Special Edition: Science Extra
They Call It ‘Printing’!
Pilgrims from overseas, who have visited Winchester to sit at the tomb of St Swithun, have revealed some extraordinary tales from mysterious eastern lands.
Discounted by clergy as the work of the devil, it appears possible to create books many times over in “a blink of the eye”’ according to one report, and “without the use of pens”.
It has been incredulously greeted by many monks who fear for their future as illuminating manuscripts is their sole mission in life. “What will happen to me” said one monk who wished not to be named, “I’ve trained years for this job and it’s all I know. If it’s true and they bring those infernal machines to England it will change the way the church works and not for the better. Mark my words, those devil machines will have to go. Progress my foot, what about the rights of the workers”
I catch up with one of the pilgrims, Brother Osmund, and whilst he confirms the rumours he admits that the story is at least third hand. He heard it from a friend of a friend of a friend, so to speak, who had ventured east by boat from Byzantium.
Brother Osmund recounts this tale.
“In a land far away to the east, beyond belief, there is a world that has invented the ability to produce many copies of the same book. This country is known as China and they have called what they do ‘Printing’.
They have carved wooden blocks of letters and words and have a machine that once the characters are inked, presses the blocks onto paper and then rubs the back of the paper. It is truly amazing.”
“They’ve printed many copies of their religious writings, 5000 scrolls each. Just think what we could do with the Bible. If people could read, they could read the Bible themselves. It would be a whole new world. We could spread the word far and wide. Everybody will share in the Holy Trinity”.
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