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To raise the Art of Printing in this country from the neglected state in which it had long been suffered to continue, and to remove the opprobrium which had but too justly been attached to the late productions of the English press, much has been done within the last few years; and the warm emulation which has discovered itself amongst the Printers of the present day, as well in the remote parts of the kingdom as in the metropolis, has been highly patronized by the public in general. The present volume, in addition to the SHAKSPEARE, the MILTON, and many other valuable works of elegance, which have already been given to the world, through the medium of the Shakspeare Press, are particularly meant to combine the various beauties of PRINTING, TYPE-FOUNDING, ENGRAVING, and PAPER-MAKING; as well with a view to ascertain the near approach to perfection which those arts have attained in this country, as
to invite a fair competition with the best Typographical Productions of other nations. How far the different Artists, who have contributed their exertions to this great object, have succeeded in the attempt, the Public will now be fully able to judge. Much pains have been bestowed on the present publication, to render it a complete Specimen of the Arts of Type and Block-printing.
The whole of the Types, with which this work has been printed, are executed by Mr. William Martin, in the house of my friend Mr. George Nicol, whose unceasing endeavours to improve the Art of Printing, and its relative branches, are too well known to require any thing to be said on the present occasion; he has particularly patronized Mr. Martin, a very ingenious young Artist, who has resided with him seven years, and who is at this time forming a Foundry, by which he will shortly be enabled to offer to the world a Specimen of Types, that will in a very eminent degree unite utility, elegance, and beauty.
The ornaments are all engraved on blocks of wood, by two of my earliest acquaintances, Messrs. Bewicks, of Newcastle upon Tyne and London,
after designs made from the most interesting passages of the Poems they embellish. They have been executed with great care, and I may venture without being supposed to be influenced by ancient friendship, that they form the most extraordinary effort of the art of engraving upon wood, that ever was produced in any age, or any country. Indeed it seems almost impossible that such delicate effects could be obtained from blocks of wood.
Of the Paper it is only necessary to say, that it comes from the manufactory of Mr. Whatman.
The foregoing Dedication and Advertisement are copied from the Quarto Edition of this Work, published in 1795.