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These facts, even taken alone, seem to me to be decisive. But the reason for this reserve was not only to be found in the second Commandment. The early Christians gloried in the heathen taunt that they had “no altars, no temples, no images, no representations of any Divine Being," which could only become valuable by a puerile hallucination.* They left such things in the early centuries to Carpocrates and other heretics. The first generation of Christians lived in the constant vivid sense of Christ's immediate though unseen Presence. They believed the words, “ It is expedient for you that I go away," and felt that their spiritual realisation of His Abiding Presence was, as He had promised that it should be, something more and better than the sight of the Body of His humiliation. They would also have said with St. Paul, “ yea though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now we know Him so no more." Thinking habitually of the Risen, Ascended, Glorified, Eternal, yet over-present, Christ, they had less yearning for any earthly reminder of Him. The New Testament writers never pause for a moment to tell us how Christ looked as a man. There is not the slightest mention in early Christian literature of any relic of Him of any kind. The earthly and the mortal were so completely absorbed in the glory of the Eternal Divinity that even the Sacred Sites came to be completely forgotten, and we are, to this day, entirely uncertain as to the exact locality of places so infinitely sacred as Golgotha, Gethsemane, and the Garden of the Sepulcbre.
There was a third reason why the earthly appearance of Jesus was not even preserved in tradition. Not only were pictures regarded with suspicion, and not only did Christians all but exclusively present Christ to their own imagination as the Glorified, Eternal God, but further they lived—for the whole of the first century at least-in the constant expectation of His immediate return.
I cannot then but think that the arguments of Sir Wyke Bayliss in his little book are quite inconclusive, thoagh the book itself is beautiful and interesting. Pictures of our Lord cannot in these days tempt us, as they might have tempted early Pagan converts, into idolatry of the material.
We can, therefore, gaze with delight and profit on every sacred picture by Giotto and Fra Angelico, by BerDardino Luini and Lorenzo di Credi, by Giovanni Bellini and Carpaccio, by Millais and Holman Hunt. We do not, however, regard them in the light of historically accurate reproductions of the actual events of the Gospel story, but as embodiments of the Idea. We may apply to them the thought which Coleridge expressed about the scenes of nature :
I may not hope from outward forms to win
F. W. FARRAR.
Arnobius, c. Gentes, vi. 1, 3, 8.
† Minuc. Fel. Oct. 10.
1 2 Cor, v. 10.
THE KELMSCOTT PRESS AND THE
memorable period, if only by reason of the artistic revival which has distinguished it above its fellows. If, indeed, we are still far
, from having attained the ideal looked forward to by William Morris, that Utopian commonwealth in which our workmen shall be artists and our artists workmen, at least the initial difficulty has been overcome and the first step taken in the right direction. The labours of Rossetti, of Madox Brown, of Morris, of Burne-Jones, and, in a lesser degree, of Mr. Walter Crane and his disciples have exercised an enduring influence upon the taste of the rising generation. More and more it is being realised that poverty and ugliness are not necessarily inseparable, that sightliness may even be compatible with cheapness of production. Despite ourselves, perhaps, our views in matters of art have undergone a steady revolution. The change has been largely imperceptible, but it has been lasting in effect. There is hardly a single object in daily and habitual use among us which has not, in some way, received the impress of the movement inaugurated, five and twenty years ago, by the firm of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Co.
It is, then, under these conditions, sufficiently remarkable that the printing of books should have been the last among the arts to fall beneath the domination of the new ideas. For, in such a renaissance as we have lately been experiencing, it might well be thought that the making of books would most easily admit some measure of regeneration. The very limitations involved, the simple use of black on white, render the art less complicated than many of those which have received attention at the hands of decorative artists : brocades, stained glass, and furniture, especially. Yet the fact, strangely
enough, remains, that the question of typography and book ornamentation has come to the front only within the present decade.
To find a reason for this apparent neglect is not so difficult as might at first appear. For the printing of books has, in the course of time, undergone a more constant process of degeneration than almost any other of the arts. It would not be too much to say, indeed, that its decline dates from its cradle. The early masters of the craft were hampered by no false traditions, by no commercial motives, in their work. Their rivals, the scribes and the illuminators, whom they gradually ousted, had already defined their methods within rigid limits. They had to compete with men who thought nothing of devoting the labour of a lifetime to the decoration of a single volume. And, wisely, they fell back upon the written missal as the fitting model for their efforts.
This connection between caligraphy and printing is the keynote of their monumental products. The earliest typo—that of the Gutenberg Bible of about 1455—was based upon the formal ecclesiastical writing of the day; the earliest ornaments upon those in manuscripts. At first, so close was the association, the initial letters were left blank, to be 'later illuminated by hand, at the fancy of the purchaser. Then followed quick the golden age of printing, in the masterpieces of such men as Schoeffer, Zainer, Ratdolt, Jenson ; a series of books poured out in rapid succession, in which no pains were spared, no cost considered, in the endeavour for perfection. The Gothic type employed by Schoeffer, the Roman characters of Jenson, are unsurpassed. The art could go no farther.
Unfortunately, however, this happy period could not but be of short duration. Increasing demand inevitably led to greater haste and carelessness in production ; increasing cheapress, through stress of competition, to cramped type, inferior paper, and disregard for margin. Finally, as years went by, the old tradition perished ; square, strong letters were superseded by thin oval ones, taking up less space, and therefore economical; the wiry type of Aldus, the uninteresting characters of Plantin and Bodoni, with their superficial brilliance and their vulgar thickening and thinning of the lines, became the adopted models of the day. The race of the artist-printer was extinct, and the mechanic governed in his stead.
Only within the present decade, indeed, have there been signs of a revival of the art of printing as it was practised by our early forefathers. Efforts have not been wanting during the past three centuries to produce sumptuously printed books, which should rival as works of art those of the first printers; much has been vaunted in the
way of hand-made papers, rough edges, and wide margins ; yet little, until recently, has been accomplished which can, with truth, be said to bear upon it the impress of an artist's hand. It was reserved for William Morris, in our own time, to show what might be done in this direction.
Fifty-two works in all remain to testify to his greatness as a printer, now that the Kelmscott Press has definitively closed its doors. A glance at any one of these magnificent achievements will illustrate the principles apon which he based his system of reform.
With characteristic thoroughness, Morris no sooner determined to start a printing-press than he devoted himself to the careful study of typography in all its bearings. Ere long he had penetrated to the root of the matter. He saw, what others who had similar aims had not seen, that it was no use trying to build beautiful pages with the mean type in ordinary use, however fine might be the paper, however well proportioned the margins, however suitable the decorations. So he went straight back to the early printers of Augsburg, Mainz, and Venice, and set to work to produce a type of his own which should rival the very finest efforts of the acknowledged masters of the craft.
The types which he eventually designed are two in number, known respectively as the “Golden” and the “Troy,” from the titles of the works in which they first appeared. A third, the “Chaucer," is merely the “ Troy ” type cut, for purposes of convenience, in a smaller size.
Mediæval as he was in thought and feeling, it was natural that there should be an archaic element in everything which Morris undertook. His “ Troy
Troy” type—which, we are told, he himself preferred above the others --is frankly Gothic in its character, while at the same time marked by a complete avoidance of irrational swellings and
projections, such as render early printing so difficult to read. The “Golden ” type, on the other hand, is much more modern in appearance, and its influence has been proportionately greater. It is founded mainly on the square Roman type of Jenson, which, in legibility and beauty, has never since been equalled.
Armed with his new fount of type, Morris embarked upon his enterprise in January 1891. The site selected for the Press was a little cottage, No. 16, Upper Mall, Hammersmith, now turned into a granary. A more appropriate place could not be found than this old-world corner of London, looking up the broad Chiswick reach of the river, and shaded by giant elms which date, if local tradition may be credited, from Catharine of Braganza. The first book published was, of course, more or less in the nature of an experiment: a small edition of "The Glittering Plain," with only one border, printed in the “Golden " type, without marginal ornaments or illustrations. Its success, however, was immediate, emboldening Morris to further realise his aspirations. Henceforth the hand-presses were kept constantly at work. With every issue some new development is noticeable, some added delicacy in treatment, until, in 1896, the culminating point was reached in the production of the magnificent folio “Chaucer," undoubtedly the noblest book as yet achieved by any English printer. Issued to the public in an ultra-simple cover of grey boards, at the price of twenty pounds, with its eighty-seven illustrations by Burne-Jones, each surrounded with an original border from the hand of Morris, with its abundance of ornamental initial words and letters, with its marginal decorations, its paper firm and crisp to the touch like the paper of a Bank of England note, its exquisite type, its careful press-work, the volume compels admiration even from those most disposed to cavil at the mediævalism of the great designer. As a marvel of typography, indeed, it ranks with the very finest efforts of the past.
In the selection of Burne-Jones as illustrator of the choicest of his books, Morris again was fortunate beyond his hopes. It was a canon of his bookmaking that the ornament, whether pattern-work or illustration, must form as much a part of the page as the type itself, and must, in order to succeed, submit to certain limitations, and become, in his own phrase, architectural. To the mediæval craftsman generally ornament was only incidental. Where he used it he took care that it should both harmonise with and be subservient to the entire scheme before him. A recent writer on the other side of the Channel has laid down the true principles of book-decoration in these striking words, which might almost hare emanated from one of the first printers :
" Rappelons-nous que, la tradition étant perdue, on est tenté de faire du beau ou du nouveau avec un art étranger à la technique du livre : c'est ainsi que l'illustration devient trop prépondérante, s'isole du texte pour devenir une gravure sur métal, que sais-je ? une eau-forte ! Non ! toute illustration, même admirable comme telle, ne convient pas à l'ornementation d'un livre compris d'une façon harmonique. Une fois parentes des masses typographiques, dans la mise en train des pages qu'elles sont appelées à décorer, ces illustrations doivent constituer la note aigüe, la pointe lumineuse, dans l'harmonie qu'est une page, sans s'en écarter pourtant. La sympathie patiente du décorateur trouvera, à chaque endroit où une lacune se présente dans la mise en train définitive, l'occasion de déployer toutes ses ressources d'ingéniosité et le tact exquis de son travail."
In other words, the illustrations of a volume should sum up in themselves the printed matter; they should be decorative in character, conceived with due consideration to the nature and arrangement of the type ; and, as ornaments, they should take their place amidst the text, not detached and unconnected as in many modern livres de luxe, but giving, by their very position, something of distinctive dignity to the typography.
The drawings of Burne-Jones in the Kelmscott publications are an example of the rightful use of illustration. Take, for instance, the design which heads the reprint of Caxton's “Order of Chivalry”a woodcut in the same spirit as the initial letters, type, and borders, at once illustrative and decorative, typifying the nature of the work