Reading, Society, and Politics in Early Modern England

By Kevin Sharpe; Steven N. Zwicker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
Abandoning the capital in eighteenth-century
London

Richard Wendorf

Total and sudden transformations of a language seldom happen.

Samuel Johnson1

This essay attempts to define a problem concerning printing history and cultural change that has intrigued and often baffled me for the past twentyfive years. I begin by describing a phenomenon that is literally minuscule: the gradual abandonment of pervasive capital letters (majuscules), as well as italics, in English books published during the middle decades of the eighteenth century. I attempt to relate this important change in printing practice to the roles of author, bookseller and printer during this period, to the growth (and diversification) of the reading public in England, and to other cultural phenomena of the 1750s – the publication of Johnson's Dictionary and the adoption of the Gregorian calendar, in particular – with which these changes in the printing house might profitably be associated. My research suggests that such a fundamental shift in printing conventions was closely tied to a pervasive interest in refinement, regularity and even cultural conformity at mid-century. But such a change also reveals the conflicting emotions English men and women of the eighteenth century continued to harbour concerning their country's relationship to the rest of Europe. Samuel Johnson noted that 'Our language, for almost a century, has, by the concurrence of many causes, been gradually departing from its original Teutonick character, and deviating towards a Gallick structure and phraseology, from which it ought to be our endeavour to recal it.'2 But by 1755, when Johnson published these words – in the new style – in the 'Preface' to his Dictionary, the typographical floodgates had stood open for almost twenty years.


I

My first confrontation with what I now realize was a sweeping transformation in the appearance and 'readability' of the printed page in

-72-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Reading, Society, and Politics in Early Modern England
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 363

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.