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not judge the cause; but fayrer, ne wiser, ne bet bespoken children in theyre youth ben no wher then ther ben in London; but at their full ryping there is no earnel, no good corn founden, but chaffe for the most parte."
In 1485, his press was entirely occupied with romances. The first was 'Morte Arthur, the Liff of King Arthur of the Noble Knyghts of the Round Table, and in the end the dolorous Deth of them all.' This had been translated from the French, by Sir Thomas Mallery, knight; and Caxton printed it from the MS. It is a magnificent volume, and is supposed to have occupied him seven months. 2. The History of Charlemagne, already mentioned, as having been compiled and translated from two French books, by the advice of his friend Henry Boulonger, canon of Lausanne. Only one more was printed by him this year—' The Story of the right noble, right valiant, and worthy Knight Parys;' this also he translated from the French. In the year I486, his press seems to have been idle; at least none of his works bear this date: and in 1487, only one book appeared, entitled, ' The Book of Good Manners.' The original French, from which he translated it, he informs us, was given to him by a special friend of his, a mercer of London'. In 1488 no books appeared. In 1489 Caxton published four, of which 'The Fait of Armes and Chivalry' was one. "This was delivered to me, William Caxton, by the most Chrystin King and redoubted Prince, my natural and sovereign lord, Kyng Henry the 7th, Kyng of England and of France, in his palace of Westmestie, the 23 day of Janyure, the 4th yere of his regne; and desired and willed me to translate this said boko. and reduce it into our English and natural tongue, and to put it in imprynte." It is a compilation by Christine of Pisa, from the Military Treatises of Vegetius Frontinus, and the Arbre dos Battailles. Another book printed this year was the 'Eneidos," translated from the French; it is a mere compilation in prose of the principal events recorded in Virgil's poem, and has no pretension to an imitation of that poet, m any one respect. It does not, there
* The mercers of London seem to have been great eneoaragers of literature. Prefixed to Wrnkyn de Worde's reprint of Caxton's • Policbronicon' in 1495, there are a few poetical stanzas, in which one Roger Thoorute, a mercer, is praised for ordering and encouraging Jhe printer to undertake so laborious a performance'.
fore, deserve the contemptuous and sarcastic notice taken of it, by Gawin Douglas, in the preface to his Scotch translation of Virgil. Caxton's work was dedicated to Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII. He represents himself as at this time well stricken in years: and if the date usually assigned to his birth (1412) be accurate, he must have been seventyseven years old. The 'Doctrinne of Sapience,' also published in 1489, is the last that bears a date, if we except his edition of the Statutes: a perfect set of these, passed in the reign of Henry VII. till the death of Caxton (1490—1) have very recently been discovered. Twentyeight of his known publications are without dates. Some of these have been already noticed; a few of the remainder will supply some interesting matter. Caxton printed Chaucer's Canterbury Tales twice; each edition is without date, but the first is supposed to have been one of the earliest productions of his press. Mr. Warton regards it as much more to his honour, than it can be to his discredit, that he printed them very incorrectly. "He probably took the first manuscript that he could procure to print from, and it happened unluckily to be one of the worst in all respects that he could possibly have met with." As soon, however, as he found out these imperfections and errors, he began a second edition "for to satisfy the author, whereas tofore, by ignorance, I had erred in hurting and defamying his boke." Caxton's extreme and conscientious desire to fulfil one of the most important duties of an editor and printer, (and he acted as both,) by giving the works as the author himself wrote them, as well as his candour and ingenuousness, are depicted in a clear and interesting manner, in the preface to his second edition.
He seems to have had a veneration for the memory of this poet, and to have formed, with sound judgment and good taste, a most correct and precise estimate of the peculiar merits of his poetry. As a proof of the former, we may mention, that Caxton, at his own expense, procured a long epitaph to be written in honour of Chaucer. This was inscribed on a tablet, hung on a pillar near the poet's grave in the south aisle of Westminster Abbey. The following remarks will amply justify what we have stated respecting Caxton's ability, fully to understand, and thoroughly to relish, the merits and beauties of Chaucer's poetry.
"We ought to give a singular laud unto that noble and great philosopher, Geoffrey Chaucer, the which, for his ornate writings in our tong, may well have the name of a laureate poet. For, to fore that he embellished and ornated and made fair our English, in this royaume was had rude speech and incongrue, as yet it appeareth by old books, which, at this day, ought not to have place, ne be compared among unto his beauteous volumes and ornate writings, of whom he made many books and treatises of many a noble history, as well in metre as in rhyme and prose: and then so craftily made, that he comprehended his matters in short, quick, and high sentences,eschewing perplexity; casting away the chaff of superfluity, and shewing the picked grain of sentence, uttered by crafty and sugared eloquence."
And speaking of Chaucer's ' Book of Fame,' which he also printed, he says, "Which work, as me seemeth, is craftily made and digne to be written and known; for he toucheth in it right great wisdom and subtle understanding; and so in all his works he excelleth, in mine opinion, all other writers in our English, /or he writeth no void words, but all his matter is full ofhigh and quick sentence, to whom ought to be given laud and praise for his noble making andwriting."
Chaucer's translation of Boethius was also printed by Caxton, without date. It is alternately in Latin and English, but the former is not given entire; a few verses of a period in Latin being succeeded by the whole of the corresponding period in English, and so through the whole volume: the Latin type is large 'Compared with the English.
A curious volume was printed by Caxton, about the period when the French, which had hitherto been spoken almost exclusively at court, was giving place to the English language; it is entitled the ' Book for Travellers." It contains the corresponding terms in both languages, for those things most commonly talked of at court, especially such as relate to dress.
We have already stated that he continued his labours as a printer to the very last; he seems also to have taken an active part in the affairs of the parish of St . Margaret, Westminster, in which he lived and died; since, for some years before his death, his name appears to the churchwardens' accounts, as one of the parishioners who had undertaken to examine their details. He died in
1490— 1, was buried in St. Margaret's, and left some books to that church.
His character may be collected from the account we have given of his labours, and the extracts we have made from his prefaces; he was possessed of good sense and sound judgment; steady, persevering, active, zealous and liberal in his services for that important art which he introduced into this kingdom; labouring not only as a printer, but as translator and editor. It has been objected that he was too much given to admire and print romances; but in this he only partook of the spirit of the age; perhaps, indeed, it survived in him longer and with more power, than in most of his contemporaries; but that his love of romance did not blunt his judgment and taste for real talent is evident by his printing Chaucer's works, and his criticisms on them. It should be recollected, also, that in the selection of works for the press he was necessarily guided by public opinion, and by the probability that what he did print would repay him for his labour and expense. The remarks of Gibbon on this point are sensible and candid. "In the choice of his authors, that liberal and industrious artist was reduced to comply with the vicious taste of his readers, to gratify the nobles with treatises of heraldry, hawking, and the game of chess, and to amuse the popular credulity with romances of fabulous knights, and legends of more fabulous saints. The father of printing expresses a laudable desire to elucidate the history of his country, but instead of publishing the Latin Chronicle of Ralph Higden, he could only venture on the English version by John de Trevisa; and his complaint of the difficulty of finding materials for his own continuation of that work, sufficiently attests, that even the writers which we now possess of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, had not yet emerged from the darkness of the cloister." If we reflect, too, on the state of England at this period, that he established his press soon after the murder of Henry VI., and that he carried on his works during the remainder of the reign of Edward IV., and the reigns of Edward V. and Richard Ill., when the minds of those most likely and able to encourage him were seldom free from alarm for their |own safety, their time much occupied, and their means necessarily reduced by the distracted and wasted state of the country; and when little attention or money could be spared for literature; we must give Caxton great credit for having done so much; for having in the midst of confusion persevered in his labours, and succeeded in establishing the art of printing in his native land. That England at this period was much behind France in literature, is proved by the fact that Caxton was obliged to have recourse to the French language for most of the works which he printed. He thus.it maybe supposed, employed his press profitably to himself, and certainly with advantage to our literature; for, as Mr. Warton truly observes, "had not the French furnished him those materials, it is not likely that Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, and many other good writers, would, by means of his press, have been circulated in the English tongue, so early as the close of the fifteenth century."
There was, perhaps, at that time, no man in England, whose talents, habits, and character, were so well fitted to introduce and establish the art of printing as those of William Caxton: to have succeeded in this enterprise, the benefits of which, in a national point of view, we may even now be enjoying, is praise enough; for it is the praise of having been a useful citizen of the state ana member of society,—the highest that man can bestow or receive.
Caxton's printing is inferior, in many respects, to the printing executed on the continent during the same period. The types employed in the latter have a squareness, fineness, and brilliancy not in those of Caxton; the paper and press-work are much superior; the order and symmetry of the press-work are qualities which appear in very few of his productions. He seems not to have been able to procure, or to have rejected, the roman letter, even after it had been employed with excellent effect by the continental printers. On the other hand, as Mr.Dibdin remarks," whenever we meet with good copies of his books, his type has a bold and rich effect, which renders their perusal less painful than that of many foreign productions, where the angular sharpness of the letters somewhat dazzles and hurts the eye." His ink is of an inferior quality; his paper is fine and good, resembling the thin vellum on which MSS. were then generally written; his letter is a mixture of secretary and Gothic, also resembling that used in MSS. at that period; his leaves are seldom numbered, his pages never. When the impression was finish
ed, Caxton revised a smgle copy, and corrected the faults with red ink; the copy thus corrected was then given to a proper person to correct the whole impression; as he was extremely exact, this operation occasioned him much troublesome and minute labour.
Notices of some other Printers in England, contemporary with Carton, or immediately after him—Printing introduced into Oxford, Cambridge, St. Albans, York, Southwark, Tavistock, Ipswich, 4'c.—into Scotland and Ireland.
Printing-presses were set up in England by some foreigners and natives, before Caxton's death. In 1480 and 1481, John Lettou, R foreigner, printed in London. He is said to have come over to this country on Caxton's invitation. This, however, is not likely, as his unskilfulness is such that Caxton would scarcely have invited or encouraged such a bad workman. The types he employed in the only two books he is known to have printed himself, are rude and broken. After he had published them, he was taken into the printing-office of William de Machlinia—first, it is supposed as a journeyman, and afterwards as a partner. Machlinia also was a foreigner; the only celebrity that can attach to the name of these partners, arises from their having printed the first edition of ' Littleton's Tenures,' in a small folio, without date. Their printing-office was near All-Hallows church; their letter, a coarse Gothic one. The partnership was of very short continuance; for, in 1483,. Machlinia's name alone appears. Wynkyn de Worde was a man of very superior talents and skill. He was a native of Lorraine, and came into England either along with Caxton, or was afterwards invited by him; he was employed as Caxton's assistant till his death. He continued in his office, as his successor, till between the years 1500 and 1502; when he removed his printing-office to the sign of the Sun, in the parish of St . Bride's, where he died in 1534. Soon after he began business for himself, he greatly improved the art by cutting his own punches, which he sunk into matrices, and casting his own letter. His books are remarkable for their neatness and elegance. Four hundred and eight are known to have been printed by him. His edition of the * Polychromcon* is deemed uncommonly well executed. Dr. Dibdin calls it " one of the most beautiful folio volumes of that skilful artist:" its date is 1495. Several grammarians of repute, Stanbridge, Garlandea, Whittinton, Holt, and Lilye, lived at the period of the introduction of printing into England; and Wynkyn de Worde, who appears to have been a man of good education as well as talents, printed some of their works. He printed the ' Accidence" of Stanbridge, "in Caxton's house, at Westminster." The date unknown. His 'Vocabulary,' in 1300. This De Worde continued to republish till 1532. The 'Multorum Vocabulorum Equivocorum Interpretation by Garlandea, was printed in 1500, by De Worde, and at least as late as 1517. He also printed repeatedly the grammatical works of Whittinton. Holt's 'Lac Puerorum, or Milk for Children,' was printed by him in 4to, without date. No impression of the grammar of Lilye (but which, in reality, Was drawn up by several persons,) by De Worde, or in Lilye's lifetime, has been discovered. The first Greek letters used in England are found in a Grammatical Treatise of Whittinton, by De Worde, in 1519: they are cut out of wood. We have gone into this detailed mention of those works chiefly in order to show the assistance which the press was already giving, in its earliest days, to elementary education. 'Accidences,' Lucidaries,' 'Orchards of Words,' Promptuaries for Little Children," were published in great numbers.
Richard Pynson, a Norman by birth, was in Caxton's office. He carried on his business from 1493 to 1531. His known
Seductions are two hundred and ten. e styled himself King's Printer; but it is doubtful whether he had any patent. He introduced the Roman letter into this country. His types are clear and good; but his press-work is hardly equal to that of De Worde. Most of the works he printed are of a higher character for merit and usefulness than those either of Caxton or De Worde. The first treatise on arithmetic, published in this country, was printed by Pynson, in 1522, 4to,' Libri 4 de arte Supputandi.' It was written by Cuthbert Tonstall, Bishop of London, one of the best mathematicians, as well as general scholars, of his age. In 1499, the first edition of the' Promptorius Puerorum' came from Pynson's press. He was a voluminous printer of early statutes; and in his time began the
publication of what are still called 'Year Books.' Soon after Caxton's death he printed an edition of the 'Canterbury Tales,' and in 1526, reprinted them with a collection of some other pieces of Chaucer. William Jaques was contemporary with Pynson, and printed in conjunction with him the acts passed in 1503. He used a new cut English letter, "equalling, if not excelling, in beauty, any produced by modern foundries." In 1530, the first French and English Dictionary (' Eclaircissemens de la Langue Francoise')was published by John Hawkins. No other work from his press is known.
On the death of Pynson, Thomas Berthelet was appointed King's Printer, by a patent, the earliest that has been found. He dwelt at the sign of Lucretia llomana. Fleet-street. Thomas Godfray was a printer at the same time. These printers embarked in the same concern. From their press came (1532), a complete edition of all that had then come to light of the works of Chaucer. It is on fine paper, and the types and press-work are remarkably neat and elegant. This edition was superintended, and published, under the patronage of William Thy nne. To one of this family—perhaps to the same person—Caxton had been indebted for the manuscripts, which enabled him to publish his second and much improved edition of the ' Canterbury Tales.'
If the title of the book (already noticed) purporting to be printed at Oxford, in 1468, be erroneous, as there is strong reason to suspect it to be, then the establishment of printing in this city must have been in 1478. The first known printers there, however, were Theodore Rood, a German, and Thomas Hunt, an Englishman; and their first production Herbert assigns to the year 1485. It is not known in what year printing was introduced into Cambridge. It certainly was very shortly after Caxton established his press in Westminster. The types of the earliest known work which issued from Cambridge, very much resemble Caxton's largest . The first printer at Cambridge, whose name is known, was John Sibert, who is supposed to have been born at Lyons. A few Greek words are interspersed in his edition of Linacre's translation of one of Galen's treatises. This is the earliest appearance of Greek metal types.
In 1480, a printing-press was established in the Benedictine Monastery at St. Albans, of which William Walling-ford was at that time prior. Wynkyn de Worde informs us that the printer was " sometime a schoolmaster;" and he probably was a monk. The types of the book.whith is a Treatise on Rhetoric, in Latin, are very rude. Printing 'was introduced into York, in 1509, by Hugh Goes, supposed to have been the son of a printer at Antwerp. His first production was the Pica of the Cathedral of that city; he afterwards removed to Beverley, and then to London. Peter de Triers, probably a native of that city, printed, in 1514, the first book in Southv/ark: it was the 'Moral Distichs of Cato," with Erasmus's * Scholia,' in Latin, 1525, Tavistock. Here was an exempt monastery, celebrated for its lectures on the Saxon language, which were discontinued about the period of the Reformation. Several of its abbots were learned men: and the encouragement in literature is evident by the establishment of a printing-press a few years after the introduction of printing into England. The first printed book was John Walton's Translation of Boethius de Consolatione, in 4to; the printer's name was Thomas Rychard, monk of that monastery. A book, called the 'Long Grammar,' was printed at Tavistock, but no copy of it has been found. A printing-office was first established in Canterbury about 1525; but no name or date is in the book supposed to have been the first printed there. Cardinal Wolsey, on his visit to do honour to his native city, established or patronised a printing-office at Ipswich in 1538; the printer was John Oswen, who removed to Worcester in 15.18, where he published a folio and quarto edition of the New Testament. The art was introduced into Norwich about 1570, by Anthony Solen, one of the many foreigners from the Low Countries who introduced all sorts of woollen manufactures into that city.
Between the year 1471, when Caxton began to print, and the year 1540, the English press, though conducted by industrious, and some of them learned 'printers, produced very few classics. - Boethius de Consolatione,' in Latin and English, three editions of' stop,' 'Terence,' the ' Bucolics' of Virgil twice, and ' Tully's Offices," were the only classics printed. From Cambridge no classical work appeared; and the University of Oxford produced only the
first book of ' Cicero's Epistles,' and that at the expense of Wolsey.
The most ancient specimen of Scotch printing known, is a collection entitled 'The Porteus of Nobleness,'Edinburgh, 1508/ A patent had been granted by James IV. to Walter Chapman, a merchant of that city, and Andrew Mollar, a workman, for establishing a press there in 1507. Very few works, however, appear to have issued from this or from any other Scotch press for the next thirty years. In 1554, one of Knox's Theological Treatises was printed at Kalykow, or Kelso. Hamilton's, Archbishop of St . Andrews, Catechism, and Treatise on the 'Seven Sacraments," 4to, was the first book printed at St. Andrews, 1552. It was nearly a century after this, before Aberdeen, the seat of another University, could boast of a press. Edward Raban, who published a poem on the death of Bishop Forbes, in 1635, styles himself " Master Printer,— the first in Aberdeen." Ireland was the last European country, except Russia, (and this, m the sixteenth century, could scarcely be reckoned European,) that received the art of printing. The earliest book known is the Common Prayer, printed in Dublin, 1551, by Humphrey Powell. The Library of Trinity College, in that city, contains but one book printed there, even so early as 1633. The first book in the Irish character, was a Liturgy, 15fi6, for the use of the Scotch Highlanders.
The advantages which have been derived from the invention of printing, and from the perseverance and ingenuity of those by whom it was established, among whom we may place William Caxton, are vast and important; but they are too obvious to require, in this place, an elaborate detail. The productions of men of genius and learning; the records of literature and of science; of whatever is either brilliant in imagination or profound in thought; whatever may either adorn or improve the human mind,— thenceforth became imperishable. The light of knowledge cannot again be quenched—it is free, and open, and accessible as the air we breathe. The future history of the world may, indeed, disclose enough both of misery and of vice; but it cannot again present an universal blank, or be disgraced by another age of utter and cheerless ignorance.