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This was an old joke, which, more or less varied, occurs always under the print of the town crier. The prototype of this venerable witticism may be found in the tragedy of "Soliman and Perseda" (1599), where one of the characters says that he
had but sixpence
For crying a little wench of thirty yeeres old and upwarde*,
Notwithstanding the immense development of advertising since the spread of newspapers, the services of the bellman are still used in most of the country towns of the United Kingdom, and even in London there are still bellmen and parish criers, though their offices would appear to be sinecures. The provincial crier's duties are of the most various description, and relate to objects lost or found, sales by public auction or private contract, weddings, christenings, and funerals. Not much more than a century ago the burgh of Lanark was so poor that there was in it only one butcher, and even he dared never venture on killing a sheep till every part of the animal was ordered beforehand. When he felt disposed to engage in such an enterprise, he usually prevailed upon the minister, the provost, and the members of the town council to take a joint each; but when shares were not subscribed for readily, the sheep received a respite. On such occasion the services of the bellman, or "skelligman," as he was there named, were called into request, and that official used to perambulate the streets of Lanark acquainting the lieges with the butcher's intentions in the following rhyme :—
Another for the priest,
Sir Walter Scott, in one of his notes, gives a quaint specimen of vocal advertising. In the old days of Scotland, when persons of property (unless they happened to be nonjurors) were as regular as their inferiors in attendance on parochial worship, there was a kind of etiquette in waiting, till the patron, or acknowledged great man of the parish, should make his appearance. This ceremonial was so sacred in the eyes of a parish beadle in the Isle of Bute, that the kirk bell being out of order, he is said to have mounted the steeple every Sunday to imitate with his voice the successive summonses which its mouth of metal used to send forth. The first part of this imitative harmony was simply the repetition of the words, "Bell, bell, bell, bell!" two or three times, in a manner as much resembling the sound as throat of flesh could imitate throat of iron. "Belllim, Bellum!" was sounded forth in a more urgent manner \ but he never sent forth the third and conclusive peal, the varied tone of which is called in Scotland the "ringing-in," until the two principal heritors of the parish approached, when the chime ran thus—
A story is also told of an old Welsh beadle, who, having no bell to his church, or the bell being out of order, used to mount the tower before the service on Sundays, and advertise the fact that they were just about to begin, in imitation of the chimes, and in compliment to the most conspicuous patronymics in the congregation list, thus—
Shon Morgan, Shon Shones,
Continued d discretion. And with this most singular form of vocal advertising we will conclude the chapter.
NEWSPAPER ADVERTISING FORESHADOWED—ITS EARLIEST USE—HOUGHTON'S LESSONS.
BY this time, and in various ways, the first transitory glimpses of a system at present all-powerful and universal began to show themselves—vague and uncertain, and often unsatisfactory, it must be admitted, but still the first evidences of the growth of an unparalleled institution; in fact, the base upon which the institution eventually reared itself. With improvements in printing, and the invention of movable type, the supply of pamphlets on current topics—the first rude forerunners of the newspaper as we understand it—began to be enlarged, and this opportunity was not lost on the bold spirits who even in those days could understand the advantages bound to accrue from a system of intercommunication at once advantageous to buyer and seller, and calling for special attention from both. There is a wonderful amount of attraction about these discoloured and moth-eaten papers, with their rude types and quaint spelling, which breathe, as much as do the words themselves, the spirit of a bygone age, and those who are so fond of praising past times might receive a valuable lesson from the perusal of these occasional publications, which are full of the spirit of an age when comfort, as we understand the word, was unknown to even the wealthy; when travelling was a luxury—a woeful luxury, it must be admitted—known only to those possessed of ample means, or others called forth on special or desperate missions; when men lived long, and, as they thought, eventful lives, within a circle of half-a-dozen miles; and when the natural consequences of this isolation, ignofance and intolerance, held almost absolute sway over the length and breadth of the land. And in these old papers, as we get nearer and nearer to modern times, can be traced the gradual benefit which accrued from man's intercourse with man, not only by the construction and improvement of roads, and the introduction of and competition among stage coaches, but by means of the subject of this work,—and very much by their means too,—advertisements.
As early as 1524, pamphlets or small books of news were printed in Vienna and other parts of Germany, but their publication was very irregular, and little or nothing is known of them beyond the fact of their being. It is not easy to determine which nation first found its way towards newspaper advertisements, but there is good reason to believe that France is entitled to the honour, so far as regular and consecutive business is concerned. The Journal Gbitral d'Affiches, better known as the Petites Affiches, was first published on the 14th of October 1612. It obtained from Louis XIII. by letters-patent sundry privileges which were subsequently confirmed (1628 and 1635). Judging by the title of this publication, it would appear to have been an advertising medium, but this must be left to surmise, there being no opportunity, so far as we are aware, of inspecting the earliest numbers. Two centuries and a half have passed away since the first appearance of this periodical, and the Petites Affiches has neither changed its title, nor, it may be fairly presumed, the nature of its publicity. It is now the journal of the domestic wants of France; and servants seeking situations, or persons wanting servants, advertise in it in preference to all others. It is especially the medium for announcing any public or private sales of property, real or personal j and the publication of partnership deeds, articles of as