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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 8

[miscellaneous paragraphs]

page 5

The question lately arose in a New Zealand court as to whether a landowner my lawfully drink from a stream running through his own property. It appears that (at present) he may— « if he makes no appreciable diminution in the body of the water. »

The British Australasian has started a series of prize competitions. It recently offered the fabulous sum of one guinea for « the best suggestions for improving the efficiency of our Agents-General. » No suggestions of any particular value were received; but the Agents-General were wild—which was perhaps all that the editor intended.

A notice in an unknown tongue, headed Sumr Cganie Mopdkobr, has long been posted up on the notice-board at Leith Docks, and has even been reprinted. A correspondent of the Pall Mall Gazette, after considerable study, has found the key to the cipher. It is the outcome of the struggles of an English compositor with a Russian manuscript, and the writer supplies a corrected version, which we quote, side by side with the original:

Sumr Cganie Mopdkobr. Smocganie meneps gud ygoder mopdkobr u gud Ccwxr nazionavbnonxr mopdkobr omkposmo. Lit Zdanie Moryakov. Eto zdanie teper dlya ndobiya moryakovi dlya vsyekh nasionalnikh moryakov otkrito.

The interpretation of which is: « Leith Sailors' Home.—This building is now open for the convenience of sailors of all nationalities. » We doubt whether the corrected version would be intelligible to an ordinary Russian sailor. Russian, in the Roman character, is as effectually disguised as English would be in Greek.

For some obscure reason the nine of diamonds has been called « The Curse of Scotland, » and various mythical explanations have been given. An English paper says: « The order for the execution of Queen Mary, the news of Solway Moss, the command for the massacre of Glencoe, or for refusal of quarter at Culloden, were not written on the back of the nine of diamonds, as people persistently allege. Nor are the nine lozenges on the Stair the cause. In fact, the nine of diamonds used to be printed in the form of a saltire or cross, and the St. Andrew's cross is the cross of Scotland. The 'cross' was corrupted into the 'curse,' and that is the whole secret, or if that is not the explanation, we are never likely to find a better. » Ingenious as this theory is, we doubt its correctness, and we would like to verify the statement as to the alleged ancient playing-cards. We suspect that the expression originated in the old astrology. The pack of cards is wholly astrological, is still used for divination, and was doubtless originally devised for that purpose. The nine of diamonds was probably discovered by some soothsayer to threaten evil; any serious disaster following would be taken as fulfilling his prediction, and any existing heraldic device of nine lozenges would naturally become associated with the « curse, » A weak point in the « cross » theory is that other cards in the pack would answer equally well.

No respectable printer objects to the law requiring him to attach an imprint to his work. When, as often happens, in the case of a scurrilous or libellous publication, it is absent, the omission may be reasonably assumed to be intentional. It is, however, a hardship that its inadvertent omission, in ordinary and legitimate work, should subject the printer to injury at the will of anyone bearing him a personal grudge. In this respect the home statute, protecting the printer from private malice, is in advance of our own. To prevent the recurrence of so grave a perversion of the machinery of justice as occurred in the prosecution of Mr Fraser, the Taranaki Herald suggests that the following clause, adapted from the English act, be incorporated with the New Zealand law: « No information shall be laid unless the same be commenced, prosecuted, or filed in the name of the Attorney-General. » The circumstances of the late Christchurch case were peculiar, and we hold that in convicting Mr Fraser the magistrate made a mistake. There was not even inadvertent omission. It is monstrous that it should be possible for any vindictive person who by irregular means gains possession of an author's proof—an obviously imperfect document—to successfully proceed against the printer for absence of imprint. Publication is essential to the offence. There had been no publication, and there was consequently no case. Even admitting a technical breach of the law, the magistrate took too narrow a view of his discretionary powers. A magistrate's court is not fettered by verbal technicalities—it is fundamentally a court of equity and good conscience. It is therefore not only the right but the duty of the magistrate to administer the law according to its plain intention, and to strictly overrule mere legal quibbles. Our civil tribunals were not designed as the instruments of private or corporate malice against law-abiding citizens.

Social democracy seems to have reached our halls of learning. « It is unendurable for a republican citizen to judge for himself » was the dictum of a Christchurch student in a recent examination paper.

Melbourne Table Talk of 12th January has an interesting chapter on the trade papers of New South Wales. Among the specialist periodicals casually mentioned is one devoted to Volapük, and another, conducted by a blind man, entitled the Eye-Witness. One of the best and most prominent trade papers is the Storekeeper, designed to establish a medium of communication between colonial retailers and home manufacturers and distributors. The first issue appeared in August, 1889, and it has been a success from the first. The Christmas number for 1893, containing 92 pp., 18 × 12, is said to be the largest paper yet printed in Australasia. It is owned and edited by Mr J. A. Stanley Adam, formerly with Hazell, Watson, & Viney, London.—The Australian Builder and Contractors' News was started in May, 1887, by a limited liability company, which went into liquidation early in 1893, when Mr Charles Smith purchased the concern. It is a high-class illustrated weekly, 24 pp., 13½ × 8½, and is known in all parts of the world. The editor is Mr James Green, formerly of the London Building News, and the sub-editor Mr James Shaw, formerly of the Lyttelton Times.—The Building and Engineering Journal is a handsome weekly, six years old, of 20 pp., 15 × 10, and will not suffer by comparison with home organs of the profession. It is owned by a company, and edited by Mr F. C. Jarrett.—The Australian Photographic Journal is a neat monthly paper, 10 × 7½, containing 18 pp. reading matter besides advertisements. It is now two years old, and has a wide circle of subscribers in the Australasian colonies.—The Coachbuilder and Saddler was started in 1892, and is now owned by J. E. Bishop & Co. Mr J. E. Bishop is editor. The paper is published monthly; it contains 16 pp. of reading matter; it employs efficient draftsmen, and from a literary, technical, or artistic point of view, is an excellent periodical.

To Mr H. Willcox, of Wellington, an old Birmingham printer, we are indebted for the loan of a typographical curiosity. It is printed in gold, on a sheet of deep bronze-blue surfaced paper, 18 inches wide by 11¼ deep. The text is enclosed in an ancient five-line Caslon border, (imprint beneath), and reads as follows:— « The Speech of Thomas Attwood, Esq. before the Lord Mayor and Court of Common Council, on being presented With the Freedom of the City of London, May xxiii, mdcccxxxii. Printed and published by J. W. Showell, New-street, Birmingham. » The peculiarity of the work is, that the speech, consisting of nearly a thousand words, is contained in the letters « Thomas Attwood, Esq. » As an illustration, we copy, "My Lord Mayor, and gentlemen of this high and honourable Court,—It is not possible that I, on this great occasion, should not feel as a man of true sensibility and honour should feel;—it is not possible that the true spirit of a Briton should not be kindled within me. I am here this day crowned with a great and lasting glory. You have conferred upon me an honour which kings and emperors have coveted, and deemed it an honour to obtain. It is, too, an honour which warriors and statesmen have looked to as an accumulation of their glory,—Why, then, should not I, on a reduced scale, the first two letters. In the original, the lines « Thomas » and « Attwood » are in brevier, the letters in the first being thirteen lines deep, and the second fifteen lines; « Esq. » is in nonpareil, eleven lines deep. The letters are modelled on the fat-faced roman in vogue at the time, and correspond to types approximately of 8½, 10, and 5½ line pica. Some of the letters, as A, W, and S, presented more difficulty to the compositor than those we show, but all are perfectly shaped. Even the comma after « Attwood, » (including eight words), and the period after « Esq. » are brought in, and the compositor, having a small surplus at the end, ingeniously disposed of it by setting in two lines of nonpareil, 4¾ inches long, by way of a dividing rule. The words « With the Freedom of the City of London » are in a two-line english open black—all the rest in plain roman. Mr Attwood, in the days of the Reform Bill agitation, was largely instrumental in securing representation for Birmingham, and in his speech, which is magniloqent and flowery, he dilates eloquently upon his own merits. This interesting relic brings out vividly some of the changes which sixty years have made. The fine language of our grandfathers seems as obsolete as the eighteenth-century types in the sheet before us. Mr Showell, the printer, appears to have had a taste for elaborate typography. One of his exploits in this direction was the composition of the Rev. Mr Dodd's famous sermon on Malt in the form of the letters Malt. Mr Willcox has in his possession a pamphlet, also printed in gold on bronze-blue, from which it appears that sixty years ago Mr Showell was a deacon of the old Cannon-st. Baptist Church, Birmingham, founded in 1737.