Page:Essays in librarianship and bibliography.djvu/223

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ESSAYS IN LIBRARIANSHIP

occasionally contribute to the obscurity of early typography, and sometimes to that of the manners and ideas of the times. And here I may remark incidentally, that the history of early printing is highly creditable to the age which fostered the art, and to those who exercised it, without, one may almost say, producing a single frivolous book for fifty years. An account of it mainly from the point of view of its contact with human life—the books which the early printers thought worth reproducing, the success of these, as attested by the comparative frequency of their republication, the proportion in which studies and professions, arts and trades, respectively benefited by the new discovery, would make a fascinating story in the hands of a writer of insight and sympathy. We have materials enough; it is now required to make the dry bones live.

In a colophon it will naturally be expected that among the sentiments more frequently finding expression, should be the printer's joy in his art, and assertion of its claims to admiration. Udalricus Gallus, of Rome, boasts that he can print more matter in a day than a copyist can transcribe in a year: "Imprimit ille die quantum non scribitur anno." The same printer tells the geese that saved the Capitol that they may keep their quills for the future, as the cock (Gallus) has cut them out. Joannes de Spira, the first printer established at Venice, declares that his first attempt has so far surpassed the work of the scribes that the reader need set no bounds to his anticipations; just as an