Edward Aveling Time, October 1890

At The Old Bailey

Source: Edward Aveling, “At The Old Bailey” Time, October 1890, p.1098-1107;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Walter Alfred Hargan, b.1854, ex-Colour-Sergeant, shot and killed John Wheeler and William Lambert, local “roughs” who were pursuing him from a “rough” pub as Hargan was carrying a revolver (not then illegal) bought in America. After much media interest he was released after one year in September 1891. It is unclear what he was doing in the pub and what these men were pursuing him for. He was from Hackney where Aveling was born and there may have been some connection. Note by transcriber, Ted Crawford information from Deborah Levin.

This article was to have been something about Norway, about journeying thither in the very best of company, actual and shadowy. The shadows were the creatures of that new world of Norwegian literature that we have discovered in this later part of the nineteenth century. And the article was to have been about journeying Norwaywards by the best of ways. And that, at least, let me tell the readers who are already beginning to plan out routes for 1891. It is by boat, and not by train, from London to Hull, and thence across sea, right away to Trondjhem, there making acquaintance with human Norway at its best, in the person of my delightfully typical Norwegian friend, Thane, of the Hotel d’Angleterre, and so work south. Place yourself, unless you have great dread of the sea, at the mercy of the General Steam Navigation Company, with their bird-named boats, and let them bear you down the Thames, and then round the corner to the left, and along the eastern coast to Hull; and thence place yourself at the mercy of the Wilson Line of boats, whose names are like the Spanish language, as old Camden has it, “majestical, and running ... much upon the O.” They are all Junos, or Eldorados, or Heros, or Ariostos.

But, somehow, it is impossible to write the article that had been planned. Not that the infinite beauty and strength of Norway have faded away from mind as its shores have melted into the waters of the North Sea below, and the northern heaven above. They will be an ever-present remembrance. But, unfortunately, since the return, I have been to the Old Bailey, and that has driven, for the time, all memory of fjord and mountain inwards. Everything that is beautiful and strong is overlaid by the immediate remembrance of the sordid and miserable sights and sounds there. It is not so much the wretched prisoners that have impressed me with a sense of shame and despair, as the not less wretched paraphernalia, human and otherwise, surrounding them, and the feeling that society is in its way as criminal and degraded as the outcasts it has bred.

Going Newgatewards is, on the whole, rather different from journeying Norwaywards. Not that it is without excitement, if you go by one of the early morning omnibuses that are racing to the city. As it sways, and jerks, and skims the wheels of other flying vehicles, and the passengers turn pale and hold on to the seats, you speculate, as you close your eyes and wait for the crash, whether the driver ought to be tried for murder or manslaughter.

In the Old Bailey, quâ Street, there is the usual crowd that hangs around law courts, whether they are in the Strand or in the City, or are but the shabby-genteel form of court known as County. Police officials, reporters and the strange members of the general public, whose idea of spending certain hours pleasantly and profitably is to haunt the law, police, county courts and batten on a stuffy atmosphere, physical and moral. Everybody that has to do with courts of this kind has a more or less hang-dog appearance. With the casual visitor it is a look of absolute guilt as marked as that of one going for the first time on a pawnbroking expedition. With the habitué, official or otherwise, the look has become a sort of chronic and shifty mistrust of everything and everybody.

They make it as difficult to get into the Old Bailey court as to get out of Newgate. You have to run the gauntlet of interminable legions of policemen and ushers, all of whom I found, personally, politeness but firmness itself. Fortunately, I had a friend, literally, at court, whose name was one with which to conjure. By aid of it I passed policeman No. 1, at the bottom of the stone stairs, and policeman No. 2, braving like a blue-coated Horatius, after Lartius and Herminius had left for home, the battalions of invading cockneys. P.C. Horatius squeezed me through a wooden doorway, like that of a pew in a dissenting chapel, and then shut out the rest of the struggling congregation. The next obstacle was a closed door with a square hole in it framing a segment of policeman No. 3’s face. The name again, and I am passed through. Not through the square hole, bien entendu.

The door closing behind me, giving me an odd sensation of being a prisoner, I am in a sort of passage with doors, as the play-books say, R. and L. One of them, L., is labelled “Bench,” and through this I find I am entitled to pass. A genial usher, who seems less officialised than most of his companions, directs me to a fairly comfortable seat, and one certainly well-placed for the brave show we are to have, of society and the law, and all the respectabilities going deliberately and by the strictest legal procedure for a man’s life. For to-day is that of the trial of one Walter Alfred Hargan, only 27, who has very indubitably shot through the head two of his fellow-sinners.

Outsider that I am, nevertheless, I am fortunate in being well-placed for the performance, in that to my left is a large family pew with newspaper men who can tell me what everything, and who everybody, is. One of them, who has a kind of hereditary right to be the father of the press family, tells me that this court is the Old Bailey, and dates back ever so many years, and that where the domino-box labelled “Jury” stands facing us, in the old days, the highwaymen days, the prisoners used to stand. In their place this morning are gathered together a dozen very common-place looking gentlemen, stolidly and quite unsuccessfully trying to look as if they were weighed down with a sense of responsibility. Through the three windows above their twelve uniform heads, the stone walls of Newgate look in upon the motley crowd of us.

In truth “motley’s the only wear.” In the well below me on the other side of which are the twelve responsibilities, there are barristers in all the preposterous and ludicrous professional array of wig and gown; solicitors anxious to find the brains for the men they have instructed, and to whisper forgotten points into their ears; sight-seers that have been smuggled in upon this pretext or that; and going rapidly to and fro those limbs of the law, the boys belonging to either barrister or solicitor.

To my right is the bench, resplendent in much red, and strewn with irritatingly soft and plump cushions for the men in high places. There are six desks, and over the chair belonging to the most central is a sounding-board with the arms of this most Christian country stuck a-top. Beneath the sounding-board, and at the back of the seat, is a huge and very beautifully-fashioned sword, suspended handle downwards. Away to the left, facing the bench, is a large square pew – the dock. Over that, the clock and the gallery for the public. What, with its sounding-board, its gallery, its air of depression, its atmosphere of sin, the court is for all the world like a dissenting chapel.

An impression deepened when a gentleman in a rusty gown, after the likeness of those affected by the average dissenting minister, suddenly lets off twelve consecutive oaths. Each oath is apportioned to one of the responsibilities, and is delivered by the clergyman with a sonorous and unctuous voice that replaces the dissenting parson theory by one in favour of a parish clerk in a country church.

And now enter the two accidental poles of this queer world. On to the bench stalks, with much flow of scarlet robe, the Judge. He is accompanied by an old gentleman, even more grandly dressed, who, somebody says, is the presiding alderman. During the day, other gaily dressed beings flit in and out on the bench, who are under-sheriffs, or some such absurdities. And the odd thing is, that they all try to look as if they had never done anything wrong in their lives, although I don’t mind betting that not one of them, or for the matter of that, not one of the rest of us in the body of the court, but has done, or at least gone perilously near to doing, something that makes us claimants for the dock; but being out of it for the present, we are all as smug as smug can be.

And here is the opposite social pole in this topsy-turvy world. That is the dapper little man, neat, perfectly self-possessed, with brown shooting-coat (absit omen!), buttoned up to the throat, who now steps demurely into the big pew, and becomes from that moment the most entirely unconcerned, and yet the most deeply interested person in the court. That is the man that we call with our exquisite English sense of fairness, “the prisoner.” Of course, every man in this noble land is innocent as long as he has not been actually proved guilty. That is the reason why, when we are trying a man for his life, or some such trifle, we handicap him in his struggle towards the city of refuge by calling him all the time we are trying to head him off from the city, “the prisoner.”

Hargan has been a soldier, and he certainly stands like one. Quite erect, with his hands folded behind his back, or, when that position becomes wearisome, folded on the rail before him. As far as I, not unobservant, and most assuredly, not unsympathetic, noticed, he never once lost command over himself. The first time some one or other gave a circumstantial account of the shooting, he lowered his eyelids, and shifted his feet. During the time that the judge, with a studied professional cruelty, was summing up against him, the little soldierly man sat down calmly, and looked straight at the judge. By the way, I noticed that this latter puppet in the game we were all playing never once looked at his partner in it. And that seemed to me the most human thing about the judge, that he had a sort of shame and was just sufficiently dimly conscious of the wicked absurdity of the relative positions of himself and his vis-à-vis not to care to meet the eye of the little, self-possessed fellow-creature standing for the most part quiet and erect face to face with him.

By this time our eager mob had settled down more or less decorously into place, and the two fine ladies, out of the five actually present, who were immediately behind me, had arranged their dainty skirts and got their gold-rimmed eye-glasses in poise, and the exquisite cut-glass flagons of smelling-salts within reach; although my ladies were both so highly scented intrinsically, that for the life of me I could not imagine what more either of them wanted if a faintness came over her than to lean an inch or so towards her neighbour.

And then Mr. Avory began the tragi-comedy. He, and indeed all the barristers who took part, must be men capable of triumphing over great difficulties and of marvellous self-control, scarcely less than that of our friend Hargan. The greatest of the many difficulties that the players in a piece of this nature have to overcome must be the having to speak plainly with their tongues in their cheeks. And only think of the self-command necessary to prevent one from suddenly shrieking aloud, “What a mockery the whole affair is, and why in the name of thunder am I doing all I can to hang this man instead of being retained for the defence?”

There was one point at which even Mr. Avory’s gravity nearly gave way, and the tongue in the cheek almost got the better of him. That was when he asked the jury to put away from their minds all that they had heard or read about the case before they started on it. In the first place, why should they? – in the second place, how can they? Much more reasonable, from the point of view of the particular game he had to play was the ad captandum, et ad timorem, appeal to the twelve responsibilities’ sense of fear. “You, oh my beloved brethren also, may, in such a day and an hour as ye think not, be suddenly confronted in the street with a loaded revolver and an angry man at the other end of it. How would you like, after pursuing an inoffensive man through the streets, to be shot off in the error of your more or less devious ways with a well-directed bullet through your head, empty except of alcohol?” Unfortunately, the appeal ad timorem had oddly enough its effect later in quite the opposite direction.

Then came the cloud of witnesses. And as they came one after another, I saw a new reading in the old Biblical phrase. It ought to be cloudy witnesses. A matter of life and death, and yet the most reckless, the hardest of swearing, and, even where some of them were struggling to tell the truth, such endless confusion, such lapses of memory, such hopelessness of stupidity. They started with a policeman of an artistic turn of mind, who goes about making plans. Not the plans of the ordinary detective, but ground plans and elevations, with murder for the corner-stone of the building. The artist-policeman was better looking than some of his fellows in court. They say that people who live together for many years grow like one another in face and feature. Something of the same sort may perhaps account for the fact that more than one of the gaolers and constables had caught the brutal, or at least, the sullen or hangdog look that marks the disease of criminality.

The plans of our artistic policeman were handed about in duplicate to judge and counsel, and the jurymen were each supplied with them, as worshippers are supplied with hymn-books at the dissenting chapel. After the which came a less artistic thing. A youth, unmistakably of the criminal class – one silly Charlie, Jones, and half-a-dozen other names. This young ruffian had, on his own admission, in a voice that proclaimed drink and crime in every dull, laboured syllable, been with the dead ruffians when they were going for Hargan. I don’t know which reflection was the most curious, that this degraded thing was a common enough type, or that he was only acting up to his code of morals and of honour in doing his best to swear away the life of the man who had killed his pals, or that it was but the merest chance that one of them was not in his place committing perjury, and silly Charlie dead.

Even this wretch had his humorous side. He was really deaf, but the variations of his deafness were as infinite as the variety of Cleopatra. Now, you would have the clerical usher bawling into his unwilling ear the awkward questions of the cross-examining counsel – anon, he was answering an inquiry of Mr. Geoghegan, almost before it had left that gentleman’s broguish lips. And bless you, he didn’t know what he had meant, when he had declared that they were “going for the prisoner.” Why, they were not after him – not a bit of it. They were going to St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, to visit the sick child of one of the late deceased. The witness-box at the Old Bailey is placed between the jury and the judge, and it was a sight for angels and men, if there be any such that love contrasts, to see silly Charlie and his Lordship poring over one of the artistic constable’s plans, refined cheek by square jowl.

Silly Charlie had thrown some light, necessarily lurid, as coming from that emissary of darkness, upon the manners and customs of the Arcadian neighbourhood of Kingsland. Now came all sorts of lights, having but the one thing in common that they were all lurid. Thrown by publicans, whose main occupation in life appears to be the chucking out recalcitrant and impecunious customers; by publicans’ wives, the frequent target of pewter-pots; by men; who vegetate, at best, in public-houses, hour after hour, and day after day; by policemen, who declare that the neighbourhood is a desperate one; by organ-grinders, with a distinct leaning towards crime; by little girls, who look through the doors of public-houses, and see the flourishing of revolvers; by chimney-sweeps out of work by reason of a temporary sojourning in gaol.

Altogether a very charming and typical part of our London. The only physically and morally sound inhabitants that swam within our ken were a shoemaker and an ex-prizefighter. The shoemaker looked like an old Chartist, and very likely was one. He appeared to be the only inhabitant of the neighbourhood, of the male sex, who did not live habitually in the “Wagon and Horses,” except Mr. William Knifton, ex-prizefighter. Mr. Knifton I had read of in sporting papers as the 81-tonner but he has evidently turned over a new leaf. He is now an officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – an oddly incongruous calling for a man that has been a prize-fighter. As things go at present, Mr. Knifton’s exceptionally fine bodily frame is topped with a head that reminds me – I am not joking – of the head of a Greek statue. He is clothed in the Society’s uniform, and in his right mind. Somehow, he will call to my mind the end of Bret Harte’s “Tennessee’s Partner.” The partner dying, you remember, sees Tennessee, dead some time before, coming towards him “sober, an’ his face a-shining.”

And all this time, the central figure of all the ugly past we are painfully piecing together is still the calmest and most self-possessed of us. He is no otherwise when the particular counsel who happens to have the job of defending instead of attacking him, pleads in the usual high falutin’ clap-trap fashion on his behalf. Mr. Geoghegan, like Mr. Avory, knows the commonest weakness of the bourgeois. It is physical cowardice, and to this he appeals. “You, also, oh, my beloved brethren, may, in such a day and an hour as ye think not, be in a desperate neighbourhood, and find three hulking blackguards, maddened with drink, stumbling after you, with oaths and curses, and the clear intent of going for you. If you should defend yourself, would you not be justified?” And so on, and so on.

Witnesses to character and the summing-up. Here, more than anywhere else, perhaps, the artificiality, and, if the issue were not so serious, the ridiculous nature of the whole business forces itself upon me. First, there is the ludicrous get-up of the licensed condemner to death. Somehow he seems to me in much the same category as the hangman, whose immediate forerunner he is. Second, there is the professional tone, with cant of fairness, as distinctive and unmistakable as that of the parson or the professional beggar. It is very amusing to note how the barristers, who are moving up towards the heights of the judicial bench, have caught something of this tone and practise it as much as they can. Good Mr. Avory is a case in point. Then there is the laying down the law, and the eulogy of this cumbrous and ineffective machine, so unjust in its methods, so unjust in its administration, so unjust in its incidence. Finally, there is the usual advice of the “Don’t put him under the pump” order. “Of course, if you really think he is not guilty, say so; or if you think it was only manslaughter, say so; but I think it was murder, and you ought to think so too.” Mr. Justice Charles, by what he said, and by the way in which he said it, very emphatically said to the twelve responsibilities, “Hang.”

Then the jury went away and the unruffled Hargan was officially swept out of the square pew and out of sight. The people, who were supposed to know all about it, said that if the jury came back within a reasonably short time that would bode ill for the prisoner. The question was between murder and manslaughter, and with a summing-up so dead against the man as be nearly vindictive, the average responsibility would be at the outset inclined to hang. In the meantime, there is no lack of sport for the hunters waiting for the fate of the chiefest quarry. An old man is hauled up and arraigned for manslaughter, pleads “Not Guilty,” and is hauled down again to wait his turn. A strange, obscene-looking animal, curiously like a wild beast, follows. The moment it comes to the front of the dock, one of the plates in Havelock Ellis’ “The Criminal” rises before me. It is Plate VI. Of the six criminal heads there pictured, this man’s head might be a “composite photograph.” Before the clerk has read out the indictment, I say to my neighbour: “They will have to clear the court of women, after the quaint English manner of morals.” I am right, and I fancy my neighbour takes me for a policeman or a gaoler or a lawyer or some other unpleasant person. The fact is, that I recognise the head and face as of the type represented in “The Criminal” as that of the sexual offender.

And there was some very young game for us. Two unhappy boys, less than thirty years of age in sum. Their master was prosecuting them for an offence, as it is called, that some of the most moral men of this time do not consider as coming within the category of crime at all. The two youngsters were, we may take it, unhappy. But for my own poor part, I would most assuredly have stood in the place of one of them rather than in that of the smug-faced publican, smirking and oozing out British virtue at every fat pore, who stood in that palladium of British virtue, the witness-box. He had handed the two infants, in the eye of the law, to a constable, to prison, to the Old Bailey, when a better and wiser man would have reproved, suggested, and taken to treating them more like human beings than lower animals.

However, away with them downstairs, after the aged man, slaughterer of women, and the sexual “criminal,” and into the stews below, where crime festers and pullulates. For the responsibilities are returning, within a quarter of an hour. And our wiseacre, who has not nicely balanced the two ad timorem, appeals, shakes a wiseacre and expectant head and says, “Hargan is doomed.”

When all is still again and the verdict of all the responsibilities and respectabilities comes out, lo it is only “manslaughter.” Most of us give a sigh of relief and satisfaction. Over the refined face of Mr. Justice Charles a light wave of something perilously near vexation passes. Our friend Hargan is as impassive as ever. Then the judge takes it out of him as much as he can. “Twenty years penal servitude.” He says it as sonorously, as lightly, as he said “Seven years” to the pleading-guilty sexual sinner, and with exactly the same absolute incomprehension of what he is doing, of what he has done, of what an accidental puppet he is in the great game of life and death, of the ghastly iniquity of the whole sorry business.

Hargan is swept away, very swiftly this time, the judge settles himself in his seat comfortably, as one that has done his duty and is supremely satisfied with things as they are. And some of us go out into the free air, pondering.



The Eight Hours Working Day by Edward Aveling June 1890

Edward Aveling Time, June 1890

The Eight Hours Working Day

Source: Time, June 1890, p.632-638;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

On Sunday, May 4th, 1890, a demonstration was held in Hyde Park, the like of which had never been seen. It was a demonstration in favour of the Eight Hours’ Working-Day, and by far the larger part of the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators were and are in favour of obtaining the Eight Hours’ Working-Day by legislation.

In this article will be given a brief account of the events on the Continent and in England that led up to the May 1st demonstrations in other countries, and to the demonstration in Hyde Park on the first Sunday in May. The immediate history of the whole affair dates from the International Working Men’s Socialist Congress held at Paris, July 14th to 21st, 1889. At that Congress some 400 delegates, representing 22 different countries, were present. Almost all of them were notable men and women, and the names of many of them are already historical. From Germany alone 81 delegates were present. Eighteen of these have since been elected to the Reichstag, among the 35 Socialist Members returned last February.

Perhaps the most interesting thing throughout the Congress was the extraordinary fraternity between the German representatives and those of France. The 81 Germans and the over 200 Frenchmen almost went of their way to show in every possible manner that there was no race enmity between them. The bourgeois German and Frenchman may possibly hate one another as cordially as their natures allow. But between the workers of the two countries there is no quarrel. It was, as someone said, a second German invasion; only, the invaders were received with open arms by the invaded.

The chief questions discussed at the Paris Congress were International Labour Legislation, the legal limitation of the working day, day-work, night-work, work of adults, women and children, supervision of all workshops, as well as of all places where domestic industries are carried on. The Congress declared that all such measures as these of social hygiene, must be carried out by law and by International treaties. Such laws and treaties the proletariat in all countries should press upon their governments. Further it declared for equal wage for men, without distinction of nationality, and for men and women, doing the same work.

In considering the ways and means for bringing about the ends above named the Congress urged upon all working-class organisations and upon the Socialist Party in all countries to request their Governments – (1) to send Representatives to the Conference, at that time proposed to be held at Berne; (2) to support at that Conference the resolutions of the International Congress. As is well-known, the Berne Conference fell through, as the wind was taken out of its sails by the young German swashbuckler’s game of bluff at Berlin.

In every country, and at all kinds of elections the resolutions of the Congress were to figure in the programme of all Socialist and Labour Candidates. This instruction was carried out to the letter in the German elections, the Socialist successes at which were the talk of astonished Europe. In France also at their last elections thousands of votes were given and five deputies were returned, on the programme of the Congress.

As the question of the reduction of the working-day by legal enactment was the one upon which the working-class as a whole was most distinctly agreed, it was further decided to bring out a publication, “The Eight Hours’ Day” in English, French and German. This journal is published in Switzerland. The editorial office of it is at Bâle. Lastly, and from our present point of view, most important of all, a resolution was carried in favour of an International demonstration on behalf of a legal eight hour working-day on May 1st, 1890. This resolution and the outcome of it are so important that I quote it in full: “Resolved, that a great International Demonstration shall take place on a certain day, in such a manner that in all countries and in all towns simultaneously on the day agreed, the workers shall call upon the authorities to reduce by law the working-day to eight hours, And to carry out the other resolutions of the International Congress of Paris.

“As a similar demonstration has already been decided upon for May 1st, 1890 by the American Federation of Labour in its Congress held at St. Louis in December 1888, that date, May 1st, is adopted for the International demonstration.

“The workers of the different nations will carry out the demonstration in accordance with the special conditions obtaining in their individual countries.”

How the May 1st Demonstrations were carried out on the Continent is well known to every reader of the newspapers. A brief account of what was done in England towards the same end follows.

The inception of the whole movement that culminated in the tremendous Demonstration of Sunday, May 4 was the work of the Bloomsbury Socialist Society. This body, which was represented at the Paris Congress, is a small organisation that contains, however, some very hard workers. As far back as the beginning of this year, they decided to hold meetings, and get up entertainments, with the object of starting a fund for the carrying out of the May 1st Demonstration in England. They very early put themselves into communication with the Gas Workers and General Labourers’ Union. An account of the starting of this Union was given in the January number of “Time.” It is the largest of all the Unions, includes women as well as men, represents over 50 different trades, and is of especial significance as being made up of what are called “unskilled” workers. By July 27th of last year, just about the time the Congress was sitting, the G.W. and G.L. Union had obtained for a large number of its members, the reduction of the working-day to eight hours without any reduction of wage. Further, in January of this year, at a delegate meeting; of the Union, a resolution was passed declaring for the May 1st Demonstration.

From the moment that the Bloomsbury Socialist Society communicated with the Gas Workers and General Labourers’ Union, the work of organisation was carried out by a joint committee of the two Societies. The first detail of that work was to test the feeling of the Working Class in general. To this end, invitations were sent out to all the Labour Organisations, Trades Unions, and Radical Clubs, asking them to send delegates to a meeting held on Sunday, March 16th, at the Borough of Marylebone Radical Club. At that meeting 75 delegates were present and the feeling was unanimous in favour of demonstrating, and in favour of demonstrating for the legal reduction of hours. The question, however, was, whether May 1st, a Thursday, was a practical day for the English workers. Some of the various organisations would hear of nothing but Sunday, May 4th. But after considerable discussion the International date, May 1st, was carried. Many of those present had not received definite instructions from their organisations upon the important point of the exact date, so another resolution was carried, instructing the joint committee to invite the Unions and Clubs for April 6th, and to give their representatives precise instructions as to voting for May 1st or any other date.

On Sunday, April 6th, at the Workman’s Club, Gye Street, Vauxhall, 94 Organisations were represented, and it was decided that, for this year 1890, the first Sunday in May would be the most suitable date. Then and there the Central Committee, whose name has figured so largely in the newspapers these last few weeks, was nominated by the delegates present, and from that date until May 4th, the work of organisation was in its hands.

With the infinite and troublesome details of that work the general reader need not be troubled. The first part of it, of general interest, was the drawing up and issuing by the 100,000 of a manifesto. From this, omitting all the mere matters of fact which it contains, we quote the two paragraphs in which the heart of the matter lies:-

“All intelligent working people are convinced of the necessity of limiting the working-day to eight hours. And they know this can only be done effectually by legislation, as the masters always take back at the earliest opportunity any concessions they may have been forced to give by the mere combination of workers.”

Why do we want the Eight-Hour Working Day? Because Eight Hours are long enough for any human being to work. Because there are thousands of unemployed and thousands who are working overtime. Because there need be no reduction of wage for the shorter working day. Because we want time and some freshness of body and spirit for our own mental and physical recreation, for our home life, for enjoying the society of husbands, wives, and children.”

The Central Committee did its best to induce all the older Trades Unions to take part in the Demonstration. Unfortunately, without any striking success. The Trades Council was early communicated with, but made no response. Very shortly, however, after this communication, it was announced that the Trades Council themselves intended to hold a Demonstration. The Central Committee made every effort to bring about an amalgamation of the two bodies, but the phrase, “by legal enactment,” which the Committee, like the Paris Congress, considered essential, was not accepted by the Trades Council.

Hence it came about that there were practically two Demonstrations. The one under the auspices of the Trades Council was to declare only in favour of the abstract shortening of the hours of labour; the other, that of the Central Committee, which had been earlier in the field by several weeks, was for the obtaining of the Eight Hour Working Day by the concrete method of legislation.

The last of the delegate meetings was held on Sunday, April 27th, immediately preceding the day of demonstration. At this over 130 delegates were present, and amongst them the one ewe-lamb of a member of Parliament that the advanced flock possess, Cuninghame Graham. At the same meeting it was announced that John Burns and Michael Davitt would go with the legalists. Certain members of Parliament were written to, but only one, Mr. Sidney Buxton, answered in any sense favourably. This last meeting of delegates was memorable for its numbers, its enthusiasm, its unanimity, and for its striking illustration of the immense power of organisation that lies in the working-class. The people who laugh or sneer at the idea of working-men managing their own affairs should serve on Committee with them, and learn lessons.

The events of May 4th are too recent and too familiar to require any notice. I need only quote the resolution passed at the seven platforms of the Central Committee by a mass of human beings that stretched in one unbroken phalanx from the Marble Arch to the Achilles Statue, and reached from the young trees on the east side of the Park more than halfway across to Reformers’ Tree. Of course, I am not including in this the fringe of people who were on the Trades’ Council side of the Park.

“That this mass meeting recognises that the establishment of an International Working Day of Eight Hours for all workers is the most immediate step towards the ultimate emancipation of the workers, and urges upon the Governments of all countries the necessity of fixing a working-day of eight hours by legislative enactment.”

As a matter of history, it must be recorded that of the fifteen platforms in Hyde Park on May 4th, nine were for the legal day. That is because two of the eight platforms on the Trades’ Council side were occupied by the Social Democratic Federation.

The Central Committee distributed amongst the hundreds of thousands of people in the Park a second Manifesto. As this marks off clearly the distinction between the two sets of organisations, both working for the eight hours’ day, I quote a portion of it:-

“Working Men and Women of London, – You are present in Hyde Park to-day in your thousands and tens of thousands. You are demonstrating in favour of an Eight Hours’ Working-Day. But how is it to be got? By individualistic anarchist methods? Or by the combined action of the workers, forcing Parliament to make the maximum day of eight hours legal? Now is the time to choose sides. The issues are clear and distinct. Are you demonstrating merely for the idle purpose of declaring that you are in favour of an eight hour working-day? Or are you demonstrating in favour of getting for the workers of this country an eight hour day by Act of Parliament?

“Why must the Eight Hours’ Working-Day be fixed by law? Because eight hours are long enough for any human being to work: Because there need be no fall in wages with the reduction of the hours of labour. The history of the Labour World has shown that every lessening of the hours of labour is followed more or less immediately by a rise of wage. Because there would be no lessening of production. Here, again, the history of the working class movement shows incontrovertibly that a shortening of the hours of labour invariably means increased production. Because the workers of other nations are asking for the same thing; so, that the bugbear of “Foreign Competition” need not alarm even the present Trades’ Council. Because the masters, whenever they grant anything as the result of the mere combination of the men, invariably take it back at the first opportunity.


“When the gas companies agreed to the demands of the men Mr. Livesey stated distinctly that he agreed to them; but under protest, and that he would take them back at the first opportunity. And in this case he kept his word.

“The history of the fifty years struggle for the Factory Acts is at once a condemnation of the policy of the Traded Council, and the justification of those who are fighting for the Eight Hours’ Legal Working Day. The same arguments, the same shrieking about individual freedom and interference with the liberty of the subject, the same sinister prophecies as to the ruin of trade, and the disruption of the empire. The end of the present struggle will be the same as that which ended in the Factory Act of 1864. We must, we will have a maximum working day of eight hours fixed by Act of Parliament. And that law, when it is passed must not only be passed, but carried out.

“Do we believe that the gaining of an Eight Hour Working Day will settle the tremendous question of the relations between Capital and Labour? By no means. But we believe that to be the most immediate step to be taken. We know, and the masters know, that men and women working not more than eight hours will have more time, leisure and freshness of spirit to think and reason out the meaning of the position of employer and employed. We know, and the masters know, that with the reduction of the hours of labour the workers will have time to ask themselves the question and to answer it. Why should we work eight hours or even one hour for the benefit of the drones of the hive?”

Since the extraordinary meeting of May 4th, the men and women who worked to bring it about have decided that the time has come for the founding an organisation whose chief and immediate aim shall be the obtaining the Eight Hour Working Day by legislation. Such an organisation will consist of the various Labour Societies and Radical Clubs; will make the Eight Hours question its most especial point at present, but will aim at working for any other principle upon which the working classes are agreed; will send out lecturers and speakers into the country districts to awaken attention and arouse enthusiasm there; will, wherever it is possible, run candidates for Parliamentary and other elections who are pledged to the ideas of the organisations; and will, in any case, make the Eight Hours Legal Working Day at least a test question at all elections.

This new organisation will almost certainly arrange for another Demonstration early in May, 1891, and there seems a probability that, next year, May 1st may be the date in England. In any case, the Labour Movement in this country has received a distinct impetus from the Demonstration in Hyde Park on May 4th. It remains to be seen how serious the mass of the people present on that day really were.



A Revolution In Printing by Edward Aveling April 1890

Edward Aveling Time, April 1890

A Revolution In Printing

Source: Time, April 1890, p.412-418;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

Machinery always frightens me. If I go into a large factory or into an exhibition, where myriads of wheels and bands and levers are busy, I am awe-stricken. It is so human and so non-human. There is all the bustle and striving of human labour, but the results yielded are in some ways infinitely greater and more astounding. The life that results from this combination of inanimate masses and inanimate forces is to me terrible.

I have recently encountered my terror in a new form, and as excess of any emotion begets the converse emotion, as intense pleasure becomes pain and there is a strange and subtle sense of delight in the extremity of agony, so I am in love with my terror of a machine.

It is a new printing machine, and they call it the Linotype. I know nothing, and want to know nothing, about companies or promoters, estimates of revenue and future dividends, possible incomes and royalties. These are, I take it, necessary evils in the evolution and development of any new discovery under our present capitalistic system. But with them I am not concerned.

I wish I could say I knew nothing about the displacement of labour absolutely inevitable upon the introduction of any great new discovery in machinery. That is, I should be glad if this displacement were not inevitable. But, as Marx has shown in his “Capital” (vol. II. English translation, pp.391-400, and again 427-436), there has been, there is, and there must be, a constant strife between workmen and machine. “The contest between the capitalist and the wage-labourer dates back to the very origin of capital. It raged on throughout the whole manufacturing period. But only since the introduction of machinery have the workmen fought against the instrument of labour itself,” i.e., against the machine. And, unfortunately, we cannot accept as accurate the comfortable doctrine of the Mills, Torrenses, and Seniors that all machinery in displacing workmen sets free capital which will serve to employ the very workmen thus set free.

Of course, this fact has to be faced and, sooner or later, will have to be dealt with, for the Linotype does the work of six men. But the place and time are not just here and now. That with which we are concerned is a new discovery that threatens ultimately, despite all capitalists, companies and displacements of labour, to revolutionise the most revolutionary of arts, that of printing.

In the year 1450, and in the city of Mainz, Gutenberg and Faust made the immortal discovery of movable type to be used in printing in place of fixed type. With that discovery Revolution No. 1, as far as concerns revolutions of the first rank in printing, was effected. With the discovery of the Linotype machine, Revolution No. 2 is, perhaps, impending.

The discoverer is, again, a German; Ottomar Mergenthaler of Wurtemburg. But although Germany claims the new machine by descent, America is the actual land of its invention, Clephane of Washington its inspirer. Mergenthaler went to America in 1872, and in the eight years from 1876 to 1884, after many experiments and failures, and after, at least, three different kinds of machines had been thought out, he got at the machine in its present form. For the first time the movable types of Gutenburg and Caxton are replaced in their turn, as they replaced their fixed predecessors.

The principle of the machine, as far as the part played by the operator is concerned, is that of the ordinary type-writer. All he has to do is to tap a number of keys like those of a typewriting machine, spell, space, and stop out the manuscript in front of him, and when the end of his printed line is reached touch a lever handle. That is all. If he spells on the keys of his instrument accurately, touches at the end of each word the key that means not a letter, but a space between two consecutive words, and is careful, where stops come, to touch not letter keys or a space key, but those that mean commas, or full-stops, or colons, or dashes and so forth, line after line of type, metal blocks cut into letters, words and sentences are shelled out, as it were from this thaumaturge of a machine and can at once be imposed and printed from.

The most ordinary person who can read and spell can learn in a few minutes how to work the Linotype. Although, of course, to work it rapidly and well needs intelligence and practice.

But let us place ourselves in the position of the intelligent worker who is not content with merely spelling out words on keys like those of a pianoforte, but wants to know the result of his playing, the connecting stages between it and the final result – in a word, how it’s done. To that end, let us, literally, put ourselves in his place in front of the Linotype machine. To begin with, ‘tis a sitting-place, and, by so much, better than a standing one. Immediately in front of the compositor is his keyboard of 126 keys in 4 rows – capitals, small letters, stops, notes of astonishment and interrogation, signs, numbers, and so forth. Just above the keyboard are many vertical tubes or magazines, in which the “letters” are placed.

These magazines look something like a series of organ-pipes. And, like organ-pipes, they are not all of the same length. They are longest to the printer’s left, and gradually shorten from left to right. In each of these 126 vertical tubes is a collection of loose “letters” ranged one upon the top of the other. The “letters” in a given tube are all of one kind, all A’s e.g., or all e’s. One or two frequently recurrent letters have two such tubes told off for them. E, the most recurrent of all, as Edgar Allan Poe remembered in his Gold Beetle cryptogram story, has not only the longest tube, the one most to the left, but also tube No. 33, reckoning from the left, allotted to it.

The open lower end of each tube is closed below by a “hammer” connected with one of the keys. I use the word “hammer,” as then anyone who has seen the interior of a piano will understand the relation between this loose stopper of the magazine tube and the corresponding key on the keyboard. In a piano, the depression of one of the keys causes the rise of a hammer against the wires whose vibration gives a special note.

In the Linotype, the depression of one of the keys causes the fall of the hammer, the opening of the lower end of the corresponding tube, and the falling out of one of the corresponding contained “letters.”

But this “letter” does not fall into empty space. There is a sort of trough running from right to left, and sloping downwards from right to left, just under the lower ends of the series of magazines. As the “hammers” form the floor of this trough or channel, it is, even at its lower left-hand end, well above the keyboard. The “letter,” then, when liberated from its tube falls into this trough.

But not freely. The fact is that, what I have thus far-called a “letter” is really more than that. It is a largish flat piece of brass called a matrix. It is flattened from left to right, and has the letter to be printed from on its narrow back face, i.e., on the face turned away from the operator. On the narrow front face, opposite him, a corresponding letter is printed, for his guidance a little later.

This matrix, flattened from side to side, falls vertically into the trough, and is there caught upon two parallel wires running the length of the trough, and driven by an air-blast, constantly puffing into the right-hand upper end of the trough, down and along this from right to left.

A touch of a key; the depression of a “hammer”; the opening of a magazine-tube; the liberation of a matrix, bearing the impression on its inner narrow edge of a particular letter; the catching of this matrix by the two wires running the length of the trough; the blowing of the matrix down the trough to its left, lower end. And all this repeated until, we will say, some particular word is spelt out.

One of the keys corresponds not with a letter, but with a space. That is, it liberates from a special case to the left of the organ-pipe tubes or magazines a long, thin, wedge-shaped strip, the “space band.” This takes its place after the last letter of the word in the succession of brass matrices and “space bands.” The successive matrices with their intervening “space bands” are thrust out to the left on to a horizontal metal slide. The operator has in full view the faces of the matrices turned towards him. As upon these narrow front faces we have seen that duplicate letters are printed he can thus read off then and there the words or sentences that are thus far set up, and at once correct, by the removal, or alteration, or insertion of particular letters, any blunder that may have been made. As soon as a line of type is complete on the horizontal slide, the compositor touches a lever handle to his left, and as far as that line is concerned, his work is over. He can at once start typing on the key-board the succeeding line. The machine does automatically everything else.

Let us see what that everything is. The moving of the lever sets the machine in action. First, a horizontal metal plate rises below the set-up line and pushes all the space-bands up between the word-matrices to exactly the same level. Thus the spacing between the words is made uniform. Second, a pair of clamps, like a huge thumb and finger, seize the line, lift it from the horizontal slide, on which it rested, and press it against the face of a vertical circular disc of metal, still more to the left. In this vertical disc is a horizontal opening of exactly the same length as the line, into which the line fits. On the opposite side of the disc to the line are a pot full of type metal kept by a gas furnace in a molten condition, and an automatic force pump. At the precise instant when the line of matrices fits into the horizontal slit in the vertical metal disc, the pump forces a jet of molten metal through the slit and on to the letters borne by the matrices. Thus a metal block is formed of the size and shape of the ordinary line of type, bearing on its face in relief the letters corresponding to the line of matrices. The vertical metal disc automatically makes half a turn to the left and so brings to bear on the metal block a pair of knives that trim it to the proper shape. The next moment, the block is thrust out into a vertical galley, evident on the front of the machine to the left. This process repeated gradually fills the galley from below upwards with successive lines of type. When the galley is full it is removed, and can be at once printed from. Now, what is to become of the matrices that have just been used? Are they henceforth useless? By no means. Will they have to be sorted into their respective magazine tubes by hand? Equally by no means. All this is done by the machine. This lifts the line of matrices and “space bands” just done with bodily away from the disc, and right up to the top of the machine, which, by the way, is about five feet high, and about five feet long. At the top of the machine are a series of what look like little, very open railway carriages. These are arranged in a horizontal loop, and the lower part of the loop runs over the open upper ends of the magazine tubes. Each railway carriage as it descends from the upper part of the loop to the lower picks up an instalment of matrices. The “space bands” have been dropped into their case as the line is carried from the moulding disc to the top of the machine.

The matrices whose letters made up the words of the line whose history we are studying, are thus carried along in the little metallic railway carriages, which have no floor, over the open tops of the 126 magazine tubes. Running horizontally through the railway carriages in the lower part of the loop is a fixed metal bar, whose surface is cut into a series of very fine ridges, the arrangement of which differs immediately over every one of the 126 tubes. One may compare this arrangement roughly with the diverse grouping of the metallic spikes of the cylinder of a musical box. The upper part of every matrix is cut into a rough V shape, and the inner edges of the two legs of the V are notched. There are 126 different arrangements of these notches, one arrangement corresponding, of course, with each letter, stop or sign, and therefore with one of the magazine tubes. The upper V-like portion of each matrix is pressed against the stationary horizontal bar with its 126 different arrangements of ridges. When the particular matrix is vertically over its particular tube it has reached that part of the stationary bar where the notches of the matrix find no corresponding ridges. There is nothing to support the matrix and it falls into its tube.

If by any accident a matrix drops from the stationary bar before its tube is reached, in doing this it closes the electric current of a battery placed behind the machine, and the electric current thus established at once by a simple mechanism stops the whole machine.

The obvious advantages of this new device are (1) that every line is printed from absolutely new type then and there made especially for it. (2) That it is impossible to have a turned letter. (3) That what compositors call dirty distribution is impossible. In the sorting of type by hand after it has been distributed – i.e., when the pages, lines and words have been broken up into separate letters – blunders are constantly made and are the most fruitful cause of printers’ errors. The small type-letters are very liable to be thrown into the wrong part of the case; and as printers know the particular letter they want by its place in the case, and have not time to look at it before they set it; as, further, they cannot, as in the Linotype, see the actual line grow letter for letter in the normal vertical position under their eyes, blunders follow. It is clear that dirty distribution cannot occur with this new machine. (4) Pieing is impossible. Pieing, is the printers’ name for the accidental breaking up of what has been set into a hopeless confusion of inchoate individual letters. The solid bar of type produced by the new invention cannot be pied.

I have said that with the commercial aspects of this machine I have nothing to do, and that with its serious economic aspects there is no intention of dealing here. The invention has been made; is already at work; will, I believe, have to be faced, probably in the immediate future; is of a very remarkable nature, and seems likely ultimately to revolutionize printing methods. And that is why I have described it here.



Type-Writers And Writers by Edward Aveling December 1890

Edward Aveling Time, December 1890

Type-Writers And Writers

Source: Time, December 1890, p.1322-1329;
Transcribed: by T3d Crawford.

Sir William Harcourt’s much-quoted remark: “We are all Socialists now,” will soon have its paraphrase in the words: “We are all type-writers.” Everybody is going in for type-writing now-a-days. A type-writer is becoming as familiar a piece of office furniture as the inevitable desk or blotting-pad. The typewriter referred to in the preceding sentence is, of course, of the inanimate order. Although its human namesake, especially if he or she can also write shorthand, is rapidly becoming as necessary in a place of business as that incarnation of irresponsibility, the office-boy.

For the matter of that, the new invention is actually invading our private lives. It comes home, in the old Baconian phrase, not only to men’s business but to the bosoms of their families. Fortunately, in doing this, it adds nothing to the world’s sum of ugliness. Machinery, at all times wonderful if somewhat terrible to see, is in the person of a Remington or a Caligraph, very literally a thing of beauty. With their light levers, graceful rods, delicate nuts and screws, black and white keys, either of these machines is a delight to the eye, and even in these days of rather over artistic furnishing, does not introduce a note of discord in the general symphony of draperies, curtains, impossible seats and bric-à-brac.

The inventors and the business folk connected with typewriting, “claim” (they are pretty nearly to a man American) that the type-writer is to replace the pen. They assure us that the writing of a letter involves from three to seven strokes of the pen. And when you point out gently that the very shortest letter that ever was written must surely involve more than seven pen-strokes, they smile pityingly upon you and tell you they are speaking of a letter of the alphabet. You believe them, just as you believe those statistical people who say that you take twenty bites, or whatever the number is, to each mouthful. And there certainly is no gainsaying their contention that a letter is got out of a type-writer by a single movement.

But the “poor worms that are infected” with the amiable mania for type-writing are not only of the business persuasion. The professionals are also taking to the new method. Not that the term “professional” necessarily excludes the term “business.” The profession, as it, with a modest self-deprecating smile, still calls itself, daily and nightly invokes the blessing of all the gods upon the inventors of type-writing. For now parts are easily readable instead of being written more or less kakigraphically by the prompter or the call-boy. In a not altogether unvariegated theatrical experience, I have only met one case of an actor or actress who was “laudator temporis acti” in the matter of “parts.” And that was my friend, Charles Collette. Everybody else votes the recent appearance of the type-writer upon the stage as a gigantic success. And by no means the least enthusiastic voters are theatrical managers. The reading of plays to which they are so prone – especially if they are written by unknown authors – the few slight alterations, that they venture to suggest – the cuts and interpolations – all these are so much the more easily managed upon typed copies. Besides, the writhing and smitten author after all suffers less if the incisions and excisions are made in the more mechanical form of type-writing. And certain base detractors of the profession declare that some managers, obviously of obscure provincial theatres, are grateful for the new departure, as it relieves them of the difficult responsibility of reading people’s handwriting.

The learned professions are interested in the new learning of the type-writer. Even the most conservative of these, the legal, is, while whispering the Julia lines, following the immortal precedent of Donna Julia. The solicitors are the first to give way. That strange and depressed race, that, with bailiff’s men, makes day and night hideous in Chancery Lane, the law-writers, to wit, will tell you, over its cups of gin, that its calling is going more than ever to the dogs, as the anathematised type-writing is steadily undermining it. The sanguine declare that one of these very few days we shall see counsel cross-examining from typed briefs, and they even draw pictures which they decline to regard as humorous of the Lord Chief Justice taking his notes as a case proceeds by aid of a Caligraph or a Remington.

The doctors thus far have only sporadically made use of the type-writer in their correspondence, but according to the enthusiasts we are to have our prescription-mysteries ere long made out in type. So great is the belief in their creed that one would be only mildly surprised at their holding out prospects of the prescriptions being not only made out but made up by machinery.

That the clergy are interested in the new departure is shown by the naïve note in one of the innumerable little books on type-writing machines. “A wholesale dealer or broker requires a ‘per cent’ sign, and the clergyman the ‘exclamation point.’” It seems just possible that these positions might on occasion be reversed – ,when, e.g., the two professions came into business relations one with another.

As to the literary and journalistic professions – alas that they at present very rarely overlap, or, as Euclid would say, coincide – they have gone in for typing with enthusiasm and a vengeance; with, as one result, the conjoint blessing of that hardly entreated trio, the editor, the sub-editor, and the printer. There be writers – and one of them hath discoursed in the pages of this magazine upon “The Horses of the Pampas” – of a fearsome kind who shorten the lives of the most hardened of compositors. From the unmerited torture that these inflict, “Good Type, deliver us.” And now, shall I earn the gratitude of the great army of the unemployed writers or the execration of editors by my next practical suggestion? When you, oh, my brothers of the first category, are for trying your chance with an article, a story; or a play, remember that the chance becomes something less than a thousand to one, if your “copy” is typed, not written.

Two other classes of people may be noted in this connexion, without at all exhausting the list. One is of those that are afflicted with blindness. The very first type-writer I ever set eyes upon was used by one who could not set his eyes thereon. It was used by my dead and gone friend, Philip Marston, whose delicate and most musical singing seems to be too fine and high-sounding for the ears of this generation; just as the highest notes of the birds and of the winged insects of the forest are inaudible to the ears of most men. Marston, when type-writing came in, was able to at once put into visible form the invisible fancies of his “most musical, most melancholy” soul.

And the other class is the workers. All who are interested in the working-class movement can bear testimony to the immense usefulness of the type-writer. When you, Mr. A. B., M.P., are sending to working-men organisations your explanation of your going back upon your election promises – or you, Mr. C. D., Dock Director or Gas Company Secretary, are sending them notice of a reduction of wages or a lengthening of hours, use a Remington or a Caligraph. I know of few things more pathetic than to see some of these splendid fellows, honest, reliable, clear-headed, brave leaders of the labour movement, and yet, thanks to our exquisite and exquisitely just, social system, finding it an infinite struggle to read a written letter.

It is the easiest thing in the world except lying, as Hamlet would remind us, to learn to use the type-writer. To learn to make the fullest use of it is a matter of constant and prolonged practice. The printed directions issued by both the two firms running the two best machines are, with the instrument in front of you, simplicity itself. Although, in despite of this, you will do wisely to induce one of the representatives of either of the firms to come and explain the working to you. For, if you gain nothing else, you will have the pleasure of meeting that human variety which runs a close race with the cultured Irishman and the polished Frenchman – the well-bred American.

There is one point, however, that, speaking personally, no instructions, written, printed or verbal, and no amount of practice will ever clear up, once and for all, to me. I never know – and shall not learn to my dying day – upon which side of the paper, the one turned to, or the one turned from me, the impression will appear. Understand me. The thing is quite simple and everybody else knows. But I don’t. It is a case parallel to the impossibility of learning certain words in a foreign language, or to the difficulty that actors often have in mastering a particular speech.

It must not be imagined that there are only two type-writers in the market. As a matter of fact, their name is legion, and they are changing it every day. Nevertheless, there is practically a universal consensus of opinion that two of them are the Sauls, Kings of Israel, amongst their fellows. These, as the casual reader may have gathered, are the Caligraph and Remington. All the experts to whom I have spoken agree upon this – a sufficiently rare experience with experts. Please don’t imagine that I reckon myself amongst them. I only speak that I am told. And so no one will expect me to decide upon the relative merits of the two great rivals. Where doctors disagree – and I don’t mean only the family doctors of the two machines – a mere student can’t be expected to give an opinion.

The literature and the statistics of both machines is swelling visibly. In certain ways the most interesting of the statistics have reference to the question of speed. Some two years ago at Toronto there was, what was rather grandiloquently called an “International Type-Writing Contest.” Five women and four men faced the starter. Actually there were two heats in the race. The conditions of the first were: Each operator should write for five minutes ordinary letters, and for five minutes legal evidence at dictation. In the ten minutes one of the women wrote 907 words, one of the men 951, both of these using a Remington. On the other hand, in the second test the Remington ran second and fourth to the Caligraph’s first and third. This test was the writing for a period of five minutes of a particular phrase that had been communicated to the runners many weeks earlier, and that we may assume they had assiduously practised. The winner managed to knock off 646 words in five minutes, that is close upon 130 a minute.

A word in passing of protest in respect to speed contests. From my friends, the experts, I learn that speed contests as speed contests are to be discouraged. They lead to a large amount of sweating in the type-writing offices, and to the turning out of inferior work. The sweating is on this wise. As is always the case with piece work, the average worker has to be forced up to the level of the exceptional one. The use of speed experiments, not contests, is as a test for the machine. The keys of a good machine will respond to 130, or even more words a minute, whilst those of an inferior one would clog long before that rate of speed is attained.

I do not at all propose to describe either the Remington or the Caligraph. But one essential difference between the two, upon which the wordy and literary warfare mainly turns I must note. The Remington key-board has 44 keys representing 84 letters or signs; the Caligraph has 78 keys. This great difference depends upon the fact that the Remington is moved by what is called the double shift. If any particular letter is struck, a small corresponding letter is printed. If, on the other hand, a capital is required, before striking the particular key, a special key to the left must be depressed. With the Caligraph, on the other hand, each capital letter and each small letter has a key to itself. The question therefore is, whether one prefers or finds it easier to work on the one hand with the larger key-board of the Caligraph, or on the other hand with the smaller key-board of the Remington and the double shift.

The representatives of the two rival machines claim as the special advantage of their protegés as follows:-


It is the simplest and strongest, most durable, and most rapid writing machine made.

It is built of the very best material, by the very best workmen.

By reason of its simplicity, strength, and excellence of workmanship, it is not liable to get out of order, and will continue to do good work after other machines are worn out and worthless.

The system of key levers in the Remington is covered by patents, and cannot be used in other writing machines.

It ensures the easiest and most uniform action and the best work.

It is superior to all other writing machines for manifolding, a great advantage where several copies of a document are desired.

It is the simplest, most compact of keyboard writing machines, and has a keyboard more easy to cover with the hands and to focus with the eye than any other writing machine.

This machine in its various forms has for fifteen years been the standard, and to-day is the most perfect development of the writing machine, embodying the latest and highest achievements of inventive and mechanical skill,

The makers add to the Remington every improvement that study and capital can secure.


An extremely light carriage, running on two shafts, the motive power being a long spiral spring, which gives a perfect uniform motion without any vibration.

A single key for each type-bar, no shift key, and, therefore, no cross motion or wear on the carriage or other working parts of the machine.

The “caligraph” depression of the keys is only 19-64ths of an inch, less than half the depression required on other machines.

An adjustable type-bar governed by a screw running through the type-bar journal. This is a simple method of correcting oscillation caused through natural wear on the type-bar pivots. No other type-writer possesses this invaluable mechanical device. The type-bars are struck up from the best sheet steel, combining great strength with lightness of touch, and giving a clean, sharp imprint on the paper.

A flat surface for the type to strike upon, the platen being ground off in facets the width of each printing line, making the “caligraph” a splendid manifolding machine.

A paper feed-roll, rubber-covered, same width as the platen, giving a firm grip to any width of paper, and obviating the use of rubber bands, etc.

All the working parts are adjustable, interchangeable, and made of the very best materials.

The “caligraph” has also an interchangeable platen, and automatic ribbon shift.

The manufactories of the Caligraph Co. are at Hartford, Conn, and Coventry, England. That of the Remington is at Ilion, New York State. It is a special outcome of a general manufactory for rifles, sewing-machines, agricultural instruments, and so forth. A special company was promoted to take over the type-writing machine part of the business in 1881. Starting later in the years than the Remington, the Caligraph had the advantage of a knowledge of its predecessor, has made the most of it, and added to it. But as the Remington has gone on improving and to improve, the race between the two is, to an outsider like myself, a dead heat. More skilled judges must decide upon the fine shades of difference, if they exist, between the two machines.

Two points, as I draw to an end, to the which I should call the attention of the wonderful mechanical geniuses who are thinking of type-writing machines every moment of their waking day, and dreaming of them o’ nights. Equalising of the type and noiselessness. As to the former, let any reader look at an “m” and an “i.” and then ponder on the fact that the thick-set “ m “ has to be crowded into the same space, under present conditions, as the attenuated “ i.” Hence the aesthetic agonies of soul of those not yet convertites to the new learning, who petition pathetically against the crowding here, and the over-expanse there. And the clicketty-clack noise that permeates the atmosphere of a room, a building, a street, a postal district in which a type-writer, animate or inanimate, is working, must cease. They tell me that the Marquis of Salisbury – I am not on speaking terms with the gentleman – has a type-writer placed, bar the key-board, under glass case, after the fashion of rareties. The glass case must be done away with – and so must the noise. To these eminently practical points – and points so easily attainable – let the mechanical geniuses devote their attention to earn the thanks of a more or less civilised world.

And yet one last word of warning. Don’t let us introduce the type-writer into the sphere of our affections and emotions, if we have any it ought not to be used for love letters or notes of condolence or congratulation upon death or bankruptcy. Letter-writing, polite or otherwise, is a vanishing, a lost art. And since the invention of the telegraph, the post-card, and the telephone, the most potent exorcisor of this rare and exquisite spirit is the type-writer. In all business relations – in all merely mechanical devices for getting through life – in a word, for the commonplaces of our commonplace existence, the new method is invaluable. But on the rare occasions when we try to drop the mask and speak averted face to averted face, and flatter ourselves that we are speaking heart to heart, let us get back to one of the few human things left us – our handwriting.

But considering, as foreign resolutions say, how infrequently and unawares these emotional situations meet us, and how, for the most part, life now-a-days is a series of appointments, telegrams, cheques, and falsehood – so much easier if it is done mechanically – it is obvious that type-writers, like accidents, must occur in the best-regulated families. I had almost forgotten to mention that the Remington machine is worked by a lever of the second kind, and the Caligraph by a lever of the third. What does this mean?