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(VOLS. I-XII.: 1862-1867)
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The late Lord Brougham, whose name can never be mentioned by us without grateful acknowledgment for many
“One glaring chaos and wild heap of wit."
How vast and how varied these masses of information are, one little fact will serve to show. In the series of
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A Second Series of Twelve Volumes was completed at the end of 1861, by the publication of a similar
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LONDON, SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1868. indeed are seriously felt to this hour. By it reason
has been enchained and mystified, the whole CONTENTS.-N° 38.
machinery of natural progress and improvement NOTES: :- The “St. Christopher of 1423,” 265 - Fairford
has become thrown into complete chaos and disWindows, 267 - Bishop Percy and his "Reliques," 269 — order, and-unless the error be at once recogA Scotish Peer by Courtesy, 270 – Chaucer's Chronology, nised — it threatens to bequeath to posterity a Izaak Walton : Miscellaneous Poems -- Robin Goodfellow : | legacy of folly, which ought to be forth with dis"The Merry Puck" - Executions, Public and Private
sipated and scattered to the winds. " I love thee, Betty," and "Whistle, Daughter, whistle". Goldsmith's Tony Lumpkin - Val Ambrosa, 273.
From one cause or another the date of the “St. QUERIES:- André Baian - Celibacy Punished Chasse
Christopher of 1423” was permitted to reign pot - Doddinghern Lane -- Downshire, the Charpentiers undisputed until 1819, when Köning boldly deand Walter Scott – Old English Words - Epigram on clared the date to be false, and contended it should Friends - Fly-spots - Hardinge Family - Hoghall Money
“Le vre de Bosco Mylecraine" - New Court, co. be 1473-(millesimo cccco Lxx tertio)- and that Hereford The River Ouse - Rhyming Latin Inscrip the “L” had been erased. In that opinion he tions — Ring - St. Bees - Squeezing Watch - Stockgrave, 00. Devon – Ulster Records : Josias Welsh, 274.
was supported by Sotzman, who founded his arQUERIES WITH ANSWERS :- Historical Painting - Hylton
gument on the ground that “no other engraving Castle, Durham - History of Fairs - Pendragon Castle, of so ancient a date was known, and that those
which had theretofore been found were posterior REPLIES: - Biography of the Chevalier d'Ron, 278 - The to 1450." Latin Language, 280- Lacemakers' Songs: " Long Lankin,"
- Queen Bleareye's Tomb: Paisley Abbey, Ib.-Parish A third objector also presented himself in the Registers, &c., 282 – Parish and Presbytery Registers person of Mr. Pinkerton, who designated the true Polk Lore - Rothschild at the Battle of Waterloo - Burns
date to be "millesimo CCCC° xx terno" (1460). Queries -- Pasquils - “Of that Ilk" - Daniel Defoe and John Dove, D.D. -"Up to Snuff" - Dormouse — Unde- Fully concurring in the views of those authorisigned Coincidences – Pocket Sheriff - Youth's Maga- ties, that the date "1423” could not possibly indizine" White Hats – Bishop Percy - Jacobite Songs: “ Lord Derwentwater's Good Night' Randle Minshull cate the period when the woodcut was executed,
- Madame de Pompadour - Ancient and Modern Supersti- | I nevertheless was unable to agree either with tions - Local Terminations, &c., 283.
Köning or Pinkerton as to the particular manner Notes on Books, &c.
in which the supposed alteration in the date had
been effected ; and believing that the so-called Potes.
“facsimiles” might be treated as approxima
tively faithful representations of the original THE “ ST. CHRISTOPHER OF 1423.”
woodcut, I came to the conclusion that the In the history of art and literature it would be readiest and most probable manner in which the absolutely impossible to select any single object presumed fraud in the date had been contrived comprising within itself so many elements of in
was by converting the “c” of the “xc” into an terest and importance, of mischief and self-im- “x,” thereby, with a stroke of the pen, adding posed deception, as the “St. Christopher of 1423.” seventy years to its date; and I accordingly, in
From its discovery in 1769 to the present time July 1864, at a meeting of the Archæological it has maintained its proud supremacy, and, with Institute, announced the opinion I had formed. very few exceptions, been acknowledged through- I now assume that (like myself and most other out Europe as “ the most ancient woodcut known writers upon the “St. Christopher") neither with a date." Every suggestion which im- Köning nor Pinkerton had even seen the original plied a doubt to the contrary bas been scouted when they declared the date to have been tamas treason; and the bare enunciation of a disbe- pered with, or we should all have been spared our lief in its date has sufficed to secure the censure conjectures. of art critics and the leaders in literature, as well By the courtesy and kindness of Mr. Cavendish as to brand the objector as a wild visionary, whose Boyle, I was on the 28th Aug. last, afforded an opobject was to contravene an accepted decision, portunity of leisurely and carefully examining the and to destroy a valuable guide in the history far-famed woodcut in Lord Spencer's celebrated of wood-engraving,” the authority of which had library at Althorp; and the result I arrived at been sanctioned by the judgment of the most was, that it is impossible to resist the conclusion learned.
that the date "1423” on the engraving has never As is well known, the “St. Christopher of been falsified in any manner, and consequently 1423” has been styled “the date whence the that all theories founded on such an idea fall to annals of engraving have fixed their first land- the ground, and may be henceforth dismissed as mark”; and equally certain is it, that a more utterly untenable. treacherous guide could not have been created. It is also proper I should add that I found the From that very adoption a greater amount of original woodcut so superior in every respect to misapprehension and injury have emanated than any representation of it I had ever met with, as can possibly be imagined, the effects of which to impress me with a far higher degree of respect
and admiration for the talent of the artist who tween 1480 and 1500, which paper bears the wellengraved it than I had previously imagined to known watermark of that period, viz. bull's have been possible.
head, with an upright line rising between the This candid declaration on my part may pos- horns, and surmounted by a flower; and sibly be considered as an important gain to the Lastly: whilst the style of the “ St. Christobelievers in the date; but should that be so, the pher” is precisely that which might have been notion will be but short-lived, inasmuch as one reasonably expected circa 1493, there was other consequence of my inspection was to woodcut whatever in existence in or prior to thoroughly satisfy me that the date “ 1423" does 1423, nor for more than sixty years afterwards, not, and never was intended, to represent the pe- comparable to it in the remotest degree, either in riod at which the woodcut was engraved; and originality of treatment, vigour of execution, or that any supposition to the contrary is erroneous, practical knowledge of wood engraving, the celedangerous, and self-deceptive to the last degree. brated initial in the Mayence Bible alone ex
By some unaccountable fallacy of reasoning, cepted. every commentator on the “St. Christopher" has As is generally known, Baron Heinecken-who completely overlooked the “Hamlet in the play has been as immoderately flattered on the one -the simple explanatory key which discloses the band, as unfairly abused on the other-unexpecttrue state of the case-viz. the fact that the wood- edly found the wood-engraving of “St. Christocut in question is divided into two separate por- pher” in 1769 at the monastery at Buxheim in tions — the saint” and “the legend” – and Upper Suabia, and he at once welcomed it as an that they are so thoroughly distinct, the one from inestimable prize which conclusively proved the the other, as to admit of their being readily sepa- advanced state of excellence wood-engraving had rated at any moment without injury or prejudice attained in 1423. That date did all the mischief. to either, each being complete in itself. When It blunted the Baron's reason, it blinded bis perthe “German artist was commissioned to en- ception, and in the outburst of bis enthusiasm, he grave “ the saint,” he was supplied with “ the pinned his faith to it; and being at that period Latin legend,” and he simply copied it—the date the “ Jupiter omnipotens” among connoisseurs of being that on the legend-without the slightest old engravings, his dictum was freely accepted, connection existing between it and the period at and from that moment the fiat went forth that which the woodcut was produced. By this “ the date of “ 1423 was to be relied on as clearly mon-sense solution” the fallacy of Baron Hei- marking the period when the woodcut was pronecken and his disciples is annihilated at one fell duced. It was accordingly so accepted, and still swoop, truth is recognised after a continuous sup- is. The immediate consequence of this declarapression of nearly one hundred years, and the tion by Heinecken was to throw all preconceived natural
progress of art relieved from the bondage notions of the “ Block Books " into that unutterby which it has been so long and improperly able confusion in which the subject has ever since trammelled.
been involved. Thus the feeble logic on which Regard for your valuable space alone restrains the mischief was founded was,—“The ‘St. Chrisme from stating several other grounds, equally topher of 1423' far in advance of the Block antagonistic to the notion of "1423” being the Books—ergo, the Block Books must necessarily true date of the engraving; but, on the principle have been produced at a much earlier date”! The
one reason is as good as a thousand,” if it be wildest conjectures were accordingly indulged in a sound one, I am perfectly content to rely on freely, and men's ingenuity and reasoning faculthat which I have styled the “ common-sense ties strained to the utmost tension to support that solution" of the mystery, in support of my de- mistaken notion. Some fixed the “ Block Books” nunciation of that error which ventures to claim at the latter end of the fourteenth century, others “1423” as correctly defining the year in which at the commencement of the fifteenth; any period, the “St. Christopher" was produced.
indeed, was deemed suitable which kept at a reI cannot, however, refrain from menticning that spectful distance anterior to 1423. That theory other substantive objections exist which I believe was taken up and adopted by successive writers must satisfy every unprejudiced mind that the on the subject, and repeated by them so often and block from which the engraving was printed could so earnestly as at length to be implicitly believed not bave been cut at the early date hitherto as- in as true and incontrovertible as Holy Writ” signed to it.
itself. Thus, the “St. Christopher of 1423" was pro- Among other mischievous consequences which duced by means of a "printing press " and with have resulted from Heinecken's dictum, one was to “ printing ink,” neither of which had ever been excite an appetite for similar marvels. Accordheard of in 1423; and further, it is printed on ingly, as is always the case, a goodly supply of paper identical with that ordinarily used by rare old woodcuts” soon made their appearance Martin Schön as well as by Albrecht Dürer be- l in the market, and among them, mirabile dicta,
another St. Christopher of 1423, which was an- was engraved; and. I venture to insist that it nounced with a royal flourish of trumpets as should not any longer be entitled to be considered having been acquired by the “Bibliothèque as " marking the date from which the practice of Royale de Paris.'
wood-engraving, as applied to pictorial repreOn that startling announcement being made, sentation, is to be calculated.” Dr. Dibdin was forthwith despatched to Paris To this unqualified repudiation of the date of with the real “Simon Pure” of Heinecken, when the “St. Christopher of 1423" I invite the attenit appeared, 1st, that the impressions were taken tion of such writers on the subject of early printfrom different blocks ! 2nd, that the Paris copy ing and engraving, as Mr. Noel Humphreys, Mr. had been produced by Von Murr, and soiled in Digby Wyatt, and Mr. Berjeau, feeling assured colour by means of coffee!!
that if any talent can possibly restore “ HumptySo much for the lengths to which literary and Dumpty" to his former position on the wall, they artistic frauds are carried, where the hope of pay- are the authorities best qualified to do so. ment exists to reward the evil-doer. Such, how- I will conclude by observing that, so soon as ever, was the demand for “ St. Christophers of the question of the “St. Christopher" has been 1423,” that a third exemplaire was afterwards disposed of, I shall be prepared to prove my other said to have been discovered in the collection of two propositions, viz. that printing preceded “Mons. le Baron de Blittersdorf” at Frankfort, engraving, and that no copy of the Biblia Pauwhich, in its turn, however, was pronounced to perum existed prior to 1485. HENRY F. HOLT. be false.
6, King's Road, Clapham Park, The other rarities to which I have alluded, and which came to light shortly after Heinecken's Almost all books with or without woodcuts discovery, were, “ Št. Sebastian” with the date before 1476 or 80, from the German and Low 1437, a * St. Etienne ” 1437, a “Calvary” 1443; Country presses, were printed without dates, and and lastly, the most impudent of all, the en- usually also without places or names of printers, graving of'“ 1418,” now in the Royal Library of and so it would have been unusual and extraBrussels ; none of which, however, successfully ordinary if these block books had formed an exwithstood the test of investigation, and have all ception. Thus the Mazarine Bible, 1450-55, has since been denounced as utterly unworthy of re
no date. 2. Biblia Latina (Argentinæ, H. Eggesliance.
tein, 1468) sine loco, anno, aut typogr. 3. Ditto of In my humble endeavours to oppose and uproot the same from same press, 1469 or 70. 4. Ditto the fallacy connected with the "St. Christopher of the same (Argentinæ, typis Mantellianis, of 1423,"'I do not ask much. All I invoke is, 1469). 5. Ditto of same (Ulric Zell of Cologne, the intelligence of 1868 as opposed to the fanaticism 1470). 6. Ditto of same (Basiliæ, Bertholdi Rodt of 1769; and in so doing, I do not believe my et Bernardi Richel). 7. Ditto of same (Colon. appeal to be either unreasonable or ill-founded.
typis Nic. Goltz, 1472). 8. Biblia Sacra (Basiliæ, Since Heinecken wrote, immense strides have typis Bern. Richel) has date, but no place or printer. been made in arriving at a better knowledge of 9. The Paris Bible of Ulr. Gering. Mart. Crantz et “ literature and art." Education has ripened Mich. Friburger (1476) has no date. 10. Biblia man's intellect, and, among other consequences, cum Glossa Ord. &c. (Venet. circa 1480), no name, has endowed him with a power of thinking for printer, or date. lì. The Fontibus ex Græcis himself, in lieu of being blindly bound by the Bible, '1481, no place or printer: and so on. A reasoning of others. In my efforts to arrive at a
little time spent in any large library of early proper conclusion, I have attempted nothing more books, especially of these countries, would reveal than to fairly express my belief in such a manner
scores of such instances. I only wonder how as to reduce the question I have raised to the Mr. Holt can attempt to found any argument simplest conceivable issue; and by evaporating all upon the absence of dates and persons' names, the
quasi-mystery which has hitherto been when we know that not only in printing, but in permitted to envelop the “ history of early printing painting, architecture, sculpture, precious and and wood-engraving,” enable those who take an other metal-work, in the west of Europe, it was interest in the subject to readily comprehend it
so unusual to sign the works with either. in all its bearings, and thereby enable them to
J. C. J. satisfy themselves on which side “ truth and reason" are to be found.
FAIRFORD WINDOWS. Upon the basis I have herein before stated, I altogether deny the oft-repeated allegation that The expression "incomparable excellence," apthe date “millesimo cccco xx tertio,” which is to plied by your valued correspondent SIR THOMAS be found at the right of the legend underneath WINNINGTON to the windows of Fairford church the “St. Christopher,” designates, or was ever (antè, p. 222), incites me to offer you a few passintended to denote the year in which the “saint" ing observations.