Approximately 3,000 Miniscules are known to exist…Amongst the most notable is Miniscule 33, sometimes called ‘Queen of the Miniscules’

This passage caught my eye whilst reading up on the textual history of the Bible, as well it might.  It particularly reminded me of a conversation I once had with a scholar from Middlebury, who told me that those little green plastic soldiers children in the United States play with are in fact full-size models of one of the most heroic units in their nation’s history: the Minute Men.  Coming from Lexington herself, she showed me a picture of a statue the townspeople had erected to these tiny green warriors, enlarging their scale by a factor of hundreds so that no-one should accidentally step on the monument and give both their foot and their civic piety a nasty jab.

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It seems that these Minute Men were formidable guerrilla fighters, due partly to their natural advantage when it came to camouflaging themselves against the treeline, and partly to being only a matter of inches tall.  Their ability to attack without warning and melt away into the most unpromising cover made them a continual thorn in the ankles of the British forces.  They seldom rested for long in one place, even to eat or sleep, and thus lived on a variety of undercooked rations, most famously the Minute Steak.  This austere and Spartan way of war drew grudging respect from their opponents, and Sir William Fawcett remarked of their commander the Most Revered Paul “He is Just A Minute, but – my God! – what a Minute.”  Romantic lithographs of Revered Paul were distributed in London and Paris and became the Che Guevara of his day, with many ladies of fashion declaring him to be “Truly, One Hot Minute.”

After winning a skirmish, they would perform a mockingly dainty dance to taunt their foes, which became known as the Minute Waltz.  It was an insult with the British regulars came to bitterly resent, and passed into the institutional memory of the service, along with the relentless way the tiny green militia waged their campaigns: as late as 1892, Rudyard Kipling’s popular Barrack Room Ballads contained a gloomy reference to “the Unforgiving Minute”.  Records of the Miniscules and their Queen are less widely distributed amongst our history, but I wonder if they might have been an Amazonian equivalent of the Minute Men.  Perhaps we shall never know.

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