Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/220

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ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

has managed to put a great deal of information about himself. He often becomes, or at least hires, a poet. He boasts, and generally not without ground, of his industry and accuracy. He usually records the precise day when his work was completed, and sometimes the exact time spent upon it. He sometimes, as in an instance quoted by Mr. Pollard, brings in a bishop to help his book with a recommendation.

All this is very interesting so far as it helps to make the old printers real to us. We would fain know more of men to whom we are so greatly indebted, and who, we are sure, must have been individually interesting. I will not say that this early age was the heroic age of printing, for the history of the art is fertile in examples of heroism down to this day; and perhaps the greatest man who ever exercised it—Benjamin Franklin—was a modern. But there certainly must have been a romance about the early days of printing not easily reproduced now. Romantic circumstances must have attended the flight of the first printers from the besieged city of Mentz, where the art had been exclusively carried on for so many years.

When we see how largely these German emigrants settled in Italy and France, and had almost a monopoly of Spain, we perceive that they must have been men of great enterprise. How did they overcome the difficulties that must have beset them as settlers in foreign countries? Is it not a fair conjecture that the difficulty of language was partly overcome by their being men of liberal education,