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ther. From the latter we shall give a few extraets, relating chiefly to the progress of ornamental printing; the subject of the origin, &c. of engraving on wood and copper having recently been separately treated by Mr. Ottley in his most learned work, which we reviewed in our last number. The following are Mr. Dibdin's remarks on the chief application of ornamental printing in its earlier stage :
“ Two classes of books in particular seem to have been properly selected by our printers for the display of the united arts of engraving and printing; and these were Bibles and Chronicles. Of the latter class, some of the cuts in the last edition of Grafton's, and in the first edition of Holinshed's, Chronicles, as well as the large woodcut on the reverse of the concluding leaf of Hall's Chronicles of 1548, are eminent proofs that there were, in this country, artists (whether foreigners or Englishmen I will not pretend to determine] who understood and practised their profession with skill and
“ But the most splendid attempts at engraving seem to have been reserved for the most precious of all books, the Bible; of which a sumptuous edition appeared during the reign of Henry VIII. Many other editions were destined, under the sovereignty of Elizabeth, (when arts, arms, and learning, made us known, felt, and admired throughout Europe) to receive some of the costliest decorations from the presses of Grafton, Jugge, Bill and Barker. - The specimens on the two ensuing pages are taken from the fragments of a beautiful quarto edition of the Testament, printed in the black letter, which belonged to the late Rev. Mr. George Ashhy, of Bury, in Suffolk; who supposed that the edition came from the press of either Grafton or Whitchurch, or of both. They are unquestionably very skilful productions ;* although it is probable that the curious collector may be able to adduce others of still greater beauty and force. My object in laying these fac-similes before the reader is, to impress him with an idea of that peculiar species or character of wooden-block eńgraving, which may be traced in a variety of productions that signa
* Some the prints this Testament are probably copied from the beautiful wood-cuts in the Lyons Bibles of 1550-1555-executed by Petit Bernard, or Bernard Solomon; concerning whom Papillon has a long and interesting account (vol. i. 206). So scarce is this Bible, that Papillon could hardly find two complete copies of it in the course of twelve years. It has been called “ a most beautiful work, and though it does not come up to the masterly Venetian manner, yet it is a fine performance.” See a rare treatise entitled “ An Inquiry into the Origin of Printing in Europe. By a Lover of the Art. Lond. 1752. 8vo. p. 23.” Bernard's most precious performance seems to have been a small quarto volume, called “ Hymnes du temps et de ses parties," consisting of 88 pages only. See Papillon, Traite Hist. de la Gravure en Bois. vol. i. 208. Strutt has disgraced his Dictionary by his superficial notice of this incomparable artist. Cait. Rev. Vol. IV. Sept. 1816.
lized the typographical annals of Elizabeth's reign; and even those who are accustomed to the productions of ancient artists, may pro. bably receive some gratification in observing the spirit and truth with which they are executed. How far some of them may be copies of foreign productions, bas been slightly questioned in the preceding note: that their intrinsic merit, both in design and engraving, is sufficient to put a number of modern performances to the blush, must be admitted by the most careless observer: At the same time, it must be allowed, that the talents of many eminent living artists, in this department of engraving, have not yet been fairly put to the test; otherwise we might have seen a portable edition of the Bible, which would have equalled, in graphic illustrations, the beauty of the cuts executed by Bernard.” (p. xvii.—xvüi, vol. i.)
The fac-similes which follow these remarks are admi. rably executed. It cannot be denied, that the art of engraving on wood has of late years attained a degree of fection equal to the efforts in that kind at any former period : what is technically called cross-hitching, was never better executed than in some cuts contained in Mr. Singer's work upon card-playing; but the reason why it does not now appear to such great advantage, excepting in these copies from old works, is on account of the defective designs from which modern wood-engravers are required to exe. cute their blocks. Those who compare the two will find, that the principal difference is in the freedom and grace with which the drapery is disposed : in delicacy our engravers even exceed all their predecessors, but the drawings are generally by very inferior artists. The designs for the cuts to many ornamented books printed at Basle, were the production of no less a pencil than that of Holbein. We cannot omit the following note upon the importance of a general history of printing :
“A complete General History of Printing is a great desideratum. In this country we have nothing that deserves the name of it. He who shall undertake this arduous and instructive task, will do well to read the treatises of his predecessors; to compare their accounts of books with the books themselves; to lop away their tedious digressions; and to substitute, in many instances, something like reason and fact for chimera and fiction. A free admission into the cabinets of the curious, and an honest use of the privilege granted an inspection, probably, of the chief libraries upon the Continent, and especially of those in the Low Countries, would also be requisite to the success of such an undertaking. The great error, as I humbly submit, in almost all preceding treatises upon the origia and progress of printing, has been the determination of each writer to support, through the most formidable objections, the claims of that country, and of that typographical artist, in whose cause he sat out as the avowed chanıpion. The strong attachment of Junius to Holland and Coster, in aid of which he exercised a poetical fancy, has been even exceeded by the enthusiasm (or, as some might call it, obstinacy) of Meerman towards the same objects. When the latter comnienced his inquiries, it is certain that he had no very extensive information upon the subject. Dr. Ducarel threw out some bints relating to the claims of Holland, which, as Meerman was a native of that country, he seized with avidity, and resolved to expand and consolidate them into a systematic history. Accordingly, after publishing a small octavo volume as a specimen of his large work, he. appeared before the public, with his portrait
, in his Origines Tripographicæ, in two quarto volumes, along with a fictitious head of his beloved Coster, beautifully engraved by Houbraken. Meerman's is a learned and valuable work, and is in the hands of every bibliographer. The author had himself a fine library, and was exceedingly kind and liberal in giving the curious permission to see it. But though it be absolutely
necessary to possess his performance, yet it is not free from gross errors; which have been attacked perhaps with too much severity, by the acute and experienced Heinecken. This latter was a German, and a like patriotic ardour induced him to give the palm of having discovered the art of printing to the cities of Mentz and Strasburg. Heinecken, as now seems to be allowed, has paid too little attention to the antiquity of the claims of Haarlem, and Meerman infinitely too much : thus, although both sat out with professing to adhere to truth, both have described her not as she really was, but as they had conceived or wished her to be.” (p. xxxi. vol. i.)
This great work could scarcely be accomplished with any degree of perfection by one man, more especially if he proceeded upon the extended plan of Mr. Dibdin, who will occupy six quarto volumes on the Origin and Progress of Typography in Great Britain and Ireland, and who allows an interval of four years between each volume. From the life of Caxton we make the following quotation :
“The particular spot where Caxton at first exercised his business, or the place where his press was fixed, cannot now be exactly known. Bagford says, that'he erected his office in some of the side chapels of the Abbey, supposed by some of our historians to be the Ambry, Eleemosynary.' He quotes Newport's Repertorium;* which autho
• The passage is as follows; both in Stow and Newcourt (Repertorium, vol. i. 711.)—“St. Ann's, in the parish of St. Margaret. This was an old chapel, over against which the Lady Margaret, mother to King Henry VII. erected an alms-house for poor women, which is now (in Stow's time) turned into lodgings for the singing men of the College, The place wherein this ch and alms-house stood, wa called Eleemosinary, or Almor ruptly the Armbry, for that the alms of the abby were there distributed to the
rity is, in this particular, only a transcript from Stow. "Whoever authorised Caxton (says. Oldys), it is certain that he did there, at the entrance of the Abbey, exercise the art, from whence a printingroom is to this day called a Chapel.'. In regard to the information to be gleaned from Caxton's own colophons, we find that the edition of • The Dictes and Sayinges of the Philosophers' (the first book in which the specification of the place where it was printed occurs), mentions • Westminster' generally; that the Chronicles of 1480 first notice his printing at the ‘Abbey;' and that the Romance of Arthur, printed in 1485, is the last book which mentions both the one and the other in the same colophon. The greater number of the works, printed by bim, specify only the date of their execution. According to Bagford, Caxton's office was afterwards removed into King Street : but whereabouts, or what sign, is not known. He might have removed his office continues Bagford) without breach of friendship with the abbot, for that printing being much admired, all people of curiosity would be thronging into the Abbey for to see this new-invented art of printing ; so that it became at last very troublesome, not only to Caxton's servants, in the hindrance of their work, but a further cause was, the monks were disturbed at their devotion by the people coming in and out in such crouds.'—This reasoning, it must be confessed, is sufficiently ridiculous; as if the ardor of curiosity would not have equally driven the people in crouds' to another spot-not connected with the offices of religion--and where the absence of ecclesiastical respect or discipline would rather have increased their number, and encouraged their intrusion !
“ It is most probable, that Caxton, after the manner observed in other monasteries, erected bis press near one of the chapels attached to the aisles of the Abbey; and his Printing Office might have sųperseded the use of what was called the Scriptorium of the same. No remains of this once interesting place can now be ascertained: indeed, there is a strong presumption that it was pulled down in making alterations for the building of Henry VII's chapel; for if Henry made no scruple to demolish. The Chapel of the Virgin,' in order to carry into effect his own plans for erecting the magnificent one which goes by his own name, the Office of Printer stood little chance of escaping a similar fate!” (p. xcix-cii. vol. i.)
This life is concluded by Mr. Dibdin in the following rhapsodical strain, perhaps not very well suited to the gravity and sobriety of his task.
* That our typographer met death with placidity and resignation there is every reason, from the testimony of his own pious ejacula
poor; and therein, Islip (Milling), Abbot of Westmiuster, erected the first press of book printing that ever was in England, about the year of Christ 1471, where William Caxton, citizen and mercer of London, who first brought it into England, practised it.”
tions, but more from the evidence of a usefully-spent life, to bem lieve. If his funeral was not emblazoned by the pomp of heraldry, and the great ones of rank' were not discoverable among his pallbearers; yet Caxton descended into his grave in full assurance of a MONUMENT, which, like the art that he bad practised, would bid defiance to decay. Accept, O VENERABLE and VIRTUOUS SHADE! this tribute of unfeigued respect to thy memory! Thou shalt be numbered hereafter, not with the witty, the vain, or the profligate
-the Nashes, Greens, and Rochesters of the day!--but with the wise, the sober, and the good; with those who have unceasingly strove to meliorate the condition of mankind. (p. exi.--cxiv. vol. i.)
The rest of the volume is made up of long notices of 64 works printed by Caxton, in the accumulation of which, and the particulars regarding them, the editor has bestowed great labour, with proportionate success. Passages from this part of the work, or from the unavoidably scanty accounts of other printers and their labours, could afford but little information to our readers, although, taken as a whole, it is important and not uninteresting.
We have before observed upon the decrease of the embellishments in the third volume of these Typographical Antiquities; of course not many of the scarce originals can lave come under our eye, or that of any single individual who has not had Mr. Dibdin's object before him ; but we have sometimes found, that by the re-engraving the figures are transposed: an instance of this error occurs in giving a fac-simile of the title-page of Sir Thomas More's works, 1557. In the third volume we have noticed, that the editor has several times been contented with hearsay information regarding a work, when he might have consulted it with his own eyes, without any great additional trouble: we refer particularly to pages 156 and 589, and we might multiply them without much difficulty. This is an indication of a little carelessness as the work proceeds, and as Mr. Dibdia grows tired of it; which will not be very pleasing to his subscribers, who have not yet urged him to inconvenient speed.
Considering the immense number of volumes to which allusion is made, it cannot be wondered that the editor should not have been able to consult all: the titles and contents of some he has taken on the authority of Ames and Herbert, and others are entirely omitted, or only binted at in a note, as a work in existence. Among these, is a small 18mo, volume, in our possession, under the following title: - The lyfe of prestes. This present treatyse concernynge