Category Archives: Culture

Item of the Day: Description of The Asylum, or House of Refuge, Surry [1808-1810]

Found In: Microcosm of London. Vol. I. London: R. Ackermann, [1808-1810].

THE ASYLUM, OR HOUSE OF REFUGE,

Is in the parish of Lambeth, in Surry, and was instituted in the year 1758, for the reception of friendless and deserted girls, the settlemnt of whose parents cannot be found. It was incorporated in 1800.

The annexed print is an interesting representation of the objects of this benevolent institution at their repast, in the presence of some of their guardians, who seem to contemplate the good order, cheerfulness, innocence, and comforts of their little wards, with all that interest and delight, that luxury of fine feeling, which irradiates the countenance when the heart is glowing with benevolence, animated with the exercise of an important duty, and gratified by the conviction that their virtuous endeavours are crowned with success. The coup d’oeil of the print is most impressive, and does great honour to the talents and feelings of the artists. The sweet innocence of the children, the benevolence of the guardians, and the chaste and matron-like simplicity of the building, aided by a fine breadth of effect, form a whole, which at the same time that the parts are in perfect harmony with each other, is admirably calculated to awaken the tender emotions of the human heart, and excite the spectator to the exertion of those tender and kindly feelings, which do honour to our nature.

This charity owes its establishment to that vigilant and active magistrate, Sir John Fielding; who had long observed, that though the laws of this kingdom provided a parish settlement for every person, by birth, parentage, apprenticeships, &c. yet many cases continually occurred, in which such settlements were difficult, if not impossible, to be ascertained; and therefore he and others were solicitous to remove, in part, this source of female wretchedness. By their exertions, and the continued endeavours of those who have hitherto conducted the plan, their benevolent intentions have been rewarded with the most signal success. The generous and discerning public has bestowed the means, which have prospered in the hands of the guardians, by whose care two hundred deserted femals are daily sheltered and protected from vice and want, supplied with food and raiment, and taught whatever can render them useful in their situation, or comfortable and happy in themselves.

Carefully instructed in the principles of religion; in reading, writing, needlework, and household business, they are trained to habits of industy and regularity, by which means there is a supply of diligent and sober domestics for the use of that public, which, by its contributions, has so nobly acquired a right to their services.

The particular objects of this charity are, the children of soldiers, sailors, and other indigent persons, bereft of their parents, at a distance from any of their relations; who being too young to afford the necessary information respecting settlements, are often left destitute of protection and support, at an age when they are incapable of earning a subsistence, and contending with surrounding dangers.

Females of this description are, in a particular manner, the objects of compassion, and have also a double claim to the care of the humane and virtuous, from being not only exposed to the miseries of want and idleness, but, as they grow up, to the solicitations of the vicious, and the consequent misery of early seduction.

The following are some of the regulations for the government of this charity, which have been made by the guardians from time to time, and now continue in force.

 

Qualifications of Guardians.

The qualification of an annual guardian is, a yearly subscription of three guineas or upwards.

The qualification of a perpetual guardian is, a subscription of thirty guineas or upwards.

Legacies bequeathed to the use of this charity of one hundred pounds or upwards, when paid, shall entitle the first-named acting executor to to be a perpetual guardian.

The guardians, conceiving it to be very essential for promoting one of the chief objects of this institution, earnestly solicit the ladies, who are particularly qualified for that purpose, frequently to visit the charity, inspect the management of the house, and particularly the employment of the children; also to see that they are properly instructed in housewifery, so as to be qualified for useful domestic servants; and from time to time communicate to the committee, by letter or otherwise, such observations as they shall deem proper to make.

 

Employment of Children.

The children are to make and mend their own linen; make shirts, shifts, and table-linen; to do all kinds of plain needle-work, and to perform the business of the house and kitchen; to which latter twelve are appointed weekly, according to their age and abilities, to assist the cook, to wash, iron, and get up all the linen. They are likewise taught to read the Bible, write a legible hand, and understand the first four rules in arithmetic.

All kinds of plain needle-work are taken in at the Assylum, and performed by the children at certain rates, which are regulated by the committee.

 

The following ar the Rules for placing out the Children.

They are to be bound apprentices for seven years, at the age of fifteen, or sooner, as domestic servants to reputable families in Great Britain.

No girl shall be apprenticed until the character of the master or mistress applying for the same, shall have been enquired into, and approved of by the committee.

Every person applying for an apprentice must appear at the committee, to give the necessary information respecting their station, unless such appearance be dispensed with by the committee.

When any girl shall become qualified to be an apprentice, the guardian who presented her shall be acquainted therewith, in order to know if such guardian has any place in view for her.

The guardians, desirous of encouraging the children to serve their apprenticeship faithfully, have empowered the committee to grant any orpahn apprenticed from the charity, who shall produce to the committee a certificate, signed by her master or mistress (or both if living), of her good behaviour during her apprenticeship, the sum of five guineas, such orphan having first returned public thanks in the chapel for the protection she has received.

The committee are empowered to put out at any time, to any trade they shall think proper, such orphans as may have contracted any disease or infirmity, which may render them incapable of domestic service, with a premium not exceeding ten pounds. . . .

 

 

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Eighteenth century, England, London, Poor, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Reform, Women

Item of the Day: Microcosm of London [1808-1810]

Full Title: Microcosm of London. Vol. I. London: R. Ackermann, [1808-1810].

 

INTRODUCTION.

To expatiate the general utility of a work of this description, is hardly necessary; it embraces such a variety of subjects (dissimilar, it must be acknowledged, to each other), that some of them must be interesting to almost every man; and as the plates will be arranged alphabetically, the whole will form a sort of dictionary, that may be referred to for any particular subject.

Among the numerous inhabitants of this great city, there are some whose particular pursuits have so much engrossed their time and thoughts, that they know little more of the scenery which surrounds them than barely the names. Such a work as this may reasonably be expected to rouse their dormant curiosity, and induce them to notice and contemplate objects so worthy of their attention. Those to whom these scenes are familiar, it will remind of their various peculiarities, and this publication may possibly point out some which have hitherto escaped their observation. To such occasional visitors of the metropolis as wish to know what is most worthy of their attention and examination in this mighty capital of the British empire, it will afford information which cannot easily be estimated.

The great objection that men fond of the fine arts have hitherto made to engravings on architectural subjects, has been, that the buildings and figures have almost invariably been designed by the same artists. In consequence of this, the figures have been generally neglected, or are of a very inferior cast, and totally unconnected with the other part of the print; so that we may sometimes see men and women in English dresses delineated in an English view of an Italian palace, and Spanish grandees in long cloaks, and ladies in veils, seated in one of our own cathedrals.

To remove these glaring incongruities from this publication, a strict attention has been paid, not only to the country of the figures introduced in the differnet buildings, but to the general air and peculiar carriage, habits, &c. of such characters as are likely to make up the majority in particular places.

The architectural part of the subjects that are contained in this work, will be delineated, with the utmost precision and care, by Mr. Pugin, whose uncommon accuracy and elegant taste have been displayed in his former productions. With respect to the figures, they are the pencil of Mr. Rowlandson, with whose professional talents the public are already so well acquainted, that it is not necessary to expatiate on them here. As the follwing list comprises almost every variety of character that is found in this great metropolis, there will be ample scope for the exertion of his abilities; and it will be found, that his powers are not confined to the ludicrous, but that he can vary with his subject, and, whenever it is necessary, descend

From grave to gay, from lively to severe.

As six numbers will form a volume, the whole will be comprised in four handsome volumes, with each of which will be given a beautiful frontispiece; so that each volume will contain twenty-five highly finished plates, correctly designed and coloured from nature, with near two-hundred pages of letter-press.

As every possible attention will be paid to executing the different parts in a superior style, and rendering this work wothy of approbation and encouragement, the publisher is not afraid of obtaining it.

 

 

[SEE ALSO: MICROCOSM OF LONDON]

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Filed under 1800's, Culture, Eighteenth century, England, London, North America, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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].

 

CHAP. II.

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. . . .

 

 

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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. . . .

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Item of the Day: A Gloomy Catastrophe (1805)

Found In: A Northern Summer; or Travels round the Baltic, through Denmark, Sweden, Russia, Prussia, and Part of Germany, in the Year 1804. By John Carr, Esq. London: Printed for Richard Phillips, No. 6, Bridge Street, Blackfriars, by T. Gillet, Salisbury square, 1805.

 

CHAP. XIV.

A GLOOMY CATASTROPHE.

IT is with deep regret that I approach the delicate and awful subject of this chapter. Humanity would gladly cover it with the pall of oblivion; but justice to the memory of an unhappy monarch, and to the chief of the august family of Russia, demand a candid though careful developement [sic] of the events which preceded the fall of the last Emperor. The original source of my information is from one who beheld the catastrophe which I am about to relate, whom I can neither name nor doubt; a catastrophe which is too near the period in which I write, not to render an unrestrained disclosure of all the particulars with which I  have been furnished, unfair if not imprudent. The causes that first created those well-known prejudices which Catherine II. cherished against her son, have perished with her; but all the world knows, that, during the many years which rolled away between the Grand Duke’s arrival at the age of maturity and his elevation to the throne, his august mother never admitted him to any participation of power, but kept him in a state of the most abject and mortifying separation from the court, and in almost total ignorance of the affairs of the empire. Although Paul, by his birth, was generalissimo of the armies, he never was permitted to head a regiment; and although, by the same right, grand admiral of the Baltic, he was interdicted from even visiting the fleet at Cronstadt. To these painful privations may be added, that when he was recommended, that is offered, to travel, during his absence Catherine seized and sent to Siberia one of his most cherished friends, because she discoverd that he had informed her son of some inconsiderble state affair. Thus Paul beheld himself not only severed from the being who gave him birth, but from all the ordinary felicities of life. The pressure of his hand excited suspicion; peril was in his attachment, and in his confidence guilt and treason. He could not have a friend, without furnishing a victim.

A gentleman nearly connected with me, now no more, a man of talent and acute observation and veracity, had several years since the honour of spending a short period at the little secluded court of Gatchina, upon which, as the dazzling beams of imperial favour never shone, the observer was left in the tranquillity of the shade, to make a more calm, steady, and undiverted survey. At this time, Paul displayed a mind very elegantly inclined, without being brilliant, highly cultivated, accomplished and informed, frank and generous, brave and magnanimous, a heart tender and affectionate, and a dispositon very sweet, though most acutely and poignantly susceptible: his person was not handsome, but his eye was penetrating, and his manners such as denoted the finished gentleman. In his youth he was seen by the bed-side of the dying Panin, the hoary and able minister of Catherine, and his tutor, kissing and bathing his hand with tears. As an evidence of his intellectual vigour, let the elaborate and able ukase, by which he settled the precedence and provision of the imperial family, unquestionably his own unassisted composition, be referred to. He loved his amiable princess, and his children, with the most ardent, the most indulgent fondness, and it was the labour of their love, as well as of his servants, who were devotedly attached to him, to requite his affections and graciousness, and to endeavour to fill up with every endearing, every studied attention, the gloomy chasm which had been formed by an unnatural and inexplicable neglect; but this chasm was a bottomless abyss, upon the brink of which his wounded spirit was ever wandering! Paul possessed a high martial inclination, and, reflecting that he might one day mount the throne of a military empire, he made the art of war the principal object of his studeis; but neither this pursuit, so copious, so interesting, nor the endearments of those who surrounded him, could expel from his mind the sense of his injuries. He beheld himself, the second personage the the destined ruler of the empire, postponed to the periodical favourite of his mother, the minister of her unbounded voluptiousness, not unfrequently elevated to the presidency of the Hermitage from the ranks, with no other pretensions than vigorous health and a mighty frame; whilst, on the other hand, the bleeding shade of his father was for ever, in his morbid imagination, pointing to his wound, and whispering revenge. Thus exiled from the heart of his mother, is it a matter of surprise that he should exclude her from his own?

Catherine more than once observed, that her son would not long occupy the throne after her decease; and it has been the fashion to say, that her alienation from him was justified by the events which succeeded her death. With this prophetic spirit, she devoted all her care to the education of her grandsons, Alexander and Constantine, and exercised all the powers she possessed towards the consummation of her prediciton. She foretold that the flower which she had planted would wither early: she shook it till every blossom fell, and shaded it so, that the dew of Heaven should never visit it more: she pressed and pierced the delicate and ardent mind of her son until she subverted it. Was it then a proof of inspiration, to prognosticate the brevity of his reign over an empire, the history of which has too often and fatally proved, that however despotic its government, and there is not one under heaven more absolute, a cautious and dexterous cultivation of the interest, feelings, prejudices, and affections of the people is inseparable from the safety of the ruler? . . .

 

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Item of the Day: Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon (1733)

Full Title: The Philosophical Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, and Lord High-Chancellor of England; Methodized, and made English, from the Originals. With Occasional Notes, To explain what is obscure; and shew how far the several Plans of the Author, for the Advancement of all the Parts of Knowledge, have been executes to the Present Time. Vol. I. By Peter Shaw, M.D. London: Printed for J. J. and P. Knapton; D. Midwinter and A. Ward; A. Bettesworth and C. Hitch; J. Pemberton; J. Osborn and T. Longman; C. Rivington; F. Clay; J. Batley; R. Hett; and T. Hatchett, M.DCC.XXXIII. [1733].

SUPPLEMENT I.

THE NEW ATLANTIS; OR, A PLAN OF A SOCIETY

FOR THE PROMOTION OF KNOWLEDGE.

Delivered in the Way of Fiction.

PREFACE.

THE present Piece has, perhaps, been esteemed a greater Fiction than it is: The Form fo the History is purely imaginary; but the Things mentioned in it seem purely Philosophical; and, if Men would exert themselves, probably practical. But whilst our Minds labour under a kind of Despondency and Dejection, with regard to operative Philosophy; and refuse to put forth their strength; the Wings of Hope are clipped. And, in this situation, the mind seems scarce accessible but by Fiction. For plain Reason will here prove dull and languid; and even Works themselves rather stupefy than rouze and inform. Whence the prudent and seasonable use of Invention and Imagery, is a great Secret for winning over the Affections to Philosophy. We have here, as in miniature, a Summary of Universal Knowledge; Examples, Precepts and Models for improving the Mind in History, Geography, Chronology, Military Discipline, Civil Conversation, Morality, Policy, Physicks, &c whence it appears like a kind of Epitome, and farther Improvement of the Scheme of the Augmentis Scientiarum. The dignity and utility of the Design may appear from hence; that not only Mr. Cowley endeavoured to imitate it, in his Plan of a Philosophical Society; but even the Royal Society of London, and the Royal Academy of Paris, have, from their first Institution, employed themselves, and still continue employed, in its execution.

SECT. I.

1.  After a twelvemonth’s stay at Peru, we sailed from thence for China and Japan, by the South-Sea; and had fair Winds from the East, tho’ soft and gentle, for above five Months: then the Wind changed and settled in the West, for several days; so that we made little way, and sometimes purposed to sail back. But now there arose strong Winds from the South, one point to the East, which carried us to the North: by which time our Provisions failed us. And being thus amidst the greatest wilderness of Waters in the World, we gave ourselves for lost. Yet lifting up our hearts to God, who sheweth his wonders in the Deep; we besought him that as in the beginning he disclosed the face of the Deep, and made dry Land appear; so we might now discover Land, and not perish. The next day about Evening, we saw before us, towards the North, the appearance of thick Clouds, which gave us some hopes for as that part of the South-Sea was utterly unkown; we judged it migh have Islands or Continents, hitherto undiscovered. We, therefore, shaped our Course towards them, and in the dawn of the next day plainly discerned Land.

2.  After sailing an hour longer, we entered the Port of a fair city; not large, but well built, and affording an agreeable Prospect from the Sea. Upon offering to go on shore, we saw People with Wands in their hands, as it were forbidding us; yet without any Cry or Fierceness; but only warning us off by Signs. Whereupon we advised among ourselves what to do: when a small Boat presently made out to us, with about eight Persons in it; one whereof held in his hand a short, yellow Cane, tipped at both ends with blue; who made on board our Ship, without any shew of distrust. And seeing one of our number present himself somewhat at the head of the rest, he drew out, and delivered to him, a little Scroll of yellow polish’d Parchment, wherein were written in ancient Hebrew, ancient Greek, Latin of the School, and in Spanish, these Words: Land ye not, and provide to be gone within sixteen days; except ye have farther time given you: but if ye want fresh Water, Provision, Help for your Sick, or Repair for your Ship, write down your Wants, and ye shall have what belongs to Mercy. The Scroll was sealed with Cherubims Wings, and a Cross.

3.  This being deliver’d, the Officer return’d, and left only a Servant to receive our Answer. Our Answer was, in Spanish, That our Ship wanted no Repair; for we had rather met with Calms and contrary Winds, than Tempests: but our Sick were many; so that if not permitted to land, their Lives were in danger. Our other Wants we set down in particualr; adding, that we had some little store of Merchandize; which, if they pleased to traffick for, might supply our Wants, without being burdensome to them. We offered Money to the Servant; and a Piece of Crimson Velvet to be presented the Officer: but the Servant took them not; and would scarce look upon them: so left us, and retun’d in another little Boat that was went for him.

4.  About three Hours after our Answer was dispatch’d, there came to us a Person of Figure. He had on a Gown with wide Sleeves, a kind of Water-Camblet, of an excellent and bright Azure; his under Garment was green, so was his Hat, being in the form of a Turban, curiously made; his Hair hanging below the Brims of it. He came in a boat, some part of it gilt, along with four other Persons; and was follow’d by another Boat, wherein were twenty. When he was come within bow-shot of our Ship, Signals were made to us, that we should send out our boat to meet him; which we presently did, manned with the principal Person amongst us but one, and four of our number with him. When we came within six Yards of their Boat, they bid us approach no farther: we obeyed; and thereupon the Person of Figure, before described, stood up and, with a loud Voice, in Spanish, asked, Are ye Christians? We answered, yes; fearing the less, because of the Cross we had seen in the Signet. At which Answer, the said Person lift up his right Hand towards Heaven, and drew it softly to his Mouth; a Gesture they use when they thank God, and then said; If ye will swear by the Merits of the Saviour, that ye are no Pirates; nor have shed Blood, lawfully or unlawfully, within forty Days past; ye have Licence to come on shore. We said, we were all ready to take the Oath. Whereupon, one of those that were with him, being, as it appear’d, a Notary, made an entry of this Act. Which done, another of the Attendants in the same Boat, after his Lord had spoke to him, said aloud; My Lord would have ye know, that it is not out of Pride, or Greatness, that he does not come on board your Ship; but as in your Answer, you declare you have many sick among you, he was warned by the City-Conservator of Health to keep at a distance. We bowed ourselves, and answered, we accounted what was already done a great Honour, and singular Humanity; but hoped, that the Sickness of our Men was not infectious. Then he returned. . . .

 

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Filed under 1600's, 1700's, Culture, Eighteenth century, Enlightenment, Fiction, Modern Language Translations, Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Reason

Item of the Day: Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution (1791)

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

 

APPENDIX, NO. III.

Of the treatment of prisoners, and of the distresses of the Inhabitants.

 MANY circumstances concurred to make the American war particurlary calamitous. It was originally a civil war in the estimation of both parties, and a rebellion to its termination, in the opinion of one of them. Unfortunately for mankind doubts have been entertained of the obligatory force of the law of nations in such cases. The refinement of modern ages has stripped war of half of its horrors, but the systems of some illiberal men have tended to re-produce the barbarism of Gothic times, by withholding the benefits of that refinement from those who are effecting revolutions. An enlightened philanthropist embraces the whole human race and enquires, not whether an object of distress is or is not an unit of an acknowledged nation. It is sufficient that he is a child of the same common parent, and capable of happiness or misery. The prevalence of such a temper would have greatly lessened the calamities of the American war, but while from contracted policy, unfortunate captives were considered as not entitled to the treatment of prisoners, they were often doomed without being guilty, to suffer the punishment due to criminals.

The first American prisoners were taken on the 17th of June 1775. These were thrown indiscriminately into the jail at Boston, without any consideration of their rank. Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Gage on this subject, to which the latter answered by asserting that the prisoners had been treated with care and kindess, though indiscriminately “as he acknowledged no rank that was not derived from the King.” To which Gen. Washington replied “You affect, Sir, to despise all rank not derived from the same source with your own; I cannot conceive one mroe honorable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest sourse and original fountal of all power.”

Gen. Carlton during his command conducted towards the American prisoners with a degree of humanity, that reflected the greatest honor on his character. Before he commenced his operations on the lakes in 1776, he shipped off those of them who were officers for New-Enlgand, but previously supplied them with every thing requisite to make their voyage comfortable. The other prisoners, amounting to 800, were sent home by a flag after exacting an oath from them, not to serve during the war unless exchanged. Many of these being almost naked were comfortably cloathed by his orders, previously to their being sent off.

The capture of Gen. Lee proved calamitous to several individuals. Six Hessian field officers were offered in exchange for him but this was refused. It was said by the British, that Lee was a deserter from their service, and as such could not expect the indulgences usually given to prisoners of war. The Americans replied, that as he resigned his British commission previously to his acepting one from the Americans, he could not be considered as a deserter. He was nevetheless confined, watched, and guarded. Congress thereupon resolved, that Gen. Washington be directed to inform Gen. Howe, that should the proffered exchange of Gen. Lee for six field officers not be accepted, and the treatment of him as above mentioned be continued, the principles of retaliation should occasion five of the said Hessian field officers, together with Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell to be detained, in order that the said treatment which Gen. Lee received, should be exactly inflicted on their persons. The Campbell thus designated as the subject of retaliation, was a human man, and a meritorious officer, who had been captured by some of the Massachusett’s privateers near Boston, which, from the want of information, he was proceeding soon after the British had evacuated it. The above act of Congress was forwarded to Massachusetts with a request that they would detain Lt. Col. Compbell and keep him in safe custody till the further order of Congress. The council of Massachusett’s exceeded this request, and sent him to Concord jail, where he was lodged in a gloomy dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square. The attendance of a single servant on his person was denied him, and every visit from a friend refused.

The prisoners captured by Sir William Howe in 1776, amounted to many hundreds. The officers were admitted to parole, and has some waste houses assigned to them as quarters; but the privates were shut up in the coldest season of the year in churches, sugar houses, and such like the open buildings. The severity of the weather, and the rigor of their treatment, occasioned the death of many hundreds of these unfortunate men. The filth of the places of their confinement, in consequence of fluxes which prevailed among them, was both offensive and dangerous. Seven dead bodies have been seen in one building, at one time, and all lying in a situation shocking to humanity. The provisions served out to them were deficient in quantity, and of an unwholsome quality. These suffering prisoners were generally pressed to enter into the British service, but hundreds submitted to death, rather than procure a melioration of their circumstances by enlisting with the enemies of their country. After Gen. Washington’s successes at Trenton and Princeton, the American prisoners fared somewhat better. Those who survived were offered to be sent out for exchange, but some of them fell down dead in the streets, while attempting to walk to the vessels. Others were so emaciated that their appearance was horrible. A speedy death closed the scene with many.

The American board of war, after conferring with Mr. Boudinot the commissary-general of prisoners, and examining evidences produced by him, reported among other things, “That there were 900 privates and 300 officers of the American army, prisoners in the city of New-York, and about 500 privates and 50 officers prisoners in Philadelphia. That since the beginning of October all these prisoners, both officers and privates, had been confined in prison ships or the Provost: That from the best evidence the subject could admit of, the general allowance of prisoners, at most did not exceed four ounces of meat per day, and often so damaged as not to be eatable: That it had been a common practice with the British, on a prisoner’s being first captured, to keep him three, four or five days without a morsel of meat, and then to tempt him to enlist to save his life: That there were numerous instances of prisoners of war, perishing in all the agonies of hunger.”  . . .

 

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Filed under 1770's, 1780's, American Revolution, Culture, Eighteenth century, History, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Prisoners