Literary And Miscellaneous Intelligence -- By: Anonymous
BSac 4:14 (May 1847) p. 409
Literary And Miscellaneous Intelligence
Vatican Library. This library was founded by Pope Nicholas V. in 1447, who transferred to his new Vatican palace the Mss. which had been collected in the Lateran as early as the fifth century. The present building was erected by Sixtus V. in 1588. The library has been augmented from time to time by various purchases, bequests and donations. In this work, Leo X. was particularly active, sending agents into distant countries to collect Mss. The great body of the treasures, especially of
BSac 4:14 (May 1847) p. 410
Mss., is contained in an immense hall, (which is divided by pilasters into two portions,) and in two wings or galleries which extend from the end of the hall to an immense length. Painted cabinets or presses, entirely closed, contain the books and Mss., so that a stranger would have no suspicion of the nature or value of the contents. All that meet the eye are walls bright with tasteless, modern frescoes, Etruscan vases, tables of granite, statues, a column of oriental alabaster, etc. The halls are sadly wanting in the literary air of a library. The genius loci is concealed by inappropriate decoration. Overloaded ornament is indeed the characteristic of modern Italian taste, particularly in architecture. Among the Ms. treasures, which the writer looked at, were the Virgil of the fourth or fifth century, with fifty miniatures including a portrait of Virgil; a Terence of the ninth century with miniatures; Cicero De Republica, the palimpsest discovered by Cardinal Mai, under a version of Augustine’s Commentary on the Psalms, a quarto of 598 pages, parts of it much defaced; a Pliny with very fine figures of animals drawn on the lower margin; a Greek calendar of the tenth century, gorgeously illuminated with basilicas, martyrdoms, etc.; the four Gospels of A. D. 1128, a very interesting Byzantine Ms., in quarto; an immense Hebrew Bible, folio, splendidly illuminated, almost beyond the power of a common arm to raise from the shelf, and for which the Jews of Venice are said to have offered its weight in gold; an officium mortis with most expressive and beautiful miniatures; the Codex Mexican us, a very long calendar; the autograph copy of the De Sacramentis of Henry VIII with the inscription on the last page, “Anglorum rex Henricus, Leo Decime, mittit hoc opus et fidei teste et amicitiae;” and the Letters of Henry VIII. to Anne Boleyn, seventeen in number, very characteristic of the amorous and capricious monarch. It is a curious fact, that since his day, and in consequence of his proceedings, the government of Great Britain has had no official intercourse with that of Rome. The printed books are mostly contained in eight or ten common rooms, within glass cases. Many of the volumes being bound in the white vellum for which Rome i...
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