Monthly Archives: January 2008

Item of the Day: An Essay on the History of Civil Society (1767)

Full Title: An Essay on the History of Civil Society. By Adam Ferguson, LL.D. . . . Dublin: Printed by Boulter Grierson, Printer to the King’s most Excellent Majesty, MDCCLXVII. [1767]

PART FIRST.

Of the General Characteristics of Human Nature.

SECTION I.

Of the question relating to the State of Nature.

NATURAL productions are generally formed by degrees. Vegetables grow from a tender shoot, and animals from an infant state. The latter being destined to act, extend their operations as their powers increase: they exhibit a progress in what they perform, as well as in the faculties they acquire. This progress in the case of man is continued to a greater extent than in that of any other animal. Not only the individual advances from infancy to manhood, but the species itself from rudeness to civilization. Hence the supposed departure of mankind from the state of their nature; hence our conjectures and different opinions of his being. The poet, the historian, and the moralist, frequently allude to this ancient time; and under the emblems of gold, or of iron, represent a condition, and a manner of life, from which mankind have either degenerated, or on which they have greatly improved. On either supposition, the first state of our nature must have borne no resemblance to what men have exhibited in any subsequent period; historical monuments, even of the earliest date, are to be considered as novelties; and the most common establishments of human society are to be classed among the incroachments [sic] which fraud, oppression, or a busy invention, have made upon the reign of nature, by which the chief of our grievances or blessings were equally withheld.

Among the writers who have attempted to distinguish, in the human character, its original qualities, and to point out the limits between nature and art, some have represented mankind in their first condition, as possessed of mere animal sensibility, without any exercise of the faculties that render them superior to brutes, without any political union, without any means of explaining their sentiments, and even without possessing any of the apprehensions and passions which the voice and the gesture are so well fitted to express. Others have made the state of nature to consist in perpetual wars, kindled by competition for dominion and interest, where every individual had a separate quarrel with his kind, and where the presence of a fellow-creature was the signal of battle.

The desire of laying the foundation of a favourite system, or a fond expectation, perhaps, that we may be able to penetrate the secrets of nature, to the very source of existence, have, on this subject, led to many fruitless inquiries, and given rise to many wild suppositions. Among the various qualities which mankind possess, we select one or a few particulars on which to establish a theory, and in framing our account of what man was in some imaginary state of nature, we overlook what he has always appeared within the reach of our own observation, and in the records of history.

In every other instance, however, the natural historian thinks himself obliged to collect facts, not to offer conjectures. When he treats of any particular species of animals, he supposes, that their present dispositions and instincts are the same they originally had, and that their present manner of life is a continuance of their first destination. He admits, that his knowledge of the material system of the world consists in a collection of facts, or at most, in general tenets derived from particular observations and experiments. It is only in what relates to himself, and in matters the most important, and the most easily known, that he substitutes hypothesis instead of reality, and confounds the provinces of imagination and reason, of poetry and science.

But without entering any farther on questions either in moral or physical subjects, relating to the manner or the origin of our knowledge; without any disparagement to that subtilty which would analyze every sentiment, and trace every mode of being to its source; it may be safely affirmed, That the character of man, as he now exists, that the laws of this animal and intellectual system, on which his happiness now depends, deserve our principal study; and that general principles relating to this, or any other subject, are useful only so far as they are founded on just observation, and lead to the knowledge of important consequences, or so far as they enable us to act with success when we would apply either the intellectual or the physical powers of nature, to the great purposes of human life . . .

 

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Filed under 1760's, Culture, Eighteenth century, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Carr’s Travels (1805)

Full Title: A Northern Summer; or Travels round the Baltic, through Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Prussia, and Part of Germany, in the Year 1804. By John Carr, Author of The Stranger in France, &c. &c. London: Printed for Richard Phillips, No. 6, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, by T. Gillet, Salisbury-square, 1805.

CHAP. I.

TIME OF SETTING FORTH—A WESTERN TOWN—HARWICH—THE POOR NORWEGIAN’S TOMB—HELOGOLAND—FLOATING MERRY FACES—HUSUM—A STUHLWAGGON–THE FAIR–THE WONDER–NOVEL APPLICATION OF A CHURCH–WALTZES–A SHOCKING SECRET.

IT was on the 14th of May, 1804, that, impelled by an ardent desire of contemplating the great and interesting volume of man, and by the hope of ameliorating a state of health which has too often awakened the solicitude of maternal affection, and of friendly sympathy, the writer of these pages bade adieu to a spot in which the morning of life had rolled over his head, and which a thousand circumstances had endeared to him. I cannot quit England without casting a lingering look upon my favourite little town of Totnes, where, as a characteristic, family alliances are so carefully preserved that one death generally stains half the town black; and where Nature has so united the charms of enlightened society, to those of romantic scenery, that had a certain with but tasted of the former, he would have spared the whole country in which it stands, and would not have answered, when requested to declare his opinion of the good people of Devon, that the further he travelled westward, the more persuaded he was that the wise men came from the east.

The angry decrees of renovated war had closed the gates of the south; the north alone lay expanded before me; if she is less enchanting, thought I perhaps she is the less known, and whereever [sic] man is, (women of course included) there must be variety: she has hitherto been contemplated, clad in fur, and gliding with the swiftness of a light cloud before the wind, upon her roads of shining snow. I will take a peep at her in her summer garb, and will endeavor to form a nosegay of polar flowers.

There is always a little bustle of action and confusion of ideas, when a man, about to slip from his friends, is in the agonies of packing up. My mind alternately darted from my portmanteau, to the political appearances with which I was surrounded; and, with all the vanity which generally belongs to a traveller, I resolved to commemorate the period of my flight, by a cursory comment upon the state of my country, which, by the time the last strap was buckled, was simply this: A great man had succeeded a good one in the direction of its august destinies, and another being who may be considered as the wonder of the west, was preparing amidst the blaze of brilliant novelties to mount the throne of a new dynasty; amongst them was a threat to cover the shores of England, with his hostile legions. Nine hundred and ninety-nine Englishmen, out of one thousand, had started into martial array, on the sound of the haughty menace—patriotism, with the bright velocity of a wild-fire, ran through the valley and over the mountain, till at last it was discovered that we might be invaded whenever we pleased. Ministers were more puzzled by their friends, than their enemies; where streams were expected to flow, torrents rolled headlong, and whatever may be our animosities, we are at least under an everlasting obligation to the French, for having enabled us to contemplate such a spectacle of loyalty. How I happened to leave my country at this time, it may be proper to explain: Devonshire offered, to her lasting honour, twenty thousand volunteer defenders of their homes and altars, nine thousand were only wanted or could be accepted; in the later, a spirited body of my fellow-townsmen, who honoured me by an election to command them, were not included; after encountering (and it was equal to a demi-campaign) the scrutinizing eye of militia-men, and the titter of nursery-maids, until awkwardness yielded to a good discipline, and improvement had taught our observers to respect us, we found that our intended services were superfluous, and I was at full liberty to go to any point of the compass; so, after the touching scene of bidding adieu to an aged and beloved mother, whilst she poured upon me many a half-stifled prayer and benediction, I hastened to the capital, where, having furnished myself with the necessary passports and letters of introduction to our embassadors [sic] from the minister of foreign affairs, a circular letter of credit and bills from the house of Ransom, Morland, and company, upon their foreign correspondents, and with a packet of very handsome letters of private introduction, which were swelled by the kindness of Mr. Gill, the Swedish consul, and a passport (indispensably necessary to the visitor of Sweden) from the baron Silverhjelm. the enlightened and amiable representative of a brave and generous nation, I proceeded to Harwich, and at midnight passed under the barrier arch of its watch-tower, which was thrown into strong picturesque varieties of shade, by the propitious light, which from the top flung its joyous lustre over many a distant wave, so gladdening to the heart of the homeward mariner. . . .

 

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Filed under 1800's, England, Europe, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Miss Hannah More (1799)

Excerpted from: Public Characters of 1798-9. A New Edition. Enlarged and Corrected to the 25th of March, 1799. To be continued annually. London: Printed for R. Phillips, No. 71, St. Paul’s Church-Yard; and sold by T. Hurst and J. Wallis, Paternoster-Row; Carpenter and Co. Old Bond-Street; R. H. Westley, Strand; and by all booksellers, 1799. [pp. 476-485]

THE contoversy respecting the intellectual talents of women, as compared with those of men, is nearly brought to an issue, and greatly to the credit of the fair sex. The present age has produced a most brilliant constellation of female worthies, who have not only displayed eminent powers in works of fancy, but have greatly distinguished themselves in the higher branches of composition. Our own country has the honour of enrolling among its literary ornaments many females, to whom the interests of poetry, morality, and the sciences, are greatly indebted. Among celebrated living ladies may, with justice, be mentioned the names of Barbauld, Robinson, Cowley, Smith, Radcliffe, Farren, Piozzi, Seward, Lee, Hays, Inchbald, Cappe, Plumptree, Trimmer, Yearsley, Williams D’Arblay, Bennet, Linwood, Cosway, Kauffman, and Siddons.

The female who is the subject of the present notice is well known to the literary world, by several elegant, ingenious and useful publication. A few particulars respecting her, therefore, will not only be amusing to those who have read her works, but will also be instructive to young persons in the way of example.

Miss Hannah More is the youngest of four maiden sisters, the daughters of a clergyman, distinguished for his classical knowledge, and goodness of heart.

Hannah, who, at an early period of life, discovered a taste for literature, improved her mind during her leisure hours by reading; and soon perused not only the little paternal library, but all the books she could borrow from her friends, in the village of Hanham, near Bristol. The first which fell in her way was the Pamela of Richardson, the humble source of an innumerable offspring; and happy it would have been for the interests of virtue and literature, had the progeny been but as innocent as the parent.

The modesty and attainments of Hannah More, were spoken of with general respect in her native place, and at length acquired her the patronage of many respectable persons. In the mean time her sisters, who being also clever and amiable women, had conducted a little school with great success, were now enabled, in consequence of an encreasing [sic] reputation, to undertake the education of young persons above the situation of those to whose improvement their attention had hitherto been directed. So great, at length, was their celebrity, that several ladies of fortune and discernments prevailed upon them to remove to Bristol, about the year 1765, where they opened a boarding-school in Park-Street. This seminary, in a short time, became the most respectable of its kind in the West of England; and many females of rank received their education there.

Among others, who had the advantage of profiting by the instruction of the Miss Mores’, was the celebrated Mrs. Robinson, well known for her various elegant publications in prose and verse.

Miss H. More, who had removed with the family, had the good fortune of having for a next-door neighbour the Reverend Dr. Stonehouse; who perceiving her merits, distinguished her by his friendship, which he manifested by his instructions and recommendations. Both of these were of the most essential service to her in the cultivation of her literary taste. The doctor was a man of extensive acquaintance, general knowledge, and elegant manners. He condescended not only to examine the occasional effusions of her pen, but also to correct them, and through his hands all her early efforts passed to the press. The first of these was entitled “The Search after Happiness, a Peom,.” which was printed at Bristol under the doctor’s eye; and on its publication in London was so favourably received, as to encourage the author to further exertions of her powers. She next published “Sir Eldred of the Bower, and the Bleeding Rock; a legendary Tale;” which style of writing was become fashionable, through the success of Dr. Goldsmith’s sweet story of Edwin and Angelina.

Miss More now turned her attention to dramatic poetry, and produced a tragedy entitled FATAL FALSEHOOD; which was tolerably well received; but not so much as her PERCY, a tragedy, which met with universal applause. She also wrote another tragedy, called the INFLEXIBLE CAPTIVE; which fell short of the merit of her other dramatic pieces. The success she met with in this way was owing, in a great measure, to the immediate and commanding patronage of Garrick, who entered warmly into her interests through the recommendation of Dr. Stonehouse, with whom he was very intimate.

. . . Miss More has the credit of having drawn Mrs. Yearsley, the celebrated poetical milk-woman, from her obscurity into public notice and favour. When she had discovered this remarkable phenomenon, she immediately began to exert her benevolence, and by her unwearied assiduity procured a liberal subscription to the poems of this child of nature. She also drew up an interesting account of the milk-woman in a letter to Mrs. Montague; which letter, in order to enlarge the subscription, was published in the newspapers and magazines of the day. By the attentions of Miss More, a sum was raised sufficient to place the object of them in a situation more suitable to her genius. But we are sorry to be obliged to add, that a disagreement almost immediately followed the publication of the poems in question, between the author and her patroness; which is said to have been occasioned by the latter’s taking the management of the subscription-money into the hands of herself and some select friends. The motive with which this was done, adds greatly to the credit of Miss More and her friends, as it was no other than a desire to provide permanently for Mrs. Yearsley and her young family. She, however, had a different opinion, and thought it was unjust in them to withhold from her the management of her own property. She went further, and endeavoured to represent her best friend as actuated by unworthy sentiments, the least of which was, that of envy. Some attacks were, in consequence, made upon Miss More in different publications; but, conscious of the purity of her own views, she passed over those invidious attempts to prejudice the public mind against her silence. . . .

N.S.

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Filed under 1790's, Biography, Culture, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Women

Item of the Day: Public Characters of 1798-9 (1799)

Full Title: Public Characters of 1798-9. A New Edition. Enlarged and Corrected to the 25th of March, 1799. To be continued annually. London: Printed for R. Phillips, No. 71, St. Paul’s Church-Yard; and sold by T. Hurst and J. Wallis, Paternoster-Row; Carpenter and Co. Old Bond-Street; R. H. Westley, Strand; and by all booksellers, 1799.

PREFACE

TO THE

FIRST EDITION.

THE object of the Work which is now submitted to the Public, is to exhibit, in the memoirs of the illustrious actors, the public and secret history of the present times. Respectable works, of a a similar description, have been published in various countries on the continent; none, however, have hitherto been attempted, upon the same plan, in this country.

BIOGRAPHY, in all its forms, is allowed to be the most fascinating and instructive species of literary composition. It not only possesses all the advantages of general history, the various excellencies of which may be judiciously interwoven with the lives of eminent personages, but it frequently discovers the minute and latent springs of great events, which, in the comprehensive range of History, would have escaped attention.

Many of the attractions of Biography in general, and some additional advantages, are possessed by contemporary Biography. The memoirs of men, who are the present actors on the great theatre of life, who acquire and demand public confidence, and from whom further results of action or meditation are to be expected, necessarily excite a higher degree of curiosity, than the lives of those who have made their exit from the stage, by some no future good or evil can be performed or perpetrated, and who, “dead, gone, and forgotten,” are generally carried down the stream of oblivion, and swallowed up in the gulph of unregistered mortality.

It must be admitted, taht the biographer of deceased persons is better enabled, by the independence of his situation, and a more extensive retrospect, to estimate the degree of virtue and vice, and to appreciate the sum total of merit and demeit with greater precision, than the contemporary biographer, who is restrained, by the extreme delicacy of his undertaking, from giving finishing stroke to his delineations of character, whose incomplete materials prevent him from deducing general and important conclusions in their proper latitude, and, in many cases, from discriminating between hypocrisy and sincerity. Still, however, a writer of this description is better able to collect facts, and may, in general, be more depended upon, as to the authenticity of his testimony, than he who writes the lives of deceased persons. Many eminent men, respecting whom posterity have cause to lament the deficiency of biographical information, have passed their early days in obscurity, and those who then knew them were either too ignorant, or too unobservant, to be able to make any communications respecting them. When death has once set his seal upon their labours, few or no opportunities offer of obtaining satisfactory and circumstantial information; their early contemporaries are, probably, also gone off the stage. From causes like these, how little is known of some of the most distinguished luminaries that have irradiated the political and literary hemispheres! Of many we know only that they filled elevated situations, that they composed splendid works, made important discoveries, died in a particular year, and were at length interred in some venerable repository of the dead.

An annual publication lie the present will best provide against a future deficiency of this kind, with respect to the distinguished personages who now fill up the drama of public life in the British empire. The Editors are not likely to commit themselves, and the reputation of their work, by inserting direct falsehoods, or partial misrepresentations: no character, of whom they now or may hereafter treat, can be thought insensible to the love of contemporary or posthumous fame; hence, should any undesigned error, or any inaccurate statement, inadvertently escape them, it may be rationally presumed, that the party affected, from a regard to his own reputation, will take the earliest opportunity to correct such mistatements [sic[]; or that some friend, intimately acquainted with the subject, in the candour and warmth of esteem, may be stimulated to write a more particular and accurate account, for a subsequent edition.

From these premises may it not be reasonably concluded, that this Work possesses a legitimate claim to public patronage, as well from its promised utility to future biographers and historians, as from its being an highly entertaining and useful assemblage of interesting and important facts and anecdotes?

In respect to the present volume, it is necessary to remark, that the articles are written by a number of gentlemen, whose adopted signatures are affixed to their respective communications. Such a multiplicity of facts, in so extensive and various a group of characters, could not have been supplied by any one or two individuals. Although a delicate task, the mode generally adopted in the composition of this Work, has been to apply to some friend of the party, whose intimate knowledge of the relative facts and circumstances qualified him to do ample justice to the character. This indispensible [sic] arrangement, requisite to produce the faithful execution of the volume, has, however, occasioned a variety in the style and manner of the several articles, which, at first sight, may give it a sort of heterogeneous appearance, but will not detract from its real merit in the estimation of the judicious reader . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1790's, Biography, Culture, Great Britain, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Smollett’s History of England (1766)

Full Title:  Continuation of the Complete History of England by T[obias] Smollett, M. D. [In two volumes]  Volume the First.  London: Printed for Richard Baldwin, at the Rose in Pater-noster-Row.  MDCCLXVI.

 [A continuation of David Hume’s History of England]

George II.

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, however unstable or inglorious it might appear to those few who understood the interests, and felt for the honour of their country, was nevertheless not unwelcome to the nation in general.  The British ministry will always find it more difficult to satisfy the people at the end of a successful campaign, than at the conclusion of an unfortunate war.  The English are impatient of miscarriage and disappointment, and too apt to be intoxicated with victory.  At this period they were tired of the burthens, and sick of the disgraces, to which they had been exposed in the course of seven tedious campaigns.  They had suffered considerable losses and interruption in the article of commerce, which was the source of their natural opulence and power: they knew it would of necessity be clogged with additional duties, for the maintenance of a continental war, and the support of foreign subsidiaries; and they drew very faint presages of future success either from the conduct of their allies, or the capacity of their commanders. 

To a people influenced by these considerations, the restoration of free trade, the respite from that anxiety and suspence [sic] which the prosecution of a war never fails to engender, and the prospect of speedy deliverance from discouraging restraint and oppressive impositions, were advantages that sweetened the bitter draught of a dishonourable treaty, and induced the majority of the nation to acquiesce in the peace, not barely without murmuring, but even with some degree of satisfaction and applause. 

Immediately after the exchange of ratifications at Aix-la-Chapelle the armies were broke up: the allies in the Netherlands withdrew their several proportions of troops; the French began to evacuate Flanders; and the English forces were reimbarked [sic] for their own country.  His Britannic majesty returned from his German dominions in November, having landed near Margate in Kent, after a dangerous passage; and on the twenty-ninth of the same month he opened the session of parliament.  By this time the misunderstanding between the two first personages of the royal family had been increased by a fresh accession of matter.  The prince of Wales had held a court of stannery, or what is called a parliament, in quality of duke of Cornwall; and revived some claims attached to that dignity, which, had they been admitted, would have greatly augmented his influence among the Cornish boroughs.

These efforts aroused the jealousy of the administration, which had always considered them as an interest wholly depending upon the crown; and therefore the pretensions of his royal highness were opposed by the whole weight of the ministry.  His adherents resenting these hostilities as an injury to their royal master, immediately joined the remnant of the former opposition in parliament, and resolved to counteract all the ministerial measures that should fall under their cognizance; at least, they determined to seize every opportunity of thwarting the servants of the crown, in every scheme or proposal that had not an evident tendency to the advantage of the nation. 

This band of auxiliaries was headed by the earl of E–t, Dr. Lee, and Mr. N–t.  The first possessed a species of eloquence rather plausible than powerful: he spoke with fluency and fire: his spirit was bold and enterprising, his apprehension quick, and his repartee severe.  Dr. Lee was a man of extensive erudition and irreproachable morals, particularly versed in the civil law, which he professed, and perfectly well acquainted with the constitution of his country.  Mr. N–t was an orator of middling abilities, who harangued upon all subjects indiscriminately, and supplied with confidence what he wanted in capacity: he had been at some pains to study the business of the house, as heard, as he generally spoke with an appearance of good humour, and hazarded every whimsical idea as it rose in his imagination.  But Lord Bolingbroke is said to have been the chief spring which, in secret, actuated the deliberations of the prince’s court.  That nobleman, seemingly sequestered from the tumults of a public life, resided in the neighbourhood of London, at Battersea, where he was visited like a sainted shrine by all the distinguished votaries of a wit, eloquence, and political ambition.  There he was cultivated and admired for the elegance of his manners, and the charms of his conversation.  The prince’s curiosity was first captivated by his character, and his esteem was afterwards secured by the irresistible address of that extraordinary personage, who continued in a regular progression to insinuate himself still farther and farther into the good graces of his royal patron.  How far the conduct of his royal highness was influenced by the private advice of this nobleman, we shall not pretend to determine: but, certain it is, the friends of the ministry propagated a report, that he was the dictator of those measures which the prince adopted; and that, under the specious pretext of attachment to the heir-apparent of the crown, he concealed his real aim, which was to perpetuate the breach in the royal family.  Whatever his sentiments and motives might have been, this was no other than a revival of the old ministerial clamour, that a man cannot be well affected to be king, if he pretends to censure any measure of the administration.   

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Filed under 1760's, Eighteenth century, George II, History, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Cook’s Voyages (1777), continued, part 3.

Full Title: A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution. In which is included, Captain Furneaux’s Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships. In Two Volumes. Illustrated with Maps and Charts, and a Variety of Portraits of Persons and Views of Places, drawn during the Voyage by Mr. Hodges, and engraved by the most eminent Masters. Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand. MDCCLXXVII.

Chap. VII.

Sequel of the Passage from New Zealand to Easter Island, and Transactions there, with an Account of an Expedition to discover the Inland Part of the Country, and a Description of some of the surprising gigantic Statues found in the Island.

[Continued from earlier post]

On the East side, near the sea, they met with three platforms of stone-work, or rather the ruins of them. On each had stood four of those large statues, but they were all fallen down from two of them, and also one from the third; all except one who were broken by the fall, or in some measure defaced. Mr. Wales measured this one, and found it to be fifteen feet in length, and six feet broad over the shoulders. Each statue had on its head a large cylindric stone of a red colour, wrought perfectly round. The one they measured, which was not by far the largest, was fifty-two inches high, and sixty-six in diameter. In some of the upper corner of the cylinder was taken off in a sort of concave quarter-round; but in others the cylinder was entire.

From this place they followed the direction of the coast to the N. E., the man with the flag still leading the way. For about three miles they found the country very barren, and in some places stripped of the soil to the bare rock, which seemed to be a poor sort of iron ore. Beyond this, they came to the most fertile part of the island they saw, it being interspersed with plantations of potatoes, sugar-canes, and plantain trees, and these not so much encumbered with stones as those which they had seen before; but they could find no water except what the natives twice or thrice brought them, which, though brackish and stinking, was rendered acceptable, by the extremity of their thirst. They also passed some huts, the owners of which met them with roasted potatoes and sugar-canes, and placing themselves ahead of the foremost of the party, (for they marched in a line in order to have the benefit of the path) gave one to each man as he passed by. They observed the same method in distributing the water which they brought; and were particularly careful that the foremost did not drink too much, least none should be left for the hindmost. But at the very same time these were relieving the thirsty and hungry, there were not wanting others, who endeavoured to steal from them the very things which had been given them. At last, to prevent worse consequences, they were obliged to fire a load of small shot at one who was so audacious as to snatch from one of the men the bag which contained every thing they carried with them. The shot hit him on the back; on which he dropped the bag, ran a little way, and then fell; but he afterwards got up and walked, and what became of him they knew not, nor whether he was much wounded. As this affair occasioned some delay, and drew the natives together, they presently saw the man who had hitherto led the way, and one or two more, coming running towards them; but instead of stopping when they came up, they continued to run round them, repeating, in a kind manner, a few words, until our people set forwards again. Then their old guide hoisted his flag, leading the way as before, and none ever attempted to steal from them the whole day afterwards.

As they passed along, they observed on a hill a number of people collected together, some of whom had spears in their hands; but, on being called to by their countrymen, they dispersed; except a few, amongst whom was one seemingly of some note. He was a stout, well-made man, with a fine open countenance, his face was painted, his body punctured, and he wore a better Ha hou, or cloth, than the rest. He saluted them as he came up, by stretching out his arms with both hands clinched, lifting them over his head, opening them wide, and then letting them fall gradually down to his sides. To this man, whom they understood to be the chief of the island, their other friend gave his white flag; and he gave it to another, who carried it before them the remainder of the day.

Towards the eastern end of the island, they met with a well whose water was perfectly fresh, being considerably above the level of the sea; but it was dirty, owing to the filthiness or cleanliness (call it what you will) of the natives, who never go to drink without washing themselves all over as soon as they have done; and it so many of them are together, the first leaps right into the middle of the hole, drinks, and washes himself without the least ceremony; after which another takes his place and does the same.

They observed that this side of the island was full of those gigantic statues so often mentioned; some placed in groupes on platforms of masonry; others single, fixed only in the earth, and that not deep; and these latter are, in general, much larger than the others. Having measured one, which had fallen down, they found it very near twenty-seven feet long, and upwards of eight feet over the breast or shoulders; and yet this appeared considerably short of the size of one they saw standing: its shade, a little past two o’clock, being sufficient to shelter all the party, consisting of near thirty persons, from the rays of the sun. Here they stopped to dine; after which they repaired to a hill, from whence they saw all the East and North shores of the isle, on which they could not see either bay or creek fit for a boat to land in; nor the least signs of fresh water. What the natives brought them here was real salt water; but they observed that some of them drank plentifully of it, so far will necessity and custom get the better of nature! On this account they were obliged to return to the last mentioned well; where, after having quenched their thirst, they directed their route across the island towards the ship, as it was now four o’clock…

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams

Announcement: Web Training for Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO)

Event: Free web training event for users of  ECCO (Eighteenth Century Collections Online)

When: January 24, 2008 at 1:00 PM

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January 24, 2008 1:00 p.m. – 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time http://www.uptilt.com/ct.html?rtr=on&s=4rs,x0od,2bb2,flqb,3owu,cy1l,axoq

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Item of the Day: Observations on Professions, Literature, Manners, and Emigration, in the United States and Canada (1833)

Full Title: Observations on Professions, Literature, Manners, and Emigration, in the United States and Canada, Made During a Residence There in 1832. By the Rev. Isaac Fidler . . . New-York: Published by J. & J. Harper, no. 82, Cliff-Street; and sold by the principal booksellers throughout the United States, MDCCCXXXIII.

CHAPTER III.

Reasons for abandoning the idea of teaching the Eastern languages in the United States — Day-schools — Insubordination of Pupils — Anecdote of the blind teacher — Of an Irish classical teacher — Sad tale of a village schoolmaster — American insensibility — Farther opinions concerning American schools.

 

WHEN I had held two or three conversations with a gentleman, to whom I had a letter of introduction from London, with reference to my plan of teaching, particularly the languages of the East; he told me that, in his opinion, my best measure would be to go back to England. “The Americans do not yet want any thing with the East Indies. They are not colonizing other countries, but peopling their own; and have more need of being taught how to handle the axe or spade, than how to read the Hindoostanee. Had you been a strong active hardy ploughman, you might have been worth encouragement, but as it is, I can give you none.” What this gentleman and his family told me, I found to be perfectly correct. The attempt would be useless and absurd to persuade a people, in love with money, and with themselves; doating upon their own perfections, and their superiority love all nations of the earth, in learning, arts, and arms; and despising, or pretending to despise, the English most heartily, that an individual from Great Britain had arrived in their country to teach them languages they do not know. It would be equally useless, to attempt inducing them to pay for information, which they could not at once convert to purposes of gain. A little further inquiry among those, with whom my letters and introductions brought me in contact, soon induced me to abandon the intention of opening a school for instruction in Eastern languages. Dr. Milnor himself thought the attempt could be only futile and followed by disappointment. He imagined, however, that another kind of school might be opened, which would be more likely to succeed. A day-school, with liberal terms, he said, might answer my expectations.

As the same thing had been suggested by other gentlemen of some consideration, it became worthy the attention of one, circumstanced like myself, to investigate more closely the character of day-schools in general, and the mode of conducting them. I soon found, that a common schoolmaster, in that country, is not regarded with much respect; and that education, in such schools, is on a contracted scale. It is true, that high claims to skill are advanced by teachers, and parents are flattered with reports that their sons are in such and such classes, and have studied such and such books.

The hours of attendance in day-schools are about five and a half each day, for four days, and four for the remaining two days of the week. In some seminaries there are sixty or eighty pupils, taught by one, or at the most, by two masters. Such schools, generally close at three in the afternoon. Here insubordination prevails to a degree subversive of all improvement. The pupils are entirely independent of their teacher. No correction, no coercion, no manner of restraint is permitted to be used. It must be seen, from this picture, that general education is at a low ebbe, even in New-York. Indeed, all who know any thing of teaching, will see at once the impossibility of conveying extensive knowledge, in so few hours per day, and upon such a system. Parents also have as little control over their offspring at home, as the master has at school; and the leisure hours of idle boys are, in all countries perhaps alike unproductive of improvement.

Two or three anecdotes were related, to convey to me an idea of American schools. The best teacher whom the United States could ever boast of was a blind athletic old man, who was so well acquainted with the books he taught, as to detect immediately the the slightest incorrectness of his scholars. He was also a great disciplinarian; and, though blind, could from constant practice, inflict the most painful and effective chastisements. From the energetic mental and bodily powers of this teacher, his pupils became distinguished in the colleges and universities of America. They were generally, at their admission into public seminaries, so far in advance of other students, that, from the absence of inducements to steady application, they there, for the first time, contracted habits of idleness. They also became less obedient and subordinate to collegiate regulations than the other scholars, when the hand of correction, of which they formerly had tasted, was no longer extended over them. Thus, a two-fold evil was produced by the discipline and skill of this blind teacher. Since that time, corporal punishment has almost disappeared from American day-schools; and a teacher, who should now have recourse to such means of enforcing instruction, would meet with reprehension from the parents, and perhaps from his scholars. . . .

 

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Filed under 1830's, Education, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel, Travel Literature, United States

Item of the Day: A Plan to Reconcile Great Britain & her Colonies (1774)

Full Title: A Plan to Reconcile Great Britain & her Colonies, and Preserve the Dependency of America. London: Printed for J. Almon facing Burlington-house, Picadilly, MDDCLXXIV. [i.e. MDCCLXXIV]

MY LORD DUKE,

I AM not in the least surprized [sic] at the misunderstanding which has long and unhappily subsisted between Great-Britain and her Colonies; because, I apprehend, their differences are owing to natural and perhaps to inevitable causes; which may serve to convince our government and the East India Company, that vast territorial acquisitions, especially at a very great distance, are incompatible with the true interest of a commercial state.

It is with nations as with private individuals, self-preservation and self-love are the great ruling passions with the latter, and the great cementers of friendship and fidelity with the former; or, in other terms, they are the great governing principles. And these leading motives being once removed, nations, like private persons, will naturally and necessarily shake off their dependence. As this obvious truth is known to men even of an ordinary capacity, we cannot reasonably suppose that so sensible, so spirited, and so free a people as the Americans certainly are, can either be blind or inattentive to the first and greatest principles of nature and government.

I say again and again if the colonists are British Subjects, they have an undeniable right to every indulgence and privilege, in the very same manner as if they resided in Great Britain; for their distance makes no difference in the nature of things. Remoteness does not forfeit them the natural and constitutional rights of a free people, nor intitle [sic] us, who remain here, to exclusive privileges. If therefore they are equally free, which I believe was never disputed, and subject to the same laws and government, it necessarily follows that they are intitled to the very same benefits and advantages with us; and that the Americans are, from the same principles, as justly intitled to the blessing of industry, by establishing operose manufactures, and by promoting a foreign commerce, as the rest of his Majesty’s subjects who reside in Great Britain. This is too obvious to admit of a dispute, if we allow the colonists to be British subjects, originally the natural-born subjects of Great Britain, in a state of voluntary transportation or emigration for the good purposes and the advantage of his Majesty’s dominions in general: and surely no man of sense and candor will attempt to maintain, or suggest, that their emigration to plant colonies, at a great risk and expence, deprives them of the blessings of constitutional liberty? To suggest that they should be precluded from the blessings common to all, and which are the birth-right of every British subject, would be as absurd as it would be unreasonable and unjust. For my own part, I really think that the Americans are rather deserving of exclusive privileges for undertaking so great and arduous a work, than to be precluded and oppressed for bringing it to perfection.

The case of natural subjects who plant colonies, is widely different from the predicament of people who are subdued and obliged to submit to the will of a conqueror. If therefore the colonists are upon a level with us in points of national privilege, and that they derive from the same constitution the very same rights and blessings, it ceases to be a matter of argument, whether the Americans should be suffered to enjoy their natural, equal, and undeniable rights as Englishmen: but if they are not admitted as such, in every respect, (which I believe has never been even doubted) then they have an undeniable right, which is natural to all people, to seek to promote their own interest and happiness, by such means as they best approve of; and, in that case, we certainly have no legal or just right to prevent their pursuing and endeavouring to attain those great, necessary, and rational objects: so that, in either case, that is, whether they really are, or absolutely are not, British subjects, they justly and evidently are intitled to t he blessings of industry by the means of operose manufactures and a foreign commerce; without which great privileges of society they would manifestly be in a state of greater subjection than many, and perhaps all people who live under arbitrary and absolute governments. . . .

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Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Government, Great Britain, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Cook’s Voyages (1777), continued, part 2.

Full Title: A Voyage Towards the South Pole, and Round the World. Performed in His Majesty’s Ships the Resolution and Adventure, In the Years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775.  Written by James Cook, Commander of the Resolution.  In which is included, Captain Furneaux’s Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure during the Separation of the Ships.  In Two Volumes.  Illustrated with Maps and Charts, and a Variety of Portraits of Persons and Views of Places, drawn during the Voyage by Mr. Hodges, and engraved by the most eminent Masters.  Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand.  MDCCLXXVII.

Chap. VII.

Sequel of the Passage from New Zealand to Easter Island, and Transactions there, with an Account of an Expedition to discover the Inland Part of the Country, and a Description of some of the surprising gigantic Statues found in the Island.

[Continued from previous post]

Before I sailed from England, I was informed that a Spanish ship had visited this isle in 1769.  Some signs of it were seen among the people now about us; one man had a pretty good broad brimmed European hat on; another had a grego jacket; and another a red silk handkerchief.  They also seemed to know the use of a musquet, and to stand in much awe of it; but this they probably learned from Roggewin, who, if we are to believe the authors of that voyage, left them sufficient tokens.

Near the place where we landed, were some of those statues before mentioned, which I shall describe in another place.  The country appeared barren and without wood; there were, nevertheless, several plantations of potatoes, plantains and sugar-canes; we also saw some fowls, and found a well of brackish water.  As these were articles we were in want of, and as the natives seemed not unwilling to part with them, I resolved to stay a day or two.  With this view, I repaired on board, and brought the ship to an anchor in thirty-two fathoms water; the bottom of a fine dark sand. Our station was about a mile from the nearest shore, the South point of a small bay, in the bottom of which is the sandy beach before mentioned, being E. S. E., distant one mile and a half.  The two rocky islots lying off the South point of the island, were just shut behind a point to the North of them; they bore South 3/4 West, four miles distant; and the other extreme of the island bore N. 25º E., distant about six miles.  But the best mark for this anchoring-place is the beach; because it is the only one on this side of the island. In the afternoon, we got on board a few casks of water, and opened a trade with the natives for such things as they had to dispose of.  Some of the gentlemen also made an excursion into the country to see what it produced; and returned again in the evening, with the loss only of a hat, which one of the natives snatched off the head of one of the party. 

Early next morning, I sent Lieutenants Pickersgill and Edgcumbe with a party of men, accompanied by several of the gentlemen to examine the country.  As I was not sufficiently recovered from my late illness to make one of the party, I was obliged to content myself with remaining at the landing place among the natives.  We had, at one time, a pretty brisk trade with them for potatoes, which we observed they dug up out an adjoing plantation; but this traffic, which was very advantageous to us, was soon put a stop to, by the owner (as we supposed) of the plantation coming down, and driving all the people out of it.  By this we concluded, that he had been robbed of his property, and that they were not less scrupulous of stealing from one another, than from us, on whom they practiced every little fraud they could think on, and generally with success; for we no sooner detected them in on, than they found out another.  About seven o’clock in the evening, the party I had sent into the country returned, after having been over the greatest part of the island. 

They left the beach about nine o’clock in the morning, and took a path which led across to the S. E. side of the island, followed by a great crowd of the natives, who pressed much upon them.  But they had not proceeded far, before a middle-aged man, punctured from head to foot, and his face painted with a sort of white pigment, appeared with a spear in his hand, and walked along-side of them, making signs to his countrymen to keep at a distance, and not to molest our people.  When he had pretty well effected this, he hoisted a piece of white cloth on his spear, placed himself in the front, and led the way, with his ensign of peace, as they understood it to be.  For the greatest part of the distance across, the ground had but a barren appearance, being dry hard clay, and every where covered with stones; but notwithstanding this, there were several large tracks planted with potatoes; and some plantain walks, but they saw no fruit on any of the trees.  Towards the highest part of the South end of the island, the soil, which was a fine red earth, seemed much better; bore a longer grass; and was not covered with stones as in the other parts; but here they saw neither house nor plantation. 

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Posted by Matthew Williams