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scription of document recognition of its convenience was slow. The ship's paper issued by Randolph in 1688 is the earliest instance, and suggests a foreign usage introduced by the King's commissioner. Law blanks are found about the same time, and merchants used printed bills of lading in 1683. The funeral verses, which were pinned to the pall covering the coffin, represent the earliest personal employment of the broadside, and those on Mrs. Minot (1667) were the first to show the roughly engraved border with its cut suggestive of mortality, for many years in favor. Sewall, for a time censor of the press, was fond of indulging his turn for verse printed on a single leaf, but his example does not appear to have been followed by others. The eighteenth century (1704) had come before the first account of behavior and dying speeches of criminals is found, unadorned with any cut or even with the heavy mourning borders.
The development of illustration by woodcut was not rapid. The colony seal, the work of John Foster, appeared in 1676, and the royal arms on a proclamation issued by Andros and printed by Richard Pierce in 1688, again a direct importation of usage and perhaps of the engraved block itself by a royal representative. But after a single use of the royal arms the colony seal resumed its place on government papers, not to be again displaced until 1692, when Benjamin Harris, the most enterprising printer Boston ever had, brought in the royal arms. Not until 1718 was a cut intended as a true illustration employed, and the experiment could hardly have been profitable, as the second instance is found in 1732, in connection with an execution on Boston Neck. By that time the populace were content to have its palate and eye thus morbidly tickled and each printer had his execution block which could be modified to suit a single or a double hanging. Whether poverty of design, absence of taste or expense of cutting the block retarded the use of engraving in printing is a question not to be answered here; it was long before Hurd, Turner, Pelham, and Revere showed what could be done in that direction. The list points to Thomas Hancock, a bookseller, as the first to use a store-card, and the later one (1748) of Joseph and Daniel Waldo, engraved by James Turner, is on an unexpectedly elaborate scale. To indicate the beginnings and growth of the woodcut designs a few of them are reproduced. The use of the same cut a number of times and at wide intervals of time, even by different printers in different places, offers a curious field for investigation which could only be glanced at in these pages. It would be impossible more than to indicate some of the double uses, without tracing cuts to almanac, primer and chap-book.
Certain subjects of discussion encouraged the issue of leaflets, like the aspirations of Boston for a market, or the conditions following the experiments in bills of credit in the first half of the eighteenth century. But the institution of royal customs commissioners, the stamp act and resulting measures, contributory causes of the War for Independence, produced the greatest activity, still chiefly on the part of government. After the first years of the revolution the need of such an agency of publicity was less and the use rapidly declined. The newspaper improved as a medium of communication, and deprived the broadside of its principal excuse. Proposals of publication came in and apart from official issues represent the most interesting feature. The taste for executions and concomitant scenes died out in Boston but persisted in Worcester and other places. Ezekiel Russell of Salem developed a touch of the sensational in the general make-up of his impressions, intended to be hawked through the country by pedlars and tradesmen. It may be said, however, that the broadside practically ceases to have historical interest after 1800.
The subject of Massachusetts almanacs has been exhaustively treated by Dr. Charles L. Nichols. It is not a little strange that the broadside almanac, found in Pennsylvania at the end of the seventeenth century, was not more generally used in Massachusetts, for there was an undoubted convenience in that form. The earliest instance is the almanac of 1725 and while the sheet almanac is mentioned in advertisements occasionally, it is at the end of the eighteenth century that they become a regular issue, and then by that enterprising printer and publisher, Isaiah Thomas, who was the nearest approach to Benjamin Franklin in ability to measure a market for his publications. But the broadside almanac was practically destroyed by the use to which it was put, and the few known examples are generally in a condition eloquent on the difficulty of preserving them. It is also possible that the use was more general than the few surviving examples would indicate.
1 Am. Ant. Soc. Proceedings, XXII. 15.
? Dr. Nichols, in a volume printed by the Club of Odd Volumes, has dealt with Isaiah Thomas and the products of his press in a manner leaving nothing to be added.
One branch of future study will be the ballads circulated in the colony and province. The production of native poetry was not large, nor did it possess a high quality either in theme or in form. The atmosphere of early Massachusetts was not favorable to the cultivation of any of the muses, least of all that of poetry. The Bay Psalm Book (1640) illustrates at once the defect of imagination and the want of appreciation of a proper vehicle for poetic fancy. For generations the form and spirit of that kind of poetry affected the verse-makers, and the wealth of English poetry was almost a sealed book to the colonists. The broadside offers many examples of attempts at versification, and it is entirely of domestic manufacture. The ballad did not come into popular use until after the War for Independence, and never, indeed, attained the popularity it enjoyed in England. James Franklin, the Fleets of Boston and Ezekiel Russell of Salem were early exploiters of the occasional ballad, and later Nathaniel Coverly and his son, of Chelmsford and Boston, issued a large number of ballads, both American and foreign, appealing to a growing market for such products.
In the list of ballads, appended to the list of broadsides, wide latitude has been taken and little regard given to time of issue. One excuse for this lies in the fact that the ballad may originally have been of early date and was reprinted for its supposed interest or novelty. Paper and print are most uncertain guides in determining the period of issue and to undertake to lay down arbitrary limits would end in greater confusion than to print a list of everything found. Completeness is not claimed for this ballad series, and much time, spent to little purpose, would be required to study origin, likeness and variation. The list is offered as tentative, to be developed by some student of that form of sheet literature. It is not a little remarkable, however, that Boston appears to have been the chief centre of production well into the nineteenth century. No other colony or state can show the same number of issues or so catholic a selection.
The difficulty of dealing with this kind of printed material is that the items were printed in small editions, were sold at a low price or given away, and were difficult to preserve. It is doubtful if they were considered at the time of more than passing interest or worth the keeping. Nor have they been deemed worthy of separate mention in a sale catalogue of books until recent years, and I well remember how they were
bundled in “lots" and sold for a song. A few collectors of autographs — like Thomas Addis Emmet and Gordon Lester Ford - gathered them to illustrate their letters, but that interest rested with such as were of historical importance. Within ten years the values in the market have steadily risen until they sell for prices out of all proportion to their intrinsic interest, but hardly yet proportioned to their rarity. Nor does any single collection yet exist of such size as to permit an appreciation of their political bearing or literary quality and position in colonial letters. Unquestionably the collection of Massachusetts Historical Society approaches the needs of such an appreciation, for effort has been made to bring to it reproductions of such issues of interest as were not to be found in the libraries of Boston and vicinity. Of 2949 items listed below in the first part of the volume, 1711 are to be found in our cabinet in the original or in a photographed form, or about fifty-eight per cent of the whole. The Society has in addition a number in facsimile form as issued in various publications, and it is within bounds to say that in Boston libraries can be found about everything of importance in this check list.
This material is not easy to locate, for few libraries have separated or catalogued their broadsides as such, and the sheets were more apt to be used as wrappers or to be folded and bound in a volume of pamphlets than to be kept as separate items. To ask a librarian for the broadsides in his keeping was to touch upon an almost unknown subject and it would be hopeless to go through the card catalogue of a library of even moderate size in search of leaflets, as the result would not justify the time required for such a search and much would be overlooked because not included or adequately described in the catalogue.
In a “Catalogue of English and American Chap-Books and Broadside Ballads in Harvard College Library” Mr. Lane has shown the great variety and yet well defined classes of such issues. The only disappointment given by this catalogue of nearly twenty-five hundred items is the small number of American issues. If any library in the land might be expected to have stored on its shelves the curious and the occasional, that of Harvard College should stand first. It is actually first in scholarly collections — the English Chap-Books are
an example - but it is either without a corresponding lot of American broadsides, or they are there in a form and in a location where they cannot be reached for examination. Pro
fessor George L. Kittredge kindly placed at my disposal a collection of broadside ballads which has been gathered under his direction, and has thus done what was possible to unlock the undefined extent of such treasures in that library. I cannot but feel that my list is more incomplete than could be wished, merely because Harvard College supplied so little outside of its own commencement papers, notices and forms of business. Apart from that possible source, I believe I have covered the most important collections, and am quite willing to leave the supplement to my successor.?
Such a list can never be complete, for the earlier issues of the press have so largely disappeared as to leave a gap of unknown extent. This is shown by the bills for printing for the colony submitted in 1689 and 1690 by Green, in which are named a number of items of which the larger part have not been located in any collection. There is no reason also to deny the separate appearance of some, if not all, of the elegiac verses found embodied in chapters of contemporary, or nearly contemporary, history. Morton, in his New Englands Memoriall (1669), for example, prints Peter Bulkley's “Lamentation” for the death of Rev. Thomas Hooker, 1647, two poems by Edward Bulkley, one “A Threnodia” on the death of Rev. Samuel Stone, 1663, and another on the death of Jonathan Mitchill, 1668, and a number of others. While it is possible that these verses circulated in manuscript, yet there is little internal evidence that Morton dealt in manuscript material other than that of Bradford. It is possible, even probable, that these elegies were printed and reached Plymouth in that form. I have listed them on the probability. I do not, however, list those in Mather's sermons and histories, because he was a collector of manuscripts, was in Boston, and therefore in a position to possess or have access to the manuscript.
It is impossible even to conjecture the years of printing for the ballad literature. The imprint like the "Heart and Crown or "In Cornhill” could apply to a long term of years and only indicates the printer. Where no contemporary record assists in determining the year or period, these ballads will be given alphabetically at the end of the list. If the date of an English issue has been found, it is adopted for the undated American leaflet, to place it in about its period of production, thus sug
"I have used auction catalogues sparingly. They are very inaccurate in dates and in description, and claim more than can be conceded without a careful examination of the broadside and comparison with like issues.