Page images
PDF
EPUB

432

TRAVELLERS AND TRANSLATORS.

TRAVELLERS.

Books of travel and geographical discovery have come, within the last hundred years, to form a very large and important section of our literature. JAMES BRUCE of Kinnaird (17301794), the brave seeker for the sources of the Nile, and MUNGO PARK (1771-1805), that young surgeon of Selkirkshire who explored the basin of the Niger and died in its waters, have left us narratives of their adventures. The works of the latter possess much simple literary grace. Lieutenant CLAPPERTON, RICHARD LANDER of Niger fame, BURCKHARDT a Switzer, and BELZONI an Italian, added greatly to our knowledge of Africa. Dr. EDWARD CLARKE of Cambridge (1769-1822), a polished and observant scholar, wrote a valuable account of his travels through the East, including Russia, Tartary, Turkey, Greece, Palestine, and Egypt. FORSYTH, EUSTACE, MATHEWS, Lady MORGAN, and many others, contributed works on Italy. The Polar Regions have found describers in nearly all those brave officers who have tried to penetrate the

Among such, PARRY, Ross, the lamented FRANKLIN, and SCORESBY the whale-fisher, stand out prominently. SILK BUCKINGHAM, in Asia Minor and Arabia ; MALCOLM, MORIER, OUSELY, and KER PORTER, in Persia ; FRASER, among the Himalayas ; STAUNTON, BARROW, and ELLIS, in China ; Captain BASIL Hall, all over the Pacific and round its shores ; IngLis, in Norway, France, Switzerland, and among the Pyrenees and Spanish Sierras—are a few of the leading travellers, who, during this era of our literature, added valuable works to the geographical shelf of our libraries.

TRANSLATORS.

The number of translating pens employed upon the Greek and Roman authors is beyond counting. PHILIP FRANCIS (died 1773) translated Horace and Demosthenes ; THOMAS MITCHELL (1783

[blocks in formation]

1845), devoted his classic skill to Aristophanes; while in our own time Professor BLACKIE, besides Goethe's Faust, has given us Æschylus in an English dress; and THEODORE MARTIN, of Bon Gaultier fame, has lately translated the Odes of Horace and the lyrics of Catullus. The gentleman last named is also well known for bis translations from the Danish and the German. In the latter he has been associated with Professor Aytoun.

A noble version of Dante by the Rev. HENRY FRANCIS CARY (1772–1844); Ariosto by WILLIAM ROSE (1775–1843); Calderon the Spanish dramatist by DENIS F. M-CARTHY ; the Lusiad of Camoens the Portuguese poet by WILLIAM MICKLE (1734–1788); and Poems from the same author by Viscount STRANGFORD (1780– 1855); Goethe's Faust and Schiller's Song of the Bell by Lord ELLESMERE (1800–1857); Bürger's Lenore, Lessing's Nathan, Goethe's Iphigenia, and Schiller's Bride of Messina, by WILLIAM TAYLOR (1765–1836); Russian, Polish, Magyar, Bohemian Poetry by Sir John BOWRING (born 1792); Norse and Icelandic Tales by DASENT,—are far from exhausting the list of our best translations. Bohn's Library contains a most valuable set of these works, almost all of the highest stamp.

434

THE STANHOPE PRESS,

NINTH ERA OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.

FROM THE DEATH OF SCOTT IN 1832 A.D. TO THE PRESENT TIME.

CHAPTER I.

PRINTING BY STEAM.

The old press.
Earl Stanhope.
König.
Nicholson.
An anxious night.

Statement in the Times.
König's machine.
Cowper and Applegath.
Statistics.
Scene in Printing-House Square.

THE clumsy press, with which William Caxton and Wynkyn de Worde printed off their black-letter volumes in the Almonry or Red-pale at Westminster, continued with slight alterations to supply Britain with the works of Shakspere, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Goldsmith, Cowper, in a word, of all the writers who adorned our literature until the present century was some years

old. Its great improver was Charles, third Earl Stanhope, who, born in 1753, devoted much of his aristocratic leisure to the study of machinery. The chief change he made was "in forming the entire press of iron, the plate being large enough to print a whole sheet at once, instead of requiring a double action." The blank paper, being placed upon a frame-work, is folded down upon the newly inked types, which lie in “form" upon a horizontal slab. Paper and type being wheeled, by the turning of a handle, under a heavy square plate of metal, this, called the platten, is, by means of a lever, brought down upon the paper, pressing it suddenly and strongly against the type. The printed sheet is wheeled

а

[blocks in formation]

out; another takes its place; and so the work of the Stanhope press proceeds.

A Saxon clockmaker, called König, who could find no Continental printers to take up the subject of an improved press, came to London with his plans about the year 1804. He found the presses there throwing off 250 single impressions in an hour; and setting steadily to work in the face of many difficulties, he persevered until he had constructed a printing machine capable of being worked by stean. Already, about the year 1790, a Mr. Nicholson had taken out a patent for printing by revolving cylinders, one of which was surrounded with type, and the other with soft leather, so that a sheet, passing between them, received the impression. It remained for König to apply this principle to the steam maebine; and so considerable was his success, that in 1814 Mr. John Walter of the T'imes, alive to everything in the shape of literary progress, gave him a commission to set up his cylinders on the premises of the great Daily.

This was a dangerous muve, needing the utmost caution; for the infuriated pressmen, maddened by the prospect of hand-labour in printing being superseded by machinery, would have torn to pieces both inventor and invention, had they got any inkling of the work that was going on, not many yards away. When all was ready, the pressmen were told one night to wait for news expected from the Continent, and at six o'clock on a dark November morning, Mr. Walter came in among 1814 them with the damp sheets in his hand, to tell them that the Times was already printed off by steam; that if they meant violence, he was ready for them; but that if they kept quiet, their wages should be continued until they got work elsewhere. Taken completely aback, they looked in amazement at the paper which he distributed among them, and without a struggle they yielded to the power of this friendly foe. And ever since that anxious night the clank of the engine and the rushing of white hot steam have been heard amid the multitudinous noises of Printing House Square.

The following announcement appeared in the Times of that

Nov. 29,

A.D.

436

IMPROVEMENT OF THE STEAM-MACHINE.

same November morning :-"The reader now holds in his hands one of the many thousand impressions of the Times newspaper, which were taken last night by a mechanical apparatus. That the magnitude of the invention may be justly appreciated by its effects, we shall inform the public that after the letters are placed by the compositors, and enclosed in what is called a 'form,' little more remains for man to do than to attend and watch this unconscious agent in its operations. The machine is then merely supplied with paper; itself places the form, inks it, adjusts the paper to the form newly inked, stamps the sheet, and gives it forth to the hands of the attendant, at the same time withdrawing the form for a fresh coat of ink, which itself again distributes, to meet the ensuing sheet, now advancing for impression: and the whole of these complicated acts are performed with such a velocity and simultaneousness of movement, that no less than 1100 sheets are impressed in one hour.”

König's first machine, although an undoubted stride far beyond the Stanhope press, was comparatively clumsy and complicated. Its worst point was the inking apparatus, in which no fewer than forty wheels were always at work. The type was laid on a flat surface, and the impression was taken by passing it under a large cylinder. He afterwards improved the machine, so as to accomplish the printing of the sheet on both sides.

A simpler machine by Cowper and Applegath was introduced in 1818, which, in order to secure register-a technical name for the perfect coincidence of the printed matter on opposite sides of the same sheet—had, between the printing cylinders, two drums, under and over which the paper was passed. Still the march of improvement continued. A four-cylinder machine, also by Cowper and Applegath, began in 1827 to print at the rate of about 5000 copies in an hour. Napier also made many improve

ments. The process of inking became simpler, and so 1848 the work went on, until in 1848 Applegath set up a

machine, which consisted of a great central upright drum,

surrounded by eight smaller cylinders also vertical, bound in cloth, and connected by toothed wheels with the central mass,

A.D.

« PreviousContinue »