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Palaeography - Notes upon the History of Writing and the Medieval Art of Illumination by Bernard QuaritchOf the books which preceded the invention of Printing, a much larger quantity is still extant than the world in general would suppose, but theyMorePalaeography - Notes upon the History of Writing and the Medieval Art of Illumination by Bernard QuaritchOf the books which preceded the invention of Printing, a much larger quantity is still extant than the world in general would suppose, but they are nevertheless so widely scattered and so seldom immediately accessible, that only a very long experience will enable any one to speak or to write about them in other than a blundering fashion. So many qualifications are required, that it may seem presumptuous in me to treat upon a matter bristling with difficulties and uncertainties. The brief but admirable outline of its history which Mr. Maunde Thompson has lately published is likely to mislead the inexperienced into a belief that a science defined with so much clearness and apparent ease may as easily be mastered. No one knows better than that accomplished scholar how hard it would be to supply sure and definite criteria for the guidance of palæographical students in all the branches of their fascinating pursuit. My excuse must be that the observations which appear in the present opusculum may be useful to some who are unable for various reasons to give the necessary fulness of study to Mr. Thompsons work, and who, while loving manuscripts as well as I do, have not had so large an experience. I may venture to justify myself by a personal anecdote. The author of the Stones of Venice once said that he was surprised by my apparently exact knowledge of the commercial value of manuscripts- and my reply was that, as I had for twenty years been the buyer of, or the underbidder for, all the fine examples which had appeared in the public auctions, there was no great reason for his wonder.The following sketch will consist of a number of cursory remarks upon the calligraphy and the ornamentation of medieval manuscripts- preceded by an historical sketch, arranged in chronological paragraphs, of the beginnings and the gradual diffusion of the art of writing throughout the world.