A long time ago there were scribners. “How nice” you say, “so they wrote all day and got well paid”. Not exactly. Scribners were, to put it bluntly, human photocopiers. They were given a document and told: “Give me ten copies by four”.
To make matters worse, the first typewriters wouldn’t arrive until the seventies (the 1870s, obviously).
Bartleby, one of Melville’s protagonists, copied for a Wall Street lawyer. He would sit at a small table behind a partition in front of a window which, “following successive renovations, no longer overlooked anything”. The office had frosted glass which separated the rooms and the quarrels of his colleagues could be overheard; at least when it wasn’t as silent as the grave.