Wednesday, January 17, 2007


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Item of the Day: Sketches of the History of Man (1774)

Full Title: Sketches of the History of Man by Lord Kames Home. Edinburgh: W. Creech: London: W. Strahan and T. Cadell, 1774.

Book I.

Progress of Men as Individuals


Progress of the Female Sex.

The history of the female sex, a capital branch of the history of man, comprehends great variety of matter, curious and interesting. But sketches are my province, not complete histories; and I propose in the present sketch to trace the gradual progress of women, from their low state in savage tribes, to their elevated state in civilized nations.

With regard to the outlines, whether of internal disposition, or of external figure, men and women are precisely the same. Nature, however, intending them for mates, has given them characters different, but concordant, so as to produce together delicious harmony. The man, naturally more robust, is fitted for severe labour and for field-exercises: the woman for sedentary occupations; and particularly for nursing children. To that difference the mind also contributes. A boy is always running about; delights in a top or a ball; and rides upon a stick for want of a horse. A girl has less inclination to move: her first amusement is a baby; which she delights to dress and undress. The man, bold and vigorous, is qualified for being a protector: the woman, delicate and timid, requires protection. The man, as a protector, is directed by nature to govern: the woman, conscious of inferiority, is disposed to obedience. Their intellectual powers correspond to the destination of nature: men have penetration and solid judgement to fit them for governing: women have sufficient understanding to make a decent figure under good government; a greater proportion would excite dangerous rivalship. Add another capital difference of character: the gentle and insinuating manners of the female sex tend to soften the roughness of the other sex; and where-ever women are indulged with any freedom, they polish sooner than men.

These are not the only particulars that distinguish the sexes. With respect to matrimony, it is the privilege of the male, as superior and protector, to make a choice: the female preferred has no privilege but barely to consent or to refuse. Nature fits them for these different parts: the male is bold, the female bashful. Hence among all nations it is the practice for men to court, and for women to be courted: which holds also among many other animals, probably among all that pair.

Another distinction is equally visible: The Master of a family is immediately connected with his country: his wife, his children, his servants, are immediately connected with him, and with their country through him only. Women accordingly have less patriotism than men; and less bitterness against the enemies of their country.

The peculiar modesty of the female sex is also a distinguishing circumstance. Nature hath provided them with it as their chief defence against the artful solicitations of the other sex before marriage, and also as the chief support of conjugal fidelity. It is held to be their capital virtue; and a woman who surrenders her chastity is universally despised; tho’ in a man chastity is scarce held to be a virtue, except in the married state. But of that more fully afterwards.

A fundamental article in the present sketch is matrimony; and it has been much controverted, whether it be an appointment of nature, or only of municipal law. Many writers have exercised their talents in that controversy, but without giving any satisfaction to a judicious enquirer. If I mistake not, it may be determined upon solid principles; and as it is of importance in the history of man, the reader, I am hopeful, will not be disgusted at the length of the argument.

. . .

What I have no opened suggests the following question, Whether, according to the animal economy above display’d, are we to presume, or not, that man is directed by nature to matrimony? If analogy can be rely’d on, the affirmative must be held, as there is no other creature in the known world to which pairing is so necessary. Man is a long-lived animal, and is proportionally slow in growing to maturity: he is a helpless being before the age of fifteen or sixteen, and there may be in a family ten or twelve children of different births before the eldest can shift for itself. Now in the original state of hunting and fishing, which are laborious occupations, and not always successful, a woman, suckling her infants is not able to provide food even for herself, far less for ten or twelve voracious children. Matrimony therefore, or pairing, is so necessary to the human race, that it must be natural and instinctive. When such ample means are provided for continuing every other animal race, is it supposable that the chief race would be neglected? Providential care descends even to vegetable life: every plant bears a profusion of seed; and in order to cover the earth with vegetables, some seeds have sings, some are scattered by means of a spring, and some are so light as to be carried about by the wind. Brute animals which do not pair, have grass and other food in plenty, enabling the female to feed her young without needing any help from the male. But where the young require the nursing care of both parents, pairing is a law of nature. When other races are so amply provided for, can it be seriously thought, that Providence is less attentive to the human race? If men and women were not impelled by nature to matrimony, they would be less fitted for continuing their species than even the humblest plant. Have we not reason fairly to conclude, that matrimony in the human race is an appointment of nature? Can that conclusion be resisted by any one who believes in Providence, and in final causes?

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(January 12th, 2007) Item of the Day: Barclay’s Apology for the True Christian Divinity (1765)

Full Title: An Apology for the True Christian Divinity, being an Explanation and Vindication of the Principles and Doctrines of the People called Quakers. Written in Latin and English by Robert Barclay, and since translated into the High Dutch, Low Dutch, French, and Spanish, for the Information of Strangers. The Eighth Edition in English. Birmingham: Printed by John Baskerville, and sold by the booksellers of London and Westminster, MDCCLXV.

and the Dominions therunto belonging:

A Servant of JESUS CHRIST, called of GOD to the Dispensation of the Gospel now again revealed, and, after a long and dark Night of Apostasy, commanded to be preached to all NATIONS, wisheth Health and Salvation.

As the Condition of Kings and Princes puts Them in a Station more obvious to the View and Observation of the World than that of other Men, of whom, as Cicero observes, neither any Word or Action can be obscure; so are those Kings, during whose Appearance upon the Stage of this World it pleaseth the GREAT KING of Kings singularly to make known unto Men the wonderful Steps of His unsearchable Providence, more signally observed, and their Lives and Actions more diligently remarked, and enquired into by Posterity; especially if those Things be such as not only relate to the outward Transactions of this World, but also are signalized by the Manifestation or Revelation of the Knowledge of God in Matters spiritual and religious. These are the Things that rendred the Lives of Cyrus, Augustus Caesar, and Constantine the Great, in former Times, and Charles the Fifth, ans ome other modern Princes in these last Ages, so considerable.

But among all the Transactions which it hath pleased God to permit, for the Glory of His Power, and the Manifestation of His Wisdom and Providence, no Age furnisheth us with Things so strange and marvellous, whether with Respect to Matters civil or religious, as these that have fallen out within the Compass of Thy Time; who, though Thou be not yet arrived at the Fiftieth Year of thy Age, hast yet been a Witness of stranger Things than many Ages before produced. So that whether we respect those various Troubles wherein Thou foundest Thyself engaged while scarce got out of Thy Infancy; the many different Afflictions, whrewith Men of Thy Circumstances are often unacquainted; the strand and unparalleled Fortune that befel Thy Father; Thy own narrow Escape, and Banishment following thereupon, with the great Improbability of Thy ever returning, at least without very much Pains and tedious Combatings; or finally, the Incapacity Thou wert under to accomplish such a Design; considering the Strength of those that had possessed themselves of Thy Throne, and the Terror they had inflicted upon foreign States; and yet that, after all this, Thou shouldest be restored without Stroke of Sword, the Help or Assistance of foreign States, or the Contrivance and Work of human Policy; all these do sufficiently declare it is the Lord’s Doing, which, as it is marvellous in our Eyes, so it will justly be a Matter of Wonder and Astonishment to Generations to come; and may sufficiently serve, if rightly observed to confute and confound that Atheism wherewith this Age doth so much abound.

As the Vindication of the Liberty of Conscience (which Thy Father, by giving Way to the importunate Clamours of the Clergy, the Answering and Fulfilling of whose unrighteous Wills has often proved hurtful and pernicious to Princes, fought some Part to restrain) was a great Occasion of those Troubles and Revolutions; so the Pretence of Conscience was that which carried it on, and brought it to that Pitch it came to. And though no Doubt some that were engaged in that Work designed good Things, at least in the Beginning, albeit always wrong in the Manner they took to accomplish it, viz. by carnal Weapons, yet so soon as they had tasted the Sweets of the Possessions of them they had turned out, they quickly began to do those Things themselves for which they had accused others. For their Hands were found full of Opression, and they hated the Reproof of Instruction, which is the Way of Life; and they evilly intreated the Messengers of the Lord, and caused his Prophets to be beaten and imprisoned, and persecuted his People, whom he had called and gathered out from among them, whom he had made to beat their Swords into Plow-shares, and their Sperars into Pruning-hooks, and not to learn carnal War any more: But he raised them up, and armed them with Spiritual Weapons, even with his own Spirit and Power, whereby they testified in the Streets and High-ways, and publick Markets and Synagogues, against the Pride, Vanity, Lust, and Hypocrisy of that Generation, who were righteous in their own Eyes; though often cruelly intreated therfore: And they faithfully prophesied and foretold them of their Judgment and Downfal, which came upon them; as by several Warnings and Epistles, delivered to Oliver and Richard Cromwell, the Parliament, and other then Powers, yet upon Record, doth appear. . . .

GOD Almighty, who hath so signally hitherto visited Thee with His Love, so touch and reach Thy Heart, ere the Day of Thy Visitation by expired, that Thou mayest effectually Turn to Him, so as to improve Thy Place and Station for His Name. So wisheth, so prayeth,

Thy Faithful Friend and Subject,


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Item of the Day: The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts, on Life, Death, and Immortality (1812)

Full Title: The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts, on Life, Death, and Immortality. By Edward Young, L.L.D. With the Life of the Author. London: Printed for Thomas Tegg, 111, Cheapside. 1812.

Memoirs of the Late Dr. Edward Young.

Edward Young, L.L.D. author of the Night thoughts, and many other excellent pieces, was the only son of Dr. Edward Young, an eminent, learned, and judicious divine, dean of Sarum, fellow of Winchester college, and rector of Upham, in Hampshire. He was born in the year 1684, at Upham; and, after being educated in Winchester college, was chosen on the foundation of New College at Oxford, October 13th, 1703, when he was nineteen years of age; but being superannuated, and there being no vacancy of a fellowship, he removed before the expiration of the year to Corpus Christi, where he entered himself a gentleman commoner.

In 1708, he was put into a law fellowship, at all Souls, by Archbishop Tennison. Here he took the degree of B.C.L. in 1714, and in 1719, D.C.L. In this year he published his Tragedy of Busiris: in 1721, the Revenge; and in 1723, the Brothers: about this time he published his elegant Poem on the Last Day, which being wrote by a Layman, gave the more satisfaction. He soon after published the Force of Religion, or Vanquished Love, a poem, which also gave much pleasure, to most who read it, but, more especially to the noble family for whose entertainment it was principally written. Some charge the Author with a stiffness of versification in both these poems; but they met with such success as to procure him the particular friendship of several of the nobility, and among the rest the patronage of the Duke of Wharton, which greatly helped him in his finances. By his Grace’s recommendation, he put up for member of parliament for Cirencester, but did not succeed. His noble patron honoured him with his company to All souls; and, through his instance and persuasion, was at the expence of erecting a considerable part of the new buildings then carrying on in that college. The turn of his mind leading him to divinity, he quitted the law, which he had never practised, and taking orders, was appointed chaplain in ordinary to king George II. April 1728.

In that year he published a Vindication of Providence, in 4to. and soon after his Estimate of Human Life, in the same size, which have gone through several editions in 12mo. and thought by many to be the best of his prose performances. In 1730, he was presented by his college to the rectory of Welwyn, in Hertfordshire, reputed worth 300l. a year, besides the lordship of the Manor annexed to it. He was married in 1731, to lady Betty Lee, widow of Colonel Lee, and daughter to the earl of Litchfield, (a lady of an eminent genius and great poetical talents) who brought him a son and heir not long after their marriage.

About the year 1741, he had the unhappiness to lose his wife, and both her children, which she had by her first husband; a son and a daughter, very promising characters. They all died within a short time of each other: that he felt greatly for their loss, as well as for that of his lady, may easily be perceived by his fine poem of the Night Thoughts, occasioned by it. This was a species of poetry peculiarly his own, and has been unrivalled by all who have attempted to copy him. His applause here was deservedly great. The unhappy Bard, “whose griefs in melting numbers flow, and melancholy joys diffuse around,” has been often sung by the profane as well as pious. They were written, as before observed, under the recent pressure of his sorrow for the loss of his wife, and his daughter and son-in-law; they are addressed to Lorenzo, a man of pleasure, and the world, and who, it is generally supposed, (and very probably) was his own son, then labouring under his father’s displeasure. His son-in-law is said to be characterised by Philader; and his daughter was certainly the person he speaks of under the appellation of Narcissa: See Night 3.1.62. In her last illness he accompanied her to Montpelier, in the south of France, where she died soon after her arrival in the city.

After her death it seems she was denied Christian burial, on account of being reckoned a heretic, by the inhabitants of this place; which inhumanity is justly resented in the same beautiful poem: See Night 3, line 165; in which his wife also is frequently mentioned; and he thus laments the loss of all three in an apostrophe to death:

“Insatiate Archer! could not one suffice?
Thy shaft flew thrice, and thrice my peace was slain
And thrice, ere thrice yon moon had fill’d her horn.”

He wrote his conjectures on Original Composition, when he was turned of 80; if it has blemishes mixed with its beauties, it is not to be wondered at, when we consider his great age, and the many infirmities which generally attend such an advanced period of life. However, the many excellent remarks this work abounds with, make it justly esteemed as a brightening before death: the Resignation, a poem, the last and least esteemed of all Dr. Young’s works, was published a short time before his death, and only served to manifest the taper of genius, which had so long shone with peculiar brightness in him, was now glimmering in the socket. He died in his parsonage-house, at Welwyn, April 12th 1765, and was buried, according to his own desire, (attended by all the poor of the parish) under the altar-piece of that church, by the side of his wife. This altar-piece is reckoned one of the most curious in the kingdom, adorned with an elegant piece of needlework by the late lady Betty Young.

Before the Doctor died, he ordered all his manuscripts to be burnt. Those that knew how much he expressed in a small compass, and that he never wrote on trivial subjects, will lament both the excess of his modesty (if I may so term it) and the irreparable loss to posterity; especially when it is considered, that he was the intimate acquaintance of Addison, and was himself one of the writers of the Spectator.

In his life-time he published two or three sermons, one of which was preached before the House of Commons. He left an only son and heir, Mr. Frederick Young, who had the first part of his education at Winchester school, and became a scholar upon the Foundation; was sent, in consequence thereof, to New College in Oxford; but there being no vacancy (though the Society waited for no less than two years) he was admitted in the mean time in Baliol College, where he behaved so imprudently as to be forbidden the College. This misconduct disobliged his father so much, that he never would suffer him to come to his sight afterwards: however, by his will, he bequeathed to him, after a few legacies, his whole fortune, which was considerable.
As a Christian and a Divine, he might be said to be an example of primeval piety: he gave a remarkable instance of this one Sunday, when preaching in his turn at St. James’s; for, though he strove to gain the attention of his audience, when he found he could not prevail, his pity for their folly got the better of all decorum; he sat back in the pulpit, and burst into a flood of tears.
The turn of his mind was naturally solemn; and he usually, when at home in the country, spent many hours in a day walking among the tombs in his own churchyard. His conversation, as well as writings, had all a reference to a future life; and this turn of mind mixed itself even with his improvements in gardening: he had, for instance, an alcove, with a bench so well painted in it, that, at a distance, it appeared to be real, but upon nearer approach, the deception was perceived, and this motto appeared,

Invisibilia non decipunt
The things unseen do not deceive us.

It is observed by Dean Swift, that if Dr. Young, in his satires, had been more merry or severe, they would have been more generally pleasing; because mankind are more apt to be pleased with ill-nature and mirth than with solid sense and instruction. It is also observed of his “Night Thoughts, that though they are chiefly flights of thinking almost super-human, such as the description of death, from his secret stand, noting down the follies of a Bacchanalian society, the epitaph upon the departed world, and the issuing of Satan from his dungeon; yet these, and a great number of other remarkable fine thoughts, are sometimes overcast with an air of gloominess and melancholy, which have a disagreeable tendency, and must be unpleasing to a cheerful mind; however, it must be acknowledged by all, that they evidence a singular genius, a lively fancy, an extensive knowledge of men and things, especially of the feelings of the human heart, and paint, in the strongest colours, the vanity of life, with all its fading honours and emoluments, the benefits of true piety, especially in the views of death, and the most unanswerable arguments, in support of the soul’s immortality and a future state.


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Item of the Day: Mrs. Trollope's Manners of the Americans (1832)

Domestic Manners of the Americans. By Mrs. Trollope. Vol I. London: Printed for Whittaker, Treacher, & Co. Ave Maria Lane, 1832.

Chapter II. New Orleans – Society – Creoles and Quandroons – Voyage up the Mississipppi.

On first touching the soil of a new land, of a new continent, of a new world, it is impossible not to feel considerable excitement and deep interest in almost every object that meets us. New Orleans presents very little that can gratify the eye of taste, but nevertheless there is much of novelty and interest for newly-arrived European. The large proportion of blacks seen in the streets, all labour being performed by them; the grace and beauty of the elegant Quadroons, the occasional groups of wild and savage looking Indians, the unwonted aspect of the vegetation, the huge and turbid river, with its low and slimy shore, all help to afford that aspecies of amusement which proceeds from looking at what we never saw before.
The town has much the appearance of a French Ville de Province, and is, in fact, an old French colony taken from Spain by France. The names of the streets are French, and the language about equally French and English. The market is handsome and well supplied, all produce being conveyed by the river. We were much pleased by the chant with which the Negro boatmen regulate and beguile their labour on the river; it consists but of a very few notes, but they are sweetly harmonious, and the Negro voice is almost always rich and powerful. By far the most agreeable hours I passed at New Orleans were those in which I explored with my children the forest near the town. It was our first walk in “the eternal forests of the western world,” and we felt rather sublime and poetical. The trees, generally speaking, are much too close to be either large or well grown; and moreover, their growth is often stunted by a parasitical plant, for which I could learn no other name than “Spanish moss;” it hangs gracefully from the boughs, converting the outline of all the trees it hangs upon into that of weeping willows. The chief beauty of the forest in this region is from the luxuriant under-growth of palmettos, which is decidedly the loveliest coloured and most graceful plant I know. The pawpaw, too, is a splendid shrub, and in great abundance. We here, for the first time, saw the wild vine, which we afterwards fround growing so profusely in every part of America, as naturally to suggest the idea that the natives ought to add wine to the numerous productions of their plenty-teeming soil. The strong pendant festoons made safe and commodious swings, which some of our party enjoyed, despite the sublime temperament above-mentioned. Notwithstanding it was mid-winter when we were at New Orleans, the heat was much more than agreeable, and the attacks of the mosquitos incessant, and most tormenting; yet I suspect that for a short time, we would rather have endured it, than not have seen oranges, green peas, and red pepper, growing in the open air at Christmas. In one of our rambles we ventured to enter a garden, whose bright orange hedge attracted our attention; here we saw green peas fit for the table, and a fine crop of red pepper ripening in the sun. A young Negress was employed on the steps of the house; that she was a slave made her an object of interest to us. She was the first slave we had ever spoken to, and I believe we all felt that we cold hardly address her with sufficient gentleness. She little dreamed, poor girl, what deep sympathy she excited; she answered us civilly and gaily, and seemed amused at our fancying there was something unusual in red pepper pods; she gave us several of them, and I felt fearful lest a hard mistress might blame her for it. How very childish does ignorance make us! and how very ignorant we are upon almost every subject, where hear-say evidence is all we can get! I left England with feelings so strongly opposed to slavery, that it was not without pain I witnessed its effects around me. At the sight of every Negro man, woman, and child that passed, my fancy wove some little romance of misery, as belonging to each of them; since I have known more on the subject, and become better acquainted with their real situation in America, I have often smiled at recalling what I then felt.

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