« ZurückWeiter »
* instead of the long one, which formerly served well to distinguish a word readily by its varied appearance. Certainly the omitting the prominent letter makes a line appear more even, but renders it less immediately legible; as the paring oft' ail men's noses might smooth their features, but would render their physiognomies less distinguishable. Add to all these improvements backwards, another modern fan ey that grey printing is more beautiful than black. Hence the English new books are printed in so dim a character as to be read with difficulty by old eyes, unless in a very strong light, and with good glasses. Whoever compares a volume of the Gentleman's Magazine printed between the years 1731 and 1740, with one of those printed in the last ten years, will be convinced of the much greater degree of perspicuity given by black than by the gray. Lord Chesterfield pleasantly remarked this difference to Faulkener, tnt printer of the Dublin Journal, who was vainly making encomiums on his own paper as the most complete of any in the world. "IJut, Mr. Faulkener," says my Lord, "don't you think it might be still farther improved, by using paper and ink not quite so near of a colour?"—For all these reasons I cannot but wish our A mericau printers would, in their editions, avoid these fancied improvements, and thereby render their works more agreeable to foreigners in Europe, to the great advantage of our bookselling commerce. Farther, to be more sensible of the advantage ot \, clear and distinct printing, let us consider the assist,ance it affords in reading well aloud to an auditory, in so doing the eye generally slidesforward three or four words before the voice. If the sight clearly dis tiiiguishes what the coming words are, it gives time to order the modulation of the voice to express them properly. But if they are obscurely printed, or disguised by omitting the capitals or long/^s, or otherwise, the reader is apt to modulate wrong; and, finding he has done so, he is obliged to go back and begin the sentence again; which lessens the pleasure of the hearers. This leads me to mention an oldl •nor Inour mode of printing. "We an tenable, that when a question is met with in the reading there is a proper variation to be used in the management of the voice i we hare, therefore, a point called an interrogation affixed to the question, to distinguish it. But this is absurdly placed at its end, so that the reader does not discover it till he finds that he was wrongly modulating his voice, and is therefore obliged to begin again the sentence. To prevent this, the Spanish printers, more sensibly, place 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 aside. But the word aside is placed at the end of the speech, when it ought to precede it, as a direction 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 pleasing as possible, both to the reader and hearers. My best wishes attend you, being with sincere •steem,
Ul ftHWtn OF THF. BIOHKST COURT Or JBDlCAirM
THE COURT OF THE PRESS
It may receive and promulgate accusations of al kmds, against all persons and characters among the citizens of the state, and against all inferior courts f and may judge, sentence and cnndenHi to infamy, not only private individuals, but public bodies, &.c. with or without inquiry or hearing, at the court's discretion.
Whost favvttr, or for whose emolument this court it 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, so as to bear printing; or who is possessed of a press and a few types. This five hundredth part of the citizens have the liberty of 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 that purpose.
Practice of this Court.
It is not governed by any of the rules of the common courts 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 na.iit ^f the accuser made known to him, nor has he an opportunity ol -—-fronting the witnesses against him, for they are itopi in the dark, as in the Spanish court of inquisition. Nor is there any petty jury of his peers sworn to try the truth of the charges. The proceedings are also sometimes so rapid, that an honest good citizen may find himself suddenly and unexuectedly accused, mid In the same moment judged and condemned, and sentence pronounced against him that ne if a rogue and a villian. Yet if an officer of this court receives the slightest check for misconduct in this his office, he claims immediately the rights of a free citi sen by the constitution, and demands to know his accuser, to confront the witnesses, and have a fair trial by the jury of his peers.
The foundation of its authority.
It is said to be founded on an article in the state constitution, which establishes the liberty of the press—a liberty which every Pennsylvanian would fight and die for, though few of us, I believe, have distinct ideas of its nature and extent. It seems,indeed, somewhat like the liberty of the press, that felons have, by the common law of England before conviction; that is, to be either pressed to death or hanged. If by the liberty of the press, we understood merely the liberty of discussing the propriety of public measures and political opinions, let us have as much of it as you please; but if it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating, and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it, whenever our legislators shall please to alter the law; and shall cheerfully consent to exthange my liberty of abusing others, for the privilege of not being abused myself.
By whom this court is commissioned or
It is not by any commission from the supreme ex ecutlve council, who might previously judge of the abilities, integrity, knowledge, &c. of the persons to be appointed to this great trust, of deciding upon the characters and good fame of the citizens: for this courtis above that council, and may accuse, judge, and condemn it at pleasure. Nor is it hereditary, as is the court of dernier resort in the peerage of England. But any man who can procure pen, ink, and paper, with a press, a few types, and a huge pair of blacking balls, may commissioimte himself, and his court is immediately established in the plenary possession and exercise of its rights; for if you make the least complaint of the judge's conduct, he daubs his blacking balls in your face wherever he meets you: and besides tearing your private character to splinters, marks you out for the odium of the public, as an enemy to the liberty of the press.
Qf the natural support of this court.
Its support is founded in the depravity of such minds as have not been mended by religion, nor improved by good education.
There is a lust in man no charm can tame,
On eagle's wings immortal scandals fly,
Whoever feels pain in hearing a good character of his neighbour, will feel a pleasure in the reverse. And of those who, despairing to rise in distinction by their virtues, are happy if otherscan be depressed to a:level with themselves, there are a number sufficient in every great town to maintain one of these courts by subscription. A shrewd observer once said, that in walking the streets of a slippery morning, one might see where the good-natured people lived, by the ashes thrown on the ice before the doors: probably he would have formed a different conjecture of the temper of thost of whom he might find engaged in such subscriptions.