Thursday, November 30, 2006

Item of the Day: Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy (1660)

Full Title:

The Anatomy of Melancholy. What it is, with all the kinds causes, symptoms, prognostickes, & seuerall cures of it, In three Partitions, with their severall Sections, members, & subsections, Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, opened & cut up By Democritus Junior. With a Satyricall Preface, conducing to the following Discourse. [By Robert Burton.] 7th edition. London: E. Wallis, 1660.

The Authors Abstract of Melancholy:

When I goe musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build Castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing my self with phantasms sweet,
Me thinks the time runs very fleet.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

When I lye walking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Me thinks the time moves very slow.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so sad as Melancholy.

When to my selfe I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile.
By a brook side or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures doe me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.

All my joyes besides are folly,
None of sweet as Melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great mone,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and Furies then,
A thousand miseries at once,
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce.

All my grief to this are jolly,
None so sour as Melancholy.

Me thinks I hear, me thinks I see,
Sweet musick, wondrous melodie,
Towns, places and Cities fine;
Here now, then there; the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant Ladies shine,
What e're is lovely or divine.

All other joyes to this are folly,
None so sweet as Melancholy.

Me thinks I hear, me thinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my phantasie
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Dolefull outcries, and fearfull sights,
My sad and dismall soul affrights.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn'd as Melancholy.

Me thinks I court, me thinks I kiss,
Me thinks I now embrace my mistriss,
O blessed dayes, O sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent.
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

When I recount loves many frights,
My sighes and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits; O mine hard fate
I now repent, but 'tis too late.
No torment is so bad as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Nought so harsh as Melancholy.

Friends and Companions get you gone,
'Tis my desire to be alone;
Ne're well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacie.
No Gemm, no treasure like to this,
'Tis my delight, my Crown, my bliss.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

'Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will no light nor company,
I find it now my misery.
The scean is turn'd, my joyes are gone;
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so fierce as Melancholy.

Ile not change life with any King,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, then still to laugh and smile;
In pleasant toy time to beguile?
Do not, O doe not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.

All my joyes to this are folly,
None so divine as Melancholy.

Il'e change my state with any wretch,
Thou canst from gaole or dunghill fetch:
My pain, past cure, another Hell,
I may not in this torment dwell,
Now desparate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife.

All my griefs to this are jolly.
Naught so damn'd as Melancholy.

Item of the Day: Travels of Anacharsis the Younger in Greece (1804)

Full Title: Travels of Anacharsis the Younger in Greece. During the middle of the fourth century, before the Christian era. Vol. I. By the Abbe Barthememi, Keeper of the Medals in the Cabinet of the King of France, and Member of the Royal Academy of Inscriptions and Belles Lettres. Translated from the French. Vol. I. First American edition. Philadelphia: Published by Jacob Johnson & Co. . . . , 1804.

[The following advertisement is taken from the popular novel by Jean Jacques Barthelemy, which recounts the narrative of Anacharsis, a young Scythian who travels to Greece in the fourth century B.C.].



I imagine a Scythian, named Anacharsis, to arrive in Greece, some years before the birth of Alexander; and that from Athens, the usual place of his residence, he makes several excursions into the neighborring [sic] provinces; every where observing the manners and customs of the inhabitants, being present at their festivals, and studying the nature of their governments; sometimes dedicating his leisure to enquiries relative to the progress of the human mind, and sometimes conversing with the great men who flourished at that time; with Epaminondas, Phocion, Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, &c. As soon as he had seen Greece enslaved by Philip, the father of Alexander, he returns to Scythia, where he puts in order an account of his travels; and, to prevent any interruption in his narrative, relates in an introduction the memorable events which had passed in Greece before he left Scythia.

The aera I have chosen, which is one of the most interesting that the history of nations presents, may be considered in two points of view. With respect to literature and the arts, it connects the age of Pericles with that of Alexander. My Scythian has conversed with a number of Athenians, who had been intimately acquainted with Sophocles, Euripides, Artistophanes, Thucydides, Socrates, Zeuxis, and Parrhasius. I have mentioned some of the celebrated writers who were known to him. He has seen the masterly productions of Praxiteles, Euphranor, and Pamphilus, make their appearance, as also the first essays of Apelles and Protogenes; and in one of the latter years of his stay in Greece Epicurus and Menander were born.

Under the second point of view, this epocha is not less remarkable. Anacharsis was a witness to the revolution which changed the face of Greece, and which, some time after, destroyed the empire of the Persians. On his arrival, he found the your Philip with Epaminondas: he afterwards beheld him ascend the throne of Macedon; display, in his contests with the Greeks, during two and twenty years, all the resources of his genius; and, at length, compel those haughty republicans to submit to power.

I have chosen to write a narrative of travels rather than a history, because in such a narrative all is scenery and action; and because circumstantial details may be entered into which are not permitted to the historian. These details, when they have relation to manners and customs, are often only indicated by ancient authors, and have often given occasion to different opinions among modern critics. I have examined and discussed them all before I have made use of them; I have even, on a revisal, suppressed a great part of the, and ought perhaps to have suppressed still more.

I began this work in the year 1757, and, since that time, have never intermitted my labours to complete it.* I should not have undertaken it if, less captivated by the beauty of the subject, I had consulted my abilities more than my courage.

*These was written about the latter end of 1788, when the original work was published.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Item of the Day: A Provincial Glossary (1790)

Full Title: A Provincial Glossary; with a Collection of Local Proverbs, and Popular Superstitutions. By Francis Grose, Esq. F.A.S. The Second Edition, Corrected, and Greatly Enlarged. London: Printed for S. Hooper, 1790.


CHARMS and CEREMONIES for Knowing Future Events.

Any person fasting on Midsummer eve, and sitting in the church porch, will at midnight see the spirits of the persons of that parish, who will die that year, come and knock at the church door, in the order and succession in which they will die. One of the watchers, there being several in company, fell into a sound sleep so that he could not be waked: whilst in this state, his ghost or spirit was seen by the rest of his companions, knocking at the church door.

Any unmarried woman fasting on Midsummer eve, and at midnight laying a clean cloth, with bread, cheese, and ale, and sitting down, as if going to eat, the street door being left open -- the person whom she is afterwards to marry will come into the room, and drink to her by bowing; and afterwards filling the glass, will leave it on the table, and, making another bow, retire.

On St. Agnes' night, 21st of January, take a row of pins, and pull out every one, one after another, saying a Pater-noster on sticking a pin in your sleeve, and you will dream of him or her you shall marry.

Another method to see a future spouse in a dream: -- The party enquiring must lie in a different county from that in which he commonly resides; and, on going to bed, must knit the left garter about the right-legged stocking, letting the other garter and stocking alone; and, as you rehearse the following verses, at every common knit a knot:

This knot I knit,
To know the thing I know not yet;
That I may see
The man (woman) that shall my husband (wife) be;
How he goes, and what he wears,
And what he does all days and years.

Accordingly in a dream, he will appear, with the insignia of his trade or profession.

Another, performed by charming the Moon, thus: -- At the first appearance of the New Moon, immediately after the new year's day (though some say any other New Moon is as good), go out in the evening, and stand over the spars of a gate or a stile, and, looking on the Moon, repeat the following lines:

All hail to the Moon! all hail to thee!
I prithee, good Moon, reveal to me,
This night, who my husband (wife) must be.

The person must presently after go to bed, when they will dream of the person destined for their future husband or wife.

A slice of the bride-cake, thrice drawn through the wedding ring, and laid under the head of an unmarried man or woman, will make them dream of their future wife or husband. The same is practiced in the North with a piece of the groaning cheese.

To discover a thief by the sieve and sheers: -- Stick the points of the sheers in the wood of the sieve, and let two persons support it, balanced upright, with their two fingers: then read a certain chapter in the Bible, and afterwards ask St. Peter and St. Paul, if A. or B. is the thief, naming all the persons you suspect. On naming the real thief, the sieve will turn suddenly round about.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Item of the Day: The Geneva Bible (1595)

Full Title:

The Bible: That is, the Holy Scriptures Conteined in the Olde and New Testament: Translated according to the Ebrew and Greeke, and conferred with the best translations in diuers languages. With most profitable Annotations upon all the hard places, and other things of great importance. Imprinted at London by the Deputies of Christopher Barker, Printer to the Queenes most excellent Maiestie. 1595.

To the Christian Reader:

Besides the manifold and continual benefits which Almightie God bestoweth upon us, both corporall and spirituall, we are especially bound (deare brethren) to giue him thankes without ceasing for his great grace and unspeakable mercies, in that it hath pleased him to call us unto this marueilous light of his Gospel, and mercifully to regard us after so horrible backsliding & falling away from Christ to Antichrist, from light to darknes, from the liuing God to dumme and dead idoles, and that after so cruel murther of Gods Saints, as alas, hath bene amog us, we are not altogether cast off, as were the Israelites, & many others for the like, or not so manifest wickednes, but receiued againe to grace with most euident signes and tokens of Gods especial loue & fauour. To the intent therefore that we may not be vnmindefull of these great mercies, but seeke by all meanes (according to our duetie) to be thankeful for the same, it behoueth vs so to walke in his feare and loue, that all the dayes of our life we may procure the glory of his holy Name. Now forasmuch as this thing chiefly is attained by the knowledge and practising of the word of God, (which is the light to our paths, the key of the kingdome of heauen, our comfort in affliction, our shield and sword against Satan, the schole of all wisdome, the glasse wherein we beholde Gods face, the testimonie of his fauour, and the only foode and nourishment of our soules) we thought that we could bestow our labours & studie in nothing which could be more acceptable to God and comfortable to his Church, then in the translating of the holy Scriptures into our natiue tongue: the which thing, albeit that diuers heretofore haue indeuoured to atchieue: yet considering the infancie of those times and imperfect knowledge of the tongues, in respect of this ripe age and cleare light which God hath nowe reueiled, the translations required greatly to bee perused and reformed. Not that we vendicate any thing to our selues aboue the least of our brethren (for God knoweth with what feare and trembling we haue bene for the space of two yeeres and more day and night occupied herein) but being earnestly desired, and by diuers, whose learning and godlines we reuerence, exhorted, and also incouraged by the ready willes of such, whose hearts God likwise touched, not to spare any charges for the furtherance of such a benefite and fauour of God toward his Church (though the time then was most dangerous, and the persecution sharpe and furious) we submitted ourseues at length to their godly iudgements, and seeing the great opportunities and occasions, which God presented vnto vs his Church, by reason of so many godly and learned men, and such diuersities of translations in diuers tongues: we vndertooke this great and wonderful worke (with all reuerence, as in the presence of God, as intreating the word of God, whereunto we thinke our selues vnsufficient) which now God according to his diuine prouidence and mercie hath directed to a most prosperous ende. And this we may with good conscience protest, that we haue in euery point & worde, according to the measure of that knowledge which it pleased Almightie God to giue vs, faithfully rendred the text, and in all hard places most syncerely expounded the same. For God is our witnes, that we haue by all meanes endeuoured to set foorth the puritie of the worde and right sense of the holy Ghost, for the edifying of the brethren in faith and charitie.

Now as we haue chiefly obserued the sense, and laboured alwayes to restore it to all integritie: so haue we most reuerently kept the proprietie of the woordes, considering that the Apostles who spake and wrote to the Gentiles in the Greeke tongue, rather constrained them to the liuely phrase of the Ebrewe, then enterprised farre by mollifying their language to speake as the Gentiles did. And for this & other causes we haue in many places reserued the Ebrew phrases, notwithstanding that they may seeme somewhat hard in their eares that are not well practised and alos delight in the sweete sounding phrases of the holy Scriptures. Yet least either the simple should be discouraged, or the malicious haue any occasion of iust cauillation, seeing some translations reade after one sort, and some after another, whereas all may serue to good purpose & edification, we haue in the margent noted that diuersitie of speach or reading which may also seeme agreeable to the minde of the holy Ghost, and proper for our language with this marke ║. Againe, whereas the Ebrewe speach seemed hardly to agree with ours, we haue noted it in the margent after this sort ‡, vsing that which was more intelligible. And albeit that many of the Ebrewe names be altered frõ the old text, and restored to the true writing and first original, whereof they haue their signification, yet in the vsual names litle is changed for feare of troubling the simple readers. Moreouer, whereas the necessitie of the sentence required any thing to be added (for such is the grace and proprietie of the Ebrew and Greeke tongues, that it cannot but either by circumlocution, or by adding the verbe or some worde, be vnderstood of them that are not well practised therein) wee haue put it in the text with an other kinde of letter, that it may easily be discerned from the common letter. As touching the diuision of the verses, we haue folowed the Ebrew examples, which haue so euen from the beginning distinguished them. Which thing as it is most profitable for memorie, so doth it agree with the best traslations, and is most easie to find out both by the best Concordances, and also by the quotations which we haue diligently herein perused and set forth by this*. Besides this, the principall matters are noted and distinguished by this marke ¶. Yea and the arguments both for the booke and for the chapters with the number of the verse are added, that by all meanes the reader might be holpen. For the which cause also wee haue set ouer the head of euery page some notable worde or sentence which may greatly further aswell for memorie, as for the chiefe point of the page. And considering how hard a thing it is to vnderstand the holy Scriptures, and what errors, sects and heresies grow dayly for lacke of the true knowledge thereof, & how many are discouraged (as they pretend) because they cannot attaine to the true and simple meaning of the same, we haue also indeuoured both by the diligent reading fo teh best cõmentaries, and also by the conference with the godly and learned brethren, to gather briefe annotations vpon all the hard places, aswel for the vnderstanding of such words and are obscure, and for the declaration of the text, as for the application fo the same, as may most appertain to Gods glory & the edification of his Church. Furhetmore whereas certaine places in the bookes of Moses, of the Kings and Ezekiel seemed so darke, that by no descriptiõ they could be made easie to the simple reader, we haue so set them forth with figures & notes for the full declaration thereof, that they which cannot by iudgement, being holpen by the annotations noted by the letters, a.b c.&c, atteine thereunto yet by the perspectiue, and as it were by the eye, may sufficiently knowe the true meaning of all such places, whereunto also we haue added certaine Mappes of Cosmographie which necessarily serue for the perfect vnderstanding and memorie of diuers places and countreys, partly described, and partly by occasion touched, both in the Old and new Testament.

Finally, that nothing might lack which might be bought by labours for the increase of knowledge & furtherance of Gods glory, there are adioyned two most profitable Tables, the one seruing for the interpretation of the Ebrewe names: and the other conteyning all the chiefe & principal matters of the who Bible: so that nothing (as we trust) that any could iustly desire, is omitted. Therefore, as brethren that are partakers of the same hope & salutation with vs, we beseech you, that this rich pearle and inestimable treasure may not be offred in vaine, but as sent from God to the people of God, for the increase of his kingdom, the comfort fo his Church, and discharge of our conscience, whom it hath pleased him to raise vp for this purpose, so you would willingly receiue the worde of God, earnestly study it, and in all your life practise it, that ye may now appeare in deede to be the people of God, not walking any more according to this world, but in the fruites of the Spirit, that God in vs may be fully glorified, through Christ Iesus our Lord, who liueth and reigneth for euer. Amen.

Item of the Day: Gray's-Inn Journal (1752)

Full Title: The Gray's-Inn Journal. (By Arthur Murphy) In Two Volumes. Vol.. I. London: Printed by W. Faden, for P. Vaillant, in the Strand, MDCCLVI.

The Gray's-Inn, Saturday, October 21, 1752.

It has been remarked by Writers, whom a Desire of adding to the Entertainment of the Public has incited to portion out their endeavours into periodical Essays, that the first Address, in the introductory Explanation of their Plan, has occasioned more vehement Corrosions of their Nails, and more frequent Rubbings of the Forehead, than any other successive Composition; in like Manner as we find Men, who, upon their first Admission into a Company of Strangers, betray several aukward Movements in their Deportment, arising from the different Ideas of Bashfulness and Diffidence, which agitate their Minds until the initial Ceremonies are adjusted. As I propose to hold a literary Intercourse with the Public, and flatter myself with the Hopes of conversing with many Hundreds of my Countrymen every Saturday, I cannot issue out my first Performance, without feeling an extraordinary Solicitude for the Event, and being disconcerted by those Alarms and Perturbations of Spirit, which are apt to seize People of Sensibility in their Tempers, when irresistible Principles of Action have prevailed over their Modesty, and called them forth into a conspicuous Point of View. The first Impression has always great Influence upon Mens Judgments, and the Mind will often hastily form Associations of Ideas, which it cannot afterwards easily separate. On this Account I have been not a little anxious about my first Appearance, and after much Contemplation and deep Study, I should have been entirely at a Loss how to set off, had not the Example of our parliamentary Candidates pointed out a Mode of Eloquence, to which I think proper to adhere on the present Occasion, as the most persuasive Rhetoric I can suggest to myself.

To the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of Great-Britain,


As I have the Honour, at a Meeting of my Friends to be put in Nomination to represent you, and all your Vices, Follies, and Foibles, in a new Paper, to be published every
Saturday, and entitled The Gray's-Inn Journal, I desire the Favour of your Votes and Interest, assuring you that I shall at all Times exert my most vigorous Endeavours to serve you, being a sincere Friend to the Cause of true Wit and Humour, and a steady Assertor of Decency, Virtue and Good-manners. With these Sentiments I have the Honour to be,
Your most obedient and devoted Servant,
N.B. I am of no Party whatever.

Having thus declared my ambition for Literary Fame, I do not expect that all those rival Wits, who for some Time past have been making their Court to the Public, should Instantly decline the Poll; on the contrary, I am apprehensive, that, as it generally happens at Elections, much Scurrility will be discharged upon the present Writer; and I am no way doubtful but they will proceed to the Extremity of disputing my Property in Parnassus, and obliging me to make out my qualification. Of this, however, I hope to give sufficient Proof in the Sequel; and whatever Animosities may arise, I am resolved to pursue my Course, without going out of the Way, like the Countryman in the Fable, to crush the Grasshoppers that may make a Noise around me. I shall console myself in that Case with a Reflection that those Nuisances are ever found in the Sunshine.

. . .

Henceforth then be it known unto all Men, whom it may concern, that we Charles Ranger, Esq; have undertaken, and by these Presents do undertake, the conduct of a Paper entitled The Gray's-Inn Journal, which Name it is thought proper to give it, on Account of the author's Residence in Gray's-Inn. We intend that this our Paper shall be a general Critique on the times, and all false Appearances in Men and Books; and as we have observed, that, what Dr. Young calls laughing Satire has always been most conducive to the End we propose, we are determined to exert some certain Powers called Wit, Humour, and Raillery, and we hereby advise our dearly beloved Readers to get their risible Faculties in order; reserving to ourselves, more majorum, the Privilege of being dull by Design. And it is therefore ordered by these Presents, that on or before Saturday next all Offences shall cease, or they who shall be found delinquent shall be prosecuted according to the Laws of honest Satire, in some subsequent Essay, or be obliged to take their Trial upon Indictment in our Court of Censorial Enquiry, the Proceedings of which shall be faithfully recorded in our True Intelligence.

Given under our Hand this 21st of October, 1752.


Monday, November 27, 2006

Item of the Day: Davis's Travels in America (1803)

Full Title: Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America; During 1798, 1799, 1800, 1801, and 1802. Dedicated by Permission to Thomas Jefferson, Esq. President of the United States. By John Davis. London: 1803.

Chap. 1.

Upon my landing at New-York, my first care was to deliver a letter of recommendation which I had been favoured with by a friend to a merchant in the city; together with a volume of Travels from Boston to Philadelphia, which he had recently published. But I cannot say that I was received with the urbanity I had anticipated. Neither my friend's letter, nor his book, could soften the features of the stern American; and were the world to read the volume with as little interest as he, it would soon be consigned to the peaceful shelf.

I was now to become the architect of my own fortune. Though on a kindred shore, I had not even an acquaintance to whom I could communicate my projects; the letter had failed me that was to decide my fortune at one blow, and I found myself solitary and sad among the crouds of a gay city.

But I was not long depressed by melancholy reflections over my condition, for I found a friend in a man, who, having himself been unfortunate, could feel for another in adversity. A concurrence of circumstances had brought me into the company of Mr. Caritat, a bookseller, who, being made acquainted with my situation, addressed me with that warmth, which discovers a desire to be useful, rather than a wish to gratify curiosity.

He inquired into my projects. I told him that my scheme was to get into some family as a private tutor. A private Tutor! said he. Alas! the labour of Sisyphus in hell is not equal to that of a private Tutor in America! Why your project put me in mind of a young Mr. Primrose. And your exclamations, said I, remind me of his cousin in London. Just enough, rejoined Mr. Caritat, and let me examine you a little after the manner of his cousin.

Do you write a good hand, and understand all the intricacies of calculation? No. then you will not do for a private Tutor. It is not your Latin and Greek, but your hand-writing and cyphering, that will decide your character. Penmanship, and the figures of arithmetic, will recommend you more than logic and the figures of rhetoric. Can you passively submit to be called School-master by the children, and Cool Mossa by the negroes? No. Then you will not do for a private Tutor. Can you comply with the humility of giving only one rap at the door that the family may distinguish it is the Private Tutor; and can you wait half an hour with good humour on the steps, till the footman or housemaid condescends to open the door? No. Then you will not do for a private Tutor. Can you maintain a profound silence in company to denote your inferiority; and can you endure to be helped always the last at table, aye even after the clerk of the counting-house? No. Then you will not do for a private Tutor. Can you hold your eyes with your hands, and cry Amen! when grace is said; and can you carry the childrens' bibles and prayer-books to church twice every Sunday? No. Then you will not do for a private Tutor. Can you rise with the sun, and teach till breakfast; swallow your breakfast, and teach till dinner; devour your dinner, and teach till tea-time; and from tea-time to bed-time sink into insignificance in the parlour? No. Then you will not do for a private Tutor. Do you expect good wages? Yes. then you will never do for a private Tutor. No, sir, the place of private Tutor is the last I would recommend you; for as Pompey, when he entered a tyrant's dominions, quoted a verse from Euripides that signified his liberty was gone, so a man of letters, when he undertakes the tuition of a family in America, may exclaim he has lost his independence.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Item of the Day: Letters from America (1792)

Full Title: Letters from America, Historical and Descriptive; Comprising Occurrences from 1769, to 1777, Inclusive. By William Eddis, Late Surveyor of the Customs, &c. at Annapolis, in Maryland. London: Printed for the author, and sold by C. Dilly, in the Poultry, MDCCXCII. [1792]

Annapolis, June 8th, 1770.
Though we are yet far behind the mother country, with respect of cultivation and improvements, yet, in a comparative view, Maryland may boast considerable advantages. The inhabitants are enterprising and industrious; commerce and agriculture are encouraged; and every circumstance clearly evinces, that this colony is making a rapid progress to wealth, power, and population.

Provisions of every kind, are excellent and plentiful; and the Chesapeak [sic], with our numerous rivers, affords a surprising variety of excellent fish. Poultry, and wild-fowl, abound amongst the humble cottagers; and beef, mutton, pork, and other provisions, are at least equal to the production of the best British markets.

Deer, a few years since, were very numerous in the interior settlements; but, from the unfair methods adopted by the hunters, their numbers are exceedingly diminished. These people, whose only motive was to procure the hide of the animal, were dextrous [sic], during the winter season, in tracing their path through the snow; and from the animal’s incapacity to exert speed, under such circumstance, great multitudes of them were annually slaughtered, and their carcases [sic] left in the woods. This practice, however, has been though worthy the attention of the legislature, and an act of assembly has taken place, laying severe penalties on “persons detected in pursuing or destroying deer, within a limited term;” and it is probable, the apprehension of punishment may very greatly restrain, if not totally eradicate an evil founded on cruelty and rapacity.

In England, almost every country is distinguished by a peculiar dialect; even different habits, and different modes of thinking, evidently discriminate inhabitants, whose local situation is not far remote: but in Maryland, and throughout the adjacent provinces, it is worthy of observation, that a striking similarity of speech universally prevails; and it is strictly true, that the pronunciation of the generality of the people has an accuracy and elegance, that cannot fail of gratifying the most judicious ear.

The colonists are composed of adventurers, not only from every district of Great Britain and Ireland, but from almost every other European government, where the principles of liberty and commerce have operated with spirit and efficacy. Is it not, therefore, reasonable to suppose, that the English language must be greatly corrupted by such a strange intermixture of various nations? The reverse is, however, true. The language of the immediate descendants of such a promiscuous ancestry is perfectly uniform, and unadulterated; nor has it borrowed any provincial, or national accent, from its British or foreign parentage.

For my part, I confess myself totally at a loss to account for the apparent difference, between the colonists and the persons under equal circumstances of education and fortune, resident in the mother country. This uniformity of language prevails not only on the coast, where Europeans form a considerable mass of the people, but likewise in the interior parts, where population has made but slow advances; and where opportunities seldom occur to derive any great advantages form an intercourse with intelligent strangers.

You, my friend, are seated at the fountain head of literary and political intelligence, and from you I shall expect frequent, and circumstantial communications. Most sincerely do I wish you may be enabled to acquaint me, that the first transaction in the ensuing session of parliament, is a total repeal of acts, which are never likely to be productive of any considerable revenue; and which are esteemed in this country, to have no other tendency but to enforce claims, which the colonists universally consider as impolitic and unconstitutional. How far their sentiments are justly founded, I am by no means competent to determine; but it is a certain fact, that the statute imposing duties on glass, paper, and tea, has undermined the foundation of that cordiality, which the repeal of the stamp act had happily re-established; and it is with the utmost concern, I am necessitated to acquaint you, that a spirit of discontent and opposition is universally predominate in the colonies.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Item of the Day: Benjamin Rush "On the Vices and Virtues of Physicians" (1801)

Full Title: Sixteen introductory lectures, to courses of lectures upon the Institutes of Practical Medicine, with a syllabus of the latter. To which are added, two Lectures upon the pleasures of the senses and of the mind; with an inquiry into their proximate cause Delivered in the University of Pennsylvania by Benjamin Rush, M.D. Professor of the Institutes and Practice of Medicine, the said University, Philadelphia: Published by Bradford and Innskeep, 1811.

Lecture V.

Delivered November 2d, 1801.


Man is a compound of good and evil. These dispositions appear in different proportions, according to the circumstances in which he is placed. They are much influenced by different states of society, and by different pursuits and occupations in life. Every profession has its peculiar vices and virtues. The business of our present lecture shall be to point out such of them that are attached to the profession of medicine. This investigation I hope will be useful, by teaching you in your outset in life, to avoid the former, and to cherish the latter. By these means, you will at once render the practice of physic, and your own characters, more respectable. You will likewise be enabled thereby, to bear with more composure and fortitude the vexations and distresses which are connected with a medical life.

The vices of physicians may be divided into three heads.
I. As they relate to the Supreme Being.
II. To their patients, and
III. To their professional bretheren.

1st. Under the first head I shall begin by lamenting, that men whose educations necessarily open to them the wisdom and goodness of the Creator, and whose duties lead them constantly to behold his power over human life, and all its comforts, should be so very prone to forget him. This they evidence by their neglect of that worship, which is paid to him in different forms, under true, or false names, in every country. If it be a fact, that physicians are more inclined to infidelity, than any other body of men, it must be ascribed chiefly to this cause. To correct this disposition, it is necessary we should be frequently reminded of the arguments on which Christianity is founded, and of the numerous and powerful motives which enforce a belief of it. It is in places of public worship that these arguments and motives are delivered to the most advantage, and it is by neglecting to hear them, that the natural propensity of the human heart to infidelity, is cherished and promoted. This vice of the understanding has no natural alliance with the practice of physic, for to no secular profession does the Christian religion afford more aid, than to medicine. Our business leads us daily into the abodes of pain and misery. It obliges us likewise, frequently to witness the fears with which our friends leave the world, and the anguish which follows in their surviving relatives. Here the common resources of our art fail us, but the comfortable views of the divine government, and of a future state, which are laid open by Christianity, more than supply their place. A pious word, dropped from the lips of a physician in such circumstances of his patients, often does more good than a long, and perhaps an ingenious discourse from another person, inasmuch as it falls upon the heart, in the moment of its deepest depression from grief. There is no substitute for this cordial in the materia medica.

2d. An undue confidence in medicine, to the exclusion of a Divine and Superintending Power over the health and lives of men, is another vice among physicians. A Dr. -----, in New York prescribed on an evening for a sick man. The next day he called and asked him how he was: "Much better (said he), thank God." "Thank God! (said the doctor) thank me, it was I who cured you."

3d. Drunkenness is a medical vice, which offends not only God, but man. It is generally induced by fatigue, and exposure to great heat and cold. But a habit of drinking intemperately is often incurred by a social spirit, leading physicians to accept of offers of wine, or spirits and water, in every house they enter, in the former part of the day. Good men have often been seduced and ruined by this complaisant practice. I shall hereafter mention to you the safety, and advantages of eating a little fruit, or portable aliment, in preference to drinks of any kind before dinner, or when the body is in a languid state from fatigue. Drunkenness is a hideous vice in any person, but peculiarly so in a physician. If it rendered him offensive to his patients only by the smell it imparted to his breath, it should be sufficient motive to deter him from it, but its evils are much more serious and extensive. It corrupts his manners, impairs his judgment, and renders him unfit to prescribe for the sick. Two instances of death have occurred, within my knowledge, from patients having excessive doses of liquid laudanum, from the hands of a drunken physician.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Item of the Day: Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles.

Full Title: Astronomy explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s principles, and made easy to those who have not studied mathematics. To which are added, a plain method of finding the distances of all the planets from the sun, by the transit of Venus over the sun’s disc, in the year 1761. An account of Mr. Horrox’s observation of the transit of Venus in the year 1639: and, of the distances of all the planets from the sun, ad deduced from observations of the transit of Venus in the year 1761. Seventh edition. By James Ferguson. London: Printed for W. Strahan, J. Rivington and sons, T. Longman, B. Law, G. Robinson, T. Cadell, J. Johnson, J. Bew, J. Murray, R. Baldwin, T. Evans, W. Lowndes, and C. Bent, 1785.

Astronomy Explained upon Sir Isaac Newton’s Principles.


Of astronomy in general.

1. Of all the sciences cultivated by mankind, Astronomy is acknowledged to be, and undoubtedly is, the most sublime, the most interesting, and the most useful. For, by knowledge derived from this science, not only the bulk of the earth is discovered, the situation and extent of the countries and kingdoms upon it is ascertained, trade and commerce carried on to the remotest parts of the world, and the various products of several countries distributed for the health, comfort, and conveniency of its inhabitants; but our very faculties are enlarged with the grandeur of the ideas it conveys, our minds exalted above the low contracted prejudices of the vulgar, and our understandings clearly convinced, and affected with the conviction of the existence, wisdom, power, goodness, immutability, and superintendency of the SUPREME BEING ! So that without an hyperbole,

"An undevout Astronomer is mad.”

2. From this branch of knowledge we also learn by what means or laws the Almighty carries on, and continues the wonderful harmony, order, and connexion observable throughout the planetary system; and are led by very powerful arguments to form this pleasing deduction, that minds capable of such deep researches, not only derive their origin from that adorable Being, but are also incited to aspire after a more perfect knowledge of his nature, and a stricter conformity to his will. . . .

8. It is no ways probable that the Almighty, who always acts with infinite wisdom, and does nothing in vain, should create so many glorious Suns, fit for so many important purposes, and place them at such distances from one another, without proper objects near enough to be benefited by their influences. Whoever imagines they were created only to give a faint glimmering light to the inhabitants of this Globe, must have a very superficial knowledge of Astronomy, and a mean opinion of the Divine Wisdom: since, by an infinitely less exertion of creating power, the Deity could have given our Earth much more light by one single additional Moon.

9. Instead then of one Sun and one World only in the Universe, as the unskilful in Astonomy imagine, that Science discovers to us such an inconceivable number of Suns, Systems, and Worlds, dispersed through boundless Space, that if our Sun, with all the Planets; Moons, and Comets, belonging to it, were annihilated, they would be no more missed, by an eye that could take in the whole Creation, than a grain of sand from the sea-shore. The space they possess being comparatively so small, that it would scarce be a sensible blank in the Universe, although Saturn, the outermost of our planets, revolves the Sun in an Orbit of 4884 millions of miles in circumference, and some of our Comets make excursions upwards of ten thousand millions of miles beyond Saturn’s Orbit; and yet, at that amazing distance, they are incomparably nearer to the Sun than to any of the Stars; as is evident from their keeping clear of the attractive power of all the Stars, and returning periodically by virtue of the Sun’s attraction.

10. From what we know of our own System, it may be reasonably concluded that all the rest are with equal wisdom contrived, situated, and provided with accommodations for rational inhabitants. Let us therefore take a survey of the System to which we belong; the only one accessible to us; and from thence we shall be the better enabled to judge of the nature and end of the others Systems of the Universe. For although there is almost an infinite variety in the parts of the Creation, which we have opportunities of examining, yet there is a general analogy running through and connecting all the parts into one scheme, one design, one whole! . . .

15. What an august, what an amazing conception, if human imagination can conceive it, does this give the works of the Creator! Thousands of thousands of Suns, multiplied without end, and ranged all around us, at immense distances from each other, attended by ten thousand times ten thousand worlds, all in rapid motion, yet calm, regular, and harmonious, invariably keeping the paths prescribed them; and these worlds peopled with myriads of intelligent beings, formed for endless progression in perfection and felicity!

16. If so much power, wisdom, goodness, and magnificence is displayed in the material Creation, which is the least considerable part of the Universe, how great, how wise, how good must HE be, who made and governs the Whole!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Item of the Day: An Account of the Pelew Islands (1783)

Full Title: An Account of the Pelew Islands, Situated in the Western Part of the Pacific Ocean. Composed From the Journals and Communications of Captain Henry Wilson, and Some of his Officers, Who, in August 1783, were there Shipwrecked in The Antelope, A Packet Belonging to the Honourable East India Company, By George Keate, Esq. F.R.S. and S.A. London: Printed for G. Nicol, Bookseller to His Majesty, Pall-Mall. MDCCLXXXVIII.

Chapter II.
Loss of the Antelope, and the immediate Distresses arising from the Accident.

The wind having freshened after midnight, the sky became overcast, with much lightning, thunder, and rain. The chief mate having the watch upon deck, had lowered the top-sails, and was going to reef them with the people upon duty, not thinking it necessary to call the hands out or acquaint the Captain, who had only quitted the deck at twelve o'clock; Mr. Benger judging from the thunder that the weather would break and clear up, and only prove a slight squall. The people being upon the yards reefing the sails, the man who was on the look-out called Breakers!
yet so short was the notice, that the call of Breakers had scarce reached the officer upon deck before the ship struck. The horror and dismay this unhappy event threw every body into was dreadful; the Captain, and all those who were below in their beds, sprang upon deck in an instant, anxious to know the cause of this sudden shock to the ship, and the confusion above; a moment convinced them of their distressed situation, the breakers along-side, through which the rocks made their appearance, presented the most dreadful scene, and left no room for doubt. The ship taking a heel, in less than an hour filled with water as high as the lower deck hatchways; during this tremendous interval, the people thronged round the Captain, and earnestly requested to be directed what to do, beseeching him to give orders and they would immediately execute them. Orders were in consequence instantly given to secure the gunpowder, ammunition, and small arms, and that the bread, and such other provision as would spoil by wet, should be brought upon deck and secured by some covering from the rain; while others were directed to cut away the mizen-mast, the main and foretop-mast, and lower yards, to ease the ship and prevent her oversetting, of which they thought there was some hazard, and that every thing should be done to preserve her as long as possible (the sails having all be clewed up as soon as the ship struck). The boats were hoisted out, and filled with provision and water, together with a compass in each, some small arms, and ammunition; and two men were placed in each boat, with directions to keep them under the lee of the ship, and be careful they were not staved, and be ready to receive their ship-mates in case the vessel should break to pieces by the dashing of the waves and the violence of the wind, it was then blowing a storm. Every thing that could be thought expedient in so distressful and trying an occasion was executed with a readiness and obedience hardly ever exceeded. The people all now assembled aft, the quarter-deck laying highest out of the water, the quarter-board afforded some little shelter from the sea and rain; here, after contemplating a few moments their wretched situation, the Captain endeavoured to revive their drooping spirits, which began to sink through anxiety and fatigue, by reminding them that shipwreck was a misfortune to which those who navigate the ocean were always liable; that theirs indeed was more difficult, from happening in an unknown and unfrequented sea, but that this consideration should rouse their most active attention, as much, as much must depend on themselves to be extricated from their distress; that when these misfortunes happened, they were often rendered more dreadful than they otherwise would be by the despair and disagreement of the crew; to avoid which, it was strongly recommended to every individual not to drink any spiritous liquor. A ready consent was given to this advice; and, they being all wet and fatigued with excessive labour, it was thought advisable to take some refreshment, which to each person was a glass of wine and some biscuit; after eating, a second glass of wine was given them, and they now waited with the utmost anxiety the return of day, in hope of seeing land, for yet they had not discovered any; the third mate and one of the quarter-masters only, in the momentary interval of a dreadful flash of lightning, imagined they had seen the appearance of land ahead of the ship. During these anxious moments, they endeavoured to console and cheer one another, and each was advised to clothe and prepare himself to quit the ship when necessity should make that step inevitable; and herein the utmost good order and regularity was observed, not a man offering to take any thing but what truly belonged to himself, nor did any one of them either ask for, or attempt to take a dram, or complain of negligence or misconduct against the watch or any particular person. The dawn of day discovered to their view a small island to the southward, about three or four leagues distant, and soon after some other islands were seen to the eastward. They now felt apprehensive on account of the inhabitants, of whose dispositions they were strangers; however, after manning the boats, and loading them in the best manner they could for the general good, they departed from the ship under the care of Mr. Benger, who, together with the people in them, were earnestly requested to endeavour to obtain a friendly intercourse with the inhabitants if they found any, and carefully to avoid any disagreement unless reduced to the last necessity, as the fate of all might depend upon the first interview. As soon as the boats were gone, those who remained went immediately to work to get the booms overboard, in order to make a raft to secure themselves, as the Antelope was hourly expected to go to pieces, and the utmost disquietude was entertained for the safey of the boats, not only on account of the natives, but also of the weather it continuing to blow very hard.-- But in the afternoon, they perceived with inexpressible joy the boats coming off; a sight the more welcome, as they were fearful from their long stay, they might have met with some disaster, either from the inhabitants, or the storm; they were however happily relieved from this anxiety by their getting safe to the ship about four o'clock, having left the stores and five men on shore. They brought the welcome news that there was no appearance of inhabitants on the island where they had landed; that they had found a secure harbour well sheltered from the weather, and also some fresh water.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Item of the Day: DuPratz on Louisiana (1763)

Full Title: The History of Louisiana, or of Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina: Containing A Description of the Countries that lye on both Sides of the River Mississippi: With An Account of the Settlements, Inhabitants, Soil, Climate, and Products. Translated from the French, (Lately Published.) By M. LePage Du Pratz; With Some Notes and Observations Relating to our Colonies. In Two Volumes. Vol I. London, Printed for T. Becket and P.A. DeHondt in the Strand. MDCCLXIII.

Extract from a late French Writer, concerning the importance of Louisiana to France.

"One cannot help lamenting the lethargic state of that colony (Louisiana,) which carries in its bosom the bed of the greatest riches; and in order to produce them, asks only arms proper for tilling the earth which is wholly disposed to yield an hundred fold. Thanks to the fertility of our islands, our Sugar plantations are infinitely superior to those of the English, and we likewise excel them in our productions of Indigo, Coffee, and Cotton.

Tobacco is the only production of the earth which gives the English an advantage over us. Providence, which reserved for us the discovery of Louisiana, has given us the possession of it, that we may be their rivals in this particular, or at least that we may be able to do without their Tobacco. Ought we to continue tributaries to them in this respect, when we can so easily do without them?

I cannot help remarking here, that among several projects presented of late years for giving new force to this Colony, a company of creditable Merchants proposed to furnish Negroes to the inhabitants, and to be paid for them in Tobacco alone at a fixed valuation.

The following advantages, they demonstrated, would attend their scheme. I. It would increase a branch of Commerce in France, which affords subsistence to two of the English Colonies in America, namely Virginia and Maryland, the inhabitants of which consume annually a very considerable quantity of English stuffs, and employ a great number of ships in the transportation of their Tobacco. The inhabitants of those two provinces are so greatly multiplied, in consequence of the riches they have acquired by their commerce with us, that they begin to spread themselves upon territories that belong to us. II. The second advantage arising from the scheme would be, to carry the cultivation of Tobacco to its greatest extent and perfection. III. To diminish in proportion the cultivation of the English plantations, as well as lessen their navigation in that part. IV. To put an end entirely to the importation of any Tobacco from Great Britain into France, in the space of twelve years. V. To diminish annually, and in the same space of time finally to put an end to, the exportation of specie from France to Great Britain, which amounts annually to five millions of our money for the purchase of Tobacco, and the freightage of English ships, which bring it into our ports. VI. By diminishing the cause of the outgoing of specie, to augment the ballance of Commerce in favour of this nation. These are the principal advantages which France would have reason to have expected from the establishment of this company, if it had been effected." Effai sur les Interets du Commerce Maritime, par M. Du Haye. 1754.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Item of the Day: Horne Tooke's Diversions of Purley (1786)

Full Title:

The Diversions of Purley, Part I. By John Horne Tooke, A.M. London: J. Johnson, 1786.

From the Introduction:


—THE mystery is at last unravelled. I shall no more wonder now that you engross his company at Purley, whilst his other friends can scarce get a sight of him. This, you say, was President Bradshaw's seat. That is the secret of his attachment to the place. You hold him by the best security, his political prejudices and enthusiasm. But do not let his veneration for the memory of the antient possessor pass upon you for affection to the present.


Should you be altogether so severe upon my politics; when you reflect that, merely for attempting to prevent the effusion of brother's blood and the final desmemberment of the empire, I stand the single legal victim during the contest, and the single instance of proscription after it? But I am well contented that my principles, which have made so many of your way of thinking angry, should only make you laugh. Such however as they are, they need not now to be defended by me: for they have stood the test of ages; and they will keep their ground in the general commendation fo the world, till men forget to love themselves; though, till then perhaps, they are not likely to be seen (nor credited if seen) in the practice of many individuals.

But are you really forced to go above a hundred years back to account for my attachment to Purley? Without considering the many strong public and private ties by which I am bound to its present possessor, can you find nothing in the beautiful prospect from these windows? nothing in the entertainment every one receives in this house? nothing in the delightful rides and walks we have taken round it? nothing in the cheerful disposition and easy kindness of its owner, to make a rational man partial to this habitation?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Item of the Day: Mercy Otis Warren's History of the American Revolution (1805)

Full Title: History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution, Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations. In Three Volumes. By Mrs. Mercy Warren of Plymouth (Mass.) Vol. 1 Boston: Printed by Manning and Loring, for E. Larkin, No. 47 Cornhill, 1805.

An Address to the Inhabitants of the United States of America.

At a period when every manly arm was occupied, and every trait of talent or activity engaged, either in the cabinet or the field, apprehensive, that amidst the sudden convulsions, crowded scenes, and rapid changes, that flowed in quick succession, many circumstances might escape the more busy and active members of society, I have been induced to improve the leisure Providence had lent, to record as they passed, in the following pages, the new and unexperienced events exhibited in a land previously blessed with peace, liberty, simplicity, and virtue.

. . .

Connected by nature, friendship, and every social tie, with many of the first patriots, and most influential characters on the continent; in the habits of confidential and epistolary intercourse with several gentlemen employed abroad in the most distinguished stations, and with others since elevated to the highest grades of rank and distinction, I had the best means of information, through a long period that the colonies were in suspense, waiting the operation of foreign courts, and the success of their own enterprising spirit.

The solemnity that covered every countenance, when contemplating the sword uplifted, and the horrors of civil war rushing to habitations not inured to scenes of rapine and misery; even to the quiet cottage, where only concord and affection had reigned; stimulated to observation a mind that had not yielded to the assertion, that all political attentions lay out of the road of female life.

It is true there are certain appropriate duties assigned to each sex; and doubtless it is the more peculiar province of masculine strength, not only to repel the bold invader of the rights of his country and of mankind, but in the nervous style of manly eloquence, to describe the blood-stained fields, and relate the story of slaughtered armies.

Sensible of this, the trembling heart has recoiled at the magnitude of the undertaking, and the hand often shrunk bank from the task; yet, recollecting that every domestic enjoyment depends on the unimpaired possession of civil and religious liberty, that a concern for the welfare of society ought equally to glow in every human breast, the work was not relinquished. The most interesting circumstances were collected, active characters portrayed, the principles of the times developed, and the changes marked; nor need it cause a blush to acknowledge, a detail was preserved with a view of transmitting it to the rising youth of my country, some of them in infancy, others in the European world, while the most interesting events lowered over their native land.

Conscious that truth has been the guide of my pen, and candor, as well as justice, the accompaniment of my wishes through every page, I can say, with an ingenious writer, "I have used my pen with the liberty of one, who neither hopes nor fears, nor has any interest in the success or failure of any party, and who speaks to posterity -- perhaps very far remote."

. . .

Before this address to my countrymen is closed, I beg to leave to observe, that a new century has dawned upon us, the mind is naturally led to contemplate the great events that have run parallel with, and have just closed the last. From the revolutionary spirit of the times, the vast improvements in science, arts, and agriculture, the boldness of genius that marks the age, the investigation of new theories, and the changes in the political, civil, and religious characters of men, succeeding generations have reason to expect still more astonishing exhibitions in the next. In the mean time, Providence has clearly pointed out the duties of the present generation, particularly the paths which Americans ought to tread. The United States form a young republic, a confederacy which ought ever to be cemented by a union of interests and affection, under the influence of those principles which obtained their independence. These have indeed, at certain periods, appeared to be in the wane; but let them never be eradicated, by the jarring interests of parties, jealousies of the sister states, or the ambition of individuals! It has been observed by a writer of celebrity, that "that people, government, and constitution is the freest, which makes the best provision for the enacting of expedient and salutary laws." May this truth be evinced to all ages, by the wise and salutary laws that shall be enacted in the federal legislature of America!

May the hands of the executive of their own choice, be strengthened more by the unanimity and affection of the people, than by the dread of penal inflictions, or any restraints that might repress free inquiry, relative to the principles of their own government, and the conduct of its administrators! The world is now viewing America, as experimenting a new system of government, a FEDERAL REPUBLIC, including a territory to which the Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland bear little proportion. The practicability of supporting such a system, has been doubted by some; if she succeeds, it will refute the assertion, that none but small states are adapted to republican government; if she does not, and the union should be dissolved, some ambitious son of Columbia, or some foreign adverturer, allured by the prize, may wade to empire through seas of blood, or the friends of monarchy may see a number of petty despots, stretching their sceptres over the disjointed parts of the continent. Thus by the mandate of a single sovereign, the degraded subjects of one state, under the bannerets of royalty, may be dragged to sheathe their swords in the bosoms of the inhabitants of another.

The state of the public mind, appears at present to be prepared to weigh these reflections with solemnity, and to receive with pleasure an effort to trace the origin of the American revolution, to review the characters that effected it, and to justify the principles of the defection and final separation from the parent state. With an expanded heart, beating with high hopes of the continued freedom and prosperity of America, the writer indulges a modest expectation, that the following pages will be perused with kindness and candor: this she claims, both in consideration of her sex, the uprightness of her intentions, and the fervency of her wishes for the happiness of all the human race.

Mercy Warren.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Item of the Day: Pierpont’s The American First Class Book

Full Title: The American first class book; or, exercises in reading and recitation: selected principally from modern authors of Great Britain and America: and designed for the use of the highest class in publick and private schools. By John Pierpont, Minister of Hollis-street Church, Boston: Author of Airs of Palestine, &c. Boston: Hilliard, Gray, Little, and Wilkins and Richardson, Lord & Holbrook, 1831.


This book has been compiled with a special reference to the publick Reading and Grammar Schools of this city. It is the result of an attempt to supply the want—which has long been a subject of complaint among those whom the citizens of Boston have charged with the general superintendence of their publick schools, as well as with those who are appointed to the immediate instruction of them—of a book of Exercises in Reading and Speaking better adapted, than any English compilation that has yet appeared, to the state of society as it is in this country; and less obnoxious to complaint, on the ground of its national or political character, than it is reasonable to expect that any English compilation would be, among a people whose manners, opinions, literary institutions, and civil governments, are so strictly republican as our own.

But, though the immediate design of this compilation was a limited and local one, it has been borne in mind, throughout the work, that the want, which has been a subject of complaint in this city, must have been still more widely felt; especially by those, in every part of our country, who are attentive to the national, moral, and religious sentiments, contained in the books that are used by their children while learning to read, and while their literary taste is beginning to assume something of the character which it ever afterwards retains.

How far the objections, which have been made to other works of this sort, have been obviated in the present selection, it is for others to determine. I willingly leave the decision of this question to the ultimate and only proper tribunal—the publick; to whose kindness, as shown towards one of my efforts, in another department of literature, I am no stranger, and for which I should prove myself ungrateful should I not acknowledge my obligation. –I only hope that the kindness of the publick towards the past, many not have led into presumption and carelessness in regard to the present.

In as much, however, as this book departs, in some particulars, from most others of the same general character, it may be expected that the author should assign his reasons for such deviations. These relate principally to the omission of some things that are usually deemed essential to a school-reader; and to the arrangement of the materials of which this is made up.

First, then, it may be urged as an objection to this, as a compilation that is to be used by those who are learning to read, that it consists entirely of exercises in reading and speaking, to the exclusion of those rules, the knowledge of which is indispensable to any considerable proficiency in either.

I have observed, however, that that part of school-books which consists of Brief Treatises upon Rhetorick, Rules for Reading, and Essays on Elocution is, almost uniformly, little worn; --an evidence that it is little used; in other words, that it is of little use. I have construed this fact into an oracular monition not to devote to such Rules, Treatises, or Essays, any part of the present work.

The truth probably is, that reading, like conversation, is learned from example rather than by rule. –No one becomes distinguished, as a singer, by the most familiar knowledge of the gamut; so, no one is ever made an accomplished reader or speaker by studying rules for elocution, even though aided by a diagram. There is even less aid derived from rules in reading than singing: for musick is, in a great degree, a matter of strict science; while reading, after the alphabet is learned, is altogether an art: --an art, indeed, which requires a quick perception, a delicate taste, a good understanding, and, especially, a faculty of nicely discriminating and accurately expressing the various shades of an author’s meaning: --but, still, an art that is less capable than musick of being reduced to definitive rules, or of being taught by them.

To become a good reader or a good speaker, the best examples of elocution, in these respective departments, must be see, and heard, and studied. The tones that express particular emotions and passions must be caught by the ear. The same organ must inform us what is mean: by the very terms in which all rules must be expressed, --what is meant by a rapid or deliberate enunciation; what by speaking loudly or softly, on a high or low key, with emphasis or in a monotony, distinctly or indistinctly. We may amuse ourselves, if we please, with laying down rules upon these matters, but, till our rules are illustrated by the voice and manner of a good reader, they are totally inoperative; and, when thus illustrated, totally unnecessary. The learner imitates the example of reading which is given in explaining a rule, and the rule itself is forsaken and soon forgotten.

It seems to me that the readiest, indeed, the only good way, to teach children to read well, is, to give them the charge of instructers who are themselves good readers, --instructers, who, like teachers of musick, will not content themselves with laying certain rules for regulating the tones, inflexions, and cadences of the voice before your child’s eye, which can neither receive a sound nor give one, but who will address his ear with living instruction, --with the rich and informing melody of the human voice. . . .

Boston, June, 1823.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Upcoming events in the NYC area

Please note that this Friday (tomorrow) afternoon at 2pm, the Eighteenth-Century Interdisciplinary Group is hosting a talk in the Reading Room called "Revisiting Purley: John Horne Tooke's Logocentrism" by Dr. Brijraj Singh of Hostos Community College, CUNY. Please contact me at carrieshanafelt at gmail dot com if you'd like to attend this event and do not have a CUNY ID.

The Bard Graduate Center for Sudies in the Decorative Arts, Design, and Culture, located at 18 and 38 West 86th Stree in NYC has a series of upcoming events and programs scheduled. An exhibit entitled James "Athenian" Stuart, 1713-1788 The Rediscovery of Antiquity will take place November 16, 2006 through February 18, 2007 . On Thursday, December 7th from 6-8 pm, archaeologist and art historian Jenifer Neils will be giving a talk entitled "James 'Athenian' Stuart and the Parthenon" at the Bard Center. Registration is $17 for general admission, $12 for seniors and students. For more information or to register, please call 212-501-3011 or e-mail Information regardging their other programs and events can be found at

Item of the Day: Isaiah Thomas, Junr's Almanack for 1804 (1803)

Full Title: Isaiah Thomas, Junr's Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Vermont Almanack, With an Ephemeris, for the Year of our Lord 1804: Being Bissextile or Leap Year, and Twenty-Eighth of Columbian Independence. From Creation, According to the Scriptures, 5766. Fitted to the Latitude and Longitude of the Town of Boston, but will serve without essential variation for the adjacent States. Containing, besides the more than usual Astronomical Calculations, a large Quantity and greater Variety, than are to be found in any other Almanack of Matters Curious, Useful and Entertaining. Printed at Worcester, Massachusetts, by Isaiah Thomas, Jun.

The green and defective apples should be first made up and the cider sent to the distillery, to make brandy, which is a very good cordial, if softened with a little sugar, and kept until matured with age. The good and found apples, should be kept till they begin to grow mellow, then ground fine and the cider pressed out. It should be strained through a hair sieve when put into the casks, which will take out the gross parts of the apples. The casks should then be removed home and set on skids at the North end of a building, or some other cool place (but not in the cellar) where being placed a little slooping, the bungs should be taken out and filled up daily with cider, so that all the scum may go off. When the liquor is fine or clear, which will be in four or five days, it should be drawn off in clean casks, bunged up close, and stowed away in the cellar for future use.

It will be much softer and pleasanter than when preserved in the usual way; and the reason is plain; for all the fermentation in cider proceeds from small particles of apples remaining in the liquor. In the above method they are mostly separated very soon and thereby the cider is prevented fermenting so far as to make it sour.

The cider that is designed to be kept after June, should again be racked off in March; and if a match of brimstone is burnt in each cask and a quart of cider brandy added to each barrel, and is kept quite tight bunged, it will keep good two or three years.

There is considerable saving of casks in the above method, as each may be filled quite full of good cider, without any sediment at the bottom, or space at the top after the cider is wrought. -- The emptyings or sediment that is left, will answer for the still.

August and September, are the proper months to innoculate or graft most kinds of Fruit Trees -- Prune your Trees in the month of March, without any regard to the moon -- when you cut off large limbs, the stumps should be carefully plastered over with cowdung, and a little salt, to keep out the air.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Item of the Day: The Port Folio Prospectus (1801)

Full Title:
A young man, once known among village-readers, as the humble historian of the hour, the conductor of a Farmer's Museum, and a Lay Preacher's Gazette, again offers himself to the public as a volunteer-editor. Having, as he conceives, a right to vary, at pleasure, his fictitious name, he now, for higher reasons than any fickle humour might dictate, assumes the appellation of OLDSCHOOL. Fond of this title, indicative of his moral, political, and literary creed, he proposes publishing, every Saturday, on a super-royal quarto sheet,
To be Called,
By Oliver Oldschool, Esq.
Warned by the "waywardness of the time," and the admonitions of every honest printer, the Editor begins his work on a Lilliputian page, and like a saving grocer, gives of his goods only a small sample; but Subscribers, if peradventure the Editor should have any, must not "despise the day of small things." It is proposed always to give plenty of letter press, in proportion to the public demand, and, as the exigency of the season, or copiousness of materials may require to double, treble, and even quadruple the number of pages in the PORT FOLIO. Hereafter, more may be done, if more be wanted, and if more be fostered. . . .
More certain and confident respecting that which he can shun, than that which he can accomplish, he stipulates, with perfect sincerity, not to do certain things, and makes his public contract as Theologians, at the beginning of the century, used to divide their sermons, with a First, negatively,
He will not publish an impartial paper, in that style of cold, callous, supine, and criminal indifference, which views, with equal eye, a chieftain, and a follower -- a man of sense, and a fool -- the philosophy of the Greeks, and the philosophy of the French -- a stable government, and the uproar of anarchy. He will not make his paper "a carte-blanche on which every fool and knave may scribble what he pleases." To gratify the malignancy of fanatics, he will not asperse the government or the church, the laws or the literature of England. Remembering that WE ARE AT PEACE with that power -- that the most wholesome portions of our polity are modelled from hers -- that we kneel at shrines, and speak a language common to both, he will not flagitiously and foolishly advert to ancient animonisites, nor with rash hand, attempt to hurl the brand of discord between the nations.
He will not strive to please the populace, at the expence of their quiet, by infusing into every ill-balanced and weak mind, a jealousy of rulers, a love of innovation, an impatience of salutary restraint, or the reveries of liberty, equality, and the rights of man.
He will not labour to confound the moral, social, and political system, nor desperately essay "to break up the fountains of the great deep" of government. He will not calumniate Talents and Authority, and the "higher powers," whether of Genius or Wealth, or "Might and Dominion." He will not repeat to "hewers of wood and drawers of water," the Fairy-Tales of France, that all men are kings and emperors, and nobles, and judges, and statesmen. To plunder property, and to suffocate genius, he will not invite either a Wat Tyler, or a Jack Cade.
He will not, with political adversaries, maintain any other than well-manner'd controversy, and will not, in the rage of a zealot, forget the principles of a gentleman.
And, lastly, He will not print any other than a uniform, correct, and independent paper; nor gratify the caprice of parties, sects, or individuals, by departing no, not for a moment, from that scheme of political and literary composition, which has hitherto been pursued by the Editor, with sufficient approbation from the good, the loyal, and the studious. He will not be an inconstant and luke-warm supporter to principles and law; nor, like the parasite of the poet,
"Supple to every wayward mood, strike sail,
And shift, with shifting humour's peevish gale:
Nor be a glass, with flattering grimace,
Still to reflect the temper of each face."

Monday, November 06, 2006

Item of the Day: The Port Folio (1801)

Full Title: The Port Folio. By Oliver Oldschool, Esq. Volume 1. No. 4. Philadelphia, Saturday, January 24th, 1801.

One of the most mischievous articles of the new-fangled creed of "Equality" is that, which teaches the unlearned and the unwise to believe themselves competent to discharge all the functions of the well-taught and the sage. In former times a diligent apprenticeship was thought at least not less necessary to form a good legislator, a good judge, or a wise politician, than to make a mender of old shoes, or a patcher of old garments. But now, while statutes and acts of assembly most cautiously provide for the education of these latter, all men are supposed to be instinctively legislators, judges and politicians. Many a worthy mechanic is spoiled by being a chairman of a town meeting, and rendered worthless to his country, his family and himself: and many a fool, whose folly might have been concealed in retirement, inflamed with a desire to imitate his superiors, like Sancho's apple, has exposed himself to contempt and disgrace.

"Non omis fert omnia tellus," and the variety of soils cannot exceed the variety of men's talents. The human mind is limited in its operations, and is distracted and weakened by a variety of pursuits. Very few excel in more than one and it is an old and true adage, that "a Jack of all trades, is good at none." The folly of Chrysippus, an old Stoic, who affected to believe that a wise man is ipso facto, "et sutor bonus, et solus formosus, et rex," of all trades and professions, was formerly the subject of much mirth; but we have surpassed him in folly, for, now-a-days, "sutor est," ipso facto "sapiens, et rex" and good at everything.

Whenever I observe a tradesman talking politics by noon-day at street corners, frequenting state-house meetings, wearing the tri-coloured badge of party, or putting his family upon allowance for a month, to pay for a dinner to celebrate the success of a party favourite, I infer, that while his attention is absorbed by these things, his journeymen and apprentices are idle, his customers neglected, and that he is hastening to ruin, at the rate of a galloping consumption.

It is true, that the nature of our government and the frequent recurrence of our elections (hardly affording a sufficient interval for finishing a heel-tap) require and suppose a certain degree of activity and information from every citizen. God forbid that the honest and industrious should, in these times, refuse the duty they owe to their country. But I affirm, that valuable information is not to be had from town-meetings, turbulent demagogues and beer-house politicians; these darken and obscure the judgment and set the bad passions at work. An honest man, if left to himself, will generally judge correctly in important affairs, and the activity of that citizen who is busied in his own affairs, is most beneficial to himself and to society.

"Let the Cobbler, then, stick to his last."

Friday, November 03, 2006

Item of the Day: Whimsical Method of Punishing Libellers in Russia.

Full Title: The Universal magazine of knowledge and pleasure: containing news, letters, poetry, musick, biography, history, geography, voyages, criticism, translations, philosophy, mathematicks, husbandry, gardening, cookery, chemistry, mechanics, trade, navigation, architecture, and other arts and sciences, which may render it instructive and entertaining to gentry, merchants, farmers and tradesmen: to which occasionally will be added an impartial account of books in several languages and of the state of learning in Europe also of the stage, new operas, plays and oratorios. Vol. LXI. Published monthly according to an act of Parliament. London: John Hinton.

[Extracted from The Universal Magazine for September 1777.]

Whimsical Method of Punishing LIBELLERS in Russia.
Recommended to the Consideration of the British Legislature.
Everybody knows that the government in Russia is arbitrary, and consequently ever watchful over the few daring subjects who presume to make any advances towards that liberty, to which, as natives of the earth, all men seem so duly intitled. The punishment inflicted upon such unconstitutional delinquents is, however, not so severe as one might expect: but, in my opinion, much more exemplary than is to be found in a country celebrated for the equity of its decisions, and the salutary purpose of its laws. –While I resided at Moscow, there was a gentleman who thought fit to publish a quarto volume in vindication of the liberties of the subject, grosly reflecting upon the unlimited power of the Czar Peter, and exposing the iniquity of the whole legislature (if it may be so called) of that empire. The offender was immediately seized by virtue of a warrant signed by one of the principal officers of state; he was tried in a summary way, his book determined to be a libel, and he himself, as the author, condemned to “eat his own words.” This sentence was literally carried into execution on the following day. A scaffold was erected in the most populous part of town; the imperial provost was the executioner, and all magistrates attended at the ceremony. The book was severed from the binding, the margins were cut off, and every leaf was rolled up, as near as I can recollect, in the form of a lottery ticker, when it is taken out of the wheel at Guildhall by the blue-coat boy. The author of the libel was then served with them separately by the provost, who put them into his mouth, to the no small diversion of the spectators. The gentleman had received a complete mouthful before he began to chew; but he was obliged, upon pain of the severest bastinado, to swallow as many leaves as the Czar’s serjeant surgeon and physician thought it possible for him to do without immediate hazard to his life. As soon as they were pleased to determine that it would be dangerous to proceed, the remainder of the sentence was suspended for that time, and resumed again the next day, at the same place and hour, and strictly conformable to the same ceremony. I remember it was three days before this execution was over; but I attended it constantly, and was convinced that the author had actually swallowed every leaf of the book. Thus, I think, he may be very justly to have eaten his own words. Some part of this punishment seemed to give the culprit little or no concern; but I could not help observing, that now and then he suffered great torture: which, from an accurate attention, I discovered to arise from particular leaves on which the strongest points of his arguments were printed.

On recollecting this mode of execution, I confess I wished it to be adopted by the law of England: for setting aside the ridicule which it naturally brings upon the offender, it contains a spirit of equity that renders it in a particular manner worthy of consideration of the British legislature.

An Old Traveller.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Item of the Day: The Gentleman's Magazine (1764)

Full Title: The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle. Volume XXXIV. For the Year M.DCC.LXIV. By Sylvanus Urban, Gent. London: Printed by D. Henry and R. Cave, at St. John's Gate.

Poetical Essays: June 1764.

To the Rev. Gentleman on his being presented with a Pair of Garters by a Lady.

Since P---r, substitute of Venus now,
To whom a crowd of vot'ries daily bow,
From the rich stores of her abundant grace,
Mov'd with thy fair rotundity of face;
(That face where smiles eternal vigils keep,
For sure you smile when you are fast asleep)
Has on your Reverendship bestow'd the garter
From angry rivals, brother, hope no quarter;
But, by the lusty sun, she judges right,
Thou are a blooming, full proportion'd knight
But what, my rose of Sharon, means this gift,
Is now the business of thy brains to sift;
Say, did the fair present this mystic garter
Merely to make thy person something smarter?
Nought can be added to the man she loves,
Brawny as Mars, and sleek as Venus' doves.
Perhaps she meant "but Friendship's holy knot,
"The union incorporeal" -- You sot
'Twas not the ethereal touch of soul and soul
These garters typify'd. 'twas cheek by jole;
And, but for virgin shame, herself would own
The purpose was -- to have the stocking thrown.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Item of the Day: More of 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. XI.

Baptism by Immersion

I was present at a baptism according, as they say, to the doctrine of Saint John, in Rhode Island. the day was one of the severest in the month of January, and in that part of the world it is many degrees colder than in England. the thermometer was, at the time, 10 below 0.

A concourse of people near the water-side attracted my attention. I joined the crowd, and found that it was assembled to witness a baptism by immersion. The ice, which was about a foot thick, had been cut through to the distance of twenty or thirty yards, but so intense was the frost, that some of the elect were obliged, with poles and staves, to keep the hallowed water from freezing. A few minutes would have cemented the whole again. In order to turn the hearts of unbelievers, and to reclaim such as have gone astray, the baptists on these occasions are particularly prolix. They assert that the spirit enures them to this rigid penance, making to them the day mild, and the water of the summer's temperature. I had waited for the end of the minister's exhortation, after which he was to lead his flock to the water, until my limbs ached with cold. At length the penitents appeared. They consisted of the members of the meeting, two and two; then followed the devotees, about twelve in number, of both sexes, in long gowns, resembling a robe de chambre. At the head of the noviciates was the priest, alternately praying and singing, in honor of Saint John the baptist: and thus without slackening his pace, or altering his dress, he plunged into the freezing stream, till he was nearly breast-high in the water. His disciples, with wonderful resolution, hand in hand, followed; while the members who had already been purified by immersion, ranged themselves along the margin of the deep. The pastor then turned round, and began a solemn exhortation on baptism, which continued a few minutes; a dreadful interval in his situation! He then seized the nearest devotee, and with great dexterity immersed him entirely in the water. Another short prayer succeeded, then another immersion; and this was repeated till the whole had thus received the holy sacrament. They returned, giving thanks to God, after suffering the severity of the freezing water, at such as season, about ten minutes.

During this unnatural ceremony, I was no less entertained with the remarks of the spectators. One of them observed that, severe as the discipline was, they seldom took cold, or suffered subsequent bodily pains; adding, that their enthusiasm was so great, and their minds were wrought up to such a degree of religious phrenzy, that no room was left for reflection, or sense of danger. Another related a story of a public baptism of this nature in Connecticut, which was attended with a fatal circumstance. "It was about the same time of year," continued the narrator, (for the severer the weather the greater their faith) "when I was present at one of these duckings, (as he termed it.) It was performed in a small but rapid river, then covered with ice, except a place cut for the purpose. The minister, with his followers, advanced to the proper distance into the water: after the usual introductory prayer, being in the act of immersing the first, he accidentally lost his hold of the unfortunate person, who was in an instant carried down the stream, still running under the ice, and irrecoverably lost. The good man finding his subject gone, with a happy serenity of mind exclaimed, "The Lord hath given, the Lord hath taken away, blessed by the name of the Lord: -- come another of you, my children." The remainder, astonished and confounded, lost their faith, and fled.

A third spectator declared, that one of his relations, an elderly man, had suddenly become a frequenter of the baptist meetings, and offered himself a candidate for a place among the elect. The penance necessary to endure is severe, and the probation arduous, before the repentant sinner can pass the ordeal of the ministers and the elders. The old man had, it seems, obtained the blessed sanction, and a distant day was appointed for his regeneration by baptism. Upon reflection, finding that it would happen in the greatest severity of winter, at the next meeting he petitioned that the ceremony might take place in warmer weather; alledging, that it would certainly prove his death to be put under water in time of frost and snow. The congregation murmured, while the priest, without a reply, read his sentence of excommunication, with the most severe anathemas on his head as an unbeliever, possessing neither faith nor the holy spirit; and never could he recover the effects of his indiscretion, or be again admitted into the number of the elect.