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this material. Well, certainly, society could
not stop there. If we were still obliged to
write our letters upon bricks, and build a
brick wall when we made a book, or write a
novel in three stacks, instead of three volumes,
we should find the literature and correspondence
of the country to be a somewhat heavier
commodity than it is at present. The inconvenience
was felt even in those days, when
there were no books, and no postmen were
wanted to cart bricks to people's doors; no
editors to be bricked in with correspondence:
only high and mighty people sent these written
messages, for they were chiefly edicts, testaments,
and so forth. The Ten Commandments
were written, as we know, upon stone. Nations
possessing leada metal scratched with ease
would find it a convenient substitute for stone
or brick. In " Job," there is allusion made
to writing material of this kind. Flat shells
would also suggest themselves as portable,
and hard, ana easy to be scratched. The
Athenian practice of ostracism, by which the
people inscribed the character of certain votes
on oyster-shells, arose in this way. It was not
for want of other materials, but for the sake
of secrecy, that Histiæus shaved a man's head,
and engraved a message on his skull, then let
the hair grow, and sent him to Miletus to be
shaved and read; man himself being, in this
case, used as writing material, and transformed
into a locomotive letter.

The very absurd question has been raised,
Who was the first letter-writer? Who invented
the art of letter-writing? And credit
has been given on this account to Atossa, the
mother of Xerxes. A letter is a message
written upon something portable, and then
transmitted to a distant person. It is obvious
that messages of this kind would be sent,
though at first very rarely, among each
people, from the first month after it had
passed in its development to the idea of
writing on detached and reasonably light
pieces of material. The idea of detached,
transmissible writing having once begun to
run alone and grow familiar with a people,
it would soon be obvious, that the lighter the
material, the better it would be for men who
had to carry it about; and the more easily
could a person addressed retain his information
in privacy, by carrying it about his person.
Leaves, especially in Oriental countries, where
the leaves are large and smooth, would soon
suggest themselves. The Cumæan Sibyl's prophecies
were said to be inscribed on this material.
Votes written upon olive leaves, instead
of oyster-shells, are also mentioned. The
Hindoos are known to have used leaves, and
in some parts of India and Ceylon it is said
that books are still occasionally found whose
paging is on leaves, in the precise and strict
sense of the word. Leaves, however, would
soon be found a material in various ways
inconvenient, and the drier bark of trees
would be preferred, especially that thin,
smooth, inner bark which in some trees is
exceedingly coherent, strong, and durable.
The Saxons, in this country, are said to have
used the bark of beech trees, called by them
"boc," for writing purposes; and from this
fact, our word " book " is sometimes thought
to be derived. The Latin for a book means,
certainly, the inner bark, and points to the use
of that material. So the word " library " reminds
us of the days when letters were still in
their cradle. Bark tablets were prepared for
use by polishing; and it was one of the amusements
of a King of Persia on his travels to
take bark and a knife, that he might beguile
the time by rubbing them together, as an
American might take a stick to whittle.

Thanks to the bees, men would not be long
in finding out the excellence of honey, and
the use of wax. The idea of writing upon
wax, first spread over a thin board, to give to
it the requisite strength, came rather late,
but was extremely natural. In the time of
Themistocles, these waxen tablets were in use;
but we find it recorded of Themistocles himself,
at the same time, that he wrote a letter
to the loniaus upon stone.

Bark had been used for tablets and for
writing letters, which were capable of being
folded up, during the best period of the
Roman world, and we find them still in use
under the later emperors. The tablets were
of bark on which the Emperor Commodus
inscribed his list of victims, and the discovery
of which led to the victimization of himself.
Waxed tablets had, however, been for a long
time in use, and these were written upon with
an iron pointed weapon; we might say, a
skewer, but the Romans said a style. From
an early period, it was forbidden to wear arms
within the Roman city. Tablets and style not
being interdicted, the style became (as pens
have been since then, in many fingers) the
only weapon handy for a stab, and men
attacked or offended, secured themselves by
skewering their foes. Julius Cæsar, when
attacked by the conspirators, wounded his
first assassin with a style; and it was with
their styles that the followers of Caius
Gracchus killed, in a tumult, the lictor of
Opimius. The well-known modern Italian stiletto
may derive its name from such an origin.

The Egyptians arrived soon at the art of
making linen; and that done, white linen
would soon suggest itself as a convenient material
on which to make a portable inscription.
Linen was therefore used; but soon
the principal idea of that age, the notion from
which we derive our common name for the
material on which we write, was carried out
in Egypt. It was a very simple thing, an
improvement on the use of tree-bark, caused
by the use of peelings from a reed, called
Byblos or Papyrus, then very common, and
now very rare in Lower Egypt. From its
name, Byblos, comes the Greek word signifying
book, and through that channel our word
for the sacred volume. The papyrus grew
abundantly in lakes and marshes, to a height

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