Seeking a respite from turmoil in his personal life, the restless Romantic poet Lord Byron made his way to Venice in 1816 for what would become an extended stay. Perhaps not surprisingly, Byron immediately began immersing himself in the intellectual, literary and artistic life of the city. In addition to frequenting establishments like the celebrated…
“Here laid down, a small spider, caught resting between the lines of a long night’s lessons, now like a curious letterform…” For nearly two centuries, it’s possible this little insect has been buried here, in the second edition of Edward Everett’s translation of Buttmann’s Greek grammar. Everett, the Greek scholar, United States congressman, pastor, professor, diplomat (the list goes on) is remembered as one of the great American orators of his time.
In 1651, a highly unconventional Latin grammar was published in Gdańsk, Poland. Written in German by Johann Buno and entitled “Neue Lateinische Grammatica in Fabeln und Bildern” (A New Latin Grammar in Stories and Illustrations), the book includes ten extremely unusual grammatical engravings. Ostensibly designed to aid understanding and memorization, the engravings are richly detailed and include strange, exotic, and sometimes violent imagery.
I recently stumbled across an unusual copy of Thomas Wadleigh Harvey’s Elementary Grammar and Composition.The book has been almost entirely repurposed, with the text obscured by newspaper clippings of recipes and remedies that look to be mostly late 19th century. Recipes for all your old favorites can be found in its pages—mush, corn pone, doughnuts in rhyme, Philadelphia puffs, cod balls, and of course, excellent white bread.