Monthly Archives: August 2007

Word of the Week: “To Become”

From BAILEY:

To BECOME [of be and cpeman, Sax. to please, of bequemen, G. to adapt or make fit, or bequem, G. fit, or of bekommen, G. to thrive or agree with] to befit, to adorn; also to be made or done. 

From JOHNSON:

To BECO’ ME. v. n. pret. I became; comp. pret. I have become. [from by and come.] 

1. To enter into some state or condition, by a change form some other.

The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.     Genesis, ii. 7.

And unto the Jews I became a Jew, that I might gain the Jews.       I Corin. ix. 20.

A smaller pear, grafted upon a stock that beareth a greater pear, will become great.       Bacon.

My voice thou oft hath heard, and hath not feared,/But still rejoiced; how is it now become/ So dreadful to thee?        Milton.

So the least faults, if mix’d with fairest deed,/Of future ill become the fatal deed.        Prior.

 

2. To become of.  To be the fate of; to be the end of; to be the subsequent or final condition of.  It is observable, that this word is never, or very seldom, used but with what, either indefinite or interrogative.

What is then become of so huge a multitude, as would have overspread a great part of the continent.        Raleigh.

Perplex’d with thoughts, what would become of me, and all mankind.   Milton.

The first hints of circulation of the blood were taken from a common person’s wondering what became of all the blood that issued out of the heart.       Graunt

What will become of me then?  for when he is free, he will infallibly accuse me.         Dryden 

What became of this thoughtful busy creature, when removed from this world, has amazed the vulgar, and puzzled the wife.          Rogers.

3.  In the following passage, the phrase, where is he become? is used for, what is become of him?

I cannot joy, until I be resolv’d
Where our right valiant father is become.      Shakesp.

 

From WEBSTER:

BECOME, v. i. becum. pret. became. pp. become.  [Sax.  becumen, to fall out or happen; D. bekoomen; G. bekommen, to get or obtain; Sw. bekomma; Dan. bekommer, to obtain; be and come.  These significations differ from the sense in English. But the sense is, to come to , to arrive, to reach, to fall or pass to.  [See COME.]  Hence the sense of suiting, agreeing with.  In Sax. cuman, Goth. kwiman, is to come, and Sax. cweman, is to please, that is, to suit or be agreeable.]

1. To pass from one state to another; to enter into some state or condition, by a change from another state or condition, or by assuming or receiving new properties or qualities, additional matter, or a new character; as a cion becomes a tree.

The Lord God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.

To the Jew, I became a Jew.

2. To become of, usually with what preceeding; to be the fate of; to be the end of; to be the final or subsequent condition; as, what will become of our commerce?  what will become of us?

In the present tense, it applies to place as well as condition.  What has become of my friend? that is, where is he? as well as, what is his condition?  Where is he become?  used by Shakespeare and Spenser, is obsolete; but this is the sense in Saxon, where has he fallen? 

 

Full Titles: 

Dictionarium Britannicum: or a more compleat universal etymological English dictionary than any extant. By Nathan Bailey. Second Edition. London, T. Cox, 1736.

A Dictionary of the English Language:  In Which the Words are Deduced from Their Originals, and Illustrated in Their Different Significations by Examples from the Best Writers.  To which are prefixed, A History of the Language, and An English Grammar.  By Samuel Johnson, LL.D.  In Two Volumes.–Vol. I.  The Sixth Edition.  London:  Printed for J. F. and C. Rivinton, L. David, T. Payne and Son, W. Owen, T. Longman, B. Law, J. Dodsley, C. Dilly, W. Lowndes, G. G. J. and J. Robinson, T. Cadell, Jo. Johnson, J. Robson, W. Richardson, J. Nichols, R. Baldwin, W. Goldsmith, J. Murray, W. Stuart, P. Elmsly, W. Fox, S. Hayes, A. Strahan, W. Bent, T. and J. Egerton, and M. Newberry.  1785.

An American Dictionary of the English Language: Intended to Exhibit, I. The origin, affinities and primary signification of English words, as far as they have been ascertained.  II. The genuine orthography and pronunciation of words, according to general usage, or to just principles of analogy.  III. Accurate and discriminating definitions, with numerous authorities and illustrations,  To which are prefixed, An Introductory Dissertation of the Origin, History and Conection of the Languages of Western Asia and of Europe, and a Concise Grammar of the English Language.  By Noah Webster, LL. D.  In Two Volumes.  Vol. I.  New York:  Published by S. Converse.  Printed by Hezekiah Howe-New Haven.  1828. 

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Filed under Dictionaries, Grammar, Language, Posted by Matthew Williams, Uncategorized

Item of the Day: Observations on Certain Documents (1797)

Full Title: Observations on Certain Documents Contained in No. V. & VI. of “The History of the United States for the Year 1796,” in which the Charge of Speculation against Alexander Hamilton, Late Secretary of the Treasury, is fully refuted. Written by himself. Philadelphia: Printed for John Fenno, by John Bioren, 1797.

OBSERVATIONS, &c.

 

THE spirit of jocobinism, if not entirely a new spirit, has at least been cloathed [sic] with a more gigantic body and armed with more powerful weapons than it ever before possessed. It is perhaps not too much to say, that it threatens more extensive and complicated mischiefs to the world than have hitherto flowed from the three great scourges of mankind, WAR, PESTILENCE, and FAMINE. To what point it will ultimately lead society, it is impossible for human foresight to pronounce; but there is just ground to apprehend that its progress may be marked with calamities of which the dreadful incidents of the French revolution afford a very faint image. Incessantly busied in undermining all the props of public security and private happiness, it seems to threaten the political and moral world with a complete overthrow.

A principal engine, by which this spirit endeavours to accomplish its purposes is that of calumny. It is essential to its success that the influence of men of upright principle, disposed and able to resist its enterprizes, shall be at all events destroyed. Not content with traducing their best efforts for the public good, with misrepresenting their purest motives, with inferring criminality from actions innocent or laudable, the most direct falshoods [sic] are invented and propagated, with undaunted effrontery and unrelenting perseverance. Lies often detected and refuted are still revived and repeated, in the hope that the refuted are still revived and repeated, in the hope that the refutation may have been forgotten or that the frequency and boldness of accusation may supply the place of truth and proof. The most profligate men are encouraged, probably bribed, certainly with patronage if not with money, to become informers and accusers. And when tales, which their characters alone ought to discredit, are refuted by evidence and facts which oblige the patrons of them to abandon their support, they still continue in corroding whispers to wear away the reputations which they could not directly subvert. If, luckily for the conspirators against honest fame, any little foible or folly can be traced out in one, whom they desire to persecute, it becomes at once in their hands a two-edged sword, by which to wound the public character and stab the private felicity of the person. With such men, nothing is sacred. Even the peace of an unoffending and amiable wife is a welcome repast to their insatiate fury against the husband.

In the gratification of this baleful spirit, we not only hear the jacobin news-papers continually ring with odious insinuations and charges against many of our most virtuous citizens; but, not satisfied with this, a measure new in this country has been lately adopted to give the greater efficacy to the system of defamation — periodical pamphlets issue from the same presses, full freighted with misrepresentation and falshood [sic], artfully calculated to hold up the opponents of the FACTION to the jealousy and distrust of the present generation and the jealousy and distrust of the present generation and if possible, to transmit their names with dishonor to posterity. Even the great and multiplied services, the tried and rarely equalled [sic] virtues of a WASHINGTON, can secure no exemption.

How then can I, with pretensions every way inferior expect to escape? And if truly this be, as every appearance indicates, a conspiracy of vice against virtue, ought I not to be flattered, that I have been so long and so peculiarly an object of persecution? Ought I to regret, if there be any thing about me, so formidable to the Faction as to have made me worthy to be distinguished by the plenitude of its rancour and venom?

It is certain I have had a pretty copious experience of its malignity. For honor of human nature, it is to be hoped that the examples are not numerous of men so greatly calumniated and persecuted, as I have been, with so little cause.

I dare appeal to my immediate fellow citizens of whatever political party for the truth of the assertion, that no man ever carried into public life a more unblemished pecuniary reputation, than that which which I undertook, the office of Secretary of the Treasury; a character marked by an indifference to the acquisition of property rather than by an avidity for it.

With such a character, however natural it was to expect criticism and opposition, as to the political principles which I might manifest or be supposed to entertain, as the the wisdom or expediency of the plans, which I might propose, or as to the skill, care or diligence with which the business of my department might be executed, it was not natural to expect nor did I expect that my fidelity or integrity in a pecuniary sense would ever be called in quesiton.

But on this head a mortifying disappointment has been experienced. Without the slightest foundation, I have been repeatedly held up to the suspicions of the world as a man directed in his administration by the most sordid views; who did not scruple to sacrifice the public to his private interest, his duty and honor to the sinister accumulation of wealth. . . .

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Alexander Hamilton, Early Republic, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Sterne’s Sermons in The Works… (1803)

Full Title:  The Works of Laurence Sterne, Complete in Eight Volumes. Containing I. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. II. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, and Continuation. III. Sermons. IV. Letters. V. The Fragment. VI. The Koran. VII. History of a Good Warm Coat. With A Life of the Author, Written by Himself. Vol. V. Edinburgh: Printed by J. Turnbull, Anchor-Close, for Gray, Maver, & Co. Booksellers, Glasgow, 1803.

Sermon I.  Inquiry After Happiness

Psalm iv. 6.

There be many that say, Who shall show us any good?–Lord, lift thou up the light of thy countenance upon us. 

The great pursuit of man is after happiness:  it is the first and strongest desire of his nature;–in every stage of his life, he searches for it as for hid treasure;–courts it under a thousand different shapes,–and, though perpetually disappointed, still persists–runs after and inquires for it afresh–asks every passenger who comes in his way, Who will show him any good?—who will assist him in the attainment of it, or direct him to the discovery of this great end of all his wishes?

He is told by one to search for it among the more gay and youthful pleasures of life, in scenes of mirth and sprightliness, where happiness ever presides, and is ever to be known by the joy and laughter which he will see at once painted in her looks.

A second, with a graver aspect, points out to the costly dwellings which pride and extravagance have erected–tells the inquirer, that the object he is in search of inhabits there–that happiness lives only in company with the great, in the midst of much pomp and outward state. That he will easily find her out by the coat of many colours she has on, and the great luxury and expense of equipage and furniture with whish she always sits surrounded.

The miser blesses God!–wonders how any one would mislead, and wilfully put him upon so wrong a scent–convinces him that happiness and extravagance never inhabited under the same roof–that if he would not be disappointed in his search, he must look into the plain and thrifty dwelling of the prudent man, who knows and understands the worth of money, and cautiously lays it up against an evil hour: that it is not the prosititution of wealth upon the passions, of the parting with it at all, that constitutes happiness–but that it is the keeping it together, and the HAVING and HOLDING it fast to him and his heirs for ever, which are the chief attributes that form this great idol of human worship, to which so much incense is offered up every day […]

To close all–the philosopher meets him bustling in the full career of this pursuit–stops him–tells him, if he is in search of happiness, he is far gone out of his way.

That this deity has long been banished from noise and tumults, where there was no rest found for her, and was fled into solitude far from all commerce of the world; and, in a word, if he would find her, he must leave this busy and intriguing scene, and go back to that peaceful scene of retirement and books, from which he first set out.

In this circle, too often, does a man run,–tries all experiments,–and generally sits down, wearied and disatisfied with them all at last–in utter despair of ever accomplishing what he wants–nor knowing what to trust to after so many disappointments; or where to lay the fault, whether in the incapacity of his own nature, or the insufficiency of the enjoyments themselves. 

In this uncertain and perplexed state–without knowledge which way to turn or where to betake ourselves for refuge–so often abused and deceived by the many who pretend thus to show us any goog–LORD! says the Psalmist, lift up the light of thy countenance upon us.  Send us some rays of thy grace and heavenly wisdom, in this benighted search after happiness, to direct us safely to it.  O GOD! let us not wander for ever without a guide, in this dark region, in endless pursuit of our mistaken good, but enlighten our eyes that we sleep not in death–open to them the comforts of thy holy word and religion–lift up the light of thy countenance upon us,–and make us know the joy and satisfaction of living in the true faith and fear of Thee, which only can carry us to this haven of rest where we would be–that sure haven, where true joys are to be found, which will at length not only answer all our expectations–but satisfy the most unbounded of our wishes for ever and ever […]

And though in our pilgrimage through this world–some of us may be so fortunate as to meet with some clear fountains by the way, that may cool, for a few moments, the heat of this great thirst of happiness–yet our Saviour, who knew the world, though he enjoyed but little of it, tells us, that whosoever drinketh this water will thirst again:–and we all find by experience it is so, and by reason that it always must be so. 

I conclude with a short observation upon Solomon’s evidence in this case.

Never did the busy brain of a lean and hectic chemist search for the philosopher’s stone with more pains and ardour than this great man did after happiness.–He was one of the wisest inquirers into Nature–had tried all her powers and capacities, and after a thousand vain speculations and vile experiments, he affirmed at length, it lay hid in no one thing he had tried; like the chemists projections, all had ended in smoke, or what was worse, in vanity and vexation of spirit:–the conclusion of the whole matter was this–that he advises every man who would be happy, to fear God and keep his commandments.

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Item of the Day: The New Book of Chronicles [1789]

Full Title: The New Book of Chronicles; Delineating in Eccentrical Sketches of the Times a Variety of Modern Characters of the Great and Small Vulgar. London: Printed for T. Massey, Snow-Hill, and Sold by all the Booksellers of Great Britain.

CHAPTER I.

ARGUMENT.

 

With odds and ends, and scanty scraps

The mystic muse begins; perhaps,

‘Tis, as descending from the sky,

Before her forded flashes fly,

She’s forc’d to touch the catching tinder,

Ere she can blaze like Peter Pindar.

 

IN those days there was no poet laureat in the land of Albion, and every bard began to rhyme right in his own eyes.

2. And I heard a voice from Parnesses, like a trumpet sounding, saying unto me; take up thy pen quickly and record the acts of Albion.

3. Now it came to pass, when George, the king of the isles had drank of the waters of Cheltenham, that, behold his spirit was troubled.

4. The report also of his death was spread abroad, about the regions of the great cities, none rejoiced at the rumour, save the mercers and woolen drapers.

5. Howbeit Death, when he saw that he could not aim his javelin against George,

6. On the first day of the first month drew his bow at a venture and smote a certain noble of the land, who afore time had been a knight of the order of Sir Bullface Doublesee, and also president of the lower Sanhedrim.

7. And on the morrow the same king of terrors, mounted on his white horse, knock’d at the door of Cornwall, even another president of the same assembly, and carried him, no mortal man knows where, even to this day.

8. Behold William sirnamed Windham Grenville was chosen in his stead.

9. On that day George, even the king’s son and the Prince of Patriots,

10. Was filled with compassion for the poor of the great city, and sent by his servant; twenty thousand pounds to relieve their affliction;

11. For which the poor praised him, yea the Recorder and certain of the elders blessed him in his new palace.

12. Now when the people of Albion and of Hibernia beheld that the king was not recovered,

13. They cried with one accord, saying, lo, let the Patriot Prince be declared Regent of the Realm.

14. Howbeit the Premier, and also the lord on whose hand the king had leaned,

15. Opposed the people, and strove with all their might to bind the Prince in chains, and his nobles in fetters of iron.

16. And the patriots cried aloud in the Sanhedrim, saying:

17. Why muzzle ye the ox that treadeth out the corn? Why require the prince to make bricks without straw?

18. For the premier had said go forth, I will put a barren sceptre into thy hand, which shall neither bud nor blossom; take with thee no money, nor Scrip, neither have two coats in they wardrobe.

20. But, behold, it came to pass, while the contention was waxing warm that the King arose, even as the sun after the rain, and gladened the islands of the sea

21. On the evening of the tenth day of the third month were all the windows of Westminster, and also of the great city and her suburbs illuminated.

22. And upon a certain day appointed, even the twenty and third day of the fourth month, the King presented himself before the Lord, in the great temple of Paul,

23. Even amidst the multitude of the nobles and the elders of the land: the citizens also with their dames and damsels.

24. On that day of thanksgiving many of the other temples remained empty, even from the great Abbey of the West city, to Little Zoar, as thou goest to the Barking Dogs.

25. For those people whom the great temple of Paul would not receive into its sacred porch,

26. Even the weavers, who deal in doves, and the money-changers, who fell sell strong drink,

27. Swarmed in the streets as the King passed to and from the Temple.

28. Many of the boys of Barrington also mingl’d with the multitude, while their chief Captain remained in ward, lamenting the loss of so glorious a day.

29. Howbeit many of the traders that day obtained much money of the people who hired their houses for the sight.

30. On that day a certain Seller of Sugar Plumbs sat on his triumphal Carr, his windows facing the holy temple, and his heart fixed on the Mammon of unrighteousness.

31. Lo, the ladies looked at his comely countenance, and smiling at the simple one, ran into the house of honey and it was filled with guests. . . .

 

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Filed under 1780's, George III, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Satire

Item of the Day: New Travels through North-America (1784)

Full Title: New Travels through North-America: In a Series of Letters; Exhibiting the History of the Victorious Campaign of the Allied Armies, under His Excellency General George Washington and the Count de Rochambeau, in the Year 1781. Interspersed with political and philosophical Observations, upon the genius, temper, and customs of the Americans: Also, Narrations of the capture of General Burgoyne, and Lord Cornwallis, with their Armies; and a variety of interesting particulars, which occurred in the course of the War in America. Translated from the Original of the Abbe Robin: One of the Chaplains to the French Army in America. Boston: Printed by E. E. Powars and N. Willis, for F. Battelle, and to be sold by him, at his Book Store, State-Stree, M,DCC,LXXXIV.

[Excerpted from Letter III.]

Camp, at Philipsbourg, August 4, 1781.

. . . Such are the ideas that arise in the mind, at the sight of this great man [George Washington], in examining the events in which he has had a share, or in listening to those whose duty obliges them to be near his person, and consequently can best display his true character. —In all these extensive states, they consider him in the light of a beneficent God, dispensing peace and happiness around him. —Old men, women and children, press about him when he accidentally passes along, and think themselves happy, once in their lives, to have seen him–they follow him through the towns with torches, and celebrate his arrival by public illuminations. —The Americans, that cool and sedate people, who in the midst of their most trying difficulties, have attended only to the directions and impulses of plain method and common reason, are roused, animated and inflamed at the very mention of his name; and the first songs that sentiment or gratitude has dictated, have been to celebrate General Washington.

It is uncertain how many men his army consists of exactly: some say, only four or five thousand, but this General has always found means to conceal the real number, even from those who compose it.  Sometimes with a few troops he forms a spacious camp, and increases the number of tents; at other times with a great number, he contracts it to a narrow compass; then again by detaching them insensibly, the whole camp is nothing more than the mere skeleton and shadow of an army, while the main body is transported to a distant part of the country.

Neither do these troops in general wear regular uniforms; but the officers and corps of artillery are obliged, without exception, to such distinction. Several regiments have small white frocks, with fringes, which look well enough; also linen over-alls, large and full, which are very convenient in hot weather, and do not at all hinder the free use of the limbs in marching: with food less substantial, and a constitution of body less vigorous than our people, they are better able to support fatique, and perhaps for that very reason. This advantage in dress, I believe, has not been sufficiently considered in France. We are apt to consult the gratification of the eye too far, and forget the troops were designed to act, and not merely to show themselves and their finery. The most proper apparel would be that, which being as little burdensome as possible, would cover the soldier best, and incommode him the least. The regiment of Soissonnais has in all this tedious march, had the fewest stragglers and sick of any other; –one of the principal causes was, without doubt, the precautionof the Colonel, who, on purpose for the campaign, had linen breeches made for his whole regiment.

The American military habit, although easy to be soiled, is nevertheless very decent and neat; this neatness is particularly observable among the officers: to see them, you would suppose they were equipped with every necessary in the compleatest manner, and yet upon entering their tents, where perhaps three or four reside together, I have often been astonished to find, that their whole travelling equipage and furniture would not weigh forty pounds; few or none have matrasses; a single rug or blanket, stretched out upon the rough bark of a tree, serves them for a bed; the soldeirs take the same precaution never to sleep on the ground, whilst ours prefer it to any other way.

Their manner of living is very simple, and gives them but little trouble; they content themselves with boiling their meat, and parching their corn, or baking unleavened dough, made of Indian meal, upon the hot embers.

In some regiemnts they have negro companies, but always commanded by the whites. . . .

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Filed under 1780's, American Revolution, Continental Army, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington

Item of the Day: Plain Truth (1776)

Full Title: Plain Truth; Addressed to the Inhabitants of America. Containing Remarks on a late Pamphlet, Intitled Common Sense; Wherein are shewn, that the Scheme of Independence is ruinous, delusive, and impracticable; that were the Author’s Asseverations, respecting the Power of America, as real as nugatory, Reconciliation on liberal Principles with Great Britain would be exalted Policy; and that, circumstanced as we are, permanent Liberty and true Happiness can only be obtained by Reconciliation with that Kingdom. Written by Candidus. Second Edition. Philadelphia, printed; London: reprinted for J. Almon, opposite Burlington House, in Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXVI.

I have now before me the pamphlet intitled Common Sense; on which I shall remark with freedom and candour. It may not be improper to remind my reader, that the investigation of my subject demands the utmost freedom of enquiry; I therefore entreat his indulgence, and that he will carefully remember, that intemperate zeal is an injurious to liberty, as a manly discussion of facts is friendly to it. “Liberty, says the great Montesquieu, is a right of doing whatever the laws permit; and if a citizen could do what they forbid, he would no longer be possessed of liberty, because all his fellow citizens would have the same power.” In the beginning of his pamphlet the author asserts, that society in every state is a blessing. This in the sincerity of my heart I deny; for it is supreme misery to be associated with those who, to promote their ambitious purposes, flagitiously pervert the ends of political society. I do not say that our author is indebted to Burgh’s Political Disquisitions, or to Rousseau’s Social Compact for his definiton on government, and his large tree; although I wish he had favoured his reader with the following extract from that sublime reasoner: “To investigate those conditions of society which may best answer the purpose of nations, would require the abilities of some superior intelligence, who should be witness to all the passions of men, but be subjects itself to none, who should have no connections with human nature, but should have a perfect knowledge of it; a being, in short, whose happiness should be independent of us, and who would nevertheless enploy itslef about us. It is the province of Gods to make laws for men.” With the utmost deference to the celebrated Rousseau, I cannnot indeed imagine, that laws even so constructed, would materially benefit our imperfect race, unless Omniscience designed previously to exalt our nature. The judicious reader will therefore perceive, that malevolence only is requisite to decaim against, and arraign the most perfect governments. Our political quack avails himself of this trite expedient, so cajole the people into the most abject slavery, under the delusive name of independence. His first indecent attack is against the English constitution, which, with all its imperfections, is, and ever will be, the pride and envy of mankind. To this panegyric involuntarily our author subscribes, by granting individuals to be safer in England, than in any other part of Europe. He indeed isidiously attributes this pre-eminent excellency to the constitution: to such contemptible subterfuge is our author reduced. I would ask him why did not the constitution of the people afford them superior safety, in the reign of Richard the third, Henry the eighth, and other tyrannic princes? Many pages might indeed be filled with encomiums bestowed on our excellent constitution by illustrious authors of different nations.

This beautiful system (according to Montesquieu) our constitution is a compound of monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. But it is often said, that the sovereign, by honours and appointments, influences the commons. The profound and elegant Hume agitating this question, thinks, to this circumstance, we are in part indebted for our supreme felicity; since, without such controul in the crown, our constitution would immediately degenerate into democracy; a goverment which, in the sequel, I hope to prove ineligible. Were I asked marks of the best government, and the purpose of political society, I would reply, the encrease, preservation, and prosperity of its members; in no quarter of the globe are those marks so certainly to be found, as in Great Britain and her dependencies. After our author has employed several pages to break the mounds of society by debasing monarchs, he says, “the plain trugh is, that the antiquity of English monarchy will not bear looking into.”

Hume, treating of the original contract, has the following melancholy, but sensible observation; “yet reason tells us, that there is no property in durable objects, such as lands and houses, when carefully examined, in passing from hand to hand, but must in some period have been founded on fraud and injustice. The necessities of human society, neither in private or public life, will allow of such an accurate enquiry; and there is no virtue or moral duty, but what may, with facility, be refined away, if we indulge a false philosophy, in sifting and scrutinizing, by every captious rule of logic, in every light or position in which it may be placed.”

Say, ye votaries of honour and truth, can we adduce a stronger proof of our author’s turpitude, than his quoting the anti-philosophical story of the Jews, to debase monarchy and the best of monarchs. Briefly examing the story of this contemptible race, more barbarous than our savages, we find their history a continued succession of miracles, astonishing our imaginations, and exercising our faith. After wandering forty years in horrid desarts [sic], they are chiefly condemned to perish for their perverseness, although under the immediate dominion of the king of Palestine, which they conquer by exterminating the inhabitants and warring like demons. The inhabitants of the adjoining regions justly, therefore, held them in detestation, and the Jews finding themselves constantly abhorred, have ever since hated all mankind. This people, as destitute of arts and industry as humanity, had not even in their language a word expressive of education. We might indeed remind our author, who so readily drags in the Old Testament to support his sinister measures, that we could draw from that source many texts favourable to monarchy, were we not conscious that the Mosaic law gives way to the gospel dispensation. The reader no doubt will be gratified by the following extract from a most primitive christian: “Christianity is a spiritual religion, relative only to celestial objects. The christian’s inheritance is not of this world. He performs his duty it is true, but this he does with a profound indifference fo the good or ill success of his endeavours; provided he hath nothing to reproach himself, it is of little consequence to him whether matters go well or ill here below. If the state be in a flourishing condition, he can hardly venture to rejoice in the public felicity, lest he should be puffed up with the inordinate pride of his country’s glory. If the state decline, he blesses the hand of God, that humbles his people to the dust.” . . .

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Filed under 1770's, Common sense, Liberty, Loyalists, Political Commentary, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Gentleman’s Magazine [1749]

Full Title: The Gentleman’s Magazine, and Historical Chronicle. Volume XIX. For the Year M.DCC.XLIX. By Sylvanus Urban, Gent. London: Printed for Edw. Cave, at St. John’s Gate.

February, 1749.

From the General Evening Post, February 2.

To COUNTRY GENTLEMEN.

As the war is at an end, and we are going, I hope, to enjoy the blessings of peace, you will have leisure, gentlemen, to consult with your representatives on the means necessary to prevent the present most insolent method of the common people in destroying the game of this kingdom, and carriers and higlers carrying it about without any fear of punishment. It may be thought by some a thing of very small consequence; but if gentlemen can’t be diverted in the country, they will leave their houses, and retire to the communities; and then the whole nation will soon be sensible of the mischiefs of the high price of game, and that the multitude of dogs which are kept is a great cause of the evil. Those gentlemen that now endeavour to preserve their game, do it at the risque of their servants lives; for I know one this winter that was forced to send out six servants in the night who were attacked by many poachers; and he was obliged afterwards to send out ten; so that a single servant, that is, a gamekeeper, is become of almost no use, for if he tells any of them they threaten to kill him. This enormous evil merits, gentlemen, your consideration soon; for when the game is all gone, men bred up in night-work must go on in their wicked courses, and so will serve you at last as the smugglers do now, break into your houses, rob them, and destroy you, if they don’t like your faces.

I am, Gentlemen,

A well-wisher to my country,

A COUNTRY GENTLEMAN.

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Filed under 1740's, England, Magazine, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Epistles of Phalaris (1749)

Full Title: The Epistles of Phalaris. Translated from the Greek. To which are added, Some Select Epistles of the most eminent Greek Writers. By Thomas Francklin. London: Printed for R. Francklin, in Russel-Street, Covent-Garden, MDCCXLIX.

THE

PREFACE.

THERE is no kind of writing, which can boast of more admirers than the epistolary. The letters of the Greeks and Romans, which have been preserved, are look’d upon by the learned world as the most precious remains of antiquity. This may easily be accounted for, when we consider that the real characters of great men are perhaps better known by such private anecdotes as are usually interspersed in these friendly correspondencies, than in the pompous accounts of their public transactions, which we hear from the historian. We take pleasure in seeing the prince, the lawgiver, the orator, or the poet, in the humbler sphere of domestic life, and writing without art or reserve as father, a brother, or a friend. We are proud of being, as it were, admitted to a secret intimacy with such men; a kind of pride, which may not improbably be attended with a malicious satisfaction in discovering their weaknesses and imperfections, and finding them sometimes on a level with ourselves.

Some indeed, and particularly of late years, have appear’d, which were certainly wrote with the view of making them public, and were as is apparent from their stile and matter designe’d more for the reader than the friend; which must doubtless deprive us of great part of that pleasure we should otherwise take in them.

The following Epistles, ascribed to Phalaris, were received as his for above a thousand years, and look’d upon by the antients as the most perfect things of their kind. Suidas, Stobaeus, Photius, Aretine, and many other eminent writers give them the highest character, and even those few, who deny or doubt the genuineness of them, have not refused them the commendations, which they deserve.

But before I enter into the merits of the Epistles, it may not be improper to make the reader acquainted (as far as the dark history of those times will give us leave) with the celebrated tyrant, whose name they bear.

Phalaris was born at Astypalaea, a city of Crete; where, though deprived of his parents when young, he had the good fortune to meet with friends, who bestow’d on him a liberal educaiton; by the assistance of which, together with the advantage of uncommon parts and application, he acquired great knowledge in the art of government. But, being from his infancy bold and aspiring, he engaged in an unsuccessful attempt to seize the supreme power, and was banish’d out of Crete; from whence he retired, leaving his wife and son behind him, to Agrigentum in Sicily; where the people, whom he had artfully persuaded into an opinion of his wisdom and courage, being at that time engaged in building their temple, appointed him chief surveyor of the works. He laid hold of the opportunity, and having gain’d the whole body of labourers to his party, with no other arms but their tools, he so conducted his hazardous enterprize as to terrify and subdue the inhabitants, and make himself master of the city, in the fifty-second Olympiad, and reign’d there, according to Eusebius, twenty-eight, or, according to others, sixteen years. A power so acquired could not be maintain’d without some bloodshed, and before he had fix’d himself in the government, many conspiracies must of course have been form’d against him; all which he was so fortunate as to discover and suppress. Necessity obliged him to take ample revenge on such as were concern’d in them; and to this unavoidable cruelty, which in his Epistles he so frequently endeavours to palliate and excuse, we must ascribe the many odious names, with which he is branded in history.

It has frequently been objected, that historians represent him as the most cruel and detestable tyrant, and allow him none of those amiable qualities, which these Epistles so liberally bestow on him. But this is methinks a difficulty very easily got over; for besides that a perfectly bad man, without one virtue to recommend him, is perhpas as rarely to be met with, as the perfect wife, or good, it is scarce probable that Phalaris would so long have held the power he had usurp’d without some distinguishable good qualities to extenuate his faults, and conciliate the affections of his people.

I shall pass over the story of Perilaus, as it is generally known, and because the principal circumstances of it are mention’d both in the Phalaris of Lucian, and in several of these Epistles.

Phalaris, by his courage and conduct, subdued several nations, and according to Suidas made himself master of all Sicily. That he was a great friend and patron of leaning and learned men sufficiently appears from his behaviour to Stesichorus, a celebrated poet of Himera in Sicily, and a man of the first rank for wisdom and authority amongst this fellow-citizens. The Himereans, contrary to his advice, chose Phalaris for their guardian and protector; but quickly repenting of their misconduct, Stesichorus was extremely active in promoting the design of a revolt. Being intercepted in his passage to Corinth, he was brought before Phalaris, where he behaved with a firmenss and intrepidity, which struck the tyrant with such an esteem and admiration of him as probably laid the foundation of that memorable friendship between them so often mention’d in the Epistles.

In regard to the manner of Phalaris’s death we have no account, which can be relied on, as authors are much divided about it; though the most generally received opinion is, that having maintain’d the tryanny some years, not without perpetual factions, and the utmost disquietude, the people at last rose up, and destroyed him. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1740's, Greek/Roman Translations, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: History of the War with America, France, Spain, and Holland (1785)

Full Title: History of the War with America, France, Spain; and Holland; commencing in 1775 and ending in 1783. By John Andrews. In Four Volumes with Portraits, Maps and Charts. London: Published by his Majesty’s Royal Licence and Authority. For John Fielding, Pater Noster Row; and John Jarvis in the Strand, MDCCLXXXV.

 

INTRODUCTION.

NO Nation ever terminated a war more to its advantage and glory, than that which Great Britain carried on against the united powers of France and Spain, and concluded with the Treaty of Paris, in one thousand seven hundred and sixty-three.

The strength of the British nation had been conducted by the most spirited and fortunate Minister that ever presided over its councils, and had been exerted with a vigour and energy unexampled in any preceding aera; an uninterrupted series of successes attended it in every quarter of the globe, and victories followed each other by sea and land, that astonished all Eruope, and thoroughly subdued the spirit and broke the strength of the enemy.

The terms of the pacification that ended this memorable contest, though not so advantageous, in the opinion of some, as the state of this country on the one side seemed to claim and to expect, the depresst situation of its enemeis might, on the other, have sumbitted, still they were such as exalted the British monarchy to a degree of splendor and power that rendered it equally the envy, the admiration, and the terror of Europe.

By this treaty Great Britain remained entire mistress of the immense continent of North America, from the banks of the Missisippi [sic] to the shores of Greenland. She aquired several valuable islands in the West Indies, and established her power in the eastern parts of the world on such extensive foundations, as left her a decided superiority over all the European nations that have any trade or settlements in those distant countries.

But there were no few politicians, both at home and abroad, who thought they perceived in this spendid conclusion with France and Spain, infallible, though perhaps latent causes of much future mischief. The entire cession of the French possessions in North America, an immense tract, opened a wide field of speculation to people of a thinking dispostion.

While this prodigious extent of land remained in the hands of France, though it might seem a heavy curb to the industry and enterprizing temper of the British nation, it was, in fact, a boundary to the ambitious spirit of its Colonies. By restraining them within determinate limits, and keeping them in perpetual alarms, it obliged them to look continually for aid to the parent-state, and obviated all ideas of disobliging a people, of whose friendship and protection they stood in perpetual need.

It has even been surmised, that France itself fully saw the consequences of her cession of Canada to England, and that some fo the shrewdest of the French Ministry did not refrain from dropping some hints to this purport. However that might be, it may with great truth be said, that no profound penetration was necessary to discover, that the acquisition of the French North American possessions, by delivering the British Colonies from all apprehensions on that dangerous quarter, gave them immediately an ease security in their domestic transactions, to which they must for ever have been strangers; and, of course, excited a train of ideas, which they would not, and could not otherwise have harboured.

While the dread of France was present to their minds, ages would probably have elapsed before they would have thought of facing so great a power singly, and unsupported. The long habit of depending on the assistance of the parent-state would have been retained; and as protection and obedience are reciprocal, the connection that had so long subsisted between Great Britain and her Colonies, would, in all likelihood, have remained the same as before, unimpaired and unaltered, in every circumstance attending it.

To these considerations, others might be added of equal weight: –The state of the British Colonies at the Aera of the general pacification, was such as attracted the attention of all the politicians in Europe. Their flourishing condition at that period was remarkable and striking; their trade had prospered in the midst of all the difficulties and distresses of a war, in which they were so nearly and so immediately concerned. Their population continued on the increase, notwithstanding the ravages and depredations that had been so fiercely carried on by the French, and the native Indians in their alliance. All this shewed the innate strength and vigour of the constitution of the British Colonies.

The conclusion of the quarrel between Great Briatin and France, placed them immediately on such a footing as could not fail to double every advantage they already possest. –They abounded with spirited and active individuals of all denominations. They were flushed with the uncommon porosperity that had attended them in their commercial affairs and military transactions. The natural consequence of such a disposition was, that they were ready for all kind of undertakings; and saw no limits to their hopes and expectations.

As they entertained the highest opinion of their value and importance, and of the immense benefit that England derived from its connection with them, their notions were adequately high in their favour. They deemed themselves, not without reason, entitled to every kindess and indulgence which the mother-country could bestow.

Though their pretensions did not amount to a perfect equality of advantages and privileges in matters of commerce, yet in those of government, they thought themselves fully competent to the task of conducting their domestic concerns, with little or no interference from abroad. Though willing to admit the supremacy of Great Britain, they viewed it with a suspicious eye, and with a marked desire and intent speedily to give it limitaitons.

Their improvements in all the necessary and useful arts did honour to their industry and ingenuity. Though they did not live in the luxury of Europe, they had all the solid and substantial enjoyments of life; and were not unacquainted with many of its elegancies and refinements. . . .

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Filed under 1780's, England, Great Britain, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Political Advantages of Godliness (1797)

Full Title: The Political Advantages of Godliness. A Sermon, preached before His Excellency the Governor, and the Honorable Legilsature of the State of Connecticut, convened at Hartford on the Anniversary Election, May 11, 1797. By Isaac Lewis. Hartford: Printed by Hudson & Goodwin, 1797.

ELECTION SERMON.

I. TIMOTHY IV. 8.

—GODLINESS is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

 

IN all situations and conditions of life, true religion is of the first importance. It is the solace of those, who are placed in the vale of poverty and afflictions; the sweetener of all the unambitious enjoyments, of the middle walks of private life; and the highest ornament to the persons, and characters of the rich, the honorable, and the great. Without it, no man can be either truly, or lastingly happy. Were this divine guest to be banished from the society of men, this world would become but the abode of folly and wretchedness; and man, with all his boasted reason and superiority, inferior, in point of real enjoyment, to the herds who graze the fields.

The sentiments of St. Paul on this subject, are clearly expressed in our text and context. After cautioning Timothy to avoid perplexing himself and others, with the fabulous traditions of the Jews, and their endless genealogies, and exhorting him, like the athleticks in the Grecian games, to exert his uttermost labor and diligence, in pursuing and promoting the doctines and duties of true piety, as an argument to enforce the whole, he introduces the words of our text. Godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.

These motives to godliness, though first addressed to Tomothy, apply with equal force and propriety to all men, of ever age and condition. The import of the text is briefly this, “Godliness is every way advantageous. Whoever shall experience the power of it, will thence derive a rich harvest of gain. Beside the crown of immortal glory, which it infallibly secures to its possessor, it will produce the highest satisfaction, of which the human mind is capable, in the present state of existence. Its advantages are eminent in all stations, and situations, and in the prosecution of every business, proper to engage the attention of mankind.”

If then godliness have promises of good to be enjoyed in this life, as well as in that which is to come, if it be profitable unto all things, we may doubtless with safety conclude, that effectual aid may be derived from it, in the admiistration of civil goverment; and that, if generally and faithfully practised, it would most essentially contribute toward obtaining for, and securing to a community, all the important ends of this institution.

To illustrate this observation, is the proposed object of the present discourse. Preparatory to which, a concise view of the nature of godliness, and of the ends of civil government will first be taken.

Godliness is a term used in two senses; the one limited, and the other more general. In its limited sense, it includes only the duties of piety toward God. In its general sense, it comprises all the duties prescribed by the chrisitian religion; those which we owe to our fellow-men, and to ourselves, as well as those which we owe to God. The apostle, in our text, uses the term in its most general sense, as appears from the extensive benefits, which, he assures us, will flow from a faithful practice of its various duties. These duties cannot now be minutely detailed. It may however be proper to observe in general, that they may be divided into four classes, the duties we owe to God, to Christ, to our fellow-men, and to ourselves. . . .

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Filed under 1790's, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion, Sermons