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Literary Blunders by Henry B. Wheatley

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the title of James I.'s ron basilikn>,
and Bishop Walton supposed the title of
the great Arabic Dictionary, the _Kamoos_
or Ocean, to be the name of an author
whom he quotes as ``Camus.'' In the
article on Stenography in Rees's Cyclopdia
there are two most amusing blunders.
John Nicolai published a _Treatise on the
Signs of the Ancients_ at the beginning of
the last century, and the writer of the
article, having seen it stated that a certain
fact was to be found in Nicolai, jumped
to the conclusion that it was the name of
a place, and wrote, ``It was at Nicolai
that this method of writing was first
introduced to the Greeks by Xenophon
himself.'' Tn another part of the same
article the oldest method of shorthand
extant, entitled ``Ars Scribendi Characteris,''
is said to have been printed about
the year 1412--that is, long before printing
was invented. In the _Biographie Univer

there is a life of one Nicholas Donis,
by Baron Walckenaer, which is a blundering
alteration of the real name of a
Benedictine monk called Dominus Nicholas.
This, however, is not the only time that
a title has been taken for a name. An
eminent bookseller is said to have
received a letter signed George Winton,
proposing a life of Pitt; but, as he did not
know the name, he paid no attention to
the letter, and was much astonished when
he was afterwards told that his
correspondent was no less a person than
George Pretyman Tomline, Bishop of
Winchester. This is akin to the mistake
of the Scotch doctor attending on the
Princess Charlotte during her illness, who
said that ``ane Jean Saroom'' had been
continually calling, but, not knowing the
fellow, he had taken no notice of him.
Thus the Bishop of Salisbury was sent
away by one totally ignorant of his
dignity. A similar blunder was made by a
bibliographer, for in Hotten's _Handbook
to the Topography and Family History of
England and Wales_ will be found an entry
of an ``Assize Sermon by Bishop Wigorn,

in the Cathedral at Worcester, 1690.''
This was really Bishop Stillingfleet. There
is a reverse case of a catalogue made by
a worthy bookseller of the name of William
London, which was long supposed to be
the work of Dr. William Juxon, the Bishop
of London at the time of publication.
The entry in the _Biographie Moderne_ of
``Brigham _le jeune_ ou Brigham Young''
furnishes a fine instance of a writer
succumbing to the ever-present temptation
to be too clever by half. A somewhat
similar blunder is that of the late Mr.
Dircks. The first reprint of the Marquis
of Worcester's _Century of Inventions_ was
issued by Thomas Payne, the highly
respected bookseller of the Mews Gate, in
1746; but in _Worcesteriana_ (1866) Mr.
Dircks positively asserts that the notorious
Tom Paine was the publisher of it, thus
ignoring the different spelling of the two

In a French book on the invention of
printing, the sentence ``Le berceau de
l'imprimerie'' was misread by a German,
who turned Le Berceau into a man{.??}
D'Israeli tells us that _Mantissa_, the title

of the Appendix to Johnstone's _History
of Plants_, was taken for the name of an
author by D'Aquin, the French king's
physician. The author of the _Curiosities
of Literature_ also relates that an Italian
misread the description _Enrichi de deux
listes_ on the title-page of a French book
of travels, and, taking it for the author's
name, alluded to the opinions of
Mons. Enrichi De Deux Listes; but
really this seems almost too good to be

If we searched bibliographical literature
we should find a fair crop of authors who
never existed; for when once a blunder
of this kind is set going, it seems to bear
a charmed life. Mr. Daydon Jackson
mentions some amusing instances of
imaginary authors made out of title-pages
in his _Guide to the Literature of Botany_.
An anonymous work of A. Massalongo,
entitled _Graduale Passagio delle Crittogame
alle Fanerogame_ (1876), has been entered
in a German bibliography as written by
G. Passagio. In an English list Kelaart's
_Flora Calpensis: Reminiscences of Gibraltar_
(1846) appears as the work of a lady--

Christian name, Flora; _surname_, Calpensis.
In 1837 a _Botanical-Lexicon_ was published
by an author who described himself as
``The Rev. Patrick Keith, Clerk, F.L.S.''
This somewhat pedantic form deceived a
foreign cataloguer, who took Clerk for the
surname, and contracted ``Patrick Keith''
into the initials P.K. More inexcusable
was the blunder of an American who, in
describing J. E. H. Gordon's work on
_Electricity_, changed the author's degree
into the initials of a collaborator, one
Cantab. The joint authors were stated
to be J. E. H. Gordon and B. A. Cantab.

A very amusing, but a quite excusable
error, was made by Allibone in his
_Dictionary of English Literature_, under
the heading of Isaac D'Israeli. He
notices new editions of that author's
works revised by the Right Hon. the
Chancellor of the Exchequer, of course
Isaac's son Benjamin, afterwards Prime
Minister and Earl of Beaconsfield; but
unfortunately there were two Chancellors
in 1858, and Allibone chooses the wrong
one, printing, as useful information to the
reader, that the reviser was Sir George

Cornewall Lewis. An instance of the
danger of inconsiderate explanation will
be found in a little book by a German
lady, Fanny Lewald, entitled _England
and Schottland_. The authoress, when in
London, visited the theatre in order to
see a play founded on Cooper's novel
_The Wept of Wish-ton Wish_; and being
unable to understand the title, she calls
it the ``Will of the Whiston Wisp,'' which
she tells us means an _ignis fatuus_.

A writer in a German paper was led
into an amusing blunder by an English
review a few years ago. The reviewer,
having occasion to draw a distinction
between George and Robert Cruikshank,
spoke of the former as the real Simon
Pure. The German, not understanding
the allusion, gravely told his readers that
George Cruikshank was a pseudonym,
the author's real name being Simon Pure.
This seems almost too good to be equalled,
but a countryman of our own has blundered
nearly as grossly. William Taylor,
in his _Historic Survey of German Poetry_
(1830), prints the following absurd
statement: ``Godfred of Berlichingen is one

of the earliest imitations of the Shakspeare
tragedy which the German school has
produced. It was admirably translated into
English in 1799 at Edinburg by _William_
Scott, advocate, no doubt the same person
who, under the poetical but assumed name
of _Walter_, has since become the most
extensively popular of the British writers.''
The cause of this mistake we cannot explain,
but the reason for it is to be found
in the fact which has lately been announced
that a few copies of the translation, with
the misprint of William for Walter in the
title, were issued before the error was

Jacob Boehm, the theosophist, wrote
some Reflections on a theological treatise
by one Isaiah Stiefel,[6] the title of which
puzzled one of his modern French
biographers. The word Stiefel in German
means a boot, and the Frenchman therefore
gave the title of Boehm's tract as
``Reflexions sur les Bottes d'Isaie.''

[6] ``Bedencken ber Esai Stiefels Buchlein:
von dreyerley Zustandt des Menschen unnd dessen
newen Geburt.'' 1639.

It is scarcely fair to make capital out

of the blunders of booksellers' catalogues,
which are often printed in a great hurry,
and cannot possibly possess the advantage
of correction which a book does. But
one or two examples may be given without
any censure being intended on the

In a French catalogue the works of
the famous philosopher Robert Boyle
appeared under the following singular
French form: BOY (le), Chymista scepticus
vel dubia et paradoxa chymico-physica, &c.

``Mr. Tul. Cicero's Epistles'' looks
strange, but the mistake is but small.
The very natural blunder respecting the
title of Shelley's _Prometheus Unbound_
actually did occur; and, what is more, it
was expected by Theodore Hook. This is
an accurate copy of the description in the
catalogue of a year or two back:--

``Shelley's Prometheus _Unbound_.

---- another copy, _in whole calf_.''
and these are Hook's lines:--

``Shelley styles his new poem `Prometheus Unbound,'
And 'tis like to remain so while time circles round;

For surely an age would be spent in the finding
A reader so weak as _to pay for the binding_.''

When books are classified in a catalogue
the compiler must be peculiarly on his
guard if he has the titles only and not
the books before him. Sometimes instances
of incorrect classification show
gross ignorance, as in the instance quoted
in the _Athenum_ lately. Here we have
a crop of blunders: ``_Title_, Commentarii
De Bello Gallico in usum Scholarum
Liber Tirbius. _Author_, Mr. C. J.
Caesoris. _Subject_, Religion.'' Still better
is the auctioneer's entry of P. V. Maroni's
_The Opera_. Authors, however, are usually
so fond of fanciful ear-catching titles, that
every excuse must be made for the cataloguer,
who mistakes their meaning, and
takes them in their literal signification.
Who can reprove too severely the classifier
who placed Swinburne's _Under the
Microscope_ in his class of _Optical
Instruments_, or treated Ruskin's _Notes on the
Construction of Sheetfolds_ as a work on
agricultural appliances? A late instance
of an amusing misclassification is reported
from Germany. In the _Orientalische

Bibliographie_, Mr. Rider Haggard's
wonderful story _King Solomon's Mines_ is
entered as a contribution to
``Alttestamentliche Lltteratur.''

The elaborate work by Careme, _Le
Patissier Pittoresque_ (1842), which
contains designs for confectioners, deceived
the bookseller from its plates of pavilions,
temples, etc., into supposing it to be a
book on architecture, and he accordingly
placed it under that heading in his

Mr. Daydon Jackson gives several
instances of false classification in his _Guide
to the Literature of Botany_, and remarks
that some authors contrive titles seemingly
of set purpose to entrap the unwary. He
instances a fine example in the case of
Bishop Alexander Ewing's _Feamainn
Earraghaidhiell: Argyllshire Seaweeds_
(Glasgow, 1872. 8vo). To enhance the
delusion, the coloured wrapper is
ornamented with some of the common marine
alg, but the inside of the volume
consists solely of pastoral addresses. Another
example will be found in _Flowers from
the South, from the Hortus Siccus of an

Old Collector_. By W. H. Hyett, F.R.S.
Instead of a popular work on the
Mediterranean flora by a scientific man, as
might reasonably be expected, this is a
volume of translations from the Italian
and Latin poets. It is scarcely fair to
blame the compiler of the _Bibliotheca
Historio-Naturalis_ for having ranked
both these works among scientific treatises.
The English cataloguer who treated as a
botanical book Dr. Garnett's selection
from Coventry Patmore's poems, entitled
_Florilegium Amantis_, could claim less
excuse for his blunder than the German
had. These misleading titles are no new
invention, and the great bibliographer
Haller was deceived into including the
title of James Howell's _Deudrologia, or
Dodona's Grove_ (1640), in his _Bibliotheca
Botanica_. Professor Otis H. Robinson
contributed a very interesting paper on the
``Titles of Books'' to the _Special Report
on Public Libraries in the United States of
America_ (1876), in which he deals very
fully with this difficulty of misleading titles,
and some of his preliminary remarks are
very much to the point. He writes:--

``No act of a man's life requires
more practical common sense than the
naming of his book. If he would make
a grocer's sign or an invoice of a cellar
of goods or a city directory, he uses no
metaphors; his pen does not hesitate for
the plainest word. He must make himself
understood by common men. But
if he makes a book the case is different.
It must have the charm of a pleasing
title. If there is nothing new within, the
back at least must be novel and taking.
He tortures his imagination for something
which will predispose the reader in its
favour. Mr. Parker writes a series of
biographical sketches, and calls it _Morning
Stars of the New World_. Somebody prepares
seven religious essays, binds them
up in a book, and calls it _Seven Stormy
Sundays_. Mr. H. T. Tuckerman makes
a book of essays on various subjects, and
calls it _The Optimist_; and then devotes
several pages of preface to an argument,
lexicon in hand, proving that the
applicability of the term optimist is `obvious.'
An editor, at intervals of leisure, indulges
his true poetic taste for the pleasure of his

friends, or the entertainment of an
occasional audience. Then his book appears,
entitled not _Miscellaneous Poems_, but
_Asleep in the Sanctum_, by A. A. Hopkins.
Sometimes, not satisfied with one enigma,
another is added. Here we have _The
Great iron Wheel; or, Republicanism
Backwards and Christianity Reversed_, by J. R.
Graves. These titles are neither new nor
scarce, nor limited to any particular class
of books. Every case, almost every shelf,
in every library contain such. They are as
old as the art of book-making. David's
lamentation over Saul and Jonathan was
called _The Bow_. A single word in the
poem probably suggested the name. Three
of the orations of schines were styled _The
Graces_, and his letters _The Muses_.''

The list of bibliographical blunders
might be indefinitely extended, but the
subject is somewhat technical, and the
above few instances will give a sufficient
indication of the pitfalls which lie in the
way of the bibliographer--a worker who
needs universal knowledge if he is to
wend his way safely through the snares
in his path.



THE errata of the early printed
books are not numerous, and
this fact is easily accounted for
when we recollect that these books were
superintended in their passage through
the press by scholars such as the Alduses,
Andreas, Bishop of Aleria, Campanus
Perottus, the Stephenses, and others.
It is said that the first book with a printed
errata is the edition of _Juvenal_, with notes
of Merula, printed by Gabriel Pierre, at
Venice, in 1478; previously the mistakes
had been corrected by the pen. One of
the longest lists of errata on record, which
occupies fifteen folio pages, is in the
edition of the works of Picus of Mirandula,
printed by Knoblauch, at Strasburg,
in 1507. A worse case of blundering will
be found in a little book of only one

hundred and seventy-two pages, entitled
_Miss ac Missalis Anatomia_, 1561,
which contains fifteen pages of errata.
The author, feeling that such a gross case
of blundering required some excuse or
explanation, accounted for the misprints
by asserting that the devil drenched
the manuscript in the kennel, making it
almost illegible, and then obliged the
printer to misread it. We may be allowed
to believe that the fiend who did all the
mischief was the printer's ``devil.''

Cardinal Bellarmin tried hard to get
his works printed correctly, but without
success, and in 1608 he was forced to
publish at Ingolstadt a volume entitled
_Recognitio librorum omnium Roberti
Belarmini_, in which he printed eighty-eight
pages of errata of his Controversies.

Edward Leigh, in his thin folio volume
entitled _On Religion and Learning_, 1656,
was forced to add two closely printed
leaves of errata.

Sometimes apparent blunders have been
intentionally made; thus, to escape the
decree of the Inquisition that the words
fatum and fata should not be used in

any work, a certain author printed _facta_
in his book, and added in the errata ``_for_
facta _read_ fata.''

In dealing with our own older literature
we find a considerable difference in degree
of typographical correctness; thus the old
plays of the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries are often marvels of inaccuracy,
and while books of the same date are
usually supplied with tables of errata,
plays were issued without any such helps
to correction. This to some extent is to
be accounted for by the fact that many of
these plays were surreptitious publications,
or, at all events, printed in a hurry, without
care. The late Mr. Halliwell Phillipps, in
his curious privately printed volume (_A
Dictionary of Misprints_, 1887), writes:
``Such tests were really a thousandfold
more necessary in editions of plays, but
they are practically non-existent in the
latter, the brief one which is prefixed
to Dekker's _Satiro-Mastix_, 1602, being
nearly the only example that is to be
found in any that appeared during the
literary career of the great dramatist.''

In other branches of literature it is

evident that some care was taken to escape
misprints, either by the correction of the
printer's reader or of the author. Some
of the excuses made for misprints in our
old books are very amusing. In a little
English book of twenty-six leaves printed
at Douay in 1582, and entitled _A true
reporte of the death and martyrdome of
M. Campion Jesuite and Preiste, and M.
Sherwin and M. Bryan Preistes, at Tiborne
the first of December_ 1581, is this notice
at the end:--

``Good reader, pardon all faultes escaped
in the printing and beare with the
woorkmanship of a strainger.''

Many of Nicholas Breton's tracts were
issued surreptitiously, and he protested
that many pieces which he had never
written were falsely ascribed to him. _The
Bower of Delights_ was published without
the author's sanction, and the printer
(or publisher) Richard Jones made the
following address ``to the Gentlemen
Readers'' on the blunders which had
been made in the book:--

``Pardon mee (good Gentlemen) of my
presumption, & protect me, I pray you,

against those Cavellers and findfaults, that
never like of any thing that they see
printed, though it be never so well
compiled. And where you happen to find
fault, impute it to bee committed by the
Printers negligence, then (otherwise) by
any ignorance in the author: and
especially in A 3, about the middest of
the page, for LIME OR LEAD I pray you
read LINE OR LEAD. So shall your poore
Printer haue just cause hereafter to be
more carefull, and acknowledge himselfe
most bounden (at all times) to do your
service to the utmost of his power.
``Yours R. J., PRINTER.''

A little scientific book, entitled _The
Making and use of the Geometricall Instrument
called a Sector . . . by Thomas Hood_,
1598, has a list of errata headed _Faultes
escaped_, with this note of the author
or printer:--

``Gentle reader, I pray you excuse
these faults, because I finde by experience,
that it is an harder matter to
print these mathematicall books trew,
then bookes of other discourse.''

Arthur Hopton's _Baculum Geodticum
sive Viaticum or the Geodeticall Staffe_
(1610), contains the following quaint lines
at the head of the list of errata:--
``The Printer to the Reader.
``For errours past or faults that scaped be,
Let this collection give content to thee:
A worke of art, the grounds to us unknowne,
May cause us erre, thoughe all our skill be showne.
When points and letters, doe containe the sence,
The wise may halt, yet doe no great offence.
Then pardon here, such faults that do befall,
The next edition makes amends for all.''

Thomas Heywood, the voluminous dramatist,
added to his _Apology for Actors_
(1612) an interesting address to the
printer of his tract, which, besides drawing
attention to the printer's dislike of his
errors being called attention to in a table
of errata, is singularly valuable for its
reference to Shakespeare's annoyance at
Jaggard's treatment of him by attributing
to his pen Heywood's poems from _Great
Britain's Troy_.

``To my approved good Friend,
``The infinite faults escaped in my

booke of _Britaines Troy_ by the negligence
of the printer, as the misquotations,
mistaking the sillables, misplacing halfe lines,
coining of strange and never heard of
words, these being without number, when
I would have taken a particular account
of the _errata_, the printer answered me, hee
would not publish his owne disworkemanship,
but rather let his owne fault lye
upon the necke of the author. And being
fearefull that others of his quality had
beene of the same nature and condition,
and finding you, on the contrary, so
carefull and industrious, so serious and
laborious to doe the author all the rights
of the presse, I could not choose but
gratulate your honest indeavours with
this short remembrance. Here, likewise,
I must necessarily insert a manifest injury
done me in that worke, by taking the
two epistles of Paris to Helen, and Helen
to Paris, and printing them in a lesse
volume under the name of another, which
may put the world in opinion I might
steale them from him, and hee, to doe
himselfe right, hath since published them
in his owne name; but as I must

knowledge my lines not worthy his
patronage under whom he hath publisht
them, so the author, I know, much offended
with M. Jaggard (that altogether unknowne
to him) presumed to make so bold with
his name. These and the like dishonesties
I knowe you to bee cleere of; and I could
wish but to bee the happy author of so
worthy a worke as I could willingly commit
to your care and workmanship.
``Yours ever, THOMAS HEYWOOD.''

In the eighteenth century printers and
authors had become hardened in their
sins, and seldom made excuses for the
errors of the press, but in the seventeenth
century explanations were frequent.

Silvanus Morgan, in his _Horologiographia
Optica. Dialling Universall and
Particular, Speculative and Practicall,
London_ 1652, comes before his readers
with these remarks on the errata:--

``Reader I having writ this some years
since, while I was a childe in Art, and by
this appear to be little more, for want of
a review hath these faults, which I desire
thee to mend with thy pen, and if there

be any errour in art, as in chap. 17
which is only true at the time of the
Equinoctiall, take that for an oversight,
and where thou findest equilibra read
equilibrio, and in the dedication (in some
copies) read Robert Bateman for Thomas,
and side for signe and know that _Optima
prima cadunt, pessimus ve manent_.''

The list of errata in Joseph Glanvill's
_Essays on several important subjects in
Philosophy and Religion_ (1676) is prefixed
by this note:--

``The Reader is desired to take notice
of the following Errours of the Press, some
of which are so near in sound, to the
words of the author, that they may easily
be mistaken for his.''

The next two books to be mentioned
were published in the same year--1679.
The noble author referred to in the first is
that Roger Palmer who had the dishonour
of being the husband of Charles II.'s
notorious mistress, the Countess of
Castlemaine. Fortunately for the Earl she no
longer bore his name, as she was created
Duchess of Cleveland in 1670. Professor
De Morgan was inclined to doubt Lord

Castlemaine's authorship, but the following
remarks by Joseph Moxon seem to prove
that the peer did produce a rough draft of
some kind:--

``Postscript concerning the Erratas and
the Geographical part of this Globe,''
prefixed to _The English Globe_ . . . by
the Earl of Castlemaine:--

``The Erratas of the Press being many,
I shall not set them down in a distinct
Catalogue as usually, least the sight of them
should more displease, than the particulars
advantage, especially since they are not so
material or intricate, but that any man may
(I hope) easily mend them in the reading.
I confess I have bin in a manner the occasion
of them, by taking from the noble
author a very foul copy, when he desir'd
me to stay till a fair one were written over,
so that truly 'tis no wonder, if workmen
should in these cases not only sometimes
leave out, but adde also, by taking one line
for another, or not observing with exactness
what words have bin wholly obliterated
or dasht out.''

John Playford, the music publisher
and author, makes some remarks on the

subject of misprints in the preface to
his _Vade Mecum, or the Necessary Companion_
(1679), which are worth quotation

``My profession obliging me to be
conversant with mathematical Books (the
printing whereof and musick, has been
my chiefest employment), I have observ'd
two things many times the cause why
Books of this nature appear abroad not
so correct as they should be; either I
Because they are too much hastened from
the Press, and not time enough allowed
for the strict and deliberate examination
of them; which in all books ought to be
done, especially in these, for as much as
one false figure in a Mathematical book,
may prove a greater fault than a whole
word mistake in books of another kind.
Or, 2 Because Persons take Tables upon
trust without trying them, and with them
transcribe their errors, if not increase
them. Both these I have carefully avoided,
so that I have reason to believe (and think
I may say it without vanity) there never
was Tables more exactly printed than in
this Book, especially those for money and

annuities, for not trusting to my first
calculation of them, I new calculated every
Table when it was in print, by the first
printed sheet, and when I had so done
I strictly compared it with my first calculation.''

De Morgan registers the nineteenth
edition of this book, dated 1756, in his
_Arithmetical Books_, and he did not apparently
know that it was originally published
so early as 1679.

In Morton's _Natural History of
Northamptonshire_ (1712), is a list headed ``Some
Errata of the press to be corrected''; and
at the end of the list is the following
amusing note: ``There is no cut of the
Hen of the lesser Py'd Brambling in Tab.
13 tho' 'tis referred to in p. 423 which
omission was owing to an accident and is
really not very material, the hen of that
bird differing but little from the cock
which is represented in that Table under
fig. 3.''

There is a very prevalent notion that
authors did not correct the proofs of their
books in the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, but there is sufficient evidence

that this is altogether a mistake. Professor
De Morgan, with his usual sagacity, alludes
to this point in his _Arithmetical Books_
(1847): ``A great many circumstances induce
me to think that the general fashion
of correcting the press by the author came
in with the seventeenth century or
thereabouts.'' And he instances this note on
the title-page of Richard Witt's _Arithmetical
Questions_ (1613): ``Examined also
and corrected at the Presse by the author

The late Dr. Brinsley Nicholson raised
this question in _Notes and Queries_ in 1889,
and by his research it is possible to
antedate the practice by nearly forty years.
For several of the following quotations I
am indebted to that invaluable periodical.
In Scot's _Hop-Garden_ (1574) we find the
following excuse:--

``Forasmuch as M. Scot could not
be present at the printing of this his
booke, whereby I might have used his
advice in the correction of the same, and
especiallie of the Figures and Portratures
conteyned therein, whereof he
delivered unto me such notes as I

being unskilfull in the matter could
not so thoroughly conceyve, nor so
perfectly expresse as . . . the authour
or you.''

In _The Droomme of Doomes Day_. By
George Gascoigne (1576) is:--

``An Aduertisement of the Prynter to the Reader.

``Understand (gentle Reader) that whiles
this worke was in the presse it pleased
God to visit the translatour thereof with
sicknesse. So that being unable himselfe
to attend the dayly proofes, he apoynted
a seruaunt of his to ouersee the same.
Who being not so well acquainted with
the matter as his maister was, there haue
passed some faultes much contrary unto
both our meanings and desires. The which
I have therefore collected into this Table.
Desiring every Reader that wyll vouchsafe
to peruse this booke, that he will firste
correct those faultes and then judge accordingly.''

A particularly interesting note on this
point precedes the list of errata in Stanyhurst's
Translation of Virgil's _neid_ (1582),

which was printed at Leyden. Mr. F. C.
Birkbeck Terry, who pointed this out in
_Notes and Queries_, quoted from Arber's
reprint, p. 157:--

``John Pates Printer to thee Corteous
Reader, I am too craue thy pacience and
paynes (good reader) in bearing wyth such
faultes as haue escapte in printing: and
in correcting as wel such as are layd downe
heere too thy view, as all oother whereat
thou shalt hap too stumble in perusing
this treatise. Thee nooueltye of imprinting
English in theese partes and thee absence
of the author from perusing soome proofes
could not choose but breede errours.''

Certainly Scot, Gascoigne, and Stanyhurst
did not correct the proofs, but it
would not have been necessary to make
an excuse if the practice was not a pretty
general one among authors.

Bishop Babington's _Exposition of the
Lord's Prayer_ (1588) contains an excuse
for the author's inability to correct the

``If thou findest any other faultes either
in words or distinctions troubling a perfect
sence (Gentle Reader) helpe them by thine

owne judgement and excuse the presse by
the Authors absence, who best was acquainted
to reade his owne hande.''

In the Bobleian Library is preserved
the printer's copy of Book V. of Hooker's
_Ecclesiastical Polity_ (1597), with Whitgift's
signature and corrections in Hooker's
handwriting. On one of the pages is the
following note by the printer:--

``Good Mr. Hooker, I pray you be so
good as to send us the next leaf that
followeth this, for I know not by what
mischance this of ours is lost, which
standeth uppon the finishing of the

[7] _Notes and Queries_, 7th Series, viii. 73.

Another proof of the general practice
will be found in N. Breton's _The Wit of
Wit_ (1599):--

``What faultes are escaped in the printing,
finde by discretion, and excuse the
Author by other worke that let him from
attendance to the Presse; non h che non
s. N. B. Gent.''

At the end of Nash's dedication ``To
his Readers,'' _Lenten Stuffe_ (1599), is this

interesting statement: ``Apply it for me
for I am called away to correct the faults
of the press, that escaped in my absence
from the printing house.''

Richard Brathwaite, when publishing
his _Strappado for the Divell_ (1615), made
an excuse for not having seen all the
proofs. The whole note is well worthy
of reproduction:--

``Upon the Errata.

``Gentlemen (_humanum est errare_), to
confirme which position, this my booke
(as many other are) hath his share of
errors; so as I run _ad prlum tanquam
ad prlium, in typos quasi in scippos_; but
my comfort is if I be strappadoed by the
multiplicite of my errors, it is but
answerable to my title: so as I may seem to
diuine by my style, what I was to indure
by the presse. Yet know judicious disposed
gentlemen, that the intricacie of the
copie, and the absence of the author from
many important proofes were occasion of
these errors, which defects (if they bee
supplied by your generous convenience
and curtuous disposition) I doe vowe to

satisfie your affectionate care with a
more serious surueigh in my next
impression. . . . For other errors as the
misplacing of commaes, colons, and
periods (which as they are in euerie
page obvious, so many times they invert
the sence), I referre to your discretion
(judicious gentle-men) whose lenity may
sooner supply them, then all my industry
can portray them.''

In _The Mastive, or Young Whelpe of
the Olde Dogge, Epigrams and Satyres
_(1615), an anonymous work of Henry
Peacham, we read:--

``The faultes escaped in the Printing
(or any other omission) are to be excused
by reason of the authors absence from the
Presse, who thereto should have given
more due instructions.''

Dr. Brinsley Nicholson brought forward
two very interesting passages on the
correcting of proofs from old plays. The
first, which looks very like an allusion to
the custom, is from the 1601 edition of
Ben Jonson's _Every Man in his Humour_
(act. ii., sc. 3), where Lorenzo, junior,
says, ``My father had the proving of your

copy, some houre before I saw it.'' The
second is from Fletcher's _The Nice Valour_
(1624 or 1625), act. iv., sc. 1. Lapet
says to his servant (the clown Goloshio),
``So bring me the last proof, this is
corrected''; and Goloshio having gone
and returned, the following ensues:--

_Lap_. What says my Printer now?
_Clown_. Here's your last Proof, Sir.
You shall have perfect Books now in a twinkling.[8]

[8]2 _Notes and Queries_, 7th Series, viii. 253.

The following address, which contains
a curious excuse of Dr. Daniel Featley for
not having corrected the proofs of his
book _The Romish Fisher Caught in his own
Net_ (1624), is very much to the point:--

``I entreat the courteous reader to
understand that the greater part of the
book was printed in the time of the great
frost; when by reason that the Thames
was shut up, I could not conveniently
procure the proofs to be brought unto
mee, before they were wrought off; whereupon
it fell out that many very grosse
escapes passed the press, and (which was

the worst fault of all) the third part is left

As a later example we may cite from
Sir Peter Leycester's _Historical Antiquities_
(1673), where we find this note: ``Reader,
By reason of the author's absence, several
faults have escaped the press: those which
are the most material thou art desir'd to
amend, and to pardon them all.''

Printed mistakes are usually considered
by the sufferers matters of somewhat
serious importance; and we picture to
ourselves an author stalking up and down
his room and tearing his hair when
he first discovers them; but Benserade,
the French poet, was able to make a joke
of the subject. This is the _rondeau_ which
he placed at the end of his version of _Les
Metamorphoses d'Ovide_:--

``Pour moi, parmi des fautes innombrables,
Je n'en connais que deux considrables,
Et dont je fais ma dclaration,
C'est l'entreprise et l'excution;
A mon avis fautes irrparables
Dans ce volume.''

According to the _Scaligerana_, Cardan's
treatise _De Subtilitate_, printed by Vascosan

in 1557, does not contain a single
misprint; but, on the whole, it may be very
seriously doubted whether an immaculate
edition of any work ever issued from the
press. The story is well known of the
serious attempt made by the celebrated
Glasgow printers Foulis to free their edition
of _Horace_ from any chance of error. They
caused the proof-sheets after revision to
be hung up at the gate of the University,
with the offer of a reward to any one who
discovered a misprint. In spite of all this
care there are, according to Dibdin, six
uncorrected errors in this edition.

According to Isaac Disraeli, the goal
of freedom from blunders was nearly
reached by Dom Joze Souza, with the
assistance of Didot in 1817, when he
published his magnificent edition of _As
Lusiadas_ of Camoens. However, an
uncorrected error was discovered in some
copies, occasioned by the misplacing of
one of the letters in the word _Lusitano_.
A like case occurred a few years ago at an
eminent London printer's. A certain book
was about to be printed, and instructions
were issued that special care was to be

taken with the printing. It was read over
by the chief reader, and all seemed to
have gone well, when a mistake was discovered
upon the title-page.

It may be mentioned here, with respect
to tables of errata, that they are frequently
neglected in subsequent books. There are
many books in which the same blunders
have been repeated in various editions,
although they had been pointed out in an
early issue.



OF all literary blunders misprints
are the most numerous, and no
one who is conversant with the
inside of a printing-office will be surprised
at this; in fact, he is more likely to be
struck with the freedom from error of the
innumerable productions issued from the
press than to be surprised at the blunders
which he may come across. The possibilities
of error are endless, and a frequent
cause is to be found in the final correction,
when a line may easily get transposed.
On this account many authors will prefer
to leave a trivial error, such as a wrong
stop, in a final revise rather than risk the
possibilities of blundering caused by the
unlocking of the type. Of course a large
number of misprints are far from amusing,
while a sense of fun will sometimes be

obtained by a trifling transposition of
letters. Authors must be on the alert for
misprints, although ordinary misspellings
should not be left for them by the printer's
reader; but they are usually too intent on
the structure of their own sentences to
notice these misprints. The curious point
is that a misprint which has passed through
proof and revise unnoticed by reader and
author will often be detected immediately
the perfected book is placed in the author's
hands. The blunder which has hitherto
remained hidden appears to start out from
the page, to the author's great disgust.
One reason why misprints are overlooked
is that every word is a sort of pictorial
object to the eye. We do not spell the
word, but we guess what it is by the first
and last letters and its length, so that a
wrong letter in the body of the word is
easily overlooked.

It is an important help to the editor of
a corrupt text to know what misprints are
the most probable, and for this purpose
the late Mr. Halliwell Phillipps printed
for private circulation _A Dictionary of
Misprints, found in printed books of the

sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, compiled
for the use of verbal critics and especially
for those who are engaged in editing the
works of Shakespeare and our other early
Dramatists_ (1887). In the note at the
end of this book Mr. Phillipps writes:
``The readiest access to those evidences
will be found in the old errata, and it will
be seen, on an examination of the latter,
that misprints are abundant in final and
initial letters, in omissions, in numerals,
and in verbal transpositions; but
unquestionably the most frequent in pronouns,
articles, conjunctions, and prepositions.
When we come to words outside the
four latter, there is a large proportion of
examples that are either of rare occurrence
or unique. Some of the blunders that are
recorded are sufficiently grotesque: _e.g.,
Ile starte thence poore for Ile starve their
poore,--he formaketh what for the fire
maketh hot_. It must, indeed, be confessed
that the conjectural emendator, if he
dispenses with the quasi-authority of
contemporary precedents, has an all but
unlimited range for the exercise of his
ingenuity, the unsettled spellings of our

ancestors rendering almost any
emendation, however extravagant, a typographical
possibility. A large number of their
misprints could only have been perpetrated
in the midst of the old orthographies.
Under no other conditions could _ice_ have
been converted into _ye_, _air_ into _time_, _home_
into _honey_, _attain_ into _at any_, _sun_ into
_sinner_, _stone_ into _story_, _deem_ into _deny_,
_dire_ into _dry_, the old spellings of the
italicised words being respectively, yce,
yee, ayre, tyme, home, honie, attaine, att
anie, sunne, sinner, stone, storie, deeme,
denie, dire, drie. The form of the long _s_
should also be sometimes taken into
consideration, for it could only have been
owing to its use that such a word as _some_
could have been misprinted _four, niece_ for
_wife, prefer_ for _preserve, find_ for _fifth_, the
variant old spellings being foure, neese,

Among the instances of misprints given
in this Dictionary may be noticed the
following: actions _for_ axioms, agreement
_for_ argument, all-eyes _for_ allies, aloud _for_
allowed, banish'd _for_ ravish'd, cancel _for_
cantel, candle _for_ caudle, culsedness

_for_ ourselves, eye-sores _for_ oysters, felicity
_for_ facility, Hector _for_ nectar, intending
_for_ indenting, John _for_ Jehu, Judges _for_
Indies, scene _for_ seene, sixteen _for_ sexton,
and _for_ sixty-one, tops _for_ toy, Venus
_for_ Venice.

In connection with this work may be
mentioned the late Mr. W. Blades's
_Shakspere and Typography, being an
attempt to show Shakspere's personal
connection with, and technical knowledge of
the Art of Printing, also Remarks upon
some common typographical errors with
especial reference to the text of Shakspere_
(1872), a small work of very great interest
and value. Mr. Blades writes: ``Now
these typographical blunders will, in the
majority of cases, be found to fall into
one of three classes, viz.:--

``Errors of the ear;

``Errors of the eye; and

``Errors from what, in printers' language,
is called `a foul case.'

``I. _Errors of the Ear_.--Every compositor
when at work reads over a few
words of his copy, and retains them in
his mind until his fingers have picked

up the various types belonging to them.
While the memory is thus repeating to
itself a phrase, it is by no means
unnatural, nor in practice is it uncommon,
for some word or words to become
unwittingly supplanted in the mind by others
which are similar in sound. It was simply
a mental transposition of syllables that
made the actor exclaim,--

`My Lord, stand back and let the parson cough '

instead of

`My Lord, stand back and let the coffin pass'
_Richard III_., i. 2.

And, by a slight confusion of sound, the
word _mistake_ might appear in type as
must take:--

`So you mistake your husbands.'
_Hamlet_, iii. 2.

Again, _idle votarist_ would easily become
_idol votarist_--

`I am no idle votarist.'--_Timon_, iv. 3;

and _long delays_ become transformed to
_longer days_--

`This done, see that you take no long delays.
_Titus_, iv. 2.

From the time of Gutenberg until now
this similarity of sound has been a fruitful
source of error among printers.

``II. _Errors of the Eye_.--The eye often
misleads the hand of the compositor,
especially if he be at work upon a crabbed
manuscript or worn-out reprint. Take
out a dot, and _This time goes manly_

`This tune goes manly.' _Macbeth_, iv. 3.

So a clogged letter turns _What beast was't
then_? into _What boast was't then_?--

`Lady M. What beast was't then,
That made you break this enterprise to me?'
_Macbeth_, i. 7.

Examples might be indefinitely multiplied
from many an old book, so I will quote
but one more instance. The word _preserve_
spelt with a long _s_ might without
much carelessness be misread _preferre_
(I _Henry VI_., iii. 2), and thus entirely
alter the sense.

``III. _Errors from a `foul case_.'--This
class of errors is of an entirely different

kind from the two former. They came
from within the man, and were from the
brain; this is from without, mechanical in
its origin as well as in its commission. As
many readers may never have seen the
inside of a printing office, the following
short explanation may be found useful:
A `case' is a shallow wooden drawer,
divided into numerous square receptacles
called `boxes,' and into each box is put
one sort of letter only, say all _a_'s, or _b_'s,
or _c_'s. The compositor works with two of
these cases slanting up in front of him,
and when, from a shake, a slip, or any
other accident, the letters become
misplaced the result is technically known as
`a foul case.' A further result is, that the
fingers of the workman, although going to
the proper box, will often pick up a wrong
letter, he being entirely unconscious the
while of the fact.

``Now, if we can discover any law which
governs this abnormal position of the types
--if, for instance, we can predicate that the
letter _o_, when away from its own, will be
more frequently found in the box appropriated
to letter _a_ than any other; that _b_

has a general tendency to visit the _l_ box,
and _l_ the _v_ box; and that _d_, if away
from home, will be almost certainly found
among the _n_'s; if we can show this, we
shall then lay a good foundation for the
re-examination of many corrupt or disputed
readings in the text of Shakspere,
some of which may receive fresh life from
such a treatment.

``To start with, let us obtain a definite
idea of the arrangement of the types in
both `upper' and `lower' case in the
time of Shakspere--a time when long _s_'s,
with the logotypes _ct_, _ff_, _fi_, _ffi_, _ffl_, _sb_, _sh_,
_si_, _sl_, _ss_, _ssi_, _ssl_, and others, were in daily

Mr. Blades then refers to Moxon's
_Mechanical Exercises_, 1683, which contains
a representation of the compositors'
cases in the seventeenth century, which
may be presumed to be the same in form
as those used in Shakespeare's day.
Various alterations have been made in
the arrangement of the cases, with the
object of placing the letters more
conveniently. The present form is shown
on pp. 110, 111.

Mr. Blades proceeds: ``The chief cause
of a `foul' case was the same in Shakspere's
time as now; and no one interested
in the subject should omit visiting
a printing office, where he could personally
inspect the operation. Suppose a
compositor at work `distributing'; the upper
and lower cases, one above the other,
slant at a considerable angle towards him,
and as the types fall quickly from his
fingers they form conical heaps in their
respective boxes, spreading out in a
manner very similar to the sand in the
lower half of an hour-glass. Now, if the
compositor allows his case to become too
full, the topmost letters in each box will
certainly slide down into the box below,
and occasionally, though rarely, into one
of the side boxes. When such letters
escape notice, they necessarily cause
erroneous spelling, and sometimes entirely
change the whole meaning of a sentence.
But now comes the important question:
Are errors of this kind ever discovered,
and especially do they occur in Shakspere?
Doubtless they do, but to what extent a
long and careful examination alone can

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middling spaces.
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show. As examples merely, and to show
the possible change in sense made by a
single wrong letter, I will quote one or
two instances:--

`Were they not _forc'd_ with those that should be ours,
We might have met them darefull, beard to beard.'
_Macbeth_, v. 5.[9]

[9] Collier's MS. corrector substituted _farc'd_ for _forc'd_.

The word _forced_ should be read _farced_,
the letter _o_ having evidently dropped
down into _a_ box. The enemy's ranks
were not _forced_ with Macbeth's followers,
but _farced_ or filled up. In Murrell's
_Cookery_, 1632, this identical word is used
several times; we there see that a
farced leg of mutton was when the meat
was all taken out of the skin, mixed with
herbs, etc., and then the skin filled up

`I come to thee for charitable license . . .
To booke our dead.'
_Henry V_., iv. 7.

So all the copies, but `to book' is surely
a modern commercial phrase, and the

Herald here asked leave simply to `look,'
or to examine, the dead for the purpose
of giving honourable burial to their men
of rank. In the same sense Sir W. Lucie,
in the First Part of _Henry VI_., says:--

`I come to know what prisoners thou hast tane,
And to survey the bodies of the dead.'

We cannot imagine an officer with pen,
inkhorn, and paper, at a period when few
could write, `booking' the dead. We
may, I think, take it for granted that here
the letter _b_ had fallen over into the _l_

Another point to bear in mind is the
existence of such logotypes as _fi_, _si_, etc.,
so that, as Mr. Blades says, ``the change of
light into sight must not be considered as
a question of a single letter--of _s_ in the
_l_ box,'' because the box containing _si_ is
far away from the _l_ box, and their contents
could not well get mixed.

To these instances given by Mr. Blades
may be added a very interesting correction
suggested to the author some years ago
by a Shakespearian student. When Isabella
visits her brother in prison, the

cowardly Claudio breaks forth in
complaint, and paints a vivid picture of the
horrors of the damned:--

``Ay, but to die, and go we know not where;
To lie in cold obstruction, and to rot;
This sensible warm motion to become
A kneaded clod; and the _delighted spirit_
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprisoned in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
The pendent world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thoughts
Imagine howling!--'tis too horrible!
The weariest and most loathed worldly life
That age, ache, penury, and imprisonment
Can lay on nature, is a paradise
To what we fear of death.''
_Measure for Measure_, act iii., sc. 1.

We have here, in the expression ``delighted
spirit,'' a difficulty which none of
the commentators have as yet been able
to explain. Warburton said that the
adjective meant ``accustomed to ease
and delights,'' but this was not a very
successful guess, although Steevens
adopted it. Sir Thomas Hanmer altered
_delighted_ to _dilated_, and Dr. Johnson

mentions two suggested emendations,
one being _benighted_ and the other
_delinquent_. None of these suggestions can
be corroborated by a reference to the
plans of the printers' cases, but it will be
seen that the one now proposed is much
strengthened by the position of the boxes
in those plans. The suggested word is
_deleted_, which accurately describes the
spirits as destroyed, or blotted out of
existence. The word is common in the
printing office, and it was often used in

If we think only of the recognised
spelling of the word _delighted_ we shall
find that there are three letters to alter,
but if we take the older spelling, _delited_,
the change is very easily made, for it
will be noticed that the letters in the
_i_ box might easily tumble over into the
_e_ box.

There is a very curious description of
hell in Bede's _Ecclesiastical History_, where
the author speaks of ``deformed spirits''
who leap from excess of heat to cutting
cold, and it is not improbable that
Shakespeare may have had this passage in his

mind when he put these words into the
mouth of Claudio.[10]

[10] An article on this point will be found in _The
Antiquary_, vol. viii. (1883), p. 200.

It is taken for granted that the
compositor is not likely to put his hand into
the wrong box, so that if a wrong letter
is used, it must have fallen out of its

An important class of misprints owes
its origin to this misplacement; but, as
noticed by Mr. Blades, there are other
classes, such as misspellings caused by
the compositor's ignorance or
misunderstanding. We must remember that the
printer has to work fast, and if he does
not recognise a word he is very likely to
turn it into something he does understand.
Thus the title of a paper in the
_Philosophical Transactions_ was curiously
changed in an advertisement, and the
Calamites, a species of fossil plants of
the coal measures, with but slight change
appeared as ``The True Fructification of
Calamities.'' This is a blunder pretty sure
to be made, and within a few days of
writing this, the author has seen a

ence to ``Notes on some Pennsylvanian
Calamities.'' As an instance of less
excusable ignorance, we shall often find the
word _gauge_ printed as _guage_.

One of the slightest of misprints was
the cause of an odd query in the second
series of _Notes and Queries_, which, by the
way, has never yet been answered. In
John Hall's _Hor Vaciv_ (1646) there is
this passage, alluding to the table game
called _tick-tack_. The author wrote:
``Tick tack sets a man's intentions on
their guard. Errors in this and war can
be but once amended''; but the printer
joined the two words ``and war'' into one,
and this puzzled the correspondent of
the _Notes and Queries_ (v. 272). He
asked: ``Who can quote another passage
from any author containing this word?
I have hunted after it in many dictionaries
without avail. It means, I suppose,
antagonism or contest, and resembles in
form many Anglo-Saxon words which
never found their way into English proper.''
The blunder was not discovered, and
another correspondent wrote: ``The word
andwar would surely modernise into

war_. Is not andirons (handirons) a
parallel word of the same genus?' In
the General Index we find ``Andwar, an
old English word.'' So much for the long
life of a very small blunder.

A very similar blunder to this of
``andwar'' occurs in _Select Remains of the
learned John Ray with his Life by the late
William Derham_, which was published
in 1760 with a dedication to the Earl of
Macclesfield, President of the Royal
Society, signed by George Scott. In
Derham's Life of Ray a list of books
read by Ray in 1667 is printed from
a letter to Dr. Lister, and one of these
is printed ``The Business about great
Rakes.'' Mr. Scott must have been
puzzled with this title; but he was
evidently a man not to be daunted by a
difficulty, for he added a note to this
effect: ``They are now come into general
use among the farmers, and are called
_drag rakes_.'' Who would suspect after
this that the title is merely a misprint,
and that the pamphlet refers to the
proceedings of Valentine Greatrakes, the
famous stroker, who claimed equal power

with the kings and queens of England in
curing the king's evil? This blunder will
be found uncorrected in Dr. Lankester's
_Memorials of John Ray_, published by the
Ray Society in 1846, and does not seem
to have been suspected until the Rev.
Richard Hooper called attention to it a
short time ago in _Notes and Queries_.[11]

[11] Seventh Series, iv. 225.

An amusing instance of the invention
of a new word was afforded when the
printer produced the words ``a noticeable
fact in thisms'' instead of ``this MS.''

The misplacement of a stop, or the
transposition of a letter, or the dropping
out of one, will make sad havoc of the
sense of a passage, as when we read of
the _immoral_ works of Milton. It was,
however, a very complimentary misprint
by which it was made to appear that a
certain town had a remarkably high rate
of _morality_. In the address to Dr. Watts
by J. Standen prefixed to that author's
_Hor Lyric_ (Leeds, 1788) this same
misprint occurs, to the serious confusion
of Mr. Standen's meaning,--

``With thought sublime
And high sonorous words, thou sweetly sing'st
To thy _immoral_ lyre.''

On another page of this same book
Watts' ``daring flight'' is transposed to
_darling flight_.

In Miss Yonge's _Dynevor Terrace_ a
portion of one word was joined on to
another with the awkward result that a
young lady is described ``without stretched

The odd results of the misplacement of
stops must be familiar to most readers;
but it is not often that they are so serious
as in the following instances. William
Sharp, the celebrated line engraver,
believed in the Divine mission of the madman
Richard Brothers, and engraved a portrait of
that worthy with the following inscription
beneath it: ``Fully believing this to be the
man appointed by God, I engrave his
likeness.--W. SHARP.'' The writing engraver
by mistake put the comma after the word
appointed, and omitted it at the latter part
of the sentence, thus giving a ludicrous
effect to the whole inscription. Many
impressions were struck off before the

mistake was discovered and rectified. The
question of an apostrophe was the ground
of a civil action a few years ago in
Switzerland; and although the anecdote refers to
a manuscript, and not to a printed document,
it is inserted here because it illustrates
the subject. A gentleman left a will
which ended thus: ``Et pour tmoigner
mes neveux Charles et Henri de M----
toute mon affection je lgue chacun
_d'eux_ cent mille francs.'' The paper upon
which the will was written was folded up
before the ink was dry, and therefore many
of the letters were blotted. The legatees
asserted that the apostrophe was a blot,
and therefore claimed two instead of one
hundred thousand francs each.

Several misprints are always recurring,
such as the mixture of the words
Topography and Typography, and Biography
with Bibliography. In the prospectus of
an edition of the _Waverley Novels_ we
read: ``The aim of the publishers has
been to make it pre-eminent, by beauty
of _topography_ and illustration, as an _dition
de luxe_.''

Andrew Marvell published a book which

he entitled _The Rehearsal Transprosed_; but
it is seldom that a printer can be induced
to print the title otherwise than as _The
Rehearsal Transposed_.

It must be conceded in favour of printers
that some authors do write an execrable
hand. One sometimes receives a letter
which requires about three readings before
it can be understood. At the first time of
reading the meaning is scarcely intelligible,
at the second time some faint glimpse of the
writer's object in writing is obtained, and
at the third time the main point of the
letter is deciphered. Such men may be
deemed to be the plague of printers. A
friend of Beloe ``the Sexagenarian'' was
remonstrated with by a printer for being
the cause of a large amount of swearing
in his office. ``Sir,'' exclaimed Mr. A.,
``the moment `copy' from you is divided
among the compositors, volley succeeds
volley as rapidly and as loudly as in one
of Lord Nelson's victories.''

There is a popular notion among authors
that it is not wise to write a clear hand; and
Mnage was one of the first to express it.
He wrote: ``If you desire that no mistakes

shall appear in the works which you publish,
never send well-written copy to the
printer, for in that case the manuscript is
given to young apprentices, who make a
thousand errors; while, on the other hand,
that which is difficult to read is dealt with
by the master-printers.'' It is also related
that the late eminent Arabic scholar, Mr.
E. W. Lane, who wrote a particularly good
hand, asked his printer how it was that
there were always so many errors in his
proofs. He was answered that such clear
writing was always given to the boys, as
experienced compositors could not be
spared for it. The late Dean Hook held
to this opinion, for when he was asked to
allow a sermon to be copied out neatly for
the press, he answered that if it were to
be printed he would prefer to write it
out himself as badly as he could. This
practice, if it ever existed, we are told by
experienced printers does not exist now.

It must, one would think, have been
the badness of the ``copy'' that induced
the compositors to turn ``the nature and
theory of the Greek verb'' into _the native
theology of the Greek verb_; ``the conser

of energy'' into the _conversation of
energy_; and the ``Forest Conservancy
Branch'' into the _Forest Conservatory

Some printers go out of their way to
make blunders when they are unable to
understand their ``copy.'' Thus, in the
_Times_, some years ago, among the contributors
to the Garibaldi Fund was a bookbinder
who gave five shillings. The next
down in the list was one ``A. Lega
Fletcher,'' a name which was printed as _A
Ledger stitcher_.

Some very extraordinary blunders have
been made by the ignorant misreading
of an author's contractions. It is said
that in a certain paper which was sent
to be printed the words Indian Government
were contracted as Indian Govt.
This one compositor set up throughout
his turn as _Indian goat_. A writer in
one of the Reviews wrote the words ``J. C.
first invaded Britain,'' and a worthy
compositor, who made it his business to fill
up all the abbreviations, printed this as
_Jesus Christ_ instead of Julius Csar.

Here it may be remarked that some of

the most extraordinary misprints never
get farther than the printing office or the
study; but although they may have been
discovered by the reader or the author,
they were made nevertheless.

Sometimes the fun of a misprint consists
in its elaborateness and completeness,
and sometimes in its simplicity
(perhaps only the change of a letter).
Of the first class the transformation of
Shirley's well-known lines is a good

``Only the actions of the just
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.''

is scarcely recognisable as

``All the low actions of the just
Swell out and blow Sam in the dust.''

The statement that ``men should work
and play Loo,'' obtained from ``men should
work and play too,'' illustrates the second

The version of Pope which was quoted
by a correspondent of the _Times_ about a
year ago is very charming:--

``A little learning is a dangerous thing;
Drink deep, or taste not the aperient spring.'

The reporter or printer who mistook the
Oxford professor's allusion to the
Eumenides, and quoted him as speaking of
``those terrible old Greek goddesses--the
Humanities,'' was still more elaborate in
his joke.

Horace Greeley is well known to have
been an exceedingly bad writer; but when
he quoted the well-known line (which is
said to be equal to a florin, because there
are four tizzies in it)--

`` 'Tis true, 'tis pity, pity 'tis 'tis true,''

one might have expected the compositor
to recognise the quotation, instead of
printing the astonishing calculation--

`` 'Tis two, 'tis fifty and fifty 'tis, 'tis five.''

This is as bad as the blunder of the
printer of the Hampshire paper who is
said to have announced that Sir Robert
Peel and a party of _fiends_ were engaged
shooting _peasants_ at Drayton Manor.

It is perhaps scarcely fair to quote too
many blunders from newspapers, which
must often be hurriedly compiled, but
naturally they furnish the richest crop.

The point of a leader in an American
paper was lost by a misprint, which reads
as follows: ``We do battle without shot or
charge for the cause of the right.'' This
would be a very ineffectual battle, and the
proper words were _without stint or change_.

A writer on Holland in one of the
magazines quoted Samuel Butler's well-
known lines--

``A country that draws fifty foot of water,
. . . . . . .
In which they do not live, but go aboard,''

which the printer transformed into

``In which they do not live, but _cows abound_.''

It is of course easy to invent
misprints, and therefore one feels a little
doubtful sometimes with respect to those
which are quoted without chapter and

One of the most remarkable blunders
ever made in a newspaper was connected
with the burial of the well-known literary
man, John Payne Collier. In the _Standard_
of Sept. 21st, 1883, it was reported
that ``the remains of the late Mr.
John Payne Collier were interred yesterday

in Bray Churchyard, near Maidenhead,
in the presence of a large number of
spectators.'' The paragraph maker of the
_Eastern Daily Press_ had never heard of
Payne Collier, so he thought the last name
should be printed with a small C, and
wanting a heading for his paragraph he
invented one straight off, and this is what
appeared in that paper:--

``_The Bray Colliery Disaster_. The
remains of the late John Payne, collier,
were interred yesterday afternoon in the
Bray Churchyard, in the presence of a
large number of friends and spectators.''

This was a brilliant stroke of
imagination, for who would expect to find a
colliery near Maidenhead?

Mr. Sala, writing to _Notes and Queries_
(Third Series, i. 365), says: ``Altogether I
have long since arrived at the conclusion
that there are more `devils' in a printing
office than are dreamt of in our philosophy--
the blunder fiends to wit--ever
busy in peppering the `formes' with errors
which defy the minutest revisions of
reader, author, sub-editor, and editor.''
Mr. Sala gives an instance which occurred

to himself. He wrote that Dr.
Livingstone wore a cap with a tarnished gold
lace band; but the printer altered the
word tarnished into _famished_, to the serious
confusion of the passage.

Some of the most amusing blunders
occur by the change of a single letter.
Thus, in an account of the danger to an
express train by a cow getting on the line
in front, the reporter was made to say that
as the safest course under the circumstances
the engine driver ``put on full
steam, dashed up against the cow, and
literally cut it into _calves_.'' A short time
ago an account was given in an address of
the early struggles of an eminent portrait
painter, and the statement appeared in
print that, working at the easel from eight
o'clock in the morning till eight o'clock
at night, the artist ``only lay down on the
hearthrug for rest and refreshment between
the visits of his _sisters_.'' This is
not so bad, however, as the report that
``a bride was accompanied to the altar by
_tight_ bridesmaids.'' A very odd blunder
occurred in the _World_ of Oct. 6th, 1886,
one which was so odd that the editor

thought it worthy of notice by himself in
a subsequent number. The paragraph in
which the misprint occurred related to the
filling up of the vicarage of St. Mary's,
Islington, which it was thought had been
unduly delayed. The trustees in whose
gift the living is were informed that if they
had a difficulty in finding a clergyman of
the proper complexion of low churchism
there were still Venns in Kent. Here
the natural confusion of the letters _u_ and
_n_ came into play, and as the paragraph
was printed it appeared that a _Venus_ of
Kent was recommended for the vicarage
of St. Mary's.

The compositor who set up the account
of a public welcome to a famous orator
must have been fresh from the study of
Porson's _Catechism of the Swinish Multitude_
when he set yp the damaging statement
that ``the crowd rent the air with
their _snouts_.''

Sometimes the blunder consists not in
the misprint of a letter, but in a mere
transposition, as when an eminent herald
and antiquary was dubbed _Rogue Croix_
instead of _Rouge Croix_. Sometimes a

new but appropriate word results by the
thrusting into a recognised word of a
redundant letter, as when a man died from
eating too much goose the verdict was
said to have been ``death from stuffocation.''

Many of these blunders, although
amusing to the public, cannot have been
altogether agreeable to the subjects of them.
Mr. Justice Wightman could not have
been pleased to see himself described
as _Mr. Justice Nightman_; and the right
reverend prelate who was stated ``to be
highly pleased with some ecclesiastical
_iniquities_ shown to him'' must have been
considerably scandalised.

Professor Hales is very much of the
opinion of Mr. Sala respecting the labours
of the ``blunder fiend,'' and he sent an
amusing letter to the _Athenum_, in which
he pointed out a curious misprint in one
of his own books. As the contents of the
letter is very much to the point, readers
will perhaps not object to seeing it
transferred in its entirety to these pages:--

``The humour of compositors is apt to be
imperfectly appreciated by authors, because

it rather interferes with what the author
wishes to say, although it may often say
something better. But there is no reason
why the general reader should not
thoroughly enjoy it. Certainly it ought to
be more generously recognised than it is.
So many persons at present think of it
as merely accidental and fortuitous, as if
there was no mind in it, as if all the
excellent things loosely described as _errata_, all
the _curios felicitates_ of the setter-up of
texts, were casual blunders. Such a view
reminds one of the way in which the last-
century critics used to speak of Shakspere
--the critics who give him no credit for
design or selection, but thought that somehow
or other he stumbled into greatness.
However, I propose now not to attempt
the defence, or, what might be worth the
effort, the analysis of this species of Wit,
but only to give what seemed an admirable
instance of it.

``In a note to the word _limboes_ in the
Clarendon Press edition of Milton's
_Areopagitica_, I quoted from Nares's Glossary
a list of the various _limbi_ believed
in by the `old schoolmen,' and No. 2

was `a _limbus patrum_ where the fathers
of the Church, saints, and martyrs, awaited
the general resurrection.' Will any one
say it was not a stroke of genius in some
printing-office humourist to alter the last
word into `_in_surrection'?

``Like all good wit, this change is so
suggestive. It raises up a cloud of new
ideas, and reduces the hearer to a delightful
confusion. How strangely it revises
all our popular notions! If even beyond
the grave the great problems that keep
men here restless and murmuring are not
solved! If even there the rebellious spirit
is not quieted! Nay, if those whom we
think of as having won peace for themselves
in this world, do in that join the
malcontents, and are each one biding their

s tn Dis turannd' kp<rswn ba>.

``May we not conceive this bold jester,
if haply he were a stonemason, chiselling
on some tombstone `_In_surgam'?''

Allusion has already been made to the
persistency of misprints and the difficulty
of curing them; but one of the most

curious instances of this may be found in
a line of Byron's beautiful apostrophe to
the ocean in _Childe Harold_ (Canto iv.).
The one hundred and eighty-second
stanza is usually printed:--

``Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee--

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