Monthly Archives: October 2005

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

Full Title:

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

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

From pp. 1-5:

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

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

But I have scarce set foot in your dominions—

C A L A I S.

WHEN I had finishd my dinner, and drank the King of France’s health, to satisfy my mind that I bore him no spleen, but, on the contrary, high honour for the humanity of his temper—I rose up an inch taller for the accommodation.

—No—said I—the Bourbon is by no means a cruel race: they may be misled like other people; but there is a mildness in their blood. As I acknowledged this, I felt a suffusion of a finer kind upon my cheek—more warm and friendly to man, than what Burgundy (at least of two livres a bottle, which was such as I had been drinking) could have produced.

—Just God! said I, kicking my portmanteau aside, what is there in this world’s goods which should sharpen our spirits, and make so many kind-hearted brethren of us fall out so cruelly as we do by the way?

When man is at peace with man, how much lighter than a feather is the heaviest of metals in his hand! he pulls out his purse, and holding it airily and uncompress’d, looks round him, as if he sought for an object to share it with—In doing this, I felt every vessel in my frame dilate—the arteries beat all cheerily together, and every power which sustained life, perform’d it with so little friction, that ‘twould have confounded the most physical precieuse in France: with all her materialism, she could scarce have called me a machine—

I’m confident, said I to myself, I should have overset her creed.

The accession of that idea carried nature, at that time, as high as she could go—I was at peace with the world before, and this finish’d the treaty with myself—

—Now, was I a King of France, cried I—what a moment for an orphan to have begg’d his father’s portmanteau of me!

* All the effects of strangers (Swiss and Scotch excepted) dying in France, are seized by virtue of this law, though the heir be upon the spot—the profit of these contingencies being farmed, there is no redress.


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Filed under 1790's, Fiction, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: The Boston Massacre (1770)

Full Title:

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

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

From the Introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under 1770's, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Revolution

Item of the Day: Early American Drama (1810)

Bound together:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under 1810's, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Theater

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

Full Title:

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

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

From pp. 9-12:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under 1800's, American Indians, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Religion

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

Full Title:

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

May it please Your Majesty,


Most Obedient,

and most Devoted

Humble Servants,

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Filed under 1730's, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Theater

Item of the Day: Microcosm of London (1809)

Microcosm of London

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Admonition to the prisoners in Newgate on the night before execution.

You prisoners that are within,

Who, for wickedness and sin,

After many mercies shewn you, are now appointed to die to-morrow in the forenoon, give ear, and understand, that to-morrow morning the greatest bell of St. Sepulchre’s shall toll for you, in form and manner of a passing bell, as used to be tolled for those who are at the point of death, to the end that all godly people hearing the bell, and knowing it is for your going to your deaths, may be stirred up heartily to pray to God to bestow his grace and mercy upon you whilst you live. I beseech you, for Jesus Christ’s sake, to keep this night in watching and prayer, to the salvation of your own souls, while there is yet time and place for mercy, as knowing to-morrow you must appear before the judgment-seat of your Creator, there to give an account of all things done in this life, and to suffer eternal torments for your sin committed against him, unless, upon your hearty and unfeigned repentance, you find mercy through the merits, death, and passion of our only mediator and advocate, Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for as many of you as penitently return to him.

Admonition to the condemned criminals as they are passing by St. Sepulchre’s church wall to execution.

All good people, pray heartily to God for these poor sinners, who are now going to their death, for whom this great bell doth toll. You that are condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears; ask mercy of the Lord for the salvation of your own souls, through the merits, death, and passion of Jesus Christ, who now sits at the right hand of God to make intercession for as many of you as penitently return unto him.

Lord have mercy upon you,

Christ have mercy upon you,

Lord have mercy upon you,

Christ have mercy upon you.

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Legal, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

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

Full Title:

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

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

“Of Superstition”:

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

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Filed under 1630's, Philosophy, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Religion

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

Full Title:

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

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

From the introduction:

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

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

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

Full Title:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under 1790's, Journal, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt