網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

printed another small work, Scougal's Life of God in the Souls of Men. Mr. Ged died in 1749, and the two sons whom he left behind him settled in Jamaica, where they both died. In consequence of these events, no more was done in the art of stereotyping nntil about the year 1781, when Dr. Tilloch, a Scotch gentleman, and editor of the Philosophical Magazine, brought the merits of Mr. Ged before the public in the columns of his Journal. Dr. Tilloch, indeed, may be considered the second inventor of this art, as he proved the practicability and vast utility of using plates instead of moveable types for all works of permanent use.

Since that period they have been gradually gaining admission into the printing offices, until at length they are now generally used for almost all standard works; and it has done much to lower the price of books, as a set of stereotype plates cost only double the amount of one single type edition. Bibles, Testaments, in various languages, dictionaries, school books, and all standard works, are now thrown into the market on the cheapest terms by means of stereotype plates. It

may be an item of interesting information to some of our readers to know the mode of casting the solid plates for stereotype printing. The work to be stereotyped is first set up by the compositor with moveable types in distinct pages. From these pages, after being carefully corrected, a mould in plaster, the basis of which is gypsum, is taken; and from this mould an impression is cast, forming an exact fac-simile of the moveable types originally set up by the compositor in the ordinary way. Like most other useful inventions, when a knowledge of them is once obtained, and their value duly appreciated, we wonder that it should not have been sooner discovered. See New Edinburgh Encyclopedia ; Dr. A. Clarke's Bibliographical Miscellany, and Holmes's Annals of America.

This ingenious discovery, together with the improvements which have been, and are continually introduced into the art of printing, by power presses, which may be moved either by hand, by a horse, or by steam, not only lightens the expense of printing, but also affords facilities for the despatch of this branch of mechanical labor, which contributes wonderfully to the diffusion of science and general information. Some of these presses will throw off from 1,000 to 1,500 sheets in one hour.

On reviewing this subject, one can hardly avoid noticing the coincidences of Divine Providence in furnishing means to God's servants that they might more effectually promote His cause. About the same time that Luther commenced the Reformation in Germany, the art of printing was discovered. And how powerfully and efficiently this mechanical engine was used to diffuse abroad those grand and reforming

VOL. IV.- October, 1833.

a

a

39

principles which Luther was instrumental in reviving, we need not undertake to tell, as it is known to all who have the slightest acquaintance with the history of this great and beneficial process. It is true, that the enemies of the cause availed themselves of the same weapon in defence of error ; but the evil is much more than counterbalanced by the immense advantages resulting from a proper application of this powerful instrument. Begin at the grand epoch of the Reformation, trace it along down to the present time, in company with the art of printing, and see how the principles of civil and religious liberty have been developed, and what an influence has been exerted on the understandings, as well as on the civil and moral conduct of mankind. Tyrants and errorists have trembled for their fate ever since this engine of truth has been in successful operation ; and they will continue to tremble until they are both driven from all their lurking places, and from all their strong holds—so we most ardently pray.

But what an era is this in which we live! Look again at the history of this art. What expedients have been resorted to, more especially in the old world, to silence the voice of this mighty orator. Even to the present time, with the exception of England and its dependencies, there is no part of Europe where the press is entirely free; nor will it be, so long as tyranny is permitted to sport itself with the miseries of mankind. An effort to silence it, or so control it as to make it subserve the cause of tyranny, procured the recent revolution in France. And it is only so far as this tyranny is exercised over the press that the rational liberty of the people is restrained and abridged. This is well understood by the despots of the old world ; and hence the rigorous measures they have adopted to restrain the liberty of the press, and to circumscribe the circulation of the principles of civil and religious freedom. The same blind principle has ever led the despotic Church of Rome to prevent the circulation of the Holy Scriptures and Protestant books among its members. Adopting the absurd maxim, that ignorance is the mother of devotion,' this Church has uniformly refused to avail itself of the means offered by the art of printing to enlighten its members in the great principles of religion, any farther than they are taught and explained by men of its own communion. Hence the tenacity with which they hold fast the unmeaning and unscriptural tenets and ceremonies by which that fallen and corrupt Church is distinguished ; and hence also this Church has been ever closely wedded with civil despotisms, emulating them in their zealous efforts to destroy the liberties of the people.

It is, indeed, a remarkable fact in the history of our race, that igno. rance and tyranny, science and liberty, have ever been companions. And this fact should inspire the friends of freedom, of just rights

a

a

and privileges, to be zealous in the propagation of sound knowledge, and of all those principles of civil and religious liberty which are essential to the well-being of community. We need not wonder, therefore, that the friends of the Redeemer, all those who are alive to His important interests, are upon the alert in availing themselves of the press to spread abroad the truths of His religion. Let them ply themselves to this work with prudence, zeal, and perseverance, and they shall witness the reward of their labors.

We read and hear much of the wisdom and knowledge of the ancients. And it is a truth which cannot be controverted that many of them are justly celebrated on account of their high attainments in literature, and in many of the important arts and sciences. But how exceedingly circumscribed must have been the circle of knowledge and general information in those times, when all the books in existence were confined to manuscripts, in comparison to what it is now! Learning was monopolized entirely by a very few. These formed a complete aristocracy in the department of knowledge. Hence the veneration in which they were held by the many ;-and hence, also, the facility with which the learned few, or those of them who were so disposed, could impose upon the ignorant credulity of the uninstructed multitude. This fact accounts for the existence of the tribes of witches, wizzards, jugglers, and necromancers, which infested society, and imposed upon the ignorant populace by their artful tricks. Understanding how to control the laws of nature by chemical operations, they deluded the senses and understandings of the people, by making them believe that invisible spirits were their obedient agents, and that by their power over them, they could command them to their assistance to produce those wonderful events. This, also, explains the reason why God commanded all witches to be slain among the people of Israel. They wickedly used their arts to delude the people by imposing upon their credulity, and hence to induce them to conclude that these necromancers were some great ones,' who might be adored as gods. Were ignorance of the laws of nature, and of chemical combinations and processes as universally prevalent now as it was then, the same impositions might be practised with equal facility and success, and the world would still be infested with similar impostures. How strange is it, that amid all the lights of science, the prevalence of the pure doctrines of the Gospel, and the superior advantages of literature and the arts, the belief in witchcraft, according to the modern acceptation of the word, should still have such a strong hold in the minds of many people! So difficult is it to eradicate old superstitions and prejudices.

But we were about to say that the knowledge of the ancients, though pre-eminent among a few who devoted themselves exclusively to the study of the arts and literature, was by no means general. It could not be in the nature of things. Their books, which contained the results of their discoveries, were confined principally to the publie libraries, and to the shelves of the studious; for they had no means at their command by which they could be so multiplied as to be in general circulation. See, then, what a revolution the art of printing has effected! The rolling of this mighty machine has communicated life and motion to every limb and muscle of the great moral and intellectual body, and impressed it with a velocity wholly unknown to our remote ancestors; and in its rapid evolutions throws out scintillations of light and heat in every direction, by which the whole body may be full of light.'

It only remains, therefore, to use the advantages thus put into our hands to obtain a complete triumph over error and vice.

It is true, like every good thing with which mankind have been favored, this is susceptible of great abuse; and the enemies of truth and righteousness have not failed to avail themselves of it to subserve their cause

in the propagation of error and falsehood. But how shall we counte• ract this abuse? Not by supineness. Not by folding our hands toge

ther in slothful inactivity, as if the good work were already accomplished. This would be a criminal betraying of our trust, a neglect to improve our advantages for which we should deserve to be punished. We must be upon the alert. The friends of truth and goodness must seize upon the weapon thus put into their hand, and cease not to wield it manfully until the enemy is driven from the field. Neither sloth, nor avarice, nor an improper deference to the opinions of others, should induce us to compromise the great and invaluable interests of the Redeemer, nor to form a truce with the abettors of error and of vice.

REVIEW OF THE MEMOIRS OF REV. JOHN SMITH.

Memoirs of the Life, Character, and Labors of the Rev. John Smith,

late of Sheffield, (England.) By Richard Treffry, Jun. First American Edition. New-York, published by B. Waugh & T. Mason. 18mo. pp. 328.

One of the beauties of creation consists in its endless variety. In surveying it, the eye is relieved from that satiety which results from a perpetual sameness. We glance from the heavens to the earth—from the sun to the moon and stars, which fill and beautify the vast expanse over our heads—and then from the dry land to the seas, rivers, and lakes—and finally from one individual object to another,— with over

varying pleasure and profit. We see, indeed, no one object which the Creator has made, if we consider it with a philosophic eye, which we could wish to have struck out of existence. Respecting them all we can say

Ever beauteous, ever young,
Angelic forms their voices raise,

And through the arch resound thy praise,' for having formed them in such exact order, beauty, and perfection, as unitedly to make one complete whole, in which nothing is wanting, nothing is superfluous. How different would the earth appear were it one extended plain, to what it does now with its lofty mountains, its meandering vales, its gently rolling hills, its fertile plains, its flowing rivers, and extended seas. The blue sky itself would lose all its charms, were it not bespangled with its numerous stars, and overcast occasionally with its flying clouds. It is the harmonious opposition, the beautiful variety, the endless succession of objects, which give such exquisite delight to the mind in the contemplation of nature.

But what connection, it may be asked, have these commonplace observations with the memoirs of an individual man? They were suggested from the inquiry, What is it that renders biography interesting and useful? We take up a memoir, and we eagerly run over its pages, and can scarcely consent to lay it aside until we see the end of it. We can hardly tell why we devour its contents with such avidity. On reflection, however, the secret charm is revealed. The subject of the memoir was of an elevated character. He attracted great public attention while he lived. He instructed them by his writing, his conversation, his great and benevolent actions. And now that he is dead, he has fallen into the hands of a skilful biographer, who understands his character, and who introduces into the thread of the narrative all that variety of incident, relating to his private and public life, his conversations, and the manner in which he employed his time; these things give life and animation, and impart an interest to the memoir which entertains, edifies, and delights the reader. Instead of a dull repetition of the same every day occurrences, which relate chiefly to personal and individual experience and mental exercises, the biographer seizes upon the prominent features of the character he is delineating, draws the lines exact to nature, tells you the thoughts which occupied his heart, follows out in bold relief the expanding powers of his intellect, shows his resemblances and contrasts with his cotemporaries, displays before you the rich stores of his mind, and shows you how he exemplified in practical life those precepts of justice and mercy which adorn and dignify the human character. Hence you are carried from scene to scene, from object to object, from one place to another, and you follow him with a delight increasing with every successive page-even

« 上一頁繼續 »