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Tattam wished to purchase ; they informed him they could Bookiii, not part with it, ... . but consented to make him a copy, Another He paid for two of the Syriac MSS. he had placed in the Aechiolosuperior's room, for the priests could not be persuaded to 3TM ^
part with more The superior would have sold the
Dictionary, but was afraid, because the Patriarch had written in it a curse upon any one who should take it away.' [It was the same volume which had been vainly coveted by Mr. Cuezon, as well as by several preceding travellers, and of which he tells us he 'put it in one of the niches of the wall, where it remained about two years, when it was purchased and brought away for me by a gentleman at Cairo.'] 'In the Convent of El Baramous/ continues Miss Platt, 'Mr. Tattam found about one hundred and fifty Coptic and Arabic liturgies, and a very large Dictionary in both languages. In the tower is an apartment, with a trap-door in the floor, opening into a dark hole, full of loose leaves of Arabic and Coptic manuscripts.' At the Monastery of Amba-Bichoi, Mr. Tattam saw a lofty vaulted room, so strewn with loose manuscripts as scarcely to afford a glimpse of the floor on which they lay, 'in some places a quarter of a yard deep/ At Macarius Convent a similar sight presented itself, but of these Mr. Tattam was permitted to carry off about a hundred.
As the reader may well imagine, the charms of the Syriac MSS. had made too deep an impression on Mr. Tattam's heart to admit of an easy parting. Many were the longing, lingering looks, mentally directed towards them. Almost at the moment of setting out on his return to Cairo, he added four choice books to his previous spods. In February, he resolved to revisit the convents, and once more to ply his most persuasive arguments. He was manfully seconded by his Egyptian servant, Mahommed, whose favourite methods of negotiation much resembled those of Mr. Curzon. 'The Archdeacon soon returned,' says Miss Platt, 'followed by Mahommed and one of the Bedouins, bearing a large sack full of splendid Syriac MSS. on vellum. They were safely deposited in the tent.5 At Amba-Bischoi a successful bargain was struck for an old Pentateuch in Coptic and Arabic, and a beautiful Coptic Evanffeliary. On the next day, 'Mahommed brought from the priests a Soriana, a stupendous volume, beautifully written in the Syriac characters, with a very old wormeaten copy of the Pentateuch from Amba-Bischoi, exceedingly valuable, but not quite perfect.' The remainder of the story, or rather the greater part of what remains, must here be more concisely told than in the words of the reviewer.
The manuscripts which Mr. Tattam has thus obtained, in due time arrived in England. Such of them as were in the Syriac language were disposed of to the Trustees of the British Museum. . . Eorty-nine manuscripts of extreme antiquity, containing some valuable works long since supposed to have perished, and versions of others written several centuries earlier than any copies of the original texts now known to exist, constituted such an addition as has been rarely, if ever, made at one time to any Library. The collection of Syriac MSS. procured by Mr. Rich had already made the Library of the British Museum conspicuous for this class of literature; but the treasure of manuscripts from Egypt rendered it superior to any in Europe.
From the accounts which Lord Prudhoe, Mr. Curzon, and Mr. Tattam had given of their visits to the Monastery of the Syrians, it was evident that but few of the manuscripts belonging to it had been removed since the time of Assemani; and probable that no less a number than nearly two hundred volumes must be still remaining in the Book in, hands of the monks. Moreover, from several notes in the Another manuscripts . . already brought to England, it was certain As°h!oiothat most of them must be of very considerable antiquity ... °ISTS AMD
* i «/ Explorers.
In several of these notices, Moses of Tecrit states that, in the year 932, he brought into the convent from Mesopotamia about two hundred and fifty volumes. As there was no evidence whatever to show that even so many as one hundred of these MSS. had ever been taken away (for those which were procured for the Papal Library by the two Assemani, added to those which Mr. Curzon and Mr. Tattam had brought to England, do not amount to that number), there was sufficient ground for supposing that the Convent of the Syrians still possessed not fewer than about one hundred and fifty volumes, which, at the latest, must have been written before the tenth century. Application, accordingly, was made by the Trustees to the Treasury: a sum was granted to enable them to send TKIASUKir
J' ° GRANT, IN
again into Egypt, and Mr. Tattam readily undertook the Imi.tor
° . . D' 1 . J yURTHERRE
commission. The time was most opportune. Had much more Searches. delay been interposed, these manuscripts, which, perhaps, constitute the greatest accession of valuable literature which has been brought from the East into Europe since the taking of Constantinople, would, in all probability, have ^rL been now the pride of the Imperial Library at Paris. as before.
Mr. Tattam thought he could work most effectively Mb. through the influence of a neighbouring Sheikh with the Expe^on superior of the convent. By which means he obtained, TMfg^KIA after some delays, a promise that all the Syriac MSS. should be taken to the Sheikh's house, and there bargained for. 'My servant,' he says, 'had taken ten men and eight donkeys from the village; had conveyed them, and already bargained for them, which bargain I confirmed. That night
ch"pK iv' we car,'iet' our boxes, paper, and string, and packed them all.
Another .... Before ten in the morning they were on their way to Alexandria.' But, as will be seen in the sequel, the monks
Explorms. were too crafty for Mr. Tattam to cope with.
Tischkn- In 1844, 'teschendorf visited the monasteries already
Wim*tmtm expl°red by Curzon and Tattam. His account reproduces the old characteristics:—' Manuscripts heaped indiscriminately together, lying on the ground, or thrown into large baskets, beneath masses of dust. ... . The excessive suspicion of these monks renders it extremely difficult to induce them to produce their MSS., in spite of the
extreme penury which surrounds them But much
might yet be found to reward the labour of the searcher.1
In truth, the monks, poor and simple as they sometimes seemed to be, had taken very sufficient care to keep enough of literary treasures in their hands to reward 'further researches.' Nearly half of their collection seems to have been withheld.
Pacho-s A, certain clever Mr. Pacho now entered on the scene as
NKGOTIA- . 11' O 1
Tionfor a negotiator for the obtainment or recovery ot the missing ""opto 'treasures of the tombs.' They had been virtually purchased Heisdbythe before, but the Lords of the Treasury very wisely re-opened Monks Of the public purse, and at length secured for the Nation an
St. Mary r r °
Deipara. inestimable possession. The new accession completed, or went far towards completing, many MSS. which before seepage 622, were tantalizingly imperfect. It supplied a second ancient chapter. copy of the famous Ignatian Epistles (to St. Polycarp, to the Ephesians, and to the Romans); many fragments of palimpsest manuscripts of great antiquity, and among them the greater part of St. Luke's Gospel in Greek; and about four thousand lines of the Iliad, written in a fine square uncial letter, apparently not later than the sixth century. The total number of volumes thus added to the Explorers.
previous Nitrian Collections were calculated, roundly, to be Book in. from a hundred and forty to a hundred and fifty. Anttutm
That the rich accession to our sacred literature, thus Gists Amd made amidst many obstacles, should be turned speedily to public advantage, two conditions had to be fulfilled, Curmon
r ° m AND HIS
Skilful labour had first to be employed in the arrangement Labours TM of a mass of fragments. Scholars competently prepared, by previous studies in Oriental literature and more especially in Syriac, must then get to work on their transcription, their gloss, and their publication. It could scarcely have been expected, beforehand, that any one man would be able to undertake both tasks, and to keep them, for some years to come, well abreast. The fact, however, proved to be so. The right man was already in the right place for the work that was to be done.
The late William Cureton had entered the service of the Trustees of the British Museum in ] 837, at the age of twenty-nine, when he had been already for about eight years in holy orders. He was a native of Westbury, in Shropshire. His education, begun at Newport School, had been matured at Christ-Church, Oxford. He had been just about to enter himself at Christ-Church in the ordinary way, when his father died, suddenly, leaving the family fortunes under considerable embarrassment. Cureton, and a brother of his, showed the metal they were both made of, by instantly changing their youthful plans. That the whole of the diminished patrimony might be at their mother's sole disposal, William Cureton went to Oxford as a servitor. His brother, instead of waiting for his expected commission in the Army, enlisted as a private dragoon. And certainly, in the issue, neither of these young men lost any 'dignity'—in any sense of that word—