memoirs, art and fragments by Thomas Milner

Archive for August 19, 2012

My Delphin Virgil

Another old family book is the OPERA of P. VIRGILII MARONIS published in London 1759 (a reprint of 1722 folio edition).

It is dedicated to Serenissimi DELPHINI

My father writes The original Delphin was I think the son of Louis XIV. He never reigned of course, Louis being eventially succeeded by his great-grandson. This classical series was widely used in the 18th century.


There is also a card in my great-grandfather Gamaliel’s careless writing:

This copy of the Delphin Edition of Virgil has my Grandfather’s name in it & and also that my uncle W P Milner. Unfortunately I took it to Westminster School & another boy there spoiled this book by cutting the binding – GM

That’s not only thing that this boy spoiled:


His favourite medium seems to have been ink!


Thus staining the look of this compact little volume:

And this future Magistrate or Bishop or Member of Parliament really went to town on Dido’s feast:


We can see in close-up that the future Rural Dean couldn’t resist embelleshing or making an improvement on Dido’s natural charms:

More defacement from our future Editor of  the Times includes decorating the word BUCOLICA

And drawing a couple of suggestive bubbles over Aenis’s head during the Council of Love was just too difficult for our future Rector of St. Andrew’s to resist:


And no comment about this one from the future Director of The National Gallery:

(By the way the erudite and knowing referencing from the text to each illustration are great-granfather’s work).

So when I got to the fold-out map of Mare Nostrum I feared the worst but my fears were unfounded.

But more seriously the rest of the text is decent and readable. The text & side-commentaries & foot-notes are all in Latin and book itself is dedicated to a French prince, so when my father wrote about a wide readership he meant a trans-European one, wherever there existed that class of people, the members of which felt obliged to impose on themselves a Classical Education.


My grandfather Hugh Cantis Milner, who cared about such things, had the book rebound although if one looks carefully one sees that the spine  and red title panel (see above) is the original 18th century whilst the side-boards are early 20th century.

So six generations of my family (father-to-son) have owned this VIRGIL and soon it will be over to one my sons…

I have carried on the family book-binding tradition – I found an excellent Book Binder’s in a narrow street in the old centre of Porto and over the years I had about a dozen of my father’s old family books bound including this tiny Hyrogliphic Bible for children:

The illustrations are sweet little wood carvings:

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