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well as of many of the nobility and other opulent individuals, whose extensive and splendid collections have become an ornament to their country. Their anxiety to possess what is rare, even at an extravagant cost, is at least pardonable, if not entitled to commendation; although even as to them, we have often doubted, whether the single qualification of rarity, in the total absence of every species of intrinsic merit or exterior beauty, has warranted the extraordinary, the ridiculous prices we have seen given for such articles at book auctions. Take for example, an old Play or Poem, which, if remarkable for
any thing, was perhaps so only on account of its indelicacy ;-it has become scarce by some adventitious circumstance, the destruction of the copies by fire, or their demolition in a preceding age on account of its utter worthlessness;- now, in our judgement, a struggle for the possession of such a thing as this can be called book-madness, and nothing else. Yet, for these have we often witnessed the most fierce contention,-and that too among persons even of limited fortunes, who, in order to possess a gem or two (as they are called) of this description, have depopulated whole shelves of useful literature, consigning them either to the bookseller or the hammer, to supply the means for acquiring a few leaves only of useless trash, bound, however, it may be, in the gaudiest and most fantastic style. If this taste is to have any existence, we do hope it may be for ever confined to that class of persons who, in the homely phrase, are said to possess more money than wit; for, with the judicious, that author's work must ever possess some degree of intrinsic, some sterling merit, wbich can deserve to be purchased by giving for it more than its weight in gold. The pictures of Raphael and Corregio, and the sculptures of the early masters, command large sums from the Connoiseur, not merely on account of their rarity and antiquity, but because they likewise possess in themselves excellencies which are obvious to the eye of every beholder of judgement. Let this rule obtain in the article of books, and we shall not lament, but rather rejoice to see commensurate sums so expended by the opulent, because it may be done without that injury to literature in general, which was to be seriously apprehended when the rage appeared to be extending to the middling ranks of society. But, as we before remarked, we do think the evil has in a great measure subsided, and that it will still further correct itself; and we doubt whether the far-famed Decameron, if brought to the hammer again, would produce many more hundreds, than it did thousands at the celebrated sale of the library of the late Duke of Roxburghe. We have been led to these few remarks by perceiving that the interesting little work now under our observation, is dedicated to a society of gentlemen denominated the Roxburghe Club.' These are the very high priests of the idolatry to which we have alluded! Their names are herein pompously enrolled, the armorial banner of each individual being displayed in a beautifully executed wood engraving, and the pedigree of the president is given at full length, so that posterity cannot err in awarding whatever merit may be due to this redoubtable institution, to the rightful owners.
The Author, Mr. J. Johnson, was, if we mistake not, the person selected to superintend the private printing-press established by Sir Egerton Brydges at his seat, Lee Priory, in Kent, which, from the elegance of the works it produced during its short existence, by far eclipsed its prototype at Strawberry Hill, founded by Horace Walpole. Since the abolition of the dilettanti press at Lee, Mr. Johnson has been established in London, and is celebrated for the peculiar neatness of his printing, and the particular effect he gives to works in which wood-cuts are introduced. The work before us will establish his fame as a printer, and at the same time it is not less creditable to his industry and talents as a compiler and editor. Ames, Palmer, Lewis, Luckombe, Dibdin, Horne, and others, have written voluminously on the disputed origin and the early history of printing, while Smith and Stower have each produced
Grammars intended chiefly for those who practice the art. These are the sources from which Mr. Johnson has chiefly drawn his materials, and he has added all that useful practical information which would occur to an intelligent operator during his progress in the business to which his volumes relate.
After a preface, which is somewhat too inflated to bear transcription, the work commences with an enumeration of the arguments of various writers as to the claims of different cities to the honour of having produced the “ Divine Art.” The Author then states his opinion, that John Guttemburg, junior, was probably the inventor; John Faust, the promoter, Peter
Schoeffer, the improver; and, though last, yet not least, that • John Geinsfleisch, or Guttemburgh, senior, produced the first
printed book.' Mentz and Strasburg have the honour of the invention, the claim of Haerlem being disallowed. The investigation is very interesting, but is too long for a transcript : it concludes thus.
• The following singular remark of Oxonides must be allowed by every candid reader to be strictly founded in truth : “ The art of Printing, which has given light to most other things, hides its own head in darkness.” Not less curious than the foregoing, is the opinion of
Daunou, who thus expresses himself respecting this divine art : « We live too near the epoch of the discovery of Printing to judge accurately of its influence, and too far from it to know exactly the circumistances which gave birth to it.”
• Of all the discoveries which have been made, we conceive the reflecting mind will acknowledge that none have tended more to the improvements and comforts of society than that of printing; in truth, it would almost be impossible to enumerate the advantages derived by all professions from the streams of this invaluable fountain, this main-spring of all our transactions in life. It has been justly remarked by a celebrated writer, that, were the starry heavens deficient of one constellation, the vacuum could not be better supplied, than by the introduction of a printing-press.
• The more we reflect, the greater becomes our surprise, till at length we are lost in wonder and astonishment, that the art should have lain dormant for so many generations, (when the principle was so universally known,) without being brought into general use: still we may consider it fortunate in other respects; and was, no doubt, ordered for a wise purpose, because, had it received its birth during the dark ages, before civilization began to dawn, it is not improbable, (considering the opposition it at first met with,) but it would bave been strangled in its infancy, and consigned to an early tomb! But Providence has ordained it otherwise. The first printers, as though aware of the consequence of too early an exposure, administered an oath of secresy to their servants; and these deserving individuals indefatigably laboured for the space of twenty years, until the infant, which they had sedulously rocked in the cradle of Industry, arrived at full maturity: then it was that this noble invention filled Europe with amazement and consternation, the powerful blaze of which has proved too much for the whole phalanx of priests, scribes, and their adherents, to extinguish. On finding all their efforts vain, they artfully pretended to turn in its favour, and reported it to be a divine gift, fit only to be exercised in monasteries, chapels, and religious houses; and the printers were courted to fall into iheir views, several of whom accepted the invitation : but this narrow policy was of short duration; the art spread with too rapid strides to be confined within such circumscribed liniits; for as fast as individuals gained a knowledge of the mystery, they commenced the undertaking in different places; by which means those who had till then remained in ignorance, gained a true sense of religion, and the chicanery of the priests, from that period, gradually became more apparent, and has sunk into comparative insignificance, during the progress of the glorious Reformation.
• Viewing the subject in its proper light, can we too highly prize that art, which has, and ever must continue (in opposition to all attempts to shackle it) not only to amuse and instruct the young; but also to cheer and console the aged, while journeying to the close of this vale of tears? It is much to be regretted, iluat many of those on whom Providence has so profusely lavished her bounty, should withhold their assistance to the labourers in this vineyard: in short, VoL, XXII. N.S.
kave been his first essay. Atkyns's veracity appears to be very questionable, for he had a law-suit depending with the Stationers' Company, at the time of publishing his ** Original of and Growth of Printing,” which suit would in some degree be influenced by the agitation of the question. Accordingly, he brought forward a book bearing date at Oxford in 1968, entitled “ Exposicio Sancti Jeronimi in Simbolum Apostolorum " ad Papum Laurentium ;" and he endeavoured to establish this proof of priority, by a document said to have been obtained from the Registry of the See of Canterbury at Lambeth; wherein it was affirmed, that the printer, Frederick Corsellis, had been seduced over to this country through the authority of the king, by whom he was established at Oxford. This: argument is refuted by supposing an error to have been made in the date of the “ Exposicio," of 1468 for 1478; a blunder by no means uncommon in the infancy of printing of this mistake, Atkyns is thought to have taken advantage. and to have bolstered' up his theory either by forging the document said to have been discovered at Lambeth, or by giving it an existence it never possessed. This part of the controversy remains in doubt, for no such document seems ever to have been seen or heard of by any one save Mr. Atkyns, and his supporters are compelled to assume that it was destroyed in the great fire at London, which, unfortunately for it and them, occurred soon after its supposed discovery ! Copies of the “ Expositio” which has occasioned all this controversy, are extant, one of which may be seen in the public Library of Cambridge.
The origin and history of copper-plate and wood engraving are detailed, in which investigation the Author has made great use of the valuable works of Mr. Otley and Mr. Dibdin.
The second volume is entitled the “ Printer's INSTRUC" TOR.” It contains every species of information necessary for the operative printer, and many of the remarks will be equally useful to those who write for the press. It is, moreover, illustrated by alphabets in all characters and languages. Those denominated Doomsday contractions occur, we believe, for the first time in this work; and they cannot but be considered as an acquisition to those who have to decipher old documents; particularly to writers upon subjects of early topography, wherein these puzzling abbreviations frequently oce
We shall subjoin an extract or two, to shew the manner in which the Author has accomplished this useful division of his work.