Milhet’s 3 Volume Introduction to Scripture Finally Available

Another “new” old book passed through my hands this morning on its way back to our shelves.  This time it is going from the limbo of the uncataloged backlog to the paradise of cataloged frontlog … actually, I don’t think there is such a word as “frontlog” but shouldn’t there be one to contrast with “backlog”?

Anyway ….

The item in question is an old 3 volume introduction to the Holy Bible.  We apparently have the only copy in the United States; at least there are no other copies in the OCLC WorldCat.  I found a copy listed in the catalog of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, but that was it.  The book?  It is:

Notitia Scripturæ sacræ in tres partes distributa, by Arnauld Milhet. Toulouse : Peter Salabert, 1690-1691.  3 volumes.

The first volume is a general introduction, the second is on the Old Testament, and the third is on the New.  I don’t have enough Latin to discern much about the text beyond that.  And I didn’t find much of anything about the author online except that he also wrote an introduction to Aquinas.

There may well be very good reasons that there seem to be so few copies of his work around.  Maybe it’s nothing special.  But maybe it is.  And now all the scholars of late scholastic French Roman Catholic biblical isagogics can finally come inspect a copy of Milhet’s book.

Published in: on 28 March 2007 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Portrait of a Princess as a Young Woman

This notice is for the real Anglophiles out there.  I have just processed a book titled The portrait annual of illustrious and eminent personages of the nineteenth century; with short biographical sketches / by William Jerdan. London : Fisher, Son, & Co., 1839 (State Library of Pennsylvania call number 920.042 J471p).  It’s a familiar sort of volume containing engraved portraits and biographical sketches of 2-14 pages each.  These all happen to be English earls and barons and dukes and so on.

Well, almost all.  Toward the end of the volume – not right at the front?? – there is a portrait and biography of “Amelia Adelaide Louisa Theresa Caroline, of Saxe-Meiningen, Queen of England, etc. etc. etc. etc.”.  The sketch begins “We believe there are few positions more difficult than that of a female sovereign of England.  She usually arrives a stranger, accustomed to other language and other manners, and is suddenly placed in a most conspicuous and responsible situation, where every movement will have the importance of influence and of example….”  This was when they were accustomed to receive queens born elsewhere in Europe.

But that’s not what I found most interesting.

The next portrait and biography is of “The Princess Alexandrina Victoria, etc. etc. etc. etc.”.  She would have been about 20 when this volume was published (1839), though her portrait appears to be of a younger girl, which is more appropriate to the 1832 date on the engraving. 

What is odd to me about all this is that the Princess became Queen Victoria in 1837 at age 18.  Did no one tell the publisher this?  Or is our volume a set of bound fascicles that were originally published separately, someone adding the portrait and biography of the Princess there near the end behind a much later title page?

Attractive portrait, by the way; not at all the dour matron of the more familiar golden and diamond jubilee photographs of half a century later.

Published in: on 15 March 2007 at 9:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Drink Sassafras Tea While on Spring Break

Just today I cataloged a book into our collection. It had been resting on the shelves for years, unconsulted because it had been undescribed. That’s the way it is with most rare collections. Like everyone else, though, we are dealing with our backlog.

The book in question is:

A description of the Spanish islands and settlements On the Coaſt of the West Indies : Compiled from authentic Memoirs, Reviſed by Gentlemen who have reſided many Years in the Spanish Settlements : and illustrated With Thirty-two MAPS and PLANS, Chiefly from original Drawings taken from the Spaniards in the laſt War and engraved by Thomas Jefferys, geographer to His Majesty. London : Printed for T. Jefferys in St. Martin’s Lane, near Charing-Croſs, 1762.

It’s got wonderful maps in it, maps which must have kindled the Wanderlust of at least some readers. The descriptions are good reading, too. Here’s part of what is written on page 68 about Florida:

“The Spaniards of San Matheo, and St. Augustine, having been almoſt every one ſeized with fevers, from the uſe of bad food and muddy water, were told by the French to take ſaſſaſras in the ſame manner as they had ſeen it uſed by the ſavages: that is to cut the root into ſmall pieces, and boil it in water; having done which, and drinking the liquor faſting, and at their meals, they found it perfectly cured them. Several other experiments have been made with it; and, if we may believe them, there is hardly any malady which can withſtand the efficacy of this drink. It was their ſole remedy, and univerſal preſervative, in Florida; but when they are ſhort of proviſions they do not uſe it, becauſe it would create an eager appetite, ſtill more inſupportable than any diſorder whatever. They add, that ſaſſafras is an admirable ſpecific againſt the venereal diſtemper.”

Sounds like it’s good stuff.

Our call number for this Rare Collections item is: 917.29 J365 1762. There are 36 other holding libraries for it in OCLC’s WorldCat, but the only other one in the Commonwealth is Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Published in: on 7 March 2007 at 3:39 pm  Comments (2)  

Fog Defined by Charles Dickens

Last week I came across our copy of a guidebook to London, England and environs brought to you by none other than Charles Dickens. Yes, that Charles Dickens. [NO, not that Charles Dickens, after all. I guess I should have looked more closely before publishing this. One of my readers posted a comment (q.v.) that points out that that Charles Dickens died in 1870 — and since this volume I quote from wasn’t published until over 20 years later, well, obviously this Charles Dickens is the son of the novelist.] Who knew he did that kind of writing? I didn’t. [The fog description is still good, however. Read more about Victorian London at the reader’s web site: Dictionary of Victorian London.]

It’s an annual with the title “Dickens’s dictionary of London“. The text is laid out with the topics in alphabetical order (hence the “dictionary” of the title). He explains some of the quirks and foibles of London and her residents, and describes the sites/sights that visitors would probably want to visit.

Here is an extract of his entry on “Fog,” which should explain things to readers of Sherlock Holmes, fans of Jack the Ripper minutiae, and viewers of movies set in Victorian London where (if the depictions are spot on) it seemed always to be foggy. Note also the health tip gleaned from George Catlin, artist of the American West.

Fogs are, no doubt, not peculiar to London. Even Paris itself can occasionally turn out very respectable work in this way, and the American visitor to England will very probably think, in passing the banks of Newfoundland, that he has very little to learn on the subject of fog. But what Mr. Guppy called “a London particular,” and what is more usually known to the natives as “a pea-souper,” will very speedily dispel any little hallucination of this sort. AS the east wind brings up the exhalations of the Essex and Kentish marshes, and as the damp-laden winter air prevents the dispersion of the partly consumed carbon from hundreds of thousands of chimneys, the strangest atmospheric compound known to science fills the valley of the Thames. At such times almost all the sense have their share of trouble. Not only does a strange and worse than Cimmerian darkness hide familiar landmarks from sight, but the taste and smell are offended by an unhallowed compound of flavours, and all things become greasy and clammy to the touch. During the continuance of a real London fog – which may be black, or grey, or more probably orange-coloured – the happiest man is he who can stay at home. But it business – there is no such thing as out-door pleasure during the continuance of a London fog – should compel a sally into the streets, one caution should be observed. Mr. Catlin, well known for his connection with the Indian tribes of North America, once promulgated in print a theory, that a royal road to long life was , sleeping or waking, to keep the mouth as much as possible closed. This advice, whatever its value maybe generally, should always be followed when a London fog has to be encountered. Nothing could be more deleterious to the lungs and the air-passages than the wholesale inhalation of the foul air and floating carbon, which, combined, form a London fog. In connection it may be taken as an axiom that the nose is Nature’s respirator. The extraordinary effect which the fogs of the winter of 1879-80 had upon the health of Londoners will be long remembered. It is almost unnecessary to add that the dangers of the streets, great at all times, are immeasurably increased in foggy weather; and that the advantages of being able to dive into the unnatural darkness after successful robbery, are thoroughly appreciated by the predatory classes.”

From: Dickens’s dictionary of London, 1892-1893 (fourteenth year) : an unconventional handbook. London : Dickens & Evans, [1892?], page 99. State Library call number Rare 914.21 D555d

Published in: on 5 March 2007 at 4:04 pm  Comments (3)