Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 6
Colonial life seems to be demoralizing the childlike and bland Chinaman. A Celestial at Riverton—we will call him Ah Pun—has actually perpetrated a play upon words. His mate, Ly Sik, had an accident, and Ah Pun, narrating the fact to a local reporter, added: « Ly Sik name no good; him Lie Sick hospital now. »
Two « labor » items during the month are of interest, as well as of some significance. The first is the issue of a manifesto by the Wellington Trades Council, claiming the right to dictate to the Government in the matter of nominations to the Legislative Council. The Government accepted the resolution with becoming meekness. More than this, the Premier publicly stated that « Employer's associations and the like are bitterly opposed to all progress likely to benefit the people at large. » Called on by the Auckland Association to give some justification of the libel, Mr Ballance evaded the question. He said he « had not charged any as ociation in particular. The subject was not one to be dealt with by correspondence, but rather from the public platform. » About as shuffling and disingenuous a reply as was ever given to a straightforward question.
We have so far had no reference in these pages to one of the enormous companies floated by the speculative Mr Horatio Bottomley— the Hansard Union—and its disastrous collapse: and this for two reasons. First, the vast amount of matter on the subject to be read and summarised, and secondly the fact that legal proceedings against the prime mover had been taken, and that the matter was really sub judice. The subject is tersely dealt with by the Printers' Register for January, in its excellent retrospect for the year. « Probably of all the incidents of the past year, none has been more remarkable or more discussed than the downfall of one of the largest printing concerns the world has yet seen—the Hansard Union. Only in our last Retrospect did we refer to the extension of the scheme which included the well-known and flourishing businesses of R. K. Burt & Co., W. H. Keep & Co., Robson, and many other firms, and which raised the nominal share capital to a million pounds. Within five months of this extension the directors were in straits for want of funds, and a receiver for the debenture-holders was appointed. Liquidation followed. Reconstruction was talked of, but was abandoned as hopeless, and for months an inquiry has been going on, which so far has elicited many interesting facts; hut the result of all is clear—there will be an immense loss on the part of the public who took shares in this much-vaunted but unwieldy corporation. Nearly all the businesses have been separately bought back again by their former owners, and are once more pushing their way to the fore. Hardly in the annals of finance, and certainly not in those of printing, has there been such a marvellous and rapid development of an immense monopoly, with an equally marvellous and sudden downfall. »
The American rules [?] of division are peculiar. Preference seems to be given to the method which most effectually conceals the structure of the word, without reference to pronunciation. The same printers who insist upon « England » are guilty also of « progress » and « omnipotent. » A first-class American book-comp would be soon « fired » from an English office for his intolerable divisions.
Mr E. Tucker sends us the following additional note:—The illustrated Pilgrims of the Rhine was Lytton Bulwer's favorite work. Innumerable proofs were sent to him in slips; and in the making-up every line was overrun to equalize the spacing. In the imposition, the chapter-pages, beginning and end, with the back pages, were thrown out and worked by themselves, and then sent to the copperplate printer to be illustrated. The printers were Messrs Bradbury & Evans, after they left Bouverie-street and carried on an extensive business in Davison's old office, Whitefriars.
Dr. M'Gregor, the inspector-general of charitable institutions, is pretty outspoken in his report. He objects to refuges being placed too near the towns, on account of the temptation the public-houses present. Of the idle and drunken class of paupers, he says: « It is impossible in most cases to get them to do any work, from the facility with which compassionate but inexperienced persons listen to their most baseless complaints; and the inconsiderate zeal with which philanthropic editors will, without inquiry, use their statements to bait the authorities, is most embarrassing. »
We learn from the Printers' Register that a laudable but so far unsuccessful effort has been made by the Newsagents and Booksellers Union, through their secretary, Mr E. G. Scopes, to obtain a Christmas holiday for compositors engaged on the morning papers, by inducing the press to abstain from publishing on that day. All the London evening papers drop the Christmas issue; but the leading morning papers refuse to make any change. The Register reminds the would-be reformers that it is the Boxing Day and not the Christmas issue of the morning papers that should be dropped to give the comps their Christmas evening, and adds; « With our limited experience of the actualities and discomforts of morning paper work, we would gladly welcome any practical step by which these deserving servants of the public could secure absence from their work upon the Christmas night. »
As ludicrous an example of literary ineptitude as we have ever come across is the « national song » composed by a local poet for the Nelson jubilee celebration, and which appears to have supplied the one touch of comedy necessary to give completeness to the proceedings. Only a portion—but quite enough—appears in the local press. It opens in a style which is certainly original:
Ye monsters! that built these rough isles for our home,
And bound them with rocks crested white with the foam.
Who the monsters are does not appear. Perhaps they are the deities introduced in stanza iii—for the author is a polytheist, with very little reverence for his divinities:
Ye Gods! that in conclave so solemn and grand
Preside and watch over the fates of the land,
We charge you protect her and cherish her fame,
Should ye fail, may her mountains consume you with flame!
As might be anticipated, the concluding lines touch the lowest depth of bathos, and present the most bewildering tangle of metaphors:
And if the broad future misfortune should bring,
And our Motherland toil hi the throes,
Then may we, as true children, precipitate spring
Like wolves at the throats of her foes!
Mr E. Tucker, of Stratford, writes us in reference to an item on the Cherokee language, which he thinks is not quite correct. He sends us an extract from a book published in 1830 by Mr Knapp, in which the following passage occurs: « The Government of the United States had a font of type cast for this alphabet, and a newspaper, partly in the Cherokee and partly in the English language, has been established at Echota, and is characterized by decency and good sense. » From which it appears that the type cast under Mr Ennis's supervision was not the first Cherokee font in existence—a fact, however, in no way detracting from the credit due to that gentleman. Perhaps some of our American friends can tell us something about the earlier font. The history of the construction of this alphabet by a native without outside assistance, and his invention of a written language, has often been told, and is one of the most romantic chapters in philology.—After the above was in type, turning up Timper-ley's Encyclopædia, we found the passage quoted by our correspondent, and also an account of See-quah-yah, the deviser of the Cherokee letters, who not only evolved a phonetic alphabet, but a series of ten digits, and re-invented the decimal notation.