Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3
Our jobbing offices are still keeping up the briskness which I reported in my last letter, the Press containing an advertisement last evening wanting three or four jobbing hands for two or three weeks' work, and another ad. wanting comps for news-room. This office is brisk in its news-room owing to the fitting-on of the new suit which I have already informed you was in preparation. The first instalment of the change was given in last night's issue, an editorial note thus referring to the improvement:—
The Evening Press to-day appears in a new suit of type. We had hoped to have given at the same time a new quality of paper, but sailing ships must take their own time and submit to winds and waves, and we must wait awhile. We are glad to take this opportunity of saying that our progress is still uninterrupted, our circulation increasing, and our influence spreading, notwithstanding the rumors of our speedy extinction that have been chronic ever since we started our modest sheet a few years ago. These rumors have, we hear, become quite acute lately, but we can assure our friends—and enemies too, if we have any—that the Evening Press, in spite of all difficulties and the costly law actions brought upon us by our too thorough dealing with what we regarded as grave public wrongs, is in a sound state of health, and our readers will, we trust, for years to come, enjoy the puffs from our « Cigarettes, » and take many a mental rest at our « Half-way House. »
From the first proof supplied last evening (the reading matter and new advts. only appearing in the new type,) it is evident that the appearance of the Press will be vastly improved.
The Post says:— « A valuable illustrated work on the forest flora of New Zealand, from the pen of Professor Kirk, f.l.s., late Chief Conservator of State forests in this colony, and Lecturer on Natural Science at Wellington College, and the School of Agriculture, Lincoln, has just been issued from the Government Printing Office. Most of the drawings were made by officers of the Survey Department, a few being by Messrs D. Blair and A. Hamilton. »
I hear that Mr John White, who is compiling the large work on Maori traditions which is being issued from the Government Printing Office, is seriously thinking of publishing a Maori dictionary. Williams's Dictionary is the authority at present, containing a vocabulary of about 8,000 words, but Mr White says his list will contain 16,000. He is in the hope of inducing the Government to print his work for him. [We do not think the Government will entertain the idea. They have already one unfinished Maori lexicon in hand, well advanced, but « hung up » ostensibly on account of want of funds; and Mr White, though an industrious collector of legends, is no authority on grammar or philology.—Typo.]
The Catholic Times is to have the aid of an able pen. Mr R. A. Loughnan, at present editor of the Lyttelton Times will take the editorial chair of the Catholic Times from August next. I understand that Mr Loughnan's views upon the Irish Question were too pronounced for the powerful English party of Christchurch, and he will now find a more congenial sphere. There is no doubt that Mr Loughnan is a very clever journalist, as well as a novelist, and the Lyttelton Times' loss is the Catholic Times' gain. It is reported that Mr W. P. Reeves will take Mr Loughnan's place on the Christchurch paper. Mr Evison will continue to edit the Catholic Times until Mr Loughnan takes it over.
It is somewhat comical to find the Catholic Times apologizing for having libelled the land league delegates, but such is actually the case. It lately published their portraits, and now cries peccavi as follows:— « We now beg to offer those gentlemen our sincere apologies for the pictorial libels upon them. The 'blocks' were received from Sydney, from a source supposed to be patriotic, but looking at the vile pictures we can only suppose that 'An enemy hath done this thing,' and that the portraits have been made as repulsive as possible. We have seen better likenesses executed with a mop and a bucket of tar. »
Our Parliament meets on Thursday next. The Government Printer has been gradually increasing his staff, but I do not think the new office will accommodate many (if any) more frame-holders than the old office held. The electric light in this office is a great success, and the engineer, Mr Sydney Youmans, deserves great credit for his management of the electric current.
A few weeks ago the Federated Trades Council of this city waited upon the Colonial Secretary, Mr Hislop, to ventilate the grievance of boy-labor in the Government Printing Office. It was explained that the Government Office was a very bad example to private employers in employing so many boys at case, and the Council urged that the Typographical Society's Rules should be observed in the office, submitting those rules, as well as those of other colonies, for the Colonial Secretary's perusal. The deputation was courteously dealt with, and Mr Hislop promised to send the Council an answer early. The secretary of the Trades Council to-day handed me the following information: « The Colonial Secretary requested an interview with me on Saturday 15th inst., when I attended his office at 10 a.m. He read over to me a deal of correspondence from Mr Didsbury, in which the latter stated that the rules of the N.Z.T.A. were a dead letter in other offices, enclosing a list of offices and the number of boys and men employed in each in support of his statement. He considered that the rules could not be successfully applied to a large establishment like the Government Printing Office; that they were oppressive, and that they were a distinct contradiction of the Apprentices Act, as that Act stipulates five years for apprenticeship, while the rules claim six years, thus making a turnover of a full-time apprentice, which he maintained was a hardship. In further correspondence, Mr Didsbury replied that no great hardship would be entailed upon anyone personally if the rules were adopted, but an increased expenditure of £300 per annum would be incurred if boy-labor was limited. I replied that the statement was not correct in reference to all offices employing all boys and no men, as the Post was a thorough Union office; but unfortunately some of the offices, such as those quoted by Mr Didsbury, employed boys almost exclusively, much to the detriment of the whole community, and the Council was trying to alter this state of things. It would therefore come with good grace, and assist the work considerably, if boy-labor was properly regulated in Government establishments, as it had often been stated we could not blame private individuals where they only follow the example of the Government by employing an undue proportion of boys. Mr Hislop stated that he would direct the Government Printer to adopt the rules of the N.Z.T.A. as soon as existing agreements would permit. »
Trade is fairly brisk here at the present time, although one or two men have left for the Empire City to be in time for the opening of Parliament.
The Master Printers' Association still continues « the even tenor of its way, » and the different offices that belong to it are, I believe, sticking together pretty well, although I hear a whisper now and again to the effect that there are slight violations of the tariff; but if the masters will only study their own interests and the interests of their employés they will keep together in united brotherhood, and charge a fair price for their work. Surely by this time they have had enough experience of the cut throat system to know that it is rotten, and that to wear out their machinery and plant for little more than an existence is not very enterprising. I would like to see a federation of master printers throughout the colony, and a scale of prices drawn up on a fair basis that would remunerate them and give them a fair profit on every job turned out. I was told the other day that the Masters' Association had been trying to induce the South Canterbury printing firms to join them, but I have not heard with what success.
The company I mentioned in my last letter as being in the course of formation for the not very praiseworthy object of « wiping out » the masters' combination, will not, I think, become a shining light in the land. I have not heard that anything further has been done to establish the company beyond issuing the prospectus. Perhaps it is their intention to « do or die! »
The Evening Telegraph of the 10th inst. contained a local to the effect that Mr C. C. Sommers, bookseller, of this city, had instructed his solicitors to commence an action for libel against the Lyttelton Times Company for publishing a report stating that Mr Sommers had urged Waller of Timaru to commit arson. The statement was made by Waller when giving evidence before the Assignee in bankruptcy at Timaru. The damages claimed will be £2000. Up to date of writing nothing more has been published re the case, and I am not in a position to say that a writ has been served.
A weekly paper has been established at Oxford, Mr Parish being the proprietor, but as I have not seen a copy of it I cannot comment on its appearance.
The Canterbury Typographical Association, I understand, hold their next social on the last Saturday in this month. It takes the form of a tea and entertainment for the children of printers, in the afternoon, to wind up with a concert and dance for the adults at night. This Society is to be congratulated on introducing these socials as a means of cementing the fellowship between its members.
On the 14th inst. Mr Loughnan, editor of the Lyttelton Times, delivered his lecture on « The Press » at Lyttelton in aid of the Lawn Tennis Club. It was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, and at its close the lecturer was accorded a hearty vote of thanks.