Monday, October 31, 2005

Item of the Day: Sterne's Sentimental Journey (1790)

Full Title:

A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy by Mr. Yorick. A New Edition.

Written by Laurence Sterne. With engravings. Bound in ivory vellum with gold leaf. Printed in London by A. Strahan; for J. Johnson, G.G. J. & J. Robinson, T. Cadell, J. Murray, W. Lowndes, G. & T. Wilkie, Ogilvy and Speare, and W. Bent, 1790.

From pp. 1-5:

—THEY order, said I, this matter better in France—

—You have been in France? said my gentleman, turning quick upon me with the most civil triumph in the world.—Strange! quoth I, debating the matter with myself, That one and twenty miles sailing, for 'tis absolutely no further from Dover to Calais, should give a man these rights—I'll look into them: so giving up the argument—I went straight to my lodgings, put up half a dozen shirts and a black pair of silk breeches—"the coat I have on," said I, looking at the sleeve, "will do"—took a place in the Dover stage; and the packet sailing at nine the next morning—by three I had got sat down to my dinner upon a fricassee'd chicken, so incontesably in France, that had I died that night of an indigestion, the whole world could not have suspended the effects of the Droits d'aubaine*—my shirts, and black pair of silk breeches—portmanteau and all must have gone to the King of France—even the little picture which I have so long worn, and so often have told thee, Eliza, I would carry with me into my grave, would have been torn from my neck.—Ungenerous!—to seize upon the wreck of an unwary passenger, whom your subjects had beckon'd to their coast—by heaven! SIRE, it is not well done; and much does it grieve me, 'tis the monarch of a people so civilized and courteous, and so renown'd for sentiment and fine feelings, that I have to reason with—

But I have scarce set foot in your dominions—

C A L A I S.
WHEN I had finishd my dinner, and drank the King of France's health, to satisfy my mind that I bore him no spleen, but, on the contrary, high honour for the humanity of his temper—I rose up an inch taller for the accommodation.
—No—said I—the Bourbon is by no means a cruel race: they may be misled like other people; but there is a mildness in their blood. As I acknowledged this, I felt a suffusion of a finer kind upon my cheek—more warm and friendly to man, than what Burgundy (at least of two livres a bottle, which was such as I had been drinking) could have produced.
—Just God! said I, kicking my portmanteau aside, what is there in this world's goods which should sharpen our spirits, and make so many kind-hearted brethren of us fall out so cruelly as we do by the way?
When man is at peace with man, how much lighter than a feather is the heaviest of metals in his hand! he pulls out his purse, and holding it airily and uncompress'd, looks round him, as if he sought for an object to share it with—In doing this, I felt every vessel in my frame dilate—the arteries beat all cheerily together, and every power which sustained life, perform'd it with so little friction, that 'twould have confounded the most physical precieuse in France: with all her materialism, she could scarce have called me a machine—
I'm confident, said I to myself, I should have overset her creed.
The accession of that idea carried nature, at that time, as high as she could go—I was at peace with the world before, and this finish'd the treaty with myself—
—Now, was I a King of France, cried I—what a moment for an orphan to have begg'd his father's portmanteau of me!
* All the effects of strangers (Swiss and Scotch excepted) dying in France, are seized by virtue of this law, though the heir be upon the spot—the profit of these contingencies being farmed, there is no redress.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Item of the Day: The Boston Massacre (1770)

Full Title:

A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in BOSTON, perpetrated in the Evening of the Fifth Day of March 1770, by Soldiers of the XXIXth Regiment, Which, with the XIVth Regiment, Were Then Quartered There. With Some Observations on the State of Things Prior to that Catastrophe.

At a town meeting March 12, 1770, James Bowdoin, Joseph Warren and Samuel Pemberton were appointed a committee to prepare a particular account of the massacre. The "Short narrative" was prepared, accepted at a town meeting held March 19, and ordered immediately printed. Pages 34-162, Appendix, containing several depositions referred to in the preceding narrative; and also other depositions relative to the subject of it. Pages 163-166, Index to the appendix. Re-printed in London for E. and C. Dilly, and J. Almon, 1770.

From the Introduction:

IT may be a proper introduction to this narrative, briefly to represent the state of things for some time previous to the said massacre; and this seems necessary in order to the forming a just idea of the causes of it.

At the end of the late war, in which this Province bore so distinguished a part, a happy union subsisted between Great-Britain and the Colonies. This was unfortunately interrupted by the Stamp Act; but it was in some measure restored by the Repeal of it. It was again interrupted by other acts of parliament for taxing America; and by the appointment of a Board of Commissioners, in pursuance of an act, which by the face of it was made for the relief and encouragement of commerce, but which in its operation, it was apprehended, would have, and it has in fact had, a contrary effect. By the said act the said Commissioners were "to be resident in some convenient part of his Majesty's dominions in America."—This must be understood to be in some part convenient for the whole.—But it does not appear, that in fixing the place of their residence, the convenience of the whole was at all consulted; for Boston being very far from the center of the colonies, could not be the place most convenient for the whole. — Judging by the act, it may seem this town was intended to be favoured, by the Commissioners being appointed to reside here; and that the consequence of that residence would be the relief and encouragement of commerce: but the reverse has been the constant and uniform effect of it; so that the commerce of the town, from the embarrassments in which it has been lately involved, is greatly reduced. For the particulars on this head, see the state of the trade not long since drawn up and transmitted to England by a committee of the merchants of Boston.

The residence of the Commissioners here has been detrimental not only to the commerce, but to the political interests of the town and province; and not only so, but we can trace from it the causes of the late horrid massacre.

Soon after their arrival here in November 1767, instead of confining themselves to the proper business of their office, they became partizans of Governor Bernard in his political schemes, and had the weakness and temerity to infringe upon one of the most essential rights of the house of commons of this province—that of giving their votes with freedom, and not being accountable therefor but to their constituents. One of the members of the house, Captain Timothy Folgier, having voted in some affair contrary to the mind of the said Commissioners, was for so doing dismissed from the office he held under them.

These proceedings of theirs, the difficulty of access to them on office-business, and a supercilious behaviour, rendered them disgustful to people in general, who in consequence thereof treated them with neglect. This probably stimulated them to resent it: and to make their resentment felt, they and their coadjutor Governor Bernard made such representations to his Majesty's ministers, as they thought best calculated to bring the displeasure of the nation upon the town and province: and in order that those representations might have the more weight, they are said to have contrived and executed plans for exciting disturbances and tumults, which otherwise would probably never have existed; and when excited, to have transmitted to the ministry the most exaggerated accounts of them.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Item of the Day: Early American Drama (1810)

Bound together:

Man and Wife, or, More Secrets than One: A Comedy by Samuel James Arnold, Esq.
The Free Knights, or The Edict of Charlemagne: A Drama in Three Acts, Interspersed with Songs by Frederick Reynolds
The Foundling of the Forest: A Play by William Dimond, Esq.
Alfonso, King of Castile: A Tragedy in Five Acts by M.G. Lewis
Venoni, or the Novice of St. Mark's. A Drama in Three Acts by M.G. Lewis
A New Way to Pay Old Debts, A Comedy, in Five Acts by Philip Massinger, Esq.
The Maid of Honour: A Comedy, in Five Acts by Philip Massinger
The Bondman; A Comedy, in Five Acts by Philip Massinger
The Fatal Dowry; A Tragedy, in Five Acts by Philip Massinger
Emilia Galotti: A Tragedy, in Five Acts by G.E. Lessing, translated by Miss Fanny Holcroft

Some printed in Philadelphia for Bradford and Inskeep; some in New-York for Inskeep and Bradford; and some in Boston for William M'ilhenny; all in 1810. Bound together, with separate pagination.

Act I.

SCENE I. — Abel Grouse's cottage. Enter Abel Grouse and Fanny.

Ab. Gr. Dont tell me of your sorrow and repentance girl. You've broke my heart. Married hey? and privately too--and to a lord into the bargain! So, when you can hide it no longer, you condescend to tell me. Think you that the wealth and title of lord Austencourt can silence the fears of a fond father's heart? Why should a lord marry a poor girl like you in private, if his intentions were honourable? Who should restrain him from publicly avowing his wife?

Fanny. My dearest father, have but a little patience, and I'll explain all.

Ab. Gr. Who was present, besides the parson, at your wedding?

Fanny. There was our neighbour, the attorney, sir, and one of his clerks, and they were all—

Ab. Gr. My heart sinks within me--but mark me. You may remember I was not always what now I seem to be. I yesterday received intelligence which, but for this discovery, had shed a gleam of joy over my remaining days. As it is, should your husband prove the villain I suspect him, that intelligence will afford me an opportunity to resume a character in life which shall make this monster lord tremble. The wrongs of Abel Growse, the poor but upright man, might have been pleaded in vain to him, but as I shall soon appear, it shall go hard but I will make the great man shrink before me, even in his plenitude of pride and power.

Fanny. You terrify me, sir, indeed you do.

Ab. Gr. And so I would. I would prepare you for the worst that may befal us: for should this man, this lord, who calls himself your husband--

Fanny. Dearest father, what can you mean? Who calls himself my husband! He is my husband.

Ab. Gr. If he is your husband, how does he dare to pay his addresses, as he now publicly does, to the daughter of sir Willoughby Worret, our neighbour. I may be mistaken. I'm in the midst here of old acquaintances, though in this guise they know me not. They shall soon see me amongst them. Not a word of this, I charge you. Come, girl, this lord shall own you. If he does not, we will seek a remedy in those laws which are at once the best guardians of our rights and the surest avengers of our wrongs. [Exeunt.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Item of the Day: Friends and Indian Natives (1805)

Full Title:

Brief Account of the Proceedings of the Committee, Appointed by the Yearly Meeting of Friends, Held in Baltimore, for Promoting the Improvement and Civilization of the Indian Natives.

Created after the Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Printed in Baltimore by Cole & Hewes, 1805.

From pp. 9-12:

In the Second Month, 1799, the committee received a speech, and belt of Wampum, from Tarhie, the principal chief of the Wyandot nation, delivered at Detroit, in the Ninth Month preceding; of which the following is an extract:

"Brethren Quakers,
"You remember that we once met at a certain place. When we had there met, a great many good things were said, and much friendship was professed between us.

"You told us at that time, that you not only took us by the hand; but that you held us fast by the arm: that you then formed a chain of friendship. You said, that it was not a chain of iron; but that it was a chain of precious metal, a chain of silver, that would never get rusty; and that this chain, would bind us in brotherly affection forever.

"Brethren, listen:
"We have often heard that you were a good and a faithful people, ever ready to do justice, and good to all men, without distinction of colour; therefore we love you the more sincerely, because of the goodness of your hearts, which has been talked of amongst our nations, long since.

"Brethren, listen:
"You have informed us, that you intend to visit us; yes, that even in our tents and cabbins, you will take us by the hand. You, brethren, cannot admit a doubt; but that we would be very happy to see you.

"Brethren, listen:
"It is proper to inform you at this time, that when you do come forward to see us, you will, no doubt, pass by me place of residence at San Dusky. I will then take you, not only by the hand, but by the arm, and will conduct you safely to the grand council fire of our great SASTERETSEY, where all good things are transacted, and where nothing bad is permitted to appear. When in the grand council of our Sasteretsey, we will then sit down together, in peace and friendship, as brethren are accustomed to do, after a long absence; and remind each other, and talk of those things that were done between our GOOD GRAND-FATHERS, when they first met upon our lands---upon this great island!

"May the Great Spirit, the master of light and life, so dispose the hearts and minds of all our nations and people, that the calamities of war may never more be felt, or known by any of then! that our roads and paths may never more be stained with the blood of our young warriors! and that our helpless women and children may live in peace and happines."

After a consideration, of the foregoing communication, from the Wyandot Nation of Indians, the committee concluded to appoint a few Friends to make them a visit, agreeably to their request. These were directed to cultivate a friendly correspondence with them, and afford them such assistance as they might be enable to render. They accordingly proceeded in the visit, with an intention of being at their General Council; and after passing through several of their towns, arrived on the third of the sixth month at upper San Dusky, the principal village of the Wiandots, where they were received in a friendly manner, by Tarhie, (the Crane) and others of that Nation.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Item of the Day: Moliere in French and English (1732)

Full Title:

Select Comedies of Mr. de Moliere. French and English. In Eight Volumes. With Frontispiece to each Comeddy. To which is Prefix'd a curious Print of the Author, with his Life in French and English. Vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

Written by Moliere, 1622-1673. French and English on facing pages. Each play has individual title page and pagination. Imprint information and contents from individual title pages. Contents: v. 1. L'avare. The miser. Sganarell, ou le cocu imaginaire. The cuckold in conceit. -- v. 2. Le bourgeois gentilhomme. The cit turned gentleman. Le Médecin malgré lui. A doctor and no doctor. -- v. 3. L'étourdi, ou les contre-tems. The blunderer, or the counter-plots. Les précieuses ridicules. The conceited ladies. -- v. 4. L'école des maris. The school for husbands. L'école des femmes. The school for wives. -- v. 5. Tartuffe, ou l'imposteur. Tartuffe, or the imposter. George Dandin, ou le mari confondu. George Dandin, or the husband defeated. -- v. 6. Le misantrope. The man-hater. Mondsieur de Pourceaugnac. Squire Lubberly. -- v. 7. Amphitrion. Amphitryon. Le mariage forcé. The forc'd marriage. Le Sicilien, ou l'amour peintre. The Sicilian, or love makes a painter. -- v. 8. Le malade imaginaire. The hypochondriack. Les fascheux. The impertinents. Printed in London for John Watts at the printing-office in Wild Court near Lincoln's Inn Fields, 1732.



WHen MAJESTY vouchsafes to Patronize the WISE and the LEARNED, and a QUEEN Recommends KNOWLEDGE and VERTUE to her People, what Blessings may we not promise our selves in such happy Circumstances? That this is the great Intention and Business of Your MAJESTY'S Life, witness the Reception, which the Labours of a Clark, a Newton, a Locke, and a Wollaston have met with from Your MAJESTY, and the immortal Honours You have paid their Names. Whatever therefore can any ways conduce to those glorious Ends, need not question Your Royal Approbation and Favour; and upon this presumption MOLIERE casts himself at Your MAJESTY's Feet for Protection.

This merry Philosopher, MADAM, hath taken as much Pains to laugh Ignorance and Immorality out of the World, as the other great Sages did to reason 'em out; and as the generality of Mankind can stand an Argument better than a Jest, and bear to be told how good they ought to be, with less Concern than to be shewn how ridiculous they are, his Success, we conceive, has not been much inferior.

Your MAJESTY need not be informed how much the Manners and Conduct of a People are dependent on their Diversions; and You are therefore convinced how necessary it is (since Diversions are necessary) to give 'em such as may serve to polish and reform 'em. With this View, MADAM, was the following Translation undertaken. By a Perusal of these Scenes every Reader will plainly perceive, that Obscenities and Immoralities are no ways necessary to make a diverting Comedy; they'll learn to distinguish betwixt honest Satire, and scurrilous Invective; betwixt decent Repartee, and tasteless Ribaldry; in short, between vicious Satisfactions and rational Pleasures. And if these Plays should come to be read by the generality of People (as Your MAJESTY's Approbation will unquestionably make 'em) they'll by degrees get a more just and refined Taste in their Diversions, be better acquainted, and grow more in love with the true Excellencies of Dramatick Writings. By this means our Poets will be encouraged to aim at those Excellencies, and blush to find themselves so much outdone in Manners and Vertue by their Neighbours. Nay, there's no Reason can possibly be given, MADAM, why these very Pieces should not most of 'em be brought upon the English Stage. For tho' our Translation of 'em, as it now stands, may be thought too literal and close for that Purpose, yet the Dramatick Writers might, with very little Pains, so model and adapt them to our Theatre and Age, as to procure 'em all the Success could be wish'd; and we may venture to affirm, that 'twould turn more to their own Account, and the Satisfaction of their Audiences, than any thing they are able to produce themselves. This too they ought to be the more earnest to attempt, as the most probable Means of drawing down a larger Share of Royal Influence on the Stage, which has been too justly forfeited by the licentious Practice of modern Play-wrights.

We might here, MADAM, take occasion to particularize our Author's Perfections and Excellencies, but those Your MAJESTY wants no Information of. All we shall therefore observe to Your MAJESTY is, that wherever Learning, Wit, and Politeness flourish, MOLIERE has always has an extraordinary Reputation, and his Plays, which are translated into so many Languages, and acted in so many Nations, will gain him Admission as long as the Stage shall endure. But what will contribute more than all to his Glory and Happiness, will be the Patronage of a British PRINCESS, and the Applause of a British Audience.

We dare not think, MADAM, of offering any thing in this Address that might look like Panegyrick, lest the World should condemn us for meddling with a Task above our Talents, and saying too little — Your MAJESTY, for presuming to say any thing at all. There are many Vertues and Perfections, so very peculiar in Your MAJESTY's Character, and so rarely found amongst the Politicks of Princes, that they require a masterly and deliberate Hand to do 'em Justice ---- Such a Zeal for Religion so moderated by Reason, such a benevolent Study for composing all Factions and Dissensions, such a laudable Ambition, which aims at Power only in order to benefit Mankind, and yet such a glorious Contempt, even of Empire it self, when inconsistent with those Principles whose Truth You were satisfy'd of ------ These are such elevated and shining Vertues, as even the vicious themselves must have a secret Veneration for ------ But as Your MAJESTY's great Pleasure is privately to merit Applause, not publickly to receive it; for fear we should interrupt you in that noble Delight, we'll beg Leave to subscribe Our Selves,

May it please Your Majesty,
Most Obedient,
and most Devoted
Humble Servants,
The Translators.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Item of the Day: Microcosm of London (1809)

Microcosm of London

"This work already honoured by His approbation is most humbly dedicated by permission to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales by his grateful, and obedient servant, R. Ackermann."

Written by Rudolph Ackermann, 1764-1834; William Henry Pyne, 1769-1843; William Combe, 1742-1823; Augustus Pugin, 1762-1832; Thomas Rowlandson (illus.) 1756-1827; Hand-colored engravings throughout by Pugin and Rowlandson. In three volumes. Vol. 2 printed in London for R. Ackermann, 1809.


IT is the opinion of our best antiquarians, that Newgate obtained its name from being erected several hundred years after the four original gates of the city. It was built in the reign of Henry I. Others, who maintain a contrary opinion, assert that it was only repaired at this period, and that it was anciently denominated Chamberlain-gate. It appears, from ancient records, that it was called Newgate, and was a common gaol for felons taken in the city of London, or the county of Middlesex, as early as the year 1218; and that, so late as the year 1457, Newgate, and not the Tower, was the prison for the nobility and great officers of state.

In the year 1780, Newgate was almost burnt down by the rioters, and the felons confined in the strongest cells were released: such was the violence of the fire, that the great iron bars of the windows were burnt through, and the adjacent stones vitrified. This circumstance afforded the opportunity of carrying into effect a plan which had been long projected, of separating the felons from the debtors. Mr. Howard, in his State of Prisons, 4to ed. 213, seems to think, that notwithstanding some of the defects of the old prison are removed, yet the present one is by no means free from errors; and that, without great care, the prisoners are yet liable to the fatal fever which is the result of one of these errors. The exterior presents a uniform front to the west, of rustic work, and consists of two wings, the keeper's house forming the center. The north side is appropriated to debtors, men and women: the men's court is forty-nine feet six inches by thirty-one feet six inches; the women's is about the same length, but not more than half the width. These courts are surrounded by wards, rising three stories above the pavement: the men's rooms are about twenty-three feet by fifteen feet, and are usually occupied by from fifteen to twenty persons: the debtors' side has generally about 250 inhabitants. The allowance to debtors is ten ounces of bread and one pound and a half of potatoes per day: the debtors in the poor and women's sides have an allowance of eight stone of beef weekly sent them by the sheriffs. The south side is appropriated to felons and persons confined for offences against the government.

The plate ["Newgate Chapel."] represents the chapel of the prison during divine service on the Sunday preceding the execution of criminals. Upon this occasion, a suitable sermon, called the condemned sermon, is preached by the ordinary; during which a coffin is placed on a table within an inclosure, called the Dock; and round this coffin are prisoners condemned to die.

The mode of executing criminals at Tyburn had long been complained of, as tending rather to introduce depravity, by a want of solemnity, than to operate as a preventive to crimes, by exhibiting an awful example of punishment. To remedy this evil, both the place and manner of execution were changed: a temporary scaffold was constructed, to be placed in the open space before the debtors' door of Newgate, having a movable platform for the criminals to stand on, which, by means of a lever and rollers, falls from under them. The whole of this building is hung with black; and the regulations which are observed on these mournful occasions, are calculated to produce that impression on the minds of the spectators which is the true end of all punishments.

A solemn exhortation was formerly given to the prisoners appointed to die at Tyburn, on their way from Newgate. Mr. Robert Dow, merchant tailor, who died in 1612, left 26s. 8d. yearly, for ever, that the bellman should deliver from the wall to the unhappy criminals, as they went by in the cart, a most pious and awful admonition, and also another in the prison of Newgate on the night before they suffered. They were as follow:

Admonition to the prisoners in Newgate on the night before execution.
You prisoners that are within,
Who, for wickedness and sin,
After many mercies shewn you, are now appointed to die to-morrow in the forenoon, give ear, and understand, that to-morrow morning the greatest bell of St. Sepulchre's shall toll for you, in form and manner of a passing bell, as used to be tolled for those who are at the point of death, to the end that all godly people hearing the bell, and knowing it is for your going to your deaths, may be stirred up heartily to pray to God to bestow his grace and mercy upon you whilst you live. I beseech you, for Jesus Christ's sake, to keep this night in watching and prayer, to the salvation of your own souls, while there is yet time and place for mercy, as knowing to-morrow you must appear before the judgment-seat of your Creator, there to give an account of all things done in this life, and to suffer eternal torments for your sin committed against him, unless, upon your hearty and unfeigned repentance, you find mercy through the merits, death, and passion of our only mediator and advocate, Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for as many of you as penitently return to him.
Admonition to the condemned criminals as they are passing by St. Sepulchre's church wall to execution.
All good people, pray heartily to God for these poor sinners, who are now going to their death, for whom this great bell doth toll. You that are condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears; ask mercy of the Lord for the salvation of your own souls, through the merits, death, and passion of Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for as many of you as penitently return unto him.
Lord have mercy upon you,
Christ have mercy upon you,
Lord have mercy upon you,
Christ have mercy upon you.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Item of the Day: Bacon's Essayes (1632)

Full Title:

The Essayes or, Covnsels, Civill and Morall: of Francis Lo. Verulam, Viscount St. Alban. With a Table of the Colours, or Apparances of Good and Evill, and their Degrees, as Places of Perswasion, and Disswasion, and their Severall Fallaxes, and the Elenches of them. Newly enlarged.

Written by Francis Bacon. Contains table and Of the Colours of Good and Evill, a Fragment. Printed in London by John Beale, 1639.

"Of Superstition":

IT were better to have no Opinion of God at all, than such an Opinion as is unworthy of him: For the one is Unbeleefe, the other is Contumely: And certainely Superstition is the Reproach of the Deity. Plutarch saith well to that purpose: Surely (saith he) I had rather, a great deale, Men should say there was no such thing as Man at all, as Plutarch, than that they should say, there there was one Plutarch, that would eat his Children, as soone as they were borne; As the Poets speake of Saturne. And, as the Contumely is greater towards God, so the Danger is greater towards Men. Atheisme leaves a Man to Sense; to Philosophy; to Naturall Piety; to Lawes; to Reputation; All which may be Guides to an outward Morall vertue, though Religion were not; But Superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute Monarchy in the Mindes of Men. Therefore Atheisme did never perturbe States; For it makes Men wary of themselves, as looking no further: And we see the times inclined to Atheisme (as the Time of Augustus Cæsar) were civill times. But Superstition hath beene the Confusion of Many States; And bringeth in a new Primum Mobile, that ravisheth all the Spheares of Government. The Master of Superstition is the People; And in all Superstition, Wise Men follow Fooles; And Arguments are fitted to Practise, in a reversed Order. It was gravely said, by some of the Prelates, in the Counsell of Trent, where the doctrine of the Schoolemen bare great Sway; That the Schoolemen were like Astronomers, which did feigne Eccentricks and Epicycles, and such Engines of Orbs, to save the Phenomena; though they knew, there were no such Things: And in like manner, that the Schoolemen had framed a Number of subtile and intricate Axiomes, and Theorems, to save the practice of the Church. The Causes of Superstition are; Pleasing and sensuall Rites and Ceremonies: Excesse of Outward and Pharisaicall Holinesse: Over great Reverence of Traditions, which cannot but load the Church: The Stratagems of Prelates for their owne Ambition and Lucre: The Favouring too much of Good Intentions which openeth the Gate to Conceits and Novelties: The taking an Aime at divine Matters by Humane, which cannot but breed mixture of Imaginations: And lastly, Barbarous Times, Especially joyned with Calamities and Disasters. Superstition, without a vaile, is a deformed Thing; For, as it addeth deformity to an Ape, to be so like a Man; So the Similitude of Superstition to Religion, makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome Meat corrupteth to little Wormes; So good Formes and Orders, corrupt into a Number of petty Observances. There is a Superstition, in avoiding Superstition; when men thinke to doe best if they go furthest from the Superstition formerly received: Therefore, Care would be had, that (as it fareth in ill Purgings) the good be not taken away, with the Bad, which commonly is done, when the People is the Reformer.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Item of the Day: Molloy's De Jure Maritimo et Navali (1682)

Full Title:

De Jure Maritimo et Navali: or, A Treatise of Affairs Maritime and of Commerce. In Three Books. The Third Edition Enlarged.

Written by Charles Molloy. Printed in London for John Bellinger in Cliffords-Inn Lane, against the West Door of St. Dunstans Church; and George Dawes in Chancery Lane, against Lincolns-Inn Gate, 1682.

From the introduction:

THE Wisdom of God is highly to be admired, who hath not endowed the other living Creatures with that Soveraign Perfection of Wisdom, but hath secured and provided for them by natural Muniments from assault and peril and other necessities: But to Man, he formed him naked and frail, because of furnishing him with Wisdom, Understanding, Memory, and Sense to govern his Actions, endowing him with that pious affection of desiring Society, whereby one is inclined to defend, love, cherish, and afford mutual aid to each other: Nor hath he in no less wonderful manner (infinitely transcending all humane wisdom and understanding) created the material World to be subservient to his Being and Well-being: Yet without humane Understanding and Reason did he not build a Ship, raise a Fort, make Bread or Cloth; but these came to pass only by humane Arts and Industry, in which by the Revolutions of the Celestial Bodies, Times and Seasons, Materials and other necessaries are brought forth, by the alteration of which men in their proper seasons reap the fruits of their Labour; so that there is no Society, Nation, Country or Kingdon but stands in need of another: hence it is that men knowing each others necessities, are invited to Traffick and Commerce in the different parts and immensities of this vast World to supply each others necessities, and adorn the conveniencies of humane life.

And as God hath so ordered this wonderful dependence of his Creatures on each other, so hath he by a Law Immutable provided a Rule for Men in all their actions, obliging each other to the performance of that which is right, not only to Justice, but likewise to all other Moral Vertues; the which is no more but the dictate of right Reason founded in the Soul of Man, shewing the necessity to be in some act by its convenience and disconvenience in the rational Nature in Man, and consequently that it is either forbidden or commanded by the Author of Nature, who is the Eternal Creator of all things. And as God hath imprinted this Universal Law in the Minds of all men, so hath he given men power (Society being admitted) to establish other Laws which proceed from the Will, the which is drawn from the Civil Power, that is, from him or them that rule the Commonwealth or Society of Freemen united for their common benefit, (which is called the Laws of Nations) and which by the will of all or many Nations, hath received force to oblige, and is proved by a continued use and testimony of Authentick Memorials of Learned and Skilful Men.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Item of the Day: Strahlenberg's Description Historique de L'Empire Russien (1757)

Full Title:

Description Historique de L'Empire Russien; Traduite de l'Ouvrage Allemand de M. le Baron de Strahlenberg.

Written by the Baron of Strahlenberg. In two volumes. Printed in Amsterdam and sold in Paris, Chez Desaint & Saillant, rue Saint Jean de Beauvais, vis-à-vis le Collége, 1757.

From Chapitre Premier. Entendue actuelle de l'Empire Russien, & ses divisions ancienne & moderne.

L'EMPIRE de Russie est l'un des plus vastes & des plus puissans qu'il y ait dans le monde. Il a cet avantage que ses terres tiennent les unes aux autres, & se communiquent ainsi aisément. Son étendue actuelle comprend en longueur, de l'occident à l'orient, près de 1400 lieues d'Allemagne, c'est-à-dire, environ le double de l'Europe; sçavoir, depuis la pointe de l'isle d'Oefel en Livonie, qui est au 41 degré de longitude, jusqu'à l'extrémité de la presqu'isle de Kamtschatka, au 77. [sans faire mention que la pointe du Nord-est de l'Asie se termine au 205 degré de longitude. La Russie qui a ses anciennnes [sic] possessions & sa Cour en Europe, occupe ainsi tout le Nord de l'Asie, & est à portée de l'Amerique septentrionale, dont elle n'est pas éloignée.] Sa largeur est d'environ 400 lieues depuis le 45 degré de latitude septentrionale jusqu'au-delà du 73.

Ses limites particulieres sont, au nord, la Mer Glaciale; à l'occident, les Laponies Danoise & Suédoise, la Finlande, la Mer Baltique, la Courlande, la Lithuanie & la Pologne; au midi, la Petite Tatarie, les Kubans & Circasses, la Mer Caspienne, les Tatars Karakalpacs (ou à bonnets noirs) ceux de la Casatschia-Orda, les Kontaischs ou Calmoucs, les Mungales ou Mongous, & les Tatars orientaux ou Chinois; à l'orient la mer voisine du Japon & de la Terre de Compagnie [ou plutôt la partie septentrionale de la Mer, vulgairement appellée Pacifique (où les Russes ont néanmoins éprouvé de grandes tempêres dans leur voyage vers du Nord ou d'Anian, qui fait la communication de cette grande Mer avec la Mer Glaciale, & qui sépare l'Asie de l'Amérique, sous le Cercle Polaire.]

Danse toutes les descriptions de la Russie, on a extrêmement varié par rapport à ses divisions, & on n'a jamais eu l'attention de s'attacher à une méthode constante & sûre. Les uns la divisent en quatre parties: celles du nord, du nord-ouest, du nord-est, & du sud-est, en donnant à chaque partie certaines provinces à leur gré. D'autre choisissent des méthodes différents; mais toutes confondent mal à propos les principautés, les royaumes & les provinces.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Item of the Day: Cobbett's Political Censor (1796)

Coincidence led me to today's choice of Peter Porcupine's radically Federalist journal, The Political Censor. While I was in Philadelphia, I ran across several satirical representations of Porcupine, some of whose writings I knew were in the Reading Room. Upon my return, I was just sitting down to read him when I happened upon last week's wonderful post on Porcupine (William Cobbett) and Noah Webster by U. of Pennsylvania professor Mark Liberman at Language Log, the excellent collaborative blog of several prominent linguists. It was clearly time to blog Porcupine. Full Title:

The Political Censor, or Monthly Review of the Most interesting Political Occurrences, Relative to the United States of America. By Peter Porcupine.

Written by William Cobbett (as Peter Porcupine). Printed in Philadelphia for Benjamin Davies, No. 68, High-Street, 1796.


SOME of the principal debates of the present session of Congress, with Remarks thereon, appeared a few weeks ago, under the Title of, "A Prospect from the Congress-Gallery," published by Mr. Thomas Bradford. The favourable reception of that work led me to undertake that which I now offer to the public. My plan, however, being altered, for reasons with which I am going to acquaint the reader, it became necessary to alter the title also.

No one, who has been an attentive observer of the violent and dangerous attempts, which have been made, and are still making, against the Federal Constitution, and consequently against the peace, prosperity and happiness of our country, can have failed to perceive, that they had their rise in the deception, which has been so industriously circulated through every part of the United-States. It is not to be presumed, indeed, that the leaders in this hostile and formidable combination have been deceived: they have long been marshalled and ready for the attack: but it is the delusion, which has been quietly suffered to steal its way among the people, that has called them into the field and encouraged them to assault, first the out-works, and at last the very citadel of our liberties and our lives.

The source of this delusion it is not difficult to discover: we have it continually before our eyes. I mean the public papers, and I speak with a very few exceptions.

The general government adopted the most effectual measures for facilitating the conveyance of information to every quarter of the Union, at the least possible expence. Hence subscribers to papers were found in abundance, and the editors, striking off numerous impressions, were, of course, enabled to furnish them at a low price. The intention of the government, as expressed by the President himself, was certainly the most beneficent, that of spreading true information and useful knowledge among all classes of the community. But what has been the consequence? Exactly the contrary. The French Revolution burst forth like a vulcano, and its devouring lava reached even us. The editors, perceiving the partiality of the most numerous class of their subscribers for this revolution, and all the novel and wild principles it has given rise to, have been seduced, by the love of gain, to flatter that partiality by extolling those principles, at the expence of every thing, their own private interest excepted. Their papers, which swarm like summer flies, are become the vehicles of falsehood in place of truth, of ignorance in place of knowledge. Like the tenebrificous stars, mentioned by a celebrated author, they shed darkness in place of light.

A veil has been carefully drawn over the distresses and horrors resulting from the anarchical system of France; or, when this could not be done, when the editors have feared to be anticipated by their fellow-labourers, they have endeavoured to out-vie each other in apologies for what ought to have been held up to detestation, or, at least, as an awful lesson to ourselves. Every one, even of the most destructive and impious acts of that pretended republic, has been trumpeted forth as the effect of a liberal and enlightened policy; while no insinuation, no subtilty, no audacious falsehood, has been left unessayed to thwart all the measures of our own mild and wise government, to disfigure its principles, and sever it from the affections of the people.

To countervail the malignant efforts of these retailers has ever been my wish; and, I hope, it will not be thought presumption in me, if I believe that the trifles from my pen, which the public have honoured with their perusal, have, in some slight degree, had the desired effect. But, alas, what can a straggling pamphlet, necessarily confined to a single subject, do against a hundred thousand volumes of miscellaneous falsehood in folio! Their sheets, if extended, would more than cover the surface of our country.

In opposing a literary monster like this, I am aware that a Porcupine, with all his quills, can never hope for complete success: but, nothing can be accomplished without being begun: I hope to call up abler hands to my aid: to me, it will be a sufficient honour to have led the way.

This I shall attempt, in a monthly work, of the same bulk and price as the one which is here submitted to the public. In this work I shall take a review of the political transactions of the past month; give an account of every democratic trick, whether of native growth or imported from abroad; unravel the windings of the pretended patriots, and more particularly those of the flour-merchants, and I trust, I shall be enabled to give, monthly, a sketch of political affairs more satisfactory, because more correct, than has ever yet appeared in this country. These will be the leading objects; but I shall exclude nothing, not entirely foreign to the nature of the work, that may contribute to the use or amusement of my readers.

The news-papers are supported by subscription, and for that very reason the Censor shall not. As long as people read, so long shall I write; and when the Bookseller advertises me that the work lies on his shelf, it will be a very good hint for me to draw in my quills.

Here, then, begins a bellum eternum between the fabricating Quid-Nuncs and me.--There is my glove, gentlemen; take it up as soon as you will. You well know that your abuse will infinitely redound to my honour; and therefore, to silence me, by rendering my work sterile and uninteresting, you are reduced to the cruel necessity of telling the truth.

I should think it necessary to offer an apology for having prefixed the title of Censor to the present Number; but the reader will at once perceive; that it is now assumed for the sake of uniformity, as applicable to the future contents of the work, and not to the remarks on the debates of Congress, a body to which I should be very sorry to be wanting in respect.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

This Weekend

Hello 18th-Century Reading Room readers! This weekend both Rebecca and I will be out of town, so there will be a hiatus in Items of the Day until Tuesday. My mother and I will be meeting up in Philadelphia, which is the reason for the past two days of Franklin blogging. He's on my mind.

In the meanwhile, I would love to receive some feedback about this resource, either in the comments or by email. As we envisioned it, this weblog would be a way to broadcast the experience one has in the physical Reading Room. In addition to having specific items that a researcher might be looking for, the Reading Room serves as an excellent place to immerse oneself in the cultural milieu of the period. While the collection does contain some one-of-a-kind letters and standout pieces, its main strength is that it represents, to some degree, what broadminded eighteenth-century British and American people might have owned and read, including texts from other eras and languages.

When I choose items for the blog, I tend to represent introductory passages, since these tend to demonstrate the frankest prose of the authors, the thesis and warrant of their subject matter, and the relationship the author is attempting to build with the reader, all of which are primary interests of my own research.

I also like to show connections between various items, such as those by the Wollstonecraft-Godwins and by Paine. While coursework in the period usually depends on a student gleaning all she wants to know about a particular author or subject from a single work and then moving on to another, this is certainly not how one collects books for one's own library, and it is also not how a reader of the period would have chosen materials. Both then and now, we pick up a thread, watch a conversation between authors, and trace similar themes throughout a number of works.

Lastly, I particularly enjoy representing the physicality of texts. Many are examples of document validation -- numbering, signatures, seals, formatting, etc. -- especially in the early American republic, when proving authority and authenticity, both to Americans and to the rest of the world, was a source of great anxiety. Typefaces are of interest to me, as I've spent some time doing commercial and academic textual design. Handwriting, too, is fascinating. While scholars new to the period struggle with eighteenth-century typefaces and hands, I still find most Renaissance hands perfectly illegible.

My goals, as you see, are completely idiosyncratic and guided by my own whims and research interests. When I have commentary to make on the pieces themselves, I tend to place it in the comments, so as not to crowd this blog with my ramblings on various pedagogical and theoretical issues. I am, however, greatly interested in learning how you, as either an academic or a curious reader, interact with historical texts. What do you look for? What interests you? What draws you to early editions or maps or engravings?

And, as always, how can the Reading Room better serve you?

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Item of the Day: Franklin's Works (1798)

Full Title:

The Works of the Late Dr. Benjamin Franklin; Consisting of His Life Written by Himself: Together with Essays Humorous, Moral, and Literary; Chiefly in the Manner of the Spectator.

Written by Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. Preface includes a letter by Richard Price. Includes the continuation of Franklin's Life written by Henry Stueber. Includes: "Extracts from the last will and testament of Dr. Franklin." Printed in New-York and sold by John Tiebout, no. 358 Pearl-Street, 1798.

From pp. 9-11:


I HAVE amused myself with collecting some little anecdotes of my family. You may remember the enquiries I made, when you were with me in England, among such of my relations as were then living; and the journey I undertook for that purpose. To be acquainted with the particulars of my parentage and life, many of which are unknown to you, I flatter myself, will afford the same pleasure to you as to me. I shall relate them upon paper: it will be an agreeable employment of a week's uninterrupted leisure, which I promise myself during my present retirement in the country. There are also other motives which induce me to the undertaking. From the bosom of poverty and obscurity, in which I drew my first breath and spent my earliest years, I have raised myself to a state of opulence and to some degree of celebrity in the world. A constant good fortune has attended me through every period of life to my present advanced age; and my descendants may be desirous of learning what were the means of which I made use, and which, thanks to the assisting hand of providence, have proved so eminently successful. They may also, should they ever be placed in a similar situation, derive some advantage from my narrative.

When I reflect, as I frequently do, upon the felicity I have enjoyed, I sometimes say to myself, that, were the offer made me, I would engage to run again, from beginning to end, the same career of life. All I would ask should be the privilege of an author, to correct, in a second edition, certain errors of the first. I could wish, likewise, if it were in my power, to change some trivial incidents and events for others more favourable. Were this however denied me, still would I not decline the offer. But since a repetition of life cannot take place, there is nothing which, in my opinion, so nearly resembles it, as to call to mind all its circumstances, and to render their remembrance more durable, commit them to writing. By thus employing myself, I shall yield to the inclination, so natural to old men, to talk of themselves and their exploits, and may freely follow my bent, without being tiresome to those who, from respect to my age, might think themselves obliged to listen to me; as they will be at liberty to read me or not, as they please. In fine, (and I may well avow it, since nobody would believe me were I to deny it,) I shall perhaps, by this employment gratify my vanity. Scarcely indeed have I ever heard or read the introductory phrase, "I may say without vanity," but some striking and characteristic instance of vanity has immediately followed. These generality of men hate vanity in others, however strongly they may be tinctured with it themselves; for myself, I pay obeisance to it wherever I meet with it, persuaded that it is advantageous, as well to the individual whom it governs, as to those who are within the sphere of its influence. Of consequence, it would, in many cases, not be wholly absurd, that a man should count his vanity among the other sweets of life, and give thanks to providence for the blessing.

And here let me with all humility acknowledge, that to divine providence I am indebted for the felicity I have hitherto enjoyed. It is that power alone which has furnished me with the means I have employed, and that has crowned them with success. My faith in this respect leads me to hope, though I cannot count upon it, that the divine goodness will still be exercised towards me, either by prolonging the duration of my happiness to the close of life, or by giving me fortitude to support any melancholy reverse, which may happen to me, as to so many others. My future fortune is unknown but to him in whose hand is our destiny, and who can make our very afflictions subservient to our benefit.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Item of the Day: Franklin's Historical Review of Pennsylvania (1759)

Full Title:

An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pennsylvania, From Its Origin; So far as Regards the Several Points of Controversy, Which Have, from Time to Time, Arisen between The Several Governors of that Province, and Their Several Assemblies. Founded on Authentic Documents. "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Page 289."

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790. Contains dedication, contents, introduction, and appendix. Printed in London for R. Griffiths, in Paternoster-Row, 1759.

Introduction (pp. 1-5):

TO obtain an infinite Variety of Purposes, by a few plain Principles, is the Characteristic of Nature. As the Eye is affected, so is the Understanding: Objects at distance strike us according to their Dimensions, or the Quantity of Light thrown upon them; near, according to their Novelty or Familiarity; as they are in motion or at rest. 'Tis the same with Actions. A Battle is all Motion; a Hero all Glare: While such Images are before us, we can attend to nothing else. Solon and Lycurgus would make no Figure in the same Scene with the King of Prussia; and we are at present so lost in the military Scramble on the Continent next us, in which it must be confes'd we are deeply interested, that we have scarce Time to throw a Glance towards America, where we have also much at Stake, and where, if any where, our Account must be made up at last.

We love to stare more than to reflect, and to be indolently amus'd at our Leisure, than to commit the smallest Trespass on our Patience by winding a painful, tedious Maze, which would pay us in nothing but Knowledge.

But then, as there are some Eyes which can find nothing marvellous, but what is marvellously great, so there are others which are equally disposed to marvel at what is marvellously little: and who can derive as much Entertainment from their Microscope in examining a Mite, as Dr. — in Ascertaining the Geography of the Moon, or measuring the Tail of a Comet.

Let this serve as an Excuse for the Author of these Sheets, if he needs any, for bestowing them on the Transactions of a Colony, till of late hardly mentioned in our Annals; in Point of Establishment one of the last upon the British list, and in point of Rank one of the most subordinate, as being not only subject, in common with the rest, to the Crown, but also to the Claims of a Proprietary, who thinks he does them Honour enough in governing them by Deputy; consequently so much farther remov'd from the Royal Eye; and so much the more expos'd to the Pressure of self-interested Instructions.

Considerable, however, as most of them for the Happiness of Situation, Fertility of Soil, Product of valuable Commodities, Number of Inhabitants, Shipping, Amount of Exportations, Latitude of Rights and Privileges, and every other Requisite for the Being and Well-Being of Society, and more considerable than any of them all for the Celerity of its Growth, unassisted by any human Help but the Vigour and Virtue of its own excellent Constitution.

A Father and his Family, the latter united by Interest and Affection, the former to be rever'd for the Wisdom of his Institutions, and the indulgent Use of his Authority, was the Form it was at first presented in. Those who were only ambitious of Repose found it here; and as none return'd with an evil Report of the Land, Numbers follow'd: All partook of the Leven they found: The Community still wore the same equal Face: Nobody aspir'd: Nobody was oppress'd: Industry was sure of Profit, Knowledge of Esteem, and Virtue of Veneration.

An assuming Land-Lord, strongly disposed to convert free Tenants into abject Vandals, and to reap what he did not sow, countenanc'd and abetted by a few desperate and designing Dependants, on the one Side; and on the other, all who have Sense enough to know their Rights, and Spirit enough to defend them, combin'd as one Man against the said Land-Lord, and his Encroachments, is the Form it has since assum'd.

And surely, to a Nation born to Liberty like This, bound to leave it unimpair'd as They receiv'd it from their Fathers in Perpetuity to their Heirs, and interested in the Conservation of it in every Appendix of the British Empire, the Particulars of such a Contest cannot be wholly indifferent.

On the contrary, it is reasonable to think, the first Workings of Power against Liberty, and the natural Efforts of unbiassed Men to secure themselves, against the first Approaches of Oppression, must have a captivating Power over every Man of sensibility and Discernment amongst us.

Liberty, it seems, thrives best in the Woods. America best cultivates what Germany brought forth. And were it not for certain ugly Comparisons, hard to be suppress'd, the Pleasure arising from such a Research would be without Alloy.

In the Feuds of Florence recorded by Machiavel, we find more to lament and less to praise. Scarce can we believe the first Citizens of the antient Republics had such Pretensions to Consideration, tho' so highly celebrated in antient Story. And as to ourselves, we need no longer have Recourse to the late glorious Stand of the French Parliaments to excite our Emulation.

It is a known Custom among Farmers to change their Corn from Season to Season for the Sake of filling the Bushel: And in Case the Wisdom of the Age should condescend to make the like Experiment in another Shape, from hence we may learn, whither to repair for the proper Species.

It is not, however, to be presum'd, That for as have long been accustomed to consider the Colonies, in general, as only so many Depedencies on the Council-Board, the Board of Trade, and the Board of Customs; or as a Hot-Bed for Causes, Jobs, and other pecuniary Emoluments, and as bound as effectually by Instruction as by Laws, can be prevail'd upon to consider these Patriot-Rustics with any Degree of Respect.

Derision, on the contrary, must be the Lot of him, who imagines it in the Power of the Pen, to set any Lustre upon them; and Indignation theirs for daring to assert and maintain the Independency inwoven in their Constitution, which now, it seems, is become an improper Ingredient, and therefore to be excised away.

But how contemptibly soever these Gentlemen may talk of the Colonies, how cheap soever they may hold their Assemblies, or how insignificant the Planters and Traders who compose them, Truth will be Truth, and Principle Principle notwithstanding.

Courage, Wisdom, Integrity and Honour are not to be measur'd by the Sphere assigned them to act in, but by the Trials they undergo, and the Vouchers they furnish: And if so manifested, need neither Robes, or Titles to set them off.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Item of the Day: Field of Mars (1781)

Full Title:

The Field of Mars: being an Alphabetical Digestion of the Principal Naval and Military Engagements, in Europe, Asia, Africa, and America, Particularly of Great Britain and her Allies, from the Ninth Century to the Present Period. Selected from the Best Historians and Journalists, and Adjusted from the Greatest Authority. Interspersed with concise Descriptions of the Towns and Plances, the Subject of each Article. To which is Prefixed An Essay on the Art of War, and A Comprehensive System of Military and Naval Discipline. Embellished with Maps, Charts, Plans, and Views of Battles. In Two Volumes.

Reference work, in two large, fully illustrated volumes. Includes folding maps depicting sea and land routes. Printed in London for J. MacGowan, No. 27, Paternoster-Row, 1781.

To the Public:

To preserve a perfect impartiality is the province of every Historian, but few attain to it; how far the FIELD OF MARS has adhered to that character, it may be construed a presumption in us to announce; yet thus far, without censure, we may declare, that all events are given as faithful historians present them to us, at whole length, naked, and unmasked; stripped of that praise and adulation, as well as that calumny and reproach with which these transactions are too frequently related. In order to annex veracity to our assertions, particular attention has been paid to extracts from works of repute, and publications of authority. Indeed, where superior merit is conspicuous to all the world, it would be as superfluous as ridiculous to attempt a display of it; yet we may be allowed to assert, that this Nation is almost arrived to the summit of Human Grandeur, and its natives, as men, to the first degree of reputation for Valour, Courage, Integrity, and Humanity; but at the same time it must be admitted, that the utmost efforts of Human Wisdom cannot secure the fate of one single event, which causes the most unlikely to produce their designed effects, often succeed to admiration, and to the utter confusion of the boasted power of Human Prudence, Foresight, and Precaution.

AT this period, such a Publication cannot but be acceptable to the British Reader, when Britain is involved in an accumulating War, when she has to contend not only with her Natural Enemies, France and Spain, but with her late Unnatural Allies the Dutch, and her refractory North American Subjects, who, in diametrical opposition to her internal interest, as well as those of their Mother Country, have set up an Independence, under the protection of the united powers of their avowed Enemies, the French and Spaniards, and the concurrence of the treacherous and time-serving States of Holland, who so lately felt the chastisement of our insulted arms; yet now dare to support a contest the most unhappy that England was ever engaged in; and its termination cannot but be the most important, and mark an æra in the history of Europe.

A TIME when every British subject glows with emulation in defence of his Native Country, and the support of its dignity; for as nothing will stimulate beyond example, so the perusal of a well executed work on this Plan, cannot but excite a desire to pursue the well trod paths of our Ancestors, in an exertion to prove ourselves worthy of enjoying the fruits of their labours, and urge us to pay a just tribute to their revered memories.

NO history, ancient or modern, can, in any comparative degree, vie with that of this Nation for its great exploits, both by Land and Sea; and no country whatever, can pride itself in having withstood the united machinations of its restless enemies, equal to that of Britain; whose well-concerted efforts have generally been crowned with success, and its perfidious enemies sunk into shame and disgrace, even in their own opinion, whenever they have roused the resentment of the Natives of this most favoured Isle. In vain have the arms of France and Spain combined to crop the laurels of the British Forces; their endeavours have proved as baseless as their faith; and every attempt to injure, has been frustrated and rendered abortive by the dauntless spirit inherent in the breasts of the Sons of Albion and Hibernia; who have proved to the whole world, that, however arduous, however apparently impracticable, any proposed attempt may be, the English Soldiers and Seamen are not to be deterred from it by any prospect of difficulty or danger: but will exert themselves as far as men can do, and at least deserve success, if they do not attain it, when led by men worthy to command them, many of whose Feats would have done honour to the Roman arms.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Item of the Day: Webster's Dictionary (1828)

Full Title:

An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. The origin, affinities and primary signification of English words, as far as they have been ascertained. II. The genuine orthography and pronunciation of words, according to general usage, or to just principles of analogy. III. Accurate and discriminating definitions, with numerous authorities and illustrations. To which are Prefixed, An Introductory Dissertation on the Origin, History, and Connection of the Languages of Western Asia and of Europe, and a Concise Grammar of the English Lanugage, By Noah Webster, LL.D. In Two Volumes. "He that wishes to be counted among the benefactors of posterity, must add, by his own toil, to the acquisitions of his ancestors."—Rambler.

By Noah Webster, LL.D. In two volumes. Published in New York by S. Converse. Printed by Hezekiah Howe, New Haven, 1828.

From the Introduction:

The United States commenced their existence under circumstances wholly novel and unexampled in the history of nations. They commenced with civilization, with learning, with science, with constitutions of free government, and with that best gift of God to man, the christian religion. Their population is now equal to that of England; in arts and sciences, our citizens are very little behind the most enlightened people on earth; in some respects, they have no superiors; and our language, within two centuries, will be spoken by more people in this country, than any other language on earth, except the Chinese, in Asia, and even that may not be an exception.

It has been my aim in this work, now offered to my fellow citizens, to ascertain the true principles of the language, in its orthography and structure; to purify it from some palpable errors, and reduce the number of its anomalies, thus giving it more regularity and consistency in its forms, both of words and sentences; and in this manner, to furnish a standard of our vernacular tongue, which we shall not be ashamed to bequeath to three hundred millions of people, who are destined to occupy, and I hope, to adorn the vast territory within our jurisdiction.

If the language can be improved in regularity, so as to be more easily acquired by our own citizens, and by foreigners, and thus be rendered a more useful instrument for the propagation of science, arts, civilization and christianity; if it can be rescued from the mischievous influence of sciolists and that dabbling spirit of innovation which is perpetually disturbing its settled usages and filling it with anomalies; if, in short, our vernacular language can be redeemed from corruptions, and our philology and literature from degradation; it would be a source of great satisfaction to me to be one among the instruments of promoting these valuable objects. If this object cannot be effected, and my wishes and hopes are to be frustrated, my labor will be lost, and this work must sink into oblivion.

This Dictionary, like all others of the kind, must be left, in some degree, imperfect; for what individual is competent to trace their source, and define in all their various applications, popular, scientific and technical, sixty or seventy thousand words! It satisfies my mind that I have done all that my health, my talents and my pecuniary means would enable me to accomplish. I present it to my fellow citizens, not with frigid indifference, but with my ardent wishes for their improvement and their happiness; and for the continued increase of the wealth, the learning, the moral and religious elevation of character, and the glory of my country.

To that great and benevolent Being, who, during the preparation of this work, has sustained a feeble constitution, amidst obstacles and toils, disappointments, infirmities and depression; who has twice borne me and my manuscripts in safety across the Atlantic, and given me strength and resolution to bring the work to a close, I would present the tribute of my most grateful acknowledgments. And if the talent which he entrusted to my care, has not been put to the most profitable use in his service, I hope it has not been "kept laid up in a napkin," and that any misapplication of it may be graciously forgiven.

New Haven, 1828. N. WEBSTER.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Items of the Day: Paine

Full Title:

Common Sense; Addressed To The Inhabitants of America, On the following interesting Subjects. I. Of the Origin and Design of Government in general, with concise Remarks on the English Constitution. II. Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession. III. Thoughts on the present State of American Affairs. IV. Of the present Ability of America, with some miscellaneous Reflections. A New Edition, with several Additions in the Body of the Work. To which is added an Appendix; together with an Address to the People called Quakers. N. B. The New Addition here given increases the Work upwards of One-Third.

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Written by Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. First English edition; first London issue. Published anonymously. Words and passages likely to offend English readers are left blank, and some filled in with manuscript hand, pp.14, 17, 23,24, 25, 28, 29, 30,41, and 42. Ms. on title page: By Thomas Paine. M. A. of the University of Pennsylvania. Appendix pp. 49-54: "To the representatives of the religious society of the people called Quakers, or to so many of them as were concerned in publishing a late piece, entitiled "The ancient testimony and principles of the people called Quakers renewed, with respect to the king and government, and touching the commotions now prevailing in these and other parts of America." Printed in Philadelphia; reprinted in London for J. Almon, opposite Burlington-House in Piccadilly, 1776.

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Full Title:

A Letter Addressed to the Abbe Raynal on the Affairs of North-America. In which The Mistakes in the Abbe’s Account of the Revolution of America are Corrected and Cleared Up. By Thomas Paine, M.A. of the University of Pennsylvania, and Author of a Tract, Entitled “Common Sense.” The Second Edition. Bound With: A Letter to the Earl of Shelburne, on his Speech, July 10, 1782, Respecting the Acknowledgement of American Independence.

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Read Public Good online

Written by Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. Printed in Philadelphia and reprinted in London for C. Dilly, 1782. Also see Letter to George Washington, President of the United States of America. On Affairs Public and Private. Also see Public Good: Being an Examination into the Claim of Virginia to the Vacant Western Territory, and of the Right of the United States to the Same. To which is Added, Proposals for laying off a New State, to be Applied as a Fund for Carrying on the War, or Redeeming the National Debt. By the Author of Common Sense. Written in the Year 1780.

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Full Title:

The American Crisis, and a Letter to Sir Guy Carleton, on the Murder of Captain Huddy, and the Intended Retaliation on Captain Asgill, of the Guards. By Thomas Paine, Author of Common Sense—Rights of Man—Age of Reason—And the Decline and Fall of the English System of Finance. Bound With: Letters from Thomas Paine, to the Citizens of America, After an Absence of Fifteen Years in Europe. To which are Subjoined Some Letters, between Him and the Late General Washington, Mr. Samuel Adams, and the Present President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson: Also, Some Original Poetry of Mr. Paine’s and a Fac Simile of his Hand-writing, in 1803.

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Written by Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. No. I of this edition, dated August 9, 1795 (i. e. 1775) and referring to Gen. Gage's proclamation concerning the affair at Lexington, is an essay from the London "Crisis", and is here erroneously attributed to Paine. The first number of the "American Crisis" is no. II of this collection. Nos. X and XII, designated in the editor's notes as XI and XIII, are omitted, owing to the inablility of the publisher to procure copies. The Crisis extraordinary is inserted in its chronological place. No. VII (i.e. VI) "To the Earl of Carlisle," and the letter to Sir Guy Carleton, are dated 1788 and 1789 for 1778 and 1782 respectively. On verso of t.-p. are two resolutions of Congress, dated August 26 and Oct. 3, 1785, in regard to the reward to be paid to Paine for his valuable political writing. Printed and sold in London by Daniel Isaac Eaton, n.d. Also see The American Crisis, London: R. Carlile, 1819. Also see Letters from Thomas Paine, to the Citizens of America, London: T. C. Rickman, 1804.

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Full Title:

The Rights of Man: Being an Answer to Mr. Burke’s Attack on the French Revolution. Second Edition. By Thomas Paine, Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Congress in the American War, and author of the work intitled “Common Sense.” Bound With: Rights of Man. Part the Second… / The Trial at Large of Thomas Paine, for a libel, in the second part of Rights of Man… / Mr. King's Speech at Egham… / Third Letter from Mr. King. To Mr. Thomas Paine at Paris ….

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Written by Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. The first edition had been printed earlier in the same year by Johnson, but only a few copies were issued, as the publisher became frightened and the work was transferred to Jordan. The present edition contains a preface by the author not found in the earlier edition. Printed in London for J. S. Jordan, 1791. Also see Part the Second. Also see The Trial at Large of Thomas Paine, for a Libel, in the Second Part of Rights of Man. Before Lord Kenyon and a Special Jury, in the Court of King’s Bench, Guildhall, Dec. 18, 1792. By a Student of the Inner Temple. Also see Mr. King’s Speech, at Egham, with Thomas Paine’s Letter to him on it, and Mr. King’s Reply, as they all appeared in the Morning Herald.

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Full Title:

The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology. By Thomas Paine, Secretary for Foreign Affairs to Congress in the American War, and Author of the Works Entitled, Common Sense, and Rights of Man, &c.

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Written by Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. Printed in Paris by Barrois; sold in London by D. I. Eaton, 1794. Also see Age of Reason Part the First and Age of Reason Part the Second

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Full Title:

Dissertation on First-Principles of Government; By Thomas Paine, Author of Common Sense; Rights of Man; Age of Reason, &c.

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Written by Thomas Paine, 1737-1809. Pp. 33-40 contain: "Speech of Thomas Paine, as delivered in the Convention, July 7, 1795. Wherein he alludes to the preceding work." Printed in Paris at the English Press, rue de Vaugirard, No. 970, Third Year of the French Republic, [1795].

Friday, October 07, 2005

Items of the Day: Not-entirely-fictional Letters from America

Full Title:

Letters from an American Farmer; Describing Certain Provincial Situations, Manners, and Customs, not Generally Known: and Conveying some Idea of the Late and Present Interior Circumstances of the British Colonies in North America. Written for the Information of a Friend in England, By J. Hector St. John, a Farmer in Pennsylvania.

Written by J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur, 1735-1813. Includes advertisement, dedication, contents, and publisher's advertisement (maps missing). Printed in London by Thomas Davies and Lockyer Davis, 1782.

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Full Title:

Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, To the Inhabitants of the British Colonies.

Written by John Dickinson, 1732-1808. The letters were first published in the Pennsylvania Chronicle, December 2, 1767 - February 15, 1768./ Cf. The Writings of John Dickinson, v. 1, 1895, p. 282-283. Printed in Boston by Mein and Fleeming to be sold by John Mein at the London Book-store, 1778.

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Full Title:

Letters and dissertations on various subjects, by the author of the letter Analysis A.P. on the disputes between Great Britain and America. Bound With: A letter to Lord George Germain./ Extracts from the journals of the Provincial Congress of South-Carolina…/ Extracts from the journals of the Provincial Congress of South-Carolina…/ An oration in memory of General Montgomery…/ The battle of Bunkers-Hill : A dramatic piece, of five acts in heroic measure./ Reponse de Mr. J. de Pinto…/ An enquiry whether the guilt of the present civil war in America…/

Written by Thomas Crowley, ca. 1700-ca. 1785. Bound with assorted political pamphlets. Letters, etc., dated 1765-1776; most of them are signed Amor Patriae, a few appearing over the author's name. For the most part they relate to the Stamp Act and other disputed measures. Printed for the author; old by Mess. Dilly; Mess. Richardson and Urquhart; and Eliz. Brooke, [1782?].
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Full Title:

Inchiquin, The Jesuit's Letters, During a Late Residence in The United States of America; Being a Fragment of a Private Correspodence, Accidentally Discovered in Europe; Containing a Favourable View of the Manners, Literature, and State of Society, of the United States, and a
Refutation of Many of the Aspersions Cast upon this Country, by Former Residents and Tourists. By Some Unknown Foreigner.

Written by Charles Jared Ingersoll, 1782-1862. The author was an American lawyer and statesman. The book offers historical, social and literary commentary. Ingersoll, later a politician and diplomat, wrote several dramas and volumes of poetry. This book, his most notable literary achievement, is a political satire attacking those English authors whose narratives of their American travels unvaryingly criticize American mores. The purported author is a European Jesuit. The "Quarterly Review's" diatribe against Ingersoll's work elicited important defences of it by Timothy Dwight and James Kirke Paulding. Printed and published in New York by I. Riley, 1810.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Item of the Day: Burney's History of Music (1782, 1789)

Full Title:

A General History of Music, From the Earliest Ages to the Present Period. Volume the First (2nd ed.). Volume the Second, Volume the Third, and Volume the Fourth (1st eds.).

Written by Charles Burney, Mus.D. F.R.S., 1726-1814. Contains contents, notes, index, errata, illustrations, and folded plates. Engraved portrait of Burney as frontispiece in volume 1, engraved frontispiece in each of the remaining volumes, engraved music in text as part of pagination in each volume. The first volume of Burney's History was out of print within a few weeks of publication, and Burney decided by April of 1776 to prepare a second edition of the volume. The second edition of volume 1 takes account of a number of suggestions made by Thomas Twining. The "Dissertation" no longer features on the title-page of the second edition and becomes part of the Preface, while the "Questions and Answers" are transmuted into "Definitions." Many passages from the first edition are radically altered or omitted. When publication of the four volumes was completed in 1789, Mary Wollstonecraft was one of the reviewers for the Analytical Review in February 1790. Printed in London for the author; sold by Payne and Son, Robson and Clark, and G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1789.


Ancient writers upon science usually began with definitions; and as it is possible that this work may fall into the hands of persons wholly unacquainted with the elements of Music, a few preliminary explanations of such difficulties as are most likely to occur to them, may somewhat facilitate the perusal of the technical parts of my enquiries.

MUSIC is an innocent luxury, unnecessary, indeed, to our existence, but a great improvement and gratification of the sense of hearing. It consists, at present of MELODY, TIME, CONSONANCE, and DISSONANCE.

By MELODY is implied a series of sounds more fixed, and generally more lengthened, than those of common speech; arranged with grace, and, with respect to TIME, of proportional lengths, such as the mind can easily measure, and the voice express. These sounds are regulated by a scale, consisting of tones and semitones; but admit a variety of arrangement as unbounded as imagination.

CONSONANCE is derived from a coincidence of two or more sounds, which being heard together, by their agreement and union, afford to ears capable of judging and feeling, a delight of a most grateful kind. The combination and succession of Concords or Sounds in Consonance, constitute HARMONY; as the selection and texture of Single Sounds produce MELODY.

DISSONANCE is the want of that agreeable union between two or more sounds, which constitutes Consonance: in musical composition it is occasioned by the suspension or anticipation of some sound before, or after, it becomes a Concord. It is the DOLCE PICCANTE of Music, and operates on the ear as a poignant sauce on the palate: it is a zest, without which the auditory sense would be as much cloyed as the appetite, if it had nothing to feed on but sweets.

Of MUSICAL TONES the most grateful to the ear are such as produced by the vocal organ. And, next to singing, the most pleasing kinds are those which approach the nearest to vocal; such as can be sustained, swelled, and diminished, at pleasure. Of these, the first in rank are such as the most excellent performers produce from the Violin, Flute, and Hautbois. If it were to be asked what instrument is capable of affording the GREATEST EFFECTS? I should answer, the Organ; which can not only imitate a number of other instruments, but is so comprehensive as to possess the power of a numerous orchestra. It is, however, very remote from perfection, as it wants expression, and a more perfect intonation.

With respect to EXCELLENCE OF STYLE AND COMPOSITION, it may perhaps be said that to practised ears the most pleasing Music is such as has the merit of novelty, added to refinement, and ingenious contrivance; and to the ignorant, such as is most familiar and common.

Other terms used in Modern Music, as well as those peculiar to the Ancient, are generally defined, the first time they occur, in the course of the work.