Monthly Archives: March 2007

Item of the Day: The Young Woman’s Companion: or, Frugal Housewife (1811)

Full Title:  The Young Woman’s Companion: or, Frugal Housewife. Containing the most approved methods of pickling, preserving, potting, collaring, confectionary, managing and colouring foreign wines and spirits, making English wines, compounds, &c. &c. Also the art of cookery, containing directions for dressing all kinds of butchers’ meat, poultry, game, fish, &c. &c. &c. with the complete art of carving, illustrated and made plain by engravings. Likewise instructions for marketing. With the theory of brewing a malt liquor. To which are added, directions for letter writing, drawing, painting, &c. and several valuable miscellaneous pieces. Written by “A Very Distinguished Lady.” Contains several recipes and notes pinned into the margins by the owners. Printed by Russell and Allen in Manchester, 1811.

RULES FOR READING,

And particularly of the Emphasis belonging to some special Word or Words, in a Sentence.

 In order to read well, observe the following directions:  1.  Take pains to acquire a perfect knowledge of the sounds of the letters in general.  2.  Do not guess at a word at first sight, if you are not well acquainted with it, lest you get a habit of reading falsely.  3.  Pronounce every word clear and distinctly.  4.  Let the tone of your voice in reading be the same as in speaking.  5.  Do not read in a hurry, for fear of learning to stammer.  6.  Read so loud as to be heard by those about you, but not louder.  7.  Observe your pauses well, and never make any, where the sense will admit of none.  8.  Humour your voice a little according to the subject.  9.  Attend to those who read well, and endeavour to imitate their pronunciation.  10.  Read often before good judges, and be thankful when they correct you.  11.  Consider well the place of the emphasis in a sentence, and pronounce it accordingly.   By emphasis we mean the stress or force of voice that is laid on some particular word or words in a sentence, whereby the meaning and beauty of the whole may best appear; this, with respect to sentences, is the same as accent, with regard to syllables.

 The emphasis is generally placed upon the accented syllable of a word; but if there be a particular opposition between two words in a sentence, whereby one differs from the other but in part, the accent is sometimes removed from its common place, as in the following instance:  The sun shines upon the just and upon the unjust.  Here the stress of the voice is laid upon the first syllable in unjust, because it is opposed to just in the same sentence but without such an opposition, the accent would lie on its usual place, that is on the last syllable; as We must not imitate the unjust practices of others.

The great and general rule how to know the emphatical word in a sentence, is, to consider the chief design of the whole; but particular directions cannot be easily given, except that when words are evidently opposed to one another in a sentence, they are emphatical, and so is oftentimes the word which asks a question, as, Who what, when &c. but not always; for the emphasis must be varied according to the principal meaning of the speaker.

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Filed under 1810's, Culture, Early Republic, Posted by Rebecca Dresser, Women

Item of the Day: Thomson’s Seasons (1774)

Full Title:

The Seasons. By James Thomson. To which is prefixed, The Life of the Author, by Patrick Murdoch, D.D. Printed in London for W. Strahan, J. & F. Rivington, W. Owen, W. Johnston, T Longman, T. Caslon, G. Kearsly, T. Davies, T. Becket, T. Cadell, T. Lowndes, Richardson & Richardson, and H. Baldwin, 1774.

Excerpt from “Summer”:

FROM brightening fields of ether fair disclos’d,
Child of the Sun, refulgent SUMMER comes,
In pride of youth, and felt thro’ Nature’s depth:
He comes attended by the sultry hours,
And ever-fanning breezes, on his way;
While, from his ardent look, the turning SPRING
Averts her blushful face; and earth, and skies,
All-smiling, to his hot dominion leaves.

HENCE, let me haste into the mid-wood shade,
Where scarce a sun-beam wanders thro’ the gloom;
Of haunted stream, that by the roots of oak
Rools o’er the rocky channel, lie at large,
And sing the glories of the circling year.

COME, Inspiration! from thy hermit-seat,
By mortal seldom found: may Fancy dare,
From thy fix’d serious eye, and raptur’d glance
Shot on surrounding Heaven, to steal one look
Creative of the Poet, every power
Exalting to an ecstasy of soul.

AND thou, my youthful Muse’s early friend,
In whom the human graces all unite:
Pure light of mind, and tenderness of heart:
Genius, and wisdom; the gay social sense,
By decency chastis’d; goodness and wit,
In seldom-meeting harmony combin’d;
Unblemish’d honour, and an active zeal
For BRITAIN’s glory, Liberty, and Man:
O DODINGTON! attend my rural song;
Stoop to my theme, inspirit every line,
And teach me to deserve thy just applause.

WITH what an awful world-revolving power
Were first the unwieldy planets launch’d along
Th’ illimitable void! Thus to remain,
Amid the flux of many thousand years,
That oft has swept the toiling race of Men,
And all their labour’d monuments away,
Firm, unremitting, matchless, in their course;
To the kind-temper’d change of night and day,
And of the seasons ever stealing round,
Minutely faithful: Such TH’ ALL PERFECT HAND!

WHEN now no more th’ alternate Twins are fir’d,
And Cancer reddens with the solar blaze,
Short is the doubtful empire of the night;
And soon, observant of approaching day,
The meek-ey’d Morn appears, mother of dews,
At first faint-gleaming in the dappled east:
Till far o’er ether spreads the widening glow;
And, from before the lustre of her face,
White break the clouds away. With quickened step,
Brown Night retires: Young Day pours in apace,
And opens all the lawny prospect wide.
The dripping rock, the mountain’s misty top
Swell on the sight, and brighten with the dawn.
Blue, thro’ the dusk, the smoaking currents shine;
And from the bladed field the fearful hare
Limps, awkward: while along the forest-glade
The wild deer trip, and often turning gaze
At early passenger. Music awakes
The native voice of undissembled joy;
And thick around the woodland hymns arise.
Rous’d by the cock, the soon-clad shepherd leaves
His mossy cottage, where with Peace he dwells;
And from the crowded fold, in order, drives
His flock, to taste the verdure of the morn.

FALSELY luxurious, will not Man awake;
And, springing from the bed of sloth, enjoy
The cool, the fragrant, and the silent hour,
To meditation due and sacred song?
For is there aught in sleep can charm the wise?
To lie in dead oblivion, losing half
The fleeting moment of too short a life;
Total extinction of th’ enlightened soul!
Or else to feverish vanity alive,
Wildered, and tossing thro’ distempered dreams?
Who would in such a gloomy state remain
Longer than Nature craves; when every Muse
And every blooming pleasure wait without,
To bless the wildly devious morning walk?

BUT yonder comes the powerful King of Day,
Rejoicing in the east. The lessening cloud,
The kindling azure, and the mountain’s brow
Illum’d with fluid gold, his near approach
Betoken glad. Lo; now, apparent all,
Aslant the dew-bright earth, and coloured air,
He looks in boundless majesty abroad;
And sheds the shining day, that burnish’d plays
On rocks, and hills, and towers, and wandering dreams,
High-gleaming from afar. Prime chearer Light!
Of all material beings first, and best!
Efflux devine,! Nature’s resplendent robe!
Without whose vesting beauty all were wrapt
In unessential gloom; and thou, O Sun!
Soul of surrounding worlds! in whom best seen
Shines out thy Maker! may I sing of thee?

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

Item of the Day: The Administration of the Colonies by Thomas Pownall (1765)

Full Title:  The Administration of the Colonies by Thomas Pownall, Late Governor and Commander in Chief of his Majesty’s Provinces, Massachusetts-Bay and South-Carolina, and Lieutenant-Governor of New-Jersey.  The Second Edition, Revised, Corrected, and Enlarged,  Pulchrum est benefacere reipublicae, etiam bene dicere haud absurdum est.  Sallustius.  London:  Printed for J. Dodsley, in Pall-Mall, and J. Walter, at Charing-Cross.  MDCCLXV.

To the Right Honourable George Grenville, First Lord Commissioner of His Majesty’s Treasury, Chancellor of the Exchequer, &c, &c, &c.

Sir,

Whoever considers the importance of the North-American colonies, and the necessary connection of their affairs with those of Great Britain, must congratulate the public upon having a minister, who will take pains to understand the commerce and interests of the colonies, who will seriously enter into the administration of them, and who is equal in firmness to pursue those interests in that line only, which connects them with the welfare of the mother country; who, convinced that the mother country has a just and natural right to govern the colonies, will yet so administer the power of that government in the genuine spirit of the British Constitution, as shall lead the people of the colonies, by the spirit of laws and equity to that true and constitutional obedience, which is their real liberty.

The experience I have had in the affairs of the colonies must at least have given me a practical knowledge of them:  And the relation I have borne to the people has given me an affection for them.  Not being employed in any department, wherein that knowledge can be reduced to practice, I thought it a duty, if indeed it may be of any use, to publish my sentiments on this subject; and I have taken the freedom, Sir, of addressing them to you.

I have professed an affection for the colonies, because having lived amomgst their people in a private, as well as public character, I know them; I know that in their private social relations, there is not a more friendly, and in their political one, a more zealously loyal people, in all his majesty’s dominions.

Whatever appearances or interpretation of appearances, may have raised some prejudices against their conduct on a late occasion, I will venture to affirm, that fairly, firmly, and openly dealt with, there is not, with all their errors, a people who has a truer sense of the necessary powers of government; and I will rest the truth of this assertion on the good effect, which you will have the pleasure to see derived to this country, and to the colonies, from the firmness and candour with which your part of the American business has been conducted.

When the subjects, especially those of a popular state, become alarmed, they are soon inflamed; and then their demagogues, perhaps the worst, as well as the lowest part of the people, govern.  The truly great and wise man will not judge of the people from their passions — He will view the whole tenor of their principles and of their conduct.  While he sees them uniformly loyal to their King, obedient to his government, active in every point of public spirit, in every object of the public welfare —  He will not regard what they are led either to say or do under these fits of alarm and inflammation; he will, finally, have the pleasure to see them return to their genuine good temper, good sense and principles.  The true movements of government will again have their effect; and he will acquire an ascendancy over them from the steady superiority of his conduct.

While such is the temper of the great minister, there cannot be too much caution and prudence exercised in preventing the inferior members or officers of government from acting under any sense of resentment or prejudice, against a people improperly supposed to be under disfavour:  For by the mutual aggravation and provocations of such misunderstanding towards each other, even a wise people may be driven to madness.  Let not the Colonists imagine that the people of England have an ill idea of them, or any designs of oppressing them.  The people of England love them.  Let not the people of England imagine that the Colonists have a wish but for their welfare, and to partake of it as fellow-subjects — For the people of the colonies would sacrifice their dearest interests for the honour and prosperity of their mother country; and the last wish of their hearts will be for ever to belong to it.  I have a right to say this, because experience has given me this impression of them.  I do not say it to flatter them; I never did flatter them, when I was connected with them in business, but I speak it as a truth which I think should be known, lest the intemperance and imprudence of their false or mistaken patriots should give any undue impressions to their disadvantage, and cause any alienation of that natural affection which at present subsists, and will, I hope, for ever subsist between the People of Great Britain and those of the colonies.

May that minister who shall interweave the administration of the colonies into the British administration, as a part essentially united with it, may he live to see the power, prosperity, and honour, that so great and important an event must give to his country.

With the highest esteem and regard, I have the Honour to be,

SIR,

Your most obedient,

and most humble servant,

T. POWNALL.

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Filed under 1760's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Great Britain, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

Item of the Day: Twain’s Tramp Abroad (1880)

Full Title:

A Tramp Abroad; Illustrated by W. Fr. Brown, True Williams, B. Day and other artists–with also three or four pictures made by the author of this book, without outside help; in all Three hundred and twenty-eight illustrations. By Mark Twain, (Samuel Clemens.) (Sold by subscription only.) Printed in Hartford, Conn. by the American Publishing Company, 1880.

Chapter I

One day it occurred to me that it had been many years since the world had been afforded the spectacle of a man adventurous enough to undertake a journey through Europe on foot. After much thought, I decided that I was a person fitted to furnish to mankind this spectacle. So I determined to do it. This was in March, 1878.

I looked about me for the right sort of person to accompany me in the capacity of agent, and finally hired a Mr. Harris for this service.

It was also my purpose to study art while in Europe. Mr. Harris was in sympathy with me in this. He was as much of an enthusiast in art as I was, and not less anxious to learn to paint. I desired to learn the German language; so did Harris.

Toward the middle of April we sailed in the Holsatia, Capt. Brandt, and had a very pleasant trip indeed.

After a brief rest at Hamburg, we made preparations for a long pedestrian trip southward in the soft spring weather, but at the last moment we changed the program, for private reasons, and took the express train.

We made a short halt at Frankfurt-on-the-Main, and found it an interesting city. I would have like to visit the birthplace of Guttenberg, but it could not be done, as no memorandum of the site of the house has been kept. So we spent an hour at the Goethe mansion instead. The city permits this house to belong to private parties, instead of gracing and dignifying herself with the honor of possessing and protecting it.

Frankfort is one of the sixteen cities which have the distinction of being the place where the following incident occurred. Charlemagne, while chasing the Saxons, (as he said,) or being chased by them, (as they said,) arrived at the bank of the river at dawn, in a fog. The enemy were either before him or behind him; but in any case he wanted to get across, very badly. He would have given anything for a guide, but none was to be had. Presently he saw a deer, followed by her young, approach the water. He watched her, judging that she would seek a ford, and he was right. She waded over, and the army followed. So a great Frankish victory or defeat was gained or avoided; and in order to commemorate that episode, Charlemagne commanded a city to be built there, which he named Frankfort,–the ford of the Franks. None of the other cities where this event happened were named from it. This is good evidence that Frankfort was the first place it occurred at.

Frankfort has another distinction,–it is the birthplace of the German alphabet: or at least of the German word for alphabet,–Buchstaben. They say that the first movable types were made on birch sticks,–Buchstabe,–hence the name.

I was taught a lesson in political economy in Frankfort. I had brought from home a box containing a thousand very cheap cigars. By way of experiment, I stepped into a little shop in a queer old back street, took four gaily decorated boxes of wax matches and three cigars, and laid down a silver piece worth 48 cents. The man gave me 43 cents change.

In Frankfort everybody wears clean clothes, and I think we noticed that this strange thing was the case in Hamburg too, and in the villages along the road. Even in the narrowest and poorest and most ancient quarters of Frankfort neat and clean clothes were the rule. The little children of both sexes were nearly always nice enough to take into a body’s lap. And as for the uniforms of the soldiers, they were newness and brightness carried to perfection. One could never detect a smirch or a grain of dust upon them. The street car conductors and drivers wore pretty uniforms which seemed to be just out of the bandbox, and their manners were as fine as their clothes.

In one of the shops I had the luck to stumble upon a book which has charmed me nearly to death. It is entitled “The Legends of the Rhine from Basle to Rotterdam, by F.J. Kiefer; Translated by L.W. Garnham, B.A.”

All tourists mention the Rhine legends,–in that sort of way with quietly pretends that the mentioner has been familiar with them all his life, and that the reader cannot possibly be ignorant of them,–but not tourist ever tells them. So this little book fed me in a very hungry place; and I, in my turn, intend to feed my reader, with one or two little lunches from the same larder. I shall not mar Garnham’s translation by meddling with its English; for the most toothsome thing about it is its quaint fashion of building Engilsh sentences on the German plan,–and punctuating them according to no plan at all.

In the chapter devoted to “Legends of Frankfort,” I find the following:

“THE KNAVE OF BERGEN.”

“In Frankfort at the Tomer was a great mask-ball, at the coronation festival, and in the illuminated saloon, the clanging music invited to dance, and splendidly appeared the rich toilets and charms of the ladies, and the festively costumed Princes and Knights. All seemed pleasure, joy, and roguish gayety, only one of the numerous guests had a gloomy exterior; but exactly the black armor in which he walked about excited general attention, and his tall figure, as well as the noble propriety of his movements, attracted especially the regards of the ladies. Who the Knight was? Nobody could guess, for his Vizier was well closed, and nothing made him recognizable. Proud and yet modest he advanced to the Empress; bowed on one knee before her seat, and begged for the favor of a waltz with the Queen of the festival. And she allowed his request. With light and graceful steps he danced through the long saloon, with the sovereign who thought never to have found a more dexterous and excellent dancer. But also by the grace of his manner, and fine conversation he knew to win the Queen, and she graciously accorded him a second dance for which he begged, a third, and a fourth, as well as others were not refused him. How all regarded the happy dancer, how many envied him the high favor; how increased curiosity, who the masked knight could be.

Also the Emperor become more and more excited with curiosity, and with great suspense one awaited the hour, when according to mask-law, each masked guest must make himself known. This moment came, but although all others had unmasked, the secret knight still refused to allow his features to be seen, till at last the Queen driven by curiosity, and vexed at the obstinate refusal; commanded him to open his Vizier. He opened it, and none of the high ladies and knights knew him. But from the crowded spectators, 2 officials advanced, who recognized the black dancer, and horror and terror spread in the saloon, as they said who the supposed knight was. It was the executioner of Bergen. But glowing with rage, the King commanded to sieze the criminal and lead him to death, who had ventured to dance, with the queen; so disgraced the Empress, and insulted the crown. The culpable threw himself at the feet of the Emperor, and said,–

“‘Indeed I have heavily sinned against all noble guests assembled here, but most heavily against you my sovereign and my queen. the Queen is insulted by my haughtiness equal to treason, but no punishment even blood, will not be able to wash out the disgrace, which you have suffered by me. Therefore oh King! allow me to propose a remedy, to efface the shame, and to render it as if not done. Draw your sword and knight me, then I will throw down my gauntlet, to every one who dares to speak disrespectfully of my king.

“The Emperor was surprised at this bold proposal, however it appeared wisest to him; “You are a knave he replied after a moment’s consideration, however your advice is good, and displays prudence, as your offense shows adventurous courage. Well then, and gave him the knight-stroke, so I raise you to nobility, who begged for grace for your offence now kneels before me, rise as knight; knavish you have acted, and Knave of Bergen shall you be called henceforth, and gladly the Black knight rose; three cheers were given in honor of the Emperor, and loud cries of joy testified the approbation with which the Queen danced still once with the Knave of Bergen.

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Filed under 1880's, Culture, Germany, Language, Modern Language Translations, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: The World In Miniature (1741)

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, Manufacturers, Arts, and Sciences; Government, Policies, Laws, Religions, Buildings; Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Plants, Reptiles, Drugs; Cities, Mountains, Rivers, and other curiosities, belonging to each Country.  Vol. II. Containing AMERICA, and the Isles thereof To which is added, an Account of England, Scotland, and Ireland; with the Isles adjacent.  With several curious and useful Tables.  By Mr. John Fransham of Norwich.  London:  Printed  and sold by John Torbuck, In Clare-Count near Drury Lane, and most Booksellers and Publishers in Town and Country.

 SOUTH-CAROLINA

Situation.

South-Carolina is not only situated in the same Degree of Heat, Fertility, and Temperature of Air, as Barbary, Syria, Persia, China, and in general all the best Countries in the Universe, viz. in about 33 Deg, of Lat but is also the only Country of all those the English possess, that is situated in that Degree.  The entire Liberty of Conscience, and Commerce, in all Probability will in Time make it a very flourishing Settlement.  They now produce and ship off yearly about 60,000 Barrels of Rice, each of 400 Weight; they have also shipp’d off about 70,000 Deer-Skins, at a Medium, for ten Years past; about 20,000 Barrels of Pitch; and 10,000 of Turpentine.  the Pitch-pine is as good for Masts and Planks as any in the world, and their Live-oak the best (not excepting the English) for Knees for Shipping.  This part of Carolina produces much Rice, but little Tobacco.  On the contrary, N. Carolina produced a good Quantity of Tobacco, and but little Rice.

In 1729 King George the II. having purchased all Carolina of the former Proprietors, sent over SirAlexander Cummins, a Scotch Gentleman, to take a View of the most distant Parts of the Country:  He went to the first Town of the Charokee-Indians, being about 300 Miles from Charles-Town, and there met with some of their Chiefs, and receiv’d their Submission to the King of Great Britain on their Knees, whom Sir Alexander call’d the Great Man on the other Side the Great Water, telling them that all his Subjects were to him as his Children.  He pros’d to take six of their chiefs with him to England to do Honour to King George in Person.  Six of them immediately offer’d to go with him, they all embark’d the 4th of May, and arriv’d in Dover the 6th of June, 1730; they were all admitted to an Audience by his Majesty, and they, in the Name of their respective Nations, promis’d to remain his most faithful and obedient Subjects:  Then a Treaty of Alliance was drawn up, which was sign’d by the six Chiefs on the one Side, and by Allured Popple, Esq; Secretary to the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations on the other.  They were afterwards shewn the publick buildings, and being loaded with Presents, were sent back in one of his Majesty’s Ships.

There is a rational Prospect of considerable Advantage to the English from this Settlement, since we find this Country will produce those many articles we want most, such as Silk, Wine, Oil, Rice, Furs, Skins, and naval Stores.

As to the Spaniards attacking us there, what they do of that Nature must be done very suddenly, if at all; for that Frontier will be put into such a Posture of Defence in a very little Time, that it will not be in the Power of Spain to hurt us.  The Crown of Great Britain has never interpos’d with that Vigour in Defence of any of her Colonies, as it has in Behalf of Georgia, and that with very good Reason, it being the King’s peculiar Property, as well as both the Carolina’s all of which will be secur’d by this Barrier, and the Lands of those Colonies consequently render’d of ten Times the Value, they were, when they lay exposed to the Ravages of the Spaniards and the Indians.  As to the French they have a desart Country of 3 or 400 Miles to pass over from their Settlements, before they can reach the Frontiers of Carolina.  The Spaniards in Florida are much more in Dangerfrom them, than the English and therefore it stands them in Hand, to have a good Understanding with Great Britain.

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Filed under 1740's, Colonial America, Great Britain, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

Item of the Day: Notes on a Journey in America (1818)

Full Title: Notes on a Journey in America, from the Coast of Virginia to the Territory of Illinois. By Morris Birkbeck. London: Printed by Severn & Redington, 1, Skinner Street, Bishopsgate: For Ridgway and Sons, Piccadilly; and to be had of all Other Booksellers, 1818.

TO MY ENGLISH FRIENDS.

I HAVE amused myself during our long, but by no means wearisome journey, by keeping this short record of occurrences and observations, of which I have now finished the revisal.

It contains just the particulars which I wish to communicate to my friends, written, I think, with as much simplicity of intention, as a private letter, but with a little more care, seeing I had the fear of the press before my eyes.

Ther are many for whom I entertain a sincere affection who have not received a line from me since our departure. I have always had more to say than a letter could contain; and now, instead of mutilated scraps, I beg they will accept this little book, and consider it as particularly addressed to them; for it certainly was composed most particularly for their information.

It may be collected from the tenor of these notes, that I am as well satisfied with this country as I had anticipated: and our friends will have sympathized with us in the success of our enterprise; having found a good country, and secured for ouserlves a situation in it, so well adapted to our wishes. But, as friends are not used to gather each other’s sentiments, on interesting topics by inference merely, they have a right to hear from me in direct terms, that my expectations and hopes are thus far more than satisfied with regard to the objects of our removal into this country.

There are advantages before us greater than I had in contemplation; and apparently attainable with less difficulty and sacrifices. I have, therfore nothing to regret in the step I have taken; and in my present knowledge I should find stronger motives for it.

M.B.

Sept. 1, 1817.

May 28 [1817].

. . . The taverns in the great towns, east of the mountains, which lay in our route, afford nothing in the least corresponding with our habits and notions of convenient accommodation: the only similarity is in the expense.

At these places all is performed on the gregarious plan: every thing is public by day and by night; –for even night in an American inn affords no privacy. Whatever may be the number of guests, they must receive their entertainmen en masse, and they must sleep en masse. Three times a-day the great bell rings, and a hundred persons collect from all quarters, to eat a hurried meal, composed of almost as many dishes. At breakfast you have fish, flesh and foul; bread of every shape and kind, butter, eggs, coffee, tea–every thing, and more than you can think of. Dinner is much like the breakfast, omitting the tea and coffee; and supper is the breakfast repeated. Soon after this meal, you assemble once more, in rooms crowded with beds, something like the wards in a hospital; where, after undressing in public, you are fortunate if you escape a partner in your bed, in addition to the myriads of bugs, which you need not hope to escape.

But the horrors of the kitchen, from whence issue these shoals of dishes, how shall I describe, though I have witnessed them. –It is a dark and sooty hole, where the idea of cleanliness never enterd, swarming with negroes of all sexes and ages, who seem as though they were bred there: without floor, except the rude stones that support a raging fire of pine logs, extending across the entire place; which forbids your approach, and which no being but a negro could face.

In your reception at a western Pennsylvanian tavern there is something of hospitality combined with the mercantile feelings of your host. He is generally a man of property, the head man of the village perhaps, with the title of Colonel, and feels that he confers, rather than receives, a favour by the accommodation he affords; and rude as his establishment may be, he does not perceive that you have a right to complain: what he has you partake of, but he makes no apologies for; and if you shew symptoms of dissatisfaction or disgust, you will fare the worse; whilst a disposition to be pleased and satisfied will be met by a wish to make you so.

At the last stay, our party of eight weary pilgrims, dropping in as the evening closed, alarmed the landlady, who asked the ladies if we were not English, and said, she would rather not wait upon us, –we should be “difficult.” However, she admitted us, and this morning, at parting, she said she liked to wait on “such” English; and begged we would write to our friends and recommend her house. We were often told that we were not “difficult,” like the English; and I am sure our entertainment was the better, because they found us easy to please.

 

 

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

Item of the Day: A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America by John Adams (1794)

Full Title:  A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America, against the attack of M. Turgot in his letter to Dr. Price, Dated the Twenty-Second Day of March, 1778.  By John Adams, LL.D. and a  Member of the Academy of Arts and Sciences at Boston.  All Nature’s Difference keeps all Nature’s Peace.  Pope.  In Three Volumes. Vol. I. A New Edition.  London:  Printed for John Stockdale, Piccadilly. 1794.

LETTER I.

Grosvenor-Square, Oct. 4, 1786.

My Dear Sir,

Three writers in Europe, of great abilities, reputation, and learning, M. Turgot, the Abbe De Mably, and Dr. Price, have turned their attention to the constitutions of government in the United States of America, and have written and published their criticism and advice.  They had all the most amiable characters, and unquestionably the purest intentions.  they had all experience in public affairs, and ample information in the nature of man, the necessity of society, and the science of government.

There are in the productions of all of them, among many excellent things, some sentiments, however, that it will be difficult to reconcile to reason, experience, the constitution of human nature, or to the uniform testimony of the greatest statesmen, legislators, and philosophers of all enlightened nations, ancient and modern.

M. Turgot, in his letter to Dr. Price, confesses, “that he is not satisfied with the constitutions which have hitherto been formed for the different states of America.”  He observes that by most of them the customs of England are imitated, without any particular motive.  Instead of collecting all authority into one center, that of the nation, they have established different bodies, a body of representatives, a council, and a governor, because there is in England, a house of commons, a house of lords, and a king.  They endeavour to balance these different powers, as if this equilibrium, which in England may be a necessary check to the enormous influence of royalty, could be of any use in republics founded upon the equality of all citizens, and as if establishing different orders of men was not a source of divisions and disputes.”

There has been, from the beginning of the revolution in America, a party in every state, who have entertained sentiments similar to these of M. Turgot.  Two or three of them have established governments upon his principle:  and, by advices from Boston, certain committees of counties have been held, and other conventions proposed in the Massachusetts, with the express purpose of deposing the governor and senate, as useless and expensive branches of the constitution; and as it is probable that the publication of M. Turgot’s opinion has contributed to excite such discontents among the people, it becomes necessary to examine it, and, if it can be shown to be an error, whatever veneration Americans very justly entertain for his memory, it is to be hoped they will not be missed by his authority.

LETTER II.

My Dear Sir,

M. Turgot is offended, because the customs of England are imitated in most of the new constitutions in America, without any particular motive.  But, if we suppose that English customs were neither good nor evil in themselves, and merely indifferent; and the people by their birth, education, and habits, were familiarly attached to them; was not this a motive particular enough for their preservation, rather than endanger the public tranquillity, or unanimity, by renouncing them?  If those customs were wise, just, and good, and calculated to secure the liberty, property, and safety of the people, as well or better than any other institutions ancient or modern, would M. Turogt have advised the nation to reject them, merely because it was at that time justly incensed against the English government? — What English customs have they retained which may with an propriety be called evil?  M. Turgot has instanced only in one, viz. “that a body of representatives, a council, and a governor, has been established, because there is in England, a house of commons, a house of lords, and a king.”  It was not so much because the legislature in England consisted of three branches, that such a division of power was adopted by the states, as because their own assemblies had ever been so constituted.  It was not so much from attachment by habit to such a plan of power, as from conviction that it was founded in nature and reason, that it was continued. 

 M. Turgot seems to be of a different opinion, and is for “collecting all authority into one center, the nation.”  It is easily understood how all authority may be collected “into one center” in a despot or monarch; but how it can be done when the center is to be the nation, is more difficult to comprehend.  Before we attempt to discuss the notions of an author, we should be careful to ascertain his meaning.  It will not be easy, after the most anxious research, to discover the true sense of this extraordinary passage.  If, after the pains of “collecting all authority into one center,” that center is to be the nation, we shall remain exactly where we began, and no collection of authority at all will be made.  The nation will be the authority, and the authority the nation.  The center will be the circle, and the circle the center.  When a number of men, women, and children, are simply congregated together, there is no political authority among them; nor any natural authority, but that of parents over their children.  To leave the women and children out of the question for the present, the men will all be equal, free and independent of each other.  No one will have any authority over any other.  The first “collection” of authority must be as unanimous agreement to form themselves into a nation, people, community, or body politic, and to be governed by the majority of suffrages or voices.  But even in this case, although the authority is collected into one center, that center is no longer the nation, but the majority of the nation.  Did M. Turgot mean, that the people of Virginia, for example, half a million of souls scattered over a territory of two hundred leagues square, should stop here, and have no other authority by which to make or execute a law, or judge a cause, but by a vote of the whole people, and the decision of a majority?  Where is the plain large enough to hold them; and what are the means, and how long would be the time, necessary to assemble them together?

A simple and perfect democracy never yet existed among men.  If a village of half a mile square, and one hundred families, is capable of exercising all the legislative, executive, and judicial powers, in public assemblies of the whole by unanimous votes, or by majorities, it is more than has ever yet been proved in theory or experience.  In such a democracy, the moderator would be king, the town-clerk legislator and judge, and the constable sheriff, for the most part; and upon more important occasions, committees would be only the counsellors of both the former, and commandants of the latter.

Shall we suppose then, that M. Turgot intended, that an assembly of representatives should be chosen by the nation, and vested with all the powers of government; and that this assembly shall be the center in which all the authority shall be collected, and shall be virtually deemed the nation?  After long reflection, I have not been able to discover any other sense in his words, and this was probably his real meaning.  To examine this system in detail may be thought as trifling an occupation, as the laboured reasonings of Sidney and Locke, to shew the absurdity of Filmar’s superstitious notions, appeared to Mr. Hume in his enlightened days.  Yet the mistakes of great men, and even the absurdities of fools, when they countenance the prejudices of numbers of people, especially in a young country, and under new governments, cannot be too fully confuted.  You will not then esteem my time or your own mis-spent, in placing this idea of M. Turgot in all its lights; in considering the consequences of it; and in collecting a variety of authorities against it.

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Filed under 1790's, Constitutional Debate, Early Republic, Posted by Rebecca Dresser