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THE INVENTION OF PRINTING.
HALLAM'S “INTRODUCTION TO THE LITERATURE OF EUROPE IN THE
FIFTEENTH, SIXTEENTH, AND SEVENTEENTH CENTURIES."
The growth of mechanical improvements, the progress of invention and discovery, are, in the strictest sense, a part of history. In regard to the subject of printing, its origin, its influence upon literature and language, the student may consult with advantage Humphrey's “ History of the Art of Printing,” Marsh's “ Lectures on the English Language,” Marsh's “Origin and History of the English Language,” and Wood's “Changes in the English Language " (1400– 1600). 1 The great glory of this decennial period (A. D. 1440–
1450) is the invention of printing, or, at least, as all must allow, its application to the purposes of useful learning. About the end of the fourteenth century we find a practice of taking impressions from engraved blocks of wood, sometimes for playing-cards, which came into use not long before that time; sometimes for rude cuts of saints. The latter were frequently accompanied by a few lines of letters cut in the block. Gradually entire pages were impressed in this way, and thus began what are called block-books, printed in fixed characters, but never exceeding a very few leaves. Of these there exist nine or
ten, often reprinted, as is generally thought, between 2 1400 and 1440. In using the word printed, it is, of
course, not intended to prejudice the question as to the real art of printing. These block-books seem to have been all executed in the Low Countries. They are said to have been followed by several editions of the short grammar of Donatus in wooden stereotype. These, also, were printed in Holland. This mode of printing from blocks of wood has been practiced in China from time immemorial.
The invention of printing, in the modern sense, from 3 movable letters, has been referred by most to Gutenberg, a native of Mentz, but settled at Strasburg. He is supposed to have conceived the idea before 1440, and to have spent the next ten years in making attempts at carrying it into effect, which some assert him to have done in short fugitive pieces, actually printed from his movable wooden characters before 1450. But of the existence of these there seems to be no evidence. Gutenberg's priority is disputed by those who deem Laurens Coster, of Haarlem, the real inventor of the art.
According to a tradition, which seems not to be 4. traced beyond the middle of the sixteenth century, but resting afterward upon sufficient testimony to prove its local reception, Coster substituted movable for fixed letters as early as 1430; and some have believed that a book called “Speculum Humanæ Salvationis," of very rude wooden characters, proceeded from the Haarlem press before any other that is generally recognized. The tradition adds that an unfaithful servant, having fled with the secret, set up for himself at Strasburg or Mentz, and this treachery was originally ascribed to Gutenberg or Faust, but seems, since they have been manifestly cleared of it, to have been laid on one Gensfleisch, reputed to be the brother of Gutenberg. The evidence, 5 however, as to this is highly precarious, and, even if we were to admit the claims of Coster, there seems no fair reason to dispute that Gutenberg might also have struck out an idea that surely did not require any extraordinary ingenuity, and which left the most important difficulties to be surmounted, as they undeniably were, by himself and his coadjutors. It is agreed by all that about 1450 6 Gutenberg, having gone to Mentz, entered into partnership with Faust, a rich merchant of that city, for the purpose of
carrying the invention into effect, and that Faust supplied him with considerable sums of money. The subsequent steps are obscure. According to a passage in the" Annales Hirsargienses” of Trithemius, written sixty years afterward, but on the authority of a grandson of Peter Schöffer, their assistant in the work, it was about 1452 that the latter brought the art to perfection by devising an easier y mode of casting types. This passage has been interpreted, according to a lax construction, to mean that Schöffer invented the method of casting types in a matrix, but seems more strictly to mean that we owe to him the great improvement in letter-casting, namely: the punches of engraved steel by which the matrices or molds are struck, and without which, independent of the economy of labor, there could be no perfect uniformity of shape. Upon the former supposition, Schöffer may be reckoned the main inventor of the art of printing; for movable wooden letters, though small books may possibly have been printed by ineans of them, are so inconvenient, and letters of cut metal so expensive, that few great works
were likely to have passed through the press till cast 8types were employed. . . . The earliest book, properly so called, is now generally believed to be the Latin Bible, commonly called the Mazarin Bible, a copy having been found, about the middle of the last century, in Cardinal Mazarin's library, at Paris. It is remarkable that its existence was unknown before, for it can hardly be called a book of very extraordinary scarcity, nearly twenty copies being in different libraries, half of them in those of private persons in England. No date appears in this Bible, and some have referred its publication to 1452, or even to 1450, which few, perhaps, would at present maintain, while others have thought the year 1455 rather more 9 probable. In a copy belonging to the royal library at
Paris an entry is made importing that it was completed, in binding and illuminating, at Mentz on the feast of the Assumption, August 15, 1456. But Trithemius, in the passage above quoted, seems to intimate that no book had been printed in 1452; and, considering the lapse of time that would naturally be employed in such an undertaking during the infancy of the art, and that we have no other printed book of the least importance to fill up the interval till 1457, and also that the binding and illuminating the above-mentioned copy are likely to have followed the publication at no great length of time, we may not err in placing its appearance in the year 1453, which will secure its hitherto unimpeached priority in the records of bibliography. . . . It is a very striking circumstance that the 10 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 armor, ready, at the moment of her nativity, to subdue and destroy her enemies. The Mazarin Bible is printed, some copies on vellum, some on paper of choice quality, with strong, black, and tolerably handsome characters, but with some want of uniformity, which has led, perhaps unreasonably, to a doubt whether they were cast in a matrix. We may see, in imagination, this venerable and splendid volume leading up the crowded myriads of its followers, and imploring blessing on the new art by dedicating its first fruits to the service of Heaven.
CHARACTER OF SIR JOHN MOORE.
HISTORY OF THE PENINSULAR WAR."
Nearly every English-speaking school-boy is familiar with the “Burial of Sir John Moore,” by Wolfe—“Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,” etc. Sir John Moore was mortally wounded at the battle of Corunna, in Spain, in 1809, during the Peninsular War, a part of that series of great wars which grew out of the French Revolution, and closed with the battle of Waterloo (June 18, 1815).
1 Thus ended the career of Sir John Moore, a man whose uncommon capacity was sustained by the purest virtue, and governed by a disinterested patriotism more in keeping with the primitive than the luxurious age of a great nation. His tall, graceful person, his dark, searching eyes, strongly defined forehead, and singularly expressive mouth, indicated a noble disposition and a refined understanding, while the lofty sentiments of honor habitual to his mind, being adorned by a subtile, playful wit, gave him, in conversation, an ascendancy that he always preserved by the decisive vigor of his actions. 2 He maintained the right with a vehemence bordering
upon fierceness, and every important transaction in which he was engaged increased his reputation for talent, and confirmed his character as a stern enemy to vice, a steadfast friend to merit, a just and faithful servant of his country. The honest loved him, the dishonest feared him; for while he lived he did not shun, but scorned and spurned the base, and, with characteristic propriety, they spurned at him when he was dead. 3 A soldier from his earliest youth, Moore thirsted for
the honors of his profession, and, feeling that he was worthy to lead a British army, hailed the fortune that placed him at the head of the troops destined for Spain. As the