Page images

the facilitating its prugress, the study of our tongue might become much more general. Those who have employed some part of their time in learning a new language, must have frequently observed, that while their acquaintance with it was imperfect, difficulties, small in thëmselves, operated as great ones in obstructing their progress. A book, for example, ill printed, or a pronunciation in speakng not well árticulated, would render a sentence inintelligible, which from a clear print, or a difinct speaker, would have been immediately comsrehended. If, therefore, we would have the berefit of seeing our language more generally known mong mankind, we thould endeavour to remove A the difficulties, however small, that discourage he learning of it. But I am sorry to observe, that f late years, those difficulties, instead of being diYinished, have been augmented.

In examining the English books that were printd between the restoration and the acceflion of Teorge the Second, we may observe, that all sub

antives were begun with a capital, in which we hitated our mother tongue, the German. This as more particularly useful to those who were ot well acquainted with the English, there being ich a prodigious number of our words that are oth verbs and substantives, and spelt in the same

anner, though often accented differcnily in prounciation

This method has, by the fincy of linters, of late years, been entirely laid aside; om an idea, that suppressing the capitals ihews Te character to greater advantage; those letters, rominent above the line, disturbing its even, reular appearance. The effect of this change is so onsiderable, that a learned man in France, who

used to read our books, though not perfe&ly acquainted with our language, in conversation with me on the fubject of our authors, att ibuted the greater obscurity he found in our modern books, compared with those written in the perii d above mentioned, to charge of style for the worse in our writers; of which mistake I convinced him, by marking for him cach fubstantive with a capital

, in a paragraph, which he then easily understood, though before he could not comprehend it. This Thews the inconvenience of that pretended improvement,

From the same fondness for an uniform and cven appearance of characters in the line, the printers have of late alfo banished the italic types, in which words of import ince to be attended to in the sense of the sentence, and words on which an emphasis should be put in reading, used to be printed. And lately another fancy has induced other printers to use the round s instead of the long one, which formerly fervid well to distinguish a word readily by its variedl apprarance. Certainly the omitting this prominent letter makes a line appear more e ver., but it renders it less immediately legible; as the paring of all men's neses might smooth and level their fices, but would render their phylog: nomies less distinguishable. Add to all these im. provements backwaids, another modern fancy, that grey printing is more beautiful than black, Hence the English new books are printed in fo dim a character, as to be read with difficulty by old eyes, unless in a very strong light and with good glafles. Whoever compares a volume of the Gentlemari's Magazine, printed between the years 1731 and 1740, with one of those printed in the

[ocr errors]

Inst ten years, will be convinced of the much greater degree of perspicuity given by black than by the

grey. Lord Chetterfield pleasantly remarked this difference to Faulkener, the printer of clie Dublin Journal, who was vainly making encomi

ums on his own paper, as the most complete of aod!

ny in the world. But Mr. Faulkener,” says ny ford, “ don't you think it might be still farther im

proved, by using paper and ink not quite fu near end hoe of a colour.”_For all these reasons I cannot but til with that our American printers would, in their

editions, avoid these fancied improvements, and Ek hereby render their works more agreeable to fothe reigners in Europe, to the great advantage of our pes Bookselling commerce. 0 0 Farther, to be more sensible of the advantage of 1 21 plear and distinct printing, let us consider the afDat iltance it affords in reading well aloud to an auer politory.' In so doing the eye generally Nides forone ward three or four words before the voice. If watu he fight clearly distinguishes what the coming the chords are, it gives time to alter the modulation mes the voice, to express the properly. But if

þey are obscurely printed, or disguised by omit

ing the capitals and long j's, or otherwise, the cip leader iş apt to modulate wrong, and finding he Todas done só, he is obliged to go back and begin en he fentence again ; which leffens the pleasure of 90 he hearers. This leads me to mention an old erme or in our mole of printing. We are senlible that Then a question is met with in the reading, there

a proper variation to be used in the management if the voice. We have, therefore, a point, called non interrogation, affixed to the question, in order cu to ditinguish it. But this is abfurdly placed at VOL. II,


its end, so that the reader does not discover it till he finds ihat he has wrongly modulated his voice, and is therefore obliged to begin again the sentence. To prevent this, the Spanish printers, more sensbly, pl.ce an interrogation at the beginning as well as at the end of the question. We have another error of the same kind in printing plays, where something often occurs that is marked as spoken afide. But the word aside is placed at the end of the speech, when it ought to precede it, as a direçtion to the reader, that he may govern his voice accordingly. The practice of our ladies in meeting five or six together, to form little busy parties, where each is employed in some useful work, while one reads to them, is so commendable in itself, that it deserves the attention of authors and printers to make it as plasing as pollible, both to the reader aud hcarers.

My be wishes attend you, being, with fincere

[ocr errors][ocr errors]


[merged small][ocr errors]



[merged small][ocr errors]

Power of this court. TT may receive and promulgate accusations of

all kinds, against all persons and characters among the citizens of the state, and even against all inferior courts; and may judge, fentence, and condern to infamy, not only private individuals, but public bodies, &-c, with or without enquiry or hearing, at the court's difcretion. Whose favour, or for whose emolument this court is

established. In favour of about one citizen in five hundred, who, by education, or practice in scribbling, has acquired a tolerable style as to grammar and construction, fo as to bear printing ; or who is poffeff. ed of a press and a few types.

This five hun. dredth part of the citizens have the privilege ot' accusing and abusing the other four hundred and ninety-nine parts at their pleasure ; or they may hire out their pens and press to others, for thit purpose.

Practice of this court. It is not governed by any of the rules of the common couits of law. The accused is allowed no grand jury to judge of the truth of the accusation before it is publicly made; nor is the name

« PreviousContinue »