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In your letter you have intimated, that you then entertained some thoughts of visiting London in the spring. This is much wished for by your friends here, and particularly by the Club at the London Coffee House, which you have so often made happy by your company. Dr. Priestley intends coming to London from Birmingham in about a fortnight; but, could he reckon upon the pleasure of seeing you in London at any time, he would contrive to come up at that time. He has, I find, been chosen a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris. This is indeed a singular honor, and must give him particular pleasure.
Political affairs in this country are at present in great confusion. The King, after dismissing from his service the leaders of the late odious coalition, and appointing other ministers in their room, to the great joy of the kingdom, has at last found it necessary, in order to maintain the new ministers in power, and to carry on the public business, to dissolve the Parliament. We are, therefore, now in the midst of the heat and commotion of a general election; and such is the influence of government on elections, and also the present temper of the people, that probably the new ministers will have a great majority in their favor in the new Parliament.
The more wise and virtuous part of the nation are struggling hard to gain a Parliamentary reform, and think, with great reason, that, while the representation continues such a mockery as it is, no change of ministers can do us much good. But an equal representation is a blessing, which probably we shall never obtain till a convulsion comes, which will dissolve all gov. ernment and give an opportunity for erecting a new frame.
In America, there is, I hope, an opening for a better state of human affairs. Indeed, I look upon the revolution there, as one of the most important events in the history of the world. Wishing, for the sake of mankind, that the United States may improve properly the advantages of their situation, I have been lately employing myself in writing sentiments of caution and advice, which I mean to convey to them as a last offering of my good will. I know I am by no means qualified for such a work, nor can I expect that any advice I can give will carry much weight with it, or be much worth their acceptance. I cannot, however, satisfy my own mind without offering it, such as it is.* I always think of your friendship with particular satisfaction, and consider it as one of the honors and blessings of my life. You have attained an eminence of credit and usefulness in the world, to which few can aspire. That it may be continued, as long as the course of nature will allow, and that you may enjoy every comfort that can make you most happy, is, dear Sir, the sincere wish of yours most affectionately,
TO JOHN WALTER.
On the Logographic Method of Printing.
Passy, 17 April, 1784.
I have received a book, for which I understand I am obliged to you, the “Introduction to Logography.” I have read it with attention, and, as far as I understand it, am much pleased with it. I do not perfectly
• This design was carried into execution in a pamphlet entitled, * Observations on the Importance of the American Revolution."
comprehend the arrangement of his cases; but the reduction of the number of pieces by the roots of words, and their different terminations, is extremely ingenious; and I like much the idea of cementing the letters, instead of casting words or syllables, which I formerly attempted, and succeeded in having invented a mould, and method by which I could in a few minutes, form a matrice, and adjust it, of any word in any fount at pleasure, and proceed to cast from it.
I send enclosed a specimen of some of my terminations, and would willingly instruct Mr. Johnson in the method if he desired it; but he has a better. He mentions some improvements that have been proposed, but takes no notice of one published here at Paris, in 1776; so I suppose he has neither seen nor heard of it. It is in a quarto pamphlet, entitled, “Nouveau Système Typographique, ou Moyen de diminuer, de Moitié, dans toutes les Imprimeries de l'Europe, le Travail et les Frais de Composition, de Correction, de Distribution, découvert en 1774, par Madame de * * * Frustra fit per plura quod potest fieri per pauciora. A Paris, de l’Imprimerie Royale, MDCCLXXVI.” It is dedicated to the King, who was at the expense of the experiments. Two commissaries were named to examine and render an account of them; they were M. Desmarets, of the Academy of Sciences, and M. Barbou, an eminent printer. Their report concludes thus; “Nous nous contenterons de dire ici, que M. de St. Paul a rempli les engagemens qu'il avoit contractés avec le Gouvernement; que ses expériences projetées ont été conduites avec beaucoup de méthode et d'intelligence de sa part; et que par des calculs longs et pénibles, qui sont le fruit d'un grand nombre de combinaisons raisonnées, il en a déduit plusieurs résultats qui méritent d'être proposés aux artistes, et qui nous paroissent
propres à éclairer la pratique de l'imprimerie actuelle, et à en abréger certainement les procédées. Son projet ne peut que gagner aux contradictions qu'il essuiera sans doute, de la part des gens de l'art. A Paris, le 8 Janvier, 1776.” The pamphlet consists of sixty-six pages, containing a number of tables of words and parts of words, explanations of those tables, calculations, answers to objections, &c. I will endeavour to get one to send you if you desire it; mine is bound up with others in a volume.
It was after seeing this piece, that I cast the syllables I send you a sample of. I have not heard, that any of the printers here make at present the least use of the invention of Madame de * * * You will observe, that it pretended only to lessen the work by one half; Mr. Johnson's method lessens it three fourths. I should be glad to know with what the letters are cemented. I think cementing better than casting them together, because if one letter happens to be battered, it may be taken away and another cemented in its place. I received no letter with the pamphlet.* I am, Sir, &c.
• The logographic method of printing was tried by a most diligent and laborious series of experiments, at an enormous expense, by Mr. Walter, who knew nothing of the art himself. Several works were printed, as was the newspaper called the Times originally, by that method. But it really failed; some little time was saved in the compositors' part, but it was lost in distribution. The casting was also triple the cost of single types ; for, even for the logography, single letters were first cast with one half the shank of the letter shaped, in carpenters' language, like a lenon; those were composed into words or parts of words, and put into a common matrix, so that the part resembling the mortise should be cast round them; when they were dressed like common types. It was an art travelling backward. The expense was enormous, and it failed. It was exactly the same method as that pursued in France. - DUANE. VOL. X.
TO BENJAMIN WEBB.
A new Method of repaying Money lent.
Passy, 22 April, 1784. DEAR SIR, I received yours of the 15th instant, and the memorial it enclosed. The account they give of your situation grieves me. I send you herewith a bill for ten louis d'ors. I do not pretend to give such a sum; I only lend it to you. When you shall return to your country with a good character, you cannot fail of getting into some business, that will in time enable you to pay all your debts. In that case, when you meet with another honest man in similar distress, you must pay me by lending this sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with such another opportunity. I hope it may thus go through many hands, before it meets with a knave that will stop its progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money. I am not rich enough to afford much in good works, and so am obliged to be cunning and make the most of a little. With best wishes for the success of your memorial, and your future prosperity, I am, dear Sir, your most obedient servant,
TO SAMUEL MATHER.
Passy, 12 May, 1784.