Monthly Archives: July 2006

Item of the Day: Part of London shewing the Improvements propos’d about the Mansion-House, Royal-Exchange, Moor-Fields, &c. (1766)

Full Title: London and Westminster Improved, Illustrated by Plans. To which is prefixed, A Discourse on Publick Magnificence; with Observations on the State of Arts and Artists in this Kingdom, wherein the Study of Polite Arts is recommended as necessary to a liberal Education: Concluded by Some Proposals relative to Places not laid down in the Plans. By John Gwynn. London: Printed for the author, 1766.

[One of the four engraved and hand-colored maps showing the proposed improvements to Westminster and London found in Gwynn’s London and Westminster, Improved.]


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Filed under 1760's, London, Maps, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: London and Westminster Improved, Illustrated by Plans. (1766)

Full Title: London and Westminster Improved, Illustrated by Plans. To which is prefixed, A Discourse on Publick Magnificence; with Observations on the State of Arts and Artists in this Kingdom, wherein the Study of Polite Arts is recommended as necessary to a liberal Education: Concluded by Some Proposals relative to Places not laid down in the Plans. By John Gwynn. London: Printed for the author, 1766.

[John Gwynn, one of the founding members of the Royal Academy in 1768, a civil engineer, architect and architect critic, was a key figure in the introduction of the Building Act of 1774. Gwynn believed that the Great Fire of the previous century had created a great opportunity to plan and improve London. This volume includes four engraved and hand-colored maps showing the proposed improvements to Westminster and London.]



When historians give us the rise, progress and declension of any state, they generally relate its fall to have proceeded from some political error in government, or from luxury; a very vague and undetermined expression, which if it signifies excesses created by inordinate desire, stimulated by riches, has been justly marked as the vice of a nation. But if in the place of it we substitute delicacy, we shall find it the great source of liberal arts, and of every improvement not immediately necessary to life.

Thus it becomes a promoter of industry and ingenious labour, and finds employment for those superfluous hands that can be spared from agriculture &c. and while the hand of affluence thus affords the means of subsistence to the ingenious artisan, it finds employment for itself, without which life would become a burden.

Suppose a colony of emigrants first settling in any climate, the calls of nature are few. Building huts, and tillage, are the first objects of their attention; and their cloathing [sic] the skins of beasts. These supply them with food, and defend them from the inclemencies [sic] of the seasons, until encreasing [sic] in numbers, and their improvements advancing equally, their lands produce more than they consume, and they are able to supply the wants of their neighbours. This introduces commerce and navigation. The demands for exportation stimulate the manufacturer, wealth arises, and artificial wants encrease; the rich inhabitants look out for the means of ease, pleasure and distinction; these produce the polite arts, and the original formation of huts is now converted into architecture; painting and sculpture contribute to the decoration, and stamp that value on canvas and marble which is acknowledged by taste and discernment, and mark those necessary distinctions between the palace and the cottage.

Publick magnificence may be considered as a political and moral advantage to every nation; politically, from the intercourse with foreigners expending vast sums on our curiosities and productions; morally, as it tends to promote industry, to stimulate invention and to excite emulation in polite and liberal arts; for those industrious hands who find agriculture, &c. overstocked with labourers, naturally fall into those employments where they may expect more encouragement, in proportion, as more ingenuity is required.

We all know that the chief sources of wealth to many fallen states, are the remains of their ancient magnificence, and the constant confluence of foreigners to those places supply the deficiencies of manufactures or commerce.

The sums expended by foreigners may be considered as a laudable tax on their curiosity, whose ideas being excited by fame, can never be satisfied but by ocular demonstration. And had we more ample means of gratifying that thirst after novelty and amusement, numbers would continually flock over to our nation, as we continually do to theirs.

Let us consider the man of affluence, actuated by that beneficent spirit, the mere delight of doing good, and rendering himself acceptable to his Creator; he is furnished with the means, and by employing the ingenious and laborious artizans [sic], adds to the necessity of labour, the desire of excellence: A villa rises, and estate is improved, and a manufacture established; these create the proper distinction between the Prince and the peasant, the merchant and the workman; these characterize the genius of a nation, mark the area of its excellence, raise it from obscurity to fame, and fix it as the standard of taste to latest posterity.

In speaking of the ignorance of early times it is natural to charge them with want of genius; but the natural qualities of every nation are alike. The Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, who have made such a great progress in the sciences, were not actuated by supernatural causes, or any innate principles in their original formation; the mind is a mere blank, but capable of receiving such impressions as custom, education, or any other relative cause shall make upon it. It increases in vigour, according to its sensibility of such application, and, by degrees, so far exalts its powers, that it seems to obtain new faculties in seeing, hearing and feeling those objects to which it is most familiarized; it perceives defects and excellencies which the ignorant and unexperienced [sic] never apprehend. The man becomes eminent in his profession in proportion as his perception is more or less acute; and you easily distinguish the man of genius, or the inventor of original designs, from the servile copyist; who, though he may pretend to be an ingenious man, can have no title to the praise of genius.

But to return. If we examine the remains of the Roman magnificence, we shall see their first intentions were to procure the conveniences of life and health of the inhabitants; these are visible to this day, in their aqueducts and subterraneous drains. Next to these considerations, was the honouring of the gods by magnificent temples. Then arose cities, palaces and private buildings, which were adorned with every production of science.

The English are now what the Romans were of old, distinguished like them by power and opulence, and excelling all other nations in commerce and navigation. Our wisdom is respected, our laws are envied, and our dominions are spread over a large part of the globe.

Let us, therefore, no longer neglect to enjoy our superiority; let us employ our riches in the encouragement of ingenious labour, by promoting the advancement of grandeur and elegance.

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Filed under 1760's, Culture, London, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The World in Miniature (1740)

Full Title: The World in Miniature: or, the Entertaining Traveler. Giving an Account of every Thing necessary and curious; as to Situation, Customs, Manners, Genius, Temper, Diet, Diversions, Religious and other Ceremonies; Trade, Manufactures, Arts, and Sciences; Government, Policies. Laws, Religions, Buildings; Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Plants, Reptiles, Drugs; Cities, Mountains, Rivers, and other Curiosities, belong to each Country. In Two Volumes. Vol. II. Containing America, and the Isles thereof, To which is added, an Account of england, Scotland, and Ireland; with the Isles adjacent. By Mr. John Fransham, of Norwich With several Curious and Useful Tables.. London: Printed, and sold by John Torbuck, 1740.


The Indians are generally of a deep Olive; the Men have strait [sic] clean Limbs, are big-bon’d, and well shap’d, scarce a crooked or deform’d Person is to be found amongst them; they are very active, and run swiftly. The women moderately fat and well shap’d, and the Faces both of Men and Women (who have not taken Pains to alter their natural Shape) are round; their Eyes black, large, lively and sparkling, high Foreheads and short Noses; the Mouth well siz’d, the Lips thin, with fine Sets of Teeth. The Features of both Sexes are generally good; they wear the Hair of their Heads somewhat differently, nor suffer any to grow any where else, it being pull’d off by Tweezers as soon as it appears, which is done by old Women who make it their Business: Insomuch, it seems, that the Spaniards did not find a Beard in this Country, nor any Hair below the Waist. They begin to paint their Children very young, with Red, Blue, and Yellow, and sometimes make the Figures of Men, Beasts, Birds, and Plants.Most of the Mexican Nations wear some Garments or other, but there are Indians that go perfectly naked, except their Nudities.

As to the Genius of the Mexicans, they are far from being improv’d either for Arts or Morals, since the Spaniards came amongst them; for the first Adventurers inform us, that they were a wonderful ingenious People, inoffensive, and hospitable. It also appears, that they were no mean Artificers in Painting, Statuary, and Building, which shows them to have an extraordinary Genius, to perform these Works without an Iron Tool to work with. But the present Mexicans are degenerated into Cowards, and Cruel, having no Sense of Honour; and die without Concern or Apprehensions of Futurity; for the Spaniards treat them worse than Slaves. But the Indians, who still preserve their Liberty by retiring into midland Country, these, Dampier and other late Adventurers say, are still People of great Humanity, brave, generous, and in general are inoffensive People, kind to Strangers, and live just as the ancient Indians did, by Hunting, Shooting, and Fishing.

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Filed under 1740's, Culture, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Blunt’s American Coast Pilot (1809)

Full Title: The American coast pilot; containing the courses and distances between the principal harbours, capes and headlands, from Passamaquoddy, through the Gulph of Florida; with directions for sailing into the same, describing the soundings, bearings of the light-houses and beacons from the rocks, shoals, ledges, &c. Together with the courses and distances from Cape Cod and Cape Ann to George’s Bank, through the south and east channels, and the settings of the currents, with the latitudes and longitudes of the principal harbours on the coast, together with a tide table. By Capt. Lawrence Furlong. Corrected and improved by the most serious pilots in the United States. Also information to masters of vessels, wherein the manner of transacting business at the Custom Houses is fully elucidated. Sixth edition. Newburyport: Printed by Edmund M. Blunt, proprietor; sold by Edward Little, 1809.

[Blunt’s American Coast Pilot, origianlly published in 1796, was the first publication of sailing directions compiled and published in the United States. It contains sailing directions for the U. S. territorial waters as well as for those of its possessions. In addition to sailing directions, included in the American Coastal Pilot are charts, plans, harbor descriptions, and courses and distances. The appendix contains additional useful information such as: laws relating to the power and duty of consuls, instructions for masters of vessels, regulations of seamen, state of Georgia seamen and mariners, regulations of the fisheries, an abstract of the laws of the United States concerning vessels to be employed in the coasting trade and fisheries, relief of sick and disabled seamen, quarantine, protection of American seamen, the slave trade, duties payable by law on all goods, and wares and merchandize. Blunt pubished around thirty editions. The following excerpt is taken from the sixth edition.]


All vessels moored in the stream of the East or North river, are not to be within 150 fathoms of any wharf.All vessels lying at the wharves of either river, or in the basons [sic] or slips, are to have their lower and tip sail yards topped, their fore and aft spars rigged in, and to have the anchors taken up, and the crowns in upon the forecastle.

All vessels having on board gun-powder, or other combustible articles, are to discharge the same before they come to the wharf.

All vessels having on board unslacked lime, are not to entanble themselves with other vessels or lie where thwy will take the ground.

No vessel whatever, between this and Sandy hook, to throw overboard stone ballast below low water mark; and in this harbour particularly, all ballast is to be fairly landed at high water mark; and at the time of discharging it, attention is to be paid not to drop any in the water, ballast of any kind not to be unladen at night.

No fire to be made or kept on baord any vessel whatever at any dock, wharf, pier or key, within the bounds of this city, at any other time, than from day-light in the morning till eight o’clock at night.

No pitch, or tar, or other combustibles, to be heated on board any vessel lying at the wharves, or in the basons or slips, but to be done on the stages or boats, removeable in case of accident.

All vessels that are not employed in discharging or receiving cargoes, are to make room for such others, as require to be more immediately accomadated with proper births for those purposes.

All vessels at the end of any wharf, and in part or in whole covering the slips, must occasionally haul either way to accommodate those going in or out of the docks or slips, or quit the birth.

All masters of ships or other vessels are to reprort in writing, and on aoth, to the mahor of the city, the names and occupations of every person who shall be brought into this port in his vessels, and for every neglect a fine of 50 dollars for each person, who is likeley to become a tax on the city; he is to carry him or her back, or support them himself.

It is recommended, that all vessels lying at the wharves keep an anchor anc cable in readiness, in case of fire to bring up with in the stream, if necessary.

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Filed under 1800's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Richard Randall’s Travel Diary. (1822-1823)

Full Title: Manuscript travel diary of Richard Randall, leaving New York in 1822 on a voyage bound for Gibraltar, Malta and Sicily. 1822-1823.

[Richard Randall’s description of the Jews, Moors and Spaniards in Gibraltar, transcribed from his manuscript travel diary in which he recorded his impressions of his voyage to the Mediterranean in 1822 and 1823.]

As our stay was calculated to be short at this place [Gibraltar], our time was apportioned to viewing the different curiosities of the place – The first thing which strikes the attention is the great variety of Inhabitants which are composed of almost every nation and kindred under Heaven & speaking all the different languages which were distributed at the tower of Babel, and many of which were never made or thought of – The chattering in the Streets, to an American, formed a complete confusion & jargon & nothing is to be understood except occasionally the voice of an Englishman, or of some foreigner who has learned sufficient of the language to make himself intelligible — Among the most busy and industrious of this medley of humanity, are the Barbary Jews, who are Merchants, Pedlars [sic], Porters and of every other occupation by which they can obtain “the monies” – Their dress consists of a kind of loose coat, many of them having the appearance of having formerly belonged to some more respectable person, being richly trimd. With silk cord, &c. and after being sufficiently worn out, disposed of to these shavers of humanity—around these they wear a sash, rich according to the circumstances of the wearer; on their heads a small black cap about the size of a fruit-bowl, their heads and some of their beards being closely shaved, their small clothes, or as they may more properly be call’d their large clothes are after the Turkish fashion, their stockings of the most durable kind and such as nature make them, and their slippers such as we use after taking off our Boots – Such is the dress of the Jews or at least of the most of them, and to complete the whole, I never saw one who had on a clean dress, —The Moors, particularly those who are wealthy, dress very splendidly, and appear more like human beings – Their beards are suffered to grow to a great length, but they are kept very nice, and are very nice in their general appearance – But the most miserable human beings are the poor Spaniards who dress in real Don Quixote style, with their round hats Etc. which place them in appearance at least two centuries behind civilized humanity – They are, out of Gibraltar, the most miserable, wretched, indigent, and degraded of Beings; a lot of Beggars, who are scarcely entitled to the name of human, as they had rather beg and live in dirt, & filth, than to obtain a living by any superior exertions. – This however is only applicable to the common people & the wealthy among them, appearing with as much importance as their inferior do with servility – The Spanish Ladies are remarkable for the dignity of their deportments particularly where they make their appearance in the streets – Their dress, which like the snails, is all that many of them can boast of, is rich, being either crepe or silk, reaching down to an equal distance between the garters & slippers, in order to show off their pretty ancles [sic] and silk stockings – I have not seen one of them with a hat on of any description; but instead thereof, a lace veil thrown over their heads, which adds to the richness of their dress – and let the weather be cold or warm, wet or dry, they have always a fan in their hands; many little evolutions of which, serve as signals to convey their ideas to those who are sufficiently acquainted with the gallantry of the Spanish Ladies to understand them –

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Filed under 1820's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Richard Randall’s Travel Diary (1822-1823)

Full Title: Manuscript travel diary of Richard Randall, leaving New York in 1822 on a voyage bound for Gibraltar, Malta and Sicily. 1822-1823.

[The following is an excerpt taken from the beginning of Richard Randall’s 87 page handwritten travel diary. Randall left the port at New York in December of 1822 to embark on a voyage to Gibraltar, Malta, Sicily and the Mediterranean coast. Almost immediately after leaving the harbor in New York, the ship encountered rough seas. The diary also contains two hand drawn sketches of Gibraltar and one of Turkey. It begins with a hand drawn and hand colored map of the Mediterranean.]

New York Sunday eveg. 8th Dec 1822Went on board the Brig Shephardess Capt. Peter Stevens of New Haven, bound an a voyage to Gibraltar, and the Islands of Malta & Sicily, in the Mediteranean [sic] Our passengers consisted of the Rev. William Goodell, and Isaac Bird & their Ladies, Mr. Andrew Meliss of New York, Mr. Paul Paulding of Germany, Mr. Balch of Vermont, Mr. Hotchkiss of New Haven, , owner & super cargo of the Sherphardess & myself – The missionaries were attended on board by their friends at New York accompanied by Mr. Everett of Boston, Secretary to the board of foreign missions – After singing and a prayer by the Secretary, an affectionate and affecting leave was taken of the missionary family, who were never again expected to revisit their native shore –

The Ladies were very composed, appearing to have prepared their feelings for the occasion, and nothing more was discoverable in their appearance than if they were returning to their friends in New England – Our pilot came on board early on Monday morning the 9th and we proceeded from the wharf with a gentle breeze which wafted us gradually down the bay and harbor, and brought us to Sandy Hook at 12 o’clock, noon at which time our pilot left us – A fresh breeze now springing up which gradually increased to a gale, soon drove us from the sight of our native land, excepting the highlands of Never-Sink in the State of New-Jersey which was visible during the remainder of the afternoon, and which caused many a “lingering look behind” – The sea now becoming very rough our passengers began to be visited with some unpleasant sensations, which deprived them of their supper, and laid them away in no very dignified retirements—we were occasionally however saluted with an ‘oh dear,’ echoed from our German (who was not troubled with sickness ‘what can the matter be’, and some other very significant sounds, and expressions, which served to show that all were, at least, alive – As for myself I took possession of my birth [sic], when I lay like a rat who has effected a lodgment in a blue nosed New England chaise, now and then peeping out to see the poor dear creatures who had crawled out, and who had scarce sufficient strength and spirits to support themselves – This state of things however was not lengthy, as the unremitted attentions of Mr. Hotchkiss through the week, restored most of us to a situation, in which we were able to make our appearance on the quarter deck in tolerable condition – The musical disposition of our German passenger, served in a great measure, to dissipate the gloom which otherwise would have prevailed, for not being sick himself – the mischievous genius had only to torment and laugh at those who were – Another misfortune now attended us – After having been deprived of eating for a week, by sickness, the tempestuous ocean now pushed our little Brig about in such a manner, that it required all our exertion to support ourselves in our seats in the cabin, without attending to the delicacies of the table – as necessity is the mother of invention—we gave up the cabin and retired to the quarter deck, where our worthy and attentive friend Mr. Hotchkiss like an old hen surrounded by a family of chickens administered to us our tea & coffee etc., which we managed to dispose of something in the Turkish style, by seating ourselves, not squat on cushions, but on the more substantial deck of our vessel, in which situation, with a sail for a table cloth and our seats for a table—we made several very ludicrous and very comfortable meals. –

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Filed under 1820's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel