon's Specimens of Types, published 
in 1766. A single glance at the pages, how- 
ever, is in this case more efficacious than 
volumes of description could possibly be. 
Their whole appearance decidedly stamps 
them as having issued from the press in the . 
eighteenth, instead of the sixteenth century.^; 
There is, moreover, one peculiar characteristic 
about the printing, sufficient, if the shape of 
every letter were ancient, to betray the secret 
of its modern execution. The distinction 
between the u's and v's, and the i's and j's, 
entirely unknown to the printers of the 
sixteenth century, is here maintained through- 
out in all its rigour. This circumstance alone, 
if others were wanting, would be decisive 
against the supposed antiquity of the printed 
English Mercuries." 

The first genuine newspaper is believed to 
have been " The Weeicly Newes," projected, it 
appears, by Nathaniel Butler, its author an^ 
writer : — " No claim," says Mr. F. K. Hunt, 
for very great originality or genius can be put 
in for him. His merit consists in the simple 
fact that he was the first to print what had long 
been written — to put into type what he and 



THE ART OF PRISTINa. 129 

Others had been accustomed to supply in 
manuscript ; the first to give to the news- 
letters of his time the one characteristic fea- 
ture which has distinguished newspapers ever 
since. 

"He offered the public a printed sheet of 
news to be published at stated and regular 
intervals. Already hosts of printed papers, 
headed with the word ' Newes,' had been issued ; 
but they were mere pamphlets — catch -penny s, 
printed one now and another then, without 
any connexion with each other, and each 
giving some portion of intelligence thought by 
its author to be of sufficient interest to secure 
a sale. The Weekly News was distinguished 
from them all by the fact of its being published 
at fixed intervals, usually a week between each 
publication, while each paper was numbered 
in regular succession, as we have newspapers 
numbered at the present day 

" The step he took, though great in ultimate 
consequences, was one very simple and natural, 
and easily understood. He had been a news- 
writer, an author of news-letters ; one of a 
clsiss of persons then engaged in London as 
general correspondents, having offices where 
they despatched packets of news to persons of 



130 CAXTON AND 

consideration in the country, who were rich 
enough to aiFord such a hixury. Though 
printing-presses had been at work in England 
for a hundred and fifty years, and though the 
Eeformation had allowed them greater freedom 
than was known where the Roman faith still 
flourished, the invention of Guttenberg had not 
been employed for the systematic dissemination 
of intelligence relative to passing events. Stray 
pamphlets told now and then how a great flood 
had devastated the western counties, how a 
witch had been burned, or how Gustavus had 
fought a great battle ; but the punctual record 
of the history of the passing time, week by week, 
was a thing unattempted till the newa-writer, 
Nathaniel Butler, became a ne\vs-printer.^^ 

The appetite for news once created, speedily 
gained vigour, and within a few years, " Mer- 
curies," " Corantos," " Gazettes," and " Diur- 
nals," became numerous. A weekly newspaper, 
entitled " The Certain News of this Present 
Week," was established in London, in August, 
1622, and very shortly after, " The London 
Weekly Courant," and several other journals 
made their appearance. On the breaking out 
of the civil war in the time of Charles i., there 
was a large increase of newspapers, as well as 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 131 

of other political writings. A provincial news- 
paper — the first of its kind — was published in 
1639 by Robert Barker, at Newcastle, but it 
seems to have been of only short continuance. 

A paper called the "London Gazette" was 
published August 22, 1642, but its progress 
was soon arrested. In the time of the Common- 
wealth, Marchmont Needham was appointed 
by Cromwell a public news writer ; at the 
Restoration he was discharged from his post, 
and two persons, Giles Drury and Henry 
Ruddiman, were appointed his successors. 
It was their duty to publish two authorized 
newspapers in each week, under the titles of 
" Parliamentary Intelligencer," and " Mercurius 
Publicus." The first newspaper published in 
England, which might be justly deemed a vehicle 
of general information, was established in 1663 
by Roger L'Estrange, who continued the publi- 
cations just mentioned, under the titles of the 
Intelligencer and the News, until the close of 
1665; when, on the 7th of November in that 
year, a regular official Gazette was published at 
Oxford, which has been continued under the 
name of the London Gazette to the present time. 
Towards the end of the seventeenth century, 
there seems to have been a species of publication 



132 CAXTON AND 

which combined the properties of the written 
and printed newspaper. Its nature will be 
gathered from the announcement which pre- 
ceded one of them published by Ichabod 
Dawks in 1696: — " This letter will be done on 
good writing-paper, and blank space left, that 
any gentleman may write his own private 
business. It does undoubtedly exceed the best 
of the written news, contains double the quan- 
tity, is read with abundant ease and pleasure, 
and will be useful to improve the younger sort 
in writing a curious hand." The type of these 
publications, we may add, was an imitation in 
some cases of writing, which will explain the 
meaning of the last remark. 

In the reign of William m. the number of 
newspapers was increased, but they were 
seldom published more than once a week. In 
the reign of the Georges, a new feature was 
given to them by their being made the vehicles 
through which the great parties of the state 
expressed their opinions. Swift, and Boling- 
broke, Addison, and a crowd of anonymous 
writers, inferior to him in literary talent, but 
sometimes of high station in the royal councils, 
appealed to the public through this medium. 
The first attempt at reporting the parlia- 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 133 

mentary debates, we may here mention, was 
made in the year 1735, not in a newspaper, 
however, but in the Gentleman's Magazine, a 
work to which we shall have presently occasion 
to refer. 

Literature acquired during the reign of queen 
Anne a new character ; for instead of being 
largely dependent on the caprice of private 
patronage, it cast itself broadly on the support 
of the people. At this period arose *' The 
Tatler," « The Spectator," and " The Guardian," 
the first sheafs of the harvest of popular 
literature which was to follow. These and 
other productions of a similar character, issued 
from time to time under various names, have 
since been ranged together in a long series of 
volumes, under the general name of " The 
British Essayists." They proved the harbingers 
of a higher class of periodical miscellany — the 
Magazine, introduced by Edward Cave, a 
printer. He formed the design of collecting 
into a permanent repository the most valuable of 
the fugitive pieces from the newspapers and other 
sheets, or rather half-sheets, Avhich appeared 
during each month. He offered a share of his 
project to many of the booksellers in London, 
who rejected it either on the ground of its 



134 CAXTON AND 

absolute absurdity, or as militating against their 
interests. They did not profit by experience ; 
for the " Essayists," a work of which the maga- 
zine formed a natural development, were sell- 
ing freely. The lowness of their price contri- 
buted to this effect, and an ordinary degree of 
sagacity would, therefore, it might have been 
expected, have regarded Cave's scheme with 
hopefulness, particularly as the number of 
fugitive pieces adapted for collection into one 
work was at the time very great. About two 
hundred per month of such pieces were then 
thrown off from the press in London, and 
about as many were printed in other parts of 
the three kingdoms. 

Not discouraged by the opposition of his 
brother booksellers, Cave, in 1731, produced 
at his own risk, " The Grentleman's Magazine," 
being the first work of that kind printed in 
England. So great was its success, that in the 
following year " The London Magazine" was 
set up as its rival. In 1749, the first Eng- 
lish " Review" of any importance, entitled the 
Monthly Review, was published. 

A foreign review, the " Journal des Sqavans^^ 
had been published in January, 1665. It was 
of small size, issued weekly, and each number 



THE ART OF POINTING. 135 

contained from twelve to sixteen pages. The 
first book reviewed was an edition of Victor 
Vilensis and Vigelius Tapsensis, African bishops 
of the fifth century, by father Chiflet, a Jesuit. 

The demand for popular literature now 
rapidly advanced. Newspapers and magazines 
alike increased, and books, issued in numbers, 
were sold largely by hawkers in the rural dis- 
tricts and small provincial towns. In this way, 
the principle was first developed of extending 
the sale of books by coming into the market at 
regular inteiTals with fractions of a work, so 
that the customer of humble grade might as it 
were make a deposit every week in a savings' 
bank of knowledge. One of the most success- 
ful of the books published in this manner was 
Smollett's "History of England," which sold 
on its first publication to the extent of twenty 
thousand copies. 

Towards the close of the eighteenth century, 
the taste for essay writing declined. The 
popular reviews had also remained uncharac- 
terized by distinguished ability, when, in the 
year 1802, the Edinburgh Review gave fresh 
impulse to this species of writing, and proved 
the precursor of a Jiew era in English litera- 
ture. The plan of the work just named was 



136 CAXTON AND 

suggested by the late rev. Sydney Smith, at a 
meeting of literati in Buccleuch-place, Edin- 
burgh, then the spot where jNIr., afterwards lord 
Jeffrey, its editor, resided. 

Since that period, there has been a vast 
extension of the issue of books. Exclusive of 
pamphlets, and other tracts, the number of 
works published in the first fifty-seven years 
of the last century was 5,280, being only an 
average of 93 new works in each year. From 
1792 to 1802, eleven years, exclusive of 
reprints and pamphlets, there were 4,096 new 
works, averaging 372 new books per annum. 
From 1800 to 1827, excluding as before, the 
number of new books was 15,888, showing 
an annual average of 588 new books ; being an 
increase of 216 per year over the last eleven 
years of the preceding century. 

Some persons have been remarkably prolific 
in literary matter. The Spanish poet, Lope de 
Vega, wrote upwards of 2,000 original pieces, 
but not more than 300 of them have been 
printed. He has himself stated that his average 
amount of work was five sheets a day ; and it 
has been calculated that he composed during 
his life 133,225 sheets, and about 21,300,000 
verses. He achieved in his day no ordinary 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 137 

£[une. Cardinal Barberini followed him through 
the streets with reverence ; the king would 
even stop to gaze at such a prodigy ; the people 
crowded round him wherever he appeared ; 
the studious and the learned thronged to Madrid 
-jfrom every part of Spain to see so distinguished 
a person ; and even Italians, in general no 
extravagant admirers of poetry which did not 
emanate from their native soil, made pilgrim- 
ages for the sole purpose of conversing with 
Lope de Vega. So associated was the idea of 
excellence with his name, that a Lope diamond, 
a Lope day, or a Lope person, became fashion- 
able and familiar modes of expressing good 
qualities. 

In our own land we have had many instances 
of rapid and easy composition. Dryden usually 
wrote with haste to provide for the wants of 
the day. Johnson composed in one night 
matter that amounted to nearly thirt)*^ printed 
octavo pages ; and his sentences, so high- 
sounding, and apparently the product of great 
labour, were composed with scarcely any effort. 
Gibbon, too, sent the first and only copy of his 
manuscript of the " Decline and Fall of the 
Roman Empire" to the printer. Many similar 
instances of rapid composition on the part of 
£ 2 



138 CAXTON AND 

authors of eminence, either in verse or prose, might 
be quoted, but nowhere, perhaps, is this quality 
more displayed than in that wonder of modern 
art — a newspaper printing-office, where masses 
of information of the most diversified character 
are written, arranged, edited, and printed with 
a swiftness and correctness that are truly mar- 
vellous. Mr. F. K. Hunt, in his interesting 
work, " The Fourth Estate," has thus graphi- 
cally described the multifarious literary pro- 
cesses which have to be gone through in 
connexion with the publication of a daily news- 
paper : — " By nine o'clock the editor, the sub- 
editor, the foreign editor, are all busy ; the 
editor with his leaders, the foreign editor with 
his German and French, and the sub-editor 
with the mass of multifarious things that now 
load his table. The law reports being on mat- 
ters of fact, and usually prepared by barristers, 
give little trouble ; but with this exception, 
scarcely a line comes to the sub-editor which 
does not require preparation at his hands. 

" Meetings reported to please speakers in- 
stead of the public, railway and commercial 
statements, full of long tabular accounts, to be 
summarized and made readable ; letters from 
indignant 'constant readers,' in which libels 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 139 

lurk in the midst of long statements of wrongs 
endured, or reforms demanded ; reports of 
police offices, of inquests, of disasters, all 
written on flimsy paper, and requiring great 
quickness of eye and mind to decipher at all ; 
papers from all quarters of the kingdom ; 
statements of markets, of shipping, of births, 
deaths, and all other conceivable and incon- 
ceivable things, demand attention and prepara- 
tion for the printers, who by this time are 
ready for the six hours' rapid and skilful 
labour that shall convert this mass of contri- 
butions, of all sizes, characters, and qualities, 
into a shapely morning paper. 

" With the help of an assistant or two the 
load rapidly diminishes, and by midnight there 
is a tolerably clear table, prepai'atory to the 
arrival of the late railway despatches. These 
received, a new labour has often to be com- 
menced. Although the troublesome search 
through fifty country papers has afforded a 
great quantity of local news, tJbe late despatches 
often bring up much more ; the Irish and 
Scotch advices come to hand, and with this 
addition of home news very often comes a file 
of papers from America, from the West 
Indies, from Brazil, I'rom France, Germany, 



140 CAXTON AND 

or Hamburgh. An hour or two clears off all 
these accumulations ; and then, the proof-sheets 
having been attended to, and the place and 
arrangement of the articles been decided on ; 
the number of leaders, and the number of 
advertisements settled, the columns calculated, 
and the decision made as to what shall appear, 
and what stand over — the editorial work of one 
day is done." 

What talent and tact must be required for 
the selection and arrangement of such a chaos 
of material ! The task, to all but a few of an 
existing generation, would be absolutely im- 
possible. In the midst of it there is much of 
literary composition ; while " the leaders," 
almost lost in the mass, though frequently 
penned on the spur of the occasion, and im- 
mediately placed in the printer's hands, are 
not unfrequently characterized by a vigour of 
thought and a force and eloquence of style, which 
are not to be surpassed by the productions of 
the most eminent men in literary history, sur- 
rounded by circumstances the most favourable 
that can be conceived to successful composition. 

We have been referring to instances of rapid 
writing for the press, but it may be added, on 
tlie other hand", as a contrast to what we have 



THE ART OF PRINTINa. 141 

stated, that to some persons literary composi- 
tion is a task of prodigious labour. Pietro 
Bembo, a noble Venetian, secretary to Leo x., 
was exceedingly fastidious in the revisal of 
whatever he composed. He had forty portfolios 
through which each sheet successively passed, 
and no one was removed, in any instance, 
without receiving a fresh perusal and further 
correction. Referring to more modern periods, 
every line of Sismondi's Italian Republics was 
written three times, and so were almost all the 
other historical works of this writer. He cor- 
rected his proofs five or six times, and generally 
twice read aloud all that he composed. Gib- 
bon's Memoir of his own life is only a fragment, 
and yet, contrary to his practice, when compos- 
ing his history, he wrote it six times over. 
BufTon did not suffer his ^' Epoques de la 
Nature " to appear in print till they had been 
written eighteen times. Pope published nothing 
until it had been a year or two before him, and 
even then his proofs were full of alterations ; 
so much so, that on one occasion his publisher 
thought it better to have the whole recomposed 
by the printer, than for the latter to make the 
necessary corrections. Goldsmith spent seven 
years over his poem of the Deserted Village. 



142 CAXTON AND ^ 

Robertson wrote the sentences of his Histories 
on small slips of paper ; and after polishing 
them to his mind, entered them in a manuscript 
book, which afterwards had to undergo con- 
siderable revision. Burke, Akenside, Gray, 
and Thomson, also, were most elaborate and 
indefatigable correctors. Petrarch made forty- 
four alterations in a single verse ; and Mr. 
Macaulay states that he has in his possession a 
very fine stanza of Ariosto, which the poet had 
altered a hundred times. 

A singular instance of difficulty in composi- 
tion, with the mention of which we shall con- 
clude these illustrations, is to be found in the 
case of that admirable writer, John Foster, 
who thus expresses himself on the subject to 
a friend : * "I am sometimes very much 
disposed to murmur that the little I can do 
towards any sort of usefulness being entirely 
in the intellectual way, the doing it should be 
so slow, and irksome, and painful, and even 
physically injurious an operation. Some of the 
workmen in the thinking-shop can do about 
their best with a great degree of facility and 
despatch, can bring thoughts and put them 
into sentences about twenty times as fast as I 

• Letters. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 148 

ever could. In my case, old practice has not 
given the smallest advantage in point of facility. 
Eather, I think of the two it has left the 
business still more slow and laborious than 
even formerly ; so that my aversion to the 
employment has continually increased. It is 
the literal truth that I never, in the course of 
the whole year, take the pen for a paragraph 
or a letter, but as an act of force on myself. 
When I have a thing of this kind to do, I 
linger hours and hours often before I can reso- 
lutely set about it ; and days and weeks, if it 
is some task more than ordinary. About 
finding proper words, and putting them in 
proper places, I have more difficulty than it 
could have been supposed possible any one 
should have, after having had to work among 
them so long ; but the great difficulty is the 
downright scarcity of matter — plainly the diflS- 
culty of finding anything to say. My inventive 
faculties are exactly like the powers of a snail ; 
and in addition, my memory is an inconceivably 
miserable one." 



144 CAXTON AKD 



CHAPTER VII. 

Contrast between the printing-office of Caxton and a modem 
typographical establishment — Type -founding — William 
Caslon— Chief improvements in the style of typography— 
The compositor at work — The reader — Pressmen — Old 
fashioned press— Improvements by the earl of Stanhope — 
Baskerville's improvement of ink — Invention of inking cylin- 
ders— Stereotype— Logographic printing— Machine-printing 
—Mr. "William Nicholson— Printing by Steam— Various Im- 
provements—Galvanic printing-press— Fourdrinier's patent 
for continuous lengths of paper — Curiosities of printing — 
The Great Exhibition of 1851. 

Could we, by an effort of imagination, obtain a 
vivid picture of the printing-press of Caxton, 
or of Wynken de Worde, and then survey one 
of the extensive and well-provided typographical 
establishments of our own times, we should be 
sensible of a contrast probably not to be sur- 
passed in its greatness in the whole history of 
art. "We propose now to describe some of the 
elements of which that contrast would be 
formed, as well as the circumstances in which 
they arose. 

In the early history of typography, printers 



TUE ART OF PRINTING. 145 

made the letters they used, but their produc- 
tion by the letter-founders has long been a 
separate branch of business. This process 
requires no little skill and management. In 
the first instance, there is the cutting of a 
punch, resembling the letter to be formed, 
except that it is in reverse. The punch being 
of hardened steel, and having this letter on its 
point, is then struck into a small piece of 
copper, which is called the matrix^ or form of 
the letter to be cast. The matrix is now fixed 
in a curiously contrived instrument termed the 
mould. The founder then, holding the mould in 
his left hand, with his right pours the liquid 
metal into the hole of the cube, forcing it down 
to the matrix by jerking the mould upwards 
higher than his head, he then lowers it as sud- 
denly, quickly opens the mould, shakes out the 
type, and repeats the process. In this way not 
only every letter, but every figure, hyphen, 
comma, or other mark, must have its punch and 
matrix, as well as its separate casting. A single 
workman will cast from four hundred to five 
hundred types per hour. 

A machine has been invented and patented 
for the manufacture of printing types without 
fusing the metal and pouring it into moulds, the 



146 CAXTON AND 

operation being effected by the pressure of a sharp 
die upon copper. By the application of a small 
steam engine, it is estimated that the machine 
can produce sixty types per minute, or thirty-six 
thousand in ten hours. The strength of copper 
over ordinary type metal is stated to be in the 
proportion of one hundred to one, and the 
capacity of its endurance may be judged from 
the fact that when employed to print govern- 
ment stamps, one hundred and twenty-five 
millions of impressions have been taken from a 
single plate which had a raised copper sur- 
face. 

As soon as, by the ordinary process, there 
is a heap of types a boy removes them, 
and breaks off the superfluous piece at the 
end of each, when another rubs its sides 
on a stone to render them smooth. The types 
are afterwards set up in long lines on a frame, 
where they are polished and prepared for use. 
The face, or printing part of the type, is not 
touched after it leaves the matrix, that alone 
giving it all the distinctness and sharpness of 
which it is capable. All the types of one class 
are precisely the same in height, while each 
letter or point has on its body one or more 
nicks, all of which make an equal range when 



THE ART OF PBINTING. 147 

the type is set up, and all are equally grooved 
at the bottom that they may stand up steadily. 
Types vary considerably in size, from the 
smallest, called diamond, used in pocket Bibles 
and Prayer-books, to the huge letters ^vhich 
meet the eye on some posting-bill, exhibited on 
a van, or affixed to a wall.* When a great many 
of each of the letters of the alphabet, together 
with points, figures, and other necessary marks 
and signs, all cast in certain proportions to 
each other, are to be designated by one term, 
they are called a fount of types. 

At the commencement of the eighteenth 
centnry, the native ability of English letter- 
founders was so little prized by the printers of 
the metropolis, that they were in the habit of 
importing founts from Holland, where superior 
types were then manufactured. Thus the 
works of English literature, which so greatly 
distinguished the reign of queen Anne, were 
originally presented to the public through the 
medium of Dutch types. How long England 
might have remained dependent in this respect 
on the continent, had it not been for the energy 
of one individual, it is impossible to calculate. 

• The very large letters, used for printing placards to be 
posted on walls, etc., are commonly made of wood. 



148 CAXTON AND 

This person was William Caslon, %vlio was 
born in that part of the town of Hales Owen 
which is situated in Shropshire. He served a 
regular apprenticeship to an engraver on gun- 
locks and barrels, and after the expiration of 
his term, followed his business in Vine-street, 
near the Minories, London. In every branch 
of it his ability was conspicuous, but his early 
reputation arose chiefly from his genius and 
skill in inventing and engraving ornamental 
devices on the barrels of fire-arms. Occasion- 
ally, however, he was employed in making tools 
for book-binders, and for chasers of silver plate. 

While thus engaged, some of his book- 
binding punches were noticed for their neat- 
ness and accuracy by Mr. Watts, an eminent 
printer, who, by engaging to support him and 
to introduce him to the leading typographers or' 
the day, induced him to undertake the occupa- 
tion by which he afterwards acquired so much 
distinction. 

Caslon, who had not before seen any part of 
the business, on being taken to a foundry, was 
asked by a friend if he thought he could cut 
punches for types. He requested a single day 
to consider the matter, and at the expiration of 
that time replied, that he had no doubt he 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 149 

could. Aided by the liberality of his friends, 
he applied himself to the task with assiduity 
and zeal, which were alike required by existing 
obstacles. Not only had he to excel his com- 
petitors in his own peculiar branch of engraving 
the punches — which to him was probably by 
no means arduous — but to raise an establish- 
ment, and cause his plans to be executed by 
impractised workmen. He had also to acquire 
for himself a knowledge of the practical and 
mechanical branches of the art, for which the 
most minute and patient attention is indis- 
pensably requisite. 

But his wishes were realized, and the ex- 
pectations of his patrons and friends were ex- 
ceeded by the decided superiority he gained 
over all rivals, whether domestic or foreign. 
Not only did the importation of type cease, but 
so highly were Caslon's founts esteemed, as to 
be frequently exported to the continent. For 
sixty years, that is, from 1720 to 1780, few 
works were printed with the types of any other 
foundry, and the editions of that interval are of 
remarkable excellence. 

One of the chief improvements of the style of 
typography has been effected by the dismissal 
of abbreviations and connected letters from the 



150 CAXTON AND 

founts. Formerl}'-, the word the was indicated 
by the letter y, with a small e above it ; ^' was 
used for the conjunction and; and many other 
unseemly abbreviations were employed. Con- 
nected letters were also common : c and t were 
joined by a curve from the top of one to the 
other ; and when two ss came together, a long 
/ was used. 

The compositor is said to " work at case ;" 
for all the types are sorted in cases, or shallow 
and divided boxes : the lower case, or the one 
nearest him, having all the small letters, points, 
and spaces, to place between the words ; and 
the upper case, containing all the capitals, 
accented letters, figures, and characters used as 
references to notes. Each letter has a larger or 
smaller box appropriated to it, according as it 
is seldom or frequently required, while the 
letters most needed occupy the position most 
convenient for the compositor. 

" In the English language, the letter e inhabits 
the largest box ; a, c, d, h, i, m, n, o, r, s, t, u, live 
in the next sized apartments ; h, /, g, Z, p, v, w, 
y, dwell in what may be termed the bed-rooms ; 
while y, k, q^ ai, z, ce, and oe, double letters, etc., 
are more humbly lodged in the cupboards, 
garrets, and cellars. And the reason of this 



THE ABT OF PRINTING. 151 

arrangement is, that the letter e being visited 
by the compositor sixty times as often as z, (lor 
his hand spends an hour in the former box for 
every minute in the latter,) it is evidently 
advisable that the letters oftenest required 
should be the nearest. Latin and French 
books devour more of c, i, I, wj, p, q, s, u, and 
V, than English ones, and for these languages 
the * cases ' must therefore be arranged ac- 
cordingly." The " cases " are placed upon 
" frames," in shape and height similar to the 
music-stands in an orchestra ; each of which is 
60 constructed as to hold two pairs of cases, 
the one pair containing the Roman, and the 
other the Italic letters of the same fount. In 
one of our large printing-offices there are as 
many as sixty of these frames in a single room. 

The various processes in the art of printing 
were some years since graphiciilly portrayed in 
an article in the " Quarterly Review," and in 
" Days at the Factories," from which some 
of the following interesting details have been 
abridged : — 

"It is impossible," says the writer of the 
article referred to, " to contemplate a team of 
sixty literary labourers steadily working toge- 
ther in one room, without immediately acknow- 



152 CAXTON AND 

ledging the important service tliey are rendering 
to the civilized world, and the respect which, 
therefore, is due to them from society. The^ 
minutioe of their art it might be deemed tedious 
to detail ; yet with so many operators in view 
it is not difficult, even for an inexperienced 
visitor, to distinguish the different degrees of 
perfection at which they have individually 
arrived. 

" Among compositors, as in all other profes- 
sions, the race is not always gained by him who 
is apparently the swiftest. Steadiness, coolness, 
and attention, are more valuable qualifications 
than eagerness and haste ; and, accordingly, 
those compositors who at first sight appear to 
be doing the most, are often after all less ser- 
viceable to themselves, and consequently to 
their employers, than those who, with less dis- 
play, follow the old adage of ' slow and sure.' 

*' On the attitude of a compositor his work 
principally depends. The operation being per- 
formed by the eyes, fingers, and arms, which, 
with considerable velocity, are moved almost in 
every direction, the rest of the body should be 
kept as tranquil as possible. However zealous, 
therefore, a workman may be, if his shoulders 
and hips are seen to be moved by every little 



THE ART OF PRIKTING. 153 

letter he lifts, fatigue, exhaustion, and errors are 
the result ; whereas, if the arms alone appear 
in motion, the work is more easily, and conse- 
quently more successfully executed. 

" Before a compositor can proceed with his 
* copy^ his first business must evidently be to 
fill his ' cases.' — The usual way of filling cases 
with letters is by distributing the type pages of 
books which have been printed off. — The dis- 
tributing of the letters from the type pages into 
the square dens to which they respectively 
belong is performed with astonishing celerity. 
If the type were jumbled, or, as it is technically 
termed, * in pie,' the time requisite for recog- 
nising the tiny countenance of each letter would 
be enormous ; but the compositor, being enabled 
to grasp and read one or two sentences at a 
time, without again looking at the letters, drops 
them one by one, here, there, and everywhere, 
according to their destination. It is calculated 
that a good compositor can distribute four 
thousand letters per hour, which is about five 
times as many as he can compose ; just as in 
common life all men can spend money at least 
twenty times as readily as they can earn it. 

" As soon as the workman has filled his cases, 
his next Sisyphus labour is by composition to 



154 CAXTON AND 

exhaust them. Glancing occasionally at the 
cojj}^ before him, he consecutively picks up with 
a zig-zag movement, and with almost the velo- 
city of lightning, the letters he requires." Stand- 
ing in front of the cases which contain the 
Eoman letters, he holds in his left hand what is' 
called the composing-stick, which is commonly 
made of iron or brass, having a movable side, 
which may be adapted to any width of line by 
means of a screw. The copy is placed upon the 
least used part of the upper case. The com- 
positor puts the letters of every word, with all 
the required points and spaces between them, 
into his stick, securing each addition by the 
thumb of his left hand, from left to right along 
the line. " His right hand goes mechanically to 
the box which he requires ; but his eye is ready 
to accompany its movements." In each letter, 
as already noticed, there is a nick, or nicks, 
which indicate the lower part of the letter, and 
which he must always place outwards in his 
composing-stick. " If the compositor were to 
pick up the letter at random, he would most 
probably have to turn it in his hand, and as it 
is important to save every unnecessary move- 
ment, his eye directs him to some one of the 
heap which lies in the right position, both 



THE ART OF PWNTINa. 155 

as regards the face being upwards, and the 
nick being outwards." When the line is com- 
pleted, much care is required in spacing, so that 
the type may not be too crowded, nor liave 
too many chasms, and that the lines may be 
properly connected or terminated, as each one 
must be "justified," as the phrase is, or made 
to correspond with those previously set. A 
thin sUp of brass, called a setting-rule^ is placed 
in the composing-stick at the outset, and pulled 
out and placed on the front of a line when 
completed, greatly facilitating the process of 
composition. When there are as many lines in 
the composing-stick as it will conveniently hold, 
the compositor lifts them out, as if they were 
a mass of solid metal, with the fingers of both 
hands, and places them in what is called the 
galley — a flat board or piece of zinc or brass, 
having a ledge at the head and on one or both 
sides. 

" The facility with which some compositors 
can lift about what is called a handful of mov- 
able type without deranging a single letter is 
very remarkable. Such skill is only attained 
by practice ; and one of the severest mortifica- 
tions with which a learner has to contend, is to 
toil for an hour or two in picking up several 



156 CAXTON AND 

thousand letters, and then see the fabric 
destroyed by his own ckimsiness," leading him 
to mourn over his " pie," as the heap of jum- 
bled type is technically designated. 

The galley is filled by the contents of suc- 
cessive sticks, and in the instance of newspapers 
and most other periodical works a proof is taken 
before the type is made up into pages. In 
books, however, when there are sufficient lines 
to form a page, and having first placed the head 
line, containing the title of the book, or the 
contents of a portion of it, with the proper figure 
in the corner, the compositor binds the types 
tightly round with a cord, and places them 
under his frame. The requisite number of 
pages to form a sheet being completed, they 
are arranged by the compositor upon a bench or 
imposing-stone, and each is surrounded with 
pieces of wood, or furniturey so as to provide a 
proper margin for each page. The whole are 
then secured ia an iron frame, or chase, hj 
means of slips of wood and wedges. This pro- 
cess is called imposing. 

Whether the proof is taken before or after 
the type is made up into pages, the process of 
correction immediately follows. " As the com- 
positor receives nothing for curii:g Iiis own 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 157 

mistaljes, they form the self-correcting punish- 
ment of his own offence. The operation is the 
most disagreeable, and, by pressure on the 
chest incurred in leaning over the form, it is 
also the most unhealthy part of his occupation. 
The compositor's own errors are scarcely put to 
rights before a much greater difficulty arrives, 
namely, the author's corrections. 

" Few men dare to print their sentiments as 
they write them. Not only must the frame- 
work of their composition be altered, but a 
series of minute posthumous additions and sub- 
tractions are ordered, which it is almost impos- 
sible to effect ; indeed, it not unfrequently 
happens that it would be a shorter operation for 
the compositor to set up the types afresh, than 
to disturb his work piecemeal, by the quantity 
of codicils and alterations which a vain, vacil- 
lating, crotchety writer has required. 

" In a printing establishment ' the reader' is 
almost the only individual whose occupation is 
sedentary ; indeed, the galley-slave can scarcely 
be more closely bound to his oar than is a 
reader to his stool. On entering his cell, his 
very attitude is a striking and most graphic 
picture of earnest attention. It is evident, from 
his outline, that the whole power of his mind is 



158 CAXTON AND 

concentrated in a focus upon the page before 
him ; and as in midnight the lamps of the 
mail, which illuminate a small portion of the 
road, seem to increase the pitchy darkness 
which in every other direction prevails, so 
does the undivided attention of a reader to his 
subject evidently abstract his thoughts from all 
other considerations. An urchin stands by 
reading to the reader from ihe copy — furnishing 
him, in fact, with an additional pair of eyes — 
and the shortest way to attract his immediate 
notice is to stop his boy ; for no sooner does the 
stream of the child's voice cease to flow than 
the machinery of the man's mind ceases to 
work — something has evidently gone wrong 1 
— he accordingly at once raises his weary head, 
and a slight sigh, with one passage of the hand 
across his brow, is generally sufficient to enable 
him to receive the intruder with mildness and 
attention. 

" In a large printing establishment, the real 
interest of which is to increase the healthy 
appetite of the public by supplying it with 
wholesome food of the best possible description, 
it is found to be absolutely necessary that ' the 
readers' should be competent to correct, not 
only the press, but the author. It is requisite 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 159 

not only that they should possess a microscopic 
eye, capable of detecting the minutest errors, 
but be also enlightened judges of the purity of 
their own language. The general style of the 
author cannot, of course, be interfered with ; 
but tiresome repetitions, incorrect assertions, 
intoxicated hyperbole, faults in grammar, and, 
above all, in punctuation, it is the reader's 
especial duty to point out. It is, therefore, 
evidently necessary that he be complete master 
of his own tongue. It is also almost essen- 
tial that he should have been brought up a 
compositor, in order that he may be acquainted 
with the mechanical department of that busi- 
ness." The corrections having been attended 
to by the compositor, a proof is again taken, 
and, after final revision, the sheet is ready for 
the press. The form having been "gauged," 
and duly adjusted by the compositor, it goes to 
the pressmen, who are, strictly speaking, the 
printers, as they take impressions from it on 
the paper. 

Until a very recent period, the presses com- 
monly used in this country differed but little 
in their form and materials from those first 
known in Europe, and improved by Blaew. 
They consisted of two upright cheeks of wood, 



160 CAXTON AND 

with stout cross-pieces, in wliich worked a 
common iron screw. At the lower part of the 
screw was suspended a square smooth-faced 
table of hard wood, occasionally covered with 
iron, called the platten. The chase, containing 
the type, was placed on a level stone, fixed 
in a wooden bed or carriage, and made to 
slide backwards and forwards on a sort of 
railway under the platten. The type being 
inked by means of inking-halls, (made of 
sheep's pelt,) and a sheet of paper placed upon 
it, the form was passed immediately under the 
platten, and this being pressed down by a 
handle acting on the screw, the impression 
was taken on the paper. Such was the old- 
fashioned printing-press, which may still occa- 
sionally be seen in places where the roughest 
and commonest printing is executed. 

The press invented by the late earl Stanhope 
gained an important point, from its being capable 
of all the force of the ordinary machine, with 
perhaps a tenth of the labour. This result 
was the reward of many tedious experiments, 
in which his lordship was aided by Mr. "Walker, 
an ingenious mechanician. The immense ad- 
vantage given by means of it, not only to the 
pressman, but also to the public, in consequence 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 161 

of the improvement ia the work produced, led to 
the application to the old presses of lord Stan- 
hope's compound leverage, by means of whicli 
the power of the screw was prodigiously 
increased. It was, however, soon found that 
the wooden press was not calculated to sustain 
the operation of this compound power, espe- 
cially when applied, as it was in several 
instances, without any accurate calculation of 
its probable effects. It caused the frame-work 
of the altered presses constantly to give way 
and rendered repeated repairs necessary. These 
circumstances, added to the obvious superiority 
of the new machines, led to the prompt and 
general substitution of iron presses for those of 
wood. 

The ink to be used in good printing has been 
the subject of much thought and care. The 
lamp-black of commerce, coarse and impure as 
it is, was used as the principal ingredient in it 
for a period of nearly two hundred years ; and 
it was not until the days of the celebrated 
printer Baskerville that attention was turned 
to the improvement of this article. lie dis- 
covered a superior kind of black for the pur- 
pose required, and to his success may be chiefly 
attributed the superiority of his printing. Some 



162 CAXTON AND 

of his editions of the Latin classics and English 
poets were distinguished by great beauty of 
typography. 

The discovery of Baskerville, however, lay 
dormant from the time of his death till 1790, 
when, through Mr. Martin of Birmingham, his 
apprentice, and afterwards his foreman, a con- 
siderable quantity of his fine black, which had 
been collected for a length of time from glass- 
pinchers' and solderers' lamps, was bought by 
him at an almost unlimited price, and was sold 
to Mr. Bulmer for his experiments in fine 
printing. As, however, difliculties arose in the 
way of obtaining a regular supply of this sub- 
stance, Mr. Bulmer manufactured an ink for 
himself, and produced with it many works of 
most exquisite typography. Mr. Martin was 
one of his most successful competitors, making 
his own black, which he did for a considerable 
time, from fine lamp oil, the smoke being col- 
lected in a variety of glazed earthen vessels 
made for the purpose, connected together, and 
communicating at last with one common 
receiver. The slowness of this process, how- 
ever, led him afterwards to adopt other means. 

It was while engaged in his typographical 
labours that earl Stanhope entertained the idea 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 163 

of supplying the ink for the printing-press by 
means of a revolving cylinder, instead of by the 
old process of stamping balls. Aiming to rea- 
lize his object, he spared no expense to find a 
substance adapted to cover the rollers which he 
meant to employ. He had the skins of every 
animal Avhich he thought likely to answer the 
purpose, dressed by every possible process ; and 
he tried also a variety of substances, such as 
cloth and silk, of various fabrics, but without 
success. The first impediment was the seam 
which it was necessary to make down the whole 
length of the roller; and there was next the 
impossibility of keeping any skin or substance 
then known, always so soft and pliable as to 
receive the ink with an even coat, and commu- 
nicate the same to the form with the requisite 
regularity. Sanguine, however, as to the possi- 
bility of securing the object desired, all the presses 
of his lordship's early construction had, at each 
end of the table, a raised flanch, the height of 
the type, for the purpose of applying inking 
rollers ; but all his schemes to perfect such 
rollers were absolutely baffled. 

The idea of the revolving cylinder, however, 
did not, it appears, originate with his lordship. 
Papillon, in his work on engraving, gives 



1G4 CAXTON AND 

detailed particulars, illustrated by engravings, 
of rollers for inking, and Mr. Nicholson also 
liinted at a similar process. Lord Stanhope's 
labours to secure the result are, however, en- 
titled to respectful remembrance, as having 
been intelligent, pains- taking, and persever- 
ing. The difficulties which his inventive and 
indefatigable powers could not surmount, were 
accidentally removed by observing a process in 
the StaiFordshire potteries, in which the work- 
men use what are there called dabbers. The 
very substance which had been so ardently 
sought for was found in these dabbers, com- 
posed of glue and treacle ; it possessed every 
requisite to hold and distribute the ink, im- 
parting it equally over the form, and at the 
same time being easily kept clean, soft, and 
pliable. An ingenious printer, Mr. Forster, 
then employed at the printing-office of Mr. 
Hamilton, bookseller, at Weybridge, was the 
first who applied the discovery to letter-press 
printing, by spreading the matter in a melted 
state on coarse canvass, and making balls, in all 
other respects, in the usual manner. 

The modern invention of stereotype differs 
from ordinary printing mainly in this, that the 
letters, instead of being run singly in matrices of 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 165 

copper, are cast in plates comprising entire pages, 
from plaster of Paris moulds. The Luchtmans 
of Leyden appear to have printed Bibles from 
plates in which the types were cemented toge- 
ther in pages, so far back as the year 1711. 
But this plan is very different from that of 
stereotyping, which was practised by Mr. Ged, 
of Edinburgh, in 1725, and by Mr. Fenner and 
Mr. James of London, who cast plates for 
Bibles and Prayer-books in the University of 
Cambridge, about four years after the last- 
named date. 

The plaster of Paris mould, forming a perfect 
fac-simile of the page intended to be printed, 
and surrounded with a proper raised margin, is 
lowered into a vessel containing type metal in a 
molten state, and which, filling every cavity, 
forms, when the mould has been removed and 
become cool, a solid page of letters. This being 
dressed on the back until there only remains a 
plate sufficiently thick to keep the whole toge- 
ther, is attached either to a wooden slab or a 
composition body, about five-eighths of an inch 
thick ; and in this state the pages are ready for 
printing. 

Somewhat akin to stereotyping was the in- 
vention of logographj. The first number of 



166 CAXTON AND 

'' The Times, or Daily Universal Register," 
printed logographically, is dated January, 1788, 
and its price is marked threepence. Its im- 
print is interesting when viewed in connexion 
with the rise of the journal to its present 
commanding position. " Printed for J. Walter, 
at the Logographic Press, Printing House 
Square, near Apothecaries Hall, Blackfriars, 
where Advertisements, Essays, Letters and 
Articles of Intelligence will be taken in. 
Also at Mr. Metteneus's, confectioner. Charing 
Cross ; Mr. Whiteeaves's, watchmaker. No. 30, 
opposite St. Dunstan's Church, Fleet Street ; 
Mr. Axtell's, No. 1, Finch Lane, Cornhill ; at 
Mr. Bushby's, No. 1, Catherine Street, Strand; 
Mr. Rose's, silk dyer. Spring Gardens ; and 
Mr. Grives's, stationer. No. 103, corner of 
Fountain Court, Strand." 

The phrase, " printed Logographically," is, 
however, one that asks for explanation. Mr. 
Walter, the proprietor, had obtained a patent 
for casting in metal whole words, instead of 
single letters, which were placed side by side 
in the manner of type, or interspersed with it 
on the page. It was expected that, by this 
means, orthographical errors would be much 
fewer than in ordinary printing, and that as 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 167 

less time and labour would be required, the 
process of typography would be much cheaper. 
One joke of the time was, that orders to the 
founder would be as follows : — " Send me a 
hundredweight, made up in several pounds of 
heat, cold, wet, dry, murder, fire, dreadful 
robbery, atrocious outrage, fearful calamity, 
and alarming explosion ; " while another hun- 
dred would be made up of " honourable gen- 
tlemen, gracious majesty, loud cheers, hisses, 
and groans, and similar combinations." But, 
despite of gibes, and taunts, and difficulties, 
Walter advanced, and on the 1st of January, 
1785, he issued the Daily Advertiser, printed 
in the new manner, having four pages, and a 
halfpenny stamp ; this paper was sold for two- 
pence halfpenny. The new process, however, 
was not found to meet with the success which 
its patentee had expected for it. 

The press is greatly indebted to Mr. William 
Nicholson, the editor of the journal that bore 
his name, for various improvements which he 
made in it, and for which he obtained a patent 
in the year 1790. Among these was the 
substitution of two cylinders, or of one cylinder 
and a plane, for producing the impression, 
instead of the two plain surfaces of the ordi- 



168 CAXTON AND 

nary or Stanhope press ; and also, tlie use of 
cylinders covered with an adhesive and elastic 
composition for applying the ink to the surface 
of the form of types, which in the old process 
was laid on with large balls or dabbers. Some of 
the means devised by Mr. Nicholson were essen- 
tially defective, and other parts of his invention 
were but very imperfectly carried into effect ; 
yet an examination of his specification will show 
that many subsequent attempts at machine- 
printing embody several of the principles which 
were primarily adopted by that gentleman. 

The printing-machines devised by mechani- 
cians too numerous to name, all possess one 
and the same general principle, employed in a 
variety of ways. The ink by an arrangement 
of rollers being applied to the face of the types, 
the latter are drawn under a cylinder, on which 
the sheet being laid, an impression is taken off 
on one side. The sheet is then conveyed to a 
second cylinder, by the rotation of which it is 
carried on to the second form, and the other side 
is printed. All the hand labour in this process 
is performed by boys, one of whom lays the 
paper on the first cylinder, while the other 
receives it from the second cylinder, and lays' 
the heap even. 



TUE ART OF PIONTING. 169 

Printing by steam machinery was first 
executed in England at the " Times " office, in 
1814. In the " Times " of the 29th of Novem- 
ber, in that year, the following announcement 
appears : — " Our journal of this day presents to 
the public the practical result of the greatest 
improvement connected with printing, since 
the discovery of the art itself. The reader of 
this paragraph now holds in his hand one of 
the many thousand impressions of the ' Times ' 
newspaper, which were taken off last night by 
a mechanical apparatus. A system of ma- 
chinery, almost organic, has been devised and 
arranged, which, while it relieves the human 
frame of its most laborious efforts in printing, 
far exceeds all human powers in rapidity and 
despatch. 

" That the magnitude of the invention may 
be justly appreciated by its effects, we shidl 
inform the pubhc, that, after the letters ai'e 
placed by the compositors, and inclosed in 
what is called the form, little more remains for 
man to do, than to attend upon and watch this 
unconscious agent in its operations. The 
machine is then supplied with paper — ^itself 
places the form, inks it, adjusts the paper to 
the form newly inked, stamps the sheet, and 
f2 



170 CAXTON AND 

gives it forth to the hands of the attendant, at 
the same time withdrawing the form for a fresh 
coat of ink, which itself again distributes, to meet 
the ensuing sheet advancing for impression ; 
and the whole of these complicated acts is per- 
formed with such a velocity and simultaneousness 
of movement, that no less than 1,100 sheets are 
impressed in one hour. 

" That the completion of an invention of this 
kind, not the effect of chance, but the result of 
■ mechanical combinations, methodically arranged 
in the mind of the artist, should be attended 
with many obstructions, and much delay, may 
be readily admitted. Our share in the event 
has, indeed, only been the application of the 
discovery, under an agreement with the pa- 
tentees, to our own particular business ; yet 
few can conceive, even with this limited 
interest, the various disappointments and deep 
anxiety to which we have, for a long course of 
time, been subjected." 

In the "Times" of February 14, 1828, 
appeared the following paragragh : — " It is 
now nearly fourteen years since the * Times ' 
first issued from our office printed by steam 
and a mechanical apparatus. At that time 
we spoke, as we thought, with becoming praise 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 171 

of the perseverance and ingenuity of the in- 
ventor, Mr Konig, and with sufficient modesty, 
we trust, of our own firmness and resolution 
in overcoming opposing difficulties, and even 
dangers. This surprising machine has since 
received certain improvements from the hand 
of its original inventor ; but we have now to 
present our readers and the public an account 
of a vast and most beneficial change that has 
taken place. The first machine printed but 
1,100 sheets per hour — the reader now holds 
in his hand an impression, which a mere 
machine has yielded at the rate of four thousand 
an hour! Such ease, rapidity, and accuracy 
united, could hardly ever before be ascribed to 
any fabric constructed by the hand of man. Let 
but the reader contemplate, if he can, what 
must be the rapidity of these motions, which 
throw off four thousand printed sheets in every 
hour, or nearly seventy in a minute ! " 

But improvement in respect of speed in 
printing had not yet reached its acm^. In 
1849, a still more remarkable invention was 
introduced at the " Times " office, the credit of 
which was due to Mr. Applegath. The types, 
instead of being laid on a table, traversing a 
sort of railroad — a correct description of the 



172 CAXTON AND 

old process — were built up as it were on the 
face of a drum of cast iron. Eight printing 
cylinders were arranged round this drum, and 
instead of the four impressions taken by the 
old machine in its double journey, eight sheets 
were printed in every revolution of the cylinder. 
Eight men, on a raised gallery, were employed 
to feed the machine, by carefully pushing suc- 
cessive sheets into its eight mouths, each man 
doing this at the rate of one sheet in four 
seconds. Directly under these eight men were 
a similar number on the ground, employed iu 
taking off and piling the printed sheets thrown 
out by the machine. So astonishing is the 
velocity of this press, that the eye vainly 
attempts to folloAv the numerous sheets of paper 
in their rapid motion. Ten thousand copies an 
hour can be thrown off by means of it, and if 
necessary twelve thousand. Indeed, it is said 
that a sufficiently large cylinder, with cor- 
responding apparatus, could as easily produce 
one hundred thousand as ten thousand copies 
an hour. A calculation made by " La Patrie^^ 
a French newspaper, shows how marvellously 
human labour is outrivalled by these mecha- 
nical arrangements. The paper, " Lcl Patvie^' 
which is much smaller than the *' Times," 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 173 

contains about 4,230 lines ; 8,000 copies make 
34,560,000 lines. A clerk could write about 
three lines in a minute ; therefore it would 
require 11,520,000 minutes, or 192,000 hours, 
for a single clerk to supply 8,000 copies of " La 
Patrie;" in other words, it would require 
192,000 men to supply, by copying, the same 
amount of paper which the cylinder printing 
press supplies in one hour. 

Few things can be more impressive to the 
mind than to witness the steam printing-press in 
active operation. " The visitor," says a writer 
already quoted, " hears a deep rumbling sound, 
"which he is at a loss to understand, until a 
door before him being opened, he is suddenly 
introduced to enormous steam-presses. The 
simultaneous revolution of so much compli- 
cated machinery, crowded together in a com- 
paratively small compass, coupled with a 
moment's reflection as to the purpose for which 
it is in motion, is astounding to the mind ; and 
as broad leather straps are rapidly revolving in 
all directions, the stranger pauses for a moment 
to consider whether or not he may get cr.tangled 
in the process, and against his inclination, as 
authors generally say in their prefaces — *'go 
to press.'" 



174 CAXTON AND 

A new motive power in lieu of steam has, how- 
ever, lately been applied to the printing-press, 
although in its present shape it appears to be 
rather an ingenious and ndvel experiment than 
a fully tried invention. Mr. Foreman, a printer 
in the United States, has patented a printing- 
press, which is moved and regulated by gal- 
vanic power. The paper is worked upon a 
reel, and is continuous like a telegraphic coil, 
passing over the type in the form of a cylinder. 
When one side of it is worked, the paper is 
reversed, and the other side printed, the sheets 
being clipped apart as they come from the 
press by an ingenious contrivance. According 
to the American authorities, there is hardly 
any limit to the speed at which this press will 
work, while its exactness is stated to be be- 
yond anything known in this line of machinery. 

Recent improvements in the powers of the 
printing-press have been happily aided by a 
new process for the manufacture of paper, the 
honour of which is due to persons not yet 
named. Some very interesting details of Four- 
drinier's machinery for making paper of endless 
length, were given during a debate in the House 
of Commons, on April 25, 1839, on the presen- 
tation of a petition from this ingenious manu- 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 175 

facturer. Among them were the following : 
That 1,000 or a still larger number of 
yards of paper could be made continuously 
by it. That, though a patent was obtained, 
the word " machine " being written instead 
of " machines," the invention was pirated, 
and the means of the patentees were ex- 
hausted in litigation before they could esta- 
blish their rights. That they had become 
bankrupts, and that the invention, on which 
they had spent £40,000, was entirely lost to 
them. Hence arose their appeal to Parlia- 
ment, for some compensation for the loss 
they had suffered from the state of the patent 
law. 

In support of their plea, the testimony of 
competent witnesses was adduced ; and among 
them that of Mr. Lawson, the printer of the 
" Times." He characterized the invention as 
one of the most splendid discoveries of the 
age. He stated that the conductors of the 
metropolitan newspapers could never have 
presented to the world such an immense mass 
of news and advertisements as was now 
contained in them had not this invention 
enabled them to make use of any size 
required. It was shown also that the increase 



17G CAXTON AND 

of the revenue was not less by means of it 
than £500,000 a year. In May, 1840, parlia- 
ment voted to Messrs. Fourdrinier the sum 
of £7,000. 

Our description of the process of printing has 
been confined chiefly to that department of the 
art which has reference to the preparation of 
books. Did it seem necessary, however, steel- 
plate and copper-plate printing might be de- 
scribed, together with the lithographic process, 
which so much aids the man of business 
in the production of mercantile circulars and 
drawn plans. Many curiosities of printing 
might also be detailed, as the process of 
printing for the blind, the mode in which some 
species of the electro-telegraph print their mes- 
sages, and anastatic printing, by which fac- 
similes of drawings are produced. It seems 
well, however, that we should confine ourselves 
to those processes which are more immediately 
connected with the printing of books. 

The Great Exhibition of 1851, amidst its 
other marvels, presented many objects illus- 
trative of the perfection to which the art of 
printing had been brought in our own and 
other countries. The Catalogue of the Exhi- 
bition was itself a wonderful proof of the 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 177 

rapidity with which large masses of printed 
matter can, by the aids of machinery and 
di%'ision of labour, be thrown off in an incredibly 
short space of time. The Exhibition, the reader 
need hardly be reminded, opened on the 1st of 
May, yet it was not till midnight of the 30th of 
April, that the Catalogue — a thick and closely 
printed volume — was ready to go to press. By 
the next morning, however, a bound copy of it 
was presented to her Majesty, while in mar- 
vellously brief space the work was ready for 
general circulation. Twelve trades were neces- 
sary for the production of this Catalogue, 
namely, type-founders, printers' joiners, iron- 
founders, paper-makers, wholesale stationers, 
letter-press printers, printing-ink-makers, com- 
position roller-makers, engravers on wood, 
lithographic-printers, hot-pressers, and book- 
binders. Thirty-seven tons of new type were 
employed, of which amount twelve tons were 
manufactured in the short space of six weeks. 
Twenty-seven thousand reams of paper were 
used, the amount of duty on which at l^d. 
per lb. amounted to £3,923 ; while the ink 
required for the small catalogue alone amounted 
to nearly 4,000 lbs. 

In the Exhibition itself, among the various 



178 CAXTON AND 

objects connected with the printing-press there 
was noticeable a mammoth sheet of paper, 2,500 
yards in length, and double the breadth for- 
merly used in the trade. Still more cui'ious 
were gutta percha stereotypes, and impressions 
of the same printed on paper in ordinary 
printing ink. Nor were these exhibited as 
mere curious toys, but as illustrations of a pro- 
cess well adapted for business purposes. The 
matrix or mould of the stereotype is taken by 
the pressure of a block of type upon gutta 
percha while in a hot and soft state. The 
specimens of printing and engraving furnished 
in this way were as sharp as if taken by metal, 
while the flexible nature of the substance 
adapted it for being curved with special ease 
roimd a printing cylinder. Strange also as it 
may appear, gutta percha types were stated to 
be very durable. 

Much interest was excited in the Exhibition 
by the working of Mr. Applegath's machinery 
for printing the " Illustrated London News." 
As this process has, however, already been 
described by us in connection with the " Times" 
office, a further reference to it here is un- 
necessary. 

IMany beautiful specimens of English printing 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 179 

were exhibited, and much curious illustration 
was afforded likewise of the advanced state to 
which the art of printing had been brought in 
foreign countries. Specimens of typography 
from the imperial printing establishment of 
Vienna — which were to be seen in the Austrian 
department — attracted particular notice. Ac- 
cording to the calculations furnished, 500,000 
sheets, or 1,000 reams of paper per day are 
required for the consumption of this establish- 
ment. Among the objects which it sent to the 
Exhibition was a collection of 11,000 steel 
punches, including 104 different alphabets, 
from the hieroglyphic downwards. There was 
also a copy of a work produced at Vienna, con- 
sisting of 17 sheets in elephant foHo, and 
containing the Lord's Prayer in 608 languages, 
printed with Roman letters, and in 200 lan- 
guages, in the characters peculiar to each 
language — a specimen of printing, as it was 
truly observed, " of vast design and exquisite 
execution." * 

Marvellous, however, as was this display of 
typographic skill, it was paralleled, if not ex- 
celled, by the spectacle presented in the case 

* See that very useful publication, " The Year Book of Facts 
in Science and Art." 



180 CAXTON AND 

of the British and Foi'eign Bible Society, which 
exhibited the word of God printed in one hun- 
dred and twenty different languages. How 
many years of study had been devoted by men 
of different lands that these books might be 
given to the world ! To accomplish this, rude 
and strange languages had been formed, and 
unwritten dialects had been moulded into order. 
We have said, in an early portion of this work, 
that Caxton had not dared to print a copy of 
the word of God. What a difference presents 
itself to the mind as it reviews the interval 
between the day when Caxton drew his first 
printed proof and our own age, when the 
printing-press has attained such gigantic mag- 
nitude and power ! and how solicitous ought 
we to be, that the mighty engine which has 
thus been placed in our hands should be wielded 
for good, and made to tend to the glory and 
not to the dishonour of God ! 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 181 



CHAPTER VIII. 

Marts for books— St. Paul's Churchyard— A Contrast— Littls 
Britain— Paternoster Row— Pernicious productions of the 
press— Religious Tract Society. 

St. Paul's Churchyard was once the most 
celebrated mart for books. The London book- 
sellers of oldeu times had their shops at all the 
principal entrances to the old cathedral, while 
some of them, as well as those of other trades, 
were to be found within the precincts of that 
edifice. A scarce tract on the burning of St. 
Paul's Cathedral bears the following impri- 
matur : " Imprynted at London, at the west 
ende of Paule's Church, at the sygne of the 
Hedghogge, by William Seres." Towards the 
close of the reign of Henry vni., and during 
that of Edward vi., some valuable works 
were published on this spot by the printer 
Daye ; but his press was silenced during the 
popish tyranny of Mary. Under the more 
auspicious reign of Elizabeth, however, he 



182 CAXTON A-ND 

resumed his labours, and at great risk em- 
barked large sums of money in printing the 
works of Becon, Tyndale, and other reformers. 
Foxe, whose " Acts and Monuments " were 
frequently reprinted at Daye's press, appears 
to have been supported by the employment 
which Daye gave him as editor. A spirit of 
opposition was excited by the trade against this 
enterprising printer and publisher, and every 
endeavour was used to check the sale of his 
works ; upon which archbishop Grindall 
allowed him to have a shop under the front 
of St. Paul's for their sale, by which means 
they were circulated. "Arise, for it is day," 
was the device adopted by him as his motto, 
which might have a twofold reference — first, 
to his being called " The printer of the Refor- 
mation," and secondly, to his own cognomen. 

The great change which has taken place 
within the last fifty or sixty years in the whole 
matter of book-making, forces upon us a con- 
trast, which, in passing from St. Paul's Church- 
yard, we are anxious to present to the view of 
the reader. In 1850, the American ambas- 
sador, speaking of his early associations with 
the British metropolis, said, " he could never 
forget that the first book he ever read was 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 183 

published in St. Paul's Churchyard." Doubtless 
the book-reminiscences of many others have a 
reference to the same spot, and especially to the 
shop of Mr. Newberry, filled as it was with 
gilded toy-books, two inches square, dazzling 
the eyes of his little patrons — with other works 
of a larger but equally unprofitable kind, as 
" Jack the Giant Killer," " St. George and the 
Dragon," etc. 

Mr. Newberry, whom we have just named, 
may be said to have been the first publisher of 
children's literature, but his works were of a 
different character from those which are now 
provided for the young. Among other of the 
superior books for children in Mr. Newberry's 
day, one was entitled, " The Royal Guide ; or, 
An easy introduction to reading English, em- 
bellished with a great variety of copper-plate 
and other cuts. Most humbly inscribed to his 
Royal Highness Prince Edward. London, 
printed for E. Newberry, at the comer of St. 
Paul's Churchyard. Price sixpence." The 
frontispiece is a likeness of the infant prince. 
The pictiu*e alphabet with which it commences 
is quite above the cuts of wood which were 
made for plebeian children. The following is a 
specimen of the rhymes under the letter A : — 



184 CAXTON AND 

" Tlie axe which traytors often dread. 
And husbandmen employ, 
Will sure, in time, cut off the head 
Of every naughty boy." 

By far the greater number of the children's 
books which were in vogue at the beginning of 
this century, especially those known as six- 
penny toy-books, were not to be compared, 
even in their power to entertain children, (to 
say nothing of the absence of other qualities,) 
with a large proportion of the penny books 
with which the world is now filled. If any 
intelligent person, of any age, will read the 
superior juvenile works published in the present 
day, in connexion with any book bearing Mr. 
Newberry's imprint, we are confident there will 
be no desire to restore the nursery literature of 
the olden time. Doubtless, grave errors have 
crept into modern juvenile works, and an 
equally indefensible extreme has frequently 
been reached in the endeavour to avoid puer- 
ility ; but all must readily admit that truth 
reveals more wonders than fable or fiction, 
though the objects it presents may not be so 
incongruous or grotesque. We cannot sup- 
pose that the Creator has formed the mind 
even of a little child to be more pleased with a 
human head on the body of a fish, (which may 



THE ART OP PRINTING. 185 

be taken as a sample of the illustrations in the 
works referred to,) than with each in its proper 
relation. It is an imposition on the under- 
standing of such a child to represent to him a 
bird using a cross-bow, or a bear reading from 
a book. It admits of no question that there is 
a more excellent method of providing for the 
wants of the youthful mind, a method which 
combines greater advantages with fewer defects, 
equal entertainment with more utility. The 
numerous excellent works for the young pub- 
lished in our own day, prove that the truth has 
been recognised that children can be interested 
without having their minds filled with literary 
rubbish. 

At the period to which we have already 
alluded books and paper were sold only at 
stalls, hence the dealers in these articles were 
designated stationers. This class of tradesmen, 
after the fire of London, removed from St. 
Paul's churchyard to Little Britain and Pater- 
noster-row. Little Britain, anciently Breton- 
street, from the mansion of the duke of Bretagne 
being there, now became a street of great 
literary importance, being filled with the shops 
of stationers. Within four years, 464 pam- 
phlets are said to have been published there. 



186 CAXTON AND 

The publication of "The Spectator" in folio 
was commenced in this street by Buckley, a 
learned printer and publisher, at his shop, 
bearing the sign of the Dolphin. At the close 
of the seventh volume, this popular work was 
suspended, but was subsequently resumed by 
Buckley on his removal to Amen Corner. 
Buckley's taking up his position at Amen 
Corner may be regarded as indicating a return 
on the part of booksellers to that neighbourhood 
as the great mart of books, whichit has continued 
to be to the present day. 

The houses in Paternoster-row, "from the 
first north gate of St. Paul's churchyard unto 
the next gate, were first built without the wall 
of the churchyard by Henry Walters, mayor, 
in the year 1282." This street, as Stow 
informs us, was called Paternoster-row, because 
of stationers or text-writers that dwelt there, 
who wrote and sold all sorts of books then in 
use. There dwelt there also turners, and they 
were called paternoster-makers, according to " a 
record of one Robert Nikkei, paternoster-maker 
and citizen, in the reign of Henry iv." 

Before the fire of London, the same writer 
informs us, " this street was taken up by emi- 
nent mercers, silkmen, and lacemen, and their 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 1 87 

shops were so resorted unto by the nobility 
and gentry in their coaches, that ofttimes the 
street was so stopped up, that there was no 
passage for foot passengers. But after the 
fire, those tradesmen removed to other parts. 
In 1720, the inhabitants in this street were 
a mixture of tradespeople, and chiefly tire- 
women, for the sale of commodes, top-knots, 
and the like dressings for the females. There 
were also many shops of mercers and silk-men, 
and at the upper end some stationers, and 
large warehouses for booksellers, well situated 
for learned and studious men's access thither, 
being more retired and private." 

A change has since then taken place, and 
Paternoster-row is now emphatically the book- 
sellers' mart. The intelligent stranger, as he 
traverses this far-famed locality, may be said 
to stand upon the spot from which issue the 
streams of knowledge that go forth to fertilize 
the earth. Here literature in all its diversified 
forms meets the eye. There is no spot, perhaps, 
where the mind may so appropriately meditate 
on the power of the printing-press as this, whence 
so many of its productions are annually sent 
forth to the world. 

That this vast engine, the press, is sometimes 



188 CAXTON AND 

largely perverted to the doing of evil, is an 
indisputable and deplorable fact. It was said 
only a few years ago, by a high literary autho- 
rity,* " The press is pouring out every day 
a tide of books, which distract the attention, 
weaken the judgment, corrupt the taste, and 
defy the criticism of the public by their 
very multitude. Every one, young or old, 
man or woman, fool or wise, thinks himself 
able to say something which may catch the 
people's eye, to raise himself either by money 
or notoriety. The whole world has become a 
great school, where all the people have turned 
themselves into teachers ; and the ravenous 
appetite of an idle people, always craving for 
some new excitement or amusement, and ready 
to swallow the most unwholesome food, is daily 
stimulating the market. What should we say 
if a man had the power of so volatilizing a 
grain of arsenic, that its effluvium should be 
spread over a whole country, entering into 
every house, and penetrating to the most vital 
part of the body ? And yet, until it is shown 
that the human mind is good in itself, and 
the source of good — that is not what we know 
it to be, save only when purified by religion, 
* Edinburgh Review. 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 189 

corrupt itself, and a corrupter of others— this 
power, which every man possesses, and which 
BO many exercise, of diffusing their thoughts 
over the world, and insinuating them into the 
heart of a nation, is, in reality, the power of 
spreading a pestilential miasma." 

The only antidote to this moral poison, the 
only counteractive of the evils thus exhibited, 
is truth. Most desirable and important is it 
that the popular literature of our country 
should have for its basis, the great and eternal 
principles of revealed religion ; that in the pre- 
sentation before the mind of the phenomena of 
the natural world, there should be a distinct 
recognition of the Creator, not as he is pictured 
by the unaided imagination, but invested with 
those attributes which the Sacred Scriptures 
unveil as his peculiar, unchangeable, and ever- 
lasting possession; and which, whenever the inte- 
resting and valuable incidents of individual 
history, or the events that occur on the far 
larger and grander scale of a nation or a con- 
tinent are narrated, the providence of the 
infinite Ruler should be acknowledged, as sur- 
veying with an omniscient eye the vast and the 
minute, the occurrence of a moment, or the 
circumstances of an age, or a series of ages, 



190 CAXTON AND 

and making all occurrences work out the pur- 
poses of his wisdom and benevolence. It will 
be a happy day in the history of the world 
when our popular literature shall partake of 
this character. 

Among the many large publishing establish- 
ments in Paternoster-row, the extensive one 
from which the present volume issues may, in 
a history of the printing-press, be perhaps not 
unreasonably allowed to claim a little notice. 
The Religious Tract Society was formed to 
promote the circulation of religious books 
and treatises in foreign countries, as well as 
throughout the British dominions. At the 
commencement of its operations in 1799, 
the sphere of its labours was much circum- 
scribed by the smallness of its funds, and the 
unsettled and warlike state of most of the 
nations of the earth ; but through the general 
intercourse with foreign countries, from the 
long continuance of peace, and the increased 
support which the public has given to the 
Society, its exertions have been extended to 
almost every part of the world. The first 
year's circulatiou amounted only to 200,000 
tracts, in one language, and its total receipts 
were about £450 ; but, assisted by the dis- 



THE ART OF PRINTING. 191 

interested labours of many esteemed friends, 
and the devoted missionaries of different Chris- 
tian denominations, the Society has now printed 
important tracts and books in one hundred 
AND TWELVE languages and dialects ; its annual 
circulation of works from the Depository in 
London and from various foreign societies, 
amounted to about twenty-seven miluons ; its 
receipts to £68,126. lis. Ad. ; and its total 
distribution to March, 1852, including the 
issues of its foreign Societies, to about five 

HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SLX MILLIONS of COpieS of 

its publications. It is an important fact, that 
the daily circulation of the Society's works, 
except on the sabbath, exceeds 86,000 copies. 
As a part of this circulation, the issues of par- 
ticular books are often very large. Upwards 
of 427,000 copies have been sold of "The 
Anxious Inquirer after Salvation Directed and 
Encouraged." 

The Religious Tract Society has not con- 
fined itself solely to the issue of tracts, but 
has sought by means of its works on his- 
tory, education, and popular subjects, like 
the present series, to keep pace with the in- 
creased demand for general information, taking 
care that all its productions shall be seasoned 



1921 CAXTON AND THE ART OF PRINTING. 

with that rehgious knowledge which is the 
highest of all blessings. Its great rule is, that 
each of its publications shall contain a clear 
statement of the method of a sinner's recovery 
from guilt and misery by the atonement and 
grace of the Redeemer, so that if a person were 
to read a tract even of the smallest size, and 
should never have an opportunity of seeing 
another, he might be plainly taught, that in 
order to salvation he must be born again 
of the Holy Spirit, and justified by faith in 
the atonement and finished righteousness ot 
Christ. These truths are accordingly now 
brought under the notice of the reader, and 
aflfectionately commended to his attention, as 
being able, when received into the heart by a 
living faith, to niiike him wise unto salvation. 



LONDON : BLACKBUEX AXD BVRT, PBIKIEES, nOLBOE::f HILI. 



PLEASE EX) NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKET 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRARY 



Z Caxton and the art of print' 

232 

C38C39 

1852