Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 3
On another page will be found an advertisement from Herr Otto Weisert, of Stuttgart, who announces that he has a large stock of body-founts, borders, and electrotyped initials and book ornaments of his own manufacture and of original designs; and that he is prepared to supply printing offices with a complete outfit if required. We have frequently referred to the beauty of Herr Weisert's original designs in ornaments, initials, and borders; and the large initials to our articles on « Design » in vols. i-ii, from Nos. 2 to 24, were from his establishment.
Stone's Otago and Southland Directory for 1889 has reached us. This is beyond all comparison the best and largest annual in the colony; like the preceding issues, it is strongly bound in scarlet cloth, and is well worth the price (12s 6d) at which it is published. Its plan has been extended to include the district of Waimate, which, though outside the Otago boundaries, is in close business relations with Dunedin. The alphabetical directory alone occupies 267 large 8vo pages. The printing reflects great credit on the Star office, Dunedin. In the hundreds of pages of advertisements great pains have been taken in the composition, the display is excellent, and, (except in two pages) we see no sign of « rushing up. » The press-work throughout is beautifully clear and uniform; and as a great part of the work is printed in nonpareil, this is an important feature.
A very interesting libel case (says the Printing Times) was decided on the 23rd November, in favor of the Press, thanks chiefly to the sensible and explicit ruling of Mr Justice Denman. The jury evidently were inclined to convict, for they sent up a question to the judge:—Can it possibly be for the public good to publish a libel? To which the judge answered with commendable emphasis, that it was clearly possible to publish a libel for the public good, and the jury at last returned a verdict for the defendants. The mischief arises from the word libel, which conveys to the juror's mind something that is morally wrong. But, as it may sometimes be the highest form of public duty to publish a libel, it is to be regretted that some other word cannot be found to describe the publication of true statements, which are nevertheless calculated to hold up individuals who deserve it to obloquy and contempt.
Professor Roger de Coey, of the Royal Athenæum, Ostend, has a large work in hand. His application to the New Zealand Government is of such a comprehensive nature as to be startling. At all events he deserves credit for his desire to have full and authoritative information. He has written has follows to the Hon. the Minister for Education:— « Sir—I have in contemplation a work to be called 'The Contemporary Literatures of the Anglo-Saxon Race,' which I intend to write upon a plan, and with a purpose, until now, to my knowledge unattempted. As it is not within my power to visit your colony at present, and it is absolutely necessary that I should have from the beginning a clear and definite idea of all the facts connected with New Zealand literature from the foundation of your colony until now, I take the liberty of applying to you for such help as you may be willing to afford me. I understand that your department is prepared to give information on subjects connected with your colony to any author who may apply for the same: and if, in believing so I am not mistaken, I hope you will kindly lend, give, or indicate to me such works as may further my objects, i.e., books and reviews bearing on New Zealand literature from the foundation of the country forwards. » The reply of the Department has not been made public.
In an article on the books of the season, the Daily News writes; The illustrations of gift books are not at present what we should wish to see. Perhaps it is hopeless to wage war against « processes. » They are cheap, and cheapness is esteemed. They please artists, because they reproduce the artist's drawing much more faithfully than « washed » drawing, at least, can be reproduced by wood engraving. The nature of the process appears to demand a particular kind of shiny paper such as is common in the illustrated American magazines. Few people can admire this paper for its own sake. Once more, the sort of texture which is essential, apparently, to this fashion of processing is always an irritation to the eye and tends to blotchiness. The truth seems to be that drawings with the brush, in washes, are not the best sort of drawings for the illustration of books, however excellent the designs may be in themselves. Meanwhile this business of « processing » is killing wood-cutting, which will soon be a lost art. It can hardly exist by endeavoring to compete with photographic mechanism in reproducing the actual drawing. Woodcut must return to what it can do well, but then the public taste has moved very far from the methods of Dürer. In the same way the delicate copperplate engraving of the last century is scarcely ever attempted at present; perhaps only in France, and then only for the small sect of bibliophiles.
The Nelson Jockey Club have discontinued their advertisement in the local papers for economy's sake, and in future advertise only in a sporting weekly. The local papers thereupon decline to publish « nominations. » The action both of the club and of the press is to be commended. While there are no sporting papers, it may be considered necessary to fill valuable space in the daily papers with racing items; but as soon as there is a recognized organ this necessity ceases. The sporting man can subscribe to a paper entirely devoted to his favorite pursuits, and the general reader will be relieved of what is fast becoming an intolerable nuisance.
The « amateur casual » business succeeded very well in the case of Mr James Greenwood when he figured as Joshua Mason, engraver; but his imitators sometimes fare badly. One in Dunedin has had a woful experience. He poked his nose into the Benevolent Asylum and the Lunatic Asylum with very little result and without detection, his qualifications—natural or assumed—for the latter, deceiving all the officials. In an evil hour he tried the jail—which is more than a joke, as a conviction, however obtained, always stands recorded. He succeeded in being arrested for vagrancy. A contemporary thus relates the bitter sequel.—Anticipating at the most seven days, he was disagreeably surprised to find the two J's. P. make it 14 days. Arrived in the jail, the vagrant « gave himself away. » He disclosed who he was, whereupon he was instantly brought before the doctor, and examined as to ability to work with the hard labor gang, and packed off at once to the Heads. Hard labor and fare, to one loving neither, was a dear price to pay, and it is doubtful if the prison authorities will not, before it is all over, have rather the laugh of the vagrant. He has the melancholy satisfaction of knowing, however, that if the justices who sentenced him had had the slightest idea of his character, the sentence would have been three months.
Business men have been looking long and anxiously for the promised revival in trade; but as yet there are no signs of its appearing. The colony has been blessed with the most productive year on record, but the lean kine of arrears have swallowed up the fat kine of production. The exports of the year reach the unprecedented amount of £7,767,325—an increase of nine hundred thousand sterling on those of last year. The significance of these figures may be better understood when it is remembered that the entire population of New Zealand is only a little over 607,000. Two millions have been borrowed, and to a large extent expended by the Government. Now for the other side. The spending power of the people has decreased one-twentieth. Imports have fallen in the year from six and a quarter millions to five millions nine hundred thousand. The additional taxation which was to have placed the colonial finances in better shape has been diverted by a protective tariff to the aggrandizement of private capitalists. One of the most significant signs of the real state of business is to be found in the number of firms of old standing who have found it necessary to pledge their stock and other belongings unreservedly to financial institutions in consideration of advances. All last year's profits—and a good deal more—have gone to the wholesale pawnbroker! Better times, we trust, are ahead; but the congratulations of some of the Australian papers are, to say the least, premature.
Several of our contemporaries appear to be in quest of the Champion Mean Man. Perhaps this little narrative from the New Zealand bush may assist them. Two years ago, when the Norwegian settlement of Norsewood was nearly blotted out by the wide-spreading fires, the local pastor set to work betimes to secure his only treasure—his greatly-prized library. As the fire approached he dug a deep hole, and was about to consign his books to a temporary tomb, when word was brought him that an invalid woman who lived alone in her cottage was in danger, and that in the general confusion no one was attending to her. He got out his horse, and with no little difficulty got the sick woman upon it, and conveyed her several miles through blinding smoke to a place of safety. When he returned, his dwelling and all his belongings—books included—were represented by a heap of ashes. One of the books was borrowed—from a fellow-country-man. The owner demanded its equivalent from the minister, and failing to get it, sued him and obtained judgment for the value of the book (which he said cost £2 10s when new), or the return of a similar copy. The pastor chose the latter alternative, but found that the work was out of print. After a good deal of trouble he found a second-hand copy, which he bought for £1 10s. The lender refused to take a second-hand book, and brought another action, in which he was again successful, but judgment was recorded without costs, and with some remarks from the court which were certainly not uncalled-for. We do not assert that the foreign gentleman in the bush is entitled to the Belt—but if any one can show a better claim, now is his time to put it in.