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The spinning-jenny of the unfortunate Hargraves was applicable only to the spinning of cotton for weft, being unable to give to yarn that degree of firmness and hardness which is required in the longitudinal threads or warp. But this deficiency was soon after supplied by the invention of the spinning-frame, by Richard Arkwright, an individual whose biography is full of interest.
Richard Arkwright was born on the 23d of December, 1732, at Preston, in Lancashire. His parents were very poor, and he was the youngest of a family of thirteen children ; so that we may suppose the school education he received, if he ever was at school at all, was extremely limited. Indeed, but little learning would probably be deemed necessary for the profession to which he was bred--that of a barber. This business he continued to follow till he was nearly thirty years of age; and this first period of his history is of course obscure enough. About the year 1760, however, or soon after, he gave up shaving, and commenced business as an itinerant dealer in hair, collecting the commodity by travelling up and down the country, and then, after he had dressed it, selling it again to the wig-makers, with whom he very soon acquired the character of keeping a better article than any of his rivals in the same trade. He had obtained possession, too, we are told, of the secret method of produced a lawsuit among the surviving partners. Five witnesses were examined ; and from the evidence of Beildich, Guttenberg's servant, it was incontrovertibly proved that Guttenberg was the first who practised the art of printing with movable types, and that, on the death of Andrew Dritzehen, he had expressly ordered the forms to be broken up, and the characters dispersed, lest any one should discover his secret. The result of this lawsuit, which occurred in 1439, was a dissolution of partnership; and Guttenberg, after having exhausted his means in the effort, proceeded, in 1445–6, to his native city of Mentz, where he resumed his typographic labors.
Being ambitious of making his extraordinary invention known, and of value to himself, but being at the same time deficient in the means, he opened his mind to a wealthy goldsmith and worker in precious metals, named John Fust, or Faust, and prevailed on him to advance large sums of money, in order to make surther and more complete trials of the art. Guttenberg being thus associated with Fust, the first regular printing establishment was begun, and the business of printing carried on in a style corresponding to the infancy of the art. After many smaller essays in trying the capabilities of his press and movable types, Guttenberg had the hardihood to attempt an edition of the Bible, which he succeeded in printing complete, between the years 1450 and 1455. This celebrated Bible, which was the first important specimen of the art of printing, and which, judging from what it has led to, we should certainly esteem as the most extraordinary and praiseworthy of human productions, was executed with cut metal types, on six hundred and thirty-seven leaves; and, from a copy still in existence in the Royal Library of Berlin, some of these appear to have been on vellum. The work was printed in the Latin language.
The execution of this, the first printed Bible, which has justly conferred undying honors on the illustrious Guttenberg, was, most unfortunately, the immediate cause of his ruin. The expenses incident to carrying on a fatiguing and elaborate process of workmanship, for a period of five years, being much more considerable than what were originally contemplated by Fust, he instituted a suit against poor Guttenberg, who, in consequence of the decision against him, was obliged to pay interest, and also a part of the capital that had been advanced. This suit was followed by a dissolution of partnership; and the whole of Guttenberg's apparatus fell into the hands of John Fust, who, from being the ostensible agent in the business of printing, and from the wonder expressed by the vulgar in seeing printed sheets, soon acquired the name of a magician, or one in compact with the devil; and under this character, with the appellation of Dr. Faustus, he has for ages enjoyed an evil notoriety.
Besides the above-mentioned Bible, some other specimens of the work of Guttenberg have been discovered to be in existence. One in particular which is worthy of notice, was found some years ago among a bundle of old papers in the archives of Mayence. It is an almanac for the year 1457, which served as wrapper for a register of accounts that year. This, says Hansard, would most likely be printed towards the close of 1456, and may consequently be deemed the most ancient specimen of typographic printing extant, with a certain date. That Guttenberg was a person of refined taste in the execution of his works, is sufficiently obvious. Adopting a very ancient custom, common in the written copies of the Scriptures and the missals of the church, he used a large ornamental letter at the commencement of books and chapters, finely embellished, and surrounded with a variety of figures as in a frame. The initial letter of the first psalm thus forms a beautiful specimen of the art of printing in its early progress. It is richly ornamented with foliage, flowers, a bird, and a greyhound, and is still more beautiful from being printed in a pale blue color, while the embellishments are red, and of a transparent appearance. What became of Guttenberg immediately after the unsuccessful termination of his lawsuit with Fust, is not well known. Like the discoverer of the great Western Continent, he seems to have retired almost broken-hearted from the world, and to have spent most of the remainder of his days in obscurity. It is ascertained, however, that in the year 1465, he received an annual pension from the Elector Adolphus, but that he only enjoyed this small compensation for his extraordinary invention during three years, and died in the month of February, 1468.
It long formed a subject of contention amongst antiquaries and bibliomaniacs, by what means Guttenberg formed his types, but it is now pretty clearly ascertained that they were at first all individually cut by the hand. The mode of casting types in moulds has been very generally, and with apparent truth, assigned to Guttenberg's successor, Schaffer. This individual was an industrious young man of inventive genius, an apprentice with Fust, who took him into partnership immediately after his rupture with Guttenberg, and who is supposed to have been initiated into the mysteries of the art by the latter. The first joint publication of Fust and Schæffer was a beautiful edition of the Psalms, which came out only about eighteen months after their going into partnership. Along with it appeared a declaration by them, claiming the merit of inventing the cut-metal types with which it was printed; but this pretension was evidently false; and, in fact, it afterwards appeared that the book had been four years in the press, and must consequently have been chiefly executed by Guttenberg. It is worthy of notice, that the above publication was the very first to which the date, printer's name, and place of publication, were affixed.
To Schaffer, however, as said before, must be awarded the honor of completing Guttenberg's invention, by discovering the method of casting the characters in a matrix. In an account of Schæffer, given by Jo. Frid. Faustus, of Aschaffenburg, from papers preserved in his family, we are informed that the artist privately prepared matrices for the whole alphabet; and when he showed his master, Fust, the letters cast from them, he was so well pleased that he gave his daughter Christina to him in marriage. Fust and Schæffer concealed the new improvement, by administering an oath of secrecy to all whom they entrusted,