Category Archives: 1790’s

Item of the Day: The Honourable Charles James Fox (1801)

Found In: Public Characters of 1798-9. The Third Edition. Enlarged and Corrected to the 20th of April, 1801. To Be Continued Annually. London: Printed for R. Phillips, No. 71, St. Paul’s Church Yard; and sold by T. Hurst, J. Wallie and West and Hughes, Paternoster-Row; Carpenter and Co. Old Bond-Street; R. H. Westley, Strand; and by all other booksellers, 1801.

 

THE HONOURABLE (LATELY RIGHT HONOURABLE)

CHARLES JAMES FOX.

ALL the great men of the present day are either the offspring of, or immediately descended from, new families. The ancient nobility repose under the laurels of their ancestors. Not deigning to apply to any of the learned professions, and deeming commerce and agriculture unworthy of their pursuits (a few illustrious characters excepted) they delegate their domestic concerns to the care of their upper servants, and not unfrequently the business of the nation is entrusted to their proxies. This, perhaps, will be the best apology for the multitude of the plebeian scions, recently engrafted on the stock of ancient aristocracy; and, although it may puzzle Garter, Norroy, and Clarencieux, to find them either arms or ancestors, certain it is, that the life-blood of nobility has been infused into the peerage through the conduit of democracy.

It may also be necessary to preface this article with another observation, of which some of the most conspicious characters of the present political drama, afford more than one pregnant instance: that the younger sons of our nobility are more successful in their political efforts, than the elder. This may be easily accounted for: the heir to a great fortune, and an illustrious title, knows not how soon both may devolve upon him; and when that event takes place, to what further object can his expectations point? He finds that he has been born a legislator, and that a large fortune is intailed upon his person; here, then, are wealth and honours not only within his grasp, but actually in his possission. It is otherwise with the juniro brances, for they have in general but little in possesion, and every thing to look for; they inhereit all the exquisite relish for pleasure that their seniors enjoy to satiety, and are only deficient in the means of gratification. Like the dove of Noah, they scarcely find a resting-place for the soles of their feet, on their own earth; and they are exactly in the situation of an invading general who has burnt his ships, for they must go on, or perish!

Charles James Fox is the younger son of Henry, who was himself a younger son of Sir Stephen Fox, celebrated less for his own birth, than the circumstance of being a father at the age of eighty, an event not incredible, however, and rendered, in the present instance, unsuspicious, by the decorous conduct, and acknowledged virtue of the partner of his bed. Henry entered early into public life, and such was his address in parliament, during the reign of George II. that he soon attained not only some of the most arduous and honourable but also the most lucrative situations in the gift of the crown; for, in the year 1754, he was appointed secretary at war; then secretary of state for the southern department; and, after being ousted by the great Mr. Pitt, less celbrated uner the name of Earl of Chatham, we find him filling the immensely beneficial office of pay-master general of the forces, accumulating great wealth, and thereby incurring the animadversions of the first city of the empire. Such, indeed, was his consequence, that at a time when patents of peerage were not very common, he was ennobled by his present Majesty, in 1763, by the title of Baron Holland of Foxley.

His son, Charles James, was born January 13th, 1749, and if on his father’s side he classed among the novi homines, by his mother’s, his descent must be allowed to be illustrious; for Lady Georgiana Carolina Lenox was the daughter of the late Duke of Richmond; and, as such, in addition to that of the King of Sardinia, she was allied to the two rival, but related families, which had so long contested the throne of Great Britain — those of Brunswick and Stuart.

But it is not to such claims as these that the future historian will have recourse; he will dwell with ardour on the early promise of a genius, the precocious talents of the boy, the matured wisdom of the philosopher and the statesman; and while the ablilities and virtues that adorn the character of his hero bring him forward on the canvas, these inefficient and involuntry pretensions will be cast into the shade, and scarcely be distinguished in the background. . . .

Leave a comment

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

Item of the Day: Journal During a Residence in France (1794)

Full Title: A Journal During a Residence in France, from the Beginning of August, to the Middle of December, 1792. To which is added, An Account of the Most Remarkable Events that Happened at Paris from that Time to the Death of the Late King of France. By John Moore, M.D. A New Edition Corrected. Vol. I. London: Printed for G. G. and J. Robinson, Paternoster-Row, 1794.

 

August 8

A debate of geat expectation took place this day in the National Assembly —A committee of twelve members were some time since apointed to deliberate on the conduct of M. de la Fayette. —Jean de Brie made the report, in which he greatly blamed the conduct of the General, in having calumniated and menaced the National Assembly; in having had the design to march his army against Paris; and in having assumed unconstitutional power: and the reported concluded by proposing a decree of accusation.

The discourse of Jean de Brie was greatly applauded by the audience in the tribunes. M. Baublanc made an able and eloquent defence of the General’s conduct; but when he proposed the previous question on Jean de Brie’s motion, the people in the galleries raised the most vilent exclamations and murmurs, which were, however, balanced by the applause of the majority of the Assembly.

Brissot spoke next, and added new force to the reasoning of Jean de Brie. When the decree of accusation was put to the vote, it was rejected by a majority of near 200.

This occasioned fresh murmurs in the galleries, and violent agitation in the Assembly.

As this was considered as a trial of strenght between the parties, it is to be presumed that the majority of the Assembly is with the Court; and that in future debates it will rather augment than dimish, as is usually the case in the British Houses of Parliament after a very great majority in favour of either party. The minority, however, seem to have the people with them. I am told indeed that those noisy people in the galleries are hired; but this does not account to me for the cry being all on one side. The partisons of the Court, one would imagine, might hire applauders as well as the other. . . .

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, France, French Revolution, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: The History of the American Revolution (1791)

Full Title: The History of the American Revolution. By David Ramsay, M.D., of South Carolina. Vol. I. London: sold by J. Johnson and J. Stockdale, M.DCC.XCI. [1791]

 

ADVERTISMEMENT,

BY AN

ENGLISH FRIEND.

THE particulars of the American Revolution may by many be thought to be sufficiently known; but, if we deduct from our first accounts all that was false or that is by this time forgotten, and add all that is true which has since been discovered, the history, now presented to the English reader, may be esteemed in a great measure new. It is new even among the Americans; and in any event it must produce a new effect upon the judgment and feelings of every one, as being digested out of scattered materials. There are few indeed to whom the work will be more interesting than to those who have borne a share in the events which it records; and there is no portion of modern, or perhaps antient, history, more worthy as respecting politics, war, or the human character.

Should the perusal of it revive some of the regrets of Englishmen, the contemplation of our past misfortunes may at least prove a lesson for avoiding the like in future; especially in the present eventful age, when no political course can long be safe which is not framed upon principles, and suited both the the temper and interests of mankind.

The discovery of the distress which the Americans suffered at the close of the war, must not lead us to lament the peace which followed; for the distress experienced was certainly mutual. But had it even been in our power for the moment to subjugate America, either terms must have been granted to her equivalent to independence, or else a perpetual cause of war would have remained; which in the case of a spirited and increasing people, must always have proved burthensome on our side, and sooner or later have terminated in their favor. At present, none can doubt, that a more beneficial connection with America is open to us, than any which could have procured by force.

The particular history before us, is at once short and full, as well as judicious, authentic, and impartial, and is clearly the best extant on the subject.

Some allowances nevertheless are requisite in favor of the present work, which from several passages in it, appears not to have received the author’s last corrections. Various inaccuracies also, especially in the first volume, have crept into it, from errors either of the transcriber or of the press. A table of these is formed wherever they are of moment. —Some peculiarities of style will still be found remaining, a part of which belong to the author, and the rest to the country to which he belongs.

It is a curious fact, that there is perhaps no one portion of the British empire, in which two or three millions of persons are to be found, who speak their mother-tongue with greater purity, or a truer pronuciation, than the white inhabitants of the United States. This was attributed, by a pentrating observer, to the number of British subjects assembled in America from various quarters, who, in consequence of their intercourse and intermarriages, soon dropped the peculiarities of their several provincial idioms, retaining only what was fundamental and common to them all; a process, which the requency or rather the universality of school-learning in North America; must naturally have assisted. —At the same time there are few natives of the United States, who are altogether free from what may be called Americanisms, both in their speech and their writing. In the case of words of rarer use, they have framed their own models of pronunciation, as having little access to those established among the people from whom they have derived their language; and hence they are sometimes at variance with us in their speech, (to say nothing of the peculiar tones of voice which prevail in some parts of the United States.) But their familiarity with our best writers has in general left them ingnorant of nothing which regards our phraseology; and hence their chief difference in writing consists in their having added a few words to our language, in consequence of the influence of some local authority or of their peculiar situation. Some of these additions we have ourselves received, as in the case of the words “organize and organization,” when applied to political bodies; others we have listened to without as yet adopting, as in the case of the words “the legislative and the executive,” when used as subtantives; but others again we have altogether declined to countenance, as the words, “to advocate and to loan,” which appear to be verbs invented without any apparent reason. The author before us will furnish several examples of what is here alluded to, where the solitary authority of a few Englsih writers, if such are to be found in his favor, cannot be considered as of force enough to be opposed to the general habit of our nation. —Happily, however, these criticisms are of little practical use; for, no terms can become current in either of the two countries, which will not easily be understood in both of them. —It is thus that the new circumstances of the French have brought various words into use with that nation, which were before unkown to it; but they are all of them immediately intelligible, whether they are borrowed from us, or from America, or, like the words “civisme and incivisme,” have originated among themselves. . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Great Britain, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Speech of the President of the United States to Congress (May 16, 1797)

Found In: State Papers and Publick Documents of the United States from the Accession of George Washington to the Presidency, Exhibiting a Complete View of our Foreign Relations since that Time. 1797. Boston: Printed and published by T. B. Wait & Sons, David Hale, agent for the States of Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, 1815.

 

SPEECH OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES TO CONGRESS. MAY 16, 1797.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The personal inconveniences to the members of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives, in leaving their families and private affairs, at this season of the year, are so obvious, that I the more regret the extraordinary occasion which has rendered the convention of Congress indispensable.

It would have afforded me the highest satisfaction to have been able to congratulate you on a restoration of peace to the nations of Europe, whose animosities have endangered our tranquillity: but we have still abundant casue of gratitude to the Supreme Dispenser of national blessings for general health and promising seasons; for domestick and social  happiness; for the rapid progress and ample acquisitions of industry through extensive territories; for civil, political, and religious liberty. While other states are desolated with foreign war, or convulsed with intestine divisions, the United States present the pleasing prospect of a nation governed by mild and equal laws, generally satisfied with the possession of their rights; neither envying the advantages nor fearing the power of other nations; solicitious only for the maintenance of order and justice and the preservation of liberty; increasing daily in their attachment to a system of government, in proportion to their experience of its utility; yielding a ready and general obedience to laws flowing from the reason, and resting on the only solid foundation, the affections of the people.

It is with extreme regret that I shall be obliged to turn your thoughts to other circumstances, which admonish us that some of these felicities may not be lasting; but if the tide of our prosperity is full, and a reflux commencing, a vigilant circumspection becomes us, that we may meet our reverses with fortitude, and extricate ourselves from their consequences, with all the skill we possess, and all the efforts in our power.

In giving to Congress information of the state of the Union, and recommending to their consideration such measures as appear to me to be necessary or expedient, according to my constitutional duty, the cause and the objects of the present extraordinary session will be explained.

After the President of the United States received information that the French government had expressed serious discontents at some proceedings of the government of these states, said to affect the interests of France, he thought it expedient to send to that country a new minister, fully instructed to enter on such amicable discussions, and to give such candid explanations as might happily remove the discontents and suspicions of the French government, and vindicate the conduct of the United States. —For this purpose he selected from among his fellow-citizens a character, whose integrity, talents, experience, and services, had placed him in the rank of the most esteemed and respected in the nation. The direct object of his mission was expressed in his letter of credence to the French Republick; being “to maintain that good understanding, which from the commencement of the alliance had subsisted between the two nations; and to efface unfavourable impressions, banish suspicions, and restore that cordiality which was at once the evidence and pledge of a friendly union:” and his instructions were to the same effect “faithfully to represent the dispositon of the government and people of the United States, (their dispositon being one) to remove jealousies, and obiate complaints, by showing that they were groundless; to restore that mutual confidence which had been so unfortunately and injuriously imparied; and to explain the relative interests of both countries, and the real sentiments of his own.” . . .

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Congress, Early Republic, Foreign Relations, France, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Washington

Item of the Day: Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics (1797)

Full Title: Aristotle’s Ethics and Politics, Comprising his Practical Philosophy, Translated from the Greek. Illustrated by Introductions and Notes; The Critical History of his Life; and a New Analysis of his Speculative Works. By John Gillies. Vol. I. London: Printed for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell Jun. and W. Davies, in the Strand, 1797.

 

PREFACE.

Aristotle is the most voluminous, and generally deemed the most obscure, of all the Greek writers of classic antiquity. His imperfect yet copious remains, which are now rather admired than read, and which were formerly much read and little understood, still naturally arrange themselves in the minds of those capable of digesting them, under their original form of an encyclopedy of science; in many parts of which, the author’s labours are, doubtless, excelled by those of modern philosophers; while in other parts, those of the most important nature, his intellectual exertions remain hitherto unrivalled. It seemed high time, therefore, to draw the line between those writings of the Stagirite which still merit the most serious attention of the modern reader, and those of which the perusal is superseded by more accurate and more complete information. This line I have preseumed to draw in the present work, by endeavouring to the best of my abilities to translate the former perspicuously and impressively, while I contented myself with giving a distinct and comrpehensive analysis of the latter.

The “Ethics to Nicomachus and the Politics” ought never to have been disjoined, since they are considered by Aristotle himself as forming essential parts of one and the same work; which, as it was the last and principal object of his studies, is of all his performances the longest, the best connected, and incomparably the most interesting. The two treatises combined, constitute what he calls his practical philosophy; an epithet to which, in comparison with other works of the same kind, they will be found peculiarly entitled. In the Ethics, the reader will see a full and satisfactory delineation of the moral nature of man, and of the discipline and exercise best adapted to its improvement. The Philosopher speaks with commanding authority to the heart and affections, through the irresistible conviction of the understanding. His morality is neither on the one hand too indulgent, nor on the other impracticable. His lessons are not cramped by the narrow, nor perverted by the wild, spirit of system; they are clear inductions, flowing naturally and spontaneously from a copious and pure source of well-digested experience.

According to the Stagirite, men are and always have been not only moral and social, but also political animals; in a great measure dependent for their happiness and perfection on the public institutions of their respective countries. The grand inquiry, therefore, is, what are the different arrangements that have been found under given circumstances, practically most conducive to these main and ultimate purposes? This question the Author endeavoured to answer in his “Politics,” by a careful examination of two hundred systems of legislation, many of which are not any where else described; and by proving how uniformly, even in political matters, the results of observation and experiment conspire with and confirm the deductions of an accurate and full theory. In this incomparable work, the reader will perceive “the genuine spirit of laws” deduced from the specific and unalterable distinctions of governments; and with a small effort of attention, may discern not only those discoveries in science, unjustly claimed by the vanity of modern writers, but many of those improvements in practice, erroneously ascribed to the fortunate events of time and chance in these latter and more enlightened ages. The same invaluable treatise disclose the pure and perennial spring of all legitimate authority; for in Aristotle’s “politics,” and HIS only, government is placed on such a natural and solid foundation, as leaves neither its origin incomprehensible, nor its stability precarious: and his conclusions, had they been well weighted, must have surmounted or suppressed those erroneous and absurd doctrines which long upheld despotism on the one hand, and those equally erroneous and still wilder suppositions of conventions and compacts, which have more recently armed popular fury on the other.

But our Author’s principles and doctrines will speak convincingly for themselves. The intention of this Preface is merely to explain the plan and object of the present performance; which, besides giving a translation of Aristotle’s practical philosophy, contains a new analysis of his speculative works. This addition appeared the more necessary, because the Stagirite’s intellectual system is so compactly built, and so solidly united, that its separate parts cannot be completely understood, unless the whole be clearly comprehended. The writing indeed here translated, stand more detached and more independent than almost any other; yet, without the aid of the prefixed “Analysis,” even the Ethics and Plitics would require frequent, almost perpetual elucidation. The reader, I feared, would be soon tired with the unconnected prolixity of notes; he will, I hope, be entertained by the Analyses even of those treatieses to which, independently of any substantial utility, his attention may be still allured by a liberal and commendable curiosity. . . .

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Ancient Greece, Greek/Roman Translations, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: On Vocal Music (1787)

Found In: A Collection of Essays and Fugitiv Writings. On Moral, Historical, Political and Literary Subjects. By Noah Webster, Jun. Attorney at Law. Pronted at Boston, for the author, by I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews . . . MDCCXC. [1790]

[pp. 229-230]

 

NO. XIX.

PHILADELPHIA, 1787.

 

On VOCAL MUSIC.

The establishment of schools for teaching psalmody in this city is a pleasing institution; but people seem not to understand the design, or rather are not properly conducted and encouraged. Most people consider music merely as a source of pleasure; not attending to its influence on the human mind, and its consequent effects on society. But it should be regarded as an article of education, useful as well as ornamental.

The human mind is formed for activity; and will ever be employed in business or diversions. Children are prepetually in motion, and all the ingenuity of their parents and guardians should be exerted to devise methods for restraining this activ principle, and directing it to some useful object, or to harmeless trifles. If this is not done, their propensity to action, even without a vicious motiv, will hurry them into follies and crimes. Every thing innocent, that attracts the attention of children, and will employ their minds in leisure hours, when idleness might otherwise open the way to vice, must be considered as a valuable employment. Of this kind is vocal music. There were instances of youth, the last winter, who voluntarily attended a singing school in preference to theatre. It is but reasonable to suppose, that if they would neglect a theatre for singing, they would neglect a thousand amusements, less engaging, and more pernicious.

Instrumental music is generally prefered to vocal, and considered as an elegant accomplishment. It is indeed a pleasing accomplishment; but the preference given to it, is a species of the same false taste, which places a son under the tuition of a drunken clown, to make him a gentleman of strict morals.

Instrumental music may exceed vocal in some nice touches and distinctions of sound; but when regarded as to its effects upn the mind and upon society, it is as inferior to vocal, as sound is inferior to sense. It is very easy for a spruce beau to display a contempt for vocal music, and to say that human invention has gone beyond the works of God almighty. But till the system of creation shall be new modelled, the human voice properly cultivated will be capable of making he most perfect music. It is neglected; sol saing is unfashionable, and that is enough to damn it: But people who have not been acquainted with the perfection of psalmody, are incapable of making a suitable comparison between vocal and instrumental music. I have often heard the best vocal concerts in America, and the best instrumental concerts; and can declare, that the music of the latter is as inferior to that of the former, as the merit of a band box macaroni is to that of a Cato.

Instrumental music affords an agreeable amusement; and as an amusement it ought to be cultivated. But the advantage is private and limited; it pleases the ear, but leaves no impression upon the heart.

The design of music is to awaken the passions, to soften the heart for the reception of sentiment. To awaken passion is within the power of instruments, and this may afford a temporary pleasure; but society derives no advantage from it, unless some useful sentiment is left upon the heart. . . .

 

Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Culture, Early Republic, Education, Music, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: A Collection of Essays and Fugitiv Writings (1790)

Full Title: A Collection of Essays and Fugitiv Writings. On Moral, Historical, Political and Literary Subjects. By Noah Webster, Jun. Attorney at Law. Printed at Boston, for the author, by I. Thomas and E. T. Andrews . . . MDCCXC. [1790]

[The following text has been transcribed exactly as it appears in the preface. No corrections or alterations have been made to grammar or spelling]. 

PREFACE.

The following Collection consists of Essays and Fugitiv Peeces, ritten at various times, and on different occasions, az wil appeer by their dates and subjects. Many of them were dictated at the moment, by the impulse of impressions made by important political events, and abound with a correspondent warmth of expression. This freedom of language wil be excused by the frends of the revolution and of good guvernment, who wil recollect the sensations they hav experienced, amidst the anarky and distraction which succeeded the cloze of the war. On such occasions a riter wil naturally giv himelf up to hiz feelings, and hiz manner of riting wil flow from hiz manner of thinking.

Most of thoze peeces, which hav appeered before in periodical papers and Magazeens, were published with fictitious signatures; for I very erly discuvered, that altho the name of an old and respectable karacter givs credit and consequence to hiz ritings, yet the name of a yung man iz often prejudicial to hiz performances. By conceeling my name, the opinions of men hav been prezerved from an undu bias arizing from personal prejudices, the faults of the ritings hav been detected, and their merit in public estimation ascertained.

The favorable reception given to a number of theze Essays by an indulgent public, induced me to publish them in a volum, with such alterations and emendations, az I had heerd suggested by frends or indifferent reeders, together with some manuscripts, that my own wishes led me to hope might be useful.

During the course of ten or twelv yeers, I hav been laboring to correct popular errors, and to assist my yung brethren in the road to truth and virtue; my publications for theze purposes hav been mumerous; much time haz been spent, which I do not regret, and much censure incurred, which my hart tells me I do not dezerv. The influence of a yung writer cannot be so powerful or extensiv az that of an established karacter; but I hav ever thot a man’s usefulness depends mor on exertion than on talents. I am attached to America by berth, education and habit; but abuv all, by a philosophical view of her situation, and the superior advantages she enjoys, for augmenting the sum of social happiness.

I should hav added another volum, had not recent experience convinced me, that few large publications in this country wil pay a printer, much less an author. Should the Essays here presented to the public, proov undezerving of notice, I shal, with cheerfulness, resign my other papers to oblivion.

The reeder wil obzerv that the orthography of the volume iz not uniform. The reezon iz, that many of the essays hav been published before, in the common orthography, and it would hav been a laborious task to copy the whole, for the sake of changing the spelling.

In the essays ritten within the last yeer, a considerable change of spelling iz introduced by way of experiment. This liberty waz taken by the writers before the age of queen Elizabeth, and to this we are indeted for the preference of modern spelling over that of Gower and Chaucer. The man who admits that the change of housoonde, mynde, ygone, moneth into husband, mind, gone, month, iz an improovment, must acknowlege also the riting of helth, breth, rong, tung, munth, to be an improovment. There iz no alternativ. Every possible reezon that could ever be offered for altering the spelling of wurds, still exists in full force; and if a gradual reform should not be made in our language, it wil proove that we are less under the influence of reezon than our ancestors.

Hartford, June, 1790.

 

1 Comment

Filed under 1790's, Culture, Early Republic, Education, Eighteenth century, Language, Posted by Caroline Fuchs