Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

bowers, and gentlemen's apartments. The hirer must apply to the slave of Cn. Alifius Nigidius, senior."

Both the Greeks and the Romans had on their houses a piece of the wall whitened to receive inscriptions relative to their affairs. The first called this Xii/xta/na, the latter album. Many examples of them are found in Pompeii, generally in very inferior writing and spelling. Even the schoolmaster Valentinus, who on his album, as was the constant practice, invoked the patronage of some high personages, was very loose in his grammar, and the untoward outbreak of Vesuvius has perpetuated his blundering use of an accusative instead of an ablative: "Cum discentes suos." All the Pompeian inscriptions mentioned above were painted, but a few instances also occur of notices being merely scratched on the wall. Thus we find in one place, "Damas audi," and on a pier at the angle of the house of the tragic poet is an Etruscan inscription scratched in the wall with a nail, which has been translated by a learned Neapolitan, "You shall hear a poem of Numerius." But these so-called Etruscan inscriptions are by no means so well understood as we could wish, and their interpretation is far from incontestable. There is another on a house of Pompeii, which has been Latinised into, "Ex hinc viatoriens ante turri xii inibi. Sarinus Publii cauponatur. Ut adires. Vale." That is, "Traveller, going from here to the twelfth tower, there Sarinus keeps a tavern. This is to request you to enter. Farewell." This inscription, however, is so obscure that another savant has read in it a notification that a certain magistrate, Adirens Caius, had brought the waters of the Sarno to Pompeii— a most material difference certainly.

We are made acquainted with other Roman bills and advertisements by the works of the poets and dramatists. Thus at Trimalchion's banquet, in the "Satyricon," Pliny mentions that a poet hired a house, built an oratory, hired forms, and dispersed prospectuses. They also read their works publicly,* an occupation in which they were much interrupted and annoyed by idlers and impertinent boys. Another mode of advertising new works more resembled that of our own country. The Roman booksellers used to placard their shops with the titles of the new books they had for sale. Such was the shop of Atrectus, described by Martial—

Contra Ca?saris est forum taberna
Scriptis postibus hinc et inde totis
Omnes ut cito perlegas poetas
• Mine me pete.

* A. L. Millin, Description d'un Mosaique antique du Musee Pia, Clementin, a Rome, 1819, p. 9.

CHAPTER IV.

MEDIEVAL AND OTHER VARIETIES OF ADVERTISING.

IN the ages which immediately succeeded the fall of the Roman Empire, and the western migration of the barbarian hordes, darkness and ignorance held paramount sway, education was at a terrible discount, and the arts of reading and writing were confined almost entirely to the monks and the superior clergy. In fact, it was regarded as evidence of effeminacy for any knight or noble to be able to make marks on parchment or vellum, or to be able to decipher them when made. Newspapers were, of course, things undreamt of, but newsmen—itinerants who collected scraps of information and retailed them in the towns and market-places—were now and again to be found. The travelling packman or pedlar was, however, the chief medium of intercommunication in the Middle Ages, and it is not hard to imagine how welcome his appearance must have been in those days, when a hundred miles constituted an immense and almost interminable journey. We know how bad the roads were, and how difficult travelling was in comparatively modern days, but we can form very little idea of the obstacles which beset all attempts at the communication of one commercial centre with another in the early Middle Ages. Everybody being alike shrouded in the darkness of ignorance, it is safe to assume, therefore, that written advertisements were quite unknown, as few beyond those who had written them would have been able to understand them. Nearly the whole of the laity, from the king to the villain or thrall, were equally illiterate, and once more the public crier became the only medium for obtaining publicity; but from the simple mode in which all business was conducted his position was probably a sinecure. An occasional proclamation of peace or war, or a sale of slaves or plunder, was probably the only topic which gave him the opportunity of exercising his eloquence. But with the increase of civilisation, and consequent wealth and competition, the crier's labours assumed a wider field.

The mediaeval crier used to carry a horn, by means of which he attracted the people's attention when about to make a proclamation or publication. Public criers appear to have formed a well-organised body in France as early as the twelfth century; for by a charter of Louis VIL, granted in the year 1141 to the inhabitants of the province of Berry, the old custom of the country was confirmed, according to which there were to be only twelve criers, five of which should go about the taverns crying with their usual cry, and carrying with them samples of the wine they cried, in order that the people might taste. For the first time they blew the horn* they were entitled to a penny, and the same for every time after, according to custom. These criers of wine were a French peculiarity, of which we find no parallel in the history of England. They perambulated the streets of Paris in troops, each with a large wooden measure of wine in his hand, from which to make the passers-by taste the wine they proclaimed, a mode of advertising which would be very agreeable in the present day, but which would, we fancy, be rather too successful for the advertiser. These wine-criers are mentioned by John de Garlando, a Norman writer, who was probably a contemporary of William the Conqueror. "Prsecones vini," says he, "clamant hiante gula, vinum venumdandum in tabernis ad quatuor denarios."* A quaint and signifi

* Glossary, cap. xxvii. "Wine-criers cry with open mouth the wine which is for sale in the taverns at four farthings."

« AnteriorContinuar »