صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

plant or reed called papyrus, or paper-rush, it superseded all former materials from its greater convenience. Formerly it grew in great quantities on the banks of the river Nile. This plant has given its name to our paper, although the latter is now composed of linen or rags. After the eighth century the papyrus was superseded by parchment. The Chinese make their paper with silk. The use of paper is of great antiquity. It is what the ancient Latin writers call charta, or chartoe. Before the use of parchment and paper passed to the Romans, they used the thin peel found between the wood and the bark of trees. This skinny substance they called liber, a book, and from this word are derived library and librarian. Our word book, however, is derived from the Danish bog, the beech-tree, because that tree being the most plentiful in Denmark and North Germany (whence the Saxons came), was used to engrave on. Anciently, instead of folding this bark, parchment, or paper, as we fold ours, they rolled it according as they wrote on it; and they called these rolls volumes, from the Latin word volvo, volutum, to roll. We still call our books volumes, though they are composed of pages cut and bound together. The books of the ancients on the shelves of their libraries were rolled up on a pin and placed erect, titled on the outside in red letters or rubrics, and appeared like a number of small pillars on the shelves.

The ancients were as particular as ourselves in having their books composed of costly materials, and rendered ornamental and showy. Propertius describes tablets with gold borders, and Ovid notices their red titles; but in later times, besides the tint of purple with which they tinged their vellum, and the liquid gold which they employed for their ink, they enriched with precious stones the covers of their books. In the early ages of the church, they commonly painted on the outside a dying Christ. The Eastern nations likewise tinged their manuscripts with different colours and decorations. Some of the Arabian MSS. possessed leaves of yellow and lilac colours. Sir William Jones describes an Oriental MS. in which the name of Mahomet was fancifully adorned with a garland of tulips and carnations, painted in the brightest colours. The favourite works of the Persians are written on fine silky paper, the ground of which is often powdered with gold or silver dust; the leaves are frequently illuminated, and the whole book is sometimes perfumed with essence of roses or sandal wood. The Romans had several sorts of paper, to which they gave different names : one was the Charta Augusta, so named in compliment to the Emperor Augustus Cæsar ; another Liviana, named after the empress, his wife. There was a Charta Blanca, which obtained its title from its beautiful whiteness, and which we appear to have retained by applying it to a blank sheet of paper which is only signed-carte blanche. They had also a Charta Nigra, or black paper, which was painted black, and the letters were in white or other colours.

Our present paper surpasses all other materials for ease and convenience in writing. The first paper-mill in England was erected at Dartford, by a German, in 1588, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth ; but it was not till 1713 that Thomas Watkins, a stationer, brought the art of paper-making to any perfection, and to the industry of this individual we owe the origin of our numerous paper-mills. France had, up to this time, supplied England and Holland.

The manufacture of paper was not much encouraged at home, even so late as in 1662. The following observations from Fuller, on this subject, are curious, and worthy of observation : “ Paper participates in some sort of the character of the country which makes it ; the Venetian being neat, subtle, and court-like; the French, light, slight, and slender; and the Dutch, thick, corpulent, and gross, sucking up the ink with the sponginess thereof." He complains that the paper manufactories were not then sufficiently encouraged, “considering the vast sums expended in our land for paper out of Italy, France, and Germany, which might be lessened were it made in our nation. To such who object that we can never equal the perfection of Venice paper, I return, neither can we match the purity of Venice glasses ; and yet many green ones are blown in Sussex, profitable to the makers, and convenient to the users. Our homespun paper might be found beneficial.”

There is no doubt that the inks in common use are inferior to those used by the ancients, and this inferiority is productive of the most serious consequences. To a great extent this arises from negligence, and the mania for cheapness which has in the present century set in amongst us. The composition of ink is simple, but we possess none equal in beauty and colour to that used by the ancients ; the Saxon MSS., written in England, exceed in colour anything of the kind now produced. The rolls and records from the fifteenth century to the end of the seventeenth, compared with those of the fifth to the twelfth centuries, show the excellence of the earlier ones, which are all in the finest preservation, while the others are so much defaced that they are scarcely legible. It is a very serious consideration, in respect to the security of property, that the Records of Parliament, the decisions and adjudications of the courts of justice, conveyances, wills, testaments, &c., should be written with ink of such durable quality as may best resist the destructive power of time and the elements.

The ink of the ancients had nothing in common with ours but the colour and gum. Gall-nuts, copperas, and gum make up the composition of our ink; whereas soot, or ivory-black, was the chief ingredient in that of the ancients.

HAUNTED HOUSES.
All houses wherein men have lived and died

Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
The harmless phantoms on their errands glide,

With feet that make no noise upon the floors.
We meet them at the doorway, on the stair ;

Along the passages they come and go,
Impalpable impressions on the air,

A sense of something moving to and fro.
There are more guests at table than the hosts

Invited; the illuminated hall
Is thronged with quiet, inoffensive ghosts,

As silent as the pictures on the wall.

The stranger at my fireside cannot see

The forms I see, nor hear the sounds I hear;
He but perceives what is; while unto me

All that has been is visible and clear.

We have no title-deeds to house or lands;

Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,

And hold in mortmain still their old estates.
The spirit-world around this world of sense

Floats like an atmosphere, and everywhere
Wafts through these earthly mists and vapours dense

A vital breath of more ethereal air.
Our little lives are kept in equipoise

By opposite attractions and desires;
The struggle of the instinct that enjoys,

And the more noble instinct that aspires.
These perturbations, this perpetual jar

Of earthly wants, and aspirations high,
Come from the influence of an unseen star-

An undiscovered planet in our sky.
And as the moon, from some dark gate of cloud,

Throws o'er the sea a floating ridge of light,
Across these trembling planks our fancies crowd

Into the realm of mystery and night,
So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light connecting it with this,
O'er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,
Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.

H. W. Longfellow.

If you would fertilise the mind the plough must be driven over and through it. The gliding of wheels is easier and rapider, but only makes it harder and more barren. Above all, in the present age of light reading, that is, of reading hastily, thoughtlessly, indiscriminately, unfruitfully, when most books are forgotten as soon as they are finished, and very much sooner, it is well if something heavier is cast now and then into the midst of the literary public. This may scare and repel the weak : it will arouse and attract the stronger, and increase their strength by making them exert it. In the sweat of the brow is the mind as well as the body to eat its bread.

Guesses at Truth.

ON SWALLOWS. The house-swallow, or chimney-swallow, is undoubtedly the first comer of all the British hirundines, and appears, in general, on or about the 13th of April, as I have remarked from many years' observation. Now and then a straggler is seen much earlier, and from this has grown the old proverb, “ Not one swallow makes a summer.”

It is worth remarking that these birds are seen first about lakes and mill-ponds; and it is also noticeable that if these early visitors happen to find frost and snow, they immediately withdraw for a time, and return when the weather gets warmer.

The swallow, though called the chimney-swallow, by no means builds altogether in chimneys, but often within barns and outhouses, against the rafters ; and so she did in Virgil's time :

Before, the noisy swallow's nest depends
From the strong beam that through the roof extends.

In Sweden she builds in barns, and is called the barnswallow. Besides, in the warmer parts of Europe there are no chimneys to houses, except they are English-built. In these countries she constructs her nest in porches, gateways, galleries, and open halls.

Here and there a bird may choose some odd, peculiar place, as we have known a swallow build down the shaft of an old well, through which chalk had been formerly

« السابقةمتابعة »