Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Illuminatore or Miniatores?

A London bookseller is said to be in possession of nearly two hundred original autograph letters and poems of Robert Burns, many of which have never been published, and are full of genius and eccentricity. The whole were evidently unknown to Dr, Currie, Mr. Cromek, Mr. Lockhart, or any of the biographers or editors of the works of Burns. A copy of Cicero, with large margins has been found in a library in Orleans, with more than 4,000 M. S. emendations by the celebrated Henry Stephens, and by another philologist whose hand-writing cannot be identified. OF NOTE (also from the year 1833 -- alas this old memory! excuse me but I have mislaid my source for this ... possibly Grahams): Miniatures -- The monks who practiced this style of art in illuminating missals and other manuscripts, were called illuminatores, and also miniatores, from the quantity of minium used by them - red being a predominant color in their compositions. Hence, according to some, the origin of the term miniature; but perhaps, ninety-nine persons in a hundred would be content with the more obvious derivation and meaning assigned to it by Shakespeare : "a minute picture; a portrait in little." [minium is a compound of either red lead, or cinnabar ... red mercuric sulphide -- vermilion - P. B.] Bombast -- Dr. Johnson and his learned editor have omitted one probable derivation of this word, which deserves a place after that which they have given. Baumbast is the German name for that rind or inner bark of trees used by ancient Romans as writing paper [among other things- P.B.], and by them called liber, - a term extended to the books originally written on this material; which , from its bulk and fragility, would, after the invention of paper, fall into contempt. Alas! the opprobrium which the term no conveys, might be extended to very many libraries of goodly folios et infra, of much later date than that of Don Quixote. View BOOKS FOR SALE

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