Sunday, November 16, 2008

The British Library

(above: Captain James Cooke's Journal)

The exhibitions at the British Museum are truly a sight to Behold. What a wonder it was to lay my eyes on such important and historic texts and manuscripts  on display. I'm talking about all the legends of literature, music, science, and religion and their original works preserved. An original copy of Beowulf, perhaps the oldest piece of literature in English, is displayed there. Original copies of the English Bible are also displayed.
I particularly enjoyed the sections devoted to the legends of music and science. Above is a manuscript of Beethoven's. It is filled with scribbles and corrections. You can almost see his frustration in working the piece into perfection. It was fascinating. They had many other manuscripts from Mozart, Haydn, and other famous British composers as well.
In this above picture, there is a page of a notebook from Leonardo Da Vinci. On the page he is trying to systematically understand the properties of sound and music-- or at least the plaque said something like that. Can we really begin to understand these scribbles that a genius like him produced? Still, very fascinating. In the science section, they also had a book by Galileo, letters from Darwin, and notes written by Newton. Many of the great minds in British history were represented in this display.
Here is the touchstone of them all-- the Magna Carta. There are only about 4 original copies left, and this is one of them. You cannot begin to read anything on the document, but the fact that this thing till exists is pretty amazing. This is where constitutional law began in the English speaking world. Right here in this glass case.

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