Category Archives: 1750’s

Item of the Day: Historical Review of the Consitution and Government of Pensylvania [sic] (1759)

Full Title: An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania [sic], From its Origin; So far as regards the several Points of Controversy, which have, from Time to Time, arisen between The several Governors of the Province, and Their several Assemblies. Founded on authentic Documents. London: Printed for R. Griffiths, in Paternoster-Row, MDCCLIX [1759].

The Constitution of Pensylvania [sic] is deriv’d, first, from the Birthright of every British Subject; secondly, from the Royal charter granted to William Penn by King Charles II. and thirdly, from the Charter of Privileges granted by the said William Penn as Proprietary and Governor, in Virtue of the former, to the Freemen of the said Province and Territories; being the last of four at several Periods issued by the same Authority.

The Birthright of every British Subject is, to have a Property of his own, in his Estate, Person and Reputation; subject only to Laws enacted by his own Concurrence, either in Person or by his Representatives: And which Birthright accompanies him wheresoever he wanders or rests; so long as he is within the Pale of the British Dominions, and is true to his Allegience.

The Royal Charter was granted to William Penn in the Beginning of the Year 1681. A most alarming Period! The Nation being in a strong Ferment; and the Court forming an arbitrary Plan; which, under the Countenance of a small standing Army, there began the same Year to carry into Execution, by cajolling some Corporations, and forcing others by Quo Warrantos to surrender their Charters: So that by the Abuse of Law, the disuse of Parliaments, and the Terror of Power, the Kingdom became in Effect the Prey of Will and Pleasure.

The Charter Governments of America had, before this, afforded a Place of Refuge to the persecuted and miserable: And as if to enlarge the Field of Liberty abroad, which had been so sacrilegiously contracted at home, Pensylvania [sic] even then was made a new Asylum, where all who wish’d or desir’d to be free might be so for ever.

The Basis of the Grant express’d in the Preamble was, the Merits and Services of Admiral Penn, and the commendable Desire of his Son to enlarge the British Empire, to promote such useful Commodities as might be of Benefit to it, and to civilize the savage inhabitants. . . .

(See also blog posting of An Historical Review of the Constitution and Government of Pensylvania for October 11, 2005)

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Filed under 1750's, Colonial America, Franklin, Government, History, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: An Account of the European Settlements (1758)

Full Title:  An Account of the European Settlements in America. In Six Parts. I. A Short History of the Discovery of that Part of the World.  II.  The Manners and Customs of the Original Inhabitants.  III.  Of the Spanish Settlements.  IV. Of the Portuguese.  V.  Of the French, Dutch, and Danish.  VI.  Of the English.  Each Part contains An Accurate Description of the Settlements in it, their Extent, Climate, Productions, Trade, Genius and Disposition of their Inhabitants:  the Interests of the several Powers of Europe with respect to those Settlements; and their Political and Commercial views with regard to each other.  Vol. II.  The Second Edition, with Improvements.  London: Printed for R. and J. Dodsley in Pall-Mall. MDCCLVIII.

PART II. The Manners of the Americans.

CHAP. I.

The persons of the Americans. Their dress and way of living. Their manner of covering. Their hospitality. Their temper. Their religion and superstitions. Their medicince.

The Aborigines of America, throughout the whole extent of the two vast continents they inhabit, and amongst the infinite number of nations and tribes into which they are divided, differ very little from each other in their manners and customs; and they all form a very striking picture of the most distant antiquity. Whoever considers the Americans of this day, not only studies the manners of a remote present nation, but he studies, in some measure, the antiquities of all nations; from which no mean lights may be thrown upon many parts of the ancient authors, both sacred and profane. The learned Lafiatu has laboured this point with great success, in a work which deserves to be read amongst us much more than I find it is.

The people of America are tall, and strait in their limbs beyond the proportion of most nations: their bodies are strong; but of a species of strength rather fitted to endure much hardship, than to continue long at any servile work, by which they are quickly consumed; it is the strength of a beast of prey, rather than that of a beast of burthen. Their bodies and heads are flattish, the effect of art; their features are regular, but their countenances fierce; their hair long, black, lank, and as strong as that of a horse. No beards. The colour of their skin a reddish brown, admired amongst them and improved by the constant use of bear’s fat and paint. 

When the Europeans first came into America, they found the people quite naked, except those parts which it is common for the most uncultivated people to conceal. Since that time they have generally a coarse blanket to cover them, which they buy from us. The whole fashion of their lives is of a piece; hardy, poor, and squalid; and their education from their infancy is solely directed to fit their bodies for this mode of life, and to form their minds to inflict and endure the greatest evils. Their only occupations are hunting and war. Agriculture is left to the women. Merchandize they contemn. When their hunting season is past, which they go through with much patience, and in which they exert great ingenuity, they pass they rest of their time in an entire indolence. They sleep half the day in their huts, they loiter and jest among their friends, and they observe no bounds or decency in their eating and drinking. Before we discovered them they wanted spiritous liquors; but now, the acquirement of these is what gives a spur to their industry, and enjoyment to their repose. This is the principal end they pursue in their treaties with us; and from this they suffer inexpressible calamities; for having once begun to drink, they can preserve no measure, but continue a succession of drunkenness as long as their means of procuring liquor lasts. In this condition they lie exposed on the earth to all the inclemency of the seasons, which wastes them by a train of the most fatal disorders; they perish in rivers and marshes; they tumble into the fire; they quarrel, and very frequently murder each other; and in short, excess in drinking, which with us is rather immoral than very destructive, amongst this uncivilized people, who have not art enough to guard against the consequence of their vices, is a public calamity. The few amongst them who live free from this evil, enjoy the reward of their temperance in a robust and healthy old age. The disorders which a complicated luxury has introduced and supports in Europe, are strangers here.  

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Filed under 1750's, American Indians, Colonial America, Explorations, History, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Chess Analysed (1750)

Full Title: Chess Analysed: or Instructions by which a Perfect Knowledge of this Noble Game May in a short time be acquir’d. By A. D. Philidor. London: Printed for J. Nourse, and P. Vaillant, in the Strand, M.DCC.L. [1750]

THE

PREFACE.

So many ancient Authors have spoken in praise of the Game of Chess, that it would be needless for me to say much of it.

Don Pietro Carrera, who in the Year 1617, published a large Volume concerning the Origin and Progress of this Game, has at the same time given us a List of those authors, which is too long to be inserted in this Preface. I will however mention the most celebrated; Herodotus, Euripides, Sophocles, Philostratus, Homer, Virgil, Aristotle, Seneca, Plato, Ovid, Horace, Quintilian, Martial, Vida. The Invention of this Game is by Carrera attributed to Palamedes, and he proves it from the above-mentioned Authors; it is true that several others are of a different opinion; some say it was known before his time, others that it was invented by the Philosopher Serses, Councellor to Ammolin, King of Babylon, in order by this new, engaging, and speculative Game, to divert that Prince from the Cruelties he was naturally inclined to.

The Egyptians are said to have ranked this Game in the Number of the Sciences, and that, at a time when themselves were the only learned People; their Reason I suppose to be founded on this Principle:

Scientia est eorum, quae consistunt in Intellectu.

It is no Wonder to see so many different Opinions, about a Game of so long standing, and whose Author cannot be known to any Degree of Certainty. There are however some who will not allow it to be above 300 Years old, tho’ a few make it to be somewhat older; and perhaps they would not grant that, if the very Chessmen with which Charlemagne used to play, were not still extant in the Royal Repository of the Abbey of St. Denis.

Euripides, in his Tragedy of Iphigenia, tells us, that Ajax and Protesilaus played together at Chess in the Presence of Merion, Ulysses, and other famous Greeks. Homer, in the first Book of his Odyssey, relates, that the Princes, Lovers of Penelope, used to play at Chess at the Door of that fair Lady.

But not to trouble the Reader with any thing more about the Origin of this Game; it will be allowed by all, to have contributed to the Amusement of the greatest Heroes for many Ages past; and those of our Days take no small Pleasure in it.

Virtue and Heroism were the two distinguishing Characters of Charles the XIIth, King of Sweden; the Allurements and Temptations of Vice had no Power over him; he could even abstain from those things, which by most Persons of Rank are esteemed as no other than the Conveniencies [sic] of Life; he had an Aversion to gaming, and had strictly forbid it his Army, and among his Subjects; but Chess was expected in a particular manner; he took so much Delight in it, that he encouraged the Learning of it among all his Courtiers. Voltaire tells us, that while that Prince was at Bender, he played at it every Day with his General Poniatoski, or with his Treasurer Grothusen. . . .

 

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Filed under 1750's, Culture, Eighteenth century, Leisure, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Burke on the Sublime and Beautiful (1798)

Full Title: A Philosophical Enquiry Into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. With an Introductory Discourse Concerning Taste; And Several Other Additions. By Edmund Burke, Esq. A New Edition. London: Printed for Vernor and Hood, F. and C. Rivington, T. N. Longman, Cadell and Davies, J. Cuthell, J. Walker, Lackington, Allen, and Co. Ogilvy and Son, and J. Nunn. MDCCXCVIII. [Originally 1757.]

Sect. XXVII.

THE SUBLIME AND BEAUTIFUL COMPARED.

On closing this general view of beauty it naturally occurs, that we should compare it with the sublime; and in this comparison there appears a remarkable contrast. For sublime objects are vast in their dimensions, beautiful ones comparatively small: beauty should be smooth and polished; the great, rugged and negligent: beauty should shun the right line, yet deviate from it insensibly; the great in many cases loves the right line; and when it deviates, it often makes a strong deviation; beauty should not be obscure; the great ought to be dark and gloomy: beauty should be light and delicate; the great ought to be solid, and even massive. They are indeed ideas of a very different nature, one being founded on pain, the other on pleasure; and however they may vary afterwards from the direct nature of their causes, yet these causes keep up an eternal distinction between then, a distinction never to be forgotten by anyone whose business it is to affect the passions. In the infinite variety of natural combinations, we must expect to find the qualities of things the most remote imaginable from each other united in the same object. We must expect also to find combinations of the same kind in works of art. But when we consider the power of an object upon our passions, we must know that when anything is intended to affect the mind by the force of some predominant property, the affection produced is like to be more uniform and perfect, if all the other properties and qualities of the object be of the same nature, and tending to the same design as the principal;

If black and white blend, soften and unite
A thousand ways, are there no black and white?

If the qualities of the sublime and beautiful are sometimes found united, does this prove that they are the same; does it prove that they are any way allied; does it prove that they are not opposite and contradictory? Black and white may soften, may blend; but they are not therefore the same. Nor, when they are so softened and blended with each other, or with different colours, is the power of black as black, or of white as white, so strong as when each stands uniform and distinguished.  

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Filed under 1750's, 1790's, Art, Criticism, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Voyage to South-America (1758)

Full Title: A Voyage to South-America: Describing at Large the Spanish Cities, Towns, Provinces, &c. on the extensive Continent. Interspersed throughout with Reflections on the Genius, Customs, Manners, and Trade of the Inhabitants; Together with the Natural History of the Country. And an Account of their Gold and Silver Mines. Undertaken by Command of his Majesty the King of Spain, by Don George Juan, and Don Antonio De Ulloa, Both Captains of the Spanish Navy, Members of the Royal Societies of London and Berlin, and corresponding Members of the Royal Academy at Paris. Translated from the Original Spanish. Illustrated with Copper Plates. In Two Volumes. Vol. I. London: Printed for L. Davis and C. Reymers, against Gray’s-Inn-Gate, Holborn, MDCCLVIII. [1758]

 

A VOYAGE TO PERU.

BOOK I.

Reasons for this Voyage; Navigation from the Bay of Cadiz to Carthagena in America, and a Description of the Latter.

 

CHAP. I.

Motives of this Voyage to South America, with Remarks on the Navigation between Cadiz and Carthagena.

THE heart of man is naturally inclined to attempt things, the advantages of which appear to increase in proportion to the difficulties which attend them. It spares no pains, it fears no danger in attaining them; and instead of being diverted from its purpose, is animated with fresh vigour by opposition. The glory, inseparable from arduous enterprises, is a powerful incentive, which raises the mind above itself; the hope of advantages determines the will, diminishes dangers, alleviates hardships, and levels obstacles, which otherwise would appear unsurmountable. Desire and resolution are not, however, always sufficient to insure success, and the best concerted measures are not always prosperous. Divine Providence, whose over-ruling and incomprehensible determinations direct the course of human actions, seems to have prescribed certain limits, beyond which all our attempts are vain. The causes his infinite wisdom has thought proper to conceal from us, and the result of such a conduct is rather an object of our reverence than speculation. The knowledge of the bounds of human understanding, a discreet amusement and exercise of our talents for the demonstration of truths which are only to be attained by a continual and extensive study, which rewards the mind with tranquility and pleasure, are advantages worthy of our highest esteem, and objects which cannot be too much recommended. In all times the desire of enlightning [sic] others by some new discovery, has rouzed [sic] the industry of man, and engaged him in laborious researches, and by that means proved the principal source of the improvement of the sciences.

Things which have long baffled sagacity and application, have sometimes been discovered by chance. The firmest resolution has often been discouraged, by the insuperable  precipes, which, in appearance, incircle his investigations. The reason of this is, because the obstacles are painted, by the imagination, in the most lively colours; but the methods of surmounting them escape our attention; till, smoothed by labour and application, a more easy passage is discovered.

Among discoveries mentioned in history, whether owing to accident or reflection, that of the Indies is of the least advantageous. These parts were for many ages unknown to the  Europeans; or, at least, the remembrance of them was buried in oblivion. They were lost through a long succession of time, and disfigured by the confusion and darkness in which they were found immersed. At length the happy aera arrived, when industry blended with resolution, was to remove all the difficulties, exaggerated by ignorance. This is the epocha which distinguished the reign, in many other respects so glorious, of Ferdinand of Arragon, and Isabella of Castile. Reason and experience at once exploded all the ideas of rashness and ridicule which had hitherto prevailed. It seems as if providence permitted the refusal of other nations, to augment the glory of our own; and to reward the zeal of our sovereigns, who countenanced this important enterprize; the prudence of their subjects in the conduct of it, and the religious end proposed by both. I mentioned accident or reflection, being not yet convinced, whether the confidence with which Christopher Columbus maintained, that westward there were lands undiscovered, was the result of his knowledge in cosmography and experience in navigation, or whether it was founded on the information of a pilot, who had actually discovered them, having been driven on the coasts by stress of weather; and who, in return for the kind reception he had met with at Columbus’s house, delivered to him, in his last moments, the papers and charts relating to them.

The prodigious magnitude of this continent; the multitude and extent of its provinces; the variety of its climates, products and curious particulars; and, lastly the distance and difficulty of one part communicating with another, and especially with Europe, have been the cause, that America, though discovered and inhabited in its principal parts by Europeans, is but imperfectly known by them; and at the same time kept them totally ignorant of many things, which would greatly contribute to give a more perfect idea of so considerable a part of our glove. But though investigations of this kind are doubtless worthy the attention of a great prince, and the studies of the most piercing genius among his subjects; yet this was not the principal intention of our voyage. His majesty’s wise resolution of sending us to this continent, was principally owing to a more elevated and important design.

The literary world are no strangers to the celebrated question that has lately produced so many treatises on the  figure and magnitude of the earth; which had hitherto been thought perfectly spherical. The prolixity of later observations had given rise to two opposite opinions among philosophers. Both supposed it to be elliptical, but one affirmed its transverse diameter was that of the poles, and the other, that it was that of the equator. The solution of this problem, in which not only geography and cosmography are interested, but also navigation, astronomy, and other arts and sciences of public utility, was what gave rise to our expedition. Who would have imagined that these countries, lately discovered, would have proved the means of our attaining a perfect knowledge of the old world; and that if the former owed its discovery to the latter, it would make it ample amends by determining its real figure, which had hitherto been unknown or controverted? who, I say, would have suspected that the sciences should in that country meet with treasures, not less valuable than the gold of its mines, which has so greatly enriched other countries! How many difficulties were to be surmounted in the execution! What a series of obstacles were to be overcome in such long operations, flowing from the inclemency of climates; the disadvantageous situation of the places where they were to be made, and in fine, from the very nature of the enterprize! All these circumstances infinitely heighten the glory of the monarch, under whose auspices the enterprise has been so happily accomplished. This discovery was reserved for the present age, and for the two Spanish monarchs, the late Philip V. and Ferdinand VI. The former cause d the enterprise to be carried into execution, the latter honoured it with his countenance, and ordered the narrative of it to be published; no only for the information and instruction of his own subjects, but also for those of other nations, to whom these accounts will prove equally advantageous. And that this narrative may be the more instructive, we shall introduce the particualr circumstances which originally gave occasion to our voyage, and were in a a manner, the basis and rule of the other enterprises, which will be mentioned in the sequel, each in its proper order. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1750's, Explorations, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, South America, Spain, Travel

Item of the Day: The Art of Sinking in Poetry (1751)

Full Title: Miscellanies.  The Second Volume. By D. Swift, Dr. Arbuthnot, and Mr. Pope.  London, Printed for Charles Bathurst, and sold by T. Woodward, C. Davis, C. Hitch, R. Dosley, and W. Bowyer.  MDCCLI.

Martinus Scriblerus,

П Е Р І   В А Θ О Υ Σ:

or, Of the Art of Sinking in Poetry.

[by Alexander Pope] 

CHAP. V.

Of the true Genius for the Profound, and by what it is constituted.

AND I will venture to lay it down, as the first Maxim and Corner-stone of this our Art; that whosoever would excel therein, must studiously avoid, detest, and turn his head from all the ideas, ways, and workings of that pestilent Foe to Wit, and Destroyer of fine Figures, which is known by the name of Common Sense. His business must be to contract the true Gout de travers; and to acquire a most happy, uncommon, unaccountable Way of Thinking. 

He is to consider himself as a Grotesque Painter, whose works would be spoil’d by an imitation of nature or uniformity of design. He is to mingle bits of the most various, or discordant kinds of landscape, history, portraits, animals, and connect them with a great deal of flourishing, by head or by tail, as it shall please his imagination, and contribute to his principal end, which is to glare by strong oppositions of colours, and surprize by contrariety of images.

Serpentes avibus geminentur, trigibus agni.  HOR.

His design ought to be like a labyrinth, out of which no body can get clear by himself. And since the great Art of all Poetry is to mix Truth with Fiction, in order to join the Credible with the Surprizing; our author shall produce the Credible, by painting nature in her lowest simplicity; and the Surprizing, by contradicting common opinion. In the very Manners he will affect the Marvellous; he will draw Achilles with the patience of a Job; a prince talking like a Jack-pudding; a Maid of honour selling bargains; a footman speaking like a philosopher; and a fine gentleman like a scholar.  Whoever is conversant in modern Plays, may make a most noble collection of this kind, and at the same time, form a complete body of modern Ethics and Morality

Nothing seem’d more plain to our great authors, than that the world had long been weary of natural things. How much the contrary are form’d to please, is evident from the universal applause daily given to the admirable entertainments of Harlequins and Magicians on our stage. When an audience behold a couch turn’d into a wheelbarrow, a conjurer into an old woman, or a man’s head where his heels should be; how are they struck with transport and delight? Which can only be imputed to this cause, that each object is chang’d into that which hath been suggested to them by their own ideas before.

He ought therefore to render himself master of this happy and anti-natural way of thinking to such a degree, as to be able, on the appearance of any object, to furnish his imagination with ideas infinitely below it.  And his eyes should be like unto the wrong end of a perpective glass, by which all the objects of nature are lessen’d.

For Example; when a true genius looks upon the Sky, he immediately catches the idea of a piece of blue lute-string, or a child’s mantle.

The Skies, whose spreading volumes scarce have room,
Spun thin, and wove in nature’s finest loom,
The new-born world in their soft lap embrac’d,
And all around their starry mantle cast. *

If he looks upon a Tempest, he shall have an image of a tumbled bed, and describe a succeeding calm in this manner;

The Ocean, joy’d to see the tempest fled,
New lays his waves, and smooths his ruffled bed. **
____________________________
* Prince Arthur, p. 41, 42.
** p. 14

NB. In order to do justice to these great Poets, our Citations are taken from the best, the last, and most correct Editions of their Works.  That which we use of Prince Arthur, is in duodecimo, 1714. the fourth Edition revised.

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Filed under 1750's, Common sense, Criticism, Poetry, Posted by Matthew Williams, Satire

Item of the Day: Bolingbroke’s Dissertation on Parties (1754)

Full Title: The Works of the Right Honorable Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke. Vol. II. London: Printed in the Year MDCCLIV.

A Dissertation on Parties.  Letter I.

Sir, To corrupt and to divide are the trite and wicked expedients, by which some ministers in all ages have affected to govern; but especially such as have been least capable of exerting the true arts of government.  There is however a difference to be made between these two expedients, to the advantage of the latter, and by consequence between the characters of those who put them in practice.

Every busy, ambitious child of fortune, who hath himself a corrupt heart, and becomes master of a larger purse, hath all that is necessary to employ the expedient of corruption with success.  A bribe, in the hand of the most blundering coxcomb that ever disgraced honor and wealth and power, will prevail as much as in the hand of a man of sense, and go farther too, if it weigh more.  An intriguing chamber-maid may flip a bank-note into a griping paw, as well as the most subtle daemon of hell.  H**E may govern as triumphantly by this expedient as the great knight his brother, and the great knight as BURLEIGH himself.

But every character cannot attempt the other expedient of dividing, or keeping up divisions, with equal success.  There is, indeed, no occasion for any extraordinary genius to divide; and true wisdom despises the infamous task.  But there is need of that left-handed wisdom, called cunning, and of those habits in business, called experience.  He that is corrupted, co-operates with him that corrupts.  He runs into his arms at the first beckon; or, in order sometimes to raise the price, he meets him but half way.  On the other hand, to divide, or to maintain and renew the divisions of parties in a state, a system of seduction and fraud is necessary to be carried on.  The divided are so far from being accessory to the guilt, that they would not be divided, if they were not first deceived.

From these differences, which I have observed between the two expedients, and the characters and means proper to put them in practice with success, it may be discovered perhaps why, upon former occasions, as I shall hereafter shew, the expedient of dividing prospered so much better than that of corrupting; and why, upon some later occasions, the expedient of corrupting succeeds so well in those hands, which are not, and I trust, will not be so lucky in maintaining or renewing our party divisions.   

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Filed under 1750's, Government, Political Philosophy, Politics, Posted by Matthew Williams