Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4
In Memoriam. William Blades
In Memoriam. William Blades.
Every reader of Typo will regret to know tbat Mr William Blades, the able and learned printer—whose great work, the life of Caxton, has won for him enduring place in English literature has been suddenly called from his sphere of labor while he had to all appearance many years of usefulness before him. The first intimation reached us by direct mail, in a letter from Mr John Bassett, editor of the Effective Advertiser, whose biography of Mr Blades appeared in our pages as recently as February last. Our exchanges by the San Francisco mail just to hand contain fuller particulars, and show the high esteem in which Mr Blades was held not only by the Craft, but by the whole literary world. In the Printers' Register of 6th May, appear two appreciative notices, signed by « A.P. » and « T.B.R., » the initials of the editor, Mr Arthur Powell, and of Mr Talbot Baines Reed. Both these gentlemen enjoyed Mr Blades's friendship, and both dwell upon his kindliness of heart. « To his friends, » says Mr Reed, « his library was always open. The writer of these lines is by no means the only privileged person who is able to recall the generous and lavish helpfulness which Mr Blades was always ready to extend to any student, however humble, to whom his books and encyclopasdic knowledge of matters typographical could be of service. Like his late friend Henry Bradshaw, be had the intuitive gift of discovering his friends' wants for them, and of entering into their projects and difficulties with a sympathy which in itself went far to assure success. Many a valuable work to-day, if it could tell the story of its making, would have to acknowledge that the invisible hand of William Blades had not a little to do with its successful accomplishment. »
To Typo the loss is as that of a personal friend. On receipt of the earliest numbers of our journal, Mr Blades sent us his beautiful little work « The Enemies of Books, » following it up with his « Life of Caxton, » the « Depositio Cornuti Typographici, » and lastly, his treatise on « Signatures, » which was reviewed in our last issue. We sent him as a slight acknowledgment, a copy of the Rev. W. Colenso's pamphlet, « Fifty Years Ago, » which Mr Blades regarded as a literary prize. Not only did he make it the basis of a charming article entitled « A New Zealand Caxton, » which has been widely copied; but he obtained a number of additional copies which he presented to the chief libraries in the United Kingdom. He sent us last December a fine photograph of himself, which, with his letters and books, we prize as memorials of one of whom not only the Craft he adorned, but the whole literary world, may well be proud as one of the great and good men of the present generation.
The sudden movement in the direction of the federation of labor is one of the most important developments of the time, and the question is so large that it would require more space than we have at command to discuss even any one of its main bearings. So far, our opinion is, that the ideal of universal federation is as far off as Mr Bellamy's imagined paradise. Human nature will not be extinguished; the freedom of the individual will—the essential attribute of humanity—will assert itself. Intelligent men, who rightly claim a voice in the responsible government of their country, will not submit to be mere automata in the hands of leaders whose motives are often questionable. In fact the monster raised by the labor Frankenstein already shows signs that he is becoming unmanageable. That is a very significant paragraph from the Press, which we quote elsewhere, in relation to the action of « labor » in Dunedin. From « Puff's » conclusions we entirely dissent. We have already spoken of the unwise liberality with which the funds of the Typographical Unions have been placed at the disposal of strikers in other trades, apart from their merits; and we now find that the federated unions have shown their gratitude by resolving to support a « rat » office—that is to say, to boycot the union offices. The Press contributor calls this « maintaining the liberty of the press and the independence of journalism »! It is worthy of note, that while every union newspaper in New Zealand takes an independent view of the labor question, the « labor organs » without exception are produced in rat offices. We would be glad to have a formal expression of the views of the N.Z.T.A. on the subject.
A South Canterbury correspondent gives another instance of the working of the tender system. A Mechanics' Institute in a country town called for tenders for their catalogue, 100 pp. 8vo, with cover, long primer and brevier type, free use of italic; part of work in two columns. Ten firms tendered, the figures ranging from £14 las to £52 1s 8d! The lowest tender (accepted), was at the rate of 2/10 per page(!); the highest, 10/- per page. The most extraordinary fact is, that the successful tender came from Christchurch, where there is a Master Printers' Association. Our correspondent puts this pertinent query: « Is it a fact that these associations allow their members to go in 'bald-headed' for any work outside of their own town, at-any-price, to keep the local printers out of it? …. The greatest difficulty typographical societies have to deal with is the question how to maintain a fair wage in country districts. So long as the metropolitan printers carry on such tactics as these, country printers cannot be expected to pay the town rates of wages. » We quite agree with our South Island friend, and would commend the subject to the consideration of the bodies representing both employers and employed.
As already announced, Typo will henceforth be published in Wellington. The publisher has considered it right to withdraw from the crowded field of job-printing in Napier, where he has labored for the long period of twenty-eight years. Some inconvenience and delay attend the publication of this and probably the next issue or two. Our treasured typographical works and specimen-books, the accumulation of over twenty years—on any one of which we could have placed our hand—are battened down in packing-cases, and there is a good deal of unavoidable confusion. Many matters outside of our journal demand our attention; and we have no doubt that our readers will make all allowances. No change will take place in the ownership, management, or principles of our paper: merely in its address, to which the attention of all correspondents is requested.