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A Century of Emblems by G. S. Cautley

A CENTURY OF EMBLEMS

_Printed by R. & R. CLARK, Edinburgh._

A Century of Emblems

BY G. S. CAUTLEY VICAR OF NETTLEDEN, AUTHOR OF 'THE AFTERGLOW,' AND 'THE THREE FOUNTAINS.'

WITH ILLUSTRATIONS

By the Lady Marian Alford, Rear-Admiral Lord W. Compton, Ven^{ble.} Lord A. Compton, R. Barnes, J. D. Cooper, and the Author

London MACMILLAN AND COMPANY 1878

[Illustration]

[Illustration: A CENTURY OF EMBLEMS]

To the Memory OF CHARLES DOUGLAS, MARQUIS OF NORTHAMPTON, THIS LITTLE BOOK, MAINLY DUE IN ITS PRESENT FORM TO HIS GENEROSITY AND COUNSEL, IS DEDICATED, IN ALL GRATEFUL AND TENDER RECOLLECTION BY THE AUTHOR.

[Illustration]

PREFACE.

This small volume is the latest of above three thousand[1] of a similar kind, which, under the general title of "Books of Emblems" have followed in the wake of the _Libellus Emblematum_,[2] a work, much resembling a child's primer in outward appearance, published at Augsburg in A.D. 1532, and composed by Andrea Alciati, a famous lawyer, antiquary, and litterateur of Milan.

This book consisted of nearly a hundred Latin Epigrams, some original, some translated or paraphrased from the Greek, and each accompanied by a rude woodcut illustration. Alciati was the first author who gave the name of Emblem to this form of expressing his ideas: and the notion for so doing was suggested by the original meaning of the word Emblem, which signifies anything inserted. The Greeks and Romans used to insert small pictures or bas-reliefs in the sides of vases, drinking-cups, and various other utensils: these little works of art were called Emblems: they were sometimes accompanied by mottoes or verses, and often made removable at pleasure, so that they formed no necessary part of the article which they adorned.

Alciati, therefore, considering that the illustrations formed no necessary portion of his book, and that they were only inserted, as he says himself, to make his moral and philosophical teaching more attractive, gave to his collection of poems and pictures the name of "Book of Emblems."

This idea took greatly with the public of his day, and for upwards of two hundred years afterwards, and generated a class of books now reckoned among the fossils of literature, which may be dug out of ancient libraries, or procured by chance here and there through the agency of those useful purveyors, the publishers of Catalogues of second-hand works.

Now Emblem books have had their day, and are no longer regarded as a means of instruction or delight. They have done their duty as ornamental wits and lively educators, and now make way for others more suited to the age. There will be found very few theological teachers of our day who would, like Sebastian Stockhamer,[3] not only advise a patron to have the Emblems of Alciati always at hand at home and abroad, but suggest that he should do as Alexander did with the works of Homer, sleep with them under his pillow.


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