Here We Do Not Speak Evil of Anyone

Today’s Convivio Book of Days chapter begins with an apology, for giving you some inaccurate information in the previous chapter (The Printer’s Devil’s Wayzgoose)… which is a bit ironic, considering that I touched on the topic of “fake news” and rumor and misinformation. In that chapter, I told you that St. Bartholomew, whose feast day on the 24th of August is the source of the traditional printers’ Wayzgoose celebration, is a patron saint of printers, papermakers, and bookbinders. That’s not quite right, and I apologize for misleading you. He is a patron saint of bookbinders, but not of the other two branches of the Book Arts trades. He is, however, so wrapped up in all things related to the Book Arts, that I will beg your understanding for my error.

Today, however, we do have a feast day of a patron saint of printers. It is the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo, patron saint not just of printers, but also of brewers. As a letterpress printer who has dabbled in brewing, this is a holiday I can really get behind. My plan for the day, since I have wrangled a day off from work, is to fire up the Vandercook No. 4 and print at least one run of the type forme I composed and set in the bed of the press last January. And, obviously, Seth and I will have to pop the cork on some special brew or other. We have just one bottle left of our Convivio Stout, and maybe this is the night to empty it.

As for St. Augustine himself, he was born in Northern Africa, in what is now Tunisia, in 354, the son of St. Monica. He became a patron saint of printers thanks to his prolific writing. Books like his Confessions probably kept a lot of early printers in business. The confessions were easy to come by for Augustine: he was a fellow who liked a good time, at least early on in life, and this is the root of his patronage for brewers. His mother prayed for his conversion. Eventually he did convert and he began to write. He was long considered a Doctor of the Church and was canonized at the turn of the 14th century, about 150 years before Johannes Gutenberg perfected the idea of moveable type and ushered in the information and literacy revolution that came with the proliferation of printing. It is said that on a wall of his room St. Augustine had written these words, in large letters: “Here we do not speak evil of anyone.” Words of wisdom, worthy of writing on our walls or printing on our presses or sending to our elected officials, and words to live by in this week of celebrations print and book related––this week of Wayzgooses and related celebrations of papermaking, printing, bookbinding, brewing. All crafts of the human hand and heart, all, in their way and in proper doses, portals bridging earth and heaven, assisting us mere mortals to attain that graceful state of happiness in flow. I’ll take that.


Image: Our own Convivio Stout. Alas, but one bottle left. It’s the Convivio Stout Seth Thompson and I brewed some time ago, getting no better with age, I’m sure, but still, we’ve always hesitated to open the very last bottle. Perhaps this St. Augustine’s Night is the time to do it. The good news is I printed plenty of labels. They are letterpress printed by hand in three print runs: a subtle background of wood type printed in transparent white on white, plus the orange and black runs. Back to the brewing, then!

Thanks to all who came to the Library Wayzgoose Festival on Saturday. It was a blast! And don’t forget: today is primary election day here in Florida. Get to the polls! You have until 7 PM here in Palm Beach County.


5 thoughts on “Here We Do Not Speak Evil of Anyone

  1. Marjorie Hollis says:

    I love this: “All crafts of the human hand and heart, all, in their way and in proper doses, portals bridging earth and heaven, assisting us mere mortals to attain that graceful state of happiness in flow. I’ll take that.”
    Thank you for another thoughtful, informative and lovely post. Enjoy your day!

  2. […] Here We Do Not Speak Evil of Anyone | Book of Days says: August 28, 2018 at 12:52 am […]

  3. Pat Chupa says:

    Thank you John. As ever, wise and thoughtful Words, shared from the heart. St Augustine’s advice alive in this bookbinder’s heart.

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