By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: The Story of Books
Author: Rawlings, Gertrude Burford
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Story of Books" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

  [ Transcriber's Note:
    Every effort has been made to replicate this text as faithfully as
    possible, including inconsistencies in spelling and hyphenation;
    changes (corrections of spelling and punctuation) made to the
    original text are listed at the end of this file.

    Italic text has been marked with _underscores_.
    Bold text has been marked with =equals signs=.
    Greek text has been transliterated and marked with +plus signs+.

                           THE STORY OF BOOKS

The Useful Knowledge Library

PLANT LIFE. By Grant Allen.

ARCHITECTURE. By P. L. Waterhouse.

THE STARS. By G. F. Chambers, F.R.A.S.

THE SOLAR SYSTEM. By George F. Chambers, F.R.A.S.


THE MIND. By Prof. J. M. Baldwin.




A PIECE OF COAL. By E. A. Martin.


BIRD-LIFE. By W. P. Pycraft.


PRIMITIVE MAN. By Edward Clodd.

THOUGHT AND FEELING. By Frederick Ryland, M.A.


GERM LIFE. By H. W. Conn.

ANIMAL LIFE. By B. Lindsay.

COTTON PLANT. By F. Wilkinson, F.G.S.

ECLIPSES. By G. F. Chambers, F.R.A.S.


WEATHER. By G. F. Chambers, F.R.A.S.

WILD FLOWERS. By Rev. Prof. Henslow.

                      LONDON: HODDER AND STOUGHTON


                             STORY OF BOOKS

                       GERTRUDE BURFORD RAWLINGS

              Author of "The Story of the British Coinage"

                          HODDER AND STOUGHTON
                           PUBLISHERS, LONDON


  CHAP.                                                      PAGE

     I. Introductory                                            9

    II. The Preservation of Literature                         13

   III. Books and Libraries in Classical Times                 26

    IV. Books in Mediæval Times                                36

     V. Libraries in Mediæval Times                            56

    VI. The Beginning of Printing                              70

   VII. Who Invented Moveable Types?                           81

  VIII. Gutenberg and the Mentz Press                          89

    IX. Early Printing                                        103

     X. Early Printing in Italy and some other Countries      110

    XI. Early Printing in England                             118

   XII. Early Printing in Scotland                            131

  XIII. Early Printing in Ireland                             138

   XIV. Book Bindings                                         144

    XV. How a Modern Book is Produced                         159

  Postscript                                                  164

  Index                                                       166


  Early Printers at Work                                     Frontispiece


  Page from the Book of Kells                                          38

  Part of Page from the Book of Kells                                  39

  Page from the Lindisfarne Gospels                                    44

  Page from the Biblia Pauperum                                        76

  Type of the Mentz Indulgence                                         95

  Page from the Mazarin Bible                                          98

  Type of the Mazarin Bible                                            99

  Type of the Subiaco Lactantius                                      111

  Type of the Aldine Virgil, 1501                                     114

  Type of Caxton's Dictes or Sayengis of the Philosophres,
  Westminster, 1477                                                   123

  Boys Learning Grammar                                               125

  Caxton's Device                                                     127

  Type of Wynkyn de Worde's Higden's Polychronicon, London, 1495      129

  Myllar's Device                                                     132

  Title Page of O'Kearney's Irish Alphabet and Catechism              140

  Upper Cover of Melissenda's Psalter                                 149




The book family is a very old and a very noble one, and has rendered
great service to mankind, although, as with other great houses, all its
members are not of equal worth and distinction. But since books are so
common nowadays as to be taken quite as matters of course, probably few
people give any thought to the long chain of events which, reaching from
the dim past up to our own day, has been necessary for their evolution.
Yet if we look round on our bookshelves, whether we measure their
contents by hundreds or by thousands, and consider how mighty is the
power of these inanimate combinations of "rag-paper with black ink on
them," and how all but limitless their field of action, it is but a step
further to wonder what the first books were like. Given the living,
working brain to fashion thoughts and create fancies, to whom did it
first occur to write a book, what language and characters and material
did he use, when did he write, and what did he write about? And although
these questions can never be answered, an attempt to follow them up
will lead the inquirer into many fascinating bye-ways of knowledge. It
is not, however, the purpose of these pages to deal at length with the
ancient history of the _manuscript_ book, but, after briefly noticing
the chief links which connect the volumes of to-day with primeval
records, to present to the reader a few of the many points of interest
offered by the modern history of the _printed_ book.

                   *       *       *       *       *

=The Beginning of Writing.=--Books began with writing, and writing began
at the time when man first bethought himself to make records, so that
the progenitor of the beautiful handwriting and no less beautiful print
of the civilised world is to be looked for in the rude drawing which
primeval man scratched with a pointed flint on a smooth bone, or on a
rock, representing the beast he hunted, or perhaps himself, or one of
his fellows. The exact degree of importance he attached to these
drawings we cannot hope to discover. They may have been cherished from
purely æsthetic motives, or they may have served, at times, a merely
utilitarian end and acted, perhaps, as memoranda. However this may be,
these early drawings are the germs from which sprang writing, the parent
of books, and liberator of literature, that great force of which a book
is but the vehicle. How these drawings were gradually changed into
letters, in other words, the story of the alphabet, has been already
told in this series by Mr Edward Clodd, and therefore we need not deal
further with the subject here.

Writing once learned, and alphabets once formulated, the machinery for
making books, with the human mind as its mainspring, was fairly in
motion. "Certainly the Art of Writing," says Carlyle, "is the most
miraculous of all things man has devised.... With the art of Writing, of
which Printing is a simple, an inevitable and comparatively
insignificant corollary, the true reign of miracles for mankind
commenced." That these words only express the feeling of our far away
ancestors, a cursory glance into the mythology of various peoples will
prove. For wherever there is a tradition respecting writing, that
tradition almost invariably, if not always, connects the great invention
with the gods or with some sacred person. The Egyptians attributed it to
Thoth, the Babylonians and Assyrians to Nebo, the Buddhists to Buddha,
the Greeks to Hermes. The Scandinavians honoured Odin as the first
cutter of the mysterious runes, and the Irish derived their ogham from
the sacred Ogma of the Tuatha de Danaan. And it is noteworthy how, from
time immemorial, writing, and the making of books, have been considered
high and honourable accomplishments, and how closely they have ever been
connected with the holy functions of priesthood.

                   *       *       *       *       *

=Materials for Writing and Books.=--The early forms of books were
various, and, to modern eyes, more or less clumsy. Wood or bark was one
of the oldest substances used to receive writing. Stone was no doubt
older still, but stone inscriptions are outside our subject. The early
Greeks and Romans employed tablets of soft metal, and wooden leaves
coated with wax, when they had anything to write, impressing the
characters with a stilus. Thus Pausanius relates that he saw the
original copy of Hesiod's _Works and Days_ written on leaden tablets.
The wooden leaves, when bound together at one side, foreshadowed the
form of book which is now almost universal, and were called by the
Romans _caudex_, or _codex_ (originally meaning a tree-stump), in
distinction to the _volumen_, which was always a parchment or papyrus
roll. The oldest manuscript in existence, however, is on papyrus, which,
as is well known, was the chief writing-material of the ancient world.
Although the discovery that skins of animals, when properly prepared,
formed a convenient and durable writing-material, was made at a very
early date, the papyrus held its own as the writing-material of literary
Egypt, Greece, and Rome, until about the fourth or fifth century of our

The books of Babylonia and Assyria took the form of thick clay tablets
of various sizes. The wedge-shaped characters they bore were made by
impressing the wet, soft clay with a triangular-pointed instrument of
wood, bone, or metal. The tablet was then baked, and as recent
discoveries prove, rendered exceedingly durable. It is a matter of
conjecture as to whether the form of the original documents of the Old
Testament was that of the Babylonian tablets, or of the Egyptian papyrus
rolls, or of rolls of parchment. Perhaps all three were employed by the
various biblical writers at different times.

It is stretching a point, perhaps, to include among writing materials
the tablets of bamboo bark which bore the earliest Chinese characters,
since the inscriptions were carved. The Chinese, however, soon discarded
such primitive uses, and the paper which is so indispensable to-day was
invented by them at a very early date, though it remained unknown to
Europe until the Arabs introduced it about the tenth century, A.D. One
of the earliest extant writings on paper is an Arabic "Treatise on the
Nourishment of the Human Body," written in 960 A.D., but it seems to
have been printing which really brought paper into fashion, for paper
manuscripts are rare compared with those of parchment and vellum.



It is easier to find the beginning of writing than the beginning of
literature. Although we know for certain that the ancient nations of the
world had books and libraries, that they preserved traditions, stored
records and knowledge, and assisted memory by means of their tablets,
their monuments, and their papyri, we shall probably never know when the
art of writing was first applied to strictly literary purposes, and
still less likely is it that we shall ever discover when works of the
imagination were first recorded for the edification of mankind. It is
not very rash, however, to assume that as soon as the art had developed
the ancients put it to much the same uses as we do, except, perhaps,
that they did not vulgarise it, and no one wrote who had not something
to write about. But we are not without specimens of antique literatures.
Egypt has preserved for us many different specimens of her literary
produce of thousands of years ago--historical records, works of religion
and philosophy, fiction, magic, and funeral ritual. Assyria has
bequeathed to us hundreds of the clay books which formed the great royal
library at Nineveh, books of records, mythology, morals, grammar,
astronomy, astrology, magic; books of reference, such as geographical
tables, lists of temples, plants, birds, and other things. In the Old
Testament we have all that now remains of Israelitish writings, and the
early literatures of China and India are also partly known to us. After
these the writings of Greece and Rome are of comparatively recent
origin, and moreover, they are nearer to us in other respects besides
the merely chronological. The literature of Greece, dating from the far
Homeric age, grew up a strong and beautiful factor in Greek life, and
Rome, drawing first her alphabet and then her literature from the land
before which she stooped, even while she conquered it, passed them on as
an everlasting possession to the peoples of the western world. The fact
of the literary pre-eminence of Greece partly helps to explain why Greek
manuscripts form the bulk of the early writings now extant.

In considering how early literature has been preserved, therefore, we
are hardly concerned with Egyptian papyri or cuneiform tablets, but
with the writings of Greece and Rome, or writings produced under Greek
or Roman influence. And it is curious that while the libraries and books
of older nations have survived in comparatively large numbers, there
should be no Greek literary manuscripts older than about 160 B.C., and
even these are very fragmentary and scarce. The earliest Latin document
known is dated 55 A.D., and is an unimportant wax tablet from Pompeii.
For this lack of early documents many causes are responsible, and those
who remember that it is not human beings only who suffer from the
vicissitudes inseparable from existence will wonder, not that we have so
few ancient writings in our present possession, but that we have any.
The evidence of many curious and interesting discoveries of manuscripts
made from time to time goes to show that accident, rather than design,
has worked out their preservation, and that the civilised world owes its
present store of ancient literature more to good luck than good
management, to use a handy colloquialism. It is true, of course, that in
early days there were many who guarded books as very precious things,
but in times of wars and tumults people would naturally give little
thought to such superfluities. Fire and war have been the agencies most
destructive of books, in the opinion of the author of _Philobiblon_, but
carelessness and ignorance, wanton destruction and natural decay, are
also accountable for some part of the great losses which have wasted so
large a share of the literary heritage, and although we are deeply
indebted to monastic work for the transmission of classic lore as well
as of Christian compositions, we can hardly conclude that the monkish
scribes wrote solely for the benefit of posterity. Their immediate
purpose, no doubt, and naturally so, was much narrower, and identified
the service of God with the enrichment of their houses. Besides, they
did not hesitate to erase older writings in order that they might use
the parchment again for their own, whenever it suited them to do so.

Before noting some of the ways by which ancient literature has come down
to the present day, let us for a moment transport ourselves into the
past, and see how a wealthy Roman lover of letters would set about
gathering a collection of books. Having no lack of means, all that is
best in the literary world will be at his service. He will first take
care that the works of every Greek writer which can possibly be
obtained, as well as those of Roman authors, are represented in his
library by well-written papyrus rolls containing good, correct texts. If
he can obtain old manuscripts or original autographs of famous writers,
so much the better; but whereas ordinary volumes will cost him
comparatively little, on these he must expend large sums. If a book on
which he has set his heart is not to be purchased, he may be able to
obtain the loan of it, so that it may be transcribed for him by his
_librarius_ or writing-slave. If he can neither borrow nor purchase what
he desires, he may commission the bookseller to send for it to
Alexandria, where there is an unrivalled store of books and many skilled
scribes ready to make copies of them.

But it is not easy to estimate with any degree of certainty the quantity
of literary material available, say, at the time of the establishment of
the first public library in Rome, which was probably about 39 B.C. Books
were common and booksellers flourished. Greek and Roman writings were
preserved on papyrus, not neglected or lost, and the various parts of
what we now call the Old Testament probably existed in the Hebrew
synagogues. We may, perhaps, assume that the Roman book collector, did
he choose to take the necessary trouble, might add to his collection
some of the writings of ancient Egypt. But no doubt Greek and Latin
authors only are of value in his eyes. At this point it is dangerous to
speculate further, and we must leave the imaginary Roman, and, advancing
to our own time, where we are on surer ground, ask what remnants of old
records and literature have come down to us, and how have they been

It will be disappointing news, perhaps, to those to whom the facts are
fresh, that no original manuscript of any classical author, and no
original manuscript of any part of the Bible, Old Testament or New, has
yet come to light. Nothing is known of any of these documents except
through the medium of copies, and in some cases very many copies indeed
intervene between us and the original. For instance, the oldest Homeric
manuscript known, with the exception of one or two fragments, is not
older than the first century B.C., and the most ancient Biblical
manuscript known, a fragment of a Psalter, is assigned to the late third
or early fourth century A.D. The earliest New Testament manuscript
extant, the first leaf of a book of St Matthew's Gospel, is also no
older than the third century. It is curious, too, that no ancient Greek
manuscripts have been found either in Greece or Italy excepting some
rolls discovered in the ruins of Herculaneum. One reason for this is no
doubt the fact that when Roman armies assailed Athens and other Greek
cities they despoiled them not only of their statues and works of art,
but of their books as well. These went to furnish the libraries of Rome,
though it is probable that certain of them found their way back to
Greece in company with some of Rome's own literary produce when
Constantine set up his capital and founded a library at Byzantium.
Another means by which Greek manuscripts left the country was afforded
by the eagerness of Ptolemy II. to extend the great library of
Alexandria, to which end he bought books in all parts of Greece, and
particularly in Athens and Rhodes.

The Roman libraries did not survive the onslaughts of the barbarians,
who seem to have carried out a very thorough work of destruction in the
Eternal City. But it is not unlikely that in some cases books, among
other portable treasures, were carried away when their owners sought
refuge in less troubled localities, such as Constantinople or
Alexandria. Still, the fact remains that the contents of the Roman
libraries have disappeared, and that for the ancient manuscripts now in
our possession we are indebted to the tombs, the temples, the
monasteries, and the sands of Egypt. Sometimes--to show the strange
adventures of some of these manuscripts--the cartonnage cases in which
mummies of the later period were enclosed, were made of papyrus
documents, which apparently had been treated as waste paper and put to
all sorts of undignified uses. The two oldest classical papyri known,
consisting of fragments of Plato's _Phoedo_ and of the _Antiope_ of
Euripides, were recovered from mummy-cases, and are supposed to date
from the third century B.C. Other important Greek texts which have been
preserved by Egypt are Aristotle's _Constitution of Athens_, the _Mimes_
of Herodas, the _Odes_ of Bacchylides, the _Gospel_ and _Apocalypse_ of
Peter, the Book of Enoch, &c.

But here we have to take into consideration a new and important factor
in literary as in other matters--the spread of Christianity. With such
obvious exceptions as the cuneiform records, or the Egyptian writings,
and similar remains, the bulk of the manuscripts (as manuscripts, not as
compositions) is the work of (Christian) religious houses, and it is
easy to see that we owe much to the labours of the monks and
ecclesiastics who have transmitted to us not only the earliest and most
valuable works of the Church's own writers, but also the chief part of
the literature of Greece and Rome. As Mr Falconer Madan says in his
_Books in Manuscript_, "the number and importance of the MSS. of Virgil
and the four Gospels is greater than of any other ancient authors
whatever," and it is safe to assume that all these Gospel MSS., and
perhaps all the Virgil MSS. also, were the handiwork of churchmen.

As an example of the manuscript treasures yielded by Egypt may be
instanced the find at Behnesa, a village standing on the site of the
Roman city of Oxyrhynchus, one of the chief centres of early
Christianity in Egypt. Here, in 1896, Mr B. P. Grenfell and Mr A. S.
Hunt, searching for papyri on behalf of the Egypt Exploration Fund,
lighted upon one of the richest hunting-grounds yet discovered. The
result of their excavations was that about 270 boxes of manuscripts were
brought to England, while 150 of the best rolls were left at the Cairo
Museum. I am unable to give the size of the boxes, but Professor
Flinders Petrie's statement that "the publication of this great
collection of literature and documents will probably occupy a decade or
two, and will place our knowledge of the Roman and early Christian age
on a new footing," will testify to the extent and importance of the

In this collection the document which excited most interest was a
papyrus leaf bearing some scraps of Greek, to which the name of +LOGIA
IÊSOU+, or Sayings of our Lord, has been given. This leaf is at present
assigned to a date between 150 and 300 A.D. The Logia are eight in
number, and while three of them are closely similar to certain passages
in the Gospels, the rest are new. Another valuable document was the
fragment of St Matthew's Gospel alluded to above, which, written in the
third century, is a hundred years older than any New Testament
manuscript hitherto known. Classical documents also were found in great
numbers, and included a new _Ode_ of Sappho, which, however, is
unfortunately imperfect. It was transcribed probably about the third
century A.D.

Many Coptic, Syriac, and Arabic manuscripts have been recovered from the
numerous monasteries of Palestine, Asia Minor, and Egypt. Several
travellers who have managed to overcome the suspicion of the monks and
their unwillingness to open their literary hoards to strangers, or to
part with any of the volumes, have found immense numbers of books hidden
under dust and rubbish in vaults and cellars or stowed away in chests,
where they were probably thrust at some time when danger threatened
them. Books written in these monasteries themselves in earlier days, or
brought thither from other monasteries further east, have thus lain
forgotten or neglected for centuries, or, if they were noticed at all,
it was only that they might be put to some ignoble use. Thus some were
found acting as covers to two large jars which had formerly held
preserves. "I was allowed to purchase these vellum manuscripts," says
the author of _Monasteries of the Levant_, "as they were considered to
be useless by the monks, principally, I believe, because there were no
more preserves in the jars." In another case some large volumes were
found in use as footstools to protect the bare feet of the monks from
the cold stone floor of their chapel.

As we have already seen, Christian scribes not only preserved the
writings of the Fathers of the Church, as well as the Holy Scriptures,
but also directed much of their attention to the classic works of poetry
and philosophy. In every monastery from Ireland to Asia Minor, from
Seville to Jerusalem, the work of transcribing and transmitting sacred
and secular literature was carried on, and had we at the present day one
half of the fruits of this labour we should be rich indeed. But we have
also seen that many causes have contributed to the destruction of old
writings, of which carelessness and ignorance are by no means the least.
The well-known story of Tischendorf's discovery of the oldest copy of
the New Testament in existence,[1] in a basket of fuel at a monastery
near Mount Sinai is but a single example, and that a modern one, of the
dangers to which these ancient books were liable, and to which they too
often fell victims. The danger was long ago recognised, however, and a
canon of the third Council of Constantinople, held in 719 A.D., enacted
"That nobody whatever be allowed to injure the book of the Old and New
Testament, or those of our holy preachers and doctors, nor to cut them
up, nor to give them to dealers in books, or perfumers, or any other
person to be erased, except they have been rendered useless by moths or
water or in some other way. He who shall do any such thing shall be
excommunicated for one year." The same Council also ordered the burning
of heretical books.

  [1] The Codex Sinaiticus, now at St Petersburg.

With the revival of learning in the fourteenth century there came an
awakened interest in ancient writings. They were eagerly sought for in
the monasteries of Europe, and the learned of Italy were especially
instrumental in recovering the neglected classical works. It has been
said that almost all the classical authors were discovered or
rediscovered either in Italy or through the researches of Italians.
Petrarch, with whose name the Renaissance is inseparably associated, and
a contemporary of our Richard de Bury, took great pains to form a
collection of the works of Cicero, whose _Epistles_ he was fortunate
enough to rescue from destroying oblivion. He tells us that when he met
strangers, and they asked him what he desired from their country, he
would reply, "Nothing, but the works of Cicero." He also sent money to
France, Germany, Spain, Greece, and England that these books might be
bought for him, and if while travelling he came across any ancient
monastery he would turn aside and explore its book treasures.

Poggio Bracciolini, a learned Italian of the fifteenth century, has also
made himself famous by his ardent pursuit of the remains of classical
literature, and by aiding the interest in them which the Renaissance had
awakened. He searched Europe for manuscripts to such good purpose that
he unearthed a valuable text of Quintilian's _Institutes_, "almost
perishing at the bottom of a dark neglected tower," in the monastery of
St Gall, and recovered many other classical writings by his industry,
including some of the _Orations_ of Cicero; Lucretius; Manilius, and
others. He also rescued the writings of Tertullian.

We may perhaps believe that even by this time the surviving treasures of
the old storehouses of literature have not yet been all brought to
light. Renan discovered in the large collection of manuscripts still
preserved in the monastery of Monte Casino in Italy, some unpublished
pages of Abelard's _Theologia Christiana_, and other valuable finds
besides, and it is quite possible that many more surprises are awaiting
an enterprising and diligent searcher.

But although the monasteries had so large a share in the work of the
preservation of literature, the monks themselves wrought harm as well as
good, for in their zeal to record sacred compositions they frequently
destroyed older and often more valuable documents by scraping off the
original writing and substituting other. This was done for economy's
sake, when writing material was costly, and parchments thus treated are
known as palimpsests. Owing to this reprehensible practice, many
literary treasures have been irretrievably lost. Our Anglo-Saxon
literature, for instance, is not represented by any contemporary copies.
The Anglo-Norman writers had a contempt for the old English manuscripts,
and turned them into palimpsests without the slightest idea that there
could be any value in them, and attached far more importance to the
writing they themselves were about to make. Thus it happens that we are
in the same position with regard to Anglo-Saxon literature as with
regard to classical authors. No original documents exist, and it is
known to us solely through copies, single copies, in most cases.
Beowulf, for instance, is represented only by a manuscript of the first
half of the eleventh century, and Caedmon by a manuscript of the tenth

With the invention and spread of the knowledge of printing, however, the
risk of loss was greatly reduced. Such ancient writings as came into the
printer's hands were given a fresh lease of life which in many cases was
of indefinite length, or rather, of practically eternal duration. But
the fact of being printed was not invariably a safeguard. Some of the
works of the early printers have disappeared completely, and many are
represented only by single copies. The strange history of the British
Museum copy of the famous _Book of St Albans_, will serve to show the
vicissitudes with which the relics of the past have to contend in their
journey down the ages.

At the end of the last century the library of an old Lincolnshire house
was overhauled by someone who disdainfully turned out of it all unbound
books, and had them destroyed. A few of the condemned books, however,
were begged by the gardener. Among them was the Book of St Albans. At
the gardener's death his son threw away some of the rescued volumes, but
kept the "Book." At the son's death, his widow sold such books as he had
left, to a pedlar, for the sum of ninepence. The pedlar re-sold them to
a chemist in Gainsborough for shop-paper, but observing the strange
wood-cuts in the "Book," the chemist offered it to a stationer for a
guinea. The stationer would not purchase, but said he would display it
in his window as a curiosity. Here it attracted attention, and five
pounds was offered for it by a gentleman in the neighbourhood. The
stationer, finding the volume an object of desire, gave the chemist two
pounds for it and eventually sold it to a bookseller for seven guineas.
Of this bookseller the Right Hon. Thomas Grenville bought it for seventy
pounds, and bequeathed it to the British Museum with the rest of his
magnificent library. This story I give on the authority of Mr Blades,
who also, to instance the way in which books travel about and turn up in
odd places, relates that a brother of Bishop Heber's, who had been for
years seeking for a book printed by Colard Mansion, but without success,
one day received a fine copy from the bishop, who had bought it from a
native on the banks of the Ganges.



In literary Greece and Rome, so far as we can tell from the somewhat
meagre information handed down to us, literature was pursued for her own
sake, and filthy lucre did not enter into the calculations of authors,
who appear to have been satisfied if their works met with the approval
of those who were competent to judge of them. Literature walked alone,
and had not as yet entered into partnership with commerce. The writing
of books for pecuniary profit is a wholly modern development, and even
now it is more often an aspiration than a realisation.

In those days, when an author desired to make known a work, he would
read it aloud to an invited party of friends. This reading of original
compositions became in time a common item of the programme provided by a
host for the entertainment of his guests, and it is not difficult to
imagine that such a custom was often subjected to grave abuse, from the
guests' point of view. Later, the private reading developed into the
public lecture. Lectures of this kind became very frequent in Rome, and
we are told that it was looked upon as a sort of festival when a
fashionable author announced a reading. But we are also told that some
of the audience often treated a lecturer of mediocre merit with scant
courtesy, entering late and leaving early, and frequently they who
applauded most were those who had listened least. The public reading is
recorded of a poem composed by Nero. It was read to the people on the
Capitol, and the manuscript, which was written in letters of gold, was
afterwards deposited in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus.

If a work happened to attract attention by reason of its author's
reputation or its own merit, it was copied by students or others who had
heard and admired it. This was the only way in which literary
productions could be dispersed and made known to the public at large, or
a collection of books be gathered together. As the literary taste
developed, those who were sufficiently wealthy kept slaves whose sole
business it was to copy books, which books might be either the original
works of their master, who by this means disseminated his compositions,
or the works of others, for the benefit of their master's library.
These slaves, being of necessity well educated and skilful scribes, were
purchased at high prices and held in great esteem by their owners. But
obviously it was only the rich who could command such service, and
ordinary folk had to resort to the bookseller.

The booksellers of Athens and Rome were those who made copies of books,
or employed slaves to make them, and sold or let them on hire to those
who had need of them. The author had no voice in these matters. There
was nothing to prevent anyone who borrowed or otherwise got possession
of his work from making copies of the manuscript if he chose, and making
money from the copies if he could. "Copyright" was a word unknown in
those days, and for centuries after. The booksellers advertised their
wares by notices affixed to the door-posts of their shops, giving the
names of new or desirable works, and sometimes read these works aloud to
their friends and patrons. Their shops were favourite places of resort
for persons of leisure and literary tastes.

Copyists of books retained a high place in the order of things literary
until the introduction of printing, and without their labours we should
know nothing of ancient literature, seeing that no original manuscript
of any classical author has survived. And apart from its purely literary
value, which is variable, the work of the early mediæval scribes in many
instances reaches a high artistic standard, and exhibits marvellous
skill in an accomplishment now numbered among the lost arts.

On the subject of libraries, as on all literary matters in ancient
times, hardly any solid information is available. But we know that Egypt
was to the fore in this respect as in so many others. Yet of all the
collections of books which, since they are frequently alluded to in the
inscriptions, she undoubtedly possessed, stored in her kings' palaces
and her temple archives, there is only one which is mentioned in
history, and that by a single historian. According to Diodorus Siculus,
this library was made by Osymandyas, who was king of Egypt at a date
which has not been precisely determined. He tells us that its entrance
exhibited the inscription: "Place of Healing for the Soul," or, as it
has been variously rendered, "Balsam for the Soul," or, "Dispensary of
the Mind." Although doubt has been thrown on the perfect accuracy of the
historian in introducing the name of Osymandyas in this connection,
modern Egyptologists have identified the plan of the library with a hall
of the great "palace temple" of Rameses II., the "Ramesium" or
"Memnonium" at Thebes. The door-jambs of this hall utter their own
testimony to its ancient use, for they bear the figures of Thoth, the
god of writing, and Saf, a goddess who is accompanied by the titles
"Lady of Letters" and "Presider over the Hall of Books." Astle, in _The
Origin and Progress of Writing_, says that the books and colleges of
Egypt were destroyed by the Persians, but Matter, on the other hand, in
_L'École d'Alexandrie_, declares that the temple archives were in
existence in the Greek and Roman periods. Probably Astle's statement is
not intended to be as sweeping as it appears.

Babylonia and Assyria also had their libraries. According to Professor
Sayce (_The Higher Criticism and the Monuments_) they were "filled with
libraries, and the libraries with thousands of books." The royal library
already referred to as furnishing so rich a treasure of cuneiform
tablets, was begun by Sennacherib, who reigned 705-681 B.C., and
completed by Assur-bani-pal, who reigned about 668-626 B.C.

There were libraries, too, in Palestine, in early days, but we know
nothing of them. They may have been archives or places where records
were kept, rather than libraries as we understand the term. The name of
Kirjath-sepher, a city near Hebron, means "city of books," and survives
from pre-Israelitish times. By the Jews, records and "the book of the
law" were preserved in the temple.

Almost as scanty are the accounts of the libraries of ancient Greece.
The tyrant Pisistratus, 537-527 B.C., has been credited, traditionally,
with the establishment in Athens of the first public library, but
although he encouraged letters and the preservation of literature there
is no good reason for accepting the tradition as authentic.

But of all libraries those of Alexandria were the largest and most
celebrated, and yet, notwithstanding their eminence, the accounts
relating to them are confused and contradictory. Alexandria, which,
although situated in Egypt, was a Greek and not an Egyptian city, was
founded by Alexander the Great in 332 B.C., and rapidly rose to a high
position. Its buildings, its learning, its luxury, and its books, became
world-famous. The first library was established by Ptolemy Soter, a
ruler of literary tastes, about 300 B.C., and was situated in that part
of the city known as the Bruchium. Copyists were employed to transcribe
manuscripts for the benefit of the institution, and it is said that
under Ptolemy Euergetes all books brought into Egypt were seized and
sent to the library to be transcribed. The copies were returned to the
owners, whose wishes were evidently not consulted, in place of the
originals, which went to enrich the store in the great library.

Ptolemy Philadelphus is said to have supplemented Soter's library by
another, which was lodged in the Temple of Serapis, but it has been
conjectured, with more probability, that the Serapeum collection began
with the temple archives, to which the Ptolemies made additions from
time to time; these additions, as some have affirmed, including part of
Aristotle's library. But here, also, contradictions are encountered, and
it seems impossible to say exactly whether this statement refers to
Aristotle's autograph writings, or to copies of them, or to manuscripts
of other authors' works formerly in his possession.

It was Ptolemy Philadelphus, we are told by Galen, who gave the
Athenians fifteen talents, a great convoy of provisions, and exemption
from tribute, in exchange for the autographs and originals of the
tragedies of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides.

Two other libraries also helped to make up the glory of Alexandria; one
in the Sebasteum, or Temple of Augustus, and one in connection with the
Museum. The latter, however, was a much later foundation. The museum or
university itself, had been instituted by Ptolemy Soter, and though it
was quite distinct from the library which is associated with his name,
there was doubtless some relationship between the two. Her museum and
libraries, and the encouragement she offered to learning, combined to
set Alexandria at the head of the literary world, and to make her "the
first great seat of literary Hellenism" (Jebb). She was also the centre
of the book industry, that is, of the reproduction of books, as
distinguished from their first production. This was owing in a large
measure to the number of professional copyists attracted by the
facilities afforded to them, and to the fact that the papyrus trade had
its headquarters here.

Another famous library of this period was that of the Kings of Pergamus,
founded by Attalus I., who reigned from 241 to 197 B.C. Between Pergamus
and Alexandria there was vigorous competition. In the end, however,
Alexandria had the satisfaction of seeing her rival completely humbled,
for Antony presented the books of Pergamus, stated to have been about
two hundred thousand in number, to Cleopatra, who added them to
Alexandria's treasures. At least, so says Plutarch, but Plutarch's
authority for the statement was Calvisius, whose veracity was not above

How the enormous accumulation of manuscripts gathered by Alexandria came
to perish so utterly is not clear. The Romans accidentally fired the
Bruchium when they reduced the city, but according to several accounts
there were still a goodly number of books remaining at the time of the
Saracen invasion in 638 A.D. The story of the Caliph Omar's reply to a
plea for the preservation of the books is well known. "If they contain
anything contrary to the word of God," he is reported to have said,
"they are evil; if not, they are superfluous," and forthwith he had them
distributed among the four thousand baths of the city, which they
provided with fuel for six months. But several authorities doubt this
story, and assert that long before Omar's time the Alexandrian libraries
had ceased to exist.

Though very far from being as full as could be wished, the accounts of
libraries in Rome are more numerous than any relating to libraries in
other parts of the ancient world. Besides the collections of books made
by private persons, which in one or two instances were generously opened
to the public by the owner, there were the imperial libraries, and the
more strictly public libraries. Among the emperors whose names are
especially associated with the gathering and preservation of books are
Augustus, Tiberius and Trajan. Julius Cæsar had formed a scheme for the
establishment of a public library, but it is not clear whether it was
ever carried out or no. Domitian, to replace the library in the Capitol,
which had been destroyed, sent scholars abroad to collect manuscripts
and to copy some of those at Alexandria. Under Constantine the Roman
public libraries numbered twenty-nine, and were very frequently lodged
in the temples.

Last in point of date come the libraries of Byzantium, the city which
the Emperor Constantine in 330 A.D. made the capital of the eastern
portion of the empire, and named after himself. He at once began to
gather books there, and his successors followed his example. Thus
various libraries were established, and those which survived the fires
which occurred from time to time in the city, existed until its capture
by the Turks in 1452. On this occasion, and also after the assault by
the Crusaders in 1203, the libraries probably suffered. It is said, too,
by some that Leo III. wantonly destroyed a large number of books, but
the assertion cannot be proved. Among the lost treasures of
Constantinople was "the only authentic copy" of the proceedings of the
Council of Nice, held in 325 A.D. to deal with the Arian heresy.

The ultimate fate of the imperial library at Constantinople yet remains
a problem. Some are of opinion that it was destroyed by Amurath IV., and
that none but comparatively unimportant Arabic and other Oriental
manuscripts make up the Sultan's library. Some believe that, in spite of
repeated assertions to the contrary on the part of Turkish officials and
others, there somewhere lies a secret hoard, neglected and uncared for,
perhaps, but nevertheless existent, of ancient and valuable Greek
manuscripts. The Seraglio has usually been considered to be the
repository of this hoard, and access to the Seraglio is very difficult
and almost impossible to obtain. In the year 1800 Professor Carlyle,
during his travels in the East, took enormous pains and used every means
in his power to reach the bottom of the mystery surrounding the
Seraglio treasures. He was assured by every Turkish officer whom he
consulted on the subject that no Greek manuscripts existed there; and
when by dint of influence in high quarters and much patience and
perseverance he at length gained permission to examine the Seraglio
library, he found that it consisted chiefly of Arabic manuscripts, and
contained not a single Greek, Latin, or Hebrew writing. The library, or
such part of it as the Professor was shown, was approached through a
mosque, and consisted of a small cruciform chamber, measuring only
twelve yards at its greatest width. One arm of the cross served as an
ante-chamber, and the other three contained the book-cases. The books
were laid on their sides, one on the other, the ends outward. Their
titles were written on the edges of the leaves.

The result of the Professor's researches went to confirm the belief held
by so many that no Greek manuscripts had survived. On the other hand,
the jealousy and suspicion of the Turks would render it at least
possible that despite the apparent straightforwardness with which Mr
Carlyle was treated, there were stores of manuscripts which were kept
back from him.

A final touch of mystery was given to this fascinating subject by a
tradition concerning a certain building in Constantinople which had been
closed up ever since the time of the Turkish conquest in the fifteenth
century. Of the existence of this building Professor Carlyle was
certain. The tradition asserted that it contained many of the former
possessions of the Greek emperors, and among these possessions
Professor Carlyle expected that the remains of the imperial library
would be found, if such remains existed.

Of other libraries of olden times, such as those of Antioch and Ephesus,
or those in private possession in the country houses of Italy and Gaul,
and which perished at the hands of the barbarians, it is not necessary
to speak more fully. It is sufficient to point out that they existed,
and that though we possess few details as to their furniture or
arrangement, we are justified in concluding that the latter, at any
rate, were luxuriously appointed. It must not be inferred, however, that
all the books which disappeared from these various centres were of
necessity destroyed. Many, and particularly some of the Byzantine
manuscripts, were dispersed over Europe, and survive to enrich our
libraries and museums of to-day.



The books of the Middle Ages are a special subject in themselves, since
they include all the illuminated manuscripts of Ireland, England and the
Continent. We can therefore do little more than indicate their
historical place in the story of books.

We have only to look at a mediæval illuminated manuscript to understand
how books were regarded in those days, and with what lavish expenditure
of time and skill the quaint characters were traced and the ornaments
designed and executed. And having looked, we gather that books, being
rare, were appreciated; and being sacred, were reverenced; and that it
was deemed a worthy thing to make a good book and to make it beautiful.
Sometimes the monkish artist's handiwork had a result not foreseen by
him, for we read that when St Boniface, the Saxon missionary who gave
his life to the conversion of Germany, wrote to ask the Abbess Eadburga
for a missal, he desired that the colours might be gay and bright, "even
as a glittering lamp and an illumination for the hearts of the
Gentiles." It is easy to imagine how the brilliant pages would attract
the colour-loving barbarians, and prepare the way for friendly advances.

It is probable that the custom of ornamenting books with drawings was
derived from the Egyptians by the Greeks, and from the Greeks by the
Romans, among whom decorated books were common, although they are known
to us chiefly by means of copies preserved in Byzantine and Italian
manuscripts of a more recent period. These, and a few examples dating
from the time of Constantine, exhibit a style evidently derived from
classical models.

A survey of mediæval books properly begins with the early Irish
manuscripts, which stand at the head of a long and glorious line
stretching, chronologically, from the seventh century of our era to the
fifteenth. Although it is not known where the art was born to which
these wonderful productions of Celtic pen-craft owe their origin, it is
Ireland, nevertheless, which has provided us with the earliest and
finest examples of this work, the marvels of skill and beauty which,
summed up, as it were, in the Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow, and
others, set the Irish manuscripts beyond imitation or rivalry.

[Illustration: PAGE FROM THE BOOK OF KELLS (_reduced._)]

[Illustration: PART OF PAGE FROM THE BOOK OF KELLS (_exact size._)]

Most of these books are Psalters, or Gospels, in Latin, while the
remainder consist of missals and other religious compilations, and of
them all the Book of Kells is the most famous. It was written in the
seventh century, and probably indicates the highest point of skill
reached by the Irish artist-scribes, or as regards its own particular
style of ornamentation, by any artist-scribes whatever. It is a book of
the Gospels written (in Latin) on vellum, and the size of the volume, of
the writing, and of the initial letters is unusually large. The leaves
measure 13½ x 9½ inches. The illustrations represent various incidents
in the life of Christ, and portraits of the Evangelists, accompanied by
formal designs. Ornamentation is largely introduced into the text, and
the first few words of each Gospel are so lavishly decorated and have
initial letters of such size that in each case they occupy the whole of
a page.

The book just described was preserved at Kells until the early part of
the seventeenth century. It then passed into Archbishop Ussher's
possession, and finally into the library of Trinity College, Dublin,
where it is now treasured.

Of course it is impossible to give here a reproduction of a page of this
marvellous book in its proper size and colours. Our illustrations,
however, may convey a little idea of the accuracy and minuteness of the
work, which, it is hardly necessary to say, was done entirely by hand,
and will serve as a text for a brief summary of the chief features of
Irish book art. The design here shown is composed of a diagonal cross
set in a rectangular frame, having in each angle a symbol of one of the
four Evangelists. The colours in this design, as reproduced by Professor
Westwood in his _Miniatures and Ornaments of Anglo-Saxon and Irish
Manuscripts_, principally consist of red, dark and light mauve, green,
yellow, and blue-grey. The animals depicted are quaint, but not
ridiculous, and the figure of St Matthew, in the upper angle of the
cross, though stiff and ungraceful, is less peculiar than other figures
in the book. The Irish artist was always more successful in designing
and executing geometrical systems of ornamentation than in representing
living figures.

The interlacing, which forms a large part of the design under
consideration, is a characteristic of Celtic work. The regularity with
which the bands pass under and over, even in the most complicated
patterns, is very remarkable, and errors are rarely to be detected. The
spirals which occupy the four panels at the ends and sides of the frame
are also typical of this school of art. The firmness and accuracy of
their drawing testify to the excellent eyesight as well as to the steady
hand and technical skill of the artist.

The prevailing feature of Celtic ornament as shown in illuminated
manuscripts is the geometrical nature of the designs. The human figure
when introduced into the native Irish books is absurdly grotesque, for
its delineation seems to have been beyond the artist's skill, or, more
correctly, to have lain in another category, and to have belonged to a
style distinct from that in which he excelled. At a later period, figure
drawing became a marked characteristic of English decorated manuscripts,
and English artists attained to a high degree of skill in this branch of
their art.

Bright colours were employed in the Irish manuscripts, but gold and
silver are conspicuous by their absence, and did not appear in the
manuscripts of these islands until Celtic art had been touched by
continental influence.

The tradition that the Book of Kells was written by the great St Columba
himself, reminds us that at this period nearly all books were the
handiwork of monks and ecclesiastics, and in all monasteries the
transcribing of the Scriptures and devotional works was part of the
established order of things. Columba, we know, was a famous scribe, and
took great pleasure in copying books. He is said to have transcribed no
less than three hundred volumes, and all books written by him were
believed to be miraculously preserved from danger by water. As an
instance of this, Adamnan relates the following story:--

"A book of hymns for the office of every day in the week, and in the
handwriting of St Columba, having slipt, with the leathern satchel which
contained it, from the shoulder of a boy who fell from a bridge, was
immersed in a certain river in the province of the Lagenians (Leinster).
This very book lay in the water from the Feast of the Nativity of our
Lord till the end of the Paschal season, and was afterwards found on the
bank of the river" uninjured, and as clean and dry as if it had never
been in the water at all. "And we have ascertained as undoubted truth,"
continues Adamnan, "from those who were well informed in the matter,
that the like things happened in several places with regard to books
written by the hand of St Columba;" and he adds that the account just
given he received from "certain truthful, excellent, and honourable men
who saw the book itself, perfectly white and beautiful, after a
submersion of so many days, as we have stated."

By Irish missionaries the art of book writing was taught to Britain,
chiefly through the school of Lindisfarne, where was produced the famous
Lindisfarne Gospels, or Book of St Cuthbert. This magnificent work,
which is one of the choicest treasures of the British Museum, was as
highly esteemed by its contemporaries as by ourselves, though perhaps
not for quite the same reasons. Tradition has it that when Lindisfarne
was threatened by the Northmen and the monks had to fly, they took with
them the body of St Cuthbert, in obedience to his dying behest, and this
book. They attempted to seek refuge in Ireland, but their boat had
scarcely reached the open sea when it met a storm so violent that
through the pitching of the little vessel the book fell overboard.
Sorrowfully they put back, but during the night St Cuthbert appeared to
one of the monks and ordered him to seek for the book in the sea. On
beginning their search, they found that the tide had ebbed much further
than it was wont to do, and going out about three miles they came upon
the holy book, not a whit the worse for its misadventure. "By this,"
says the old historian, "were their hearts refreshed with much joy." And
the book was afterwards named in the priory rolls as "the Book of St
Cuthbert, which fell into the sea."

[Illustration: PAGE FROM THE LINDISFARNE GOSPELS (_reduced._)]

This notable volume is an excellent example of Celtic book art in the
beginning of its transition stage, a stage which marks the approach to
the two schools which were the result of the combination of Celtic and
continental influences in the hands of intelligent and skilful
Anglo-Saxon scribes--the Hiberno-Saxon and the English schools. It
contains the four Gospels written in Latin, and arranged in double
columns, each Gospel being preceded by a full-page formal design of
Celtic work and a full-page portrait of the Evangelist. The conjunction
of these two distinct styles of ornament forms one of the chief points
of interest in the book. The formal designs of interlaced, spiral, and
key patterns, so characteristic of Celtic work, show its near kinship
to the Irish books, while the portraits prove an almost equally close
connection with Roman and Byzantine models. There is reason to believe
that the classical element is due to the influence of an Italian or
Byzantine book or books brought to Lindisfarne by Theodore, Archbishop
of Canterbury, and his friend Adrian, an Italian abbot, when the
archbishop visited the island for the purpose of consecrating Aidan's

The Lindisfarne Gospels accompanied St Cuthbert's body to Durham in 995,
but rather more than a century later was restored to Lindisfarne, and
remained there until the monastery which had replaced St Aidan's
foundation was dissolved at the Reformation. It is then lost sight of
until it reappears in the famous Cotton Library, with which it is now
possessed by the nation.

The English school of illumination had its chief seat at Winchester. Its
work is characterised by its figure drawing, and while the foliage
ornament introduced, together with the gold which was largely used in
the Winchester manuscripts, indicate continental influence, the
interlaced and other patterns are derived from the Irish school. Of this
class of manuscript the Benedictional of Æthelwold, in the Duke of
Devonshire's library, may serve as a typical example. It was written for
Æthelwold, Bishop of Winchester, by his chaplain Godemann, towards the
end of the tenth century. Were it practicable to offer the reader a
reproduction of one of its pages, it would be seen that it exactly
illustrates what has just been said. Its figure drawing and foliated
ornamentation are among its most striking features.

The Norman Conquest opened up the English school of art more widely to
continental influence, with the result that towards the end of the
thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth centuries the English
manuscripts were unsurpassed by any in Europe. As a typical specimen of
the illuminations of this period, we may with propriety select one which
has been described by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson as "the very finest of
its kind," and "probably unique in its combination of excellence of
drawing, brilliance of illumination, and variety and extent of
subjects." It is a Psalter dating from the fourteenth century, and known
as Queen Mary's Psalter, because a customs officer of the port of
London, who intercepted it as it was about to be taken out of the
country, presented it to the Queen in 1553. This magnificent book is now
in the British Museum.

During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries a large number of Bibles and
Psalters were written, and made up the greater part of the book-output
of the larger monasteries, to which we are indebted for all our fine
pieces of manuscript work. Indeed, most of the decorated manuscripts of
this period are occupied with the Scriptures, services, liturgies, and
other matters of the kind, and on such the best work was lavished.
Later, however, the growing taste for romances and stories induced a
corresponding tendency to decorate these secular manuscripts too, and
some very fine work of this class was produced, especially in France.
The books of the chronicles of England and of France, written in the
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, were also largely adorned with
painted miniatures.

Nearly all the writing of Europe was done in the religious houses. In
most of the larger monasteries there was a scriptorium, or writing-room,
where Bibles, Psalters, and service books, and patristic and classical
writings were transcribed, chronicles and histories compiled, and
beautiful specimens of the illuminator's art carefully, skilfully, and
lovingly executed.

Books, however, were not only written in the monasteries, but read as
well. The rule of St Benedict insisted that the steady reading of books
by the brethren should form part of the daily round. Archbishop
Lanfranc, also, in his orders for the English Benedictines, directed
that once a year books were to be distributed and borrowed volumes to be
restored. For this purpose, the librarian was to have a carpet laid down
in the Chapter House, the monks were to assemble, and the names of those
to whom books had been lent were to be read out. Each in turn had to
answer to his name, and restore his book, and he who had neglected to
avail himself of his privilege, and had left his book unread, was to
fall on his face and implore forgiveness. Then the books were
re-distributed for study during the ensuing year. This custom was
generally followed by all the monasteries of Lanfranc's time.

Richard Aungervyle, Bishop of Durham, born in 1281 at Bury St Edmund's,
and therefore usually known as Richard de Bury, gives a vivacious
picture of the attitude of a book-lover of the Middle Ages in his
_Philobiblon_, or _Lover of Books_. He there sings the praises of books,
and voices their lament over their ill-treatment by degenerate clerks
and by the unlearned. He also tells how he gathered his library, which
was then the largest and best in England. _Philobiblon_ is written in
vigorous and even violent language, and is worth quoting.

Books, according to this extravagant eulogy, are "wells of living
water," "golden urns in which manna is laid up, or rather, indeed,
honeycombs," "the four-streamed river of Paradise, where the human mind
is fed, and the arid intellect moistened and watered." "You, O Books,
are the golden vessels of the temple, the arms of the clerical militia,
with which the missiles of the most wicked are destroyed, fruitful
olives, vines of Engedi, fig-trees knowing no sterility, burning lamps
to be ever held in the hand."

Then the books are made to utter their plaint because of the indignity
to which they are subjected by the degenerate clergy. "We are expelled
from the domiciles of the clergy, apportioned to us by hereditary right,
in some interior chamber of which we had our peaceful cells; but, to
their shame, in these nefarious times we are altogether banished to
suffer opprobrium out of doors; our places, moreover, are occupied by
hounds and hawks, and sometimes by a biped beast: woman, to wit ...;
wherefore this beast, ever jealous of our studies, and at all times
implacable, spying us at last in a corner, protected only by the web of
some long-deceased spider, drawing her forehead into wrinkles, laughs us
to scorn, abuses us in virulent speeches, points us out as the only
superfluous furniture in the house, complains that we are useless for
any purpose of domestic economy whatever, and recommends our being
bartered away forthwith for costly head dresses, cambric, silk,
twice-dipped purple garments, woollen, linen, and furs."

After this terrible picture of feminine ignorance and malevolence, it is
refreshing to turn to the achievements of the pious Diemudis, by way of
contrast. Diemudis was a nun of Wessobrunn in Bavaria, who lived in the
eleventh century. Nuns are not often referred to as writers, but of this
lady it is recorded that she wrote "in a most beautiful and legible
character" no less than thirty-one books, some of which were in two,
three, and even six volumes. These she transcribed "to the praise of
God, and of the holy apostles Peter and Paul, the patrons of this

Although the greater part of the book-writing of this time was done in
the monasteries and by monks and ecclesiastics, there were also secular
professional writers, a class who had followed this occupation from very
early days. They consisted of antiquarii, librarii, and illuminators,
though sometimes the functions of all three were performed by one
person. They were employed chiefly by the religious houses, to assist in
the transcription and restoration of their books, and by the lawyers,
for whom they transcribed legal documents. The antiquarii were the
highest in rank, for their work did not consist merely of writing or
copying, but included the restoration of faulty pages, the revision of
texts, the repair of bindings, and other delicate tasks connected with
the older and more valuable books which could not be entrusted to the
librarii or common scribes. On the whole, the production of books was
more of an industry in those days than we should believe possible,
unless we admit that the Dark Ages were not quite as dark as they have
been painted. "There was always about us in our halls," says Richard de
Bury, who no doubt was a munificent patron of all scribes and
book-workers, "no small assemblage of antiquaries, scribes, bookbinders,
correctors, illuminators, and generally of all such persons as were
qualified to labour in the service of books."

Books of a great size were frequently monuments of patience and
industry, and sometimes half a lifetime was devoted to a single volume.
Books therefore fetched high prices, though they were not always paid
for in money. In 1174 the Prior of St Swithun's, Winchester, gave the
Canons of Dorchester in Oxfordshire, for Bede's Homilies and St
Augustine's Psalter, twelve measures of barley, and a pall on which was
embroidered in silver the history of St Birinus' conversion of the Saxon
King Cynegils. A hundred years later a Bible "fairly written," that is,
finely written, was sold in this country for fifty marks, or about £33.
At this period a sheep cost one shilling. In the time of Richard de Bury
a common scribe earned a halfpenny a day. About 1380 some of the
expenses attending the production of an _Evangeliarium_, or book of the
liturgical Gospels, included thirteen and fourpence for the writing,
four and threepence for the illuminating, three and fourpence for the
binding, and tenpence a day for eighteen weeks, in all fifteen
shillings, for the writer's "commons," or food.

The book-writers or copyists became, later, the booksellers, very much
as they did in old Rome. Sometimes they both wrote and sold the books,
and sometimes the sellers employed the writers to write for them, or the
writers employed the sellers to sell for them. Publishers as yet did not
exist. Practically the only method of publication known consisted of the
reading of a work on three days in succession before the heads of the
University, or other public judges, and the sanctioning of its
transcription and reproduction. The booksellers were called
"stationers," either because they transacted their business at open
stalls or stations, or perhaps from the fact that _statio_ is low Latin
for _shop_; and since they were also the vendors of parchment and other
writing-materials, the word "stationer" is still used to designate those
who carry on a similar trade to-day. As early as 1403 there was already
formed in London a society or brotherhood "of the Craft of Writers of
Text-letter," and "those commonly called 'Limners,'" or Illuminators,
for in that year they petitioned the Lord Mayor for permission to elect
Wardens empowered to see that the trades were honourably pursued and to
punish those of the craft who dealt disloyally or who rebelled against
the Wardens' authority. This petition was granted. By 1501 the Company
of Stationers was established, and it is highly probable that this was
only the Brotherhood of Text-writers and Limners under the more general

The well-known names of Paternoster Row, Amen Corner, Ave Maria Lane,
and Creed Lane still remain to show us where the London stationers who
sold the common religious leaflets and devotional books of the day had
their stalls, close to St Paul's Cathedral, and in some cases even
against the walls of the Cathedral itself, and where, too, the makers of
beads and paternosters plied their trade. And Londoners at least will
not need to be reminded that at this very moment Paternoster Row is
almost entirely inhabited by sellers of books, religious and otherwise.
There is also a queer open-air stall on the south side which serves to
carry on the ancient tradition of the place.

Societies similar to that of the Text-Writers and Limners of London also
existed on the Continent, and especially at Bruges, in which city
literature and book-production flourished under the patronage of
Philippe le Bon, Duke of Burgundy, who himself gave constant employment
to numerous writers, copyists, translators, and illuminators in the work
of building up his famous library. The members of the Guild of St John
the Evangelist in Bruges represented no less than fifteen different
trades or professions connected with books and writing. They included:

  Painters of vignettes,
  Scriveners and copiers of books,
  Schoolmasters and schoolmistresses,
  Cloth shearers,
  Parchment and vellum makers,
  Boss carvers,
  Letter engravers,
  Figure engravers.

Of course, the printers here mentioned would at first be block-printers
only, as will be shown presently. And it is worth noticing that in all
this long list, which cannot be called at all exclusive, there is no
mention of authors.

The mediæval booksellers were not all permitted to ply their trade in
their own way. Since the supply of books for the students depended on
them, the Universities of Paris, Oxford, and elsewhere deemed it their
duty to keep them under control, having in view the maintenance of pure
texts and the interests of the students, at whose expense the
booksellers were not to be permitted to fatten. By the rules of the
University of Paris the bookseller was required to be a man of wide
learning and high character, and to bind himself to observe the laws
regarding books laid down by the University. He was forbidden to offer
any transcript for sale until it had been examined and found correct;
and were any inaccuracy detected in it by the examiner, he was liable to
a fine or the burning of the book, according to the magnitude of his
error. The price of books was also fixed by the University, and the
vendor forbidden to make more than a certain rate of profit on each
volume. Again, the bookseller could not purchase any books without the
sanction of the University, for fear that he might be the means of
disseminating heretical or immoral literature. Later, it was made
obligatory on him to lend out books on hire to those who could not
afford to buy them, and to expose in his shop a list of these books and
the charges at which they were to be had. The poor booksellers, thus
hedged about with restrictions, often joined some other occupation to
that of selling manuscripts in order to make both ends meet, but when
this practice came to the notice of the University they were censured
for degrading their noble profession by mixing with it "vile trades."
But presumably no such rules as the above hampered the booksellers of
non-university towns, such as London.

The control assumed by the Universities over the book trade presently
extended to interference with original writings and a censorship of
literature. With the introduction of printing and the consequent
increase of books and of the facilities for reproducing them this
censorship was taken up by the Church.

Ecclesiastical censorship, however, was not the outcome of the
Universities' assumption of control over the book trade. It sprang from
the jealousy of the clergy, who opposed the spread of knowledge among
the people--some, perhaps, because they knew that knowledge in ignorant
hands is dangerous, and others because they feared their own prestige
might suffer. This feeling existed before printing, though printing
brought it to a head. For instance, in 1415 the penalty in this country
for reading the Scriptures in the vernacular was forfeiture of land,
cattle, body, life, and goods by the offenders and their heirs for ever,
and that they should be condemned for heretics to God, enemies to the
Crown, and most errant traitors to the land. They were refused right of
sanctuary, and if they persisted in the offence or relapsed after a
pardon were first to be hanged for treason against the King and then
burned for heresy against God. Thus the clergy upheld and encouraged a
censorship of the press. As early as 1479 Conrad de Homborch, a Cologne
printer, had issued a Bible accompanied by canons, etc., which was
"allowed and approved by the University of Cologne," and in 1486 the
Archbishop of Mentz issued a mandate forbidding the translation into the
vulgar tongue of Greek, Latin, and other books, without the previous
approbation of the University. Finally, in 1515, a bull of Leo X.
required Bishops and Inquisitors to examine all books before they came
to be printed, and to suppress any heretical matter.

The Vicar of Croydon, preaching at St Paul's Cross about the time of the
spread of the art of printing, is said to have declared that "we must
root out printing or printing will root out us." But an ecclesiastical
censorship over the English press was not established until 1559, when
an Injunction issued by Queen Elizabeth provides that, because of the
publication of unfruitful, vain, and infamous books and papers, "no
manner of person shall print any manner of boke or paper ... except the
same be first licenced by her maiestie ... or by .vi. of her privy
counsel, or be perused and licensed by the archbysshops of Cantorbury
and Yorke, the bishop of London," etc. The Injunction extended also to
"pampheletes, playes, and balletes," so that "nothinge therein should be
either heretical, sedicious, or vnsemely for Christian eares." Classical
authors, however, and works hitherto commonly received in universities
and schools were not touched by the Injunction.



During the rule of the Arabs in Northern Africa and in Spain, thousands
of manuscripts were gathered together in their chief cities, such as
Cairo and Cordova, and many Arabic-Spanish and Moorish writings have
been preserved in the Escurial Library, though a large part of this
library was burnt in 1671. With these exceptions, the collections of
books belonging to the various religious houses were practically the
only libraries of early mediæval times. These collections, to begin
with, were very small; so small, indeed, that there was no need to set
apart a special room for them. Library buildings were not erected till
the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, when the accumulation of books
rendered them necessary, and those which are found in connection with
old foundations will always prove to have been added later. It is said,
however, that Gozbert, abbot of St Gall in the ninth century, who
founded the library there by collecting what was then the large number
of four hundred books, allotted them a special room over the
scriptorium. But as a rule the books were kept in the church, and then,
as the number increased, in the cloisters. The cloister was the common
living-room of the monks, where they read and studied, and carried out
most of their daily duties. The books were either stored in presses,
though no such press remains to show us upon what pattern they were
built, or in recesses in the wall, probably closed by doors. Two of
these recesses may be seen in the cloisters at Worcester. In Cistercian
houses, says Mr J. W. Clark, to whose Rede Lecture (1894) I am indebted
for these details, this recess developed "into a small square room
without a window, and but little larger than an ordinary cupboard. In
the plans of Clairvaux and Kirkstall this room is placed between the
chapter-house and the transept of the church; and similar rooms, in
similar situations, have been found at Fountains, Beaulieu, Tintern,
Netley, etc." The books were placed on shelves round the walls. When the
cloister windows came to be glazed, so as to afford better protection
from the weather for the persons and things within the cloister, they
were occasionally decorated with allusions to the authors of the books
in the adjacent presses.

Sometimes _carrells_ were set up in the cloister, a carrell being a sort
of pew, in which study could be conducted with more privacy than in the
open cloister. The carrell was placed so that it was closed at one end
by one of the cloister windows and remained open at the other. Examples
still survive at Gloucester.

The arrangement of the libraries which were subsequently added to most
of the larger monasteries in the fifteenth century is unknown, as none
of the furniture or fittings seem to have come down to the present day
either in this country or in France or Italy. But Mr Clark thinks that
the collegiate libraries will give us the key to the plan of the
monastic libraries, since the rules relating to the libraries of Oxford
and Cambridge were framed on those which obtained in the "book-houses"
of the religious foundations. From these collegiate libraries we gather
that it was customary to chain the books, so that they might be
accessible to all and yet secure from those who might wish to
appropriate them temporarily or otherwise. The shelf to which the
volumes were fastened took the form or an "elongated lectern or desk,"
at which the reader might sit. Pembroke College and Queens' College,
Cambridge, had desks of this type, which was also in use on the
Continent. In some places the desks were modified by the addition of
shelves above or below.

Mr Falconer Madan, in his _Books in Manuscript_, quotes the following
account, which he translates from the Latin register of Titchfield
Abbey, written at the end of the fourteenth century, and which shows the
care and method with which the books were kept: "The arrangement of the
library of the monastery of Tychefeld is this:--There are in the library
of Tychefeld four cases (_columnæ_) in which to place books, of which
two, the first and second, are in the eastern face; on the southern face
is the third, and on the northern face the fourth. And each of them has
eight shelves (_gradus_), marked with a letter and number affixed on the
front of each shelf.... So all and singular the volumes of the said
library are fully marked on the first leaf and elsewhere on the shelf
belonging to the book, with certain numbered letters. And in order that
what is in the library may be more quickly found, the marking of the
shelves of the said library, the inscriptions in the books, and the
reference in the register, in all points agree with each other. Anno
domini, MCCCC." Then is shown the order in which the books lie on the
shelves. Briefly, the sequence of subjects and books is as
follows:--Bibles, Bibles with commentary, theology, lives of saints,
sermons, canon law, commentaries on canon law, civil law, medicine,
arts, grammar, miscellaneous volumes, logic and philosophy, English law,
eighteen French volumes, and a hundred and two liturgical volumes.
Titchfield Abbey owned altogether over a thousand volumes.

The monastic librarian, as we should call him, was known as the
_armarius_, since he had charge of the _armaria_ or book-presses. He
frequently united this office to that of precentor or leader of the
choir, for at first the service-books were his chief care. It was his
business to make the catalogue, to examine the volumes from time to time
to see that mould or book-worms or other dangers were not threatening
them, to give out books for transcription, and to distribute the various
writing-materials used in the scriptorium or writing-room. He had also
to collate such works as were bound to follow one text, such as Bibles,
missals, monastic rules, etc. To these duties he often added that of
secretary to the abbot and to the monastery generally.

Many catalogues of monastic libraries are extant, and several belonging
to continental foundations were compiled at a very early period. Of the
library of St Gall, founded by the Abbé Gozbert in 816, a contemporary
catalogue still exists. The St Gall library contained four hundred
volumes, a large number for those days, and, moreover, was provided with
a special room, a chamber over the scriptorium. It is not easy to see
why in this and other cases of the co-existence of a library and a
scriptorium one room was not made to do duty for both. But to return to
the catalogues. Another early example is that of the Abbey of Clugni, in
France, made in 831, and forming part of an inventory of the Abbey
property. The Benedictine Abbey of Reichenau, on the Rhine, had four
catalogues compiled in the ninth century--two of the books in the
library, one of certain transcriptions made and added thereto, and one
of additions to the library from other sources. Among English monastic
book-lists, there is one of Whitby Abbey, which appears to have been
made in 1180, and the library of Glastonbury Abbey, which excited the
wonder and admiration of Leland, and which was started by St Dunstan
round a nucleus of a few books formerly brought to the Abbey by Irish
missionaries, was catalogued in 1247 or 1248. Catalogues of the books at
Canterbury (Christ Church and St Augustine's monastery), Peterborough,
Durham, Leicester, Ramsey, and other foundations are also known, and
these, with the notices of Leland, form our only sources of information
as to these various literary storehouses.

As regards their contents, the Scriptures, missals, service-books, and
similar manuscripts formed the larger part of the monastic libraries,
but besides these they included copies of patristic and classical works,
devotional and moral writings, lives of saints, chronicles, books on
medicine, grammar, philosophy, logic, and, later, romances and fiction
were admitted into this somewhat austere company. The catalogue of the
"boc-house" of the monastery of St Augustine at Canterbury, written
towards the close of the fifteenth century, names many romantic works,
including the _Four Sons of Aymon_, _Guy of Warwick_, _The Book of
Lancelot_, _The Story of the Graal_, _Sir Perceval de Galois_, _The
Seven Sages_, and others, and of some of these there is more than one

Books were frequently lent to other monasteries, or to poor clerks and
students. It was considered a sacred duty thus to share the benefits of
the books with others; but sometimes the custodians of the precious
volumes, aware of the failures of memory to which book-borrowers have
ever been peculiarly liable, were so averse from running the risk of
lending that the libraries were placed under anathema, and could not be
lent under pain of excommunication. But the selfishness and injustice of
such a practice being recognised, it was formally condemned by the
Council of Paris in 1212, and the anathemas annulled. Anathemas were
also pronounced against any who should steal or otherwise alienate a
book from its lawful owners.

But as even in mediæval days there were those who loved books better
than honesty, the loan of a volume was accompanied by legal forms and
ceremonies, and the borrower, whatever his station or character, had to
sign a bond for the due return of the work, and often to deposit
security as well. Thus, when about 1225 the Dean of York presented
several Bibles for the use of the students of Oxford, he did so on
condition that those who used them should deposit a cautionary pledge.
Again, in 1299, John de Pontissara, Bishop of Winchester, borrowed from
the convent of St Swithun the _Bibliam bene glossatum_, i.e. the Bible
with annotations, and gave a bond for its return. And in 1471, when
books had become much more common, no less a person than the King of
France, desiring to borrow some Arabian medical works from the Faculty
of Medicine at Paris, had not only to deposit some costly plate as
security, but to find a nobleman to act as surety with him for the
return of the books, under pain of a heavy forfeit.

Many of the great monastic libraries owed their origin to the liberality
of one donor, usually an ecclesiastic. Among other libraries destroyed
by the Danes was the fine collection of books at Wearmouth monastery,
made by Benedict Biscop, the first English book collector, who was so
eager in the cause of books that he is said to have made no less than
five journeys to Rome in order to search for them. Part of his library
was given to the Abbey at Jarrow, and shared the same fate as the books
at Wearmouth.

One of the earliest English libraries was that of Christ Church, _i.e._
the Cathedral, at Canterbury. On the authority of the Canterbury Book, a
fifteenth century manuscript preserved at Cambridge, this library began
with the nine books said to have been brought from Rome by St Augustine.
These nine books were a Bible in two volumes, a Psalter, a Book of
Gospels, the Lives of the Apostles, the Lives of the Martyrs, and an
Exposition of the Gospels and Epistles. This collection was enriched by
the magnificent scriptural and classical volumes brought from the
continent by Archbishop Theodore in the seventh century. Under
Archbishop Chicheley, in the fifteenth century, this library was
provided with a dwelling of its own, built over the Prior's Chapel, and
containing sixteen bookcases of four shelves each. At this time a
catalogue was already in existence, made by Prior Eastry at the end of
the thirteenth or beginning of the fourteenth century, and records about
three thousand volumes.

The monastery of St Mary's at York owned a library which was founded by
Archbishop Egbert. Egbert's pupil Alcuin, whom Charlemagne charged with
the care of the educational interests of his empire, soon after taking
up his residence at St Martin's at Tours, desired the emperor to send to
Britain for "those books which we so much need; thus transplanting into
France the flowers of Britain, that the garden of Paradise may not be
confined to York, but may send some of its scions to Tours."

Richard de Bury, the famous old book collector or bibliomaniac to whom
reference has already been made, bequeathed his books, which outnumbered
all other collections in this country, to the University of Oxford,
where they were housed in Durham College, which he had endowed. He has
left an interesting account of how he gathered his treasures, which may
fitly be quoted here. Aided by royal favour, he tells us, "we acquired a
most ample facility of visiting at pleasure and of hunting as it were
some of the most delightful coverts, the public and private libraries
both of the regulars and the seculars.... Then the cabinets of the most
notable monasteries were opened, cases were unlocked, caskets were
unclasped, and astonished volumes which had slumbered for long ages in
their sepulchres were roused up, and those that lay hid in dark places
were overwhelmed with a new light.... Thus the sacred vessels of science
came into the power of our disposal, some being given, some sold, and
not a few lent for a time." The embassies with which he was charged by
Edward III. gave him opportunity for hunting continental coverts also.
"What a rush of the flood of pleasure rejoiced our hearts as often as
we visited Paris, the paradise of the world!... There, in very deed,
with an open treasury and untied purse-strings, we scattered money with
a light heart, and redeemed inestimable books with dirt and dust."
Richard de Bury also furthered his collection by making friends of the
mendicant friars, and "allured them with the most familiar affability
into a devotion to his person, and having allured, cherished them for
the love of God with munificent liberality." The affability and
liberality of the good bishop attained their object, and the devoted
friars went about everywhere, searching and finding, and whenever he
visited them, placed the treasures of their houses at his disposal.
Although the mendicant orders were originally forbidden property of any
kind, this rule was afterwards greatly relaxed, especially as regards
books, and in Richard de Bury's time the friars had amassed large
libraries and were well-known as keen collectors.

In France it was not an uncommon practice for a monastery to levy a tax
on its members or its dependent houses for the increase of its library,
and in several houses it was customary for a novice to present writing
materials at his entry and a book at the conclusion of his novitiate. As
early as the close of the eleventh century Marchwart, Abbot of Corvey in
North Germany, made it a rule that every novice on making his profession
should add a book to the library.

The monastic libraries met their doom at the time of the Reformation and
of the suppression of the religious houses. Nearly all the books at
Oxford, including the gifts of Richard de Bury, were burnt by the mob,
and under Elizabeth the royal commissioners ordered the destruction of
all "capes, vestments, albes, missals, books, crosses, and such other
idolatrous and superstitious monuments whatsoever." Since those who
ought to have been more enlightened classed missals and books among
idolatrous and superstitious monuments, it is not to be wondered at that
the ignorant and undiscriminating mob should glory in their wanton
destruction. Books that escaped the fire or the fury of the mob were put
to various uses as waste paper. They were employed for "scouring
candlesticks and cleaning boots," for the wrapping up of the wares of
"grocers and soap-sellers," and were exported by shiploads for the use
of continental bookbinders. On the continent, too, fire, wars, plunder,
and suppression dispersed or destroyed many of the monastic collections.

A comparatively recent instance of book destruction caused by the fury
of the rabble is afforded by the great losses undergone by Bristol
Cathedral library in the riots which took place in connection with the
passing of the Reform Bill. The palace was set on fire, and the library,
which was lodged in the Chapter-house, was brought out and most of the
volumes hurled into the flames. Others were thrown into the river, into
ditches, and about the streets, and although about eleven hundred were
subsequently recovered from second-hand clothes dealers and marine
stores, only two copies and one set remained intact.

As a natural consequence of the revival of learning in the fourteenth
century, private libraries began to increase in size and in number, and
the collection of books was no longer left to monks and priests. King
John of France gathered a little library, some say of only twenty
volumes, which laid the foundation of the great Royal Library, now the
Bibliothèque Nationale. These he bequeathed to his son, Charles V., who
increased the number to nine hundred, for his known fondness for books
and reading obtained for him presentation volumes from many of his
subjects. His books included works of devotion, astrology, medicine,
law, history, and romance, with a few classical authors. Most of them
were finely written on vellum, and sumptuously bound in jewelled and
gold-bedecked covers. They were lodged in three rooms in the Louvre, in
a tower called "La Tour de la libraire." These rooms had wainscots of
Irish [bog?] oak, and ceilings of cypress "curiously carved." According
to Henault, the library of the Louvre was sent to England by the Duke of
Bedford while Regent of France, and only a few volumes afterwards found
their way back to Paris.

One of the finest libraries of this period was possessed by Philippe le
Bon, Duke of Burgundy. It contained nearly two thousand volumes, mostly
magnificent folios clothed in silk and satin, and ornamented with gold
and precious stones. Books were now the fashion, the fashionable
possessions, the fashionable gifts, among those who were wealthy enough
to afford them. Louis de Bruges, Seigneur de la Gruthyse, was another
famous collector, whose books were no less splendid in their size,
beauty and costliness, than those of the Duke of Burgundy. His
collection was afterwards added to the Royal Library, and some of its
treasures still exist in the Bibliothèque Nationale.

The rich and cultured of Italy were also busily collecting books and
forming libraries. A library was made by Cardinal Bessarion at a cost of
thirty thousand sequins, and afterwards became the property of the
church of St Mark at Venice. Venice already possessed a small collection
of books given to it by Petrarch, but the gift was so little thought of
that it lay neglected in the Palazzo Molina until some of the volumes
had crumbled to powder, and others had petrified, as it were, through
the damp.

Of English collectors of this period Richard de Bury was the most
famous. As has already been stated, he possessed the largest number of
books in the country, and these he bequeathed to the University of
Oxford. The Aungervyle Library, as it was called, was destroyed at the
Reformation. Guy de Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, also had a very fine
collection. He preferred romances, however, to theology or law, and his
library contained many such works. At his death he bequeathed it to the
Abbey of Bordesley, in Worcestershire.

The English kings had not as yet paid much attention to books. Eleven
are mentioned in the wardrobe accounts as belonging to Edward I., and
not until the time of Henry VII. was any serious consideration given to
the formation of the Royal Library.

Among the more famous continental book collectors of a later period were
Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, and Frederick, Duke of Urbino. The
library of the King of Hungary perhaps excelled all others in its size
and splendour. It is said to have contained nearly fifty thousand
volumes, but only a comparatively small number survived the barbarous
attack of the Turks, who stole the jewels from the bindings and
destroyed the books themselves. The Duke of Urbino's library was
scarcely less magnificent, and was distinguished by its completeness.
All obtainable works were represented, and no imperfect copies admitted.
The duke had thirty-four transcribers in his service.

After the monastic libraries had been destroyed, and when old ideas were
beginning to give place to new, the restrictions formerly placed on the
reading of the Scriptures by the people at large were withdrawn. In an
Injunction, dated 1559, Elizabeth ordered that the people were to be
exhorted to read the Bible, not discouraged, and she directed the clergy
to provide at the parish expense a book of the whole Bible in English
within three months, and within twelve months a copy of Erasmus'
Paraphrases upon the Gospels, also in English. These books were to be
set up in the church for the use and reading of the parishioners. The
chain is not mentioned in the Injunction, but was probably adopted as a
matter of course. Chained books in churches thus became common, and
besides the Bible, very generally included copies of Fox's _Book of
Martyrs_ and Jewel's _Apology for the Church of England_. The chained
books at St Luke's, Chelsea, consist of a Vinegar Bible, a Prayer Book,
the Homilies, and two copies of the _Book of Martyrs_.

The custom of chaining books, as we have seen, was followed in the
college libraries, and obtained also in church libraries in England and
on the continent. Among the still existing libraries whose books are
thus secured are those of Hereford Cathedral and Wimborne Minster in
England, and the church of St Wallberg at Zutphen, in Holland. The last,
however, was not always chained, and thereby hangs a tale. Once upon a
time the Devil, having a spite against the good books of which it was
composed, despoiled it of some of its best volumes. The mark of his
cloven hoof upon the flagged floor gave the clue to the identity of the
thief, whereupon the custodians of the books had them secured by chains
sprinkled with holy water, by which means the malice of the Evil One was
made of none effect.



The germs of the invention which, in spite of Carlyle's somewhat
slighting reference, has proved itself hardly less momentous in the
world's history than the conception of the idea of writing, are to be
found in the stamps with which the ancients impressed patterns or names
upon vases or other objects, or in the device and name-bearing seals
which were in common use among the nations of antiquity. But these
stamps and seals could be used only to impress some plastic material,
not to make ink or other marks upon paper; and for the first example of
printing, as we understand the word, we must look to China, where, it is
said, as early as the sixth century, A.D., engraved wooden plates were
used for the production of books. The Chinese, however, kept their
invention to themselves, or at any rate it spread no further than Japan,
until many years later; and although in the tenth century the knowledge
of printing was carried as far as Egypt, Europeans seem to have made the
discovery for themselves, quite independently of help from the East,
both as regards block-printing and the use of moveable type.

In Europe, as in China, the first printing was done by means of a block,
that is, a slab of wood on which the design was carved in relief, and
from which, when inked, an impression could be transferred to paper or
other material. This process is known as block-printing, and in Europe
was principally used for the production of illustrations, the text,
which came to be added later, being accessory and subordinate to the

The first European block-prints are pictures of saints, roughly printed
on a leaf of paper and usually rudely coloured. Heinecken, whose _Idée
general d'une Collection complette d'Estampes_ (1771) is still a
standard work, is of opinion that pictures of this class were first
executed by the old makers of playing-cards, and that the playing-cards
themselves were printed from wood and not drawn separately by hand. In
this case the cards should rank as the earliest examples of
block-printing, or wood-engraving. Heinecken has not been alone in
entertaining this opinion, but, on the other hand, there are some who
consider that the portraits represent the first woodcuts, and that the
early playing-cards were drawn and painted by hand.

The single-leaf portraits of saints were produced chiefly, or perhaps
solely, in Germany, and examples are now rare. It is curious that most
of those which have survived to the present day have been found in
German religious houses, pasted inside the covers of old books, and thus
shielded from the destruction to which their fragile nature rendered
them liable. One specimen, which has the reputation of being the
earliest extant with which a date can be connected, is the well-known St
Christopher, which represents the saint carrying the child Christ over a
stream, after an old legend. This specimen bears the date 1423, and was
discovered pasted in the cover of a mediæval manuscript in the monastery
at Buxheim, in Swabia, and is now in the John Rylands Library at
Manchester. The date, however, may be only that of the engraving of the
block, and not the year of printing. A theory was put forward by Mr
H. F. Holt, at the meeting of the British Archaeological Association in
1868, that this St Christopher, so far from being the earliest known
specimen of printing of any sort, belonged to a period subsequent to
the invention of typography, and that the date 1423 refers only to the
jubilee year of the saint, and not to the execution of the print. He
also held that the block-books, to which we refer below, were not the
predecessors of type-printed books, as they are usually considered to
be, but merely cheap substitutes for the costly works of the early
printers. But these theories, though not disproved, do not receive the
support of bibliographers in general.

Another early woodcut is the Brussels Print, which is in the Royal
Library at Brussels. It is ostensibly dated 1418, but although this date
is accepted by some, it has most probably been tampered with, and
therefore the position of the print is at least doubtful. It is of
Flemish origin, and represents the Virgin and Child, accompanied by SS.
Barbara, Catharine, Veronica and Margaret. Other prints exist which are
not dated, and it is quite possible that some of these may be older than
the St Christopher, though no definite statements as to their date can
be made. It is certain, however, that the art of block-printing was
known in the closing years of the fourteenth century, and that it was
practised thenceforward until about 1510, that is, some years after the
invention of typography. In many manuscripts of the period, printed
illustrations were inserted by means of blocks, either to save time, or
because the scribe's skill did not extend to drawings.

These early woodcuts were the forerunners of the better known
block-books, which also, according to Heinecken, were at first the work
of the card-makers. Block-books consisted of prints accompanied by a
descriptive or explanatory text, both text and illustration being
printed from the same block. Since they were intended for the moral
instruction of those whose education did not fit them for the study of
more elaborate works, they generally deal with Scriptural and religious
subjects. The earliest of all the block-books was the _Biblia Pauperum_,
or "Bible of the Poor," so called because it was designed for the
edification of persons of unlearned minds and light purses, who could
neither have afforded the high prices demanded for ordinary manuscript
copies, nor have read such copies had they owned them. The _Biblia
Pauperum_, however, exactly met their want. It is not so much a book to
read, as a book to look at. It has a text, it is true, but the text is
subordinate to the pictures.

The _Biblia Pauperum_ is on paper, as paper was cheaper than vellum and
considered quite good enough for the purpose. One side only of each leaf
was printed, two pages being printed from one block, and the sheets
folded once and arranged in sequence, not "quired" or "nested." The
resulting order was that of two printed pages face to face, followed by
two blank pages face to face. The illustrations are of scenes from
sacred history, and portraits of Biblical personages, accompanied by
explanatory Latin or German texts in Gothic characters. The original
designer and compiler of this favourite block-book is unknown, but he
certainly worked on lines laid down by some much older author and
artist, for manuscript works of similar nature existed at least as
early as the beginning of the fourteenth century. The earliest known
instance of a composition of the kind, however, is a series of enamels
on an antependium or altar-frontal in the St Leopold Chapel at
Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, which originally contained forty-five
pictures dealing with Biblical subjects, arranged in the same order as
in the _Biblia Pauperum_, and which were executed by Nicolas de Verdun,
in 1181. Some attribute the inception of the _Biblia Pauperum_ to
Ansgarius, first Bishop of Hamburg, in the ninth century, others to
Wernher, a German monk of the twelfth century, but it seems unlikely
that the point will ever be decided. The _Biblia Pauperum_ is usually
supposed to have been first printed xylographically in Holland, and
type-printed editions were issued later from Bamberg, Paris and Vienna.

To modern eyes the illustrations of this book are strange and wonderful
indeed. "The designer certainly had no thought of irreverence," says De
Vinne, "but many of the designs are really ludicrous. Some of the
anachronisms are: Gideon arrayed in plate-armour, with mediæval helmet
and visor and Turkish scimitar; David and Solomon in rakish,
wide-brimmed hats bearing high, conical crowns; the translation of
Elijah in a four-wheeled vehicle resembling the modern farmer's
hay-wagon. Slouched hats, puffed doublets, light legged breeches and
pointed shoes are seen in the apparel of the Israelites who are not
represented as priests or soldiers. Some houses have Italian towers and
some have Moorish minarets, but in none of the pictures is there an
exhibition of pointed Gothic architecture."


Our illustration gives a reduced representation of a page from the
second edition of the _Biblia Pauperum_, dating from about 1450. The
middle panel shows Christ rising from the tomb, and the wonder and fear
of the Roman guards; the left-hand panel shows Samson carrying off the
gates of the city of Gaza, and the right-hand panel the disgorging of
Jonah by the whale. The upper part of the text shows how that Samson and
Jonah were types of Christ, and the four little figures represent David,
Jacob, Hosea, and Siphonias (Zephaniah), the texts on the scrolls being
quotations from their words.

The accompanying rhymes are as follows:--

    Obsessus turbis: Sampson valvas tulit urbis.
    Quem saxum texit: ingens tumulum Jesus exit.
    De tumulo Christe: surgens te denotat iste.

    (In the midst of crowds, Samson removes the gates of the city. The
    anointed Jesus, whom the stone covered, rises from the tomb. This
    man [Jonah] rising from the tomb, denotes Thee, O Christ!)

Another very popular block-book, of German origin, was the curious
compilation known as _Ars Moriendi_--the Art of Dying--or, as it is
sometimes called, _Temptationes Demonis_, or Temptation of Demons. It
describes how dying persons are beset by all manner of temptations, the
final triumph of the good, and the sad end of the wicked, with suitable
emotions on the part of the attendant angels, and the hideous demons by
which the temptations are personified. This work was greatly in vogue in
the fifteenth century, and after the invention of type-printing was
reproduced in various parts of France, Italy, Germany and Holland.

The only block-book without illustrations was the _Donatus de octibus
partibus orationis_, or Donatus on the Eight Parts of Speech, shortly
known as Donatus. It was _the_ Latin grammar of the period, and was the
work of Donatus, a famous Roman grammarian of the fourth century. Large
numbers were printed both from blocks and from type, but xylographic
fragments are scarce, and none are known of any date before the second
half of the fifteenth century. Yet it is believed that probably more
copies of this work were printed than of any other block-book whatever.
Besides its lack of illustrations, the xylographic Donatus is unique
among block-books from the fact that it was printed on vellum and not on
paper, and (another unusual feature) on both sides of the leaf. Vellum
was dear, and had to be made the most of, and no doubt was used only
because a paper book would have fared badly at the hands of the

Only one block-book is known to have been printed in France, and that is
_Les Neuf Preux_, or the Nine Champions. The nine champions are divided
into three groups: first, classical heroes--Hector, Alexander and Julius
Cæsar; next, Biblical heroes--Joshua, David and Judas Maccabæus; and
lastly, heroes of romance--Arthur, Charlemagne and Godefroi of Boulogne.
The portraits of these celebrities are accompanied by verses. This
block-book dates from about 1455.

Other block-books were the _Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_, _the
Apocalypse of St John_, _the Book of Canticles_, _Defensorium Inviolatæ
Virginitatis Beatæ Mariæ Virginis_, _Mirabilia Romæ_; various German
almanacks, and a _Planetenbuch_, this last representing the heavenly
bodies and their influence on human life. The last of the block-books,
so far as is known, was the _Opera nova contemplativa_, which was
executed at Venice about 1510.

From one point of view the _Speculum Humanæ Salvationis_, or Mirror of
Salvation, is the most curious of its kind. It is looked upon as the
connecting link between block-books proper and type-printed books. Its
purpose seems to have been to afford instruction in the facts and
lessons of the Christian religion, beginning with the fall of Satan. It
is founded on an old and once popular manuscript work sometimes ascribed
to Brother John, a Benedictine monk of the thirteenth or fourteenth
century. Four so-called "editions" of the _Speculum_ are known, two of
which are in Latin rhyme, and two in Dutch prose, all four having many
points in common and standing apart from the later and dated editions
afterwards produced in Germany, Holland, and France.

In these early copies the body of the work consists of a text printed
from moveable types, with a block-printed illustration at the head of
each page. But one of the Latin editions is remarkable for having twenty
pages of the text printed from wood blocks. How and why these
xylographic pages appear in a book whose remaining forty-two pages are
printed from types is a mystery. They are inserted at intervals among
the other leaves, and for this and other reasons it is considered
improbable that they were printed from blocks originally intended for a
block-book, to help to eke out a not very plentiful stock of type.
Moreover, no entirely xylographic _Speculum_ exists to lend colour to
such a theory.

The time and place of origin of the _Speculum_ are unknown, and
bibliographers are not agreed as to the order in which the several
"editions" appeared. But such evidence as exists points to Holland as
the home of the printed _Speculum_, and those who believe that Coster of
Haarlem invented typography, credit him with having produced it.

Block-books are nearly all of German, Dutch, or Flemish workmanship. As
a rule the illustrations are roughly coloured by hand. The method by
which they were printed is generally supposed to have been that of
laying a dampened sheet of paper on the inked block, and rubbing it with
a dabber or frotton until the impression was worked up. But De Vinne, in
his _History of Printing_, says that there are practical reasons against
the correctness of this view, and considers it more probable that a rude
hand-press was used.

Those who wish to see some modern examples of block-printing may be
referred to the books printed by the late William Morris at the
celebrated Kelmscott Press at Hammersmith. The title-pages and initial
words of these volumes were executed by means of wood blocks, and are as
beautiful examples of block-printing as the texts of the works they
adorn are of typography. All the Kelmscott printing, whose history,
though most interesting, is nevertheless outside the present subject,
was done by hand presses.



The wood-block, however, was merely a stepping-stone to the greatest of
all events in the history of printing, the invention of moveable types;
that is, of letters formed separately, which, after being grouped into
words, and sentences, and paragraphs, could be redistributed and used
again for all sorts of books. Here once more our Chinese friends were
ahead of the rest of the world, for, more than four centuries before
German printers existed, Picheng, a Chinese smith, had shown his
countrymen how to print from moveable types made of burnt clay. But the
process which was to prove of such untold value to those who employed
the simple Roman alphabet was almost useless to the Chinese, since the
immense number of their characters rendered the older method the less
tedious and cumbersome of the two. In China and Japan, therefore, the
use of moveable types was of short duration. In Europe, however, when
the art of printing from moveable types once became known, the case was
very different.

Once upon a time, as a magnate of the city of Haarlem was walking in a
wood near the city, he idly cut some letters on the bark of a beech
tree. It then suddenly occurred to him that these letters might be
impressed upon paper; whereupon he made some impressions of them for the
amusement of his grandchildren. This, we have learned from our youth up,
is how the art of printing came to be discovered. But unfortunately,
this legend is not to be relied upon. As a matter of fact, the first
inventor of printing is unknown, and even as regards moveable types it
is impossible to say with absolute certainty when or by whom the idea
was first conceived. Daunon, in his _Analyse des Opinions diverses sur
l'origine de l'Imprimerie_, tells us that no less than fifteen towns
claim to be the birthplace of printing, and that a still larger number
of persons have been put forward as its inventors, from Saturn, Job, and
Charlemagne downwards. The arguments for or against the pretensions of
Saturn, Job, and Charlemagne, and, indeed, of the majority of the
personages whose names have been mentioned in this connection, do not
call for notice. For although the first printer is not known, many
believe that they can point him out with tolerable certainty, and in the
fierce battle which has raged round the question of the identity of the
inventor of moveable types, two names alone have been used as the
respective war-cries of the opposing armies. One is Johann Gutenberg of
Mentz, and the other, Laurenz Coster of Haarlem.

Although the balance of opinion is now, and always has been, in favour
of Gutenberg, the battle has been long and furious. The diligence of the
disputants in collecting data in support of their theories has been
equalled only by the vigour and ferocity with which some of their number
have maintained their opinions. Each side has charged the other with
forging evidence, and ink and abuse have been freely poured out in the
cause of typographical truth. Yet though sought for during several
centuries, no conclusive proof has been discovered by either side;
typographical truth remains in her well, and the identity of the
inventor of moveable types seems almost as hard to determine as that of
the man in the iron mask or the writer of the letters of Junius. The
partisans of Coster have been as eminent and as able as those of
Gutenberg, and thus the unlearned enquirer finds it difficult to declare
for one rather than the other, without investigating for himself all the
ins and outs of this involved subject. Even then, without some previous
bias in one or the other direction, he would probably find himself
halting between two opinions. Such an investigation is obviously out of
the question here, and even were it practicable it could hardly be
lipped that where so many doctors disagree our modest effort would
produce any valuable result. We shall therefore do no more than briefly
set forth some of the chief arguments on either side as fairly as may
be, but without attempting an exhaustive examination of the evidence,
first, however, declaring ourselves as followers of the majority and
partisans of Gutenberg, by way of sheet anchor.

Those who advocate the claims of Holland against Germany largely base
their belief on the existence of various printed books and fragments of
Dutch origin, undated, and affording no clue to the time and place at
which they were printed, or to their printer, whether Coster or another.
It is much more likely, they say, that these were the first rude
attempts at typography, and that they gave the idea to the Mentz
printers, who forthwith improved upon it, than that the Mentz printers
should have given the idea to the Dutch, who, so far from improving upon
it, produced these clumsy imitations of fine German work. And Mr
Hessels, who made a complete examination of the evidence in favour of
Gutenberg, was unable to say either that Gutenberg invented
type-printing, or that he did not invent it. On the other hand, "it is
certainly possible," say the writers of the _Guide to the British
Museum_, "that actual printing may have been previously executed in
Holland; although, to our minds, the improbability of the printers who
are asserted to have produced _Donatus_ and the _Speculum_ from moveable
types ten years before Gutenberg having produced nothing but the like
kind of work for nearly twenty years after him outweighs all the
arguments which have been advanced in support of their claim. It is at
all events certain that, without some very direct and positive evidence
on the other side, mankind will continue to regard Gutenberg as the
parent of the art, and Mainz as its birthplace."

Within recent years a claim for the honour of the invention has been put
forward on behalf of quite another part of the world. Some early
fifteenth century documents discovered at Avignon make unmistakable
references to printing, and not to xylography, and from them we learn
that Procopius Waldfoghel, a silver-smith of Prague, was engaged in
printing at Avignon in 1444, and had undertaken to cut a set of Hebrew
types for a Jew whom he had previously instructed in the art of
printing. No specimens of his work are known, and it is therefore
impossible to say exactly to what process these records refer, but it
has been conjectured that it may have been some method of stamping
letters from cut type, and not from cast type by means of a press.

Since Coster is the hero of the well-known story quoted above, and since
as regards our present purpose there is less to be said of him than of
Gutenberg, we will briefly recapitulate what is known about him, and the
foundations on which his fame as a typographer rests, before dealing
more at length with Gutenberg and the Mentz press.

It does not seem easy to account for the existence of what the partisans
of Gutenberg contemptuously term the Coster legend. It has been
conjectured, somewhat plausibly, that Haarlem's jealousy of the
superiority and fame of Mentz and its printers began very early, and
arose from the narrow vanity of those Haarlemers who imagined that the
first printing press in Haarlem must necessarily be the first printing
press in the world. However this may be, the legend arose, and waxed
strong, and many believed in it.

Laurenz Janssoen, or Coster, was born in Haarlem about 1370. He is said
to have held various high offices, such as sheriff, treasurer, officer
of the city guard, and especially that of Coster to the great church of
Haarlem. Coster means sacristan or sexton, but the position was one of
far greater honour than is now associated with it. But another account,
which is supported by all the available records, represents him as a
tallow-chandler, and subsequently as an innkeeper, and if he had
anything at all to do with the great church, it was only that he
supplied it with candles. But whether chandler or coster, nothing is
heard of him as a printer until 1568, more than a hundred years after
his alleged success in printing from types--in itself a strange fact,
since if Coster were the inventor, why were the Mentz printers allowed
to appropriate all the credit to themselves, unchallenged by Coster's
kinsfolk or countrymen, and supported by the opinions of sixty-two
writers, including Caxton, the chronicler Fabian, Trithemius, and the
compilers of the Cologne and Nuremberg chronicles? It is true that "few
sometimes may know when thousands err," but silence is no proof of
truth, and if Coster's representatives possessed the truth, how came
they to withhold it from a deluded world?

Although Coster is not named till 1568, the claims of Haarlem to be the
birthplace of printing had been put forward (for the first time) some
years earlier by Jan Van Zuyren in a work on the Invention of
Typography, of which only a fragment remains. The claims of Haarlem, he
says, "are at this day fresh in the remembrance of our fathers, to
whom, so to express myself, they have been transmitted from hand to hand
from their ancestors." Thus, though probably writing in all good faith,
Van Zuyren bases his statements on nothing better than tradition. "The
city of Mentz," he goes on to say, "without doubt merits great praise
for having been the first to publish to the world, in a becoming garb,
an invention which she received from us, for having perfected and
embellished an art as yet rude and imperfect.... It is certain that the
foundations of this splendid art were laid in our city of Haarlem,
rudely, indeed, but still the first."

Coornhert, an engraver, and a partner of Van Zuyren, repeats the same
statements, and on the same basis, in the preface to a translation of
Cicero which he published in 1561, but is acute enough to see that the
case for Haarlem is nearly hopeless. "I am aware," he says, "that in
consequence of the blameable neglect of our ancestors, the common
opinion that this art was invented at Mentz is now firmly established,
that it is in vain to hope to change it, even by the best evidence and
the most irrefragable proof." He proceeds to declare his conviction of
the justice of Haarlem's claim, because of "the faithful testimonies of
men alike respectable from their age and authority, who not only have
often told me of the family of the inventor, and of his name and
surname, but have even described to me the rude manner of printing first
used, and pointed out to me with their fingers the abode of the first
printer. And therefore, not because I am jealous of the glory of
others, but because I love truth, and desire to pay all tribute to the
honour of our city which is justly her due, I have thought it incumbent
upon me to mention these things." Yet it is strange that he did not
think it incumbent upon him to mention the name and surname of the
inventor, since he had been told them so often.

Hadrian Junius, said to have been the most learned man in Holland after
Erasmus, is the first to give to the world the fully-developed legend of
Coster. This he does in his _Batavia_, which was finished in 1568 and
published posthumously twenty years later. It is he who first mentions
Coster by name, and gives the story of the walk in the woods. He relates
how Coster devised block-printing, and calling in the help of his
son-in-law, Thomas Peter, produced the block-book _Speculum Humanæ
Salvationis_, and then advanced to types of wood, then to types of lead,
and finally to types of lead and tin combined. Prospering in his new
art, he engaged numerous workmen, one of whom, probably named Johann
Faust, as soon as he had mastered the process of printing and of casting
type, stole his master's types and other apparatus one Christmas Eve,
and fled to Amsterdam, thence to Cologne, and finally to Mentz. For all
this Junius also adduces no better authority than hearsay, but
nevertheless it is his statements which have brought Coster to the front
and given him such reputation as he now enjoys.

No books bearing Coster's name are known, though this in itself is no
argument against him, for the name of Gutenberg himself is not found in
any of his own productions. It is not only highly improbable that Coster
was the first printer, but also doubtful whether he printed anything at
all. But those who think otherwise consider that the idea of printing
occurred to him about 1428 or 1430, and that he executed, among other
books, the _Biblia Pauperum_, the _Speculum_, the _Ars Moriendi_, and

The people of Holland still retain their faith in Coster. Statues have
been erected, medals struck, tablets put up, and holidays observed in
his honour.



Johann or Hans Gutenberg was born at Mentz in or about the year 1400.
His father's name was Gensfleisch, but he is always known by his
mother's maiden name of Gutenberg or Gutemberg. It was customary in
Germany at that time for a son to assume his mother's name if it
happened that she had no other kinsman to carry it on. Of Gutenberg's
early life, of his education or profession, we know nothing. But we know
that his family, with many of their fellow-citizens, left Mentz when
Gutenberg was about twenty years of age, on account of the disturbed
state of the city. They probably went to Strasburg, but this is
uncertain. In 1430 Gutenberg's name appears among others in an amnesty,
granted to such of the Mentz citizens as had left the city, by the
Elector Conrad III., but apparently he continued to live in Strasburg.
Two years later he visited Mentz, probably about a pension granted by
the magistrates to his widowed mother. This is practically all that is
known of the earlier part of Gutenberg's life.

It is curious that nearly all the recorded information concerning
Gutenberg is in connection either with lawsuits or with the raising of
money. From the contracts for borrowing or repaying money into which he
entered, we gather that he was always hard pressed, and that his
invention ran away with a good deal of gold and paid back none.
Gutenberg cast his bread on the waters, and it is we who have found it.

The first known event of his life which directly concerns our subject is
a lawsuit brought against him by Georg Dritzehn. Mr Hessels implies,
though he does not actually state, that he suspects the authenticity of
the records of this trial. But no proof of their falsity can be adduced,
and the integrity of the documents otherwise remains unquestioned. They
cannot now, however, be subjected to further examination, for they were
burnt in 1870 at the time of the siege of Strasburg.

The action in question was brought against Gutenberg in 1439 by Georg
Dritzehn, the brother of one Andres Dritzehn, deceased, for the
restitution of certain rights which he considered due to himself as his
brother's heir. From the testimony of the witnesses as set down in the
records of the trial, we gather that Gutenberg had entered into
partnership with Hans Riffe, Andres Dritzehn, and Andres Heilmann; and
one of the witnesses deposed that Dritzehn, on his death-bed, asserted
that Gutenberg had concealed "several arts from them, which he was not
obliged to show them." This did not please them, so they made a fresh
arrangement with Gutenberg and further payments into the exchequer, to
the end that Gutenberg "should conceal from them none of the arts he

Again, Lorentz Beildeck testified that after Andres Dritzehn's death,
Gutenberg sent him to Claus, Andres' brother, to tell him "that he
should not show to anyone the press which he had under his care," but
that "he should take great care and go to the press and open this by
means of two little buttons whereby the pieces would fall asunder. He
should, thereupon, put those pieces in or on the press, after which
nobody could see or comprehend anything."

Besides this, Hans Niger von Bischoviszheim said that Andres Dritzehn
applied to him for a loan, and when witness asked him his occupation,
answered that he was a maker of looking-glasses. Later on, a pilgrimage
"to Aix-la-Chapelle about the looking-glasses" is mentioned.

By these records, from Mr Hessels' translation of which the above
quotations are taken, two things at least are made clear. First, that
Gutenberg was in possession of the knowledge of an art unknown to his
companions, which he was desirous of keeping to himself, and which those
not in the secret wished to learn; and secondly, that a press
containing some important and mysterious "pieces," which was not to be
exhibited to outsiders until the pieces had been separated, played a
prominent part in this secret work. The "looking-glasses," apparently,
were imaginary, and intended for the misleading of too curious
enquirers. But it has been ingeniously suggested that the word
_spiegel_, or looking-glass, was a cryptic reference to the _Spiegel
onser Behoudenisse_, or _Mirror of Salvation_, and that Gutenberg and
his assistants were engaged in preparing the printed _Speculum_ for sale
at the forthcoming fair held on the occasion of the pilgrimages to
Aix-la-Chapelle in 1439. This part of his plan, however, was frustrated
by the postponement of the fair for a year.

It is hardly to be doubted that the researches privately conducted in
the deserted convent of St Arbogastus, where Gutenberg dwelt, concerned
the great invention usually linked with his name. Were this probability
an absolute certainty, then Strasburg might successfully dispute with
Mentz the title of birthplace of the art of printing. But to what stage
Gutenberg carried his labours in the old convent, or how far he
proceeded towards the goal of his ambition, is not known, though it has
been conjectured that possibly he and those in his confidence got as far
as the making of matrices for types, and that perhaps even the types
used for the earliest extant specimens of type-printing were cast there,
although not used until Gutenberg had returned to Mentz. On the other
hand, there are many who think that matrices and punches are due to the
ingenuity of Peter Schoeffer, to whom reference is made below.

When Gutenberg left Strasburg for Mentz is not known, but he was in the
latter city in 1448, as is testified by a deed relating to a loan which
he had raised. His constant pecuniary difficulties resulted in his
entering into partnership, in 1450, with the goldsmith Johann Fust, or
Faust, a rich burgher of Mentz, who contributed large loans towards the
working expenses, and was evidently to share in the profits of the
press. Fust or Faust, the printer of Mentz, has sometimes been
identified with the Faust of German legend. The dealings in the black
art related of the one have also been ascribed to the other by various
story-tellers, some of whom say that in Paris Faust the printer narrowly
escaped being burnt as a wizard for selling books which looked like
manuscripts, and yet were not manuscripts. The first printed letters, it
should be observed, were exactly copied from the manuscript letters then
in vogue.

The first really definite recorded event in the history of Gutenberg's
printing was a lawsuit brought against him by Fust, in 1455, when
Gutenberg had to give an account of the receipts and expenditure
relating to his work, and to hand over to Fust all his apparatus in
discharge of his debt. The partnership was of course dissolved,
Gutenberg left Mentz, and Fust continued the printing assisted by Peter
Schoeffer. Schoeffer was a servant of Fust's, who had further associated
himself with the establishment by marrying Fust's daughter, and to him
some attribute the improvement of the methods then employed by devising
matrices and punches for casting metal types. It has even been suggested
that this device of his, communicated to Fust, induced the latter to rid
himself of Gutenberg by demanding repayment of his advances when
Gutenberg was unable to meet the call, and that having gained possession
of his partner's apparatus, he was able, with the help of Schoeffer and
his inventions, to carry on the work to his own profit and glory. But it
is difficult to know whether to look upon Fust as a grasping and
treacherous money-lender, or as a prudent and enterprising man of
business. However this may be, at the time of the lawsuit the work of
years was already perfected, printing with moveable types was now an
accomplished thing, and the great Mazarin Bible, if not finished, was at
any rate on the point of completion.

The earliest extant specimens of printing from types, however, are
assigned to the year 1454. These are some Letters of Indulgence issued
by Pope Nicholas V. to the supporters of the King of Cyprus in his war
with the Turks. They consist of single sheets of vellum, printed on one
side only, and measuring _c._ 11 x 7 inches. They fall into two classes,
of each of which there were various issues; that is to say, (1) those
containing thirty lines, and (2) those containing thirty-one lines. The
thirty-line Indulgence is printed partly in the type used for the
Mazarin Bible. The thirty-one-line Indulgence is partly printed in type
which is the same as that used for books printed by Albrecht Pfister at
Bamberg, and for a Bible which disputes with the Mazarin Bible the
position of the first printed book. Who printed these Indulgences is not
certainly known. Both emanated from the Mentz press, and it is not
unreasonable to believe that both were executed by Gutenberg, since the
Mazarin Bible is most probably his work, and since the types used by
Pfister were perhaps at one time possessed by Gutenberg. Still, the
point is not clear, and the more general view is that they were the work
of two different printers. Some attribute the thirty-line Indulgence to
Schoeffer, on the ground that some of its initial letters are reproduced
in an Indulgence of 1489 known to be of Schoeffer's workmanship. Yet
there seems no reason why Schoeffer in 1489 should not have made use of
Gutenberg's types--indeed, it is very probable that he had every chance
of doing so, as may be seen from the above account of the dissolution of
partnership between Gutenberg and Fust.

[Illustration: TYPE OF THE MENTZ INDULGENCE (30-line, _exact size_).]

Those who assign the thirty-line specimen to Schoeffer consider the
thirty-one-line specimen to be Gutenberg's work. "And though we have no
proof of this," says Mr E. Gordon Duff, who holds this view, "or indeed
of Gutenberg's having printed any book at all, there is a strong weight
of circumstantial evidence in his favour." It may be taken for granted,
then, although proof is wanting, that Gutenberg printed at least one of
these Indulgences, and perhaps both. In any case, these are the first
productions of the printing-press to which a definite date can be
assigned. Some of them have a printed date, and in other copies the date
has been inserted in manuscript. The earliest specimens of each class
belong to the year 1454.

The next production of the Mentz press, as is generally believed, is the
beautiful volume known as the Gutenberg Bible, or the Mazarin Bible,
because it was a copy in the library of Cardinal Mazarin which first
attracted attention and led bibliographers to enquire into its history.
It illustrates a most remarkable fact--that is, the extraordinary degree
of perfection to which the art of printing attained all but
simultaneously with its birth. Even though we cannot tell how long
Gutenberg experimented before producing this book, it is none the less
amazing that as a specimen of typographic art the Mazarin Bible has
never been excelled even by the cleverest printers and the most modern
and elaborate apparatus. It was probably not begun before 1450, the year
when Gutenberg and Fust joined forces, and was completed certainly not
later than 1456. This latter date is fixed by a colophon written in the
second volume of the copy in the Bibliothèque Nationale at Paris, which
informs us that "this book was illuminated, bound, and perfected by
Heinrich Cremer, vicar of the collegiate church of St Stephen in Mentz,
on the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, in the year of our
Lord 1456. Thanks be to God. Hallelujah." A similar note is affixed to
the first volume.

It is believed by competent authorities that this and all very early
printed books were printed one page at a time, owing to an inadequate
supply of type, a process exceedingly slow and productive of numerous
small variations in the text. The work of printing the Mazarin Bible was
in all probability interrupted to allow of the execution of the more
immediately needed Letters of Indulgence, in certain parts of which, as
we have said, some of the types used in the Mazarin Bible are employed.

We must not omit to mention here another Bible issued from Mentz about
this time. It has thirty-six lines to a column, and is therefore known
as the thirty-six line Bible, in distinction to the forty-two line or
Mazarin Bible. It exhibits a larger type, and is regarded by some as the
first book printed at the Mentz press, and, for all that can be proved
to the contrary, it is so. Although the point is still undecided, this
volume may at any rate be safely regarded as contemporary with the
Mazarin Bible.

[Illustration: PAGE FROM THE MAZARIN BIBLE (_reduced_).]

The Mazarin Bible is in Latin, and printed in the characters known as
Gothic, or black letter. These were closely modelled on the form of the
handwriting used at that time for Bibles and kindred works. It is in two
volumes, and each page, excepting a few at the beginning, has two
columns of forty-two lines, and each is provided with rubrics, inserted
by hand, while the small initials of the sentences have a touch of red,
also put in by hand. Some copies are of vellum, others of paper. But
henceforward the use of vellum declines.

[Illustration: TYPE OF THE MAZARIN BIBLE (_exact size_).]

The Mazarin Bible is usually considered to be the joint work of
Gutenberg and Fust. Mr Winter Jones has conjectured that the metal types
used in early printing were cut by the goldsmiths, and that Fust's
skill, as well as his money, were pressed into Gutenberg's service. But
if, as some have thought, Fust provided money only, while Gutenberg was
the working partner, then Fust would hardly have been concerned in its
actual production until 1455, when he and Gutenberg separated. Even
then--supposing the book to have been still unfinished--it is quite
possible that Schoeffer did the work. But no one is able to decide the
exact parts played by those three associated and most noted printers of
Mentz; conjecture alone can allot them.

Gutenberg returned to Mentz in 1456, and made a fresh start, aided
financially by Dr Conrad Homery. Here again we are confronted with a
want of direct evidence, and can point to no books as certainly being
the work of Gutenberg. But there are good reasons for believing that
under this new arrangement he printed the _Catholicon_, or Latin grammar
and dictionary, of John of Genoa; the _Tractatus racionis et
conscientiæ_ of Matthæus de Cracovia; _Summa de articulis fidei_ of
Aquinas; and an Indulgence of 1461. There is a colophon to the
_Catholicon_ which may possibly have been written by Gutenberg, which
runs as follows:--

"By the assistance of the Most High, at Whose will the tongues of
children become eloquent, and Who often reveals to babes what He hides
from the wise, this renowned book, the _Catholicon_, was printed and
perfected in the year of the Incarnation 1460, in the beloved city of
Mentz (which belongs to the illustrious German nation, whom God has
consented to prefer and to raise with such an exalted light of the mind
and free grace, above the other nations of the earth), not by means of
reed, stile, or pen, but by the admirable proportion, harmony, and
connection of the punches and types." A metrical doxology follows.

A few other and smaller works have also been believed to have been
executed by Gutenberg at this time, but with no certainty.

In 1465 Gutenberg was made one of the gentlemen of the court to
Adolph II., Count of Nassau and Archbishop of Mentz, and presumably
abandoned his printing on acceding to this dignity. In 1467 or 1468
Gutenberg died, and thus ends the meagre list of facts which we have
concerning the life and career of the first printer.

To nearly every question which we might wish to ask about Gutenberg and
his work, one of two answers has to be given--"It is not known," or
"Perhaps." He does not speak for himself, and none of his personal
acquaintance, or his family, if he had any, speak for him. We have no
reason to believe that his work brought him any particular honour, and
certainly it brought him no wealth. It has been suggested, however, that
the post offered to him by the Archbishop was in recognition of his
invention, since there is no other reason apparent why the dignity was
conferred. But we may well conclude this account of Gutenberg with De
Vinne's words, that "there is no other instance in modern history,
excepting, possibly, Shakespeare, of a man who did so much and said so
little about it."

Fust, the former partner of Gutenberg, died in 1466, leaving a son to
succeed him in the partnership with Schoeffer, and Schoeffer died about
1502. Of his three sons (all printers), the eldest, Johann, continued to
work at Mentz until about 1533.

The most notable books issued by Fust and Schoeffer were the Psalter of
1457, and the Latin Bible of 1462. The Bible of 1462 is the first Bible
with a date. The Psalter of 1457 is famous as being the first printed
Psalter, the first printed book with a date, the first example of
printing in colours, the first book with a printed colophon, and the
first printed work containing musical notes, though these last are not
printed but inserted by hand.[2] The colour printing is shown by the red
and blue initials, but by what process they were executed has been the
subject of much discussion. They are generally supposed to have been
added after the rest of the page had been printed, by means of a stamp.
The colophon is written in the curious Latin affected by the early
printers, and Mr Pollard offers the following as a rough rendering:--

"The present book of Psalms, adorned with beauty of capitals, and
sufficiently marked out with rubrics, has been thus fashioned by an
ingenious invention of printing and stamping, and to the worship of God
diligently brought to completion by Johann Fust, a citizen of Mentz, and
Peter Schoffer of Gernsheim, in the year of our Lord, 1457, on the Vigil
of the Feast of the Assumption."

  [2] The first printed musical notes appear in de Gerson's
  _Collectorium super Magnificat_, printed at Esslingen in 1473 by
  Conrad Fyner.

These two printers also produced, in 1465, an edition of the _De
Officiis_ of Cicero, which shares with the _Lactantius_, printed in the
same year at Subiaco, near Rome, by Sweynheim and Pannartz, the honour
of exhibiting to the world the first Greek types, and with the same
printers' Cicero _De Oratore_, that of being the first printed Latin
classic, unless an undated _De Officiis_, printed at Cologne by Ulrich
Zel about this time, is the real "first."



Wherever typography originated, it was from Mentz that it was taught to
the world. The disturbances in that city in 1462 drove many of its
citizens from their homes, and the German printers were thus dispersed
over Europe. Within a little more than twenty years from the time of the
first issue from the Mentz printing-press, other presses were
established at Strasburg, Bamberg, Cologne, Augsburg, Nuremberg,
Spires, Ulm, Lubeck, and Breslau; Basle, Rome, Venice, Florence, Naples,
and many other Italian cities; Paris and Lyons; Bruges; and, in 1477, at

Before the end of the fifteenth century eighteen European countries were
printing books. Italy heads the list with seventy-one cities in which
presses were at work, Germany follows with fifty, France with
thirty-six, Spain with twenty-six, Holland with fourteen; and after
these England's four printing-places--Westminster, London, Oxford, and
St Albans--make a somewhat small show. Some other countries, however,
had but one printing-town. With the possible exception of Holland,
England and Scotland are the only countries which are indebted to a
native and not (as in every case save that of Ireland) to a German for
the introduction of printing.

The early printers were more than mere workmen. They were usually
editors and publishers as well. Some of them were associated with
scholars who did the editorial work: Sweynheim and Pannartz, for
instance, the first to set up a press in Italy, had the benefit of the
services of the Bishop of Aleria, and their rival, Ulric Hahn, enjoyed
for a while the assistance of the celebrated Campanus. Aldus Manutius,
too, the founder of the Aldine press at Venice, though himself a
literary man and a learned editor, availed himself of the help of
several Greek scholars in the revising and correcting of classical
texts. The exact relations of these editors to the printers, however,
is not known. The English printer, Caxton, who also was a scholar,
usually, though not invariably, edited his publications himself.

The first printers were also booksellers, and sold other people's books
as well as their own. Several of their catalogues or advertisements
still exist. The earliest known book advertisements are some issued by
Peter Schoeffer, one, dating from about 1469, giving a list of
twenty-one books for sale by himself or his agents in the several towns
where he had established branches of his business, and another
advertising an edition of St Jerome's _Epistles_ published by Schoeffer
at Mentz in 1470. An advertisement by Caxton is also extant, and being
short, as well as interesting, may be quoted here. It is as follows:--

    If it plese ony man spirituel or temporel to bye ony pyes,[3] of two
    and thre comemoracios of salisburi vse enpryntid after the forme of
    this preset lettre whiche ben wel and truly correct, late hym come
    to westmonester in to the almonesrye at the reed pale and he shal
    haue them good chepe.

                         Supplico stet cedula.

  [3] The Pye, or Pica, directed how saints'-days falling in Lent,
  Easter, Whitsuntide, and the octave of Trinity, were to be observed
  with respect to the "commemorations" of these seasons.

The date of this notice is about 1477 or 1478. Other extant examples of
early advertisements are those of John Mentelin, a Strasburg printer,
issued about 1470, and of Antony Koburger, of Nuremberg, issued about
ten years later. In 1495 Koburger advertised the Nuremberg Chronicle.

Early printed books exhibit a very limited range of subject, and were
hardly ever used to introduce a new contemporary writer. Theology and
jurisprudence in Germany, and the classics in Italy, inaugurated the new
invention, and lighter fare was not served to the patrons of printed
literature until a later date. Italy made the first departure, and took
up history, romance, and poetry. France began with the classics, and
then neglected them for romances and more popular works, but at the same
time became noted for the beautifully illuminated service-books produced
at Paris and Rouen, and which supplied the clergy of both France and
England. England, who received printing twelve years after Italy and
seven years after France, made more variety in her books than any.
Caxton's productions consist of works dealing with subjects of wider
interest, even if less learned and improving--romances, chess, good
manners, _Æsop's Fables_, the _Canterbury Tales_, and the _Adventures of
Reynard the Fox_.

From what sort of type the Bible usually considered to be the first
printed book was produced is not known. Some competent authorities think
that wooden types were used. Others are in favour of metal, and like the
late Mr Winter Jones, scout the notion of wooden types and consider them
"impossible things." But Skeen, in his _Early Typography_, declares that
hard wood would print better than soft lead, such as Blades hints that
Caxton's types were made of, and to illustrate the possibility of wooden
types prints a word in Gothic characters from letters cut in boxwood.
The objections made to types of this nature are that they would be too
weak to bear the press, could never stand washing and cleaning, and
would swell when wet and shrink when dried. Some have thought that the
early types were made by stamping half-molten metal with wooden punches,
and so forming matrices from which the types were subsequently cast.

As we have already noticed in connection with the Mazarin Bible, the
forms of the types were copied from the Gothic or black letter
characters in which Bibles, psalters, and missals were then written.
When Roman type was first cut is uncertain. The "R" printer of
Strasburg, whose name is unknown, and whose works are dated only by
conjecture, may have been the first to use it. It was employed by
Sweynheim and Pannartz in 1467, and by the first printers in Paris and
Venice. It was brought to the greatest perfection by Nicolas Jenson, a
Frenchman working in Venice. Caxton never employed it, and it was not
introduced into England until 1509. In that year Richard Pynson, a
London printer and a naturalised Englishman, though Norman by birth,
used some Roman type in portions of the _Sermo Fratris Hieronymi de
Ferrara_, and in 1518 he produced _Oratio Ricardi Pacaei_, which was
entirely printed in these characters.

Had the idea of the title-page, in the modern sense of the term, a very
obvious idea, as it seems to us, occurred to the first printers, we
should not have to sharpen our wits on the hundred and one doubtful
points with which the subject of early bibliography bristles. To-day,
the title-page not only introduces the book itself, but declares the
name of the writer and the publisher, and the time and place of
publication. But during the first sixty years of printing title-pages
were rare, and the old methods followed by the scribes in writing their
manuscript books still obtained. The subject matter began with "Incipit"
or "Here beginneth," etc., according to the language in which the work
was written, and such information as the printer considered it desirable
to impart was contained in the colophon, or note affixed to the end of
the book.

More often than not these colophons are irritatingly reticent, and
withhold the very thing we want to know. At other times they are
informing, and in some cases amusing. Dr Garnett has suggested that as a
literary pastime some one might do worse than collect fifteenth-century
colophons into a volume, for the sake of their biographical and personal
interest, but I am not aware that his idea has been carried out. Two
colophons have already been quoted here, the first printed colophon (see
p. 103) and one which is possibly from the pen of Gutenberg (see
p. 101). A quaint specimen found in a volume of Cicero's _Orationes
Philippicæ_, printed at Rome by Ulrich Hahn, about 1470, descends to
puns. It is in Latin verse, and supposed by some to have been written by
Cardinal Campanus, who edited several of Hahn's publications. It informs
the descendants of the Geese who saved the Capitol, that they need have
no more fear for their feathers, for the art of Ulrich the _Cock_
(German _Hahn_ = Latin _Gallus_ = English _Cock_) will provide a potent
substitute for quills. A colophon to Cicero's _Epistolæ Familiares_,
printed at Venice in 1469 by Joannes de Spira, declares with pardonable
pride that he had printed two editions of three hundred copies in four

The first book with any attempt at a title-page is the _Sermo ad Populum
Predicabilis_, printed at Cologne in 1470 by Arnold Therhoernen, but a
full title-page was not generally adopted till fifty years later. The
first English title-page is very brief, and reads as follows:--

    A passing gode lityll boke necessarye & behouefull agenst the

This gode lityll boke, written by Canutus, Bishop of Aarhaus, was
printed in London about 1482 by Machlinia. A later development of the
title-page was a full-page woodcut, headed by the name of the work, as
in the =Kynge Richarde cuer du lyon=, printed in 1528 by Wynkyn de
Worde. The same woodcut does duty in another of the same printer's books
for Robert the Devil.

Early title-pages in Latin sometimes render the names of familiar places
of publication in a very unfamiliar form. London may appear as Augusta
Trinobantum, Edinburgh as Aneda, Dublin as Eblana. Some towns are easily
recognised by their Latin names, such as Roma or Venetiæ; others are
less obvious, such as Moguntia, or Mentz; Lutetia, or Paris; Argentina,
or Strasburg. Several places had more than one Latin form of name.
London, for example, was also Londinum, and Edinburgh, Edemburgem.

Pagination, or numbering of the pages, was first introduced by Arnold
Therhoernen, in the same book in which he gives us the first title-page,
and to which reference has already been made. He did not place the
figures at the top corner, however, but in the centre of the right hand

The practice of printing the first word of a leaf at the foot of the
leaf preceding, as a guide for the arrangement of the sheets, was first
employed by Vindelinus de Spira, of Venice, in the _Tacitus_ which he
printed about 1469.



The new invention found more favour in Italy than in any other country,
for more presses were established there than anywhere else. The
printers, however, were all Germans, and before 1480 about 110 German
typographers were at work in twenty-seven Italian cities. They kept the
secrets of their trade well to themselves, and not till 1471 was any
printing executed by an Italian. In May of that year the _De Medicinis
Universalibus_ of Mesua was executed at Venice by Clement of Padua, who
accomplished the truly wonderful feat of teaching himself how to print.
Another Italian, Joannes Phillipus de Lignamine, printed at Rome some
time before July 26, 1471, and it is therefore uncertain whether he or
Clement of Padua was the first native printer of Italy.

The first press established in Italy was that set up in the Benedictine
monastery of St Scholastica at Subiaco, a few miles from Rome, by two
German typographers, Conrad Sweynheim and Arnold Pannartz. There they
issued Cicero's _De Oratore_ in 1465, the first book printed in Italy.
In their petition to the Pope, referred to below, they say that they
had printed a _Donatus_, presumably before the Cicero, but no such work
is known, and some have thought it was only a block-book. In the same
year they issued the works of Lactantius, "the Christian Cicero," the
first dated book executed in Italy. It is also one of the earliest books
to adopt a more elaborate punctuation than the simple oblique line and
full stop in general use. The _Lactantius_ has a colon, full stop, and
notes of admiration and interrogation. Both these books are printed in a
pleasing type which is neither Gothic nor Roman, but midway between the

[Illustration: TYPE OF THE SUBIACO LACTANTIUS (_exact size._)]

Two years later Sweynheim and Pannartz removed to Rome, where their
countryman, Ulric Hahn, was already at work, and prosecuted their
business with so much energy, and apparently so little prudence or
regard to the works of other printers, that at the end of five years
they had printed no less than 12,475 sheets which they could not sell,
and were in such financial straits that they petitioned the Pope for
assistance for themselves and their families. Whether they obtained it
is unknown, but the partnership was soon after dissolved, and the name
of Pannartz alone appears in books of 1475 and 1476. When these two
printers died is uncertain.

Venice was the next city of Italy to take up the new art. There, in
1469, Joannes de Spira, or John of Spires, executed Cicero's _Epistolæ
ad Familiares_. He obtained a privilege from the Venetian Senate with
regard to his productions, and, more than that, a monopoly of
book-printing in Venice for five years. He died, however, less than a
year later, and his monopoly with him. His brother Vindelinus carried on
his work, and was succeeded by Nicolas Jenson, a Frenchman, who, from a
technical point of view, was perhaps the most skilful and artistic of
early typographers.

The most famous printer of Venice, however, and the most famous printer
of Italy, and perhaps of the world, is Aldus Manutius, born in 1450, but
his fame rests less on his actual printing, which, though good, is not
unequalled, than upon the efforts he made for popularising literature,
and bringing cheap, yet well-produced books within the reach of the
many. He saw that the works printed in such numbers by the Venetian
printers, who paid attention to quantity and cheapness and altogether
ignored the quality of their productions, were faulty and corrupt, and
that textually as well as typographically there was room for
improvement. He applied himself to the study of the classics, above all
to the Greek, hitherto neglected or published through Latin
translations, and secured the assistance of many eminent scholars, and
then, having obtained good texts, turned his thoughts to type and
format. The types he cast for his first book, Lascaris' _Greek Grammar_,
were superior to the Greek types then in use. Next he designed a new
Roman type, modelled, so it is said, upon the handwriting of Petrarch.
It called forth admiration, and won fame under the name of the "Aldino"
type. Its use has continued to the present day, and it is known to
almost everyone as _Italic_. It was cut by Francesco de Bologna, who
was probably identical with Francesco Raibolini, that painter-goldsmith
who signed himself on his pictures as _Aurifex_, and on his gold-work as

The advantage of the Aldino type, at the time of its invention, when
type was large and required a comparatively great deal of space, was
that its size and form permitted the printed matter to be much
compressed, while losing nothing in clearness. The book for which it was
used could be made smaller, and printed more cheaply. In 1501 Aldus
inaugurated his new type by issuing a _Virgil_ printed throughout in
"Aldino." It occupied two hundred and twenty-eight leaves, and was of a
neat and novel shape, measuring just six by three and a half inches.
This book, which was sold for about two shillings of our money, marks
Aldus as the pioneer of cheap literature--literature not for the wealthy
alone, but for all who loved books. A proof of the popularity of the new
departure is afforded by the fact that the _Virgil_ was immediately
forged, that is to say, reproduced in a number of exceedingly inferior
copies, by an unknown printer of Lyons.

[Illustration: TYPE OF THE ALDINE VIRGIL, 1501 (_exact size._)]

The Aldine mark, which appears on Aldus' edition of Dante's _Terze Rime_
in 1502, and on nearly all the numerous works subsequently issued from
this famous press, is a dolphin twined about an anchor, and the name
ALDVS divided by the upper part of the anchor. This device continued to
be used after the death of Aldus Manutius in 1515 by his descendants,
who carried on the work of the press until 1597.

France was somewhat late in availing herself of the advantages offered
by the new art, although Peter Schoeffer had had a bookseller's shop in
Paris. In 1470, Guillaume Fichet, Rector of the Sorbonne, invited three
German printers--Ulric Gering, Michael Friburger and Martin Cranz--to
come and set up a printing-press at the Sorbonne. The first work they
produced there was the _Epistolæ_ of Gasparinus Barzizius. For this and
a few other volumes they used a very beautiful Roman type, but after the
closing of the Sorbonne press in 1472 they established other presses
elsewhere in Paris and adopted a Gothic character similar to that of the
contemporary French manuscripts, and therefore more likely to be popular
with French readers.

The first work printed in the French language, however, is believed to
have been executed, chiefly, at any rate, by an Englishman, probably at
Bruges, five years later, that is, about 1476. The book was _Le Recueil
des Histoires de Troyes_, the Englishman was William Caxton. Caxton also
printed at the same place, and about the year 1475, the first book in
the English language--a translation of _Le Recueil_. In both these works
he may have been assisted by Colard Mansion, believed by some to have
been his typographical tutor, though so eminent an authority as Mr
Blades holds that _Le Recueil_ was printed by Mansion alone, and that
Caxton had no hand in it. As with so many other questions concerning
early typography, there seems to be no means of deciding the point.

The first work in French which was issued in Paris was the _Grands
Chroniques de France_, printed by Pasquier Bonhomme in 1477.

Holland and the Low Countries can show no printed book with a date
earlier than 1473, while the celebrated city of Haarlem's first dated
book was produced ten years later. But printing was very possibly
practised in these countries at an earlier period, and some undated
books exist which those who ascribe the invention of typography to
Holland consider to have been executed by Dutch printers before any
German books had been given to the world. Those who stand by Germany of
course think otherwise.

In the year just named--1473--Nycolaum Ketelaer and Gerard de Leempt
produced Peter Comestor's _Historia Scholastica_ at Utrecht, and Alost
and Louvain also started printing. The types of John Veldener, the first
Louvain printer, have a great resemblance to those used by Caxton, and
have led some to believe that Veldener supplied Caxton with the types he
first used at Westminster. About the same time, Colard Mansion, noted
for his association either as teacher or assistant with Caxton, is
supposed to have introduced printing into Bruges. His first dated book
was a _Boccaccio_ of 1476, and he continued to print until 1484, when he
issued a fine edition, in French, of Ovid's _Metamorphoses_. After this
nothing more is known of him. Blades thinks that his printing brought
him financial ruin, and suggests that he may have joined his old friend
Caxton at Westminster, and helped him in his work, but this is only
conjecture. We have already seen that it was from Colard Mansion's press
that the first printed books in the English and French languages were

The first Brussels press was established by the Brethren of the Common
Life, a community who had hitherto made a speciality of the production
of manuscript books. At what date they began to print in Brussels is
uncertain, but their first dated book, the _Gnotosolitos sive speculum
conscientiae_, is of the year 1476. The Brethren also had an earlier
press at Marienthal, near Mentz, and subsequently set up others at
Rostock, Nuremberg, and Gouda.

The Elzevirs belong to a somewhat later period than that with which we
are concerned in these chapters, but a name so famous in
bibliographical annals as theirs cannot well be passed over. The first
of the Elzevirs was Louis, a native of Louvain, who in 1580 established
a book-shop in Leyden, gained the patronage of the university, and
opened an important trade with foreign countries. Certain of his sons
and successors became printers as well as booksellers, and produced work
of the highest excellence. Some of them opened shops or set up presses
at Amsterdam, The Hague, and Utrecht, and also established agencies or
branches elsewhere, and extended their trade all over Europe. The
history of the partnerships between different members of the family, and
of the sixteen hundred and odd publications which they printed or sold,
is a complicated subject upon which there is no need to enter here. The
last of the Elzevirs, a degenerate great-great-grandson of the first
Louis Elzevir, was Abraham Elzevir of Leyden, who died in 1712, leaving
no heir, and at whose decease the press and apparatus were sold.



The first name on the list of early English printers, it is hardly
necessary to say, is that of Caxton. In his _Life and Typography of
William Caxton_, the late Mr Blades has told all there is to be known of
Caxton's life, and a great deal about Caxton's work; and although as
regards the latter half of the subject there are authorities who dissent
from some of the theories he advances, Mr Blades' monograph remains the
standard work on the matter of England's first printer and the
recognised source of information concerning him and his books.

But notwithstanding Mr Blades' industry and learning, our knowledge of
the early part of Caxton's life is very scanty, and is derived mainly
from what Caxton himself tells us in the prologue to his first literary
production, the English translation of the French romance by Le Fevre,
entitled _Le Recueil des Histoires de Troyes_, or, Anglicised, _The
Recuyell of the Histories of Troye_. Speaking of his boldness in
undertaking the work, he refers to the "symplenes and vnperfightness
that I had in both langages, that is to wete in frenshe and in englissh,
for in france was I neuer, and was born & lerned myn englissh in kente
in the weeld where I doubte not is spoken as brode and rude englissh as
is in ony place of englond." He was born probably in 1422 or 1423, and
further than this we know nothing of him till his apprenticeship to
Robert Large, a London mercer. Large died before Caxton's term of
apprenticeship expired, and the next we hear of young Caxton is that he
was living on the Continent, probably at Bruges. At the time he wrote
the prologue from which quotation has just been made, that is about
1475, he had been for thirty years "for the most parte in the contres of
Braband, flanders, holand, and zeland." Yet notwithstanding so long a
residence in the Low Countries, he describes himself as "mercer of ye
cyte of London."

As a wool merchant in Bruges he prospered, and in time rose to be
Governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers, or "The English
Nation," and in that capacity probably dwelt at the _Domus Angliæ_, the
Company's headquarters in Bruges. In 1468, and while holding this
honourable and important position, he began his translation of _Le
Recueil_, but soon laid it aside, unfinished. Two years later he took it
up again, but by this time he had resigned the governorship, and was
engaged in the service of the Duchess of Burgundy, sister of Edward IV.
of England. When or why he took this position, and in what capacity he
served the Duchess, is not known, but it was her influence which brought
about the completion of his literary work and indirectly caused the
subsequent metamorphosis of the mercer into the typographer. In the
prologue to _The Recuyell_ he relates that the duchess commanded him to
finish the translation which he had begun, and this lady's "dredefull
comandement," he says, "y durste in no wyse disobey because y am a
servant vnto her sayde grace and resseiue of her yerly ffee and other
many goode and grete benefetes."

_The Recuyell of the Histories of Troye_, when finished, immediately
found favour in the eyes of the English dwellers in Bruges, who,
rejoiced to have the favourite romance of the day in their own tongue,
demanded more copies than one pair of hands could supply. So because of
the weariness and labour of writing, and because of his promise to
various friends to provide them with the book, "I haue practysed &
lerned," he tells us, "at my grete charge and dispense, to ordeyne this
said book in prynte after the maner & forme as ye may here see, and is
not wreton with penne and ynke, as other bokes ben, to thende that every
man may haue them attones."

Where Caxton gained his knowledge of printing is a matter of dispute. Mr
Blades holds that he was taught by Colard Mansion, the first printer of
Bruges, others that he learned at Cologne. Mr Blades adduces in support
of his view the similarity of the types of Mansion and Caxton, the
reproduction in Caxton's work of various peculiarities to be observed in
Mansion's, the improbability that Caxton would have travelled to Cologne
to get what was already at hand in the city where he lived, and the
absence in his work "of any typographical link between him and the Mentz
school." For the Cologne theory Wynkyn de Worde, who carried on the work
of Caxton's printing-office at Westminster after the latter's death,
supplies some foundation in his edition of Bartholomæus _De
Proprietatibus Rerum_, where he says:

    "And also of your charyte call to remembraunce
    The soule of William Caxton, the first prynter of this boke
    In laten tongue at Coleyn, hymself to avaunce,
    That every well-disposed man may thereon loke."

As usual there is something to be said on both sides, but leaving this
debateable ground we will only add that the _Recuyell of the Histories
of Troye_, translated by himself from the French, is generally
considered to be the first book printed by Caxton, perhaps with
Mansion's help, and probably at Bruges, and in or about the year 1475.
It is also the first printed book in English. It was followed about 1476
by the French version of the same work, and by the famous _Game and Play
of the Chesse Moralised_. This was once believed to be the first book
printed on English soil, but it is now assigned to Caxton's press on the
Continent, probably at Bruges.

About 1476 Caxton returned to England, and set up his press at
Westminster. It has been asserted that he worked in the scriptorium, but
it is not known that Westminster Abbey ever had a scriptorium. Others
have thought that he printed in some other part of the Abbey. His
office, however, was situated in the Almonry, in the Abbey precincts,
and was called the Red Pale, but it is now impossible to identify the
place where it stood. In 1477 Caxton produced _The Dictes or Sayengis of
the Philosophres_, the first book, so far as is known, ever printed in

WESTMINSTER, 1477 (_exact size._)]

The Westminster printer was patronised by the king and by the mighty of
the land, and also by the Duchess of Burgundy, and with his pen, as well
as with his press, he sought to supply the books and literature which
the taste of the time demanded. "The clergy wanted service-books," says
Mr Blades, "and Caxton accordingly provided them with psalters,
commemorations and directories; the preachers wanted sermons, and were
supplied with the 'Golden Legend,' and other similar books; the
'prynces, lordes, barons, knyghtes & gentilmen' were craving for 'joyous
and pleysaunt historyes' of chivalry, and the press at the 'Red Pale'
produced a fresh romance nearly every year." From his arrival at
Westminster about 1476 until his death about 1491--the date is not
exactly known--Caxton was continually occupied in translating, editing,
and printing, though beyond the prologues, epilogues, and colophons to
his various publications he composed little himself, his principal work
being the addition of a book to Higden's _Polychronicon_, bringing that
history down to 1460. His translations number twenty-two.

The long list of his printed works includes a _Horæ_, printed about
1478, and now represented only by a fragment, which is of great interest
as being probably the earliest English-printed service-book extant. It
was found in the cover of another old book, and is now in the Bodleian

Other books printed by Caxton were the _Canterbury Tales_; _Boethius_;
_Parvus et Magnus Catho_, a mediæval school-book, the third edition of
which contains two woodcuts, probably the earliest produced in England;
_The Historye of Reynart the Foxe_, translated from the Dutch by Caxton;
_A Book of the Chesse Moralysed_, a second edition of the _Game and Play
of the Chesse_, printed by Caxton abroad; _The Cronicles of Englond_;
_The Pylgremage of the Sowle_, believed to have been translated from the
French by Lydgate; Gower's _Confessio Amantis_; _The Knyght of the
Toure_, translated by Caxton from the French; _The Golden Legend_,
consisting of lives of saints compiled by Caxton from French and Latin
texts; _The Fables of Esope_, etc., translated by Caxton from the
French; Chaucer's _Book of Fame_; _Troylus and Creside_; Malory's _Morte
d'Arthur_; _The Book of Good Manners_, translated by Caxton from the
French of Jacques Legrand; _Statutes of Henry VII._, in English, the
"earliest known volume of printed statutes"; _The Governal of Helthe_,
from the Latin, author and translator unknown, the "earliest medical
work printed in English"; _Divers Ghostly Matters_, including tracts on
the seven points of true love and everlasting wisdom, the Twelve Profits
of Tribulation, and the Rule of St Benet; _The Fifteen Oes and other
Prayers_, printed by command of "our liege ladi Elizabeth ... Quene of
Englonde, and of the ... pryncesse Margarete," and the "prouffytable
boke for mannes soule and right comfortable to the body and specyally
in aduersitee and trybulacyon, whiche boke is called _The Chastysing of
Goddes Chyldern_."

Between seventy and eighty different books, besides indulgences and
other small productions, are attributed to Caxton's press, and the works
just named will serve to give an idea of their diversity and range. Some
of the most popular were printed more than once; of the _Golden Legend_,
for example, three editions are known, and of the _Dictes or Sayings_,
the _Horæ_, and _Parvus et Magnus Catho_, and several others, two
editions are known. There is also a strong probability that many of
Caxton's productions have been lost altogether, since thirty-eight of
those yet extant are represented either by single copies or by

[Illustration: BOYS LEARNING GRAMMAR, from Caxton's "Catho" and "Mirrour
of the World."]

Caxton, according to Mr Blades, used six different founts of Gothic
type, but Mr E. Gordon Duff, in his _Early English Printing_, credits
him with eight founts. His books are all printed on paper, with the
exception of a copy of the _Speculum Vitæ Christi_ in the British
Museum, and one of the _Doctrinal of Sapyence_, in the Royal Library at
Windsor Castle.

The well-known device of Caxton was not used by him till 1487. It is
usually understood to stand for W.C. 74, but its exact meaning is not
known. Blades believes that it refers to the date of printing of _The
Recuyell_, the first product of Caxton's typographical skill.

[Illustration: CAXTON'S DEVICE.]

In 1480, three or four years after Caxton had settled at Westminster,
John Lettou, a foreigner of whom little is known, established the first
London printing-press.[4] His workmanship was particularly good, and he
was the first in this country to print two columns to the page. He
subsequently took into partnership William de Machlinia, and according
to the colophon of their _Tenores Novelli_ the office of these two
printers was located in the Church of All Saints', but this piece of
information is too vague to assist in the identification of the spot.
Machlinia is afterwards found working alone in an office near the Flete
Bridge. His later books were printed in Holborn.

  [4] It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that at this period
  Westminster was quite distinct from London.

A well-known name is that of Wynkyn de Worde, a native of Holland, and
at one time assistant to Caxton. At Caxton's death he became master of
the Red Pale, and issued a number of books "from Caxton's house in
Westminster," including reprints of several of Caxton's publications. He
made use of some modified forms of Caxton's device, but he also had a
device of his own, which first appears in the _Book of Courtesye_
printed some time before 1493. He printed, among other works, the
_Golden Legend_, the _Book of Courtesye_, Bonaventura's _Speculum Vitæ
Christi_, Higden's _Polychronicon_, which appeared in 1495 and is the
first English book with printed musical notes; Bartholomæus' _De
Proprietatibus Rerum_, which appeared about 1495 and is the first book
printed on English-made paper, and which has already been noticed as the
authority for supposing that Caxton learned printing at Cologne; the
_Boke of St Albans_, the _Chronicles of England_, _Morte D'Arthur_, _The
Canterbury Tales_, etc., etc. He also issued a host of sermons,
almanacs, and other minor works.

1495 (_exact size._)]

In 1500 Wynkyn de Worde moved from Caxton's house in Westminster to
the Sign of the Sun, in Fleet Street, and presently opened another place
of business at the Sign of Our Lady of Pity, in St Paul's Churchyard.

About a year after Caxton had established himself at the Red Pale, and
had issued the _Dictes or Sayengis_, and two years before the city of
London had attained to the dignity of a printing-press, typography began
to be practised at Oxford, but by whom is not known, though very
possibly by Theodore Rood of Cologne. The first Oxford book was the
_Exposicio in Simbolum Apostolorum_ of St Jerome, a work which happens
to be dated 1468, and has thereby led some to assign to Oxford the
credit of having printed the first book in this country. But that date
is now acknowledged to be a printer's error for 1478. A similar misprint
led to a similar error as to the first book printed in Venice. The
_Decor Puellarum_, executed by Nicolas Jenson, purports to have appeared
in 1461, and thus was at one time supposed to be the first book printed
in Venice, but the date is now recognised as a misprint for 1471, which
leaves John of Spires the first Venetian printer and his _Epistolæ
familiares_ of Cicero, 1469, the first Venetian printed book.

Cambridge was more than forty years later than Oxford in providing
herself with a printing-press.

In the same year that London began to print appeared the first books
from the press at the Abbey of St Albans, namely, _Augustini Dacti
elegancie_, and the _Nova Rhetorica_ of Saona. As both were printed in
1480 it is uncertain which is the earlier. This press was probably
started in 1479, but of the printer nothing is known, except that when
Wynkyn de Worde reprinted the _Chronicles of England_ from a copy
printed at St Albans, he refers to him as the St Albans "scole mayster."
The famous _Bokys of Haukyng and Huntyng, and also of Cootarmuris_,
commonly known as the Book of St Albans, written by the accomplished
Juliana Berners, prioress of the neighbouring nunnery of Sopwell, was
printed at the monastery in 1486, and reprinted ten years later by
Wynkyn de Worde.



Scotland was one of the last of the countries of Europe to appreciate
the advantages of typography so far as to possess herself of a
printing-press. She was also, as we have pointed out in a previous
chapter, the only one, save England, and possibly Holland, to have the
art of printing brought to her by one of her own sons and not by a

The first Scottish printer was Andrew Myllar, an Edinburgh bookseller,
who imported books from England and from France, and who, in the latter
country, learned how to print. Two books are extant which were printed
for him on the continent, probably at Rouen by Laurence Hostingue, and
these are worth noticing. The first may speak for itself, through its
colophon, of which the following is a translation:--"The Book of certain
'Words Equivocal,' in alphabetical order, along with an interpretation
in the English tongue, has been happily finished. Which Andrew Myllar, a
Scotsman, has been solicitous should be printed, with admirable art and
corrected with diligent care, both in orthographic style, according to
the ability available, and cleared from obscurity. In the year of the
Christian Redemption, One thousand five hundred and fifth." The second
book is an _Expositio Sequentiarum_, or Book of Sequences, of the
Salisbury use, printed in 1506.

[Illustration: MYLLAR'S DEVICE.]

In 1507 Myllar was taken into partnership by Walter Chepman, and
fortified by a royal privilege these two set up the first Scottish
printing-press, with plant and types and workmen brought by Myllar from
France. Chepman furnished the capital and Myllar the knowledge. Their
press was situated at the foot of Blackfriars Wynd in the Southgate in
Edinburgh. The privilege sets forth that Myllar and Chepman have "at our
instance and request, for our plesour, the honour and proffit of our
Realme and Liegis, takin on thame to furnis and bring hame ane prent,
with all stuff belangand tharto, and expert men to use the sammyn for
imprenting within our Realme the bukis of our Lawis, actis of
parliament, cronicles, mess bukis," etc.

It is believed that the favour and encouragement shown to Myllar and
Chepman by the King was the result of the influence of William
Elphinstone, Bishop of Aberdeen, who had prepared a Breviary, _Breviarum
Aberdonense_, which he wished to be used by his countrymen to the
exclusion of the Salisbury Missal, and that the real purpose of the
promotion of the first printing-press in Scotland was the printing of
this work. For the privilege goes on to say: "And alis it is divisit and
thocht expedient be us and our consall, that in tyme cuming mess bukis,
efter our awin scottis use, and with legendis of Scottis sanctis, as is
now gaderit and ekit be ane Reverend fader in God, and our traist
consalour Williame bischope of abirdene and utheris, be usit generaly
within al our Realme alssone as the sammyn may be imprentit and
providet, and that na maner of sic bukis of Salusbery use be brocht to
be sauld within our Realme in tym cuming." Anyone infringing this decree
was to be punished and the books forfeited.

But the earliest work of the Southgate press consisted of literature of
a lighter sort, and, when dated at all, is dated 1508, while the
Breviary did not make its appearance till later. These early
productions, which survive only in fragments, included _The Porteous of
Noblenes_, _The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane_, _Sir Eglamoure of
Artoys_, _The Maying or Disport_ of Chaucer, and several others. _The
Maying or Disport_ of Chaucer is the most perfect specimen remaining,
and its exact date can be ascertained from its colophon, which reads as

    Heir endis the maying and disport of Chaucer. Imprentit in the
    southgait of Edinburgh be Walter chepman and Androw myllar the
    fourth day of aprile the yhere of God M.CCCCC. and viii yheris.

The _Maying and Disport_ is better known as the _Complaynt of a Lover's
Life_, or the _Complaynt of the Black Knight_.

                   *       *       *       *       *

Strange to say, we hear no more of Myllar after this. But Chepman comes
forward again in connection with the Breviary (though it is uncertain
whether he was its printer), and probably printed some other books which
have been lost. The Breviary is a small octavo in two volumes, the first
of which appeared in 1509 and the other in 1510. It is printed in red
and black Gothic characters. The conclusion of the Latin colophon to the
second volume may be rendered as follows:--

"Printed in the town of Edinburgh, by the command and at the charge of
the honourable gentleman Walter Chepman, merchant in the said town, on
the fourth day of June in the year of our Lord 1510."

The next Scottish printer, so far as is known, was a certain John Story,
though only an _Office of Our Lady of Pity_, accompanied by a legend on
the subject of the relics of St Andrew, remains to testify to us of his
existence. It was printed "by command of Charles Steele," and Dr Dickson
dates it at (perhaps) about 1520.

Rather more than twenty years later, Thomas Davidson became King's
Printer in Edinburgh. His only dated work was _The Nevv Actis And
Constitvtionis of Parliament Maid Be The Rycht Excellent Prince Iames
The Fift Kyng of Scottis 1540_. The title-page of this book consists of
a large woodcut of the Scottish arms, above which is the title in four
lines printed in Roman capitals. This book also displays all three forms
of type--black letter, Roman, and Italic. Its colophon, which is printed
in Italics, is as follows:--

_Imprentit in Edinburgh, be Thomas Davidson, dweling abone the nether
bow, on the north syde of the gait, the aucht day of Februarii, the zeir
of God. 1541. zeris._

But there is some of Davidson's undated work which is earlier than this,
though it is not known for certain when he began to print. Of these
undated publications, _Ad Serenissimum Scotorum Regem Iacobum Quintum de
suscepto Regni Regimine a diis feliciter ominato Strena_ is notable as
affording the earliest example of the use of Roman type by a Scottish
printer, for its title is printed in these characters. Only one copy is
known, and that is in the British Museum. Opinions differ as to its
date, but the majority assign it to the year 1528.

Davidson's most important production, however, was his beautiful folio
edition of Bellenden's translation of Hector Boece's work, _The hystory
and croniklis of Scotland_. This, says Dr Dickson, is "an almost
unrivalled specimen of early British typography. It is one of those gems
which the earlier period of the art so frequently produced, but which no
future efforts of the press have surpassed or even equalled." It has a
title-page similar to that of the _Nevv Actis_, but the title itself is
printed in handsome red Gothic characters. Dr Dickson, to whose learned
_Annals of Scottish Printing_ (completed, on account of the author's
ill-health, by Mr J. P. Edmond) I am indebted for the details of early
Scottish typography given above, assigns this book to the year 1542.

Having seen the printing-press fairly set to work in Scotland, it will
not be necessary here to notice its later productions. But before
closing the chapter it will be interesting to observe that Edinburgh was
the place of publication of the first work printed in the Gaelic
language. This was Bishop Carswell's translation of the Scottish
Prayer-Book, which was printed in 1567 by Roibeard (Robert) Lekprevik.
It is in the form of Gaelic common at that time to both Scotland and
Ireland, and therefore as regards language it forestalls the _Irish
Alphabet and Catechism_, Dublin, 1571, to which reference is made below.
The type of Carswell's Prayer-Book, however, is Roman. The following is
a translation of its title-page, made by Dr M'Lauchlan:--

                                FORMS OF
                               Prayer and

administration of the sacraments and catechism of the Christian faith,
here below. According as they are practised in the churches of Scotland
which have loved and accepted the faithful gospel of God, on having put
away the false faith, turned from the Latin and English into Gaelic by
Mr John Carswell Minister of the Church of God in the bounds of Argyll,
whose other name is Bishop of the Isles.

    No other foundation can any man lay save that which is laid even
    Jesus Christ.

                               1 Cor. 3.

    Printed in dún Edin whose other name is Dún monaidh the 24th day of
    April 1567,

                         By Roibeard Lekprevik.

Lekprevik, whose first work, so far as is known, was produced in 1561,
printed not only in Edinburgh, but also in Stirling and St Andrews, at
different times.



In heading a chapter "Early Printing in Ireland," one is somewhat
reminded of the celebrated chapter on snakes. As a matter of fact,
however, there is no real analogy. Ireland was very slow to adopt the
printing-press, and made little use of it when she did adopt it, yet it
would not be quite accurate to say that there was no early printing in
Ireland. But it can truthfully be said that Ireland's early printing was
late--late, that is, compared with that of other countries.

The first typographical work known to have been produced in Ireland is
the Book of Common Prayer--the First Prayer-Book of Edward VI.--which
was printed in Dublin in 1551 by Humfrey Powell. Powell was a printer in
Holborn Conduit in 1548, and in 1551 went to Dublin and set up as King's
Printer. A "Proclamation ... against the rebels of the O'Conors....
Imprynted at Dublyn, by Humfrey Powell, 16th August, 1564," seems to be
the only other known specimen of his Dublin printing.

The colophon of the first book printed on Irish ground is as follows:--

    Imprinted by Humfrey Powell, Printer to the Kynges Maiestie, in his
    hyghnesse realme of Ireland, dwellyng in the citee of Dublin in the
    great toure by the Crane.

                 _Cum priuilegio ad imprimendum solum_
                              Anno Domini

This Prayer-book is exceedingly rare. The British Museum possesses no
copy, but has to content itself with photographs showing the title,
colophon, etc., of that in the library of Trinity College, Dublin.
Emanuel College, Cambridge, has one which formerly belonged to
Archbishop Sancroft. Cotton, in his _Typographical Gazetteer_, says that
Powell's Prayer-book is most creditable to the early Irish press. It is
in the English language, and printed in black letter.

The first book printed in the Gaelic language, though in Roman type, has
already been spoken of. The first Gaelic type was exhibited to the world
in a tiny volume of fifty-four pages printed at Dublin in 1571, and
entitled _Irish Alphabet and Catechism_. This was compiled by John
O'Kearney, and contained the elements of the Irish language, the
Catechism, some prayers, and Archbishop Parker's articles of the
Christian rule. The following is a facsimile of the title-page to which
a translation is added:--

                     Irish Alphabet and Catechism.

    Precept or instruction of a Christian, together with certain
    articles of the Christian rule, which are proper for everyone to
    adopt who would be submissive to the ordinance of God and of the
    Queen in this Kingdom; translated from Latin and English into Irish
    by John O'Kearney.

    Awake, why sleepest thou, O Lord?
    Arise, cast us not off for ever.

                           Ps. xliv. ver. 23.

    Printed in Irish in the town of the Ford of the Hurdles, at the cost
    of Master John Usher, alderman, at the head of the Bridge, the 20th
    day of June 1571.

                 With the privilege of the great Queen.


(_slightly reduced_)]

This book was produced by John O'Kearney, sometime treasurer of St
Patrick's Cathedral, and his friend Nicholas Walsh, chancellor of St
Patrick's and afterwards Bishop of Ossory, and the John Usher who
defrayed the expense was then Collector of Customs of the port of
Dublin. Its appearance was considered a momentous event by those
concerned with it, for great benefits were anticipated for the Irish
people as soon as "their national tongue and its own dear alphabet" were
reduced to print, as O'Kearney states at some length in the preface. He
also tells us that the types from which this volume was printed were
provided "at the cost of the high, pious, great, and mighty prince

In this connection it is worth while to notice two extant records, one
among the State Papers (Irish Series) and the other among the Acts of
the Privy Council. From the first, made some time in December 1567, we
gather that Queen Elizabeth had already paid £66. 13s. 4d. "for the
making of carecters for the testament in irishe," and that this
Testament was not yet in the press. The second (August 1587) states that
the New Testament was translated into Irish by Walsh and O'Kearney, but
"never imprynted, partlie for want of proper characters and men of that
nacion and language skillful in the mystery of pryntyng," and partly on
account of the cost.

I can find no other record of the provision of a fount of Irish types at
the Queen's expense, and having no more definite information at hand on
this point, and taking into consideration the contents of the book--an
Irish alphabet, and directions for reading Irish, and a catechism, etc.
(by way of exercise?)--its diminutive size and the imperfection of its
print, I venture the suggestion that O'Kearney's work was printed as a
trial of the new types given by the Queen and intended for printing the
New Testament. This view is supported by the first words of the preface:
"Here, O reader, you have the first value and fruit of that great
instructive work, which I have been producing and devising for you for a
long time, that is, the faithful and perfect type of the Gaelic tongue."
The conclusion seems to be that the types were inadequate for the
larger work, and that for some reason there was a difficulty about
supplying more or finding anyone to undertake the printing.

The preface further says, after requesting corrections and amendments as
regards the typography: "And it is not alone that I am asking you to
give this kind friendly correction to the printing, but also to the
translation or rendering made of this catechism put forth as far back as
1563 of the age of the Lord and [which] is now more correct and
complete, with the principal articles of the Christian faith associated
therewith." This has led some to think that there was an earlier edition
of the _Alphabet and Catechism_. But it seems plain that O'Kearney
refers to the Catechism only, not to the whole book, and equally plain
that the 1563 work, whatever it was, was not printed in Irish type, or
there would have been no special occasion to glorify the 1571 _Alphabet
and Catechism_. Since nothing is known of the _Catechism_ of 1563, it is
very possible that it existed only in manuscript and never went to

I have gone into this matter of the _Irish Alphabet and Catechism_ of
1571 somewhat at length, because I am not aware that it has ever yet
received detailed attention. The quotations I have given from the
preface are from an anonymous manuscript translation inserted in the
British Museum copy.

O'Kearney's _Irish Alphabet and Catechism_ is so rare that only three
copies are known to exist: one being in the British Museum, one in the
Bodleian Library, and one in the library of Lincoln Cathedral. The
fount of types from which it was printed was not quite correct; for
instance, the small Roman "a" is used, and an "H" is introduced, a
letter foreign to the Gaelic alphabet.

During the seventeenth century, and even later, most of the Irish books
were sent to be printed on the continent or in England. Several books by
Irish authors, chiefly catechisms, works on the language, and
dictionaries, bear the names of Louvain, Antwerp, Rome or Paris, such as
the _Catechism_ of Bonaventure Hussey, printed at Louvain in 1608, and
reprinted at Antwerp in 1611 and 1618.



A book as we know it is usually contained in a case or cover intended
primarily for its protection. The fastening together of the different
sections of the book, and the providing it with a cover, and,
incidentally, the decoration of that cover, come under the head of
bookbinding, or bibliopegy, as the learned call it. The process of
binding consists of two parts: first, the arrangement of the leaves and
sections in proper order, their preparation for sewing by beating or
pressing, the stitching of them together, and the fastening of them into
the cover. This is called "forwarding." The other half of the work is
the lettering and decoration of the cover, and is called "finishing."
With the decoration of the cover only can we concern ourselves here.

The art of binding books is far older than the art of printing. The
first known attempt to provide a cover by way of protection for a
document was made by the workman who devised a clay case for the clay
tablet-books of Babylonia, but this is as far from our notion of
bookbinding as the tablets themselves are from our notion of books. Nor
do the Roman bindings, which consisted of coloured parchment wrappers,
come much nearer the modern conception. The ivory cases of the
double-folding wax tablets or diptychs, too, of the second and third
centuries, A.D., are also outside the pale, strictly speaking, but they
deserve mention on account of the beautiful carving with which they are
decorated, and on which some of the finest Byzantine art was expended.

One of the earliest bookbinders or book-cover decorators whose name has
come down to us was Dagæus, an Irish monk, and a clever worker in
metals. Among the many beautiful objects in metal wrought in the old
Irish monasteries were skilfully designed covers and clasps for the
books which were so highly prized in the "Isle of Saints." Nor were
covers alone deemed sufficient protection from wear and tear. Satchels,
or polaires, such as that mentioned in Adamnan's story of the miraculous
preservation of St Columba's Hymn-book, were in common use for conveying
books from place to place. Very few specimens now remain, but there is
one at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, containing an Irish missal,
and another, which is preserved at Trinity College, Dublin, together
with the _Book of Armagh_, to which it belongs, is thus described by the
Rev. T. K. Abbott, in the _Book of Trinity College_:--

"An interesting object connected with the _Book of Armagh_ is its
leather satchel, finely embossed with figures of animals and interlaced
work. It is formed of a single piece of leather, 36 in. long and 12½
broad, folded so as to make a flat-sided pouch, 12 in. high, 12¾ broad,
and 2¼ deep. Part of it is doubled over to make a flap, in which are
eight brass-bound slits, corresponding to as many brass loops projecting
from the case, in which ran two rods, meeting in the middle, where they
were secured by a lock. In early times, in Irish monastic libraries,
books were kept in such satchels, which were suspended by straps from
hooks in the wall. Thus it is related in an old legend that 'on the
night of Longaradh's death all the book-satchels in Ireland fell

In Ireland, too, specially valuable volumes were enclosed in a
book-shrine, or cumhdach; and although, like the satchels, these
cumhdachs are not bindings in the proper sense of the word, yet since
they were intended for the same purpose as bindings, that is, the
protection of the book, it will not be out of place to speak of them

The use of bookshrines in Ireland was very possibly the survival of an
early custom of the primitive Church. It seems to have been applied
chiefly, if not always, to books too precious or sacred to be read. We
are told that a Psalter belonging to the O'Donels was fastened up in a
case that was not to be opened; and were it ever unclosed, deaths and
disasters would ensue to the clan. If borne by a priest of unblemished
character thrice round their troops before a battle, it was believed to
have the power of granting them victory, provided their cause were a
righteous one.

Cumhdachs were also used in Scotland, but no Scottish examples have
survived. The oldest cumhdach now existing is one in the Museum of the
Royal Irish Academy, which was made for the MS. known as Molaise's
Gospels, at the beginning of the eleventh century. It is of bronze, and
ornamented with silver plates bearing gilt patterns. Another
book-shrine, made for the Stowe Missal a little later, is of oak,
covered with silver plates, and decorated with a large oval crystal in
the middle of one side. The Book of Kells once had a golden cumhdach, we
are told, or, more correctly, perhaps, a cumhdach covered with gold
plates; but when the book was stolen from the church of Kells in 1006 it
was despoiled of its costly case, with which the robbers made off,
leaving the most precious part of their booty, the book itself, lying on
the ground hidden by a sod.

One of the earliest bookbinders in this country was a bishop, Ethilwold
of Lindisfarne, who bound the great Book of the Gospels that his
predecessor Eadfrid had written. For the same book Billfrið the
anchorite made a beautiful metal cover, gilded and bejewelled. The
Lindisfarne Gospels still exists, but the cover which now contains it,
though costly, is quite new. Like most ancient book covers the original
one has been lost, or destroyed for the sake of its valuable material.

Among the earlier mediæval bindings those of the Byzantine school of art
rank very high. They were exceedingly splendid, for gold was their
prevailing feature, and jewels and enamel were also lavished upon them.

The ordinary books of the middle ages were usually bound in substantial
oak boards covered with leather, and often having clasps, corners, and
protecting bosses of metal. In the twelfth century the English leather
bindings produced at London, Winchester, Durham and other centres, were
pre-eminent. Miss Prideaux instances some books which were bound for
Bishop Pudsey, and which are now in the cathedral library of Durham, as
"perhaps the finest monuments of this class of work in existence." The
sides of these volumes are blind-tooled; that is, the designs are
impressed by means of dies or tools with various patterns and
representations of men and of fabulous creatures, but not gilded.

Certain volumes, however, were treated with particular honour, either at
the expense of a wealthy and book-loving owner, or for the purpose of
presentation to some great personage, and for these sumptuous bindings
the materials employed were various and costly. A Latin psalter which
was written for Melissenda, wife of Fulk, Count of Anjou and King of
Jerusalem, has a very wonderful French binding. The covers are of wood,
and each bears a series of delicate ivory carvings of Byzantine work.
The upper cover shows incidents in the life of David, and symbolical
figures, and the lower cover scenes representing the works of Mercy,
with figures of birds and animals. Rubies and turquoises dotted here
and there help to beautify the ivory. This book is in the British

[Illustration: UPPER COVER OF MELISSENDA'S PSALTER (_reduced_).]

Another specimen in the same collection may be taken as an example of
the use of enamel as a decoration for bindings. This is a Latin
manuscript of the Gospels of SS. Luke and John, which is enclosed in
wooden boards bound in red leather. In the upper cover is a sunk panel
of Limoges enamel on copper gilt, representing Christ in glory. The work
is of the thirteenth century. These enamelled bindings were often
additionally decorated with gold and jewels.

A curious little modification of the ordinary leather binding was
sometimes made in the case of small devotional works. The leather of the
back and sides was continued at the bottom in a long tapering slip, at
the end of which was a kind of button, so that the book might be
fastened to the dress or girdle. Slender chains were often used for the
same purpose.

About the time of the invention of printing, leather bindings began to
be decorated with gold tooling. Tooling is the name given to the designs
impressed upon the leather with various small dies so manipulated as to
make a connected pattern. When the impressions are gilded the dull
leather is brightened and beautified in proportion to the skill and
taste expended by the workman. The art of gold tooling is believed to
have originated in the East, and to have been brought to Italy by
Venetian traders, or, as it has also been suggested, through the
manuscripts which were dispersed at the fall of Constantinople. In any
case, it was in Italy that it was first adopted and brought to
perfection, and other European countries learned the art from Italian
craftsmen. Chief among the early Italian gilt bindings are those made of
the finest leathers and inscribed THO. MAIOLI ET AMICORVM. Nothing
whatever is known of Thomasso Maioli, except that he had a large library
and spared no expense in clothing his books in bibliopegic purple and
fine linen.

What Maioli appears to have been among Italian book-collectors, Jean
Grolier, Vicomte d'Aguisy, was among French bibliophiles. He held for a
time the post of Treasurer of the Duchy of Milan, and while in Italy he
collected books for his library and made the acquaintance of Aldus
Manutius. Many of the Aldine books are dedicated to him, for Aldus
occasionally stood in need of financial aid and found in Grolier a
generous and practical patron of literature. Some of the famous bindings
which distinguish Grolier's books were executed in Italy, others in
France, where Italian bookbinders were then teaching their art to the
native workmen. They display the same style of design that decorates the
books of Maioli, and Maioli's benevolent inscription too, Grolier
adapted to his own use, and stamped upon certain of his books IO.
GROLIERII ET AMICORVM. The exact signification of these words is
obscure. At first sight they might appear to refer delicately to the joy
with which the owner of the book would place it at the disposal of his
friends, but this does not accord with what is known of the character
of book-lovers. Perhaps their only meaning is that Maioli and Grolier
were at all times ready to please their friends and to gratify
themselves by exhibiting their treasures. But since several copies of
the same work are known to have been bound for Grolier--for instance,
five copies of the Aldine Virgil--it has been suggested that he
occasionally made presents of his books, though he drew the line at
lending them.

Grolier's copy of the _De Medicina_ of Celsus, which is in the British
Museum, is bound in a somewhat different style from that usually
associated with his name. It is in brown leather; blind-tooled except
for some gold and coloured roundels in different parts of the device. In
the centre of both covers is a medallion in colours, that on the upper
cover representing Curtius leaping into the abyss in the Forum, and that
on the lower cover representing the defence of the bridge by Horatius.
This is an Italian binding.

Although it was Italy who first improved upon the usual methods of
mediæval binding, and from her that France took lessons in this new and
better way of clothing books, it was France who was destined to bring
the art to its highest excellence. Having learned her lesson, she
perfected herself in it, and the workmen of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries, such as Geoffroy Tory, Nicholas, Clovis, and
Robert Eve, and Le Gascon, carried French bookbinding into the very
first rank, where it may be considered to remain to this day.

Some of the finest French examples extant are those which were executed
for Henry II. and Diana of Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois. Both were
ardent bibliophiles, and both indulged in very sumptuous bindings for
their books. Some of the chief treasures in our great libraries to-day
are the beautiful volumes which Henry presented to the duchess, and
which are ornamented with the royal lilies of France, accompanied by the
bows and arrows and crescents which were Diana's own badges and the
initials of the king and the duchess.

Catherine de Medicis also was an enthusiastic book collector, which may
surprise those who think that a person who is devoted to books is
necessarily harmless. Some of her books she brought to France as part of
her dowry, others she acquired by fair means or foul as was most
convenient, and to their bindings she paid particular attention and kept
a staff of bookbinders in her employ.

To such a pitch of extravagance did the bibliophiles of the period go in
the binding of their books, that in 1583 Henry III. of France decreed
that ordinary citizens should not use more than four diamonds to the
decoration of one book, and the nobility not more than five. The king
himself, however, was as extravagant as any of his subjects, at any rate
as regards the designs he favoured. Many of his books are clad in black
morocco, bearing representations of skulls, cross-bones, tears, and
other melancholy emblems. He developed his taste for these strange
decorations, it is said, when, as Duke of Anjou, he loved and lost Mary
of Clèves.

The early printers at first executed their own bookbinding, but
presently left it to the stationers. It was generally only the larger
works which they thought worth covering, and the small ones were simply
stitched. Antony Koburger, of whom mention has already been made, bound
his own books and ornamented them in a style peculiarly his own. Caxton
bound his according to the prevailing fashion, with leather sides, plain
or blind-tooled with diagonal lines, forming diamond-shaped compartments
in each of which is stamped a species of dragon.

About the sixteenth century it became fashionable to have one's books

    "Full goodly bound in pleasant coverture
     Of damask, satin, or else of velvet pure,"

as a writer of the time expresses it, and this style naturally lent
itself to the needleworked decoration. This decoration was especially
favoured in England, and the ladies of the period executed some very
fine pieces of embroidery as "pleasant covertures" for their books,
using coloured silks and gold and silver thread on velvet or other
material. One of the earliest embroidered bindings covers a description
of the Holy Land, written by Martin Brion, and dedicated to Henry VIII.
It is of crimson velvet, with the English arms enclosed in the Garter,
between two H's, and the Tudor rose in each corner, and it is worked in
silks, gold thread, and seed pearls. Queen Elizabeth is said to have
preferred embroidered bindings to those of leather, and to have been
very skilful in working them. The copy of _De Antiquitate Britannicæ
Ecclesiæ_, which the author, Archbishop Parker, presented to the Queen,
has a cover which is very elaborately embroidered indeed. It is of
contemporary English work, and is thus described in the British Museum
_Guide to the Printed Books exhibited in the King's Library_:--

"Green velvet, having as a border a representation of the paling of a
deer park, embroidered in gold and silver thread; the border on the
upper cover enclosing a rose bush bearing red and white roses,
surrounded by various other flowers, and by deer; the lower cover has a
similar border, but contains deer, snakes, plants and flowers; the whole
being executed in gold and silver thread and coloured silks. On the back
are embroidered red and white roses." Embroidered bindings remained in
fashion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and plain
velvet, too, was often used, sometimes with gold or silver mounts.

The old Royal Library, which was given to the nation by George II.,
contains a large number of sumptuous bookbindings; and that our
Sovereigns were not unmindful of the welfare of their literary treasures
may also be gathered from various entries in the Wardrobe Books and from
other documents. Thus, we read that Edward IV. paid Alice Clavers, "for
the makyng of xvj. laces and xvj. tassels for the garnysshing of divers
of the kinge's bookes ijs. viijd."; and "Piers Bauduyn, stacioner, for
bynding gilding and dressing of a booke called _Titus Livius_ xxs., for
binding gilding and dressing of a booke of the _The Holy Trinity_
xvjs.," and so on. Again, in the bill delivered to Henry VIII. by Thomas
Berthelet, his majesty's printer and binder, are found such entries as

"Item delyvered to the kinge's highnes the vj. day of January a Psalter
in englische and latine covered with crimoysyn satyne, 2s."

"Item delyvered to the kinge's hyghnes for a little Psalter, takyng out
of one booke and settyng in an other in the same place, and for gorgeous
binding of the same booke xijd.; and to the Goldesmythe for taking off
the claspes and corners and for setting on the same ageyne xvjd."

Among the various styles which may be classed as fancy bindings may be
instanced the seventeenth century tortoise-shell covers with silver
mounts and ornaments, which have a very handsome effect, and the mosaic
decoration of the same period. This mosaic decoration was made by
inlaying minute pieces of differently coloured leathers, and finishing
them with gold tooling. It was work which called for great dexterity in
manipulation, and in skilful hands the result was very pretty and

Even from this slight sketch it will be seen that bookbindings have
always presented unlimited opportunities for originality on the part of
the worker, as regards both design and material. Wood and leather, gold
and silver, ivory and precious stones, coloured enamels, impressed
papier-mâché, gold-tooled leather and embroidered fabric, pasteboard and
parchment, have all been pressed into the service, and the subject of
bookbindings is a fascinating branch of book history. But from their
nature bindings are difficult to describe in an interesting manner, and
words can hardly do justice to them without the aid of facsimile

The ordinary bindings of to-day are practically confined to two styles,
the cloth and the leather, and those combinations of leather and cloth
or leather and paper which make the covers of half-bound and
quarter-bound volumes. Cloth binding, the binding of the nineteenth
century, is an English invention, and came into use in 1823. On the
Continent books are still issued in paper covers and badly stitched, on
the assumption that if worth binding at all, they will be bound by the
purchaser as he pleases. But although the English commercial cloth
binding is often charged for far too highly, no one can deny its
convenience, and its superiority over the paper undress of foreign
works. Moreover, it is the homely, everyday garb of the great majority
of our favourite volumes, and though, no doubt, it is delightful to
possess books sumptuously bound, book-lovers of less ambition, or of
lighter purses than those who can command such luxuries, are not very
much to be pitied. There is something characteristic about a book in a
cloth cover which it loses when it dons the livery of its owner's
library. Cloth is not only more varied in texture, but admits of greater
freedom and variety of design than does leather, so there is something
to be said in its favour in spite of the contention that direct
handicraft is preferable to handicraft which works through a machine,
and that one of a batch of bindings printed by the thousand is not to
be compared with a single specimen of tooled leather which has cost a
pair of human hands hours of careful toil. The little libraries with
which so many of us have to be contented owe their bright and cheerful
appearance to the cloth covers of the books, in which each book stands
out with modest directness, wearing its individuality instead of losing
it in a crowd of neighbours dressed exactly like itself. In a series
uniformly bound, however, a family likeness is not only admissible, but
pleasing. It gives an idea of unison among, perhaps, widely differing
individuals. But the unison which is becoming to a family makes a
community monotonous.

On the other hand, something stronger than cloth is necessary when books
are to be subjected to special wear and tear, and desirable when a
volume is to be particularly honoured or when the library it is to enter
is large and important. Protection is the first purpose of a binding,
and endurance its first quality, and the experience of centuries has
shown that the walls in the fairy-tale were right when they said,

    "Gilding will fade in damp weather,
     To endure, there is nothing like LEATHER."

In which, perhaps, the book-lover will see a parable. For, after all,
the book is the thing, and the cover a mere circumstance, and those who
wish to make books merely pegs to hang bindings upon deserve to have no
books at all. Yet it is right that though the binding should not be
raised above the book, it should be worthy of the book, and much of the
cheap and good literature which is now within the reach of all who care
to stretch out their hands for it, is clothed in a manner to which no
exception can be taken on any score. Those who have not realised how
charming some of the modern bookbindings can be, should consult the
winter number of _The Studio_ for 1899-1900.



A description of the methods by which a modern book is produced has to
begin at the second stage of the proceedings. The processes of the first
stage, including the writing of the book and the arrangements between
the publisher and the author, differ, of course, in individual cases.
The processes of the second stage, however, are common to a large
proportion of the books produced at the present day, though it will be
easily understood that they can be dealt with but summarily in this
chapter, and that as regards detail much variation is possible.

The second stage in the history of a modern book may be said to begin
with the overhauling which the manuscript receives at the hands of the
printer's "Reader," who goes over it with the view of instructing the
compositor regarding capitals, punctuation, chapter headings and other
details. Although these are considered minor and merely clerical details
which are frequently neglected or misused in writing, it is essential
that they be carefully attended to in print. Many examples can be given
of amusing misprints and alterations of meaning caused by even such a
trifle as the misplacing of a comma. When this overhauling is completed
the manuscript is ready to be sent to the composing room where the types
are set up.

From experience the printer knows that many authors get a different
impression of what they have written when they see it in type from what
they had when they read it in manuscript, and it frequently happens that
alterations on proof are very numerous in consequence. When either from
this or any other cause numerous alterations are anticipated, the matter
is first set up in long slips called "galleys," and not put at once into
page form. As soon as a few of those galleys are composed an impression
called a "proof" is taken from the types so set, and this proof is
passed to a reader whose duty is to see that a correct copy is made of
the manuscript, and that the spelling is accurate and the punctuation
good. This is a work commanding considerable intelligence and
experience, as the number of types required for a printed page is very
great, and even the most expert compositor cannot avoid mistakes. This
marked proof is returned to the compositor to make the necessary
corrections. Fresh proofs are got till no further errors are detected,
when a final proof is pulled and sent to the author, who makes such
alterations as he may desire.

When the corrected proofs are returned by the author they are given to
the compositor, who makes the required alterations in the type. After
this a revised proof is submitted. When the author is satisfied that the
reading is as he wishes he returns the proofs, and the galleys are now
made into page form. If it is not expected that the author will make
many changes the types are arranged in page shape before any proofs are
shown to him, and the work goes through somewhat more quickly.

When the types are divided into pages they are placed in sets or
"formes," each forme being secured in an iron frame called a "chase,"
which can be conveniently moved about. Each chase is of a size to
enclose as many pages as will cover one side of the sheet of paper to be
used in printing. Fifty years ago only one or two sizes of paper were
made, and the size of sheet generally used for books was that which
allowed eight pages of library size on one side, hence called "octavo"
size, or when folded another way allowed twelve pages, hence "twelvemo"
or "duodecimo." Other sizes occasionally used are called "sixteenmo" or
"sextodecimo," "eighteenmo" or "octodecimo," etc.

With larger sized printing machines now driven by steam or electricity,
there is greater variety in the size of formes and papers used in
printing. In all cases, however, the number of pages laid down for one
side of paper must divide by four. The pages are set in the chase in
special positions, so that when the sheet is printed on both sides and
folded over and over for binding they will appear in proper sequence.

When only a small edition of a book is wanted the printing is generally
done direct from the types, but when a large number of copies is
required or frequent editions are expected, stereotype or electrotype
plates are made. By this means the types are released for further use
and other advantages obtained.

Stereotype plates are cakes of white metal carrying merely the face of
the types, and were formerly made by taking from the types a mould of
plaster of Paris. They are now formed by beating or pressing a prepared
pulp of papier-mâché into the face of the lettering. The mould thus
obtained is dried and hardened by heat, then molten metal is run into it
of requisite thickness. This plate after being properly dressed is
fitted on a block equal in height to the type stem, and takes the place
in the frame or chase that would have been occupied by the types.

The process of stereotyping is fairly quick and economical, but
electrotypes are better suited for higher class work and are much more
durable. In this process an impression is taken from the type on a
surface of wax heated to the necessary degree of plasticity. When the
wax mould has cooled and hardened it is placed in a galvanic current,
where a thin coat of copper is deposited on its face. This coat is then
detached from the mould and backed with white metal to give it the
requisite body and stiffness and the electrotype is now, like the
stereotype, a metal plate which can be fixed on a block and secured in a
frame ready for the printing machine.

It is outside the scope of this work to describe minutely the
marvellous machinery used in printing. It is interesting to know that
the first printers had no machine but a screw handpress by which they
laboriously worked off their books page by page, and that even so late
as the middle of the nineteenth century all books with scarcely an
exception were printed at handpresses which enabled two men to throw off
about two hundred and fifty copies of a comparatively small-sized sheet
in the hour. Now the machines commonly in use, attended by only a man
and a lad, throw off from a thousand to fifteen hundred copies in an
hour of a sheet four or even eight times the old size.

Books are almost universally printed on what is called the flat-bed
machine, so-called because the types or plates are placed on an iron
table which with them travels to and fro under a series of revolving
rollers constantly being fed with a supply of ink which they transfer to
the types or plates. Immediately these get beyond the inking rollers
they pass under a revolving cylinder with a set of grippers attached,
which open and shut with each revolution. These grippers take hold of
the sheet of paper and carry it round with the cylinder. When it comes
in contact with the types or plates travelling underneath, the
impression or print is made. Some machines complete the printing of the
sheet on both sides at one operation. In others the sheet is reversed
and is printed on the other side by passing through a second time. In
either case the sheet forms only a section of a book; the complete
volume is made up of a number of these sections, folded and collated in
proper order in the bindery. There they are sewn together and fixed in
the case or cover.

For illustrated books the pictures were formerly produced by engraving
on wood, but they are now chiefly photographed from the artist's drawing
on a light sensitive film spread on a metal plate, and etched in by
acids. In whatever way produced, when printed with the text they are
always relief blocks which are placed in proper position in the chase
alongside the types or plates. Coloured illustrations are produced by
successive printings. Special illustrations are frequently produced
separately by other processes and inserted in the volume by the binder.

Machines of a different construction, such as the rotary press, and
capable of a very much higher rate of production, are in use for
printing newspapers and periodicals with a large circulation, but these
do not properly come into consideration when telling how a modern book
is made.

[_The above chapter has been kindly contributed by the printers of this

                                                     _G. B. R._]


In our endeavour to note the chief points in the history of books, and
in considering the manifold interests which are bound up with their
bodies, we have had to neglect their minds. To have tried even to touch
upon the vast subject of literature in our story would have been as
futile as an attempt to transport the ocean in a thimble. For literature
consists of all that is transferable of human knowledge and experience,
all that is expressible of human thought on whatever matter in heaven or
earth has been dreamed of in man's philosophy. And though our aggregate
of knowledge be small, it is vastly beyond the comprehension of one
individual being.

Of the influence of books, and their manifold uses, also, this is not
the place to speak. Moreover, even had the theme been unheeded by abler
pens, no one who loves books needs to be told to how many magic portals
they are the keys, while he who loves them not would not understand for
all the telling in the world.



Aberdeen Breviary, 133-135.

Advertisements, early booksellers', 105.

Alcuin, 63, 64.

Aldus Manutius, 104, 113, 115, 151.

Aleria, Bp. of, 104.

Alexandria, 16, 30-32.

Alost, 117.

Alphabet, the, 10.

Amsterdam, 118.

Antiquarii, 49.

Antwerp, 144.

Arabs, the, 13.

Assyria, 12, 14, 30.

Assyrians, 11.

Augsburg, 104.

Aungervyle, R. (_see_ Richard de Bury).

Ave Maria Lane, 52.

Avignon, 85.


Babylonia, 12, 30, 145.

Babylonians, 11.

Bamberg, 75, 94, 103.

Basle, 104.

Benedict Biscop, 63.

Beowulf, 24.

Berthelet, Thomas, 156.

Bible, the, 17.

---- Mazarin or Gutenberg, 94-100.

---- thirty-six-line, 97.

---- Mentz, 1462, 102.

Biblia Pauperum, 74-77, 89.

Bibliothèque Nationale, 67, 68.

Bindings, 144, 159.

Block-books, 73, 80.

Block-printing, 71.

Bonhomme, Pasquier, 116.

Book of Durrow, 39.

---- Kells, 39-41.

---- St Albans, 25, 128, 131.

---- St Cuthbert (_see_ Lindisfarne Gospels).

Book, production of modern, 159.

Bookbinding, 144-159.

Books, adventures of, 144.

---- beginning of, 10.

---- chained, 58, 69, 70.

---- heretical, 22.

---- in classical times, 26.

---- in monasteries, 21-24, 47, 145.

---- not to be destroyed, 22.

---- ornamenting of, 37.

---- prices of, 50, 53.

---- sizes of, 161.

Booksellers, 28, 29, 51-54.

Bordesley Abbey, 68.

Breslau, 104.

Brethren of the Common Life, 117.

Breviary, Aberdeen, 133-135.

Bruges, 52, 104, 116, 117, 119-122.

Brussels, 117.

"Brussels" Print, 73.

Byzantium, 18, 34.


Caedmon, 24.

Cambridge, 58, 130, 139, 145.

Campanus, 104, 108.

Canterbury, 45, 61, 63.

Carrells, 57.

Carswell's Prayer-book, 137.

Catalogues, early booksellers', 105.

---- monastic library, 59-61.

Catechism, Irish Alphabet and, 137, 139-144.

Caxton, 85, 105-107, 116-126, 128, 154.

Censorship, Ecclesiastical, 54, 55.

---- University, 54.

Chelsea, 70.

Chepman, Walter, 133.

China, 14, 71, 81.

Clairvaux Abbey, 57.

Clement of Padua, 110, 111.

Clugni, Abbey of, 60.

Cologne, 103, 104, 121.

Colophons, 108.

Copyists, 27, 28, 31, 32, 49, 51, 52.

Copyright, 28.

Corvey, Abbot of, 65.

Coster, Laurenz, 80, 82-89.

Cranz, Martin, 115.

Creed Lane, 53.

Cumhdachs, 146, 147.


Davidson, Thomas, 135.

Dictes or Sayengis, 122, 126.

Diemudis, 49.

Donatus, 78, 79, 112.

Dorchester, 50.

Dublin, 109, 137-139, 141, 146.

Durham, 45, 61, 148.


Edinburgh, 109, 110, 131, 133, 135, 137, 138.

Egypt, 12, 14, 18, 20, 21, 29-31, 71.

Electrotype plates, printing from, 162.

Elizabeth, Queen, 125, 141, 142, 154.

Elzevirs, the, 117, 118.

England, 23, 36, 104, 106, 118.


Faust or Fust, 88, 92, 93, 100, 102, 103.

Fichet, Guillaume, 115.

Florence, 104.

Fountains Abbey, 57.

France, 23, 77, 78, 104, 115, 131, 133, 151, 152.

Friburger, Michael, 115.


Game and Playe of the Chesse, 122, 124.

Gering, Ulric, 115.

Germany, 23, 65, 72, 77, 83, 104, 106, 116.

Glastonbury Abbey, 60.

Gloucester, 58.

Greece, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 23, 30.

Greeks, the, 11.

Grolier, Jean, 151, 152.

Guild of St John the Evangelist, 52.

Gutenberg, 82-85, 89-92, 101, 102.


Haarlem, 80-82, 85-87, 116.

Hahn, Ulric, 104, 108, 109, 112.

Herculaneum, 18.

Hereford Cathedral, 70.

Holborn, 128, 138.

Holland, 75, 77, 80, 83, 89, 104, 116, 119, 128, 131.

Hostingue, Laurence, 131, 132.


Illuminators, 49, 51, 52.

Ireland, 36, 38, 104, 138, 146.

Irish Alphabet and Catechism, 137, 139, 143.

Italy, 22, 23, 36, 77, 104, 106, 110, 111, 113, 150, 151.

Italic type, 114.


Japan, 71, 81.

Jenson, Nicolas, 107, 113, 130.

Junius, Hadrian, 88.


Kelmscott press, 80.

Ketelaer, Nycolaum, 116.

Kirkstall Abbey, 57.

Klosterneuburg, 75.

Koburger, Antony, 106, 154.


Lanfranc, 47.

Latin document, earliest, 15.

Latin names of towns, 109.

Leempt, Gerard de, 116.

Lettou, John, 126.

Leicester, 61.

Lekprevik, Roibeard, 137, 138.

Leland, 61.

Leyden, 118.

Libraries, ancient, 28-36.

---- collegiate, 58.

---- monastic, 56-65.

Librarii, 16, 49.

Lignamine, J. P. de, 111.

Lindisfarne Gospels, 42-45, 147.

Lincoln Cathedral, 143, 144.

Literature, Anglo-Saxon, 24.

---- beginning of, 13.

---- of Greece, 14, 15, 19.

Literatures, antique, 14.

London, 51, 52, 54, 104, 109, 110, 120, 127, 148.

Louvain, 117, 118, 144.

Lubeck, 104.

Lyons, 104, 115.


Machlinia, William de, 109, 128.

Maioli, Thomasso, 151, 152.

Mansion, Colard, 116, 117, 121, 122.

Manuscript, oldest Biblical, 17.

---- oldest Homeric, 17.

---- oldest New Testament, 18, 20.

Manuscripts, Arabic, 21.

---- Arabic-Spanish, 56.

---- Byzantine, 37.

---- Classical, 17, 20.

---- Coptic, 21.

---- of Four Gospels, 19.

---- Greek, 14, 15, 18.

---- Hiberno-Saxon, 43.

---- Illuminated, 36-46.

---- Irish, 37, 39-41, 44.

---- Italian, 37.

---- Moorish, 56.

---- printed illustrations in, 73.

---- Syriac, 21.

---- Winchester, 45.

---- of Virgil, 19.

Marienthal, 117.

Mentelin, John, 105.

Mentz, 82, 87, 88, 90, 92, 93, 96-98, 100, 101, 109, 117, 121.

Monasteries, books in, 21-24, 145, 146.

Monastic writing, 15, 19, 21, 22, 24, 46, 47, 49.

Morris, William, 80.

Musical notes printed, 103, 128.

Myllar, Andrew, 131-135.


Naples, 104.

Netley Abbey, 57.

New Testament, 17, 22.

Nineveh, 14.

Nuremberg, 104, 106, 117.


O'Kearney, John, 139, 141-143.

Old Testament, 12, 14, 17.

Omar, Caliph, 33.

Oxford, 53, 58, 62, 64, 65, 104, 130.

Oxyrhynchus, 20.


Paternoster Row, 51, 52.

Palestine, 21.

Palimpsests, 24.

Pannartz (_see_ Sweynheim).

Papyrus, 12.

Paris, 53, 62, 75, 93, 104, 106, 107, 109, 144.

---- Council of, 62.

Philobiblon, 15, 47, 48.

Peterborough, 61.

Petrarch, 23, 68, 113.

Pfister, Albrecht, 94, 95.

Poggio Bracciolini, 23.

Powell, Humfrey, 138.

Printed illustrations in MSS., 73.

Printers as editors and publishers, 104.

---- as booksellers, 105.

---- as bookbinders, 154.

Printing, 11, 70-144.

---- in colours, 102.

---- machines for, 161, 162, 164.

Psalter, Melissenda's, 148-150.

---- Mentz, 1457, 102.

---- Queen Mary's, 46.

Publication, mediæval, 51.

Publishers, 51, 104.

Pye or Pica, 105.

Pynson, Richard, 107.


"R" Printer, 107.

Ramsey Abbey, 61.

Reichenau Abbey, 60.

Richard de Bury, 23, 47, 50, 64, 65, 68.

Romans, 11.

Rome, 12, 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 28, 103, 104, 106, 108, 109, 111, 112, 131.

Rood, Theodore, 130.

Rostock, 117.

Rouen, 106, 131.

Royal Library of England, 68, 155.

---- of France, 67.


Satchels or Polaires, 145, 146.

Schoeffer, Peter, 93, 94, 100, 102, 105.

Scandinavians, 11.

Scotland, 104, 131, 147.

Seraglio library, 34, 35.

Sopwell, 131.

Spain, 23, 104.

Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, 78-80, 88, 89, 92.

Spira, John de, 109, 112, 130.

---- Vindelinus de, 110, 113.

Spires, 104.

---- John of (_see_ Spira).

St Albans, 104, 130, 131.

St Andrews, 138.

St Boniface, 37.

St Columba, 41, 145.

"St Christopher" Print, 72.

St Gall, Abbey of, 23, 60.

St Paul's Cathedral, 52.

Stationers, 51, 154.

---- Company of, 51.

Stereotype plates, printing from, 162.

Stirling, 138.

Story, John, 135.

Strasburg, 89, 90, 92, 93, 103, 105, 107, 110.

Subiaco, 103, 111.

Sweynheim and Pannartz, 103, 104, 107, 111, 112.


Tablets, 11, 12, 145.

The Hague, 118.

Theodore, Abp., 45, 63.

Therhoernen, Arnold, 109, 110.

Tintern Abbey, 57.

Titchfield Abbey, 58, 59.

Title-page, 107-109.

Tooling, 150.

Type or Types, Aldino, 113, 114.

---- Caxton's, 126.

---- Early, 107.

---- Gaelic or Irish, 139, 141-143.

---- Gothic, 107, 115.

---- Greek, 103.

---- Italic, 114.

---- Moveable, 81-89.

---- Roman, 107, 115.

---- Subiaco, 112.

---- Scottish printers', 135, 136.

---- Wood and metal, 106, 107.


Ulm, 104.

Usher, John, 141.

Utrecht, 117, 118.


Veldener, John, 117.

Venice, 68, 104, 107, 109, 110, 112, 113, 130.

Vienna, 75.

Virgil, Aldine, 114, 115, 152.


Waldfoghel, Procopius, 85.

Walsh, Nicholas, 141, 142.

Westminster, 104, 117, 121-123, 128.

Whitby, 60.

Wimborne Minster, 70.

Winchester, 45, 50, 62, 148.

Woodcuts, early English, 124.

Worcester, 57.

Writers of Text Letter, 51.

Writing, 10, 11.

Wynkyn de Worde, 121, 128, 131.


Zel, Ulric, 103.

Zutphen, 70.


  [ Transcriber's Note:

    The following is a list of corrections made to the original. The first
    line is the original line, the second the corrected one.

    Type of Mentz Indulgence                                             95
    Type of the Mentz Indulgence                                         95

  canon of the third Council of Constantinople, held in 719, A.D., enacted
  canon of the third Council of Constantinople, held in 719 A.D., enacted

  The result of the professor's researches went to confirm the belief held
  The result of the Professor's researches went to confirm the belief held

  writings were transscribed, chronicles and histories compiled, and
  writings were transcribed, chronicles and histories compiled, and

  manner of person shall print any manner of boke or paper .. except the
  manner of person shall print any manner of boke or paper ... except the

  at which the reader might sit. Pembroke College and Queen's College,
  at which the reader might sit. Pembroke College and Queens' College,

  of Tychefield four cases (_columnæ_) in which to place books, of which
  of Tychefeld four cases (_columnæ_) in which to place books, of which

  Klosterneuberg, near Vienna, which originally contained forty-five
  Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, which originally contained forty-five

  half of the fifteen century. Yet it is believed that probably more
  half of the fifteenth century. Yet it is believed that probably more

  established at Strasburg, Bamberg, Cologne, Augsberg, Nuremberg,
  established at Strasburg, Bamberg, Cologne, Augsburg, Nuremberg,

  debateable ground we will only add that the _Recuyell of the Historyes
  debateable ground we will only add that the _Recuyell of the Histories

  first English book with printed musical notes; Bartholomæus _De
  first English book with printed musical notes; Bartholomæus' _De

  in the English tongue, has been happily finished. Which Androw Myllar, a
  in the English tongue, has been happily finished. Which Andrew Myllar, a

      fourth day of apile the yhere of God M.CCCCC. and viii yheris.
      fourth day of aprile the yhere of God M.CCCCC. and viii yheris.


  hooks in the wall. Thus it is related in an old legend that "on the
  hooks in the wall. Thus it is related in an old legend that 'on the


  Augsberg, 104.
  Augsburg, 104.

  Klosterneuberg, 75.
  Klosterneuburg, 75.

  Psalter, Melissanda's, 148-150.
  Psalter, Melissenda's, 148-150.

  Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, 78-80, 88, 89 92.
  Speculum Humanæ Salvationis, 78-80, 88, 89, 92.

  Tooling, 150,
  Tooling, 150.


*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Story of Books" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.