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The Collation

Such a lucky pretty little library...

Visus Libelli

First leaf of Visus Libelli (a little book of advices)

We thought we’d kick off your weekend with an amusing and fascinating hybrid book that is ripe for research.

The as-yet unidentified compiler of this late seventeenth-century, ca. 800-leaf volume, a recent acquisition at the Folger, describes it in many flowery ways. He introduces it as a “Vade-Mecum Memorial Manual of Muses, or Compleate Compendious Complexe and Companion, of Learned Languages and Sciences, Scarcely another to be seen so short, small and full.” This pretty much says it all: the manual is indeed small (it is a duodecimo) and full, and in fact looks more like a cube than a book, fat to the point of bursting. 


Is it just me, or do other people think the handwriting of the preliminary material is surprisingly clumsy, given the fancy binding and the hyperbole about the value of the printed contents? Not sure how best to describe it, but “hotch-potch by a babbling Quack spirit” comes to mind.

Erin Blake — November 10, 2012

I’ve just come across this – fascinating. I’m currently working on early modern memory and I’m impressed by the number of memory-related words the writer uses in the extracts you give from the prefatory material! I’d love to see the full transcript you mention, if it’s available. Many thanks.

Katharine Hodgkin — January 10, 2013