Friday, September 30, 2005

Item of the Day: Letter from Sir John Popham (1592)

(Click on address and letter to enlarge.)

This letter appointed a hearing of the cause between Sir Edward Hoby, Knight, and the College of Brazen Nose, at Serjeants' Inn, Fleet Street, on Friday before the ensuing Term, with the autographs of Sir John Popham, Knight, Lord Chief Justice, and Thomas Egerton, Attorney-General, afterwards Lord High Chancellor, signed 25 November, 1592.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Item of the Day: Pickering's Letter to Rufus King (1798)

(Click on letter to enlarge.)

This is a letter from Colonel Timothy Pickering in Trenton to Rufus King, Esq., in London, dated 15 Sept. 1798. In this letter, marked "private," Pickering as Secretary of State brings King up to date on developments in the XYZ affair involving the three-man delegation sent to Paris to settle issues relating to French seizures of American ships. As a result of French efforts to solicit a bribe, two of the delegation had returned, and there was concern that Gerry, who remained in Paris, might act on his own. In describing Gerry, Pickering has enciphered the language in parentheses “I never met a man (so destitute of candour and so full of deceit as Mr. Gerry).” Note the index finger drawn in along the left-hand margin, announcing the death of a printer. In the continuation of the letter, Col. Pickering tells of the "absurd and preposterous conduct" of Mr. Gerry and of the "extensive calamity of the yellow fever," which was "more malignant and mortal than in any former year."

Mrs. Spectator's Coffeehouse

Dr. Miriam Jones (U. of New Brunswick, St. John), the author of the wonderful academic blog Scribbling Woman, has begun pooling all her knowledge of online eighteenth-century resources at a new site called Mrs. Spectator's Coffeehouse. Under the guise of her trusty pseudonym, Mrs. Spectator is probably right now quietly paging through major internet resources for your historical and literary pleasure, getting ready to list them on her easy-to-use weblog.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Item of the Day: Coke's Institutes of the Lawes of England (1633)

Full Title:

The First Part of the Institutes of The Lawes of England: or A Commentary upon Littleton, not the name of a Lawyer only, but of the Law it selfe. Authore EDW. COKE Milite. The third Edition, corrected.

Written by Sir Edward Coke. A marvelous example of seventeenth-century typesetting and engraving. Plate two is "The true portraiture of Judge Littleton the famous English Lawyer." Printed in London by M.F.I.H. and R.Y. Assignes of I. More Esquire, 1633.

From the Preface:

I shall desire, That the learned Reader will not conceiue any opinion against any part of this painfull and large Volume, vntill hee shall haue aduisedly read ouer the whole, and diligently searched out and wellconsidered of the seuerall Authorities, Proofes, and Reasons which wee haue cited and set downe for warrant and confirmation of our opinions thorow out this whole worke.

Mine aduice to the Student is, That before hee reade any part of our Commentaries upon any Section, that first he reade againe and againe our Author himselfe in that Section, and doe his best endeuours, first of himselfe, and them by conference with others, (which is the life of Study) to vnderstand it, and then to reade our Commentarie thereupon, and no more at any one time, than he is able with delight to beare away, and after to meditate thereon, which is the life of reading. But of this Argument wee haue for the better direction of our Student in his Study, spoken in our Epistle to our first Booke of Reports.

And albeit the Reader shall not at any one day (doe what he can) reach to the meaning of our Author, or of our Commentaries, yet let him no way discourage himselfe, but proceed; for on some other day, in some other place, that doubt will bee cleared. Our Labours herein are drawne out to this great Volume, for that our Authour is twice repeated, once in French and againe in English.

On Comments

We at the Reading Room would like to remind both our regular and occasional visitors that we are, indeed, an open interactive resource. Both the physical and the digital Rooms strive to provide an atmosphere of discussion which, though occasionally high-minded, often gleefully devolves into "mere conversation."

The goal of reproducing items, parts of items, and descriptions of items here is not, after all, to render obsolete the value and authority of the physical texts (whose loveliness and historical poignancy are indeed unusurpable by digital means), but to offer a daily starting point for ruminations on the breadth and sensibility of seventeenth- to nineteenth-century print cultures. To "always historicize" is, after all, always to be aware of the gulfs that lie between past consciousnesses and our own even while we are attuned to their often uncanny resonance. At no time are these competing senses of (perhaps false) distance and (often false) nearness more clearly in my mind than when I am reading a text in an early edition. I, for one, am an advocate for research in historical editions because I know no better way to position oneself as a reader in relation to a text in order to feel, as well as think, to understand it. Alas, I can't physically send each of you a Paine pamphlet or a page from Coke's Institutes each day. We go to print with the technology we have.

You'll notice that my own predilection in texts to reproduce is for passages that highlight an author's relationship to the individual reader, the contemporary era, and the concept of posterity. When I am typing out sections of text from these early editions, I am always imagining an eighteenth-century reader sitting down to open a bound Spectator or the preface to the Dictionary. I am wondering what unaccountable prejudices that reader might have had, and what reaction to these very personal introductions. Of course, I think of my own post-postmodern relationship to writing, scholarship, and self-presentation. But, most relevant to my current subject, I wonder what your reactions to these materials are. Are you, like me, trying to position yourself in a no-time outside your own subjectivity? Are you delighted by recognizable sentiments about language? Merely irritated?

Dear reader, let us draw up a contract between us two. If you give me feedback about what you would like to see here (more American? more maps? letters, music, pamphlets? more/less text/graphics?), I will attempt to comply. What I ask in return are your thoughts, in comments scholarly or not (as the Reading Room serves the curious at all levels of scholarship in their several moods). If you wonder something about the texts, perhaps a fellow reader can provide the answer. In short, if you have any particular reactions or suggestions, we'd like to know.
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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Item of the Day: Dr. Johnson's Dictionary (1785)

Full Title:

A Dictionary of the English Language: in which the Words are Deduced from their Originals, and Illustrated in their Different Significations by Examples from the Best Writers. To which are Prefixed, a History of the Language, and an English Grammar. By Samuel Johnson, LL.D. In Two Volumes. The Sixth Edition.

Printed in London for J.F. and C. Rivington, L. Davis, T. Payne and Son, W. Owen, T. Longman, B. Law, J. Dodsley, C. Dilly, W. Lowndes, G.G.J. and J. Robinson, T. Cadell, Jo. Johnson, J. Robson, W. Richardson, J. Nichols, R. Baldwin, W. Goldsmith, J. Murray, W. Stuart, P. Elmsly, W. Fox, S. Hayes, A. Strahan, W. Bent, T. and J. Egerton, and M. Newbery, 1785.

From the Preface:

IT is the fate of those who toil at the lower employments of life, to be rather driven by the fear of evil, than attracted by the prospect of good; to be exposed to censure, without hope of praise; to be disgraced by miscarriage, or punished for neglect, where success would have been without applause, and diligence without reward.

Among these unhappy mortals is the writer of dictionaries; whom mankind have considered, not as the pupil, but the slave of science, the pioneer of literature, doomed only to remove rubbish and clear obstructions from the paths through which Learning and Genius press forward to conquest and glory, without bestowing a smile on the humble drudge that facilitates their progress. Every other author may aspire to praise; the lexicographer can only hope to escape reproach, and even this negative recompense has been yet granted to very few.

I have, notwithstanding this discouragement, attempted a Dictionary of the English language, which, while it was employed in the cultivation of every species of literature, has itself been hitherto neglected; suffered to spread, under the direction of chance, into wild exuberance; resigned to the tyranny of time and fashion; and exposed to the corruptions of ignorance, and caprices of innovation.

When I took the first survey of my undertaking, I found our speech copious without order, and energetick without rules: wherever I turned my view, there was perplexity to be disentangled, and confusion to be regulated; choice was to be made out of boundless variety, without any established principle of selection; adulterations were to be detected, without a settled test of purity; and modes of expression to be rejected or received, without the suffrages of any writers of classical reputation or acknowledged authority.

Having therefore no assistance but from general grammar, I applied myself to the perusal of our writers; and noting whatever might be of use to ascertain or illustrate any word or phrase, accumulated in time the materials of a dictionary, which, by degrees, I reduced to method, establishing to myself, in the progress of the work, such rules as experience and analogy suggested to me; experience, which practice and observation were continually increasing; and analogy, which, though in some words obscure, was evident in others.

In adjusting the ORTHOGRAPHY, which has been to this time unsettled and fortuitous, I found it necessary to distinguish those irregularities that are inherent in our tongue, and perhaps coeval with it, from others which the ignorance or negligence of later writers has produced. Every language has its anomalies, which, though inconvenient, and in themselves once unnecessary, must be tolerated among the imperfections of human things, and which require only to be registered, that they may not be increased, and ascertained, that they may not be confounded: but every language has likewise its improprieties and absurdities, which it is the duty of the lexicographer to correct or proscribe.

[. . .]

In hope of giving longevity to that which its own nature forbids to be immortal, I have devoted this book, the labour of years, to the honour of my country, that we may no longer yield the palm of philology, without a contest, to the nations of the continent. The chief glory of every people arises from its authors: whether I shall add any thing by my own writings to the reputation of English literature, must be left to time: much of my life has been lost under the pressures of disease; much has been trifled away; and much has always been spent in provision for the day that was passing over me; but I shall not think my employment useless or ignoble, if by my assistance foreign nations, and distant ages, gain access to the propagators of knowledge, and understand the teachers of truth; if my labours afford light to the repositories of science, and add celebrity to Bacon, to Hooker, to Milton, and to Boyle.

When I am animated by this wish, I look with pleasure on my book, however defective, and deliver it to the world with the spirit of a man that has endeavoured well. That it will immediately become popular I have not promised to myself: a few wild blunders, and risible absurdities, from which no work of such multiplicity was ever free, may for a time furnish folly with laughter, and harden ignorance in contempt; but useful diligence will at last prevail, and there never can be wanting some who distinguish desert; who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding, and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient; that he, whose design includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not understand; that a writer will sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the end, and sometimes faint with weariness under a task, which Scaliger compares to the labours of the anvil and the mine; that what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprize vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need, for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow.

In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed; and though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the author, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns; yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it, that the English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow. It may repress the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that if our language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an attempt which no human powers have hitherto completed. If the lexicons of ancient tongues, now immutably fixed, and comprised in a few volumes, be yet, after the toil of successive ages, inadequate and delusive; if the aggregated knowledge, and co-operating diligence of the Italian academicians, did not secure them from the censure of Beni; if the embodied criticks of France, when fifty years had been spent upon their work, were obliged to change its oeconomy, and give their second edition another form, I may surely be contented without the praise of perfection, which, if I could obtain, in this gloom of solitude, what would it avail me? I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds: I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquillity, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Item of the Day: A Short Dictionary of the most Universal Language of the Savages (1818?)

Full Title:

A Short Dictionary of the most Universal Language of the Savages. [Short Dictionary of the Algonkin Language]

Bound with The Late Regulations respecting the British Colonies on the Continent of America considered, in a Letter from a Gentleman in Philadelphia to his Friend in London. / The Late Occurrences in North America, and Policy of Great Britain, Considered. / Considerations on the Propriety of imposing Taxes in the British Colonies: for the Purpose of raising a Revenue, by Act of Parliament. / Authentic Account of the Proceedings of the Congress held at New-York in MDCCLXV on the Subject of the American Stamp Act. / Two Papers, on the Subject of taxing the British Colonies in America… / An Application of some General Political Rules, to the Present State of Great Britain, Ireland and America: in a letter to the Right Honorable Earl Temple. / An Enquiry into the Rights of the British Colonies; intended as an Answer to "The regulations lately made concerning the colonies, and the taxes imposed upon them considered." In a letter addressed to the author of that pamphlet. / Discourse delivered at the Consecration of the Synagogue of KK shirit Yisroel in the City of New-York, on Friday, the 10th of Nisan, 5578, corresponding with the 17th of April, 1818.

Note: Appears to be taken from v. 2, p. 289-304 of "New voyages to North-America: containing an account of the several nations of that vast continent…" / Louis Armand de Lom d'Arce Lahontan, baron de. / London: J. and J. Bonwicke, R. Wilkin, S. Birt, T. Ward, E. Wickstee; and J. Osbon, 1735.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Items of the Day: By Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin

Written by Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797):

A Vindication of the Rights of Woman: With Strictures on Political and Moral Subjects

Contains dedication, advertisement, table of contents, and introduction. The end of the book reads: “End of first volume.” No more was published. Printed in London for J. Johnson, No. 72, St. Paul's Church Yard, 1792.

Read Wollstonecraft's Vindication online

An Historical and Moral View of the Origin and Progress of the French Revolution; and the Effect It Has Produced in Europe. By Mary Wollstonecraft. Volume the First.

Contains advertisement, preface, contents, and a list of works lately published for J. Johnson. Volume 2 was never published. Printed in London for J. Johnson, in St. Paul's Church-Yard, 1795.

Read Wollstonecraft's French Revolution online

* * *

Written by William Godwin (1756-1836):

Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, and Its Influence on Morals and Happiness. First American from the Second London Edition Corrected. In Two Volumes.

Contains preface, preface to the second edition, and table of contents. Two volumes. First American from the second London, corrected. Printed in Philadelphia by Bioren and Manda, 1796.

Read Godwin's Enquiry online

Memoirs of M. Wollstonecraft Godwin, Author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Contains the Akerman's trade card printed on the last leaf. A biography of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin from her birth to her death in 1797, written by her husband William Godwin. Printed in Philadelphia by Samuel Akerman, 1804.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Item of the Day: Voltaire's Letters Concerning the English Nation (1733) and Bell's Operative Surgery (1816)

Full Title:

Letters Concerning the English Nation.

Written by Mr. de Voltaire. Contains preface, contents, publisher's advertisments, "A letter concerning the burning of Altena, as related in the Hisory of Charles XII, King of Sweden," and index. This translation, often attributed to John Lockman, was published before the French edition. Voltaire's picture of English life, observed during his two year stay, was of great popular appeal. In this work first appeared the famous anecdote of Newton and the falling apple. Harcourt Brown has argued that more than half of the book was in fact written by Voltaire in English and rewritten by him in French for the French editions. The letters which Brown suggests were written in English (numbers 1-8, 10, 12, 18, 19, 21, and 22) deal predominantly with Voltaire's personal experiences and observations in England, with literature -- Bacon, Swift, Butler, Pope, Waller, Rochester, and the dramatists -- and with aspects of public life of his day. The book created such a scandal that it was soon condemned and copies burned by the hangman in June, 1734. A warrant was issued against Voltaire but he succeeded in escaping. Printed in London for C. Davis and A. Lyon, 1733.


Full Title:

A System of Operative Surgery, Founded on the Basis of Anatomy. In Two Volumes. The Second American, from the last London Edition.

Written by Charles Bell, Surgeon of the Middlesex Hospital; Fellow of the Royal Society, and of the Royal College of Surgeons, of Edinburgh; Member of the Royal College of Surgeons of London; Associate of other Learned Bodies; and Reader of Anatomy in the Chair. Two volumes, second edition. Contains preface, contents, introduction, illustrations, plates, "Recommendations " of this work, preface dated London, 1814. "Of Gunshot Wounds" was first published as part of the second edition of the present work, London, 1814. It was later published separately in the same year "for the accomodation of the purchasers of the former edition" under the title, "A dissertation on gun-shot wounds." Published in Hartford by George Goodwin and Sons, 1816.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Item of the Day: Gay's Beggar's Opera (1728)

For the Friday sing-along:

Our Polly is a sad Slut! nor heeds what we have taught her.
I wonder any Man alive will ever rear a Daughter!
For she must have both Hoods and Gowns, and Hoops to swell her Pride,
With Scarfs and Stays, and Gloves and Lace; and she will have Men beside;
And when she's drest with Care and Cost, all-tempting, fine and gay,
As Men should serve a Cowcumber, she flings herself away.

Polly is a sad Slut, &c.

Full Title:

The Beggar's Opera. As it is Acted at the Theatre-Royal in Lincolns-Inn-Fields. Written by Mr. Gay. The Second Edition: To which is Added the Ouverture in Score; and the Musick prefix'd to each Song.

Written by John Gay. Second edition. Printed in London for John Watts, at the Printing-Office in Wild-Court, near Lincoln's-Inn-Fields in 1728.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Item of the Day: Recipes from the London Art of Cookery (1792)

As we looked more closely at Mr. John Farley's excellent (and popular) late-century cookery book, we were struck by the variation in the recipes. Some of them sounded delightfully, sinfully delicious, like this perversely unhealthy celery dish:

CUT off the green tops of six or eight heads of celery, and take off the outside stalks. Wash them well, and pare the roots clean. Then have ready half a pint of white wine, the yolks of three eggs beat fine, and a little salt and mutmeg. Mix all well together with flour into a batter, and dip every head into the batter, and fry them in butter. When they be enough, lay them in your dish, and pour melted butter over them. (68)

. . . while others seem frankly revolting, like this one for "calves head pie":

HAVING cleansed and boiled the head tender, carefully take off the flesh as whole as you can. Then take out the eyes and slice the tongue. Make a good puff paste crust, cover the dish, and lay on your meat. Throw the tongue over it, and lay the eyes, cut in two, at each corner. Season it with a very little pepper and salt, pour in half a pint of the liquor it was boiled in, lay on it a thick top crust, and bake it an hour in a quick oven. In the mean time, boil the bones of the head in two quarts of liquor, with two or three blades of mace, half a quarter of an ounce of whole pepper, a large onion, and a bundle of sweet herbs. Let it boil till it be reduced to about a pint; then strain it off, and add two spoonfuls of catchup, three of red wine, a small piece of butter rolled in flour, and half an ounce of truffles and morels. Season it to your palate, and boil it. Boil half the brains with some sage, beat them, and twelve leaves of sage chopped fine. Then stir all together, and give it a boil. Take the other part of the brains, and beat them, with some of the sage chopped fine, a little lemon-peel finely minced and half a small nutmeg grated. Beat it up with an egg, and fry it in little cakes of a fine light brown. Boil six eggs hard, of which take only the yolks; and when your pie comes out of the oven, take off the lid, lay the eggs and cakes over it, and pour in all the sauce. Send it hot to table without the lid. (219-220)

If anyone would like to try these and give us feedback, we'd love to know how they go over at your next dinner function.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Item of the Day: Hogarth Moralized (1768)

Full Title:

Hogarth Moralized. Being a Complete Edition of Hogarth's Works. Containing near fourscore copper-plates, most elegantly engraved : with an explanation, pointing out the many beauties that may have hitherto escaped notice, and a comment on their moral tendency : calculated to improve the minds of youth, and, convey instruction, under the mask of entertainment : now first published, with approbation of Jane Hogarth, widow of the late Mr. Hogarth.

Commentary by John Trusler. With advertisement, preface, index. London: S. Hooper and Mrs. Hogarth, 1768.

From the description of Harlot's Progress:

IN this age, when wickedness is in search, to entrap the unwary; and, man, that artful deceiver, racking his invention, for wiles to delude the innocent, and, rob them of their virtue; it is, more particularly, necessary, to warn the rising generation, of the impending danger; lay before the female world, the perils they are exposed to; open to their view, a sight of that wretchedness, that will, inevitably, be the consequence of their misconduct; and, by a timely admonition, prevent, if possible, the irrevocable misfortunes attendant on a life of prostitution, brought on by falling, perhaps, in an unguarded moment. This was the design of Hogarth, in the history of the Harlot before us, in the prosecution of which, he has, minutely, pictured out the most material scenes of her life, from the time, of her fall from virtue, to the hour of her death; a history full of such interesting circumstances, as must, certainly, give the unthinking maid, a sense of her danger, and, alarm her, lest she, also, becomes a prey to man.

Item of the Day: Map of Pozzoli (1708)

Click the map to enlarge.

Hic Jacent Puteolorum Bajarum, Miseni Cumarium, Rudera vix dignoscenda Imperiosa Fortvnæ Levitas, Sacra Profanis impic miscens, Delubra Numinum. Principumque Domas, Statuas, Astria, Sepulchra, Ciros Arcus Theatra Thermas Lucos, Vireta, Regina quondam Italiæ, Decus Deliciasque Nefande perdidit. Neque (Ferox) ipsis Elysorum Beatis Sedibus indulsit... The present Map of this most Curious and renowned Tract of Land has been sent from Naples to London by M. Bulifon in 1708 as being newly corrected by himself…

Monday, September 19, 2005

Items of the Day: The New World of Words (1706) and The London Art of Cookery (1792)

Full Title:

The New World of Words: or, Universal English Dictionary. Containing An Account of the Original or Proper Sense, and Various Significations of all Hard Words derived from other Languages, viz. Hebrew, Arabick, Syriack, Greek, Latin, Italian, French, Spanish, British, Saxon, Dutch, &c. as now made use of in our English Tongue. Together with A Brief and Plain Explication of all Terms relating to any of the Arts and Sciences, either Liberal or Mechanical, viz. Grammar, Rhetorick, Logick, Theology, Law, Metaphysicks, Ethicks, Natural Philosophy, Physick, Surgery, Anatomy, Chymistry, Pharmacy, Botanicks, Arithmetick, Geometry, Astronomy, Astrology, Cosmography, Geography, Hydrography, Navigation, Architecture, Fortification, Dialling, Surveying, Gauging, Opticks, Catoptricks, Dioptricks, Perspective, Musick, Mechanicks, Staticks, Chiromancy, Physiognomy, Heraldry, Merchandize, Maritime and Military Affairs, Agriculture, Gardening, Handicrafts, Jewelling, Painting, Carving, Engraving, Confectionery, Cookery, Horsemanship, Hawking, Hunting, Fowling, Fishing, &c, To which is Added, The Interpretation of Proper Names of Men and Women, that derive their Original from the above-mention'd Ancient and Modern Tongues, with those of Writs and Processes at Law: Also the Greek and Latin Names of divers sorts of Animals, Plants, Metals, Minerals, &c, and several other remarkable Matters more particularly express'd in the Preface. Compiled by Edward Phillips, Gent. The Sixth Edition, Revised, Corrected, and Improved; with the Addition of near Twenty Thousand Words, from the best Authors, Domestick and Foreign, that treat of the several Subjects: By J. K. Philobibl. A Work very necessary for Strangers, as well as our own Country-men, in order to the right understanding of what they Speak, Write, or Read.

Compiled by Edward Phillips, Gentleman, with John Kersey, Philobibl. Sixth edition, revised, corrected, and improved; with the addition of near twenty thousand words. Includes publisher's advertisement, and frontispiece from the 1696 edition. Preface by John Kersey. Spine reads: Phillip's Dictionary by Kersey. Printed in London for J. Phillips, H. Rhodes, and J. Taylor, 1706.

Full Title:

The London Art of Cookery, and Housekeeper’s Complete Assistant; On a New Plan, Made Plain and Easy to the Understanding of every Housekeeper, cook, and servant in the Kingdom. … To Which is Added, an Appendix, containing Considerations on Culinary Poisons; Directions for making Broths, &c. for the Sick; a List of Things in Season in the different Months of the Year; Marketing Tables, &c. &c. Embellished with A Head of the Author, and a Bill of Fare for every Month in the Year, elegantly engraved in Thirteen Copper-plates. … With the Addition of many new and elegant Receipts in the various Branches of Cookery.

Written by John Farley, Principal Cook at the London Tavern. Seventh edition includes preface, advertisement to the 7th edition, contents, appendix, and publisher's advertisements. Spine reads: London Art of Cookery. Printed in London for J. Satcherd and J. Whitaker, and G. & T. Wilkie, 1792.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Items of the Day: The Koran, trans. Sale (1734) and Dampier's New Voyage Round the World (1697)

Full Title:

The Koran, Commonly Called The Alcoran of Mohammed, Translated into English immediately from the Original Arabic; with Explanatory Notes, Taken from the Most Approved Commentators. To which is Prefixed A Preliminary Discourse. By George Sale, Gent.

Translated by George Sale (1697?-1736). Includes dedication, note to the reader, table of the sections of preliminary discourse, table of the chapters of the Koran, folded map, folded plan, two folded genealogical tables, preface, and notes. Title page in black and red ink. First edition of Sale's translation of the Koran (Qur'an), consisting of revelations orally transmitted from the time of Muhammad. This edition is widely considered to be "the best in any language." Highly praised by Voltaire in the "Dictionnarie Philosophique," it remained the standard English version for nearly two centuries. Prior to the publication of Sale's translation, the only text available in English, it appears, was a translation by Alexander Ross of Andrew du Ryer's translation into French, neither of which was without basic faults. Printed by C. Ackers, for J. Wilcox, 1734.

* * *

Full Title:

A New Voyage Round the World. Describing particularly, The Isthmus of America, several Coasts and Islands in the West Indies, the Isles of Cape Verd, the Passage by Terra del Fuego, the South Sea Coasts of Chili, Peru, and Mexico; the Isle of Guam on to the Ladrones, Mindanao, and other Philippine and East-India Islands near Cambodia, China, Formosa, Luconia, Celebes, &c. New Holland, Sumatra, Nicobar Isles; the Cape of Good Hope, and Santa Hellena. Their Soil, Rivers, Harbours, Plants, Fruits, Animals, and Inhabitants. Their Customs, Religion, Government, Trade, &c. By William Dampier. Illustrated with Particular Maps and Draughts. The Second Edition Corrected.

Written by William Dampier (1652-1715). Includes dedicatory epistle, preface, contents, introduction, and a list of books sold by James Knapton. Fully illustrated, with five maps (four folding). Second edition, corrected. Printed for James Knapton, at the Crown in St Paul's Church-yard, 1697.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Item of the Day: Blunt's Stranger's Guide to the City of New-York, 1817

Full Title:

Blunt’s Stranger’s Guide to the City of New-York. Comprising a description of public buildings, dwelling houses, including population, streets, markets, public amusements, the bay, harbour, docks, slips, forts and fortifications: --with an account of the literary, philosophical, medical, law, religious, and benevolent institutions, commercial establishments, manufactures, &c To which is prefixed, an historical sketch, general description, plan and extent of the City. With an appendix, containing the time of sailing, and departure of steam-boats, stages, &c. with the fares: rates and regulations of hackney coaches, carters, porters, chimney-sweepers, weigh-masters and measurers; market regulations, assize of bread, money tables, corporation laws and ordinances, inspectors of native produce, masters and wardens of the port, pilots, slave regulations, &c. &c. Embellished with a plan of the city, and engravings of public buildings.

Written by Edmund M. Blunt (1770-1862). Includes folding map, "Plan of the city of New York and the Island as laid out by the commissioners altered and arranged to the present time," and 3 plates drawn by C.A. Busby, engraved by W. Hooker. Published by A.T. Goodrich in 1817. Engraved by J.F. Morin.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Item of the Day: The Spectator, 8 vols., 1745

From Volume I, No. 1. Thursday, March 1. 1710-11.* [Joseph Addison and Richard Steele].

I HAVE observed, that a reader seldom peruses a book with pleasure, 'till he knows whether the writer of it be a black or a fair man, of a mild or choleric disposition, married or a bachelor, with other particulars of the like nature, that conduce very much to the right understanding of an author. To gratify this curiosity, which is so natural to a reader, I design this paper, and my next, as prefatory discourses to my following writings, and shall give some account in them of the several persons that are engaged in this work. As the chief trouble of compiling, digesting, and correcting, will fall to my share, I must do myself the justice to open the work with my own history.

I WAS born to a small hereditary estate, which, according to the tradition of the village where it lies, was bounded by the same hedges and ditches in William the conqueror's time that it is at present, and has been delivered down from father to son whole and entire, without the loss of acquisition of a single field or meadow, during the space of six hundred years. There runs a story in the family, that when my mother was gone with child of me about three months, she dreamed that she was brought to bed of a judge; whether this might proceed from a law-suit, which was then depending in the family, or my father's being a justice of the peace, I cannot determine; for I am not so vain as to think it presaged any dignity that I should arrive at in my future life, though that was the interpretation which the neighborhood put upon it. The gravity of my behaviour at my very first appearance in the world, and all the time that I sucked, seemed to favour my mother's dream: for, as she has often told me, I threw away my rattle before I was two months old, and would not make use of my coral 'till they had taken away the bells from it.

AS for the rest of my infancy, there being nothing in it remarkable, I shall pass it over in silence. I find, that, during my nonage, I had the reputation of a very sullen youth, but was always a favourite of my schoolmaster, who used to say, that my parts were solid, and would wear well. I had not been long at the university, before I distinguished myself by a most profound silence; for, during the space of eight years, excepting in the public exercises of the college, I scarce uttered the quantity of an hundred words; and indeed do not remember that I ever spoke three sentences together in my whole life. Whilst I was in this learned body, I applied myself with so much diligence to my studies, that there are very few celebrated books either in the learned or the modern tongues, which I am not acquainted with.

UPON the death of my father, I was resolved to travel into foreign countries, and therefore left the university, with the character of an odd an unaccountable fellow, that had a great deal of learning, if I would but shew it. An insatiable thirst after knowlege carried me into all the countries of Europe, in which there was anything new or strange to be seen; nay, to such a degree was my curiosity raised, that having read the controversies of some great men concerning the antiquities of Egypt, I made a voyage to Grand Cairo, on purpose to take the measure of a pyramid: and as soon as I had set myself right in the particular, returned to my native country with great satisfaction.

I HAVE passed my latter years in this city, where I am frequently seen in most public places, though there are not above have a dozen of my select friends that know me; of whom my next paper shall give a more particular account. There is no place of general resort, wherein I do not often make my appearance; sometimes I am seen thrusting my head into a round of politicians at Will's, and listening with great attention to the narratives that are made in those little circular audiences. Sometimes I smoke a pipe at Child's, and whilst I seem attentive to nothing but the Postman, over-hear the conversation of every table in the room. I appear on Sunday nights at St. James's coffee-house, and sometimes join the little committee of politics in the inner-room, as one who comes there to hear and improve. My face is likewise very well known at the Grecian, the Cocoa-tree, and in the theatres both of Drury-lane and the Hay-market. I have been taken for a merchant upon the Exchange for above these ten years, and sometimes pass for a Jew in the assembly of stock-jobbers at Jonathan's: in short, wherever I see a cluster of people, I always mix with them, though I never open my lips but in my own club.

THUS I live in the world rather as a spectator of mankind, than as one of the species, by which means I have made myself a speculative statesman, soldier, merchant, and artisan, without ever medling with any practical part in life. I am very well versed in the theory of a husband or a father, and can discern the errors in the oeconomy, business, and diversion of others, better than those who are engaged in them: as standers-by discover blots, which are apt to escape those who are in the game. I never espoused any party with violence, and am resolved to observe an exact neutrality between the whigs and tories, unless I shall be forced to declare myself by the hostilities of either side. In short, I have acted, in all the parts of my life, as a looker-on, which is the character I intend to preserve in this paper.

I HAVE given the reader just so much of my history and character, as to let him see I am not altogether unqualified for the business I have undertaken. Ad for other particulars in my life and adventures, I shall insert them in the following papers, as I shall see occasion. In the mean time, when I consider how much I have seen, read, and heard, I begin to blame my own taciturnity; and since I have neither time nor inclination to communicate the fulness of my heart in speech, I am resolved to do it in writing, and to print myself out, if possible, before I die. I have been often told by my friends, that it is pity so many useful discoveries which I have made should be in the possession of a silent man. For this reason, therefore, I shall publish a sheet-full of thoughts every morning, for the benefit of my contemporaries; and if I can any way contribute to the diversion or improvement of the country in which I live, I shall leave it, when I am summoned out of it, with the secret satisfaction of thinking that I have not lived in vain.

THERE are three very material points which I have not spoken to in this paper; and which, for several important reasons, I must keep to myself, at least for some time: I mean, an account of my name, my age, and my lodgings. I must confess, I would gratify my reader in any thing that is reasonable; but as for these three particulars, though I am sensible they might tend very much to the embellishment of my paper, I cannot yet come to a resolution of communicating them to the public. They would indeed draw me out of that obscurity which I have enjoyed for many years, and expose me in public places to several salutes and civilities, which have been always very disagreeable to me; for the greatest pain I can suffer, is the being talked to, and being stared at. It is for this reason likewise, that I keep my complexion and dress as very great secrets; though it is not impossible, but I may make discoveries of both in the progress of the work I have undertaken.

AFTER having been thus particular upon myself, I shall in to-morrow's paper give an account of those gentlemen who are concerned with me in this work; for, as I have before intimated, a plan of it is laid and concerted, as all other matters of importance are, in a club. However, as my friends have engages me to stand in the front, those who have a mind to correspond with me, may direct their letters to the SPECTATOR, at Mr. Buckley's in Little-Britain. For I must further acquaint the reader, that though our club meets only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we have appointed a committee to sit every night, for the inspection of all such papers as may contribute to the advancement of the public weal.

* - All volumes except Vol. 1 are 1745, Glasgow, printed by R. Urie and Company for A. Stalker and J. Barry, Booksellers. Vol. 1 is 1750, Glasgow, printed for A. Stalker and R. Urie.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Welcome to the Reading Room

This blog is the interactive home of the Eighteenth-Century Reading Room of the Mina Rees Library at the City University of NY Graduate Center. In this space, we will publish highlights from the collection, display images, and provide contact information for scholars with an interest in the available materials.

The Reading Room promotes eighteenth-century scholarship in the following ways:
  • introducing scholars to materials relevant to their research
  • curating exhibitions of materials in library display cases
  • hosting lectures, discussions, and social gatherings
  • holding periodic "welcome sessions" for interested students
  • providing an environment for courses on research methods and textual history
  • supplying images as visual aids for article and book publication
Please watch this site for event listings, collection highlights, and ideas for incorporating special collections research into your university classroom pedagogy.
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