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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3

[miscellaneous paragraphs]

Publishers will read with satisfaction Mr Justice Williams's able and lucid decision on the copyright law, which we quote at length from the Otago Daily Times report. It is satisfactory to know, that notwithstanding the grave oversight of our legislature in neglecting to provide for registration, the Supreme Court will give protection.

The letter of our Wellington correspondent discloses a state of affairs in the Government Printing Office that calls for a remedy. It should be remarked that the responsibility does not rest with the Government Printer—he is unable to effect a reform. It is a public scandal that political (and even sectarian) influences should control promotions in public departments. Our correspondent has stated the case of the ordinary workmen—it may be added that the same feeling of insecurity exists throughout the entire staff. We hope that the new Colonial Secretary—the official head of the department—will signalise his term of office by a radical reform.

« Infidel » is a handy term of objurgation—it is so conveniently elastic. The eccentric Vincent Pyke, in the New Zealand Parliament, is responsible for one of the most recent definitions. Having been called to order by the Speaker for describing the education system of the Colony as « atheistic, communistic, and altogether infidel, » he justified his epithets thus: « One of the promoters of the present Education Act had a division in the House to prevent Christmas Day and Good Friday from being days upon which no school business should be transacted. I remember that perfectly well, and if that is not sufficient evidence of infidelity I do not know what is » !

Mr James C. Wilson sends us a copy of a letter addressed to the various Education Boards in the Colony suggesting alterations in the syllabus. The first of these is, that the primary subjects should be four instead of three, drawing being the fourth. To our mind drawing is fully as important in the practical work of life as arithmetic. Not the fancy drawing of inhuman figures and unnatural landscapes, followed at so many private schools as an « accomplishment, » but plain freehand draftmanship. If there is any artistic skill in the pupil, it will be best developed in this way, and if not, the technical training will be of great value. To teach fancy drawing in the place of freehand, is like instructing a pupil to construct « magic squares,)! and neglecting the multiplication table.

Mr T. A. Reed, one of the best short-hand writers in the United Kingdom, and who, during a long professional career, is believed to have reported more popular preachers than any other man, has contributed « Some Reporting Recollections » to the Christian World, and as might be expected, he has some good stories to tell. Here is one: « Many years ago, a Presbyterian minister requested me to report for him a course of evening sermons that he was delivering.. The first of the series appeared to terminate in three-quarters of an hour, and I was about shutting my note-book, when the preacher quietly said, 'Having made these few introductory observations, I now proceed,' &c. And he did proceed, and continued remorselessly for two hours and twenty minutes. »

The Napier News comes down upon a Poverty Bay journal that always when copying from the News attributes the item to a « Hawke's Bay paper, » while in other cases it gives due credit, The News has just cause of complaint. If a paper chooses to affect to ignore the existence of a contemporary, well and good; but if at the same time it helps itself to the contents of that same journal, it is guilty of a breach of newspaper etiquette, and of an act of unpardonable meanness. This shabby conduct is not confined to Poverty Bay. We know of big city papers that lay all their country contemporaries under tribute, and habitually suppress the source of their information. We know a city daily that went further than this, and published for months the best stories from the Danbury News, making them appear original by the simple process of altering the name of streets, &c, to suit its own locality! We admire the honorable manner in which the great American city papers credit the humblest of their country contemporaries with the items they quote.

Some of our contemporaries publish what is called « The Law Relating to Newspapers. » It is as well that they should know that it has no authority whatever. It is a collection of (alleged) decisions of American courts, all very much in the publisher's favor.

« Typo, » says the Mataura Ensign, « is a paper popularly supposed to be of interest almost solely to printers and newspaper men, but in reality containing far more reading matter of general interest, cleverly compiled, carefully put together, and neatly printed than—well, than twelve out of thirteen average exchanges. »

The Pall Mall Gazette has drafted a new « interpretation clause » for Acts of Parliament. It says: « In all Acts of Parliament words implying men include women whenever there is a disability imposed or a punishment inflicted; but whenever they confer a privilege they are rigidly limited to the male. 'He' means 'she' when it is a question of going to jail. 'He' never means 'she' when it is a question of going to the ballot-box. »

The telephone, according to recent medical observations, is responsible for the increase of a rare complaint—hyperæsthesia of the auditory nerve. The only remedy is to abandon the use of the instrument. The acutest ease of this malady that has fallen under Typo's notice is that of a writer who falls foul of Lewis Morris for rhyming « word » with « stirred » in his ode to Tennyson. The supersensitive critic must surely be « central » in a telephone exchange.

We have repeatedly had occasion to deplore the want of fellow-feeling among journalists in the matter of libel actions. Had the press been united, we should have had an equitable libel law years ago. Occasionally newspapers stupidly go to law with each other on trifling provocation, and invariably in such cases claim most stupendous damages. In the late case of the unlucky Waipawa Mail, the only comment we have seen is a hostile one from a rival.

A priest named Patterson, at Palmerston North, at a land league meeting, is reported by the Dunedin Tablet to have urged upon his Irish hearers « their duty to help their poor benighted countrymen » at home! Does he think his fellow-countrymen are pagans? Another gentleman named Rush, at the same meeting, after dilating upon the wrongs of Ireland, somewhat spoiled the effect by adding that « New Zealand was in the same, if not in a worse condition. » The well-to-do audience must have wondered not a little why a collection was being taken up for so highly-favored a land.

A contemporary says « it is an absurd fad to suppose » that England is a wonderfully wealthy country—in proof of which it takes the statistics of coin « as a little over £2 per head of the population, » and goes on to say that in New Zealand the proportion is twice as great. Would it surprise our contemporary to know that coin is not wealth, nor the measure of wealth; but as a medium of exchange is only the representative of wealth? The little child who may suppose the coin in his father's cash-box to be the measure of his wealth may be excused—but what of the journalist who makes a similar blunder?

Some weeks ago we were shown a copy of a curious circular, sent out with a colonial periodical. It contained a passage something to this effect: « This valuable paper has now been sent to you without charge for [four] weeks. Unless we receive instructions from you to the contrary by return of post, your name will be added to our list of subscribers, and you will be debited with the amount of subscription (£— per annum) until countermanded in writing. » This somewhat cool announcement was embedded in a quantity of « puff » of the organ in question such as no busy man would read, and the circular would probably find its way nine times out of ten direct to the waste-basket. The receipt of a « stiff » account for subscriptions a year or two later, would probably astonish the passive « subscriber, » especially as the paper is only an indifferent specimen of that class of trade circulars, which come in gratuitously in shoals to every merchant and importer. We do not give legal opinions, but we unhesitatingly say that no claim for subscription could be recognized on such a circular, and that it would be the duty of anyone against whom a claim should be made on such a ground to resist it. The relation between publisher and subscriber comes under the ordinary law of contracts, and no man can be entrapped passively into a pecuniary liability. No one has any right to suggest his own terms of agreement, and assume acceptance because no notice is taken of them. The only plea that could be advanced in support of the claim would be « he took the papers from the post-office; » but this alone. would not prove a contract. At the same time, business men who are annoyed by receiving by mail worthless periodicals which they never ordered would be acting wisely in refusing to take them.

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