The day has dawned.
As we approach the stairs that lead to the upper stories, we get a peep into a small, paved yard, where a group of pressmen, blue-overailed, ink-smeared, and pale, are washing themselves and the ink-rollers; and looking, in the dim light of the morning, like writhing devils.
The stairs of the Tribune building
are supposed to be the dirtiest in the world.
By their assistance, however, we wind our upward way, past the editorial rooms in the third story, which are locked, to the composing-room in the fourth, which are open, and in which the labor of transposing the news of the morning to the form of the weekly paper is in progress.
Only two men are present, the foreman, Mr. Rooker
, and one of his assistants.
Neither of them wish to be spoken to, as their minds are occupied with a task that requires care; but we are at liberty to look around.
The composing-room of the Tribune is, I believe, the most convenient, complete, and agreeable one in the country.
It is very spacious, nearly square, lighted by windows on two sides, and by sky-lights from above.
It presents an ample expanse of type-fonts, gas-jets with large brown-paper shades
above them, long tables covered with columns of bright, copper-faced type, either “dead” or waiting its turn for publication; and whatever else appertains to the printing of a newspaper.
Stuffed into corners and interstices are aprons and slippers in curious variety.
Pasted on the walls, lamp-shades, and doors, we observe a number of printed notices, from the perusal of which, aided by an occasional word from the obliging foreman, we are enabled to penetrate the mystery, and comprehend the routine, of the place.
Here, for example, near the middle of the apartment, are a row of hooks, labelled respectively, “Leaded Brevier
;” “Solid Brevier
;” “Minion;” Proofs to revise; “ ” Compositors' Proofs—let no profane hand touch them except Smith
's; “ Bogus minion—when there is no other copy to be given out, then take from this hook.”
Upon these hooks, the foreman hangs the “copy” as he receives it from below, and the men take it in turn, requiring no further direction as to the kind of type into which it is to be set. The I “bogus-minion” hook contains matter not intended to be used; it is designed merely to keep the men constantly employed, so as to obviate the necessity of their making petty charges for lost time, and thus complicating