Category Archives: 1660’s

Item of the Day: The Lives of Haydn and Mozart (1818)

Full Title: The Lives of Haydn and Mozart, with Observations on Metastasio, and on the Present State of Music in France and Italy. Translated from the French of L. A. C. Bombet. With Notes, by the Author of The Sacred Melodies. Second Edition. London: John Murray, Albemarle-Street, 1818.


Salzburg, April 5, 1808.

At length, my dear friend, you have received my letters. The war, which surrounds me here on all sides, gave me some anxiety respecting them. My walks in the woods are disturbed by the sound of arms: at this moment, I distinctly hear the cannon firing, at the distance of a league and a half from hence, in the direction of Munich. Nevertheless, after some melancholy reflections on the circumstances which have deprived me of my company of grenadiers, and which , for twenty years past, have banished me from my country, I have seated myself upon the trunk of a large fallen oak. I find myself under the shade of a beautiful lime-tree; I see around me nothing but a delightful verdure, beautifully set off by the deep blue of the heavens; I take my little port-folio, and my pencil, and after a long silence, proceed with my account of our friend Haydn.

Do you know that I am almost ready to charge you with being schismatic? You seem to prefer him to the divine masters of the Ausonian lyre. Ah! my friend, the Pergoleses and Cimarosas have excelled in that department of our favourite art, which is at once the noblest, and the most affecting. You say that one reason why you prefer Haydn, is, that one may hear him at London, or at Paris, as well as at Vienna, while, for want of voices, France will never enjoy the Olimpiade of the divine Pergolese. In this respect, I am of your opinion. The rough organization of the English, and of our dear countrymen, may allow of their being good performers on instruments, but prevents them from ever excelling in singing. Here, on the contrary, in traversing the faubourg Leopoldstadt, I have just heard a very sweet voice singing, in a very pleasing style, the air

Nach dem tode jeh bin ich dein,

Even after death, I still am thine.

As for what concerns myself, I clearly see your malicious criticism through all your compliments. You still reproach me with that inconsistency, which was formerly the constant theme of your lectures. You say that I pretend to write to you about Haydn, and I forget only one thing, –that is, fairly to enter upon the style of this great master, and, as an inhabitant of Germany, to explain to you, as one of the unlearned, how it pleases, and why it pleases. In the first place, you are not one of the unlearned: you are passionately fond of music: and in the fine arts, this attachment is sufficient. You say that you can scarcely read an air. Are you not ashamed of this miserable objection? Do you take for an artist the antiquated mechanic, who, for twenty years, has given lessons on the piano, as his equal in genius has made clothes at the neighbouring tailor’s? Do you consider as an art, a mere trade, in which, as in others, success is obtained by a little address, and a great deal of patience?

Do yourself more justice. If your love for music continue, a year’s travelling in Italy will render you more learned than your savans of Paris. . . .



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Filed under 1660's, 1810's, Art, Culture, Eighteenth century, Music, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: An Essay Towards Real Character, And a Philosophical Language (1668)

Full Title: An Essay Towards a Real Character, And a Philosophical Language. By John Wilkins . . . London: Printed for A. Gellibrand, and for John Martin Printer to the Royal Society, 1668.




It may perhaps be expected by some, that I should give an account of my ingaging [sic] in a Work of this nature so unsuitable to my Calling and Business.

For the satisfaction of such, they may please to take notice, that this Work was first undertaken, during that vacancy and leasure [sic] which I formerly enjoyed in an Academicall [sic] station, to which the endeavours of promoting all kind of usefull [sic] knowledge, whereby Learning may be improved, is a very suitable imployment [sic]. In the time of that daily and intimate converse which I then injoyed [sic], with that most Learned and excellent Person Dr. Seth Ward, the present Bishop of Salisbury. I had frequent occasion of conferring with him, concerning the various Desiderata, proposed by Learned men, or such things as were conceived yet wanting to the advancement of several parts of Learning; amongst which, this of the Universal Character, was one of the principal, most of which he had more deeply considered, than any other Person that I knew. And in reference to this particular, he would say, That as it was one of the most usefull, so he judged it to be one of the most feasible, amongst all the rest, if prosecuted in a regular way. But for all such attempts to this purpse, which he had either seen or heard of, the Authors of them did generally mistake in their first foundations; whilst they did propose to themselves the framing of such a Character, from a Dictionary of Words, according to some particular Language, without reference to the nature of things, and that common Notion of them, wherein Mankid does agree, which must chiefly be respected, before any attempt of this nature could signifie [sic] any thing, as to the main end of it.

It was from this suggestion of his, that I first had any distinct apprehension of the proper course to be observed, in such an undertaking; having in a Teatise I had published some years before, proposed the Hebrew Tongue as consisting of fewest Radicals, to be the fittest ground work for such a design.

Besides the many Private conferences to this purpose, I must not forget to mention, that Publique account which he hath given to the World, of Vindiciae Academiarum; wherein he endeavours to vindicate those Ancient and famous schools of Learning, from such reproaches, whereby some Ignorant and ill-natured men (taking the advantage of those bad Times) would have exposed them to contempt and ruine [sic]. In which Treatise there is mention made of some considerable preparations, towards the Design here proposed, which if his other necessary employments [sic] would have permitted him to have prrosecuted, would without doubt, long ere this, have been advanced to as great a Perfection, as the first Essay in so difficult a matter could have attained. . . .

If any shall suggest, that some of the Enquiries here insisted upon (as particularly those about the Letters of the Alphabet) do seem too minute and trivial, for any prudent Man to bestow his serious thoughts and time about. such Persons may knwo, t hat the discovery of the true nature and Cause of any the most minute thing, doth promote real Knowledge, and therefore cannot be unfit for any Mans [sic] endeavours, who is willing to contribute to the advancement of Learning. Upon which Account some of the most eminent Persons, in several Ages, who were Men of business, have not disdained to bestow their pains about the First elements of speech . . .



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Filed under 1660's, Dictionaries, Grammar, Language, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Hudibras (Grey edition, 1772)

Full Title: Hudibras, In Three Parts; Written in the Time of the Late Wars: Corrected and Amended. With large annotations and a preface by Zachary Grey, LL.D.  Adorn’d with a new Set of Cuts.  The third edition. Vol. I. London: Printed for C. Bathurst, W. Strahan, B. White, T. Davies, W. Johnston, L. Hawes and Co. T. Longman, T. Becket, E. Johnson, C. Corbett, T. Caslon, E. and C. Dilly, T. Lowndes, T. Cadell, W. Nichol, B. Tovey, S. Bladon, and R. Baldwin.  MDCCLXXII.



The Argument of

The First Canto.  Sir Hudibras his passing Worth,

The Manner how he sally’d forth;

His Arms and Equipage are shown;

His Horses Virtues, and his own.

Th’ Adventure of the Bear and Fiddle

Is sung, but breaks off in the middle. 



Canto I.  

When Civil Dudgeon first grew high,

And Men fell out they knew not why;

When hard Words, Jealousies and Fears

Set Folks together by the ears,

And made them fight like mad or drunk

For Dame Religion, as for Punk,

Whose Honesty they all durst swear for,

Tho’ not a Man of them knew wherefore:

When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded

With long-ear’d Rout, to Battle sounded;

And Pulpit, Drum Ecclesiastick,

Was beat with a Fist, instead of a Stick:

Then did Sir Knight abandon Dwelling,

And out he rode a Colonelling.

A Wight he was, whose very sight would

Entitle him, Mirrour of Knighthood;

That never bow’d his stubborn Knee

To any thing but Chivalry;

Nor put up Blow, but that which laid

Right Worshipful on Shoulder-blade:

Chief of Domestick Knights and Errant,

Either for Chartel, or for Warrant:

Great on the Bench, Great in the Saddle,

That cou'd as well bind o'er, as Swaddle:

Mighty he was at both of these,

And styl'd of War as well as Peace.

(So some Rats of amphibious nature,

Are either for the Land or Water.)

But here our Authors make a doubt,

Whether he were more wise or stout.

Some hold the one, and some the other,

But howsoe'er they make a pother,

The Diff'rence was so small, his Brain

Outweigh'd his Rage but half a Grain:

Which made some take him for a Tool

That knaves do work with, called a Fool.

For't has been held by many, that

As Montaigne, playing with his Cat,

Complains she thought him but and Ass,

Much more she wou'd Sir Hudibras;

(For that's the Name our valiant Knight

To all his Challenges did write.)

But they're mistaken very much,

'Tis plain enough he was not such.

We grant, altho' he had much Wit,

H'was very shy of using it;

As being loth to wear it out,

And therefore bore it not about;

Unless on Holy-days, or so,

As Men their best Apparel do.

Beside 'tis known he cou'd speak Greek

As naturally as Pigs squeek:

That Latin was no more difficile,

Than to a Blackbird 'tis to Whistle:

Being rich in both, he never scanted

His bounty unto such as wanted,

But much of either wou'd afford

To many, that had not one Word.

For Hebrew Roots, altho' they are found

To flourish most in barren Ground,

He had such plenty, as suffic'd

To make some think him circumcis'd:

He truly so he was, perhaps,

Not as a Proselyte, but for Claps.



He was in Logick a great Critick,

Profoundly skill'd in Analytick;

He cou'd distinguish, and divide

A Hair 'twixt South and South-west side;

On either which he wou'd dispute,

Confute, change Hands, and still confute;

He'd undertake to prove by force

Of Argument a Man's no Horse;

He'd prove a Buzzard is no Fowl,

And that a Lord may be an Owl;

A Calf and Alderman, a Goose a Justice,

And Rooks Committee-men and Trustees.

He'd run in Debt by disputation,

And pay with Ratiocination.

All this by Syllogism, true

In Mood and Figure, he wou'd do.

For Rhetorick, he cou'd not ope

His mouth, but out there flew a Trope:

And when he happen'd to break off

In'th'middle of his Speech, or cough,

H' had hard words ready to shew why,

And tell what Rules he did it by:

Else when with greatest Art he spoke,

You'd think he talk'd like other Folk.

For all a Rhetorician's Rules

Teach nothing but to name his Tools.

But, when he pleas'd to shew's, his Speech

In Loftiness of Sound was rich;

A Babylonish Dialect,

Which learned Pedants much affect;

It was a party-colour'd Dress

Of patch'd and py-ball'd Languages:

'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin,

Like Fustian heretofore on Sattin.

It had an odd promiscuous Tone,

As if h' had talk'd three Parts in one;

Which made some think, when he did gabble,

Th' had heard three Labourers of Babel;

Or Cerberus himself pronounce

A Leash of Languages at once.

This he as volubly would vent

As if his Stock would ne'er be spent;

And truly, to support that Charge,

He had Supplies as vast and large:

For he could coin or counterfeit

New Words, with little or no Wit;

Words so debas'd and hard, no Stone

Was hard enough to touch them on;

And when with hasty noise he spoke 'em,

The Ignorant for current took 'em;

That had the Orator, who once

Did fill his Mouth with Pebble Stones

When he harangu'd, but known his Phrase,

He would have us'd no other Ways.

In Mathematicks he was greater

Than Tycho Brahe, or Erra Pater:

For he, by Geometrick Scale,

Could take the Size of Pots of Ale;

Resolve by Sines and Tangents, straight;

If Bread or Butter wanted weight;

And wisely tell what Hour o' th' Day

The Clock does strike, by Algebra.

Beside, he was a shrewd Philosopher,

And had read ev'ry...




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Filed under 1660's, Poetry, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: Silva: Or, a Discourse of Forest-Trees

Full Title: Silva: Or, a Discourse of Forest-Trees, and the Propagation of Timber in his Majesty’s Dominions: as it was delivered in the Royal Society on the 15th Day of October, 1662, upon Occasion of Certain Quaeries Propounded to that Illustrious Assembly, by the Honourable the Principal Officers and Commissioners of the Navy. Together with An Historical Account of the Sacredness and Use of Standing Groves. By John Evelyn . . . with notes by A. Hunter. York: Printed by A. Ward for J. Dodsley, Pall-Mall; T. Cadell, in the Strand; J. Robson, New-Bond-Street; and T. Durham, Charing-Cross, London; W. Creech and J. Balfour, Edinburgh, 1776.


1. Since there is nothing which seems more fatally to threaten a weakening, if not a dissolution, of the strength of this famous and flourishing nation, than the sensible and notorious decay of her wooden walls, when, either through time, negligence, or other accident, the present navy shall be worn out and impaired; it has been a very worthy and seasonable advertisement in the honourable the principal Officers and Commissioners, what they have lateley suggested to this illustrious Society for the timely prevention and redress of the intolerable defect. For it has not been the late increase of shipping alone, the multiplciation of glass-works, iron-furnaces, and the like, from whence this impolitic diminution of our timber has proceeded; but from the disproportionate spreading of tillage, caused through the prodigious havac made by such as lately professing themselves against root and branch (either to be reimbursed their holy purchases, or for some other sordid respect) were tempted not only to fell and cut down, but utterly extirpate, demolish, and raze, as it were, all those many goodly woods and forests, which our more prudent ancestors left standing for the ornament and service of their country. And this devastation is now become so epidemical, that unless some favourable expedient offer itself, and a way be seriously and speedily resolved upon for a future store, one of the most glorious and considerable bulwarks of this nation will, within a short time, be totally wanting to it.

 2. To attain now a spontaneous supply of these decayed materials (which is the vulgar and natural way ) would cost (besides the inclosure) some entire ages repose of the plow, though bread indeed require our first care: therfore the most expeditious and obvious method would doubtless be one of these two ways, sowing and planting. But, first, it will be requisite to agree upon the species; as what trees are likely to be of greatest use, and the fittest to be cultivated; and then, to consider the manner how it may be best effected. Truly, the waste and destruction of our woods has been so universal, that I conceive nothing less than an universal plantation of all the sorts of trees will supply, and well encounter the defect; and therfore I shall here adventure to speak something in gerneral of them all; though I cheifly insist upon the propagation of such as seem to be the most wanting and serviceable to the end proposed.

3. And first, by Trees here, I consider principally for the Genus generalissimum, such lignous and woody plants as are hard of substance, procere of stature; that are thick and solid, and stiffly adhere to the ground on which they stand. These we shall divide into the greater and more ceduous, fruticant and shrubby; feras and wild; or more civilized and domestic; and such as are sative and hortensial subalternate to the others; but of which I give only a touch, distributing the rest into these two classes, the dry and the aquatic; both of them applicable to the same civil uses of building, utensils, ornament, and fuel; for to dip into their medicinal virtues is none of my province, though I sometimes glance at them with due submission, and in few instances. . . .


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Filed under 1660's, 1770's, Great Britain, Natural Science, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Timber

Item of the Day: Defoe’s History of the Plague (1754)

Full Title:  The HISTORY of the Great PLAGUE in London, in the Year 1665. Containing, Observations and memorials of the most remarkable Occurrences, both Public and Private, that happened during that dreadful Period.  By a Citizen, who lived the whole Time in LONDON. To which is added, a JOURNAL of the Plague at Marseilles, in the Year 1720.  London: Printed for, and Sold by F. and J. Noble, at their Circulating Libraries, in King’s Street Covent-Garden, and in St. Martin’s Court near Leicester-Square, 1754. [Price Five shillings in Boards.]


It was about the Beginning of September 1664, that I, among the Rest of my Neighbours, heard, in ordinary Discourse, that the Plague was return’d again in Holland; for it had been very violent there, and particularly at Amsterdam and Roterdam, in the Year 1663. whether they say, it was brought, some said from Italy, others from the Levant among some Goods, which were brought home by their Turkey-Fleet; others said it was brought from Candia; others from Cyprus.  It matter’d not, from whence it came; but all agreed, it was come into Holland again.

We had no such thing as printed News-Papers in those Days, to spread Rumours and Reports of things; and to improve them by the Invention of Men, as I have liv’d to see practis’d since.  but such things as those were gather’d from the Letters of Merchants, and others, who corresponded abroad, and from them was handed about by Word of Mouth only; so that things did not spread instantly over the whole nation, as they do now.  But it seems that the Government had a true Account of it, and several Counsels were held about Ways to prevent its coming over; but all was kept very private.  Hence it was, that this Rumour died off again, and People began to forget it, as a thing we were very little concern’d in, and that we hoped was not true; till the latter End of November, or the Beginning of December 1664, when two Men, said to be Frenchmen, died of the Plague in Long-Acre, or rather at the upper End of Drury-Lane.  The Family they were in, endeavour’d to conceal it as much as possible; but as it had gotten some Vent in the discourse of the Neighbourhood, and Secretaries of State got Knowledge it.   And concerning themselves to enquire about it, in order to be certain of the Truth, two Physicians and a Surgeon were order’d to go to the House, and make Inspection.  This they did; and finding evident Tokens of the Sickness upon both the Bodies that were dead, they gave their Opinions publickly, that they died of the Plague; whereupon it was given in to the Parish Clerk, and he also return’d them to the Hall; and it was printed in the weekly Bill of Mortality in the usual manner, thus,

Plague 2.  Parishes infected I.

The People shew’d a great Concern at this, and began to be alarm’d all over the Town, and the more, because in the last Week in December 1664, another Man died in the same House, and of the same Distemper: And then we were easy again for about six Weeks, when none having died with any Marks of Infection, it was said, the Distemper was gone; but after that, I think it was about the 12th of February, another died in another House, but in the same Parish, and in the same manner.

This turn’d the Peoples Eyes pretty much towards that End of the Town; and the weekly Bills shewing an Increase of Burials in St. Giles’s Parish more than usual, it began to be suspected that the Plague was among the People at that End of the Town; and that many had died of it, tho’ they had taken Care to keep it as much from the Knowledge of the Publick, as possible:  This possess’d the Heads of the People very much, and few car’d to go thro’ Drury-Lane, or the other Streets suspected, unless they had extraordinary Business, that obliged them to it.

This Increase of the Bills stood thus; the usual Number of Burials in a Week, in the Parishes of St.Giles’s in the fields, and St. Andrew’s Holborn; were from 12 to 17 or 19 each, few more or less, but from the Time that the Plague first began in St. Giles’s Parish, it was observ’d that the ordinary Burials increased in Number considerably.  For Example,

From Dec 27 to Jan 3  St. Giles’s………………….16

                                        St. Andrew’s…………….17

           Jan. 3 to—-10  St. Giles’s………………….12

                                        St. Andrew’s…………….25

           Jan 10.——17  St. Giles’s…………………18

                                        St. Andrew’s…………….18

From Jan 17. to Jan 24.  St. Giles’s………………23

                                           St. Andrew’s………….16

. . .

Besides this, it was observed with great Uneasiness by the People, that the weekly Bills in general increas’d very much during these Weeks, altho’ it was a Time of the Year, when usually the Bills are very moderate.

The usual Number of Burials with the Bills of Mortality for a Week, was from about 240 or thereabouts, to 300. The last was esteem’d a pretty high Bill; but after this we found the Bills successively increasing, as follows.


Dec. the 20. to the 27th,  Buried 291  ———-

                27. to the 3 Jan. —— 349.  ———- 58

January    3. to the 10.      —— 394. ———-  45

                 10. to the 17.      —— 415.  ———- 21

                  17. to the 24.     —— 474. ———– 59

This last Bill was really frightful, being a higher Number than had been known to have been buried in one Week, since the preceding Visitation of 1656.

However, all this went off again, and the Weather proving cold, and the Frost which began in December, still continuing very severe, even till near the End of February, attended with sharp tho’ moderate winds, the Bills decreas’d again, and the City grew healthy, and every body began to look upon the Danger as good as over; only that still the Burials in St. giles’s continu’d high:  From the Beginning of April especially they stood at 25 each Week, till the Week from the 18th to the 25th, when there was buried in St. Giles’sParish 30, whereof two of the Plague, and 8 of the Spotted-Fever, which was look’d upon as the same thing; likewise the Number that died of the Spotted-Fever in the whole increased, being 8 the Week before, and 12 the week above-named.



Filed under 1660's, 1750's, Great Britain, Plague, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

Item of the Day: Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1660)

Full Title:

The Anatomy of Melancholy. What it is, with all the kinds causes, symptoms, prognostickes, & seuerall cures of it, In three Partitions, with their severall Sections, members, & subsections, Philosophically, Medicinally, Historically, opened & cut up By Democritus Junior. With a Satyricall Preface, conducing to the following Discourse. [By Robert Burton.] 7th edition. London: E. Wallis, 1660.

The Authors Abstract of Melancholy:

When I goe musing all alone,
Thinking of divers things fore-known,
When I build Castles in the air,
Void of sorrow and void of fear,
Pleasing my self with phantasms sweet,
Me thinks the time runs very fleet.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

When I lye walking all alone,
Recounting what I have ill done,
My thoughts on me then tyrannise,
Fear and sorrow me surprise,
Whether I tarry still or go,
Me thinks the time moves very slow.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so sad as Melancholy.

When to my selfe I act and smile,
With pleasing thoughts the time beguile.
By a brook side or wood so green,
Unheard, unsought for, or unseen,
A thousand pleasures doe me bless,
And crown my soul with happiness.

All my joyes besides are folly,
None of sweet as Melancholy.

When I lie, sit, or walk alone,
I sigh, I grieve, making great mone,
In a dark grove, or irksome den,
With discontents and Furies then,
A thousand miseries at once,
Mine heavy heart and soul ensconce.

All my grief to this are jolly,
None so sour as Melancholy.

Me thinks I hear, me thinks I see,
Sweet musick, wondrous melodie,
Towns, places and Cities fine;
Here now, then there; the world is mine,
Rare beauties, gallant Ladies shine,
What e’re is lovely or divine.

All other joyes to this are folly,
None so sweet as Melancholy.

Me thinks I hear, me thinks I see
Ghosts, goblins, fiends; my phantasie
Presents a thousand ugly shapes,
Headless bears, black men, and apes,
Dolefull outcries, and fearfull sights,
My sad and dismall soul affrights.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
None so damn’d as Melancholy.

Me thinks I court, me thinks I kiss,
Me thinks I now embrace my mistriss,
O blessed dayes, O sweet content,
In Paradise my time is spent.
Such thoughts may still my fancy move,
So may I ever be in love.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

When I recount loves many frights,
My sighes and tears, my waking nights,
My jealous fits; O mine hard fate
I now repent, but ’tis too late.
No torment is so bad as love,
So bitter to my soul can prove.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Nought so harsh as Melancholy.

Friends and Companions get you gone,
‘Tis my desire to be alone;
Ne’re well but when my thoughts and I
Do domineer in privacie.
No Gemm, no treasure like to this,
‘Tis my delight, my Crown, my bliss.

All my joyes to this are folly,
Naught so sweet as Melancholy.

‘Tis my sole plague to be alone,
I am a beast, a monster grown,
I will no light nor company,
I find it now my misery.
The scean is turn’d, my joyes are gone;
Fear, discontent, and sorrows come.

All my griefs to this are jolly,
Naught so fierce as Melancholy.

Ile not change life with any King,
I ravisht am: can the world bring
More joy, then still to laugh and smile;
In pleasant toy time to beguile?
Do not, O doe not trouble me,
So sweet content I feel and see.

All my joyes to this are folly,
None so divine as Melancholy.

Il’e change my state with any wretch,
Thou canst from gaole or dunghill fetch:
My pain, past cure, another Hell,
I may not in this torment dwell,
Now desparate I hate my life,
Lend me a halter or a knife.

All my griefs to this are jolly.
Naught so damn’d as Melancholy.

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Filed under 1660's, Poetry, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt