Monday, October 30, 2006

Item of the Day: The Gentleman's Magazine (1752)

Full Title: The Gentleman's Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. Volume XXII. For the Year M.DCC.LII. By Sylvanus Urban, Gent. London: Printed for Edward Cave, at St. John's Gate.

For December, 1752.
New Method of extracting lightening from the clouds, by B. Franklin

Philadelphia, Oct. 19. 1752.

As frequent mention is made in the newspapers from Europe, of the success of the Philadelphia experiment for drawing the electric fire from clouds by means of pointed rods of iron erected on high buildings, etc, it may be agreeable to inform the curious that the same experiment has succeeded in Philadelphia, tho' made in a different and more easy manner, which is as follows:

Make a small cross of two light strips of cedar, the arms so long as to reach to the four corners of a large thin silk handkerchief when extended; tie the corners of the handkerchief to the extremities of the cross, so you have the body of a kite; which being properly accommodated with a tail, loop, and string, will rise in the air, like those made of paper; but this being of silk is fitter to bear the wind and wet of a thunder gust without tearing. To the top of the upright stick of the cross is to be fixed a very sharp pointed wire, rising a foot or more above the wood. To the end of the twine, next the hand, is to be ty'd a silk ribbon, and where the silk and twine join, a key may be fastened. This kite is to be raised when a thunder gust appears to be coming on, and the person who holds the string must stand within a door, or window, or under some cover, so that the silk ribbon may not be wet; and care must be taken that the twine does not touch the frame of the door or window. As soon as any of the thunder clouds come over the kite, the pointed wire will draw the electric fire from them, and the kite, with all the twine, will be electrified, and the loose filaments of the twine will stand out every way, and be attracted by an approaching finger. And when the rain has wet the kite and twine, so that it can conduct the electric fire freely, you will find it stream out plentifully from the key on the approach of your knuckle. At this key the phial may be charged; and from electric fire thus obtained, spirits may be kindled, and all the other electric experiments be performed, which are usually done by the help of a rubbed glass globe or tube; and thereby the sameness of the electric matter with that of lightning compleatly demonstrated.


Friday, October 27, 2006

Item of the Day: A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage, &c.

Full Title: A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage, &c. Being a Reply to Mr. Congreve’s Amendments, &c. And to the Vindication of the Author of the Relapse. By Jeremy Collier. London: Printed for S Keble, R. Sace, and N. Hindmarsh, 1699.

To the READER.
Since the publishing my late View, &c. I have been plentifully rail’d on in Print: This give me some reason to suspect the Answerers and the Cause, are not altogether unlike. Had there been nothing but plain Argument to encounter, I think I might have ventured my Book with them: But being charged with mis-citations and unfair Dealing, ‘twas requisite to say something: For Honesty is a tender point, and ought not to be neglected.

Mr. Congreve and the Author of Relapse, being the most eager Complainants, and Principals in the Dispute, I have made it my choice to satisfie them. As the Volunteers, they will find themselves affected with the Fortune of their Friends; and besides, I may probably have an opportunity of speaking farther with them hereafter.

Notwithstanding the singular Management of the Poets and the Play-House, I have had the satisfaction to perceive, the Interest of Virtue is not altogether Sunk, but that Conscience and Modesty have still some Footing among us. This consideration makes me hope a little farther Discovery of the Stage may not be unacceptable. The Reader then may please to take notice, that The Plot and no Plot swears at length, and is scandalously Smutty and Profane. The Fool in Fashion for the first four Acts is liable to the same Imputation: Something in Swearing abated, Caesar Borgia, and Love in a Nunnery, are no better Complex’d than the former. As lastly. Limberhan, and the Soldier’s Fortune, are meer prodigies of Lewdness and Irreligion. If this general Accusation appears too hard, I am ready to make it good. ‘Twere easy to proceed to many other Plays, but possibly this Place may not be so proper to enlarge upon the Subject.

Some of the Stage-Advocates pretend my Remarks on their Poetry are foreign to the Business. On the contrary, I conceive it very defensible to disarm an Adversary, if it may be, and disable him from doing Mischief.

To expose that which would expose Religion, is a warrantable way of Reprizals. Those who Paint for Debauchery, should have the Fucus pull’d off, and the Coarseness underneath discover’d. The Poets are the Aggressors, let them lay down their Arms first. We have suffer’d under Silence a great while; If we are in any fault, ‘tis because we began with them no sooner.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Item of the Day: The Stranger in America (1807)

Full Title: The Stranger in America: containing Observations made during a long Residence in that Country on the Genius, Manners and Customs of the People of the United States; with Biographical Particulars of Public Characters; Hints and Facts relative to the Arts, Sciences, Commerce, Agriculture, Manufactures, Emigration and the Slave Trade by Charles William Janson, Esq. Published by James Cundee, Albion Press London, 1807.

Chap. II

We landed in Boston on the third of July, and the fourth was the day of Jubilee -- the anniversary of the declaration of American independence. The fatigue of getting my baggage on shore in the excessive heat of a meridian sun, had nearly exhausted me before I reached my lodgings. I, however, met with no detention or aggravating circumstances at the custom-house -- no extortion -- no demand of fees. An oath was administered to me, that the baggage was for my own private use; and this was the only ceremony I underwent.

. . .

Boston bears considerable resemblance to an old city in England, It is two miles in length, but of unequal breadth, being seven hundred and twenty-six yards at the broadest part. It contains about 3500 dwelling-houses, many of which are built of wood, besides a great number of store-houses, and nearly 28,000 inhabitants. This town is famed for a wharf, leading from State-Street into the harbor, 1743 feet in a direct line, and in breadth 104 feet. On approaching it from the sea, it appears to the greatest advantage. At the back part is Beacon Hill which greatly adds to the prospects. On the top of this hill is a column, on which are inscribed the achievements of those who fell by the swords of the British during the revolutionary war. At Boston they distill large quantities of that detestable spirit, there called New England, but in the Southern States, Yankee rum, and in this employment there are nearly forty large distilleries. It is made of the worst and the damaged molasses, and its baleful effects are severely felt in every part of the union. In Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia, it foments quarrels, which produce combats like those of bears and wolves -- gouging, biting kicking, and tearing each others' flesh; of which I shall make more particular mention when I speak of those states. It is sold for about an English half-crown per gallon, is strong, and has the most execrable smell with which any kind of spirit ever assailed my nasal organ.

. . .

An excursion through Connecticut, and part of Massachusets, afforded me an opportunity of observing the mode of travelling, and the accommodations on the road. In order to view the country at my leisure, I purchased a horse, which, with a tolerable bridle and saddle, cost me sixty dollars. Upon my new purchase I set out, before the break of day, from New London, in order to arrive at Norwich before the sun acquired his full power. After riding three hours, I stopped at a decent looking house, with a vile daub of General Washington for a sign, in order to feed my nag, which had ingratiated himself in my favor by the morning's performance, and to take breakfast. I was greatly surprized to see a hot beef-steak, swimming in grease and onions, brought upon the table; and still more so to find this substantial dish followed by another of fried eggs and bacon. My ride had sharpened my appetite, so that the fume of these smoaking dishes was by no means unpleasant. They remained upon the table till nearly cold, before a single person came into the room. My patience was exhausted -- hunger drove away ceremony; I could no longer restrain its calls, and therefore commenced an attack, for the first time in my life, upon a clumsy beef-steak, at eight in the morning. I saw no appearance of tea or coffee, and concluded that I must make a dinner instead of a breakfast, but in a little time the room began to fill with country-looking people of both sexes, to my confusion -- for I was stared at with looks not very prepossessing, till I observed, that being a stranger, in haste to pursue my journey, not knowing company were expected, and above all, the steak cooling, I had begun to eat. Very little notice was taken of my apology, but each followed my example, with stomachs not a whit less keen than my own. If, methought, looking round the table, and fixing my eyes upon a pretty girl, who was too deeply engaged with a plate of eggs and bacon to notice me, -- if you make a practice of breaking your fast thus, pretty damsel, you must surely be a maiden of the days of Queen Bess, preferring "to such slip-slops as tea the leg of an ox." A few days convinced me that this is the daily custom in the morning with this class of people, who must have something hot and substantial . Besides this fare, let me not forget to mention, we were served with some most detestable coffee. I wished for ale or porter after my steak, but was offered "Yankee rum," the most execrable spirit ever distilled; and at length I allayed my thirst with a glass of sour cyder.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Item of the Day: Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia and America.

Full Title: Account of the Russian Discoveries between Asia and America, to which is added, the conquest of Siberia, and the history of the transactions and commerce between Russia and China. By William Coxe. London: Printed by J. Nichols, for T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1780.

[The following passage is excerpted from a passage in Appendix I entitled: Extract from the journal of a voyage made by Captain Krenitzin and Lieutenant Levasheff to the Fox Islands, in 1768, 1769, by order of the Empress of Russia—they sail from Kamtchatka—arrive at Beering’s and Copper Islands—reach the Fox Islands—Krenitzin winters at Alaxa—Levasheff upon Unalashka—productions of Unalashka—description of the inhabitants of the Fox Islands—their manners and customs, &c.]

The inhabitants of Alaxa, Umnak, Unalaksha, and the neighboring islands, are of a middle stature, tawny brown colour, and black hair. In summer they wear coats (parki*) made of bird skins, over which, in bad weather, and in their boats, they throw cloaks, called kamli, made of thin whale guts. On their heads they wear wooden caps, ornamented with duck’s feathers, and the ears of the sea-animal, called Scivutcha or sea-lion: they also adorn these caps with beads of different colours, and with little figures of bone or stone. In the partition of the nostrils they place a pin, about four inches long, made of the bone, or of the stalk of a certain black plant; from the ends of this pin or bodkin they hang, in fine weather and on festivals, rows of beads, one below the other. They thrust beads, and bits of pebble cut like teeth, into holes made in the under-lips. They also wear strings of beads in their ears, with bits of amber, which the inhabitants of the other islands procure from Alaxa, in exchange for arrows and kamli.

They cut their hair before just above the eyes, and some shave the top of their heads like minks. Behind the hair is loose. The dress of the women hardly differens from that of the men, excepting that it is mad of fish-skins. They sew with bone needles, and thread made of fish guts, fastening their work to the ground before them with bodkins. They go with the head uncovered, and the hair cut like that of the men before, but tied up behind in a high knot. They paint their cheeks with strokes of blue and red, and wear nose-pins, beads, and ear-rings like the men; they hang beads round their neck, and checkered strings round their arms and legs.

In their persons we should reckon them extremely nasty. They eat the vermin with which their bodies are covered, and swallow the mucus from the nose. Having washed themselves, according to custom, first with urine, and then with water, they suck their hand dry. When they are sick, they lie three or four days without food; and if bleeding is necessary, they open a vein with lancets made of flint, and suck the blood.

Their principal nourishment is fish and whale fat, which they commonly eat raw. They also feed upon sea-wrack and roots, particularly the saran, a species of lily; they eat a herb called kutage, on account of its bitterness, only with fish or fat. They sometimes kindle fire by catching a spark among dry leaves and powder of sulphur: but the most common method is by rubbing two pieces of wood together, in the manner practiced at Kamtchatka,** and which Vaksel, Beering’s lieutenant, found to be in use in that part of North America which he saw in 1741. They are very fond of Russian oil and butter, but not of bread. They could not be prevailed to taste any sugar until the commander shewed it home to their wives.

The houses of the islanders are huts built precisely in the manner of those in Kamtchatka, with the entry through a hold in the middle of the roof. In one of these huts live several families, to the amount of thirty or forty persons. They keep themselves warm by means of whale fat burnt in shells, which they place between their legs. The women set apart from the men. . . .

* Parki in Russian signifies a shirt, the coats of these islanders being made like shirts.

** The instrument made us of by the Kamtchadals, to procure fire, is a board with several holes, and turned about swiftly, until the wood within the holes begins to burn, where there is tinder ready to catch the sparks.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Item of the Day: More of Abraham Bishop's Oration in Honor of the Election of President Jefferson, and the peaceable Acquisition of Louisiana (1804)

Full Title: Oration, In Honor of the Election of President Jefferson, and the Peaceable Acquisition of Louisiana, delivered at the National Festival, in Hartford, on the 11th of May, 1804. By Abraham Bishop. Printed for the General Committee of Republicans. From Sidney's Press, 1804.

We shall not do injustice to the occasion, which has convened us, if we improve the remainder of it in examining the peculiar attitude of this state in respect to this important acquisition and the other measures of the general government.

This state has furnished no part of the votes, by which President Jefferson was elected, no part of the wise counsels by which Louisiana was obtained, and the honorable and reverend federal republicans* who convened yesterday, do not rejoice in the event which we celebrate.

Formerly decency was outraged, if the character of the President and the measures of government were not treated with respect: now decency is outraged, if both be not treated with marked contempt. Formerly the friends of the general government held all the offices in this State, and afferted loudly the political infallibility of the majority of the Union: Now those offices are holden by the enemies of the government, and republicans have been treated with as much severity as if they had destroyed the first born of every family, for the mere crime of having applied principles, which federalists lately held sacred and inviolable. The exterior of this state has been democratic, and every thing promised attachment to such a system of measures as is now pursued: Yet religion has always been in danger and under pretence of this danger, measures, which the people would from their natural habits have abhorred, have been approved, and measures, which they would have approved, have been reprobated; yet in all these alarms not one federal priest, deacon, judge or lawyer considered his own religion in danger. All were alarmed about the religion of their neighbors, yet not one man could be found in the state, who had any apprehension for his own.

Every seeming enigma of this kind may be solved by a correct explanation of facts.

The charter of Charles 2d. gave to Connecticut power to raise armies, levy war and do many things, wholly inconsistent with our relation to the federal government, but provided well enough, for the day of it, the means by which the people of this, then thinly settled colony, might govern themselves.

At the declaration of independence this charter became of no effect, and it was proper that the people of this free state should, like the people of other free states, have been convened to form a constitution: But the legislature, which was not impowered for that purpose, and which may repeal at pleasure its own laws, usurped the power of enacting, that the form of government, contained in the charter of king Charles, should be the civil constitution of this state. Thus by the pleasure of his majesty all the legislative, executive and judicial powers of government tumbled into a common mass, together with the power of raising armies, whenever the stockholders of power should think best.

This precise condition of society, absurd and unsafe as it is in theory, has proved far more so in practice. At the present moment all these powers, together with a complete control of elections, is in the hands of seven lawyers**, who have gained a seat at the council board. -- These seven virtually make and repeal laws as they please, appoint all the judges, plead before those judges, and constitute themselves a supreme court of errors to decide in the last resort on the laws of their own making. To crown this absurdity, they have repealed a law which prohibited them to plead before the very court of which they are judges.

. . .

This shews under what influence the legislative and executive powers of our government are dispensed.

*Not long since the very term Republican, was reprobated by the federalists here, who now call themselves Federal Republicans.
**These seven lawyers are, Mess'rs Daggett, Smith, C. Goodrich, Brace, Allen, Edmonds, and E. Goodrich, holding the same undefined powers, which their predecessors have held, and which their successors will hold, till we shall have a constitution. The term, seven men, will be used (as was the term, directory, under the French government) signifying the depository of supreme power. Every obnoxious act in force will be justly considered their act, till they shall repeal it.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Item of the Day: Steuben’s Order of Discipline

Full Title: Regulations for the order and discipline of the troops of the United States. Philadelphia: Printed by Charles Cist, No. 104 North Second-street, M,DCC,XCIV.

Of the Treatment of the Sick.
There is nothing which gains an officer the love of his soldiers more than his care of them under the distress of sickness; it is then he has the power of exerting his humanity in providing them every comfortable necessary, and making their situation as agreeable as possible.

Two or three tents should be set apart in every regiment for the reception of such sick as cannot be sent to the general hospital, or whose cases may not require it. And every company shall be constantly furnished with two sacks, to be filled occasionally with straw, and serve as beds for the sick. These sacks to be provided in the same manner as cloathing [sic] for the troops, and finally issued by the regimental clothier to the captain of each company, who shall be answerable for the same.

When a soldier dies, or is dismissed from the hospital, the straw he lay on is to be burnt, and the bedding well washed and aired before another is permitted to use it.

The serjeants [sic] and corporals shall every morning at roll-call give a return of the sick of their respective squads to the first serjeant, who must make out one for the company, and lose no time in delivering it to the surgeon, who will immediately visit them, and order such as he thinks proper to the regimental hospital; such whose cases require their being sent to the general hospital, he is to report immediately to the surgeon general, or principal surgeon attending the army.

Once every week (and oftener when required) the surgeon will deliver the commanding officer of the regiment a return of the sick of the regiment, with their disorders, distinguishing those in the regimental hospital, from those out of it.

When a soldier is sent to the hospital, the non-commissioned officer of his squad shall deliver up his arms and accoutrements to the commanding officer of the company, that they may be deposited in the regimental arm-chest.

When a soldier has been sick, he must not be put on duty till he has recovered sufficient strength, of which the surgeon should be judge.

The surgeons are to remain with their regiments as well as on a march as in camp, that in case of sudden accidents they may be at hand to apply the proper remedies.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Item of the Day: Oration, In Honor of the Election of President Jefferson, and the peaceable Acquisition of Louisiana (1804)

Full Title: Oration, In Honor of the Election of President Jefferson, and The Peaceable Acquisition of Louisiana, Delivered at the National Festival, in Hartford, on the 11th of May, 1804 by Abraham Bishop. Printed for the General Committee of Republicans. From Sidney's Press, 1804.

We are not convened to do homage to a tyrant, nor to parade the virtues of a President and Senate for life, nor to bow before a First Consul, nor to bed the knee before a host of privileged orders; but we have assembled to pay our annual respects to a President, whom the voice of his country has called to the head of the freest and happiest nation on earth.

While Providence is giving to Britons a solemn commentary on the burning of our towns and the murder of our brethren, we are enjoying the fruits of a glorious defence against the passive obedience, which her insatiate court attempted to impose on us, as a punishment for the high misdemeanors of having descended from themselves, of having fought liberty of mind and conscience in this new world, and of having resolved to be free.

While France is learning, under awful impressions, the danger of delegating power without limit, and of trusting to ambition and the sword what ought to remain in the sacred deposit of peace and legislative counsel, the people of most of our States enjoy the full benefit of free elections, and derive from them all the blessings, which the best state of society admits.

While symptoms of death have seized on the governments of the eastern continent, and are hurrying them to that grave, which has buried all the ancient empires, we, are in youth, advancing to maturity rapidly, as a found constitution well guarded, and the best nourishment well administered can advance us.

The history of the world teaches that nations, like men, must decay. Ours will not forever escape the fate of others. Wealth, luxury, vice, aristocracies will attack us in our decline: these are evils of society, never to be courted, but to be put to as distant a day as possible. -- The season of national youth, of vigor, of pure principles and fair prospects is peculiarly a season of joy. -- We have lived at a period, more eventful than any which can recur. Having passed the dark season of our revolution, having witnessed the birth of our empire, having combated the tendency of an administration, which fought to rank us with nations, whose systems of eternal war and debt we abhorred, which publicly approved the doctrines of the old school, and in every measure founded our retreat to the runins of the old world, we have lived to see a real republic, combining all the blessings for which our fathers professed to embrace this country, and distressing none but the enemies of civil and religious liberty.

. . .

Uniform respect for the sovereign people and for peace has characterized our President: his ears have been open to the voice of the people, who called him to his high office, and he has waited till that voice was distinctly expressed. In the present case the southern people called loudly for the acquisition, republicans were united in sentiment, and federalists declared that Louisiana was worth the price of blood. -- To kings and the lovers of a President and Senate for life be it left to shed blood for territory; our President saw in amicable negociation a prospect of gaining the desired possession. -- He might have marshaled armies and bid defiance to the mighty power of France -- the blood of your sons and brothers might have flown like the waters of the Ohio and reddened the Mississippi, and this would have been the only export ever acquired -- the banks of that majestic river would have furnished another scene of whitened bones, and this would have been the only right of deposit ever secured! Louisiana would have remained the proud possession of France, and land of citadels, from which all the southern world would have been successfully annoyed. The wilderness, now blossoming as the rose, and filled with the shouts of republican husbandmen, would have been restored to beasts of prey. The rice of blood would indeed have been paid, but the object forever defeated!

. . .

To federalists this territory, for which they would have shed blood, now seems a barren waste, where no verdure quickens; but to us it appears fruitful, abounding in broad rivers and streams, producing whatever is necessary to our commerce with foreign nations. We see in Louisiana an assurance of long life to our cause. The Atlantic states, as they advance to that condition of society, where wealth and luxury tend to vice and aristocracies, will yield to that country accessions of enterprizing men. The spirit of faction, which tends to concentrate, will be destroyed by this diffusion. We see in this acquisition the enterprize, which it excites, the fraternity which it promises, an asylum for the oppressed of all nations, without fear of an alien act, destroying the germs of war and opening the spring of that century of seasons, which exhibits the whole western continent detached from the wars of the eastern, from its kings, its first consuls, and nobles, from vast plans of dominion by conquest, a country producing the best and making it the interest of all nations to trade with us, promising a rich addition of revenue to expedite a legal oblivion to a detested funding system.

. . .

We have before rejoiced that the aristocratic factions of our country were humbled -- that the energetic measures of the reign of terror were at an end, and that in the person of our first magistrate was expressed the public sentiment in favor of the principles of our revolution. While greater lamentation and woe have been heard among federalists than was founded in Ramah, because they had lost not only their first-born, but nearly the whole of their family, we have rejoiced in the constant increase of confidence in our administration, produced by a conviction of the integrity and utility of its measures. The people of other nations are born to see some hereditary potentate over them, scattering death and desolation, wasting their substance, dragging their children to the slaughter, and conducting as if they had been sent on earth merely to curse every portion of it, to which their power extended -- but we see at our head a man, whom the people have literally delighted to honor, whose life has been republican and whose services have been devoted to an experimental illustration of that political system which the philosophers of the east always considered visionary. He is demonstrating that a republican government is the strongest on earth and the will of the people, faithfully expressed, forms the most perfect system of laws and policy: A talk far more elevated than that of making marble pincushions.*

In the acquisition which we celebrate, he has exhibited the characteristic difference of system between the parties. Federalists would have shed blood for Louisiana, he preferred to purchase it from the right owners. They love the expensive and energetic measures of the old school, he prefers the pure, peaceful principles, the truth and value of which were sealed by the ceaseless labors and dangers of an army of freemen.

This acquisition did not rise as would a palace from the midst of ruins, but it arose naturally from a course of measures, having for their basis peace, economy, equal rights and honest friendship for all nations. Union in these sentiments has produced a festival from Orleans to New Hampshire, and it must add not a little to the occasion that this last state is substantially added to the republican force. Massachusetts and Connecticut are the solitary mourners over the remains of federalism.

*See Mr. Daggett's oration, where the republican system of Mr. Jefferson is represented to be as idle and visionary as would be an attempt to make pincushions from marble.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Item of the Day: A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations Into the Parts of America (1658)

Full Title: A Briefe Narration of the Originall Undertakings of the Advancement of Plantations Into the parts of America. Especially, Shewing the begining, progress and continuance of that of New-England. Written by the right Worshipfull, Sir Ferdinando Gorges Knight and Governour of the Fort and Island of Plymouth in Devonshire. London: Printed by E. Brundenell, for Nath. Brook at the Angell in Corn-hill, 1658.

Chapter I.

Of the First Seisin Possession and Name of VIRGINIA.

That Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and Sir Richard Grenvile, and many others, Noble spirits of our Nation attempted to settle a Plantation in the parts of America, in the Reigne of Queen Elizabeth is sufficiently published in the painfull collections of Mr. Hackluit, together with the variable successes, of those undertakers of whose labour and charge there remained no other fruit then the Primor seisin and royal possession taken thereof, as of right belonging to the Crown of England, giving it the name of Virginia, in the memory and Honour of the virgin Queen, the wonder of her Sex; by whose authority those attempts took their first life, and dyed not till the actors ended their daies, and their cheife supporters, and advancers tryed with so many fruitless attempts and endless charge without hope of profit to follow for many ages to come; so that, that attempt had its end, as many others since that of greater hopes and better grounded, but what shall we say? As nothing is done but according to the time some decreed by God's sacred Providence, so doth he provide wherewith to accomplish the same in the fulness of it, but the mirror of Queens being summoned to the possession of a more Glorious Reigne, left her terrestriall Crown to her Successor James, the Sixth of Scotland, to whom of right it did belong.

Chapter II.

The Reasons and meanes of renewing the undertakings of Plantations in America.

This great Monarch gloriously ascending his Throne, being borne to greatnesse above his Ancestors, to whom all submitted as to another Salemon, for wisedome and justice, as well as for that he brought with him another Crown, whereby those Kingdomes that had so long contended for rights and liberties, perhaps oft times pretended rather to satisfie their present purposes, then that justice required it; but such is the frailty of humane nature as not to be content with what we possesse, but strives by all meanes to enthrall the weaker that is necessistated to prevent the worst, though by such meanes sometimes to their greater ruine; With this Union there was also a generall peace concluded between the State, and the King of Spaine, the then onely enemy of our Nation and Religion, whereby our men of war by Sea and land were left destitute of all hope of imployment under their owne Prince; And therefore there was liberty given to them (for preventing other evils) to be entertained as Mercenaries under what Prince or State they pleased; A liberty granted upon shew of reason, yet of dangerous consequence, when our friends and Allyes that had long travelled with us in one and the same quarrell, should now finde our swords sharpned as well against, as for them; Howsoever reason of State approved thereof, the World forbore not to censure it as their affections led them, others grew jealous what might be the issuees, especially when it was found that by such liberty the sword was put into their hands, the Law had prohibited them the use; Some there were not liking to be servants to forreigne States, thought it better became them to put in practice the reviving resolution of those free Spirits, that rather chose to spend themselves in seeking a new World, then servilely to be hired by as Slaughterers in the Quarrels of Strangers; This resolution being stronger then their meanes to put it into execution, they were forced to let it rest as a dreame, till God should give the meanes to stir up the inclination of such a power able to bring it to life; And so it pleased our great God that there hapned to come into the harbour of Plymouth (where I then commanded) one Captain Waymouth that had been imployed by the Lord Arundell of Warder for the discovery of the North-west passage.

But falling short of is Course, hapned into a River on the Coast of America, called Pemmaquid, from whence he brought five of the Natives, three of whose names were Manida, Skettwarroes, and Tasquantum, whom I seized upon; they were all of one Nation, but of severall parts, and severall Families; This accident must be acknowledged the meanes under God of putting on foote, and giving life to all our Plantations, as by the ensuing discourse will manifestly appeare.

Chapter III.

Of the use I made of the Natives.

After I had those people sometimes in my custody, I observed in them an inclination to follow the example of the better sort; And in all their carriages manifest shewes of great civility farre from the rudenesse of our common people; And the longer I conversed with them, the better hope they gave me of those parts where they did inhabit, as proper for our uses, especially when I found what goodly Rivers, stately Islands, and safe harbours those parts abounded with, being the speciall marks I levelled at as the onely want our Nation met with in all their Navigations along that Coast, and having kept them full three yearses, I made them able to set me downe what great Rivers ran up into the Land, what Men of note were seated on them, what power they were of, how allyed, what enemies they had, and the like of which in his proper place.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Item of the Day: Mirabeau's Lettres des Cachet (1787)

Full Title:

Enquiries concerning lettres de cachet, the consequences of arbitrary imprisonment, and a history of the inconveniences, distresses and sufferings of state prisoners, by Honoré-Gabriel de Riquetti, comte de Mirabeau. In two volumes, written in the dungeon of the Castle of Vincennes. With a preface by the translator. London, G. G. J. and J. Robinson, 1787.


The title of the present work seems only to announce a discussion purely local, and uninteresting to any other than the French nation; this, however, is far from being the case. The author, plunged a second time into a state dungeon, by an arbitrary mandate, in which dreary abodes he had the opportunity at length offered him by the late lieutenant of police, of committing to paper, at great personal risk, as liberal and noble sentiments as have ever proceeded from a generous and enlightened mind.

Had the Count de Mirabeau confined himself, like the celebrated Mr. Linguet, in his Memoirs of the Bastile, to details of his own sufferings, however interesting the history of human misery must ever be to human nature, the translator would not have given himself the trouble of celebrating an egotist: but when he saw the author availing himself of his subject, to descant on the dreadful abuses of arbitrary power in every country, and in every age, and pointing out, with an admirable accuracy, great knowledge, and exquisite sensibility, the fatal consequences of the slightest infringement on the natural rights of mankind, and, really, making his own sufferings but a secondary object in his undertaking, the translator, who glories in thinking with such men, determined to contribute his mite to the propagation of such principles, and, by submitting to his countrymen so affecting a display of the progress of despotism, to shew them how imperceptibly and completely a nation may lose its liberties, and be reduced to a desperate state of ostentatious, but wretched servitude.

Facilis descensus Averni,
Sed revocare gradum; hic labor, hoc opus est!

The first part of this work embraces a variety of politico-philosophical questions, as the author stiles them, of the most extensive and general utility. Besides a very learned and laborious discussion of natural right, the fatal effects of the union of the civil and ecclesiastical powers, the origin of all government, and the social right of punishment, richly illustrated by notes, it contains a very neat and precise history of the progress of despotism in France, the chain of artful and violent measures by which it has arrived at its present uncontrolled state of exercise, and a series of specific proofs of the national privileges once possessed by that enslaved people, a subject hitherto discussed but vaguely, and but little understood in England.

The reader will find too, in the tenth chapter, a very ingenious and useful enquiry into the police of great cities, as connected with public liberty, exemplified in those of Amsterdam, London, and Paris, wherein he will see an admirable delineation of the enormities, not beauties as Englishmen are artfully wished to believe, of the latter metropolis, that sink of vice, violence, and insecutiry.

In the twelfth chapter is a cursory view of the history of France, and the French monarch, from the reign of Philip le Bel to the present time, drawn by a most masterly hand, and, as the translator thinks, with strict impartiality, but marked with the hardy traits of a zealous and determined enemy to tyranny. Louis XIV, that insolent despot, whose character, as it escapes from the blaze of false glory, has been long declining in the eye of impartial justice, is here stripped of all his arrogant pretensions, and delivered over to the present age, and to posterity, as one of the most fatal scourges that ever ruled, and tyrannized over a generous people; nay, even as a fastidious pretender to the patronage of the arts and sciences, the strong-hold of his flatterers, and the remnant of his tottering reputation.

The reign of Louis the well-beloved too is pourtrayed with no less ability and boldness; nor does he hesitate to point ou tthe enourmities of the present established system of government, nor to express a noble indignation at the complete triumph o fdespotism, and the downfal of public freedom and public spirit in his country.

Throughout this part, as well as in the whole work, the author passes many deserved eulogiums on the English constitution, interspersed into such just and salutary structures on its actual states, and the perils it has to apprehend, as cannot be unwelcome to any real friend to freedom. His superior mind soars about the authority of names, and every predilection not founded on real utility, and on the solid basis of permanent public good. He combats with as much intrepedity, but always with respect, the erroneous positions of a Montesquieu, or a Blackstone, as he would trample on the sophisticated and dangerous dogmas of a Filmer, a Shebbaeare, a Johnson, or a Markham.

In the second part, is the detail of his own sufferings in the dungeon of Vincennes, and the usual mode of treatment in state prisons, with an exquisite portrait of one of those monsters, with which France in infested, who, through scenes of adulation, and every species of infamy, though decorated with the insignia of military merit, arrive at the still more odious occupation than the executioner's, that of being the perpetual torturers of their fellow-creatures. The manner in which this detail is given, though sufficiently minute, is neither trivial nor uninteresting. Self does not constitute its leading feature, as in that of Mr. Linguet. The author's philanthropy and sensibility are universal; his feelings are exquisitely painted, but his is a manly sorrow; nor can any generous mind refuse a tear of sympathy with him, for the cruel anguish of the wretched thousands, groaning in these horrid mansions.

The translator will only add, that the above eulogium is no more than the genuine tribute of an uninterested and sincere admiration of the work, which he would not have attempted to clothe in his native language, did it not contain principles and sentiments congenial with his own, and under the hope of being useful to mankind. Of the execution he shall say nothing, but request the indulgence of the reader for occasional errors, as he is at a great distance from a very careful press, it is true, but without the possibility of correcting it.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Item of the Day: Society in America (1837)

Full Title: Society in America by Harriet Martineau, Author of "Illustrations of Political Economy." in Two Volumes. Vol. I. New York Saunders and Otley, Ann Street, and Conduit Street, London. 1837.

Section VII.


One of the fundamental principles announced in the Declaration of Independence is, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. How can the political condition of women be reconciled with this?

Governments in the United States have power to tax women who hold property; to divorce them from their husbands; to fine, imprison, and execute them for certain offences. whence do these governments derive their powers? They are not "just," as they are not derived from the consent of the women thus governed.

. . .

The democratic principle condemns all this as wrong; and requires the equal political representation of all rational beings. children, idiots, and criminals, during the season of sequestration, are the only fair exceptions.

The case is so plain that I might close it here; but it is interesting to inquire how so obvious a decision has been so evaded as to leave to women no political rights whatever. The question has been asked, from time to time, in more countries than one, how obedience to the laws can be required of women, when no woman has, either actually or virtually, given any assent to any law. No plausible answer has, as far as I can discover, been offered; for the good reason, that no plausible answer can be devised. The most principled democratic writers on government have on this subject sunk into fallacies, as disgraceful as any advocate of despotism has adduced. In fact, they have thus sunk from being, for the moment, advocates of despotism. Jefferson in America, and James Mill at home, subside, for the occasion, to the level of the author of the Emperor of Russia's catechism for the young Poles.

Jefferson says, "Were our State a pure democracy, in which all the inhabitants should meet together to transact all their business, there would yet be excluded from their deliberations,

1. Infants, until arrived at years of discretion;
2. Women, who, to prevent deprivation of morals, and ambiguity of issue, could not mix promiscuously in the public meetings of men;
3. Slaves, from whom the unfortunate state of things with us takes away the rights of will and of property."

If the slave disqualification, here assigned, were shifted up under the head of Women, their case would be nearer the truth than as it now stands. Woman's lack of will and of property, is more like the true cause of her exclusion from the representation, than that which is actually set down against her. As if there could be no means of conducting public affairs but by promiscuous meetings! As if there would be more danger in promiscuous meetings for political business than in such meetings for worship, for oratory, for music, for dramatic entertainments, -- for any of the thousand transactions of civilized life! The plea is not worth another word.

. . .

Some who desire that there should be an equality of property between men and women, oppose representation, on the ground that political duties would be incompatible with the other duties which women have to discharge. The reply to this is, that women are the best judges here. God has given time and power for the discharge of all duties; and, if he had not, it would be for women to decide which they would take, and which they would leave. But their guardians follow the ancient fashion of deciding what is best for their wards. The Emperor of Russia discovers when a coat of arms and title do not agree with a subject prince. The King of France early perceives that the air of Paris does not agree with a free-thinking foreigner. The English Tories feel the hardship that it would be to impose the franchise on every artizan, busy as he is in getting his bread. The Georgian planter perceives the hardship that freedom would be to his slaves. And the best friends of half the human race preemptorily decide for them as to their rights, their duties, their feelings, their powers. In these cases, the persons thus cared for feel that the abstract decision rests with themselves; that, though they may be compelled to submit, they need not acquiesce.

. . .

That woman has power to represent her own interests, no one can deny till she has been tried. The modes need not be discussed here: they must vary with circumstances. The fearful and absurd images which are perpetually called up to perplex the question, -- images of women on woolsacks in England, and under canopies in America, have nothing to do with the matter. The principle being once established, the methods will follow, easily, naturally, and under a remarkable transmutation of the ludicrous into the sublime. The kings of Europe would have laughed mightily, two centuries ago, at the idea of a commoner, without robes, crown or sceptre, stepping into the throne of a strong nation. Yet who dared to laugh when Washington's super-royal voice greeted the New World from the presidential chair, and the old world stood still to catch the echo?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Item of the Day: Proceedings of the French National Convention on the Trial of Louis XVI.

Full Title: Proceedings of the French National Convention on the trial of Louis XVI. Late king of France and Navarre; to which are added, several interesting occurrences and particulars attending the treatment, sentence and execution of the ill-fated monarch; the whole carefully collected from authentic documents, and republished with additions, from the paper of The World. By Joseph Trapp, A.M. London: Printed for the author; Sold by Messrs. Murray, Kearsley, and Wenman and Co. Fleet-street; Ridgway, York-street, St. James’s; Deighton, Holborn; Downes, and M’Queen, Strand; and at the World Office, 1793.

From the moment Louis XVI. had attempted to fly the kingdom, and was brought back from Varennes to Paris, a continual torrent of misfortunes rushed upon him, which nothing could stop till it had swept away the tide of his wretched existence. The generality of the inhabitants of Paris, excited by the leading members of the Legislative Assembly, seduced from their principles by the licentiousness of the press, by means of which every effort was used to denigrate the character of the unfortunate Prince and his family, were now quite against him, and sought eagerly for opportunities to insult and grieve him, and to ill-treat those individuals who were determined to remain his friends and loyal subjects. Emigration—the conduct of the French princess at foreign courts—the invasion of the French territories by the combined armies—the massacres on the 10th of August and those which followed in the beginning of September, soured still more the public opinion against the King; he became the object in whom all their hatred and resentment concentrated. He and his family were confined in the temple, royalty was abolished, a National Convention convened, and France declared a republic. Not the smallest traces of royalty were left behind; the crown, scepter, and other insignia of royalty were broke and sent to the mint, and every statue, or monument of Kings, wantonly destroyed; even the ashes of the dead were insulted by those profane innovators, they were taken out of the quiet tomb, and burnt or scattered in the most disgraceful manner. For the name of King, that of Tyrant substituted; morality and good order fled from the kingdom; the ministers of the Altar were most rigorously prosecuted, and those who had not the good fortune to fly, fell victims to their principles. The new created National Convention did every thing to propagate their principles of modern philosophy; they insulted the very name of religion, and by so doing dissolved every tie of morality among the vulgar, who abandoned themselves to the most profligate and iniquitous excesses. When royalty had been abolished, commissaries were sent to the temple to signify the decree to the King; he heard his degradation without distorting a feature of his countenance; and when he was ordered to give up his star and ribband, he resigned them cheerfully; from that moment he was treated as a common individual, not with compassion but with rudeness, and consummate cruelty. In the beginning, the KING’s confinement was not close, and he could walk about the temple, but on Sunday the 30th of September, the Council General of the Commons of Paris, who were entrusted with the safety of royal captives, ordered the following decree to be put into execution at 11 o’clock in the evening;
  1. That Louis XVI. Be immediately conducted to the Great Tower of the Temple, and confined in a private room.
  2. That Antoinette be separated from her husband, and confined in a separate cell.
  3. That they be deprived of the use of pens, paper, ink, pencils, books, offensive and defensive arms, all the plate, and every other article not absolutely necessary.
  4. That their Valet be put under arrest.
  5. That the citizen Hebert be joined to the five commissaries already appointed to guard the prisoners.
  6. The council authorize the said commissaries to execute this order instantly, and impower [sic] them to use every means that their prudence will suggest, for the safety of these hostages of the combination of tyrants.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Item of the Day: The Harvard Lyceum (1810)

Full Title: The Harvard Lyceum Published in 1810 & 1811 Cambridge: Published, Semi-Monthly, by Hilliard and Metcalf. 1811

No. 2, Vol. I

Cambridge, July 28, 1810


To every Americana the name of liberty is a grateful sound. Talk to the drowsy Turk, or the ignorant Spaniard, of the enjoyment of his natural rights, and he feels no emotion; but the man, who has once tasted the sweets of freedom, has learnt, that without it life is a worthless gift. Every native of this happy land, taught to dread slavery as that severest curse, can well appreciate his privileges; and when called upon to surrender them, and submit to foreign restraint, indignation and honor nerve his arm, and he prepares to show the world how dear the temerity of those must cost them, who attempt to strip him of what nature gave.

These remarks were suggested by the recent celebration of our glorious anniversary. The ardour of patriotism, which was kindled by the recurrence of this day, has in a degree subsided, and given place to sober reason. Let us seize this opportunity to make some remarks, which demand the exercise of that faculty. The present manner of commemorating the birth day of our country is sanctioned by a custom of thirty years’ continuance. Such age surely deserves reverence. Do not fear lest I should refuse this just respect – I will not inconsiderately deny the propriety of the usual mode of expressing our joy on this joyful occasion; but I will leave it to my countrymen to conclude, how far this inference follows. What, then, I will ask, is the object of this celebration? Is it merely to hear an oration and prepare for a splendid entertainment? Any other day in the calendar is equally appropriate. The true object of this pageant is, to pay a just tribute to the heroes and sages who achieved our independence, to take a retrospect of our country’s struggles, and, by the price our freedom cost, to learn to estimate it justly, and inhale a spirit of patriotism, which shall be its future Palladium. So far as the present mode of commemorating this day answers these purposes, so far it is worthy of a free and enlightened people; if it fails of this effect, it is worse than trifling; it vitiates the populace.

How far does this celebration promote the designs of the festival? How few, amidst so much parade, remember the cause! How few, by calling to mind the bloody scenes of the revolution, are made better men or more zealous patriots. I wish I could say otherwise of my countrymen; but the truth is obvious. Observe the crowd on this occasion, and calculate how large a proportion come merely to see such a concourse; how many to join their acquaintance, equally idle, and equally ignorant. The lower grade of citizens, illiterate and indigent, meet to gaze at their superiours and salute their equals; another equally worthless grade, better clad indeed, but full as light, assemble on this day, because it affords an opportunity of dissipating time, which would otherwise hang heavy on their hands, and of appearing learned and patriotick. To either of these classes of citizens the anniversary ceremony brings no advantages – it adds to the profanity of the first, binds still stronger the bonds of poverty, and increases their misery – it confirms the vanity and self-conceit of the second, without improving their minds, their patriotism, or their virtue. But there is another order of citizens, of whom I can speak with more pleasure. Yes, my countrymen, we have men, whose hearts, as they assemble on this sacred day, beat high in unison with the patriotick pulse of ’75. Such men view the day in a proper light, and wish to recount the deeds of our forefathers, that they may learn to go and do likewise; and while they learn the value of our inestimable privileges, they make a silent compact with heart and hand, gloriously to defend and transmit them unimpaired.

Such are the feelings of this valuable part of the community, and such their object, when they assemble to listen to the orator of the day. But are these orations generally such, as to favour and promote this object? Alas! My country, I blush, when I answer in the negative. How long shall the feeble triteness, or the unmeaning fustian of these performances disgust the friends of American and the defenders of her literary character? If these are correct specimens of American talents and learning, well may we plead guilty to the imputations of weakness and want of literary taste, which are urged against us by Europeans. The Edinburgh reviewers bring as a proof of our small progress in learning, that no one has yet been able to tell the story of that revolution, which gave us freedom, in a tolerable style. Perhaps the time is not far distant, should the Corsican usurper survive, when his ministers will affirm that America, who has never been able to celebrate her birth day with proper splendour and ability, deserves not independence.

I hope no one will accuse me of sinister motives, or improper bias, when I hazard a few remarks on the late independence orations. Let those who have read Mr. Townsend’s oration judge, whether my remarks on it are just. In this I think his division of the active causes of our independence into “feelings, manners, and principles,” is scarcely logical. It is a division without nature, or if it is a natural division, he leaves it very obscure. Nor can I call my country’s fortunes, as Mr. Townsend does, a “comedy of errours.” Even though Columbus might “blunder” toward this continent, (to speak in the elegant language of Mr. Townsend,) yet I cannot grant, that we “blundered” into independence, nor can I hope that our country will, at some future time, “blunder” into glory. On the whole, I cannot think this performance worthy to have been written by an alumnus of Harvard University, or to be heard by the enlightened citizens of our metropolis.

Mr. Lincoln’s performance, though not marked with that limping feebleness, which sinks Mr. Townsend’s below criticism, is yet as offensive from its noisy rant. When he talks of connexion with Britain he seems furious. But he should recollect, that showing hatred toward other countries, is not evincing love for his own. Should my companion tell me, that he hated all mankind beside myself, so far from thinking it followed that he loved me, I should be well persuaded of the contrary. Mr. Lincoln also strives to prove the misery brought upon the inhabitants of the Indies by British connexion. A greater proof of miscalculation and ignorance does not appear in the whole work. We know, that in the war which subdued the Indies, as in all other wars, many were slaughtered, and perhaps unnecessary barbarities committed; but event he enemies of the British government acknowledge, that the people of India are much happier under the regular and pacifick establishment of the English, than when murdering and tormenting one another with intestine wars.

I feel relieved from a burden, when I pass from such productions, to the oration of Mr. Metcalf, delivered at Dedham. This deserves a considerable share of praise. The writer shows some genius and laudable goodness of heart. When this gentleman defends the conduct of our ancestors on virtuous principles, I hope every American joins sincerely in his opinion. He declares, that our fathers fought in defence of rights – this is in fact, and what all ought to know. Here mark what Mr. Townsend says – that our country was “of age to be free;” she had found out this, therefore she was free. A small share of common sense can easily show the folly and absurdity of this reasoning. I cannot stand to refute such palpable misstatements; my object being to contrast Mr. Metcalf’s correct judgment and honourable principles, with the ignorance and perverse opinions of Mr. Townsend.

In the arbitrary notion, that we ought to be free, there are no limits. It will apply even now to any part of our Union, any part of France, any part of England.

The foregoing remarks are necessarily extremely general. I do not say, that the orations of preceding years were not equally faulty, but I do hope, that none so pitiful will ever again insult us in a printed pamphlet. I hope, for the honour of my country and the good of my fellow-citizens, that these duties will, in future, be discharged by men, who can justly eulogize past worth; who can add to our literary character, and strengthen our love of country.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Item of the Day: Rush's Essays (1798)

Full Title: Essays, Literary, Moral & Philosophical by Benjamin Rush, M.D. And Professor the Institutes of Medicine and Clinical A Practice in the University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas & Samuel F. Bradford, No. 8, South Front Street. 1798

Biographical Anecdote of Anthony Benezet.

This excellent man was placed by his friends in early life in a counting house, but finding commerce opened temptations to a worldly spirit, he left his master, and bound himself as an apprentice to a cooper. Finding this business too laborious for his constitution, he declined it, and devoted himself to school-keeping; in which useful employment, he continued during the greatest part of his life.

He possessed uncommon activity and industry in everything he undertook. He did everything as if the words of his Saviour were perpetually founding in his ears, "wist ye not, that I must be about my Father's business?"

He used to say, "the highest act of charity in the world was to bear with the unreasonableness of mankind."

He generally wore plush clothes, and gave as a reason for it, that after he had worn them for two or three years, they made comfortable and decent garments for the poor.

He once informed a young friend that his memory began to fail him; "but this," said he,"gives me one great advantage over thee -- for thou canst find entertainment in reading a good book only once -- but I enjoy that pleasure as often as I read it; for it is always new to me."

He published several valuable tracts in favor of the emancipation of the blacks, and of the civilizing and christianizing the Indians. He also published a pamphlet against the use of ardent spirits. All these publications were circulated with great industry, and at his own expense, throughout every part of the United States.

He wrote letters to the queen of Great-Britain, and to the queen of Portugal to use their influence with their respective courts to abolish the African trade. He accompanied his letters to the queen of Great-Britain with a present of his works. The queen received them with great politeness, and said after reading them "that the author appeared to be a very good man."

He also wrote a letter to the king of Prussia, in which he endeavoured to convince him of the unlawfulness of war.

During the time the British army was in possession of the city of Philadelphia, he was indefatigable in his endeavours to render the situation of the persons who suffered from captivity as easy as possible. He knew no fear in the presence of his fellow men, however dignified they were by titles or station, and such were the propriety and gentleness of his manners in his intercourse with the gentlemen who commanded the British and German troops, that when he could not obtain the objects of his requests, he never failed to secure their civilities, and frequently their esteem.

So great was his sympathy with every thing that was capable of feeling pain, that he resolved towards the close of his life, to eat no animal food. Upon coming into his brother's house one day, when his family was dining upon poultry, he was asked by his brother's wife, to sit down and dine with them. "What! (said he) would you have me eat my neighbours?"

This misapplication of a moral feeling, was supposed to have brought on such a debility in his stomach and bowels, as produced a disease in those parts of which he finally died.

Few men, since the days of the apostles, ever lived a more disinterested life. And yet, upon his death bed, he said, he wished to live a little longer, that "he might bring down SELF."

The last time he ever walked across his room, was to take from his desk six dollars, which he gave to a poor widow whom he had long assisted to maintain.

He bequeated after the death of his widow, a house and lot in which consisted his whole estate, to the support of a school of the education of negro children, which he had founded and taught for several years before his death.

He died in May 1784, in the 71st year of his age.

His funeral was attended to persons of all religous denominations, and by many hundred black people.

Colonel J--n, who has served in the American army, during the late war, in returning from the funeral, pronounced an eulogium upon him. It consisted only of the following words: "I would rather," said he, "be Anthony Benezet in that coffin, than George Washington with all his fame."

July 15, 1788.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Item of the Day: Bailey's Dictionary (1736)

Full Title:

Dictionarium Britannicum: or a more compleat universal etymological English dictionary than any extant. By Nathan Bailey. Second Edition. London, T. Cox, 1736.

Title Page:

Or a more COMPLEAT
Than any EXTANT
Not only the Words and their Explication; but their Etymologies fron the Antient
British, Teutonick, Dutch Low and High, Old Saxon, German, Danish, Swedish, Norman and Modern French, Italian, Spanish, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, &c. each in its proper Character.

Explaining hard and technical Words, or Terms of Art, in all the ARTS, SCIENCES,
and MYSTERIES following. Together with ACCENTS directing to their proper Pronuntiation, shewing both the Orthography, and the Orthoepia of the English Tongue,


Algebra, Anatomy, Architecture, Arithmetick, Astrology, Astronomy, Botanicks, Catoptricks, Chymistry, Chiromancy, Chirurgery, Confectionary, Cookery, Cosmography, Dialling, Dioptricks, Ethicks, Fishing, Fortification, Fowling, Gardening, Gauging, Geography, Geometry, Grammar, Gunnery, Handicrafts, Hawking, Heraldry, Horsemanship, Hunting, Husbandry, Hydraulicks, Hydrography, Hydrostaticks, Law, Logick, Maritime and Military Affairs, Mathematicks, Mechanicks, Merchandize, Metaphysicks, Meteorology, Navigation, Opticks, Otacousticks, Painting, Perspective, Pharmacy, Philosophy, Physick, Physiognomy, Pyrotechny, Rhetorick, Sculpture, Staticks, Statuary, Surveying, Theology, and Trigonometry.

Illustrated with near Five Hundred CUTS, for giving a clear Idea of
those Figures, not so well apprehended by verbal description.

A Collection and Explanation of English PROVERBS; also of WORDS and PHRASES us'ed in our ancient Charters, Statutes, Writs, Old Records and Processes at Law.

The Iconology, Mythology, Theogony, and Theology of the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, &c. being an Account of their Deities, Solemnities, either Religious or Civil, their Divinations, Auguries, Oracles, Hieroglyphicks, and many other curious Matters, necessary to be understood, especially be the Readers of English POETRY.

To which is added,
A Collection of Proper Names of Persons and Places in Great-Britain, &c with their Etymologies and Explications.

The Whole digested into an Alphabetical Order, not only for the Information of the Ignorant, but the Entertainment of the Curious; and also the Benefit of Artificers, Tradesmen, Young Students and Foreigners.

A WORK useful for such as would UNDERSTAND what they READ and HEAR, SPEAK what they MEAN, and WRITE true ENGLISH.


Assisted in the Mathematical Part by G. GORDON; in the Botanical by P. MILLER; and in the Etymological, &c. by T. LEDIARD, Gent. Professor of the Modern Languages in Lower Germany.
L O N D O N:
Printed for T. COX, at the Lamb under the Royal-Exchange.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Item of the Day: Mrs. Piozzi’s Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy and Germany.

Full Title: Observations and Reflections Made in the Course of a Journey through France, Italy and Germany. By Hester Lynch Piozzi. Vol. I. London: Printed for A. Strahan, and T. Cadell, 1789.

I was made to observe at Rome some vestiges of an ancient custom very proper in those days—it was the parading of the streets by a set of people called Preciae, who went some minutes before the Flamen Dialis to bid the inhabitants leave work or play, and attend wholly to the procession; but if ill omens prevented the pageants from passing, or if the occasion of the show was deemed scarcely worthy its celebration, these Preciae stood a chance of being ill-treated by the spectators. A Prefatory introduction to a work like this, can hope little better usage from the Public than they had; it proclaims the approach of what often passed by before, adorned most certainly with greater splendour, perhaps conducted too with greater regularity and skill: Yet will I not despair of giving at least a momentary amusement to my countrymen in general, while their entertainment shall serve as a vehicle for conveying expressions of particular kindness to those foreign individuals, whose tenderness softened the sorrows of absence, and who eagerly endeavoured by unmerited attentions to supply the loss of their company on whom nature and habit had given me stronger claims.

That I should make some reflections, or write down some observations, in the course of a long journey, is not strange; that I should present them before the Public is I hope not too daring: the presumption grew up out of their acknowledged favour, and if too kind culture has encouraged a coarse plant till it runs to seed, a little coldness from the same quarter will soon prove sufficient to kill it. The flattering partiality of private partisans sometimes induces the authors to venture forth, and stand a public decision; but it is often found to betray them too; not to be tossed by waves of perpetual contention, but rather to sink in the silence of total neglect. What wonder! He who swims in oil must be buoyant indeed, if he escapes falling certainly, though gently, to the bottom; while he who commits his safety to the bosom of the wide-embracing ocean, is sure to be strongly supported, or at worst thrown upon the shore.

On this principle it has been still my study to obtain from a humane and generous Public that shelter their protection best affords from the poisoned arrows of private malignity; for though it is not difficult to despise the attempts of petty malice, I well not say with the Philosopher, that I mean to build a monument to my fame with the stones thrown at me to break my bones; nor yet pretend to the art of Swift’s German Wonder-doer, who promised to make them fall about his head like so many pillows. Ink, as it resembles Styx in its colour, should resemble it a little in its operation too; whoever has been once dipt should become invulnerable: But it is not so; the irritability of authors has long been enrolled among the comforts of ill-nature, and the triumphs of stupidity; such let it long remain! Let me at least take care in the worst storms that may arise in public or in private life, to say with Lear,

--I’m one
More sinn’d against, than sinning.

For the book—I have not thrown my thoughts into the form of letters; because a work of which truth is the best recommendation, should not above all others begin with a lie. My old acquaintance rather chose to amuse themselves with conjectures, than to flatter me with tender inquiries during my absence: our correspondence then would not have been any amusement to the Public, whose treatment of me deserves every possible acknowledgment; and more than those acknowledgments will I not add—to a work, which, such as it is, I submit to their candour, resolving to think as little of the event as I can help; for the labours of the press resemble those of the toilette, both should be attended to, and finished with care; but once complete, should take up no more of our attention; unless we are disposed at evening to destroy all effect of our morning’s study.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Item of the Day: Irving’s History of New York

Full Title: A History of New-York, from the beginning of the world to the end of the Dutch dynasty. Containing among many surprising and curious matters, the unutterable ponderings of Walter the Doubter, the disastrous achievements of Peter the Headstrong, and three Dutch governors of New Amsterdam; being the only authentic history of the times that ever hath been published. By Diedrich Knickerbocker. Vol. I. Philadelphia: Published by M. Thomas, 1819.

In which the Author puts a mighty question to the rout, by the assistance of the Man in the Moon—which not only delivers thousands of people from great embarrassment, but likewise concludes this introductory book.
The writer of a history may, in some respects, be likened unto an adventurous knight, who, having undertaken a perilous enterprise, by way of establishing his fame, feels bound in honour and chivalry, to turn back for no difficulty nor hardship, never to shrink or quail whatever enemy he may encounter. Under this impression, I resolutely draw my pen and fall to with might and main, those doughty questions and subtle paradoxes, which, like fiery dragons and bloody giants, beset the entrance to my history, and would fain repulse me from the very threshold. And at this moment a gigantic question has started up, which I must needs take by the beard and utterly subdue, before I can advance another step in my historic undertaking—but I trust this will be the last adversary I shall have to contend with, and that in the next book I shall be enabled to conduct my readers in triumph into the body of my work.

The question which has thus suddenly arisen, is, what right had the first discoverers of America to land and take possession of a country, without first gaining the consent of its inhabitants, or yielding them an adequate compensation for their territory?—a question which has withstood many fierce assaults, and has given much distress of mind to multitudes of kind hearted folk. And indeed, until it be totally vanquished, and put to rest, the worthy people of America can by no means enjoy the soil they inhabit, with clear right and title, and quiet, unsullied conscious.

The first source of right, by which property is acquired in a country, is DISCOVERY. For as all mankind have an equal right to any thing, which has never before been appropriated, so any nation, that discovers an uninhabited country, and takes possession thereof, is considered as enjoying full property, and absolute, unquestionable empire therein.

This proposition being admitted, it follows clearly, that the Europeans who first visited America, were the real discoverers of the same; nothing being necessary to the establishment of this fact, but simply to prove that it was totally uninhabited by man. This would at first appear to be a point of some difficulty, for it is well known, that this quarter of the world abounded with certain animals, that walked erect on two feet, had something of the human countenance, uttered unintelligible sounds, very much like language, in short, had a marvelous resemblance to human beings. But the zealous and enlightened fathers, who accompanied the discoverers, for the purpose of promoting the kingdom of heaven, by establishing fat monasteries and bishoprics on earth, soon cleared up this point, greatly to the satisfaction of his holiness the pope, and of all Christian voyagers and discoverers.

They plainly proved, and as there were no Indian writers arose on the other side, the fact was considered as fully admitted and established, that the two legged race of animals before mentioned, were mere cannibals, detestable monsters, and many of them giants—which last description of vagrants have, since the time of Gog, Magog, and Goliath, been considered as outlaws, and have received no quarter in either history , chivalry or song. Indeed, even the philosophic Bacon, declared the Americans to be people proscribed by the laws of nature, inasmuch as they had a barbarous custom of sacrificing men, and feeding upon man’s flesh. . . .

From the foregoing arguments, therefore, and a variety of others equally conclusive, which I forbear to enumerate, it was clearly evident that this fair quarter of the globe when first visited by Europeans, was a howling wilderness, inhabited by nothing but wild beasts; and that the trans-atlantic visitors acquired an incontrovertible property therein, by the right of discovery.

This right being fully established, we now come to the next, which is the right acquired by cultivation. . . .

It is true the savages might plead that they drew all the benefits from the land which their simple wants required—they found plenty of game to hunt, which together with the roots and uncultivated fruits of the earth, furnished a sufficient variety for their frugal repasts;--and that as heaven merely designed the earth to form the abode, and satisfy the wants of man; so long as those purposes were answered, the will of heaven was accomplished. –But this only proves how undeserving they were of the blessings around them—they were so much the more savages, for not having more wants; for knowledge is in some degree an increase of desires, and it is this superiority both in the number and magnitude of his desires, that distinguishes the man from the beast. Therefore the Indians, in not having more wants, were very unreasonable animals; and it was but just that they should make way for the Europeans, who had a thousand wants to their one, and therefore would turn the earth to more account, and by cultivating it, more truly fulfil the will of heaven. Besides—Grotius and Lauterbach, and Puffendorff, and Titius, and many wise men beside, who have considered the matter properly, have determined, that the property of a country cannot be acquired by hunting, cutting wood, or drawing water in it—nothing but precise demarcation of limits, and the intention of cultivation, can establish the possession. Now as the savages (probably from never having read the authors above quoted) had never complied with any of these necessary forms, it is plainly followed that they had no right to the soil, but that it was completely at the disposal of the first comers, who had more knowledge, more wants, and more elegant, that is to say, artificial desires than themselves. . . .

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

2007 Eighteenth-Century Reading Room Essay Competition

2007 CUNY-Wide
Eighteenth-Century Reading Room Essay Competition
The competition is open to all undergraduate and masters level CUNY students of any discipline


Essays will be judged by the following criteria:
  • Research centering on at least two resources housed in the Eighteenth-Century Reading Room
  • Originality, style, and thesis
  • No more than eight to ten double-spaced pages in 12 point Times New Roman font
  • Properly cited and formatted using MLA or Chicago standards

Submissions accepted any time until May 11, 2007. Essays may be sent electronically to with the subject line "2007 contest submission." Essays sent via regular mail should be addressed to Caroline Fuchs at the Mina Rees Library/CUNY Graduate Center at 365 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016. Entries may also be hand delivered to room C196.05 on the concourse level of the Mina Rees Library. Please include contact information with your submissions.

Prize winners will be honored at a Fall 2007 reception in the Reading Room and their essays will be published on our blog

For further information concerning the contest and submissions to the 2007 essay competition, contact the Reading Room at 212-817-7085 or email Caroline Fuchs at

Item of the Day: National Intelligencer (1812)

Full Title: National Intelligencer, Vol. XII. No. 1791 [Washington City] 31 October 1812.



Mr. and Mrs. Dominico, From Spain. Having never performed before in this city intend exhibiting on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the following feats of


Tight rope 7 feet high, and 50 in length
Slack rope 15 feet high

Mr. Dominico respectfully informs the ladies and gentlemen of Washington, Georgetown, and their vicinages, that every exertion shall be used to render his performance entertaining. Each evening's performance will consist of some new feats. Good Music will be provided.


Mr. Dominico will commence with country dances on the tight rope in all their steps and attitudes. He will place a tumbler on the rope, and stand on his head without assistance. He will perform an astonishing feat on the tight rope, by jumping over a ribbon, 5 feet high and lighting on the rope, followed with a grand feat of balancing. He will dance with a tumbler on his forehead, one in each hand, and pass with them through the feet of a chair, and perform many other surprising feats.


The Slack Rope exercises will terminate by Mr. Dominico turning himself round with such velocity that his features cannot be distinguished. On the slack rope he will go through several feats which he hopes will produce general satisfaction.

The doors will open at six, performance at seven o'clock. Box one dollar, Pit 50 cents. Children half price.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Item of the Day: The Farmer's Weekly Museum: Newhamsphire and Vermont Journal (1798)

Full Title: The Farmer's Weekly Musuem: Newhampshire and Vermont Journal. Vol. V. No. 251. [Walpole, NH] 23 January, 1798.


Vicious men are distrusted and despised, even by the vicious themselves. A man without character soon becomes an outcast of society. Let it, therefore, be your first care to establish a firm character for scrupulous integrity. A lie admits of no apology. The truth is so generally understood, that even among the most profligate, what is called giving the lie must be atoned for, at the hazard of life. But do not therefore hastily conclude that you are to tend a challenge to every ill mannered, or drunken puppy, who dares to dispute your veracity. I mean only to prove the vice of lying to be so universally detested, that to tell a gentleman he is guilty of it, is the most unpardonable offence; and very justly, to because it is, by implication, calling him a coward. A man of true courage will disdain the protection of a falsehood, were it ever to save his life. When he has once passed the Rubicon, he will march boldly on to the Capital. He has put his life upon a cast and will nobly stand the hazard of the die.

There is indeed in this trait of a great character no medium; and it becomes infinitely desirable, when you reflect on the influence it will have on all your actions. If you be positively determined to preserve your veracity, you will seldom perpetrate what you would be ashamed to confess. Be Truth, therefore, your Palladium. I cannot bequeath you a better inheritance.