Monthly Archives: October 2005

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

Full Title:

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

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

From pp. 9-11:

MY DEAR SON,

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

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

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

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Item of the Day: Franklin’s Historical Review of Pensylvania (1759)

Full Title:

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

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

Introduction (pp. 1-5):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Item of the Day: Field of Mars (1781)

Full Title:

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

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

To the Public:

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

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

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

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

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

Full Title:

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

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

From the Introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

New Haven, 1828. N. WEBSTER.

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Items of the Day: Paine

Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

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

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Read Public Good online

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

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Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

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

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

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Filed under 1770's, 1780's, 1790's, 1800's, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

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

Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

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

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

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Full Title:

Inchiquin, The Jesuit’s Letters, During a Late Residence in The United States of America; Being a Fragment of a Private Correspodence, Accidentally Discovered in Europe; Containing a Favourable View of the Manners, Literature, and State of Society, of the United States, and a

Refutation of Many of the Aspersions Cast upon this Country, by Former Residents and Tourists. By Some Unknown Foreigner.

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

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

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

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

“Definitions”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Filed under 1780's, Culture, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt

Item of the Day: Alexander’s History of Women (1779)

Full Title:

The History of Women. From the Earliest Antiquity, to the Present Time; Giving Some Account of almost every interesting Particular concerning that Sex, among all Nations, ancient and modern. By William Alexander, M.D. In Two Volumes. Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

Written by William Alexander, M.D., d. 1783. 2 volumes bound as 1. Missing pp. 3-6 in introduction to Vol. I. 368 p.; contains table of contents and index for each volume. Printed in London for W. Strahan, and T. Cadell, in the Strand, 1779.
The advertisement reads:

AS the following Work was composed solely for the amusement and instruction of the Fair Sex; and as their education is in general less extensive than that of the men; in order to render it the more intelligible, we have studied the utmost plainness and simplicity of language; have not only totally excluded almost every word that is not English, but even, as much as possible, avoided every technical term.

As we persuade ourselves, that nothing could be more perplexing to the sex, or to which they would pay less attention, than a long list of authors on the margin, to shew from whence we have derived our information, and as a great part of such list would refer to books in other languages, we have entirely omitted it, and contented ourselves with sometimes interweaving into our text, the names and sentiments of such authors as have more peculiarly elucidated the subjects we were investigating.

WE have not vanity enough to recommend our Work to the learned, they must have met with every anecdote related in it; but as the generality of the fair sex, whose reading is more confined, now spend many of their idle hours in poring over novels and romances, which greatly tend to mislead the understanding and corrupt the heart, we cannot help expressing a wish, that they would spare a part of this time to look into the history of their own Sex; a history, which we flatter ourselves will afford them no irrational amusement, and which will more gratify the curiosity of the female mind in whatever relates to themselves, than any thing that has hitherto been published.

WE do not mean by this to praise ourselves; we submit with the utmost diffidence to the judgment of the Public. If we have any merit, it is only in collecting together, and presenting in one view, a variety of anecdotes concerning the sex, which lay scattered in a great number of authors, ancient and modern, and not within the reading of the Sex themselves; recourse to larger libraries might have made these anecdotes more numerous, and better judgments would have selected them more judiciously; on these accounts, none can be more sensible of the imperfections of the Work than we are, but we hope our candid Readers will make some allowances for our having trod a path which has never been attempted before; and the Ladies, we flatter ourselves, will treat us with some indulgence, when we assure them, that we have exerted our utmost abilities to put their history into the most engaging dress, and to mingle pleasure with instruction.

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

Items of the Day: Legal Documents

(Click on statement to enlarge.)An Albany court statement, 1766.

(Click on warrant to enlarge.)A New-York warrant, 1784.

(Click on passport to enlarge.)

This passport was written for Richard Randall at the Consulate of the U.S. of America at Malta, and signed by Consul Joseph Pulis in 1823.

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Filed under 1760's, 1780's, 1820's, Legal, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Travel

Items of the Day: Financial Documents

(Click on document to enlarge.)

Exchange for £.150 Sterling. Thirty days after Sight of this my Third Exchange, First & second of the same Tenor and Date not paid, please pay to Mr. Samuel White or Order, One hundred and fifty pounds Sterling, Value received, and charge the same with or without further Advice to Account of…

Sight draft dated June 28, 1773 for one hundred fifty pounds sterling to the order of Samuel White drawn by a Boston merchant and payable at the London office of his banker. Such sight drafts were drawn in multiple numbered copies to protect against loss at sea. Signed by Jon Mason.

(Click on currency to enlarge.)

Eighteen pence currency. No. 9697. This Bill shall pass current for One Shilling and Six Pence, according to an Act of General Assembly of the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, passed the Twentieth Day of March, in the Year One Thousand Seven Hundred and Seventy-seven. Dated the Tenth of April, A.D. 1777. “To Counterfeit is Death.”

Paper currency. Signature of J. Davidson in red. Verso has illustration of farm. Printed in Philadelphia by John Dunlap for the Common-Wealth of Pennsylvania, 1777.

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