memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for October 17, 2012

My Biblia Sacra

About the weight, shape, size and density of a small brick, the BIBLIA SACRA published in Basle in 1591, has landed into my hands, in transit on through the generations of our family.

Already well over four centuries old, it once belonged to Joseph Addison (1672 – 1719)* and was bought second hand by my great grandfather.

My father was surprisingly terse about this diminutive but venerable old Bible (perhaps in his case it was an embarras de richesses); heaven knows his library contained a dozen or so Bibles of various shapes, dates and sizes (including one translated into Maori)!

Inscribed on title page –  (E) Libris  Jo. Addison

                                      –    Summa niti pulchrum

And in an earlier hand    In manibus Domini 

                                                 Sortes meae.

Some neat underlining and notes by an earlier reader have been cropped by the binder, probably before Addison acquired the book. This reader, a serious scholar, corrected some surprising misprints. I think the second motto must be his. Addison’s sounds more philosophical than religious.

As this book has a bookseller’s note it must have bought second hand, probably by my grandfather. He would certainly have annotated it had it been an old family bible. He acquired a modern edition of the Vulgate when he was at Oxford.

My father, who had the binding repaired, told me that he had had Addison’s autograph verified at the British Museum.

*Joseph Addison 1672 – 1719 essayist and politician, associated with Pope, Dryden and Steele with whom he founded the Spectator; he was satirised as Atticus by Alexander Pope. In 1717 he was appointed Secretary of State under Sunderland but later resigned his post because failing health.

Nice old map of Paradise.

–          Well golly gosh and we all thought that it was in Utah or Florida or Arizona or somewhere else in God’s chosen land … turns out it was in Mesopotamia between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris; well be darned … let me see what’s that region called these days? Wiki it for me, will ya Chuck?

–          These days it’s called Iraq, Mr Secretary.

–          Whoops!

BIBLIA SACRA – printed in BASLE in 1591

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