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Full text of "A printer's paradise, the Plantin-Moretus Museum at Antwerp"

TYPOGRAPHIA 





Ex LibrisJ. BURKE 




<7 

University of California Berkeley 
PAULINE FORE MOFFITT LIBRARY 



/ 



T?? CENTU RY 



ILLUSTRATED MONTHLY 



MAGAZINE. 



Mayl88$,1o October 1888 




T9? CENTURY C9 , NEW-YORK. 

T.FISHERUNWIN, LONDON. 
Vol. XXXVT. NevSeries Vbt.XIK 



Copyright, 1888, by THE CENTURY Co. 



THE DE VINNE PRESS. 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



THE PLANTIN-MORETUS MUSEUM AT ANTWERP. 



HE modern print- 
ing-office is not 
at all picturesque. 
Whether it be old, 
with grimy hand- 
presses and dingy 
types, or new, 
with huge iron 
machines and 
long lanes of 
cases and stones, 
it does not invite 
the artistic pencil. Without doubt the cradle 
of books, but can one see any poetry about the 
cradle ? The eye is confused with strange 

'I 




sights; the ear is jarred with harsh noise ; the 
air itself is heavy with odors of ink and oil and 
wet paper. Nor does the imagination expand 
in the office of the manager, in which the prom- 
inent objects are always chairs and desks, and 
a litter of ragged papers and well-thumbed 
books all prosaic and factory -like. 

Was it always so ? No one knows of the in- 
terior of Gutenberg's office in the Zum Jut/gen 
house at Mayence, for no artist in his day or 
ours has found in it any beauty to be pre- 
served; but we do know that this birthplace 
of a great art is now a beer-shop, in which for 
a few pfennigs one may get a refreshment for 
the body not to be had for the mind. The 




VOL. XXXVI. 32. 



THE FRONT OF THE MUSEUM. 



226 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 




GUTENBERG S OFFICE AT MAYENCE. 

fate that fell on Gutenberg's office has fallen 
on the offices of Aldus and the Stephens and 
the Elzevirs. Not a vestige of office fittings or 
working material remains. 

ThePlantin-Moretus Museum at Antwerp is 
the only printing-house that has been left in- 
tact as the monument of a great departed bus- 
iness. How well it was worth having may be 
inferred from the price of twelve hundred thou- 
sand francs paidfor it bythecity,in 1876, to the 
last member of the family of the founder. How 
well it is worth seeing is proved by the steady 
tide of visitors that pass through it 
every day. Here is a printing-house 
that is not a factory a house that 
has been as much the home of art 
and education as a place for work 
and trade. 

It is not an imposing structure. 
No public building in Antwerp is 
more unpretentious as to its exteri- 
or. Its dull front on the Marche du 
Vendredi gives but one indication 
of the treasures behind the walls. To 
him who can read it, the little tablet 
over the door is enough to tell the 
story; for it is the device of Chris- 
topher Plantin, " first printer to the 
king, and the king of printers." 
Here is the hand emerging from the 
clouds, holding a pair of compasses, 
one leg at rest and one describing a 
circle ; here is the encircling legend 
of Lahore et Constantia. Heraldry is 
overfull of devices that are as arro- 
gant as they are absurd, but no one 
dare say that Plantin did not fairly 
earn the right to use the motto of 
labor and patience. 

Plantin deserved remembrance 
from Antwerp. He did much for 
its honor, although he was not of 
Flemish birth. Born in France, about 
1514, taught printing and book- 



binding at Caen, he should have been by right, 
and would have been by choice, a worthy suc- 
cessor to the printers of Paris who did admira- 
ble work during the first half of the sixteenth 
century. But his most Christian majesty Henry 
II. of France had begun his reign in 1547 
with the announcement that he should pun- 
ish heresy as worse than treason. What a 
drag-net was this word heresy for the en- 
tanglement of printers ! Stephen Dolet, most 
promising of all, had been recently burned at 
the stake; Robert Stephens, weary of end- 
less quarrels with meddlesome ecclesiastics., 
was meditating the flight he soon afterward 
made to Geneva. To those who could read 
the signs of the times, there were even then 
forewarnings of the coming massacre of St. 
Bartholomew. France was a good country 
for a printer to leave, and Plantin did wisely 
to forsake Paris in 1548 and to make his 
home in Antwerp. 

Not so large as Paris or London, Antwerp 
was superior in wealth and commerce, as well 
as in its artistic development. Printing was 
under restraint here, as it was everywhere ; but 
the restraints were endurable, and printers 
were reasonably prosperous. Antwerp encour- 
aged immigration. One of the most interest- 
ing of the many paintings in its Hotel de 




A TRADE-MARK. 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



227 



Ville is that of the ceremonious naturalization 
of an Italian and his family in the sixteenth 
century. It was as the principal in a similar 
ceremony that Plantin became a citizen in 
1550, and was enrolled as a printer. 

With little money and few friends, Plantin 
had to struggle to keep his foot-hold in a city 
that had already been well served by many 
master printers. It did not appear that he 
was needed at all as a printer. So Plantin 



printing-office. In that year he published two 
little books, cautiously dividing the risk with 
other publishers. It must have been difficult to 
get books that were salable, for his first book * 
was in Italian and French, his second in 
Spanish, his third in French, clear evidences 
all that there were in Antwerp already printers 
before him who had published all the books 
called for in Flemish. 

But Plantin went to Antwerp to stay. In 




PAINTING IN H6TEL DE VILLE ITALIAN FAMILY TAKING THE OATH OF ALLEGIANCE. (LAST PAINTING BY HENRI LEYS.) 



must have thought, for he avoided printing, 
and opened a shop in which he sold prints 
and books, and his wife sold haberdashery. 
To fill up unemployed time he bound books 
and decorated jewel-boxes. At this work he 
prospered, and soon earned a reputation as 
the most skillful decorator in the city. Before 
he was fairly established he met a great mis- 
fortune. Encountered on a dark night by a 
ruffian who mistook him for another, Plantin 
was dangerously stabbed, and forever disabled 
from handling gilding-tools. The possible 
rivalry that might have arisen between him 
and the artistic book-binders of Paris was ef- 
fectually prevented. He had to begin anew, 
but it was more as a publisher than as a printer, 
for it is not certain that in 1555 he owned a 



1556 he published four more books, two of 
them original; in 1557 eight books, six of 
them original; in 1558 fourteen books, many 
of them of large size and of marked merit. 
The four years that followed show steady in- 
crease in the number and improvement in 
the quality of his publications, among which 
were several Latin classics, a Greek text, a 
Latin Bible, and a dictionary in four lan- 
guages. 

His ability was fully recognized in 1562, 
but his business life was henceforward a suc- 
cession of great misfortunes as well as of great 
achievements. By leaving Paris he did not 
escape, he only postponed, the conflict that 
had begun between the press, the state, and 
the church. The country that promised to 



* " La Institvtione di vna Fancwlla nala nobil- that three hundred years after his death a copy of this 
mente." It was a small I2mo (now rated an i8mo). It book would be sold for more than one hundred dollars, 
would have greatly cheered him if he could have known He had to be content with one sou and a quarter. 



228 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



give him liberty was to become the chosen 
battle-field of the contestants, and the result 
of the battle was to be undecided even at 
his death. In 1562 the regent, Margaret 
of Parma, ordered search for the unknown 
printer of a heretical prayer-book, and it was 
proved that the book had been printed in 
Plantin's printing-office. Forewarned of com- 




JEAN MORETUS I, SON-IN-LAW OK PLANTIN. , (FROM A PAINTING BY RUBENS.) 

ing danger, Plantin escaped to Paris, where 
he staid for twenty months. When he could 
safely return, his business had been destroyed, 
and his printing-office, and even his household 
property, had been sold at auction to satisfy 
the demands of his creditors. Thirteen years 
of labor had been lost. He was down, but 
not to stay. 

Plantin was strongly suspected of complic- 
ity in this matter of heretical printing, but he 
had not been condemned. He overcame the 
prejudices, if there had been any, of ecclesias- 
tical authorities, and made them active friends 
forever, although he was frequently afterward 
denounced as a Calvinist. Four wealthy men 



lent him money to found a printing-house, in 
which he worked hard. At the end of the 
next four years he had seven presses and 
forty workmen in his employ, and had pub- 
lished 209 books. What to him was of more 
importance, he had established friendly rela- 
tions with the authorities of the state. The 
city of Antwerp gave him special privileges 
as printer; the King of Spain 
in 1570 made him "Proto- 
typographe," the ruler of 
all the printers of the city. 
He was in correspondence 
with many of the great 
scholars and artists of his 
time, and was by them, as 
well as by every one, re- 
garded as the foremost 
printer of the world. The 
King of France invited him 
to Paris; the Duke of Savoy 
offered to give to him a great 
printing-house and special 
rewards if he would go to 
Turin. But he kept in Ant- 
werp, and enlarged his busi- 
ness. He not only worked 
himself, but made all his 
household help him. His 
daughters kept a book-store 
in the cloisters of the ca- 
thedral ; he established an 
agency in Paris under the 
direction of his son-in-law, 
Gilles Beys. Another son- 
in-law, Moretus, was his 
chief clerk, and a regular 
attendant at all the Ger- 
man book fairs, while an- 
other, Raphelengius, was his 
ablest corrector of the press. 
Even the younger daughters 
were required to learn to 
read writing, and to serve as 
copy-holders, often on books 
in foreign languages, before 
they were twelve years old. 

His season of greatest apparent prosperity 
began in 1570. His printing-house was soon 
after one of the wonders of the literary world. 
Twenty-two presses were kept at work, and 
two hundred crowns in gold were required 
every day for the payment of his workmen, re- 
cites an old chronicler with awe and astonish- 
ment. His four houses were too small. He 
had to buy and occupy the larger property 
which now constitutes the Plantin- Moretus 
Museum. Before he occupied his new office 
he had printed the largest and most expensive 
book then known to the world, the " Royal 
Polyglot," eight volumes folio, in four Ian- 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



229 




BUST OF BALTHAZAR MORETUS, IN THE COURT-YARD. 

guages, with full-page illustrations from copper- 
plates. It was an enterprise that earned him 
more of honor than of profit, for the King of 
Spain, who had promised liberal help, dis- 
appointed him. Plantin had incurred 
enormous expenses and was harassed 
by creditors, and had to sell or pledge 
his books at losing prices. At that 
time the patronage of the king was 
a hindrance, for when he was in the 
greatest straits the king commanded 
him to print new service books for the 
Church that would be of great cost 
and of doubtful profit. 

The king's habitual neglect to pay 
his obligations provoked his soldiers 
to outrages which nearly ruined 
Plantin. Antwerp had been for years 
in practical mutiny against the king. 
To repress this mutiny the citadel 
was filled with Spanish soldiers who 
were furious because they had not 
been paid, and were threatening to 
plunder the city by way of reprisal 
or as compensation. On the fourth 
day of November, 1576, when Plan- 
tin was no more than fairly settled 
in his new office, the threat was ex- 
ecuted. Joined by an army beyond 
the walls, and by treacherous allies 
that the civic authorities had hired as 
defenders, they began the sack of 
the city. Eight thousand citizens 
were killed, a thousand houses were 



burned, six million florins' worth of property 
were burned, and as much more was stolen, 
amid most atrocious cruelties. The prosperity 
of the great city, which had been the pride of 
Europe, received a blow from which it never re- 
covered. The business of Plantin was crushed. 
" Nine times," he said, " did I have to pay 
ransom to save my property from destruction ; 
it would have been cheaper to have abandoned 
it." But his despondency was but for a day. 
In the ruins of the sacked city, surrounded by 
savage soldiers, discouraged with a faithless 
king who would not protect his property nor 
pay his debts, ill at ease with creditors who 
feared to trust him, and alarmed at the absence 
of buyers who dared not come to the city, Plan- 
tin still kept at work. The remainder of his 
life was practically an unceasing struggle with 
debt, but debt did not make him abandon his 
great plans. To pay his debts he often had to 
sell his books at too small prices. Sometimes 
he had to sell his working- tools. In 1581 he 
went to Paris to dispose of his library, costing 
16,000 francs, for less thari half its value. 

Rich enough in books, in tools, in promises to 
pay, he had little of money, and slender cred- 
it. The political outlook was disheartening. 
Alexander of Parma was menacing Flanders 
and Brabant ; there was reason to fear a siege 
of Antwerp and the destruction of his printing- 
house. With the consent of his creditors 




230 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 




BALTHAZAR MORETUS I. (AFTER A PAINTING IN BLACK AND WHITE BY ERASMUS QUELLYN.) 



Plantin temporarily transferred his office to 
his sons-in-law, and in 1582 went to Ley den, 
to muse as he went on the warning, "Put 
not your trust in princes." There he was cor- 
dially received by the university, and at once 
appointed their printer. There he founded a 
new printing-house, in which he remained for 
nearly three years. When the siege was over, 
Plantin returned to Antwerp, but it was never 
after the Antwerp of his earlier days. Nor was 
Plantin himself as active. The king had made 
Antwerp a Catholic city, but its commerce was 
destroyed. 

Plantin died on the first day of July, 1589, 
and was buried in the cathedral. Although, 
by reason of his bold undertakings, he had 
been financially embarrassed for many years 
before his death, he left a good estate, at least 



on paper. By a will made conjointly with his 
wife, who soon followed him, he gave the 
management of his printing-office and most 
of his property, then valued at 135, 718 florins 
(equal to $217,000), to his son-in-law Moretus 
and his wife, burdened with legacies to chil- 
dren and other heirs, with the injunction that 
they, at their death, should bequeath the undi- 
vided printing-office to the son or successor who 
could most wisely manage it. If they had no 
competent son, then they must select a compe- 
tent successor out of the family. This injunc- 
tion was fairly obeyed. Under John Moretus 
the reputation of the house was fully main- 
tained, although the publications were not so 
many nor so meritorious. But this falling-off 
was largely due to the diminished importance 
of Antwerp as acommercial city. His sons Bal- 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



231 



thazar and John Moretus II. carried 
the office to the highest degree of 
prosperity. To Balthazar I., more 
than to any other member of the 
family, the world is indebted for the 
treasures of art and learning which 
now grace the rooms of the Plantin- 
Moretus Museum. A very large 
share of the prosperity of the house 
came from the valuable patents and 
privileges accorded to Plantin and his 
successors by the King of Spain. For 
more than two hundred years they 
were the exclusive makers of the litur- 
gical books used in Spain and its de- 
pendencies. The decline of the house 
began with the death of Balthazar III. 
in 1696. During the eighteenth cen- 
tury it lost its preeminence as the first 
printing-house in the world, and was 
simply a manufactory of religious 
books. In 1808 the special privileges 
they had for making these books for 
Spain and its possessions were with- 
drawn, and this great business of the 
house was at an end. In 1867 it 
ceased to do any business. 

In his " Archeologie Typograph- 
ique," Bernard told of the desolation 
of the house as he saw it in 1850. 
Everything was in decay. That the 
types and matrices would soon go to 
the melting-kettle; that books and 
prints, furniture and pictures, would 
find their way, bit by bit, to bric-a- 
brac shops ; that this old glory of 
Antwerp would soon be a story of 
the past seemed inevitable. Fortu- 
nately there were in Antwerp men who 
tried to save the collection. Messrs. 
Emanuel Rosseels and Max Rooses 
(now conservateur of the Museum), 
under the zealous direction of M. 
Leopold de Wael, the burgomaster of 
the city, induced the city and the state 
to buy the property, the transfer of 
which was formally made, as we read 
from a tablet in the wall, in 1875. 

The Museum, as it now stands, is 
not as Plantin left it. His successors, 
Balthazar I. especially, made many 
changes, additions, and restorations, 
but all have been done with propriety. 
The visitor is not shocked by incon- 
gruities of structure or decoration. 
The difficult task of re-arranging the 
house has been done with excellent 
taste by the architect Pierre Dens. 
It is the great charm of the Museum 
that the house and its contents, the 
books, pictures, prints, windows, walls, 




JEANNE RIVIERE, HER SIX DAUGHTERS, 
A PAINTING IN THE CATHEDRA 



ANL> JOHI> 
L BY VAN 



DEN BROECK. ) 



232 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 

- \\ \ 




ROOM OF JUSTUS L1PSIUS. 



types, presses, furniture, are all in their places, 
and with proper surroundings. They fit. To 
pass the doorway is to take leave of the nine- 
teenth century ; to put ourselves not only with- 
in the walls, but to surround ourselves with the 
same familiar objects which artists and men of 
letters saw and handled two or three centuries 
ago. Here are their chairs and tables, their 
books and candlesticks, and other accessories 
of every-day office and domestic life. It is a 
new atmosphere. Standing in the vestibule 
under a copper lamp, facing a statue of Apollo, 
surrounded by sculptured emblems of art and 
science, the visitor at once perceives that he 
is in something more than a printing-house 
in an old school of literature. 

Yet there is little that is bookish in the first 
salon. One's attention is first caught by the 
little octagonal window lights that face the 
inner court, bright in colors, and with com- 
memorations of John Moretus II. and Baltha- 
zar Moretus II. and their wives. And then 
one has to note the heavy beams overhead, 
and the old tapestries on the walls, the great 



tortoise-shell table, and the buffet of oak with 
its queer pottery, and the still queerer painting 
of an old street parade in Antwerp. 

Over the chimney-piece in the second salon 
is the portrait of Christopher Plantin as he 
appeared at sixty-four years of age, wrapped 
in a loose black robe, with a broad ruff about 
his neck unmistakably a man of authority, 
and of severity too. There is nothing dull, 
or impassive, or Dutch, about this head. He 
is a Frenchman of the old school, muscular, 
courageous, enduring, a man of the type of 
Conde or Coligny. Here too is Jeanne Ri- 
viere, his wife. How Flemish-looking is this 
French woman of placid face, in her white 
cap and quilled collar! plainly one of the 
grand old women that Rembrandt loved to 
honor. The portraits of some of Plantin 's 
five daughters are on the walls, but they can 
be seen together only at the cathedral, on a 
panel painted by Van den Broeck. The eldest, 
Marguerite, was married in 1565, to Francis 
Raphelengius.* Martine, the second daugh- 
ter, in 1570 married John Moretus, who was 



* The wedding festivities lasted one week, for which sous, five legs of mutton at I florin, twelve sweet - 

Plantinmade this provision, which has a fine medieval breads at 7^ sous the dozen, three beef tongues at 8 

flavor: three sucking pigs at 1 7 sous each, six capons at sous, four almond cakes, six calves' heads, three legs 

22 sous, twelve pigeons at 6 sous, twelve quails at 4 of mutton browned, six (i6-lb. ) hams at 2^ sous the 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



Plantin's trusted man of business during 
his life, and his heir and successor. Made- 
laine, the fourth daughter, brightest of all, in 
1572 married Egidius Beys, who was Plantin's 
agent in Paris. " My first son-in-law," wrote 
Plantin, " cares for nothing but books ; my 



2 33 

in-law who complemented each other and 
fully served him. Beys * was not an esteemed 
assistant, nor was his son. 

Here too are the portraits of many of the 
learned friends of Plantin. The somber face 
of Arias Montanus, the learned confessor of 




THE CONFERENCE CHAMBER. 



second knows nothing but business." Not a 
kindly criticism of Moretus, who was learned 
and wrote well in four languages, but Plantin 
must have been well content with these sons- 
pound, Rhine wine valued at 12 florins 5 sous, red 
wine valued at 4 florins 2^ sous, red and black 
cherries, strawberries, oranges, capers, olives, apples, 
salads, and radishes valued at 3 florins 8j sous, 
confectionery valued at 4 florins 9 sous, two pounds of 
sugar-plums, one pound of anis, and three pounds of 
Milan cheese. The gifts to Raphelengius amounted 
to 32 florins 5 sous ; to Plantin (for this was the cus- 
tom of the period), 90 florins 16^ sous. Plantin gave 
to his workmen on this occasion a pot of wine valued 
at 7 florins. 

*In 1587 the eldest son of Beys, then fourteen 
years of age, lived with his grandfather. At the close 
of a day of alleged misconduct, Plantin required of 
him the task to compose and write in Latin a descrip- 
tion of the manner in which he had spent that day. 
This is the translation: "The occupations of Chris- 
tophe Beys, February 21, 1587. I got up at half-past 
6 o'clock. I went to embrace my grandfather and 
grandmother. Then I took breakfast. Before 7 
VOL. XXXVI. 33. 



Philip II., who was commissioned by the king 
to superintend the printing of the great poly- 
glot, glows with all the color that Rubens 
could give. By the same painter are the por- 

o'clock I went to my class, and well recited my lesson 
in syntax. At 8 o'clock I heard mass. At half-past 8 
I had learned my lesson in Cicero and I fairly re- 
cited it. At II o'clock I returned to the house and 
studied my lesson in phraseology. After dinner I 
went back to the class and properly recited my les- 
son. At half-past 2 I had fairly recited my lesson in 
Cicero. At 4 o'clock I went to hear a sermon. Be- 
fore 6 o'clock I returned to the house, and I read 
a proof [held copy for] Libelhis Sodalitatis with my 
cousin Francis [Raphelengius]. I showed myself re- 
fractory while reading the proofs of the book. Before 
supper, my grandfather having made me go to him, 
to repeat what I had heard preached, I did not wish to 
go nor to repeat ; and even when others desired me to 
ask pardon of grandfather, I was unwilling to answer. 
Finally, I have showed myself in the eyes of all, proud, 
stubborn, and willful. After supper I have written my 
occupations for this day, and I have read them to my 
grandfather. The end crowns the work." 



234 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



traits of Ortelius and Justus Lipsius and Pan- 
tinus grave, scholarly, dignified faces all. 
Of greater attraction is the portrait, so often 
copied, of Gevartius, the clerk of the city of 
Antwerp. A showcase in the middle of the 
room contains designs by Martin de Vos, Van 
den Broeck, Van der Borcht, Van Noort, Van 
der Horst, Rubens, Quellyn, and other illustra- 
tors of books for the Plantin office, all famous 



ception must have been exercised to find 
heresy in the Psalms ! This was not the only 
interference with the printer by the law, for 
there is also posted a tariff made by the magis- 
trates of Antwerp, by which a fixed price is 
made for every popular book. Whoever dares 
sell a book at a higher price is warned that 
he shall be fined twenty-five florins. In the 
corner near the window is the chair in which 




PLANTIN S PROOF-READERS AT WORK. 
(FROM A PAINTING BY PIERRE VAN DER OUDERA, NOW IN POSSESSION OF FELIX GRISAR, ANTWERP.) 



in their time. Not the least curious is Rubens' 
bill of sale, dated 1630, to Balthazar Moretus 
I., of 328 copies of the works of Hubert Golt- 
zius, the great archaeologist, for 4920 florins, 
and the further sum of 1000 florins for the 
plates of the same, payable in books. The 
opportunity for " working off unsold remain- 
ders " was not neglected. 

Fronting on a side street is the old book- 
store, with all its furniture, including the old 
scales by which light gold coin was tested. 
A motley collection of books is on the shelves 
prayer-books and classic texts, amatory 
poems and polemical theology. Posted up is 
a " Catalogue of Prohibited Books," a pla- 
card printed by Plantin himself in 1569, by 
the order of the Duke of Alva. Two of the 
prohibited books, the " Colloquies of Eras- 
mus " and the " Psalms of Clement Marot," 
came from the Plantin press. What keen per- 



the shop-boy sat and announced incoming cus- 
tomers to the daughters who were at work in 
the rear of the store, from which it was sepa- 
rated by a glazed partition. Plainly a room 
for work and trade, but how differently work 
and trade were done then ! No doubt there 
was enough of drudgery, but to the young 
women who worked in the glow of the col- 
ored glass windows, and listened to the tick- 
ing of the tall Flemish clock, and saw above 
them on the wall the beautiful face of a stat- 
uette of the Madonna, life could not have 
had the grimy, stony face it presents to the 
modern shop-girl. 

In an adjoining room is the salon of tap- 
estries, five of which represent shepherds, 
hunters, market women, dancers, Flemish 
idyls all. One has to make another compari- 
son, between the value of old and modern 
needle-work, not to the credit of Berlin wools 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



235 




THE PRESS-ROOM. 



and South Kensington stitches. Curious fur- 
niture is in the room a buffet on which rests 
fine old china, wardrobes in oak and ebony, 
chairs and tables of wonderful carving, all 
surmounted by a chandelier of crystal. Most 
interesting of all is an old harpsichord with 
three tiers of keys, on the interior of which is 
painted a copy of Rubens' St. Cecilia. It 
bears the inscription, "Johannes Josephus 
Coenen, priest and organist of the cathedral, 
made me, Roermond, 1735." Not at all an 
old piece, just midway between Plantin's 
time and ours, but how old it seems by the 
side of a modem piano ! 

Of severer simplicity is the room of the 
Correctors of the Press, in which is a great 
oak table that overlaps the two diamond- 
paned windows opening on the inner court. 
On the walls are paintings of two of the most 
famous of Plantin's correctors Theodore 
Poelman and Cornelius Kilianus. Poelman is 
represented as a scholar at work on his books 
in a small, mean room, in which his wife is 
spinning thread and a fuller is at work. And 
this was Poelman's lot in life : to work as a 
fuller by day, and to correct and prepare for 
press classic texts at night, for three or four 
florins per volume. Kilianus was corrector for 
the Plantin house for fifty years. Beginning 



as a compositor in 1558, at the very modest 
salary of five patards a day, not more (per- 
haps less) than two dollars and forty cents a 
week in our currency, he ultimately became 
Plantin's most trusted general proof-reader. 
Not so learned as Raphelengius, he was more 
efficient in supervising the regular work of the 
house. He wrote good Latin verse, composed 
prefaces and made translations for many books, 
and compiled a Flemish dictionary of which 
Plantin seems to have been ungenerously 
envious. His greatest salary was but four 
florins a week, but little more than was then 
paid to Plantin's expert compositors. The 
most learned of Plantin's regular correctors 
was his son-in-law Raphelengius, who had 
been a teacher of Greek at Cambridge. He 
began his work in the Plantin office at forty 
florins a year and his board. Montanus testified 
that he had thorough knowledge of many 
languages, and was an invaluable assistant on 
the Polyglot Bible. His greatest salary, in 
1581, was but four hundred florins a year. 
As a rule editing and proof-reading were 
done at the minimum of cost. The wages 
paid to a scholarly reader, who had entire 
knowledge of three or four languages, was 
about twelve florins a month. Ghisbrecht, 
one of these correctors, agreed to prepare 



236 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



copy for and to oversee the work of six com- 
positors for his board and sixty florins a year. 
Besides the regular correctors of the house, 
Plantin had occasionally some volunteer or 
unpaid correctors, like Montanus. His friend 
Justus Lipsius seems to have been the only 
editor who was fairly paid for literary work. 

The printing-room does not give a just idea 
of its old importance. What here remains is 
as it was in 1576, but the space then occu- 
pied for printing must have been very much 



workmanship which has been the admiration 
of the world. 

Plantin had this work done at small cost. 
His account-books show that the average 
yearly earnings of expert compositors were 
one hundred and forty-two florins, and of the 
pressmen one hundred and five florins. The 
eight-hour law was unknown. Work began 
at five o'clock in the morning, but no time is 
stated for its ending. His rules were hard. 
One of them was that the compositor who 




THE PROOF-READERS ROOM. 



larger. Plantin's inventory, taken after his 
death, showed that he had in Antwerp seventy- 
three fonts of type, weighing 38,1.21 pounds. 
Now seven hand-presses and their tables oc- 
cupy two sides of the room, and rows of type- 
cases and stands fill the remnant of space. 
How petty these presses seem ! How small 
the impression surface, how rude all the ap- 
pliances ! Yet from these presses came the 
great " Royal Polyglot," the Roman Missal, 
still bright with solid black and glowing red 
inks, and thousands of volumes, written by 
great scholars, many of them enriched with 
designs by old Flemish masters. " The man 
is greater than the machine," and Plantin was 
master over his presses. From these uncouth 
unions of wood and stone, pinned together 
with bits of iron, he made his pressmen extort 



set three words or six letters not in the copy 
should be fined. Another was the prohibition 
of all discussions on religion. Every workman 
must pay for his entrance a bienvenue of eight 
sous as drink money, and give two sous to 
the poor-box. At the end of the month he 
must give thirty sous to the poor-box and 
ten sous to his comrades. This bienvenue was 
as much an English as a Flemish custom, as 
one may see in Franklin's autobiography. 

The presses cost about fifty florins each. In 
one of his account-books is the record that 
he paid forty-five florins for copper platens to 
six of his presses. This is an unexpected dis- 
covery. It shows that Plantin knew the value 
of a hard impression surface, and made use 
of it three centuries before the printer of THE 
CENTURY tried, as he thought for the first 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



2 37 



time, the experiment of iron 
and brass impression surfaces 
for inelastic impression. 

The proportion of readers or 
correctors to compositors was 
large. In 1575 Plantin had, be- 
sides Raphelengius and More- 
tus, five correctors for twenty- 
four compositors, thirty-nine 
pressmen, and four apprentices. 
Much of the work done by these 
correctors was really editing, 
translating, re-writing, and pre- 
paring copy. With all these 
correctors, proof-reading prop- 
er was not too well done. 
Ruelens notes in Plantin's best 
work, the " Royal Polyglot," 
one hundred and fifteen errors 
of paging in the eight folio 
volumes. Yet this book was 
supervised by Montanus and 
Raphelengius, and in some por- 
tions by eminent scholars and 
professors of the Leyden Uni- 
versity. 

To publish a polyglot with 
parallel texts in Latin, Greek, 
Hebrew, and Chaldee, with 
Granvelle and ecclesiastics of 
high station to recommend the 
proposed work to the king 
and to get from him a subvention, Plan- 
tin's first estimate for the six volumes which 
he then thought enough for the work was 
24,000 florins, exclusive of the cost of new 
types and binding. After much deliberation 
the king consented to advance 6000 ducats, 
for which he was to receive an equal value 
in books at trade rates. But the work grew 
on Plantin's hands ; it made eight volumes 
instead of six, and it cost 100,000 crowns be- 
fore it was completed. Twelve hundred copies 
on paper were printed and announced to the 
trade in the style of the modern Parisian 
publisher. 

10 on grand imperial paper of Italy, .price not stated 

30 on grand imperial, at the price of 200 florins 

200 on the fine royal paper of Lyons 100 florins 

960 on the fine royal paper of Troyes 70 florins 

The king had twelve copies on vellum, 
which required more skins than could be had 
in Antwerp or Holland. It is of interest to 
note that Plantin, like all printers, had no 
enthusiasm for vellum. To an application 
from a German prince who asked for a copy 
on vellum, Plantin answered that none could 
be furnished, but that the copies on the impe- 
rial Italian paper were really better printed 
than those on the vellum. In the matter of 



\ 




THE ENTRANCE TO THE ENGRAVING-KOOM IN BLACK AND GOLD. 



clean, clear printing they were every way 
better. 

This " Royal Polyglot " was the beginning 
of Plantin's financial troubles, from which he 
never fairly recovered. The king would not 
allow the work to be published until it had 
been approved by the pope, who refused his 
consent. Montanus went to Rome to plead 
for a change of decision ; but it was not until 
1573, when a new pope was in the chair, that 
this permit was granted. Even then the diffi- 
culties were not over. A Spanish theologian 
denounced the work as heretical, Judaistic, the 
product of the enemies of the Church. Then 
the Inquisition made a slow examination, and 
grudgingly decided in 1580 that it might be 
lawfully sold. For more than seven years the 
unhappy book was under a cloud of doubt as 
to its orthodoxy. The damage to Plantin was 
severe. Before he reached the concluding vol- 
umes his means were exhausted, and he had 
to mortgage at insufficient prices two-thirds 
of the copies done. The king was fully repaid 
in books for all money he had advanced, but 
Plantin got no more. With the generosity 
of people who are accustomed to give what 
does not belong to them, the king granted 
Plantin an annual pension of four hundred 
florins, secured on a confiscated Dutch estate ; 



2 3 8 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



but the perverse Dutchman who owned the 
estate soon retook it, and as the king could 
not wrest it from him, the pension was forever 
ineffective. 

Seven rooms or lobbies in the Museum are 
devoted to the exhibition of engravings as well 
as of their blocks or plates, of which there are 
more than 2000 on copper and about 15,000 
on wood. It is a most curious collection of 
original work, more complete and more diver- 
sified than that of any printing-house before 



was in his trade, and who loved his work for 
the work's sake. His early training as a book- 
finisher gave him decorative inclinations. 
What he could not do on book covers with 
gilding-tools he tried to have done on the 
printed leaves with wood-cuts from designs by 
eminent artists. 

He must have quickly earned good reputa- 
tion as a skillful printer of wood-cuts, for he 
was chosen by the authorities of Antwerp over 
all rivals to print a large illustrated book de- 




THE TYPE-FOUNDRY. 



the nineteenth century. Indeed, it would not 
be easy to find a rival as to quantity and 
quality among modern houses. Here are etch- 
ings by Rubens, Van Dyck, Jordaens, Teniers ; 
engravings by Bolswert, Vorsterman, Pontius, 
Edelinck. One looks with more than ordinary 
attention on the St. Catharine, the only etch- 
ing known to have been done by the hand of 
Rubens, as well as on the wonderful line en- 
graving by Edelinck of the portrait of Phil- 
ippe de Champagne. The prints that may 
be most admired were made to the order 
of Plantin's successors, who were contempo- 
raries of the greatest Flemish masters, but 
their preference for the work of true artists 
was implanted by the founder of the house. " I 
never neglected," Plantin said, " when I had 
the opportunity and the ability, to pay for the 
work of the best engravers." The sparsity of 
engravings in his earlier books was, no doubt, 
caused by his poverty ; but even these petty 
books show that they were planned by a man 
of superior taste by a printer whose heart 



scribing the recent obsequies of Charles V. 
This book he published in 1559 in the form 
of an oblong folio, containing thirty-three large 
plates, at the cost of 2000 florins. These plates, 
although separately printed, were designed to 
be conjoined, and used as a processional frieze, 
In planning this book he did not repeat the 
folly of many of his rivals, who were still imi- 
tating the coarse designs and rude cutting of 
the obsolete " Biblia Pauperum " and " Specu- 
lum Salutis." He gave the work to a compe- 
tent designer, and was equally careful with the 
engraving and printing, and found his profit 
in the large sale of many editions and in 
five languages. After this he made increasing 
use of engravings on wood. No printer of his 
time illustrated books so freely : in one book, 
the " Botany" of Dodonaeus, the cuts would be 
regarded now as profusely extravagant. To 
this day they are models of good line draw- 
ing and clean engraving. When the text did 
not call for descriptive illustrations he made 
free use of large initial letters, head-bands, and 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



2 39 



tail-pieces. The shelves and closets of, the 
Museum contain thousands of initials remark- 
able for the vigor of their designs or the inge- 
nuity of their backgrounds or interfacings. One 
series is about five inches square. One cannot 
refrain from expressing the regret that so many 
modern designers and publishers seem to be 
entirely ignorant of the beauty of some of the 
Plantin initials, and prefer elaborated distor- 
tions of the alphabet, which are every way un- 
worthy of comparison. But Plantin soon found 
that there was a limit to the effects to be had 
from engravings on wood when printed on his 
rough paper and by his weak presses. He be- 
gan to develop on a grand scale illustrations on 
copper, of which the " Humanae Salutis Monu- 
menta" of 1571, with its seventy-one large 
plates, was his earliest and most noteworthy 
example. 

Two rooms contain the remnants of the 
type-foundry, which provoke reflection on the 
difference between old and new methods of 
book-making. The modern printer does not 
make his types ; he does not even own a punch 
or a matrix. Buying his types from many foun- 
dries, he has great liberty of selection, but, neces- 
sarily, a selection from the designs of other men. 
It follows that the text types of one printer may 
be must be, often just the same as those 
of another printer, and that there can be no 
really strong individuality in the books of any 
house. In the sixteenth century every eminent 
printer had some of his types made to his own 
order, which types he only used. This was 
the method : He hired an engraver to draw 
and cut in steel the model letters, or punches, 
and to provide the accompanying mold and 
matrices. Keeping the punches, he took the 
mold and matrices to men who cast types for 
the trade, who furnished him all he needed. 
The founders who made Plantin's earlier types 
were Guyot and Van Everbrocht of Antwerp. 
The designs for these types and the making 
of the punches and matrices were by skilled 
engravers in different cities at prices which now 
seem incredibly small from twenty to forty 
sous for punch and matrix of ordinary letter. 
Robert Granjon of Lyons and Guillaume Le 
Be of Paris did much of his best work ; Hau- 
tin of Rochelle, Ven der Keere of Tours, and 
Bomberghe of Cologne were also employed. 
Plantin had types cast in his office after 1563, 
but the foundry was not an important part of 
the house until 1600: at that date the collec- 
tion of punches was very large. 

Here are some of the common tools of 
type-making, the vises, grindstones, files, 
gravers, etc., and rude enough they seem. 
When we go into the next room, and scrutinize 
the molds and punches behind the wire screens, 
and the justified matrices in the showcases, 



we wonder that this excellent workmanship 
could have been done by these rough tools. 
Printed specimens of some of the types are 
shown on the walls, but they do not fairly 
show the full merit of the work. It is true that 
the counters are not as deep as a modern 
founder would require, but the cutting is clean 
and good. Here are the punches of the great 
type of the Polyglot, of the music of the 
Antiphonary, besides Roman, Italic, Greek, 
and Hebrew, of many sizes, all out of 
use, out of style. Do we make better types 
now ? From the mechanical point of view, 
yes : modern types are more truly cut and 
aligned, more solid in body, than those cast 
by hand from metal poured in the mold with 
a spoon. From the utilitarian, and even from 
the artistic standpoint, one cannot say yes so 
confidently. Modern types are more delicate, 
have more finish, and more graceful lines ; but 
the old types are stronger and simpler, more 
easily read, and have features of grace that 
have never been excelled. 

To the admirer of old furniture, the room 
numbered 26 the bed-chamber of the last 
Moretus is attractive. A great bedstead of 
carved oak, black with age, partly covered 
with an embroidered silk coverlet (a marvel 
of neat handiwork and dinginess), flanked by 
a grimy prie-dieu and a wardrobe equally 
venerable, is dimly reflected in a tarnished 
mirror of the last century. On walls covered 
with stamped and gilt leather hang two old 
prints and a carving of the crucifixion. Ele- 
gant in its day, admirable yet, but how dead 
and cheerless is this little room ! As devoid 
of life and warmth as the crucibles and fur- 
naces in the foundry. 

There is no room in the Museum deficient 
in objects of interest, for in all are paintings 
or prints or old typographic bric-a-brac enough 
to evoke enthusiasm from the dullest observer; 
but, after all, the great charm of a printer's 
museum is in the printer's books, and the li- 
brary is properly placed at the end of all, and is 
the culmination of all. It is rich in rare. books. 
Here is the Bible of thirty-six lines, which is 
rated by many bibliographers as the first great 
work of Gutenberg. Here are first editions and 
fine copies from the offices of all the famous 
early printers. They were not bought for show, 
nor as rarities merely as texts to be com- 
pared, collated, or referred to for a new manu- 
script copy to be put in the compositors' hands. 
The collection here shown of the books printed 
by Plantin is large, probably larger than can 
be found elsewhere, but not entirely complete. 
They are not arranged in chronological or- 
der ; one has to consult Ruelens's catalogue to 
see how Plantin's ambition rose with oppor- 
tunity to see what great advances he made 



240 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



every year and for many years, not only in 
the number of his books, but in their greater 
size and merit, and in steadily increasing im- 
provement of workmanship. " He is all spirit," 
wrote Montanus ; " he gives little thought to 
food, or drink, or repose. He lives to work." 



published by Max Rooses, the director of the 
Museum. 

In these records may be found his corre- 
spondence with artists, scholars, and dignita- 
ries, both civil and ecclesiastical, as well as 
the weekly bills of his workmen, inventories 
of stock, accounts of sales, of profit and loss, 
memoranda of work done and work prepared 
everything one can need for an insight into 
the economy of an old printing-house. Here 
is his letter to the King of Spain setting forth his 
grievances from the king's delayed payments ; 



1 




PLANTIN S PRIVATE OFFICE. 



But the most valuable part of this collection 
of 14,000 books is not in its printed but its 
written treasures. Plantin was a model man 
of business, who carefully preserved records, 
accounts, and much of his correspondence, 
and taught his successors to exercise similar 
diligence. The records show more than the 
business ; they show the man and his motives. 
Many are in Plantin's handwriting; the ac- 
counts in Flemish, the correspondence in 
Latin, French, and sometimes in Spanish. The 
more valuable papers have been edited and 



the items of money spent at the wedding- 
feast of each daughter (and curious reading 
it is) ; the bills of type-founders and engravers 
on wood; his written wrestlings with money- 
lenders who wanted too much of interest or 
of security, and with booksellers who wanted 
too much discount, and sold books below reg- 
ular prices; his bargainings with editors and 
authors for manuscripts, and the pourboires 
he had to pay to officials of high and low sta- 
tion for permission to print; his complaints 
against the intolerable delays of artists and 



A PAINTER'S PARADISE. 



241 



engravers.* Rich as it is in relics of the do- 
mestic life of the sixteenth and seventeenth 
centuries, the house and furniture of the Mu- 
seum does not show that domestic life with 
the clearness that the business life can be seen 
in the records. What is missing ? 

It is not an easy matter to make a wise se- 
lection from the wealth of the material which 
M. Rooses, the director of the Museum, has 
brought to light. One must begin with the 
unexpected discoveries. Contrary to the pre- 
vailing belief, Plantin's editions were not small. 
His ordinary edition was 1250 copies; his 
largest edition was 3900 copies of the Penta- 
teuch in Hebrew. He refused to print books 
in small editions unless he was paid the cost 
of the work before it was begun. He 
sold few single copies; the retail trade 
in ordinary books was done by wife and 
daughters in shops in other quarters 
of the city. Nearly all his books went 
to booksellers at fairs or in other cities, 
to whom he gave small discounts, about 
one-sixth less than the retail price. The 
retail prices were very small. The ordinary 
text-book, in an octavo (in size of leaf equivalent 
to the modern i6mo) of three hundred and 
twenty pages, was then sold at retail for ten 
sous. A Horace of eleven sheets sold for one 
sou ; a Virgil of nineteen and a half sheets for 
three sous of thirty-eight sheets for five sous ; 
the Bible, 1567, in Latin, at one florin. For 
large quartos and folios, for texts in Greek, and 
for profusely illustrated books, the prices were 
as high as, or even higher than, they are now, 
considering the then greater purchasing power 
of money. For his Polyglot in eight volumes 
he asked seventy florins, equivalent to one 
hundred and twelve dollars of American 
money. 

The modern publisher is amazed at the 
low prices for ordinary books, but the records 
show that the cost of a book was in proportion. 
Planlin paid very little to authors and editors. 
Sometimes they were required to contribute 
to the cost of the printing, and were given a 
few copies of the book after it had been 
printed as a full make- weight. As a rule they 
contributed nothing, and were paid, if paid at 
all, in their own books. Many authors got but 
ten florins for the copy of valuable and sal- 
able books. The literary world was under- 
going a curious transition. In the fourteenth 
and fifteenth centuries scholars had tried to 

* There are engravers on copper here who offer to 
work for eight florins a day in their own houses. 
When they have worked one or two days they go to 
taverns and disreputable houses, and carouse witli 
worthless people. There they pawn their goods and 
tools. Whoever has work in their hands is obliged to 
hunt them up and pay their debts. [Plantin to Ferdi- 
nand Ximenes, Jan. 2, 1587.] 
VOL. XXXVI. 34. 



keep to themselves their knowledge ; in the 
sixteenth century they were eager to publish 
it, and glad to get an opportunity.! Many 
seemed to think that they were under moral 
obligation to give freely what they knew. 

Designing and engraving were relatively 
cheaper than they are now. From four to seven 
sous was the price for designing and engraving 
a beautiful initial letter, not to be had as 
good now for as many dollars. What 
modern publisher would hesitate to 
engage Van den Broeck to fur- 
nish the elaborate and beautiful 
design, " Our Lady of Seven 
Sorrows " (a full folio page), 
at the price of six 




A ROOM IN PLANTIN'S HOUSE. 



florins ? For his superb engraving of this de- 
sign Plantin overpaid the dissolute Jerome 
Wiericx ninety-six florins. The usual price 
of the brothers Wiericx for engraving a plate 
of folio size was thirty florins. 

All the materials of the book were cheap. 
The ordinary paper came from France and 
cost, according to weight and quality, from 
twenty-four to seventy-eight sous a ream. 
Even the large vellum skins of Holland, 
bought for the " Royal Polyglot," cost but 
forty-five sous the dozen. 

He paid his binders for the labor of bind- 
ing (not including the leather or boards) an 
octavo in full sheep one sou for each copy ; 
for a quarto, one sou and a half to two sous ; 
for a folio, in full calf, from seven to eleven 

t Balzac wrote a letter to Elzevir, in which he 
thanked Elzevir effusively for his piratical reprint of 
one of his books. Balzac never got a sou from this 
reprint, not even thanks, but he was not the less 
grateful, for he was delighted because he had been 
introduced in the good society of the great authors, 
and had received the imprimatur and approval of 
Elzevir. 



242 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



sous.* Richly gilt books were paid for at that could be printed to profit. To this could 



higher prices, but miserably small they seem 
as compared with present prices. 

If Plantin had done no more than to found 



be added the poverty and the sparseness of 
readers. All the popular classic texts, and 
all ordinary forms of school books and of 



a large printing-house, he would deserve no devotional books, had been printed so many 
more consideration than any other successful times, and in such large editions, that they 
trader of his time. He was not an ordinary often had to be sold for little more than the 
trader : he has right to an honorable place cost of the white paper. Yet Plantin entered 
among the great educators of his century this overcrowded field with confidence. His 
not for what he wrote, but for what he had books of devotion were more carefully printed 
written or created for him. He has no stand- and more richly illustrated ; his school texts 

were more carefully 
edited and more in- 
telligently arranged. 
All were of the first 
order; he did not 
pander to low appe- 
tites ; his aims were 
always high and his 
taste was severe. 

Before the year 1567 
he had printed many 
editions of the Bible 
in Latin, Flemish, and 
Hebrew. By far the 
largest part of the read- 
ing of the sixteenth 
century was theolog- 
ical, and Plantin saw 
that he would make 
his greatest success 
in getting an ap- 
pointment as the rec- 
ognized or official 
printer of the liturgical 
books of the Roman 
Catholic Church. His 
earliest attempts were 
beset with difficulties. 
He had to solicit the 
help of Cardinal Gran- 
velle and Philip II. 
The permit given by 
the pope and his car- 
dinals was grudgingly 
allowed by the ec- 
clesiastical magnates of the Netherlands. 
When he did begin to print, he had to pay 




A CORNER OF THE COURT-YARD. 



ing as a scholar or as an editor, but as a 
publisher he outranks all his contemporaries. 



He printed more than sixteen hundred edi- ten per cent, of his receipts to Paul Manutius 
tions, some of which were original work writ- of Rome, who held the privilege. He had to 
ten at his request. His greatest production petition the King of Spain to get the exclusive 
was eighty-three editions in 1575, and the privilege he desired for the printing of the 
lowest, twenty-four editions in 1576, the year Church on Spanish territory. His friend Mon- 

tanus told the king that Plantin's prices were 
more, but his printing was better than that 
of the Italian printers. It was this superior- 
ity in workmanship, as well as in business 
methods, that turned the scale in his favor. 
Two of these service books, the great Psalter 
and the Antiphonary of 1571 and 1572. are 
admirable pieces of rubricated printing. For 



of the Spanish Fury. 

One of the difficulties of a publisher of the 
sixteenth century was the scarcity of books 

* M. Rooses appraises the real or purchasing value 
of silver in the time of Plantin, at its maximum, at four 
times its stamped or nominal value. By this standard 
the sou should be rated as equal to eight cents of 
American money, and the florin as equal to $1.60. 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



243 



many years the printing of these and other 
books kept him in financial embarrassment, 
but the result demonstrated the wisdom of 
his foresight. He never lived to enjoy the 
fruits, but his successors were made rich by 
a monopoly which they held for more than 
two hundred years. 

Plantin's printing was good, but it has been 
overpraised. He was named " King of Print- 
ers " at a time when the duties most admired 
in a printer were those of editor and publisher. 
Here he was grand. His purposes were always 
far beyond those of his rivals; great folios, 
many volumes, large types, difficult works in 
little-known languages, " lumping patents " 
or privileges, profuse illustrations by eminent 
artists every peculiarity of typography that 
dazzled or astonished. All his books are above 
mediocrity, but he did not attain the highest 
rank, either in his arrangement of types or 
in his press-work. He had obscure rivals in 
France and the Netherlands, who never made 
showy or imposing books, but who did better 
technical work, furnished more faultless texts, 
and showed clearer and sharper impressions 
from types. After Balthazar III. a decline set 
in. Some of the later books of the house are 
positively shabby a disgrace to their patent 
and to the art. 

Was Plantin a Catholic ? Prefaces written 
by him in some books are fervid with pro- 
testations of loyalty to the old Church. Mon- 
tanus and Cardinal Granvelle, and many 
prominent ecclesiastics, were his personal 
friends, and vouched for his orthodoxy. The 
suspicious King of Spain never seems to have 
doubted him, not even when he went to Lou- 
vain, that home of heresy. These are strong 
assurances ; yet he was often denounced as a 
Calvinist: he printed books that were pro- 
scribed, and for which he lost his property. 
His correspondence with heretics proves be- 
yond cavil that he was at heart a member of 
a non-resisting sect not unlike that of the 
Friends, a sect which taught that religion 
was a personal matter of the heart and life, 
and not at all dependent on churches, creeds, 
or confessions. How much this flexible, non- 
resistant faith was his justification for the 
insincerity of his professions he alone can 
answer. It is certain that he was insincere. 
He was not the stuff martyrs are made of. 

It is more pleasant to turn to another side 
of his character, in which his sincerity is above 
all reproach. To the last, Plantin was true to 
his trade. Too many successful traders make 
use of their success to indulge in unsuspected 
propensities. They kick away the ladder they 
climbed up on ; they forswear trade and ple- 
beian occupations ; they take their ease and 
display their wealth ; they build mansions and 




STATUETTE OF MADONNA AND CHILD, OVER CANDLESTICK 

IN THE PRESS-ROOM. (FROM AN ETCHING MADE 

FOR THIS ARTICLE BY OTTO H. BACKER.) 

buy estates; they seek social distinction for 
themselves and their families. From this vain- 
glory Plantin was entirely free. His ambition 
began and ended in his printing-house. To 
form a great office worthy of the king of 
printers, in which the largest and best books 
should be printed in a royal manner, was the 
great purpose of his life. Neither the Span- 
ish Fury, nor the siege of Antwerp, nor the 
destruction of the great city's privileges and 
commerce, nor the king's neglect, nor his failure 
to perpetuate his name in a son, nor the in- 
firmities of old age, shock his purpose. The 
future fate of the office for which he had labored 
was doubtful; for his sons-in-law were not in 
accord with one another. He had little ready 
money and many obligations. He had only 
the appearance of success ; his greatest bequest 
was the means by which unreached success 
could be attained. The probabilities were that 
his name, fame, and estate would soon disap- 
pear in a struggle between contentious heirs ; 
but with all the odds against him, he did carry 
his point. The will of the dying old man had 
more enduring force in it than there was in any 
decree or treaty then made for the perpetuation 
of the Spanish dynasty. The Plantin-Moretus 
house outlived the Spanish house of Hapsburg. 
For more than three centuries the printing- 













REPRODUCED FROM AN ENGRAVING BY HENRI GOLTZ1US. 
C. PLANTIN. 



A PRINTER'S PARADISE. 



2 45 



office was kept in the family in unbroken line 
of descent; for at least three generations it 
maintained its position as the first office in the 
world. The Plantin types and presses and 
office are still the pride of Antwerp, but the 
statue of the king's representative, the fierce 
Duke of Alva, which once dominated a square 
in the city, and who boasted on the pedestal 
that he had restored order and preserved re- 
ligion and reconstructed society, was long ago 
overthrown. No overthrow could be more com- 
plete. It was not merely the upsetting of statue 
or dynasty, but of the foundations of medieval 
ideas and principles. Plantin, unwittingly no 
doubt, but not the less efficiently, did his share 
in bringing down this thorough destruction. 
The books which he and others printed 
aroused the mental activity and inspired the 
freedom which soon made the Netherlands 
the foremost state in the world. Kings die and 
beliefs change ; the bronze statues made to be 
imperishable are destroyed, but the printed 
word stands. The book lives, and lives forever. 
Horace was right : it is more enduring than 
bronze. 

In walking through the Museum the eye 
does not weary of sight-seeing, but the brain 
does refuse to remember objects that crowd 
so fast. To remember, one must rest and think 
of what he has seen. It is a relief to sit down 
under the cool arcade and look out on the 
quiet court, and think of the men who trod 
these stones. For here Plantin and Moretus 
used to sit in the cool of the day ; here they 
matured plans for great books, and devised 
means of borrowing money to pay fast-coming 
obligations. Was the end worth the worry ? 
Behind those latticed windows, obscured with 
rampant grape-vine leaves, the great Justus 



Lipsius wrote or corrected the books that were 
the admiration of all the universities books 
now almost forgotten. In the next room 
Poelman and Kilianus and Raphelengius 
plodded' like wheel-horses in dragging ob- 
scure texts out of the muddy roads in which 
copyists and compositors had left them. Who 
thinks of them now ? Through that doorway 
have often passed the courtly Van Dyke and 
the dashing Rubens, gay in velvets and glit- 
tering with jewels. They, at least, are of the 
immortals. Dignitaries of all classes have 
been here : patriarchal Jewish rabbis and 
steeple-crowned Puritans; the ferocious Duke 
of Alva and the wily Cardinal Granvelle ; 
cowled ecclesiastics from Rome and black- 
gowned professors from Ley den. From upper 
windows not far away Plantin's daughters 
have looked out in terror, on the awful night 
of the Spanish Fury, as they heard the yells of 
the savage soldiers raging about the court, 
and listened to their threats of " blood and 
flesh and fire," and shuddered at the awful 
fate that seemed before them. Truly a sad 
time for the making of books or the cultiva- 
tion of letters. And even nine years after this, 
the boy Balthazar must have been stopped at 
study by the roar of Farnese's guns during that 
memorable siege, and by the shrieks of the 
starving defenders of the doomed city. 

The evening bell sounds its warning : it is 
time to go. At our request the obliging con- 
cierge gives us a few leaves from the grape- 
vine, and we take our places in the outgoing 
procession. Out once more in the steaming 
streets out in the confused roar and clatter 
of modern city life. But the memory of the 
Museum is like that of the chimes of Ant- 
werp's great cathedral never to be forgotten. 

Theo. L. De Vinne. 




20 






22 


Z 


-rl ^ 


31 i 30 29 


13 






25| 24 



PLAN OF THE PLANTIN-MORBTUS MUSEUM. 

The Ground Floor: I. 2, 3, Parlors ; 4, 5, Shops; 6, Room of tapestries : 7, Room of the correctors ; 8, Office ; 9, Room of Justus Lipsius; 10, Lobby; 

ii. Room for the letters ; 12, Printing-room ; X, Porter's lodge : Y, Staircase looking out on the court ; Z, Servants' room, etc. First Story : 

*3i I4> Front rooms; 15, 29, 30, Library; 16, 18, 22, Wood-engravings ; 17, Lobby ; 19, Copper-plates : 20. 24, Parlors ; 21, Room 

of the licenses ; 23, Room of the Antwerp engravers ; 25, Rear room ; 26, Sleeping-room ; 31, Hall of archives ; 

X, Reading-room ; Y, Office of the Director; Z, Staircase leading to the court. 



Vol.. XXXVI. 35.