Puslapio vaizdai

but a text in Greek, with its complex accents and ligatures, according to Aldus's ideas of propriety, required about six hundred characters. At the outset, he fairly reproduced all the accents, and, as soon as he could, all of the ligatures. To reduce the straggling Greek characters of the manuscripts to symmetrical proportions, to adjust them' on these bodies so that each letter would be in harmony when combined with any other letter, was a great undertaking. He did the work fairly, but not to his own entire satisfaction.

He seems to have been painfully conscious of the defects of his early Greek types, for his first books were thin little quartos that gave the notion of preliminary practice work. To him, the greatest defect was the sparsity of ligatures, which his poverty and his novice-like eagerness to do something did not allow him to present in the profusion he desired. In one of these early books (the "Poems of Museus," undated, probably 1493), he tells the reader that he needs money:

"Accept my book, but not gratis. To furnish you with excellent Greek books, it is necessary that I have money. I cannot print without money, and plenty of money."

In his first book with date-the Greek Grammar of Lascaris, 1494—a work which he had corrected and enlarged-he calls attention to its superiority and usefulness, and calls again for money to enable him to produce more important work.

This important work was an edition, in five volumes folio, of the works of Aristotle, the first volume of which-the "Organon,' published in November, 1495—was in the largest and most legible Greek text that had then been printed. Its superiority was acknowledged by Greek scholars everywhere, and Aldus was encouraged to go on with other large work. Before the year 1500, he had printed editions, in folio, of Theocritus, Bion, Moschus, and Aristophanes, four more volumes of Aristotle, and other books in quarto. To produce these books, he had to direct the making of three fonts of Greek and two of Roman types, to organize a great printing-house, and superintend the work of many men, from the composition of the types to the binding and selling of the books. This was work enough for a man of extraordinary ability; but Aldus did He prepared the copy for all these books, rewrote two Greek grammars and a new Greek lexicon, read all the proofs, and


kept up an extended correspondence. The difficulties he met in preparing the copy were most discouraging. In his preface to the "Theocritus," he says the texts he consulted were so mutilated and transposed that the author himself, if living, might not have been able to unravel the tangle. It does not surprise one, in view of the great work he did, to read this pathetic confession in the preface to his "Thesaurus" of 1496: "In this seventh year of my self-imposed task, I can truly say-yes, under oath—that I have not, during these long years, had one hour of peaceful rest."

All of Aldus's early books were printed from large, round, open types, and had broad margins-in all points fair imitations of the best manuscripts of his day, and in the style now most commended by bibliographers. But he was not fortunate in getting the approval of all critics. One of his literary friends, Urceus Codrus, in a letter written by him in 1498, said that he was pleased with the workmanship and the accuracy of the "Aristotle," but was indignant at the price. He thought Aldus was too prodigal of paper, and plainly said that he would deal more fairly were he to give more type and less margin. To prove that he was aggrieved, he adds that with the money paid for Aldus's five volumes of "Aristotle," he could have bought ten of the largest and best manuscripts in Latin. Alas for the mutabilities of fashion in book-making! A fair manuscript of the fifteenth century is now of more value than the ordinary printed book of the same period-not that the manuscript is more legible or more accurate, but because it is rarer. The broad margin which Codrus disparaged is now the evidence of superiority in the edition.

[ocr errors]


Codrus's complaint tempts to a consideration of the prices of Aldus's books. In his first catalogue, this edition of "Aristotle" bears the price of eleven ducats. If sold for silver, Aldus received about twenty dollars in American currency; if in gold, about twenty-six dollars. The purchasing capacity of the ducat in bread and meatwhich is needed to make a just comparison of values-cannot be given. That Aldus thought the price too low is plain, for, in his catalogue of 1503, he asked four ducats for one of the volumes. His son, Paul Manutius, who succeeded him, in a financial statement made to an academy for which he printed, gives prices for similar work, which were about one-fourth more than those of

his father. That they were necessarily higher is proved by the financial perplexities of the family, and by the slow and steady advance in the price of folios and large-paper copies. The average price of the folio or large quarto, published in London at the beginning of the eighteenth century, was ten or twelve shillings; the price of a similar book published there now is rarely less than thirty shillings, and often fifty. The prices asked by Bodoni, the famous Italian printer, in the first quarter of this century, were twice and

not be cheapened by steam presses or typesetting machines. The man who can plan and print a well-made book will ask and get for his labor at least as much as the man who makes a pair of good boots.

In 1498, Aldus paid the penalty of overwork with a severe sickness. In view of death, he vowed that he would become a priest should he get well. He did recover, and, regretting his vow, asked and obtained of the spiritual authorities a release from this obligation. The motive may be inferred when we read of his marriage in 1499



ΝΤΟΣ Αναγκαίο Χρυσόρι εἰς τῶν παρὰ Aeisοτέλη κατη γοριών διδασκαλίαν, τη Γέρας το γύος καὶ τὸ διαφορά τότε είδος τὸ ἴδιον. τὸ συμβέβηκός εςτε τα θορισμών απόδοσιν, καὶ ὅλως εις τὲ περὶ διαιρέσεως κι άποδείξεως. χρησίμης κασις τῆς τούτων θεωρίας, στο μόνο που




thrice as much as those of the elder Aldus. Improvements in machinery enable modern publishers to produce newspapers, magazines, and popular books, which can be sold in large quantities, at very low prices; but they have not at all cheapened the largepaper copies or those books that are certain to have small sale. A few copies of a book finely printed cost more now than ever; nor is it probable that this higher cost will ever be much reduced, for the great expense of the small edition of a choice book is, and always will be, that of hand labor. It can


[ocr errors]

to Maria, daughter of Andrew Torresano, of Asola, an eminent brother printer and publisher. Although Aldus was then nearly fifty years old and his wife was very young, it seems to have been a happy marriage.

It may have been the advice of his thrifty father-in-law, who was a successful publisher,

it may have been the complaints of Codrus and his friends that his books were of too high price,-that induced Aldus to change his methods of book-making. Like all the early printers, he had believed that the broad-margined and large-typed folio was

the true model; but he and they soon dis- | the adjustment of inclined letters on square covered that it was not entirely acceptable. There is a flavor of querulousness in his prefaces before the year 1500, which indicates that his books did not find cheerful purchasers. To get the buyers he desired, he must make cheaper books. To do this, he must make smaller types, and put a large page on a small leaf. He did not shrink

bodies. The labor would have been lighter if Aldus had been content with one form only of each letter. He was not. The vitiated taste which induced him to make ligatures for Greek, compelled him to order “tied ” letters, or double letters, for the new font. His ideal of a popular character was a close imitation of stiff or set penmanship, the beauty of variety, not of uniformity.

from the innovation.

He was thoroughly


saturated with the (siufus per membra feras) hoc pectore, preffus
Vaftator Nemies bec exitiale ferebant
Robur & argoos frangebant brachiaremos ·
Hoc fpatio tam magna breui mendacia forme.
Quis modus in dextra' quanta experientia doffi
Artificis curis,pariter geftamina menfe
Fingere & ingentes animo uerfare Coloffos?
I alenecidas quicquam Telchines in antris
N ec folidus Brontes nec qui polit arma deorum
Lemnius, exigua potuiffet ludere massa.
Nectorua effigies cpulusq; aliena remffis,
5 ed qualem parci domus admirata Molorchi
Aut Alea lucis.uidit.Tegeed facerdos.
Qualis atau emiffus in aftra fauillis
Nectar adhuc torna lætus tunone bibebat.
Siamitis uultus ueluti de pectore gaudens
Hortetur menfas tenet hæc marcentia fratris
P ocula adhuc fauæ meminit manus altera cadis for the leaf of this Vir-
S uftnet ocultum Nemeco tegmine faxum
Digna operi fortuna facro Pellæus habebat
Regnator lens numen uenerabile menfis
Et comitem occafus fecum portabat & ortus"
P renfabatq; libens,modo qua diademata dextra

The first work printed in the new character was an edition of Virgil, an unpaged book of two hundred and twentyeight leaves in octavo, which was published in April, 1501. It is properly called an octavo, for the leaf is one-eighth of the sheet on which it was printed, but the unschooled reader, who is more familiar with the larger size (six by nine inches) of the modern octavo, would rate it as a small eighteen-mo,


gil, lightly trimmed, does not measure four by six inches.

The new character was successful. By Italians it was called

A bftulerat dederatq;,& magnas uerterat urbes Aldino or Aldine, in
Semper ab hoc animos in crashna bella petebat.
Huic aces uictor femper narrabat opimas.
S ineau benatos Bromio detraxerat indos.
s eu claufam magna Babylona refregerat hafid.
s eu pelopus terras Libertatemq; pelafgam
O bruerat bello.magnoq; ex agmine laudum


honor of the inventor. In France, where it was counterfeited, and where there was a motive to suppress the name of the inventor, it was called Italic, the name by which it is now known to French and English readers. In a decree dated November 13, 1502, the senate of Venice gave Aldus exclusive right to the use of this character, and threatened counterfeiters with fines and the confiscation of printing materials. This patent, which was confirmed by Pope Alexander VI. on December 17, 1502, was subsequently renewed for fifteen years by Pope Julius II. (January, 1513), and by Pope Leo X. in the

spirit of the Renaissance and was ready to give up any method which even

seemed to hinder a wider spread of knowledge. When fairly awakened to the necessity for changing the size of popular books, he was also prepared to change the form of the letters. Some printers at Rome and at Venice had made their earlier books popular by rejecting Gothic and printing them in light, clear Roman letters. Why might not he be as successful with an en

tirely new character? The model for

this new character he found in the thin,

sharp,inclined hand-
writing of the poet
Petrarch; smaller,
clearer, simpler than

the Gothic; more
condensed and pa-
per-saving than the
round-faced Roman;
the very letter, as he
thought, to fairly show the most matter in
the least space.


He took this writing to Francesco Raibolini of Bologna, an expert goldsmith at Venice, and hired him to redraw the characters in typographical proportion, and to cut the punches or models of the types he wanted. The cutting of the new character was not so tedious as the cutting of punches for Greek, but it had its own difficulties-especially in


[ocr errors]


same year. These patents gave no protection. With shameless impudence the punch-cutter, Raibolini, made duplicates for the rival printer, Girolamo Soncino, of Fano, which he at once put to use in an imitated edition of Aldus's Virgil, stealing in one venture not only the letter but the editorial work of Aldus. The Giunta, a printing association at Florence, also made a clumsy imitation of Italic, with which they printed many books. An unknown printer, at Lyons, reproduced this Virgil, with other Aldine books, in close imitation of this Italic, and with the trade-mark of Aldus, and sold the books

[blocks in formation]

Explicit feliciter.Ammo diii.M.CCCCC.XI
Die uero.q.Menfis Septembris.Expenfis honefti

Bir Bartholomei trot.


the tied, condensed character which Aldus admired. This tying and pinching was overdone, for, although the Aldine Italics are of firmer face, and have an open, leaded appearance, they are not as easily read as modern Italics of the same size. An overnice criticism could note defects of proportion and fitting, but every type-founder will admit that for a first experiment this Italic was well done.


"When I undertook to furnish good books to lovers of letters, I thought that I need only see that the books issued by our Academy should be as correct as care could make them. But four times within the past seven years I have had to protect myself against the treachery of my workmen. have defeated their plots and punished their perfidy. Yet, in the city of Lyons, books are fraudulently printed under my name. These books do not contain the name and place of the real printer, but are made in imitation of mine, so that the unwary reader will believe them printed in Venice. Their paper is inferior and has a bad odor. The types displease the eye, and have French peculiarities. The capitals are deformed. The letters are not connected, as mine are, in imitation of writing."


The composition is good in its comparative freedom from the abbreviations then in common use,—not so good, perhaps, in its bewildering use of a few punctuation points. Its great peculiarity is the queer shape of the capital

letters at the beginning of each line. The capitals are not higher than the short letters of the text; they do not incline, but stand up straight; they are separated from the words to which they belong by a wide space. The spacing-off of capitals in poetry was a mannerism then in fashion with Italian copyists, which Aldus reproduced. No reason has been given for his use of upright capitals. It is probable that this peculiarity was caused by his reverence for classic models. He had no scruples about altering the shapes of Petrarch's letters to suit the needs of type-founding, but he did shrink from meddling with the shape of classic letters. To incline the capitals as we do, and make them harmonize with the text, he regarded as literary vandalism. He would as soon have altered the words of Cicero as the shape of Cicero's letters.


It is impracticable to show a fac-simile from this Virgil, but the accompanying facsimile of a page of Statius, a book of the same size, and printed from the same types by Aldus in 1502, when the types were but slightly worn, will just as fairly show the peculiarities of his early Italic. The printed page has the appearance of leaded types (or of types separated by increasing space between the lines) but it is not leaded. The characters were cast on a body nearly as large as that known to English and American printers as pica, but the short letters, which constitute the greater part of the font, like the m and a, are at least two sizes smaller than is usual for types on this body. The new character was cut with plain intent to get many letters in a line. All the short letters are angular and pinched. Two letters are often put together in one type, making


Aldus's substitution of small capitals for capitals, and his method of joining straight and inclined characters, have not been approved by printers. Yet his small capitals have everywhere been recognized as a great improvement. All type-founders provide them as a necessary part of each font of Roman type.

The paper of this edition of Statius is thin, of smooth face, and of fair color, but it is unsized and not fit for writing on. It came, as did most of his paper, from the mills of Fabriano, a place that long maintained a good reputation for paper-making, for the Fabriano papers were honorably mentioned by a jury of the World's Fair, of which Firmin-Didot was chief, at London in 1851. For special copies, Aldus selected finer papers. His friend Lorenzo, writing to Aldus's

patroness, Isabella d'Este, tells her that the promised copies of Petrarch and Ovid are delayed by Aldus's inability to get fine, pure white linen paper; that only fifteen choice copies each of these books will be printed; that the printed sheets of her copies will be carefully selected by Aldus himself, and that the price of the Ovid will be five ducats. These special copies, on finer paper, elegantly bound, and ever since carefully preserved, may have led to the error that Aldus always printed on full-sized paper. As full-sized paper was expensive, and not easily printed, the printers of that time selected it for choice copies only.

The price of the new octavos was a little less than fifty cents in American silver. Compared with the earlier editions in folio, they were marvels of cheapness, but the sequel proved that they were too cheap for


the time.

Immediately after his recovery from his dangerous sickness, Aldus had to confess that the task he had undertaken was too

great. To select, procure, and prepare for press the manuscripts he proposed to print, it was necessary that he should have the assistance of the ripest scholars. For this purpose he founded, in 1501, the New Academy, a voluntary association of eminent scholars, among them Greek exiles, Venetian senators, Roman cardinals, professors in universities, and men of letters. This Academy did a great service to classic literature by its discussions concerning the relative value of different authors, the true reading of different versions, and the genuineness or spuriousness of disputed passages. The need of the work done by this Academy is clearly stated by Erasmus, in his article on Aldus's motto, Festina lente:

"We now give as much care to the exact rendering of a manuscript as to the wording of a legal paper. This care was a once sacred duty, but it was in

trusted too long to ignorant monks, and afterward to women. What trouble this neglect has made for the printer! Yet our law-makers do not concern themselves about the matter. He who sells English cloth for Venetian cloth is punished, but he who sells corrupt texts in place of good ones goes free. Innumerable are the books that are corrupted, especially in Germany. There are restraints on bad bakers, but none on bad printers, and there is no corner of the earth where bad books do not go."

*Cheap as this may seem, the book has been made at a lower price. In 1806, Pierre Didot, of Paris, published a Virgil of the same size, the first of a stereotyped edition of classic texts, ornamented with vignettes on copper by Andrieux, and beautifully printed, for the paltry price of one franc. This, also, was an unprofitable venture.

The rules of the Academy are curious. All conversation must be in Greek. Whoever spoke in any other language was fined. If the fine was not paid after the offense, it was doubled at the next meeting. These fines were put in the hands of Aldus, to defray the expense of an occasional feast. No jokes were tolerated; the jester who poked fun at the Academy must be expelled. The jocular man, so the rules say, was unfit to realize the sweet dream of a new Academy after the ideal of Plato.


With these helpers, Aldus gave himself up to his printing-office work with renewed In one book he says: "You do not know how busy I am; the care I have to give to my publications does not allow me proper time to eat or sleep." So busy a publisher and editor may be pardoned the irritability he showed to bores, and printing-house correspondents. How feelingly he describes them! The pedagogue who sent him sixteen-page letters of advice; the incompetent author who wanted his unsalable book printed at Aldus's expense; the would-be author who asked him, as if it were a favor conferred, to read and correct his manuscript; the literary idler who wanted to talk about books; the inquisitive man about town who wanted to know, you know, what he would publish next-are they not as much of the nineteenth as of the fifteenth century? In selfdefense, Aldus put this warning on his door:

"Whoever you are, Aldus entreats you to be brief. When you have spoken, leave him, unless you come like Hercules to help Atlas, weary of his burden. Know that there is work here for every one who enters the door."

Strangers were often refused admission, and required to wait until Aldus should be ready. Erasmus, wittiest and wisest of the authors of his time, met this rebuff, when he visited Aldus to arrange for the printing of a new book. Although Aldus greeted him cordially, with regrets for the delay, and afterward printed and praised his book, and made him an inmate of his house, and a member of the New Academy, and gave him employment as editor and corrector, the waspish little Dutchman never forgot the incivility. For Erasmus was nothing if not critical. To live and work with Aldus was to see points of attack. He did not spare him. Years after, when attached to the printing-house of Froben, of Basle, he made occasion to remark that Aldus's early editions had many errors. Accused of assisting in the production of these erroneous books, Erasmus indignantly denied that he had ever served as a proof-reader for Aldus on any books but his own. It was a vile

« AnkstesnisTęsti »