It is also supposed that the missing verses at the beginning of the gospels were all written on purple-stained vellum, and that there may have been a miniature of the evangelist before each gospel. An inscription on the fly-leaf states that it belonged to the monastery of St. Augustine at Canterbury, and that it formed part of that library in the fourteenth century.
The age of a manuscript may sometimes be determined among other characteristics by the fineness and whiteness of the vellum, and sometimes by its purple colour. The MSS. numbered 2788, 2820, and 2821 in the Harleian library are described by Astle as purple-stained, whereas they are only thus painted in places intended to receive the golden letters.
O for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, And purple-stained mouth.”
So the parish-people told me; and as years went rolling by Oft they saw him sadly staring on the flaming sunset sky; Watched the purple-stainèd Yokul, half in joy and half in pain, As if hoped he there to see her coming back to earth again; Mourned his silence, Fateful silence, That had rent two lives atwain.
That hath been Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green, Dance and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth! Oh for a beaker full of the warm South, Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, And purple-stained mouth; That I might drink and leave the world unseen, And with thee fade away into the forest dim!
William turned round from his blackberry-bush. "Well, I won't," he said decidedly. "I've had enough!" "You've had 'nuff brekfust," said Thomas sternly. "I've found a lickle tin for the sings, so be kick. Oo, here's a fly! A green fly! It's sittin' on my finger. Does it like me 'cause it's sittin' on my finger?" "No," said William, turning a purple-stained countenance round scornfully.
This codex is described by Sir Edward Maunde Thompson as French, of the time of Charlemagne, and we may add that its position in the Harleian may be compared to that of the Durham or Lindisfarne Gospels in the Cottonian library. The manuscripts numbered 2820 and 2821 are further examples of partially purple-stained vellum, in imitation of earlier work.
Then the man kissed Tim on a small, purple-stained mouth, and saw his eyes very lustrous with sleep, for the day was done. Woman and child disappeared; the sacking nailed along the bottom of Newtake Gate to keep the young chicks in the farmyard rustled over the ground, and Martin, turning his face away, moved homewards. But the veil was not lifted for him; he did not understand.
Our presence is tolerated, even if our reception excites no feelings of surprise or cordiality, so that we are allowed to pursue our walk up the ever-narrowing valley in peace and comfort and to admire at our leisure the wonderfully beautiful effects of colouring produced by the cascades of purple-stained water, the graceful forms and gay dresses of the girls, and the peeps of fruit-laden orange trees above fern-clad walls.
As we have already seen, during the early ages of Christianity, the Greeks and Romans were in the habit of writing their most precious books in letters of gold and silver on purple-stained vellum, that colour being the distinguishing sign of royalty and greatness.