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The Fifteenth Century a time of awakening and discovery.

Printing accesory to, and a quickener of, Maritime energy. First beginning of the Oriental trade, until its absorption by the Venetians.

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HE closing decades of the fifteenth century form one of the turning points of the world's history.

Darkness had covered the earth, and thick darkness had mantled around its people; but now it began to feel the solid land; to emerge from the mire of ignorance and superstition in which it had long been floundering, and to discern, though as yet but dimly, in the grey dawning light, the misty path of its future travel.

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Printing, 15th Century.

That mighty discovery, printing, was like a new creation, and God's fiat, “Light BE!" was as potent in the world of intellect as it erst was in the world of matter.

The buried treasure of the ancients was now exhumed; the garnered store of the gathered wisdom of the bygone ages, hitherto inaccessible, was unlocked, and the living seed, scattered over the globe, gladdened its inhabitants, enlarging and enriching their minds, and was hailed with rapture by all who valued learning.

The early printers were either scholars themselves, or they kept learned men in their employment to revise and correct each sheet as it came from the press.

Hence, books were at first luxuries in which only popes, emperors, and kings could indulge.

The first object of the printers was rather to diffuse the accumulated learning of the past, than to discover and develope new mines of intellect in the living age; earnestly they fet themselves to the task of rescuing the scattered manuscripts of the orators, historians, poets

Great demand for books.

and philosophers of Greece and Rome from oblivion; and foon placed these beyond the risk of extinction from neglect or ignorant carelessness.

As soon as the princes and public libraries, &c., were supplied, the craving desires of men of letters, but of limited means, elicited cheaper editions, which reduced at once the costly and cumbrous folio to the compact neat octavo or duodecimo.

Very soon the printer found there was a market for his wares in the Universities, large towns, and amongst at least a portion of the country gentry and clergy, who constantly demanded cheaper editions of the early classics.

This demand opened, widened, and deepened the fountains of literature. Scholarly printers, like Aldus, no longer waited for the approving nod of pope, emperor, or cardinal, ere they began to print; and with a regular and increasing demand, servile dependence on great patrons died out.

Brought now into collision with the mighty dead, the living intellect hitherto “cabined, cribbed, confined,” began to germinate ;

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