of the king's library, and in those of Italy. In some of
these rescripts, the first writing is so much obliterated as to be
scarcely perceptible; while in others, though not without much labour,
it may still be read."
The practice, still followed in the east, of writing upon the leaves of
trees, was common in the remotest ages. The leaves of the mallow or of
the palm were most used for this purpose: they were sometimes wrought
together into larger surfaces; but it is probable that this fragile and
inconvenient material was only employed for ordinary purposes of
business, letter-writing, or the instruction of children.
The inner bark of the linden or teil tree, and perhaps of some others,
railed by the Romans _liber_, by the Greeks _biblos,_ was so
generally used as a material for writing as to have given its name to a
book in both languages. Tables of solid wood called _codices_, whence
the term _codex_ for a manuscript on any material, has passed into
common use, were also employed, but chiefly for legal documents, on
which account a system of laws came to be called a code. Leaves or
tablets of lead or ivory are frequently mentioned by ancient authors as
in common use for writing. But no material or preparation seems to have
been so frequently employed on ordinary occasions as tablets covered
with a thin coat of coloured wax, which was readily removed by an iron
needle, called a _style_; and from which the writing was as readily
effaced by the blunt end of the same instrument.