Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1998

Abstract

It's a curious broadside, a work of austere graphics and polite prose far removed from the mischievous engravings and bawdy ballads usually appearing on such sheets. Drawn from an address that 345 printers had signed and 138 had presented to the queen, the original text was committed to parchment "and accompanied by a Copy surperbly printed on white Satin, edged with white Silk Fringe, backed with purple Satin, and mounted in an Ivory Roller with appropriate Devices." Even in the published version, the arch is full of intricately detailed work. The printers took pride in their craftmanship: "This Specimen of the Typographic Art," they bragged, "was surrounded by the Border and Ornaments on this Sheet, which alone contains upwards of Twenty-Six Thousand moveable Pieces of Metal." The quantitatively inclined will want to know that it measures 21 5/8 by 15 1/4 inces. On the top, an arch marked Lords on one end, Commons on the other, supports a crown. So much is unremarkable, a casual reference to very old theories of mixed government: English politics was a balance of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. But on the bottom, an equally impressive display of filigree work surrounds, of all things, a printing press. The published version reproduces the printers' address to the queen, presented on 14 October 1820, and adds her response. (Well, not precisely her response. The queen's English wasn't very good; she couldn't have turned out the impeccably clipped cadences of the published response, and through the tawdry events of 1820 her advisers published one text after another in her name.) The printers congratulate the queen on her safe arrival in England and accession to the throne. They describe themselves as "the humble instruments of that mighty power," the press, "which, in advocating your Majesty's cause, so energetically sustains the declining liberties of England"; they advert ominously to a conspiracy against her, they close with a brave flourish.


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