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In my Library
By way of brief preface may I say that I am not directly responsible for occupying your time, or even responsible for the title and subject of this Paper. It is an assignment which I will try to fill
it, remembering it is not my duty to produce literature, and also knowing remembering to my comfort that if failure to interest you follows my the attempt, other shouldiers than mine must carry the burden's I wish - in imagination to carry you with me to night among unfamiliar scenes - the walls of my residence at Stratford (Ont), and probably - Perhaps a time order of movement along the among the contents of its loaded shelves will most easily bring some method out of a seeming chaos of 18 or 19 thousand items. and If we commence far back, - before the days of printing - , there is an objective starting point in a few M.S.S.
as Mr Would told us at our first meeting this season, that
[mark] 2988n B3B3 [/mark]
One a parchment synagogue roll, of the book of Esther, - in Hebrew, - without points, - discoloured by time - and worm eaten at the edges that, - calls up before us a picture of early life in Judea, as we look upon the only type of book that we know Jesus to have used.
The next, a musical M.S.S., suggests a vision of a much larger building and much showier ritual than that of the villiage synagogue, for it is an antiphonal Easter service for the Catholic Church; and in the light that comes so beautifully stained and mellowed through Norman Cathedral window, we in fancy dimly see frocked friars in the chancel, who are singing (in responses) to the deep, full-voiced - but almost
unseen - male choir, away up in the far back organ loft.
This music is written in a square black note, on a four red-line stave, and is so effective in form and colour, as to fully justify the notation being retained in the printed catholic missals, and in the intoning "plain-song" of the Episcopal (High) Church, - of which class of music books my collection has some good specimens.
The vellum upon which the Antiphonal is written, has been used for an earlier M.S.S., and the old illuminated characters show through, faintly, here and there; and one wonders, what M.S.S. record it was, that some 4 1/2 centuries ago, seemed to be so old and valueless, that it was then washed off, to make
a cathedral choir book.
This document, with its antiquated clasp, is not number paged, but at each change in the service, that leaf has a small coloured metal clip standing out beyond the edge, (the whole being set in serrated line), so that the chorister - remembering the colour - could open at the desired music as soon as the organ struck the first note. [note in red pen: see 4A - 4.B-]
Intermediate between the age of M.S.S. and the invention of printing, comes the Block books, of which this collection has no original. The most interesting facsimile being a folio Biblia Pauperum, from the British Museum
An Abbysinnian M.S.S. on vellum, in old leather bag, with hanging strap of same material patched, is a curiosity to many. It is an Etheopic version of the Canticles and the Psalms - date unknown to me - and is literally bound in boards, - in thick slabs of wood. - The leather bag and strap, used in hanging it from the rafters of the Library, seems to have been the accepted way of protecting such valuables in N. AFRICA from destruction by ants.
A large M.S.S. copy of the Koran on native paper - also undated - gives the observer the impression of endless patience on the part of the oriental scribe, because of the many times he had to lift his pen in forming each word, and a Hindoo priests prayer book, with the letters cut in - or rather scratched on the narrow width of the palm or river flag-leaf - in Tamil - or some cognate sancrit dialect of