Monthly Archives: August 2006

Item of the Day: Lord Gardenstone’s Travelling Memorandums (1792)

Full Title: Travelling memorandums, made in a tour upon the continent of Europe, in the years 1786, 1787, and 1788: by the Honourable Lord Gardentstone. Vol. I. & Vol. II. Second edition, corrected and enlarged. Edinburgh: Printed for Bell and Bradfute, G. G. J. and J. Robinson, and G. Nicol, Bookseller to His Majesty, London, 1792.


At the age of sixty-five, being in easy circumstances, but in a declining state of health, I resolved, by advice, to travel, and try the effect of southern climates for one or two winters. –Before my departure, I obtained consultations of able physicians, both at Edinburgh and London; one of them was my worthy friend Dr. Garden, then residing in London. –He had practiced, with high reputation, for many years in Carolina. –As he was best acquainted with the common effects of a hot climate on persons bred in northern countries, I considered his advices as most material; and I have experienced the success of them. –I select some part of his opinion for the benefit of others in similar circumstances.The Doctor treats the important article of regimen and diet in an unusual, but, as I think, in a very sensible manner. –“Be moderate habitually. –Whatever your palate relishes, and your stomach digests easily, is best. –In this, you must be your own physician, and prescribe from experience. –I know no better, and propose no other rule of regimen. –In costive habits, and cases of weak digestion, ripe fruits, especially grapes, figs, and sweet oranges, are good. –Such simple refreshing diet, and those mineral waters which both nourish and purify, are preferable to any medicines. –However, I do advise you, occasionally, to use laxative medicines. –Here again, choose, by your own experience, (with this material precaution not commonly adverted to,) that you should obtain the prescription for making such pills as best agree with you, so as to have them fresh made from time to time, because, when kept, they grow hard, and are apt to pass without effect. –He thinks rhubarb the safest laxative, and an excellent strengthener of the stomach: but, for the reason suggested, he advises not to use it in pills, but to cut it into small pieces of five or six grains, and to chew it. By this means, it dissolves fresh in the stomach. –Hot climates are, in summer, dangerous for us of the north. –They produce fevers in the young, and dysenteries in the old, often fatal. –Therefore, he advises a retreat to more temperate climates; and, in particular, he recommends Lausanne, or Spa, for our summer retirement.”

Thus provided with sound advice in regard to health, I was desirous to have aid and information from proper books of travels. –I purchased many volumes, not very much to my satisfaction. –I chiefly consulted Keysler, Moore, and Smollet, as modern writers, who describe the course which I intended to take. –I found Keysler heavy, tedious, trivial, and certainly not improved by the English translation from the original German. –Though deficient in substantial information, yet he points out many uncommon objects to the curious traveler. –Dr. Moore writes with propriety, some spirit, and with better information; but, to my taste, he expatiates too much. –I was best pleased with my old and excellent friend Dr. Smollet. –Testy and discontented as he is, he writes with perspicuity. –His observations are generally sensible, and even his oddities are entertaining*. –In the progress of this journal, I make some remarks on the travels of Mr. Addison and Bishop Burnet; but my memorandums are relative to Smollet, and are either supplementary, or corrective of his book. –I found Dutens’s journal very useful; and every traveler on his routes ought to have it. –Dr. Campbell’s account of the present State of Europe contains much useful information. –Gurthrie’s geographical grammar is the best book of its kind so far as I know. It is concise, accurate, and instructive. –And I think it is one very proper Vade mecum for travellers.

*One of his fellow-travellers reports this story of him, that, at an inn on their route, the landlady was a coarse red-haired woman, and a great scold. –Dr. Smollet immediately set down in his pocket-book, “All the women in this town are red-haired, and insufferable shrews.”
+Since my return to this country, I have seen a geographical grammar, published at Edinburgh, by Mr. Alexander Kincaid, which comprehends the substance of Mr. Guthrie’s work, with material additions.

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Filed under 1790's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Stedman’s History of the American War (1794)

Full Title: The History of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the American War. By C. Stedman, who served under Sir W. Howe, Sir H. Clinton, and the Marquis Cornwallis. In Two Volumes. London: Printed for the author; and sold by J. Marray, J. Debrett, and J. Kerby, 1794.

[Stedman’s History of the American War contains a contemporary account of the American Revolution, written by an American Loyalist who served as an officer under General Howe. After the war, he was appointed to examine American Loyalist claims for the British government. It was in answer to Stedman’s History that Sir Henry Clinton wrote his Observations. The following text is taken from Stedman’s summation at the end of Chapter XLVI in Volume II.]

The American Revolution is the grandest effect of combination that has yet been exhibited to the world: A combination formed by popular representation and the art of printing. So vast a force as was exerted by Great Britain had never been sent to so great a distance, nor resisted by any power apparently so unequal to the contest. The military genius of Britain was unimpaired; she rose with elastic force under every blow; and seemed capable, by the immensity of her revenues, of wearying out, by perseverance, the adversity of fortune: But wisdom, vigour, and unanimity, were wanting in her public councils. The eloquence of some legislators in opposition to government; the narrow views of ministers at home; and the misconduct of certain commanders abroad, through a series of pusillanimity, procrastination, discord, and folly; brought this country, in spite of the gallant efforts of the British officers and soldiers by land and sea, the justice of their cause, the firmness of their sovereign, and the general vows of the people, to a crisis, which has not indeed been followed (so limited are our prospects into futurity) by all that calamity which was generally apprehended, but which, nevertheless, although the national character, for spirit and enterprise, was abundantly sustained by individuals, cannot be regarded otherwise than as a disgrace to the British: Since it exhibited, in our public conduct, the triumph of party over genuine patriotism, and a spirit of peculation and pleasure prevailing in too many instances over military discipline, and a sense of military honour. The British minister did not possess that towering genius which is alone fitted, in difficulty and turbulent times, to overcome the seditious, and rouse the remiss of their duty. Though a man of fine talents, as well as an amiable disposition, he was constitutionally indolent: And, besides this, there was not that degree of cordiality and perfect unanimity that the minister was led to suppose amongst the friends of his majesty’s government in America. It is, perhaps, a matter of doubt whether the loyalists were not, on the whole, too sanguine in their expectations. But it is the nature of men to cherish the hope of relief with an ardour proportioned to the greatness of their misfortunes.On the whole, the British government did not proceed on any grand system that might control particular circumstances and events; but studied to prolong their own authority by temporary expedients. They courted their adversaries at home, by a share of power and profit; and the public enemies of the state, by partial concessions. But these availed much more to the establishment of new claims, than all the declarations of parliamentary rights and royal prerogatives with which they were accompanied, did to maintain the rights of established government: For facts quickly pass into precedents; while manifesto is opposed to manifesto, and argument to argument. Had the measures adopted by Britain, been adopted in time, perhaps they would not have been adopted in vain. Their concessions, as well as their armaments, were always too late. Earlier concession, or an earlier application of that mighty force which was at the disposal of the commanders in chief in 1777, might perhaps have prevented or quashed the revolution.

While the natural strength and spirit of Great Britain were embarrassed and encumbered with the disadvantages and errors now enumerated, the Americans, in spite of a thousand difficulties and wants, by the energy of liberty, the contrivance of necessity, and the great advantages arising from the possession of the country, ultimately attained their object. The Americans, indeed, were not fired with that enthusiastic ardour, which nations of warmer temperament, in all ages, have been wont to display in the cause of freedom. But they were guided by wise councils; they were steady and persevering; and, on all great occasions, not a little animated by the courage of general Washington, who has been proverbially called a Fabius, but whose character courage, in fact, was a feature still more predominant than prudence. The American generals, having the bulk of the people on their side, were made acquainted with every movement of the British army, and enabled, for the most part, to penetrate their designs: To obtain intelligence, on which so much depends, was to the British commanders a matter of proportianable [sic] difficulty. The Americans had neither money nor credit: But they learned to stand in need only of a few things; to be contented with the small allowance that nature requires; to suffer, as well as to act. Their councils, animated by liberty, under the most distressing circumstances, took a grand and high-spirited course, and they were finally triumphant.

The Revolution of America, though predicted by philosophy, was generally considered as a remote contingency, if not a thing wholly ideal and visionary. Its immediate causes were altogether unforeseen and improbable. It came as a surprise to the world: and men were obliged to conclude, either that the force of Great Britain was ill-directed, or that no invading army, in the present enlightened period, can be successful, in a country where the people are tolerably united.

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Filed under 1790's, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Revolution

Item of the Day: Observations on Mr. Stedman’s History of the American War. (1794)

Full Title: Observations on Mr. Stedman’s History of the American War. By Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K. B. London: Printed for J. Debrett, 1794.

[To refute Charles Stedman’s critique of his actions and to defend his tactics during the American Revolution, Sir Henry Clinton published his Observations. Clinton was the British commander-in chief in North America during the war. In October, 1781, Clinton failed to arrive in time to reinforce Cornwallis and his troops in their battle against a combined American and French force at Yorktown. Critics often cite him as being responsible for the British surrender there and for Britain’s ultimate loss of the war. After Yorktown, Clinton resigned his command to Sir Guy Carleton. Both Clinton’s Observations and Stedman’s History of the Origin, Progress and Termination of the American War were published in 1794. The words “a govr. General” appear in manuscript over the printed “the Marquis of Cornwallis” on page ii of the preface, which is found below.]

It has been a fashion with many (owing to what cause I will not pretend to say) to declare, that in losing America, we have neither lost commerce, military character, or consequence. Tho’ I had differed in opinion respecting all these, I know full well that until this country felt some dire misfortune, in consequence of the loss of that, I should meet with few advocates of my opinion. Alas! has not that dire misfortune now befallen us? Notwithstanding the zealous, officer like, and successful exertions of our land and sea chiefs, and their gallant navies and armies, these last are reduced by sickness to a debility the more alarming, as it cannot, I fear, diminish, but must increase. Had we possessed the continent of America, our fleets and armies might have retired to its ports during the hurricanes and sickly season, attended to their sick, recovered and recruited both navy and army, and returned to the West-Indies with the means of further exertion. Where have we now a healthy safe port? Halifax is almost as far as Europe; while in the American ports the tri-coloured flag flies triumphant, and scarcely a British ship is to be seen except as capture. If appearances are so unpromising now we are said to be in alliance with America, how it will happen should we unfortunately add them to the number of our enemies, I need not predict. Altho’ I had received my Sovereign’s fullest approbation of my conduct during the American war, as will appear by my correspondence with his ministers, contained in my narrative, &c published in 1783, and in the following pamphlet, yet, considering every person employed in so important a command as accountable at all times for their conduct, I conceive myself called upon by a recent publication, which has mistated [sic] facts, whether from error, or a desire of courting a govr. General on his return from India, I will not pretend to determine; but at a time when my services were actually called for, and these more than insinuations may make an impression on the public, it is my duty to refute them; I therefore submit the following observations on Mr. Stedman’s History of the American War, to the candid and impartial public, who will, no doubt, give me credit for my forbearance in not troubling them on such a subject until forced into it by an unprovoked attack.H.C.

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Filed under 1790's, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Revolution

Item of the Day: William Atwood’s The Superiority and Direct Dominion of the Imperial Crown of England (1704)

Full Title: The Superiority and Direct Dominion of the Imperial Crown of England, over the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland, and the Divine Right of Succession to both Crowns Inseparable from the Civil, Asserted. In Answer to Sir Thomas Craig’s Treatises of Homage and Succession. Occasionally detecting several material Errors, of Sir George Mackenzie, and other eminent Authors. With some account of the Antiquity, Extent, and Constitution of the now English Monarch. Explaining considerable parts of the British, English, and Scotch Histories and Laws. London: Printed for F. Hartley, next Door to the King’s-Head Tavern in Holbourn, 1704.

[The following is excerpted from William Atwood’s Dedication in The Superiority and Direct Dominion of the Imperial Crown of England.]

To the Right Honourable
Charles Lord Mobun

Baron of Oakhampton

This Island, My Lord, which has been distinguished from the whole World, for the holy embracing Christianity, the valour of its People, the felicity of the Soyl, and excellency of its constitutions (unless God’s Providence, and the Guardian Angel, to which he has allotted this Station, perpose,) is too likely to be mingled with the rest of the World, in whose Calamities, which vex the Continent. The Enemies to the publick tranquility, (as too many such there have been within this Island,) have had frequent prospects of Succeeding, even to their own Ruin, in the Desolation of their Country: But, generally, the Almighty has raised up some few Great Men among us, whom he has adapted to the exigencies of the Publick.Several such I have know, that now are Dead, and others yet Alive, whose Memories will be transmitted to Posterity, for their eminent Zeal, Services, and Abilities, in the Cause of their Country.In the first Rank of those Patriots, were the two Charles’s, Earls of Maclesfeld.

How well they judged and acted for the Interest of England, was not more visible in any thing, than in their early and strenuous Endeavours, that the August House of Hanover, might be comprehended within the Settlement of the Crown.

With the same Wisdom, that the first of our Protestant Queens declined naming a Successor; King William of Glorious Memory, chose to strengthen the security of this Kingdom, by causing the House of Hanover to be added to the Support of the British Throne.

Tho’ many shining Qualities, had indear’d the last Charles, Earl of Maclesfeld, to that best Judg of Men; his Lordship’s acquitting himself so perfectly well, upon that Embassy, may be thought to have made our late King, the more sensibly, to express Himself, that by, that Earl’s Death, he lost one of his best Friends.

In which, the loss to the Publick, would have been irreparable, if we could not Justly apply that of the Prince of Poets,
–Uno avulso non deficit alter Aureus–
One Golden Branch being off, another Springs.
Your Lordship, to the satisfaction of all, who Value the Memory of the Earl of Maclesfeld, was made Haeres ex asse, according to the expression in the Civil-Law, in which an Adopted Heir, is as fully and truly Heir, as one Born so.

As W. I. was made Heir to the Confessor, your Lordship was to the Earl of Maclesfeld; whose desire in the Codicil annexed to his Will, that your lordship would take car of the Protestant Religion, and the interest of England, was not from any doubt, but an Expression of well grounded Assurance, and a Testimony that your Lordship’s eminence in the Cause of your Country, (the Love of which, had in him, the Ascendent over every other Passion) was the real inducement, to his so free and noble Gift.

Tho’ ‘tis God’s Pleasure, that some Men, to manifest his Power, and intrinsic value of Truth, and an admirable Constitution of Government, should be carried, as it were a Divine Impulse, still to go on in that Cause, with an obstinacy, not to be cured, by all which the world thinks Calamitous; yet, for encouragement, and examples to them, who thus labour up the Hill, he leads some as it were with a Pillar of fire, and sets them out with all the Advantages, which give reputation to Virtue.

Such Virtue, I mean, as may well be thought above what engrosses the Name of Moral. For that Piety, which engages Men to venture all for their Country, as it comes from God, pursues revealed as well as natural Religion.

Marks of God’s Favour upon this account, are often the more conspicuous, when, by the influence of his Holy Spirit, he has drawn a great Mind, from a vain pursuit after false Pleasures, to the delightful View of a well established Renown, and a foretast of ineffable Glories in a future State.

To recommend such Examples, and make them the more amiable, he adds the Goods of this Life, when they may be trusted, in the Hands of a Steward, who will apply them to those uses, by which they attain the greatest Happiness on this side of Eternity.

This Happiness, Christian Philosophers, and particularly the Learned Bishop Cumberland, prove to consist in doing good to Mankind. Nor did the Heathens want this Notion, when they formed the Maxim, The more common the Good is, ‘tis so much the better.

The Goodness of Great Men, to particular Persons, is limited to narrow Bounds, in comparison with that, which extends to Constitutions of Governments; by which more than can fall within the largest knowledg, and opportunities, receive benefits, the Sense of which, like that of the Sun, and common Air, is lost by the diffusion, and continuance.

Private Persons of lower Stations, may amidst the sharpest Tryals, reap Satisfaction, in the inward Testimony of their Sincerity, and the assurance, that they aim at a general Good. . . .

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Filed under 1700's, Legal, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species (1786)

Full Title: An Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species, particularly the African, translated from a Latin Dissertation, which was Honoured with the First Prize in the University of Cambridge, for the Year 1785. With Additions. London: Printed by J. Phillips, and sold by T. Cadell and J. Phillips, 1786.[The following excerpt is taken from Chapter 1 of Part Three of Clarkson’s Essay on the Slavery and Commerce of the Human Species.]


Having confined ourselves wholly, in the second part of this Essay, to the consideration of the commerce, we shall now proceed to the consideration of the slavery that is founded upon it. As this slavery will be conspicuous in the treatment, which the unfortunate Africans uniformly undergo, when they are put into the hands of the receivers, we shall describe the manner in which they are accustomed to be used from this period.To place this in the clearest, and most conspicuous point of view, we shall throw a considerable part of our information on this head into the form of a narrative: we shall suppose ourselves, in short, on the continent of Africa, and relate a scene, which, from its agreement with unquestionable facts, might not unreasonably be presumed to have been presented to our view, had we been really there.

And first, let us turn our eyes to the cloud of dust that is before us. It seems to advance rapidly, and, accompanied with dismal shrieks and yellings, to make the very air, that is above it, tremble as it rolls along. What can possibly be the cause? Let us inquire of that melancholy African, who seems to walk dejected near the shore; whose eyes are stedfastly [sic] fixed on the approaching object, and whose heart, if we can judge from the appearance of his countenance, must be greatly agitated.

“Alas!” says the unhappy African, “the cloud that you see approaching, is a train of wretched slaves. They are going to the ships behind you. They are destined for the English colonies, and, if you will stay here but for a little time, you will see them pass. They were last night drawn up upon the plain which you see before you, where they were branded upon the breast with an hot iron; and when they had undergone the whole of the treatment which is customary on these occasions, and which I am informed that you Englishmen at home use to the cattle which you buy, they were returned to their prison. As I have some dealings with the members of the factory which you see at a little distance, (though thanks to the Great Spirit, I never dealt in the liberty of my fellow creatures) I gained admittance there. I learned the history of some of the unfortunate people, whom I saw confined, and will explain to you, if my eye should catch them as they pass, the real causes of their servitude.”

Scarcely were these words spoken, when they came distinctly into sight. They appeared to advance in a long column, but in a very irregular manner. There were three only in the front, and these were chained together. The rest that followed seemed to be chained by pairs, but by pressing forward, to avoid the lash of the drivers, the breadth of the column began to be greatly extended, and ten or more were observed abreast.

While we were making these remarks, the intelligent African thus resumed his discourse. “The first three whom you observe, at the head of the train, to be chained together, are prisoners of war. As soon as the ships that are behind you arrived, the news was dispatched into the inland country; when one of the petty kings immediately assembled his subjects, and attacked a nearby tribe. The wretched people, though they were surprized, made a formidable resistance, as they resolved, almost all of them, rather to lose their lives, than survive their liberty. The person whom you see in the middle, is the father of the two young men, who are chained to him on each side. His wife and two of his children were killed in the attack, and his father being wounded, and, on account of his age, incapable of servitude, was left bleeding on the spot where this transaction happened.”

“With respect to those who are now passing us, and are immediately behind the former, I can give you no other intelligence, than that some of them, to about the number of thirty, were taken in the same skirmish. Their tribe was said to have been numerous before the attack, these however are all that are left alive. But with respect to the unhappy man, who is now opposite to us, and whom you may distinguish, as he is now looking back and wringing his hands in despair, I can inform you with more precision. He is an unfortunate convict. He lived only about five days journey from the factory. He went out with his king to hunt, and was one of his train; but, through too great an anxiety to afford his royal master diversion, he roused the game from the covert rather sooner than was expected. The king, exasperated at this circumstance, immediately sentenced him to slavery. His wife and children, fearing lest the tyrant should extend the punishment to themselves, which is not unusual, fled directly to the woods, where they were all devoured.”

“The people, whom you see close behind the unhappy convict, form a numerous body, and reach a considerable way. They speak a language, which no person in this part of Africa can understand, and their features, as you perceive, are so different from those of the rest, that they almost appear a distinct race of men. From this circumstance I recollect them. They are the subjects of a very distant prince, who agreed with the slave merchants, for a quantity of spirituous liquors, to furnish him with a stipulated number of slaves. He accordingly surrounded, and set fire to one of his own villages in the night, and seized these people, who were unfortunately the inhabitants, as they were escaping the flames. I first saw them as the merchants were driving them in, about two days ago. They came in a large body, and were tied together at the neck with leather thongs, which permitted them tow walk at the distance of abut a yard from one another. Many of them were loaden with elephants teeth, which had been purchased at the same time. All of them had bags, made of skin, upon their shoulders; for as they were to travel, in their way from the great mountains, through barren sands and inhospitable woods for many days together, they were obliged to carry water and provisions with them. Notwithstanding this, many of them perished, some by hunger, but the greatest number by fatigue, as the place from whence they came, is at such an amazing distance from this, and the obstacles, from the nature of the country, so great, that the journey could scarcely be completed in seven moons.” . . .

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Filed under 1780's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Slavery

Item of the Day: The Young Mathematician’s Guide (1740)

Full Title: The Young Mathematician’s Guide: Being a Plain and Easy Introduction to the Mathematicks. In Five Parts VIZ. I. Arithmetick, Vulgar and Decimal, with All the Useful Rules; and a General Method of Extracting the Roots of All Single Powers. II. Algebra, or Arithmetick in Species; wherein the Method of Raising and Resolving Equations is Rendered Easy; and Illustrated with a Variety of Examples, and Numerical Questions. Also the Whole Business of Interest and Annuities, &c, Performed by the Pen. III. The Elements of Geometry Contracted, and Analytically Demonstrated; with a New and Easy Method of Finding the Circle’s Periphery and Area to Any Assigned Exactness, by One Equation Only: Also a New Way of Making Sines and Tangents. IV. Conick Sections, wherein the Chief Properties, &c. of the Ellipsis, Parabola, and Hyperbola, are Clearly Demonstrated. V. The Arithmetick of Infinities Explained, and Rendered Easy; with it’s [sic] Application to Superficial and Solid Geometry. With an Appendix of Practical Gauging. By John Ward. The Seventh Edition, Carefully Corrected. To which is now first added, a Supplement, containing the History of Logarithms, and an Index to the whole Work. London: Printed for S. Birt, C. Hitch, E. Wicksteed, J. Hodges, and E. Comyns, 1740.

To the READER.

I Think it is needless (and almost endless) to run over all the Usefulness, and Advantages of Mathematicks in General; and shall therefore only touch upon those two admirable Sciences, Arithmetick and Geometry; which are indeed the two grand Pillars (or rather the Foundations) upon which all other Parts of Mathematical Learning depend.

As to the Usefulness of Arithmetick, it is well known that no Business, Commerce, Trade, or Employment whatsoever, even from the Merchant to the Shop-keeper, &c. can be managed and carried on, without the Assistance of Numbers.
And as to the Usefulness of Geometry, it is as certain, that no curious Art, or Mechanick-Work, can either be invented, improved, or performed, without it’s assisting Principles; tho’ perhaps the Artist, or Workman, has but little (nay, scarce any) Knowledge in Geometry.

Then, as to the Advantages that arise from both these Noble Sciences, when duly joined together, to assist each other, and then apply’d to Practice, (according as Occasion requires) they will readily be granted by all who consider the vast Advantages that accrue to Mankind from the Business of Navigation only. As also from that of Surveying and Dividing of Lands betwixt Party and Party. Besides the great Pleasure and Use there is from Timekeepers, as Dials, Clocks, Watches, &c. All these, and a great many more very useful Arts, (too many to be enumerated here) wholly depend upon the aforesaid Sciences.And therefore it is no Wonder, That in all Ages so many Ingenious and Learned Persons have employed themselves in writing upon the Subject of Mathematicks; but then most of those Authors seem to presuppose that their Readers had made some Progress in that Sort of Learning before they attempted to peruse those Books, which are generally large Volumes, written in such abstruse Terms, that young Learners were really afraid of looking into those Studies.

These Considerations first put me (many years ago) upon the Thoughts of endeavouring to compose such a plain and familiar Introduction to the Mathematicks, as might encourage those that were willing (to spend some Time that Way) to venture and proceed on with Chearfulness [sic]; tho’ perhaps they were wholly ignorant of it’s [sic] first Rudiments. Therefore I began with their first Elements or Principles.

That is, I began with an Unit in Arithmetick and a Pint in Geometry; and from these Foundations proceeded gradually on, leading the young Learner Step by Step with all the Plainness I could, &c.

And for that Reason I published this Treatise (Anno 1707) by the Title of the Young Mathematician’s Guide; which has answered the Title so well, that I believe I may truly say (without Vanity) this Treatise hath proved a very helpful Guide to near five thousand Persons; and perhaps most of them such as would never have looked into the Mathematicks at all but for it.

And not only so, but it hath been very well received amongst the Learned, and (I have been often told) so well approved on at the Universities, in England, Scotland, and Ireland, that it is ordered to be publickly[sic] read to their Pupils, &c.

The Title Page give a short Account of the several Parts treated of, with the Corrections and Additions that are made to this fifth Edition, which I shall not enlarge upon, but leave the Book to speak for it self; and if it be not able to give Satisfaction to the Reader, I am sure all I can say here in it’s [sic] Behalf will never recommend it; But this may be truly said, That whoever reads it over, will find more in it than the Title doth promise, or perhaps he expects: it is true indeed, the Dress is but Plain and Homely it being wholly intended to instruct, and not to amuse or puzzle the young Learner with hard Words, and obscure Terms: However, in this I shall always have the Satisfaction; That I have sincerely aimed at what is useful, tho’ in one of the meanest ways; it is Honour enough for me to be accounted as one of the Under-Labourers in clearing the Ground a little, and removing some of the Rubbish that lay in the Way to this Sort of Knowledge. How well I have performed That, must be left to the proper Judges.

To be brief; as I am not sensible of any Fundamental Error in this Treatise, so I will not pretend to say it is without Imperfections, (Humanum est errare) which I hope the Reader will excuse, and pass over with the like Candour and Good-Will that it was composed for his Use; by his real Well-wisher,


London October 10th, 1706.
Corrected, &c. at Chester, January 20th, 1722.

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Filed under 1740's, Hard Science, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Possibility of Reaching the North Pole Asserted. (1818)

Full Title: The Possibility of Approaching the North Pole Asserted. By the Hon. D. Barrington. A New Edition. With an Appendix, containing Papers on the Same Subject, and on a Northwest Passage. By Colonel Beaufoy, Illustrated with a Map of the North Pole, According to the Latest Discoveries. New-York: Published by James Eastburn & Co., 1818.

[First printed in 1775 and 1776 as “Probability of Reaching the North Pole Discussed,” this edition of Daines Barrington’s work includes the appendix by physicist Mark Beaufoy.]


The following Tracts, relative to the possibility of near approaches to the Pole of our own hemisphere, as likewise of a communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in any Northern direction, were first published in 1775 and 1776.I now think it right again to print them, because they contain many well attested facts with regard to reaching high Northern Latitudes, which are not to be found elsewhere, and have a tendency to promote geographical discoveries. I am very ready to admit, indeed, that the purposes of commerce can never be answered by the great uncertainty of a constant passage (even when such a communication is discovered) in seas which are so frequently obstructed by the ice packing in vast fields. I find likewise, that since the Resolution and Endeavor returned from their last voyage, many conceive a North East or North West Passage to be impracticable, because our ships, in two successive years, were not able to penetrate beyond 71°, by impediments of ice. Besides, however, the ice packing in particular situations varies often in different years, both these attempts were made in the month of August, which I flatter myself to have proved, is the very season of the year when the ice, breaking up on the coast, is floating in every direction, and consequently often packs in masses of immense extent.

These vast fields of ice, indeed, often are dispersed; but who hath, or indeed should have, the fortitude of waiting for this accident, whilst he is already in a high Northern Latitude, and the winter is fast approaching? If the ice, however, should thus pack in April or May, (which I conceive it would not, as little must be left to float from the preceding summer,) yet as the warm weather is then increasing from day to day, the navigator would wait with some degree of patience till his ship may be released from this temporary obstruction. The situation of the discoverer, under these circumstances, may be compared to a traveler passing over a large tract of sea sand, when the tide is flowing or ebbing. In the first instance he spurs his horse, because the sea may be expected at his heels; in the latter he proceeds with great composure, as every instant he loses in point of time the sea is farther removed. . . .

Perhaps, whilst discoveries by sea are thus dwelt upon, encouragement should be given to travelers by land, for procuring better information with regard to the central parts of Asia, Africa, and America. In short, let us endeavour to know as much as we may of our globe; nor should this be considered as a vain and trifling curiosity, though no benefits to commerce may result from these inquiries.

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Filed under 1810's, Natural Science, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel