Category Archives: 1740’s

Item of the Day: A New Discourse of Trade [1745]

Full Title: A New Discourse of Trade: Wherein Are recommended several weighty Points, relating to Companies of Merchants; The Act of Navigation, Naturalization of Strangers, and our Woollen Manufactures. The Balance of Trade, And Nature of Plantations; with their Consequences, in relation to the Kingdom, are seriously discussed. Methods for the Employment and Maintenance of the Poor are proposed. The Reduction of Interest of Money to 4 l. per cent. is recommended. And some Proposals for erecting a Court of Merchants, for determining Controversies relating to Maritime Affairs, and for a Law for Transferring of Bills of Debts, are humbly offer’d. To which is added, A short, but most excellent Treatise of Interest. By Sir Josiah Child, Baronet. Fourth Edition. London: Printed for J. Hodges, on London-Bridge; W. Meadows at the Angel in Cornhill; C. Corbet, against St. Dunstan’s Churdd, Fleet Stree; J. Jackson, at St. James Gate; J. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall; and J. Bevill, near S. Saviours Church, Southwark, [1745].



Concerning the Relief and Employment of the Poor.


THIS is a calm subject, and thwarts no common or private interest amongst us, except that of the common enemy of mankind, the Devil; so I hope that what shall be offered towards the effecting of so universally acceptable a work as this, and the removal of the innumerable inconveniencies that do now, and have in all ages attended this Kingdom, through defect of such provision for the Poor will not be ill taken , altho’ the plaister at first essay do not exactly fit the sore.

In the discourse of this subject, I shall first assert some particuclars, which I think are agreed by common consent, and from thence take occasion to proceed to what is more doubtful.

1.  That our Poor in England have always been in a most sad and wretched condition, some famished for want of bread, others starved with cold and nakedness, and many whole families in the out-parts of cities and great towns, commonly remain in a langishing, nasty, and useless condition, uncomfortable to themselves, and unprofitable to the Kingdom, this in confessed and lamented by all men.

2.  That the Children of our Poor bred up in beggary and laziness, do by that means become not only of unhealthy bodies, and more than ordinarily subject to many loathsome diseases, of which very many die in their tender age, and if any of them do arrive to years and strength, they are, by their idle habits contracted in their youth, rendered for ever after indisposed to labour, and serve but to stock the Kingdom with thieves and beggars.

3.  That if all our impotent Poor were provided for, and those of both sexes and all ages that can do any work of any kind, employed, it would redound some hundred of thousands of pounds per annum to the publick advantage.

4.  That it is our duty to god and Nature, so to provide for, and employ the Poor.

5.  That by so doing one of the great sins, for which this land ought to mourn, would be removed.

6. That our Forefathers had pious intentions towards this good work, as appears by many statutes made by them to this purpose.

7.  That there are places in the world, wherein the poor are so provided for, and employed, as in Holland, Hamborough, New-England, and others, and as I am informed, now in the city of Paris.

Thus far we all agree: the first question then that naturally occurs, is,

Question 1. How comes it to pass that in England we do not, nor ever did, comfortably maintain and employ our Poor?

The common answers to this question are two.

1.  That our Laws to this purpose are as good as any in the world, but we fail in the execution.

2.  That formerly in the days of our pious ancestors the work was done, but now charity is deceased, and that is the reason we see the Poor so neglected as now they are.

In both which answers, I humbly conceive, the effect is mistaken for the cause; for though it cannot be denied, but there has been, and is, a great failure in the execution of those Statutes which relate to the Poor, yet I say, the cause of that failure, has been occasioned by defect of the laws themselves.

For otherwise, what is the reason that in our late times of confusion and alteration, wherein almost every party in the Nation, at one time or other, took their turn at the helm, and all had that compass, those laws, to steer by, that none of them could, or ever did, conduct the Poor into a harbour of security to them, and profit for the Kingdom, i.e. none sufficiently maintained the impotent, and employed the indigent amongst us: And if this was never done in any age, nor by any sort of men whatsoever in this Kingdom, who had the use of those laws now in force, it seems to me a very strong argument that it never could, nor ever will be done by those laws, and that consequently the defect lies in the laws themselves, not in the men, i. e. those that should put them in execution.

As to the second answer to the aforesaid question, wherein want of charity is assigned for another cause why the poor are now so much neglected, I think it is a scandalous ungrounded accusation of our contemporaries, except in relation to building of Churches, which I confess this generation is not so propense to as former have been, for most that I converse with, are not so much troubled to part with their money, as how to place it, that it may do good, and not hurt the Kingdom: for, if they give to the beggrs in the streets, or at their doors, they fear they may do hurt by encouraging that lazy unprofitable kind of life; and if they give more than their proportions in thier respective parishes, that, they say, is but giving to the rich, for the poor are not set on work thereby, nor have the more given them; but only their rich neighbours pay the less. And of what was given in churches to the visited poor, and to such as were impoverished by the fire; we have heard of so many and great abuses of that kind of charity, that most men are under sad discouragements in relation thereto. . . .




Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Commerce, Culture, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, Poor, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Polybius, translated by Edward Spelman (1743)

Full Title: A Fragment Out of the Sixth Book of Polybius, Containing a Dissertation upon Government in general, particularly applied to That of the Romans, together with a Description of the several Powers of Consuls, Senate, and People of Rome. Translated from the Greek with Notes. To which is prefixed a Preface, wherein the System of Polybius is applied to the Government of England: And, to the above-mentioned Fragment concerning the Powers of the Senate, is annexed a Dissertation upon the Constitution of it. By a Gentleman. London: Printed by J. Tettenham, and sold by W. Meyer . . . , M.DCC.XLIII. [1743].


Of the several FORMS of GOVERNMENT: Of the Origin, and natural Transition of those Governments to one another: That the best Constitution is That, which is compounded of all of them; and that the Constitution of the Romans is such a one.

Concerning those Greek Commonwealths, which have often encreased in Power, and often, to their Ruine, experienced a contrary Turn of Fortune, it is an easy Matter both to relate past Transactions, and foretel those to come; there being no great Difficulty, either in recounting what one knows, or in publishing Conjectures of future Events, from those that are past. But concerning the Roman commonwealth, it is not at all easy, either to give an account of the present State of their Affairs, by Reason of the Variety of their Institutions; or to foretel what may happen to them, through the Ignorance of the peculiar Frame of their government, both publick and private, upon which such Conjectures must be founded. For which Reason, an uncommon Attention and Enquiry seem requisite, to form a clear Idea of the Points, in which the Roman Commonwealth differs from Those of Greece.

It is, I find, customary with those, who professedly treat this Subject, to establish three Sorts of Government; kindly Government, Aristocracy, and Democracy: Upon which, one may, I think, very properly ask them, whether they lay these down as the only Forms of Government, or, as the best: For, in both Cases, they seem to be in an Error; since it is manifest that the best Form of Government is That which is compounded of all three. This we not only find to be founded in Reason, but also in Experience; Lycurgus having set the Example of this Form of Goverment in the Institution of the Lacedaemonian Commonwealth. Besides, these three are not to be received as the only Forms; since we may have observed some monarchical and tyrannical Governments, which, though widely different from kingly Government, seem still to bear some Resemblance to it. For which Reason, all Monarchs agree in using their utmost Endeavours, however falsely, or abusively, to be styled Kings. We may have also observed still more Oligarchies, which seemed, in some Degree, to resemble Artistocracies, though the Difference between them has been extremely great. The same Thing may be said also of Democracy.

What I have advanced, will become evident from the following Considerations; for, every Monarchy is not presently to be called a kingly Government, but only That, which is the Gift of a willing People, and is founded on their Consent, rather than on Fear and Violence. Neither, is every Oligarchy to be looked upon as Aristocracy, but only That, which is administered by a select Number of those, who are most eminent for their Justice and Prudence. In the same Manner, that Government ought not to be looked upon as a Democracy, where the Multitude have a Power of doing whatever they desire and propose; but That only, in which it is an established Law and Custom to worship the Gods, to honour their Parents, to respect their Elders, and obey the Laws; when, in Assemblies so formed, every Thing is decided by the Majority, such a Government deserves the Name of a Democracy.

So that, six Kinds of Government must be allowed; three, which are generally established, and have been already mentioned; and three, that are allied to them, namely, Monarchy, Oligarchy and the Government of the Multitude. The first of these is instituted by Nature, without the Assistance of Art: The next is kingly Government, which is derived from the other by Art, and Improvement; when this degenerates into the Evil, that is allied to it, I mean, Tyranny, the Destruction of the Tyrant gives Birth to Aristocracy; which, degenerating also, according to the Nature of Things, into Oligarchy, the People, inflamed with Anger, revenge the Injustice of their Magistrates, and form a Democracy; from the Insolence of which, and their Contempt of the Laws, arises, in Time, the Government of the Multitude.

Whoever examines, with Attention, the natural Principles, the Birth, and Revolution of each of these Forms of Government, will be convinced of the Truth of what I have advanced: For he alone, who knows in what Manner each of them is produced, can form a Judgment of the Encrease, the Perfection, the Revolution, and the End of each; and when, by what Means, and to which of the former States they will return. I thought this Detail, in a particular Manner, applicable to the Roman Government, because the Establishment and Encrease of That was, from the Beginning, founded on Nature. . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Constitution, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, Political Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Roman Empire

Item of the Day: Utopia (1743)

Full Title: Utopia: or the Happy Republic; a Philosophical Romance, in two books. Book I. Containing Preliminary Discourses on the happiest State of a Commonwealth. –II. Containing a Description of the Island of Utopia, The Town, Magistrates, Mechanic Trades, and Manner of Life of the Utopians, Their Traffick, Travelling, Slaves, Marriages, Military Discipline, Religions. Written in Latin by Sir Thomas More, Lord High Chancellor of England. Translated into English by Gilbert Burnet . . . Glasgow: Printed by Robert Foulis, and sold by him there; and, at Edinburgh, by Mess. Hamilton and Balfour Booksellers, MDCCXLIII. [1743]

The Second BOOK.

THE Island of Utopia, in the Middle of it where it is broadest, is two Hundred Miles broad, and holds almost at the same Breadth over a great Part of it; but it grows narrower towards both Ends. Its figure is not unlike a Crescent: Between its Horns, the Sea comes in eleven Miles broad, and spreads itself into a great Bay, which is environed with Land to the Compass of about five Hundred Miles, and is well secured from Winds: There is no great Current in the Bay, and the whole coast is, as it were, one continued Harbour, which gives all that live in the Island great Convenience for mutual Commerce: But the Entry into the Bay, what by Rocks on one Hand, and Shallows on the other, is very dangerous. In the Middle of it there is one single Rock, which appears above Water, and so is not dangerous; on the Top of it there is a Tower built, in which a Garrison is kept. The other Rocks lie under Water, and are very dangerous. The Channel is known only to the Natives, so that if any Stranger should enter into the Bay, without one of their Pilots, he would run a great Danger of Shipwrack: For even they themselves could not pass it safe, if some Marks that are on their Coast did not direct their Way; and if these should be but a little shifted, any Fleet that might come against them, how great soever it were, would be certainly lost. On the other Side of the Island, there are likewise many Harbours; and the coast is so fortified, both by Nature and Art, that a small number of Men can hinder the Descent of a great Army. But they report (and there remain good Marks of it to make it credible that this was no Island at first, but a part of the Continent. Utopus that conquered it whose Name it still carries, for Abraxa was its first Name) and brought the rude and uncivilized Inhabitants into such a good Government, and to that Measure of Politeness, that they do now far excel all the rest of Mankind; having soon subdued them, he designed to separate them from the Continent, and to bring the Sea quite about them, and in order to that he made a deep Channel to be digged fifteen Miles long: He not only forced the Inhabitants to work at it, but likewise his own Soldiers, that the Natives might not think he treated them like Slaves: and having set vast Numbers of Men to work, he brought it to a speed Conclusion beyond all Men’s Expectations: By this their Neighbours, who laughed at the Folly of the Undertaking at first, were struck with Admiration and Terror when they saw it brought to Perfection. There are Fifty-four Cities in the Island, all large and well built: The Manners, customs, and Laws of all their cities are the same, and they are all contrived as near in the same Manner as the Ground on which they stand will allow: The nearest lie at least Twenty-four Miles Distance from one another, and the most remote are not so far distant, but that a Man can go on Foot in one Day from it, to that which lies next it. Every City sends three of their wisest Senators once a year to Amaurat, for consulting about their common Concerns; for that is the chief Town of the Island, being situated near the Center of it, so that it is the most convenient Place for their Assemblies. Every city has so much Ground set off for its Jurisdiction, that there is twenty Miles of soil round it, assigned to it: And where the Towns lie wider, they have much more Ground: No Town desires to enlarge their Bounds, for they consider themselves rather as Tenants than Landlords of their Soil. They have built over all the Country, Farm-houses for Husbandmen, which are well contrived, and are furnished with all Things necessary for Country Labour. Inhabitants are sent by Turns from the cities to dwell in them; no Country Family has fewer than forty Men and Women in it, besides tow Slaves. There is a Master and a Mistress set over every Family; and over thirty Families there is a Magistrate settled. Every Year twenty of this Family come back to the Town, after they have stayed out two Years in the Country: And in their Room there are other twenty sent from the Town, that they may learn Country Work, from those that have been already one Year in the Country, which they must teach those that come to them the next Year from the Town. By this Means such as dwell in those Country Farms, are never ignorant of Agriculture, and so commit no Errors in it, which might otherwise be fatal to them, and bring them under a Scarcity of Corn. But tho’ there is every Year such a shifting of the Husbandmen, that none may be forced against his Mind to follow that hard Course of Life too long; yet many among them take such Pleasure in it, that they desire Leave to continue many Years in it. These Husbandmen labour the Ground, breed Cattle, hew Wood, and convey it to the Towns, either by Land or Water, as is most convenient. They breed an infinite Multitude of Chickens in a very curious Manner: For the Hens do not sit and hatch them, but they lay vast Numbers of Eggs in a gentle and equal Heat, in which they are hatched; and they are no sooner out of the Shell, and able to stir about, but they seem to follow them as other Chickens do the Hen that hatched them. They breed very few Horses, but those they have, are full of Mettle, and are kept only for exercising thier Yourth in the Art of sitting and riding of them; for they do not put them to any Work, either of Plowing or Carriage, in which they employ Oxen; for tho’ Horses are stronger, yet they find Oxen can hold out longer; and as they are kept upon a less Charge, and with less Trouble: And when they are so worn out, that they are no more fit for Labour, they are good Meat at last. They sow no corn, bu that which is to be their Bread; for they drink either Wine, Cider, or Perry, and often Water, sometimes pure, and sometimes boiled with Honey or Liquorish, with which they abound: and tho’ they know exactly well how much Corn will serve every Town, and all that Tract of Country which belongs to it, yet they sow much more, and breed more Cattle than are necessary for their Consumption: And they give that Overplus of which they make no Use, to their Neighbours. When they want any Thing in the Country which it does not produce, they fetch that from the Town, without carrying any Thing in Exchange for it: And the Magistrates of the Town take Care to see it given them: For they meet generallly in the Town once a Month, upon a Festival Day. When the Time of Harvest comes, the Magistrates in the Country send to those in the Towns, and let them know how many Hands they will need for reaping the Harvest; and the Number they call for being sent to them, they commonly dispatch it all in one Day.


Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Utopia

Item of the Day: The Works of Sallust (1744)

Full Title: The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourse upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. London: Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; and sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster Row, MDCCXLIV. [1744]



Of Faction and Parties.



How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.

SALLUST observes, “That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.” This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.

The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the world had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.

People, as well as Princes,  have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; not from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art of Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of HIm, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them. . . .

They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measuring Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he he for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosties amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.

In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Fact, sufficent for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; “I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.” And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John or Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard . . .


Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, History, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Epistles of Phalaris, 1749 (cont’d)

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.

(See previous post of August 22, 2007 for the earlier section of the “Preface” to The Epistles of Phalaris).

[…] As Greece was in those ages an utter stranger to tyranny and arbitrary power, (for according to Pliny he was the first tyrant that ever reign’d) it is no wonder that the Agrigentines, even tho’ Phalaris had been a much milder master, should endeavor to shake off the yoke; or that they should, as Plutarch informs us, immediately after his death send forth strict orders forbidding any man to wear a blue garment; which it seems was the colour worn by Phalaris‘s guards; that so not the least trace or footstep might remain of a form of government, which they held in the greatest detestation.

It will naturally be expected that I should say here something of the celebrated dispute between the late lord Orrery and doctor Bentley concerning these Epistles.  It will, I think, be sufficient to inform the unlearned reader (which all besides are already acquainted with) that in the year 1695, the late lord Orrery, by the desire of doctor Aldrich, then dean of Christ-Church, put out a new and correct edition of the Epistles with a Latin translation.  A reflection on doctor Bentley in the preface occasion’d a small quarrel between them, which produced a book, publish’d about two years and a half after by the doctor, call’d, A dissertation on the Epistles of Phalaris.  The dissertation was answer’d by mr. Boyle, and replied to by doctor Bentley.  The controversy was on both sides carried on with great learning and spirit, and convinced the world that no subject was so inconsiderable, but, if in the hands of able men, might produce something worthy of their attention. 

I never heard my lord Orrery‘s abilities as a scholar call’d into question, and doctor Bentley was always look’d on as a man of wits and parts, and yet I have been assured that, whilst the dispute was in its height, the partizans of each side behaved with a partiality, usual in such cases.  The friends of Phalaris and mr. Boyle would not allow their adversary any wit, whilst the doctor’s advocates on the other hand made it their business to represent mr. Boyle as void of learning; and attributed all the merit of his book to the assistance of some men of distinguish’d merit in the college and university, of which he was member, and so far did this malicious assertion prevail, that doctor Swift alludes to it as a fact in his battle of the books, where he says, that Boyle had a suit of armour given him by all the gods.  Many indeed, who gave into this foolish opinion, did at the same time allow, in justice to the late lord Orrery, that if the weapons were put into his hand he had at least to manage them to the best advantage. 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1690's, 1740's, Ancient Greece, Eighteenth century, Greek/Roman Translations, Jonathan Swift

Item of the Day: Young’s Night Thoughts (1812)

Full Title:  The Complaint; or, Night Thoughts, on Life, Death, and Immortality.  By Edward Young, L.L.D. With the Life of the Author.  London:  Printed for Thomas Tegg, 111, Cheapside.  1812.  [Originally, 1742-1746].


As the occasion of this Poem was real, not fictitious ; so the method persued in it was rather imposed, by what spontaneously arose in the Author’s mind, on that occasion, than meditated, or designed.  Which will apppear very probable from the nature of it.  For it differs from the common mode of poetry, which is, from long narrations to draw short morals.  Here, on the contrary, the narrative is short, and the morality arising from it makes the bulk of the Poem.  The reason of it is, that the facts mentioned did naturally pour these moral reflections on the thought of the writer.

The Complaint.

Night I.

On Life, Death, and Immortality.

Humbly inscribed to the Right Honourable Arthur Onslow, Esq; Speaker of the House of Commons.

Tir’d Nature’s sweet Restorer, balmy Sleep !

He, like the world, his ready visit pays

Where Fortune smiles ;  the wretched he forsakes;

Swift on his downy pinion flies from woe,

And lights on lids unsully’d with a tear.

From short (as usual) and disturb’d repose,

I wake :  How happy they, who wake no more !

Yet that were vain, if dreams infest the grave.

I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams

Tumultuous ; where my wreck’d desponding thought,

From wave to wave of fancy’d misery,

At random drove, her helm of reason lost.

Though now restor’d, ‘tis only change of pain,

(A bitter change!) severer for severe.

The Day too short for my distress ; and Night,

Ev’n in the zenith of her dark domain,

Is sunshine to the colour of my fate.


Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne,

In rayless majesty, now stretches forth

Her leaden scepter o’er a slumb’ring world.

Silence, how dead; and darkness, how profoud !

Nor eye, nor list’ning ear, an object finds ;

Creation sleeps.  ‘Tis as the general pulse

Of Life still stood, and Nature made a pause ;

And let her prophecy be soon fulfill’d :

Fate, drop the curtain ; I can lose no more.


Silence and Darkness !  solemn sisters !  twins

From ancient Night, who nurse the tender thought

To Reason, and on Reason build Resolve,

(That column of true majesty in man)

Assist me :  I will thank you in the grave ;

The grave, your kingdom :  there this frame shall fall

A victim sacred to your dreary shrine.

But what are ye ?—


THOU, who didst put to flight

Primeval silence, when the morning stars,

Exulting, shouted o’er the rising ball ;

O THOU, whose word from solid darkness struck

That spark, the sun, strike wisdom from my soul ;

My soul, which flies to Thee, her trust, her treasure,

As misers to their gold, while others rest.


Through this opaque of Nature and of Soul,

This double night, transmit one pitying ray,

To lighten and to cheer.  O lead my mind,

(A mind that fain would wander from its woe)

Lead it through various scenes of life and death;

And, from each scene, the noblest truths inspire.

Nor less inspire my Conduct, than my Song :

Teach my best reason, reason ; my best will

Teach rectitude ; and fix my firm resolve

Wisdom to wed, and pay her long arrear :

Nor let the phial of thy vengeance, pour’d

On this devoted head, be pour’d in vain.

The bell strikes One.  We take no note of time

But from its loss.  To give it, then, a tongue,

Is wise in man.  As if an angel spoke,

I feel the solemn sound.  If heard aright,

It is the knell of my departed hours :

Where are they ?  With the years beyond the flood.

It is the signal that demands dispatch :

How much is to be done ?  My hopes and fears

Start up alarm’d, and o’er life’s narrow verge

Look down.—On what ?  a fathomless abyss !

A dread eternity !  how surely mine !

And can eternity belong to me,

Poor pensioner on the bounties of an hour ?

Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, 1810's, Literature, Poetry, Posted by Matthew Williams

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.


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,


Leave a comment

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.



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. . . .



1 Comment

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

Item of the Day: Rochefoucault’s Maxims (1749)

Full Title: Moral Maxims: By the Duke de la Roche Foucault. Translated from the French. With notes. London: Printed for A. Millar, opposite Katharine Street, in the Strand, MDCCXLIX.



We can’t bear to be deceived by our Enemies, and betrayed by our Friends; yet are often content to be so served by ourselves.



“Tis as easy to deceive ourselves without our perceiving it, as ’tis difficult to deceive others without their perceiving it.



A Resolution never to deceive exposes a Man to be often deceived.



The Dulness of People is sometimes a sufficient Security against the Attack of an artful Man.

Bion used to say, “Twas no easy Thing to stick soft Cheese on a Hook. Diogen. Laert.



He who imagines he can do without the World deceives himself much; but he who fancies the World can’t do without him is yet more mistaken.



In Love the Deceit almost always outstrips the Distrust.



We are sometimes less unhappy in being deceived by those we love, than in being undeceived.

And we may cry out, with Horace’s Madman,

—–“Pol me occidistis, amici,

Non servatis, ait; cui sic extorta voluptas,

Et demptus per vim mentis gratissimus error.”

You have undone me, ill-judging Friends, in robbing me of such Pleasure; and in depriving me, against my Consent, of so delicious a Deception.



When our Friends have deceived us, we have a Right to be indifferent to their Professions of Friendship; but we ought always to retain a Sensibility for their Misfortunes.





Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Eighteenth century, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Gordon’s Sallust (1744)

Full Title:

The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourses upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. [Trans. T. Gordon.] Printed in London for T. Woodward, and J. Peele, sold by J. Osborn at the Golden Bell in Pater-noster Row, 1744.

From the translator’s Introduction:

An able Writer not only gives, but enforces, his own Meaning: His Manner is as significant as his Words, and therefore becomes Part of his Sentiments. It is thus in Speaking as well as Writing: The liveliest Speech in the World, rehearsed by a heavy Man, will sound heavily. What moved, and fired, and charmed the Audience, out of one Mouth, would put them to Sleep out of another. An Oration of Demosthenes, repeated like a Lease by a Clerk; or one of Cicero‘s, pronounced by a Pedant; instead of Rage and Terror, would rouse Laughter and Impatience.

Who can discover the Ardour and Vivacity of Horace, in the Version of Monsieur D’Acier? Yet D’Acier knew, as well as any Man, the Meaning of every Word in Horace, with all his Figures, Allusions, and References.

Plutarch, the entertaining judicious Plutarch, is a dry Writer, as translated by the same D’Acier, though accurately translated: Plutarch, translated by Amyot, is an entertaining, a pleasing Author: Yet, in Amyot‘s Translation, there are numberless Mistakes: A French Critic, and a very learned Man, Monsieur Meziriac, reckons them at Two thousand, all very gross ones. D’Acier‘s is an exact Translation of Plutarch‘s Words: Amyot is a Copy of Plutarch himself; resembles his Author, and writes as well. Amyot is a Genius: D’Acier is a learned Man.

I am much concerned to see so learned and useful a Writer as Plutarch, make so ill a Figure in English: Most of his Lives are poorly Englished; nor is bad Language the worst Fault: They are full of egregious Blunders. Several of them are ill translated from Amyot, by such as understood not French. Many of the instructive Pieces, called his Morals, have fared as ill. A good Translation of all his Works would be a valuable Performance.

Who would not rather read a Discourse of Archbiship Tillotson‘s upon any ordinary Subject, though ever so full of Inaccuracies, than a learned Dissertation of the correct Mr. Thomas Hearn on the best Subject?

I doubt no Work of Genius can be well translated, but by an Author of Genius; and therefore, there can never be many tolerable Translations in the World. Cicero, in translating the noblest Greek Writers, has excelled them all: Cicero was a good Translator, because he was a great Genius.

Terence is only a Translator; but he had fine Taste, Politeness, and Parts, and a Genius for Comedy and genteel Conversation. This was his great Qualification: His Knowlege of the two Languages only helped him to shew it. He might have had great Skill in both, without success, or Fame, as a Comic Poet. Terence translated Comedy with Applause, becasue he had a fine Genius for Comedy. He himself is shamefully travestied by Sir Roger L’Estrange, and Dr. Echard, and much gross Ribaldry fathered upon so pure and polite a Writer.

Mr. Hobbes has translated the Historian Thucydides well; for Mr. Hobbes had equal Talents for History: But he has ill translated Homer, though he well understood Homer; for he had not equal Talents for Poetry. Mr. Dryden, with all his Faults, and many unwarrantable Freedoms, has mad a fine Translation of Virgil, because he was as great a Poet as Virgil; indeed, a great and various Poet: We have Poems of his, such as, I think, Virgil could not write; one Ode particularly, equal, if not superior, to any in Antiquity.

Many of the Speeches and brightest Passages in Lucan, are rendered by Mr. Row with an equal Force, in a Language so unequal, because he had a Genius as warm and poetical as Lucan; though Lucan, with infinite Sinkings, has infinite Elevation, and many glorious Lines.

I have often wished, that such a fine Genius as Dr. Burnet of the Charter-house, had translated Livy. He had grave and grand Conceptions, with harmonious flowing Periods, equal to those of the great Roman Historian. Sir Walter Raleigh would have still done it better, as he was a wonderful Master of such Subjects, and wonderfully qualified to represent them. Many Parts of his History of the World are hardly to be matched, never to be exceeded; particularly his Relation of the second Punic War; where he recounts the Conduct of the Roman and Carthaginian Commonwealths, and of their several Commanders, especially of Hannibal, with surprising Capacity, Clearness, and Force.

There occurs to me one Passage out of the English Livy, which will shew what Justice we have done that noble and elegant Writer. A great Officer says to a Roman General in the Field, (I think he calls him Sir, too) ‘Whilst you stand Shilly-shally here, as a Man may say, the Enemy will tread upon your Toes.’ Could a Groom of that General have used meaner Language to a Fellow Groom? I give the Passage upon Memory—-The Words are either Shilly-shally, or with your Hands in your Pockets, or both.

A Writer of Genius, translated by one who has none, or a mean one, will appear meanly. Even the Meaning of every Word may be conveyed, yet the Meaning of the Writer missed or mangled. It is in Translating, as in Painting: Where the Air, the Spirit, and Dignity of the Original are wanting, Resemblance is wanting. To be able to translate, a Man must be able to do something like what he translates.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Greek/Roman Translations, Oratory, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt, Roman Empire