Category Archives: Fiction

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].




Delivered in the Way of Fiction.


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.


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: A Tale of St. Domingo (1834)

Excerpted from a collection of short stories found in: The Romantic Historian; A Series of Lights and Shadows, Elucidating American Annals. Philadelphia: Published by Hogan & Thompson, No. 139 Market Street, 1834.



There seems to me to be a striking resemblance between slave-holding and volcanic countries. Though the inhabitants may be blessed with every enjoyment depending upon soil and climate, yet in the very bowels of the land there are constantly the elements of destruction. Even while we are most happy and secure, the volcano may be upon the point of bursting forth with overwhelming ruin, which no foresight can anticipate, and no prudence avert. Such was the state of St. Domingo, at the opening of my tale; on the eve of that fearful insurrection which consigned so many unsuspecting beings to premature death, or drove them from their homes and kindred, to struggle with want in the loneliness of a foreign land.

The hot glaring day had passed, and was succeeded by the soft splendor of a West Indian evening. Monsieur L ___, a large proprietor of land and slaves, was sitting at a table in his saloon, looking over some newspapers, which he had just received from a neighboring town. At the other end of the table his wife was engaged in preparations for the evening meal. Before an open window in the same apartment, sat their only daughter, Theresa, with her cousin and accepted lover, Eugene M ___.

Eugene was an orphan. At the very beginning of his course through life, he had encountered misfortunes and difficulties, which only his own talents and energy had enabled him to surmount. He had met with wrongs and treachery enough from the world to make him prize, at their full value, the purity and single-minded love of Theresa. Young as he was, he had seen much of mankind. With an ardent disposition and a heart formed for universal love, the fraud and ingratitude of all whom he had trusted had changed his naturally frank bearing to one of haughty coldness. But to Theresa he looked as the only being whom he might love, without danger and reserve. His eyes were now fixed upon hers, with a mixture of pride and affection which was not very far removed from idolatry. The window at which they were seated, was covered with a luxuriant vine, trained under Theresa’s direction. The checquered moonlight streamed through it, and the evening breeze rustled among its leaves. With all the congenial beauties of a tropical night around them, the lovers were enjoying that interchange of romantic feeling, which it is so much the fashion to ridicule in this matter of fact country of ours; but which I consider the single green spot, and single sparkling fountain, in the dreary waste of a sordid and selfish world. What they were talking of heaven only knows. Chance has once or twice made me an unintentional listener to the conversation of lovers. Much as I was interested at the time, I could not afterwards recollect a word that had passed. And I am inclined to think that their intercourse consists in the exchange of kind words and tones rather than ideas.

The opening of a door, and the entrance of a tall athletic negro, belonging to M. L ___, drew for a moment the attention of all parties. The circumstance in itself was of little importance. It was usual for the negroes after their daily taks was completed, to go to the dwelling house of their masters, and complain of any petty grievance, or ask for little privileges. There was, however, about this man an air of apprehansion and uncertainty, which had just fixed Eugene’s attention, when he rushed upon his master and buried in his bosom a large knife, which he had held unobserved in his hand. The unhappy L ___ fell from his chair without a groan, and the next instant Eugene was standing over his body. With his right hand he had caught a knife from the table, and in his left he held a chair, with which he parried a blow aimed at him by the slave. Afraid to contend singly against such resistance, and confounded perhaps by his own success in the attempt upon his master’s life the negro turned and retreated through the door at which he had entered. A single glance into the portico showed Eugene that it was filled with negroes, and the truth flashed at once upon his mind. To lock and barricade the door, to snatch a candle from the table, and hurry his aunt and cousin up the staircase which ascended from the saloon, was to Eugene but the work of a moment. There was a small closet at the heard [sic] of the stairs, which Mons. L ___. had devoted to his collection of arms, for which he had a singular fondness. It was not time to search for keys. With the wild energy of despair, Eugene threw himself against the door. It gave way, and he was precipitated headlong into the closet among the rattling pistols and fowling pieces, and flasks and bags of amunition. He selected two double barrel guns, and a musket, which, by its large calibre, was peculiarly fitted for his purpose. He loaded them heavily with swan shot, and took a positon from which he could command a view of the whole stairs. . . .


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Filed under 1830's, Fiction, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Slavery

Item of the Day: Zeluco (1789)

Full Title: Zeluco. Various Views of Human Nature, Taken from Life and Manners, Foreign and Domestic. Vol. I. London: Printed for A. Strahan; and T. Cadell, in the Strand, M.DCC.LXXXIX. [1789]


Strong Indications of a vicious Disposition.

RELIGION teaches, that Vice leads to endless misery in a future state; and experience proves, that in spite of the gayest and most prosperous appearance, inward misery accompanies her; for, even in this life, her ways are ways of wretchedness, and all her paths are woe.

This observation has been so often made, that it must be known to all, and its truth is seldom formally denied by any; yet the conduct of men would sometimes lead us to suspect, either that they had never heard it, or that they think it false. To recall a truth of such importance to the recollection of mankind, and to illustrate it by example, may therefore be of use.

Tracing the windings of Vice, however, and delineating the disgusting features of Villany [sic], are unpleasant tasks; and some people cannot bear to contemplate such a picture. It is fair, therefore, to warn Readers of this turn of mind not to peruse the story of Zeluco.

This person, sprung from a noble family in Sicily, was a native of Palermo, where he passed the years of early childhood, without being distinguished by any thing very remarkable in his disposition, unless it was a tendency to insolence, and an inclination to domineer over boys of inferior rank and circumstances. The bad endency of this, however, was so strongly remonstrated against by his father, and others who superintended his education, that it was in a great degree checked, and in a fair way of being entirely overcome.

In the tenth year of his age he lost his father, and was left under the guidance of a mother, whose darling he had ever been, and who had often blamed her husband for too great severity to a son, whom, in her fond opinion, nature had endowed with every good quality.

A short time after the death of his father, Zeluco began to betray strong symptoms of that violent and overbearing disposition to which he had always had a propensity, though he had hitherto been obliged to refrain it. Had that gentleman lived a few years longer, the violence of Zeluco’s temper would, it is probable, have been weakened, or entirely annihilated, by the continued influence of this habit of restraint, and his future life might have exhibited a very different character; for he shewed sufficient command of himself as long as his father lived: but very soon after his death, he indulged, without control, every humour and caprice; and his mistaken mother applauding the blusterings of petulance and pride as indications of spirit, his temper became more and more ungovernable, and at length seemed as inflammable as gunpowder, bursting into flashes of rage at the slightest touch of provocation.

It may be proper to mention one instance of this violence of temper, from which the reader will be enabled to form a juster notion than his mother did, of what kind of spirit it was an indication.

He had a favourite sparrow, so tame it picked crumbs from his hand, and hopped familiarly on the table. One day it did not perform certain tricks which he had taught it, to his satisfaction. This put the boy into a passion: the bird being frightened, attempted to fly off the table. He suddenly seized it with his hand, and while it struggled to get free, with a curse he squeezed the little animal to death. His tutor, who was present, was so shocked at this instance of absurd and brutal rage, that he punished him as he deserved, saying, “I hope this will cure you of giving vent to such odious gusts of passion. If it does not, remember what I tell you, Sir; they will render you hateful to others, wretched to yourself, and may bring you one day to open shame and endless remorse. Zeluco complained to his mother; and she dismissed the tutor, declaring, that she would not have her son’s vivacity repressed by the rigid maxims of a narrow-minded pedant.


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Filed under 1780's, England, Fiction, Great Britain, Literature, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Citizen of the World (1792)

Full Title: The Citizen of the World, or, Letters from a Chinese Philosopher residing in London to his friends in the East. By Oliver Goldsmith. Vol. 1. London. Printed for T. Vernor, W. Otridge, Scatchard & Whitaker, Ogilvy & Speare, Darton & Harvey & W. Millar. Dec. 1. 1792. [Originally pub. 1762.]


To the Same [From Lien Chi Altangi, to the care of Fipsihi, Resident in Moscow; to be forwarded by the Russian Ravan to Fum Hoam, First President of the Ceremonial Academy at Pekin, in China].

The English seem as silent as the Japanese, yet vainer than the inhabitants of Siam. Upon my arrival, I attributed the reserve to modesty, which I now find has its origins in pride.  Condescend to address them first, and you are sure of their acquaintance; stoop to flattery, and you conciliate their friendship and esteem. They bear hunger, cold, fatique, and all the miseries of life without shrinking: danger only calls forth their fortitude; they even exult in calamity; but contempt is what they cannot bear. An Englishman fears contempt more than death: he often flies to death as a refuge from its pressure; and dies when he fancies the world has ceased to esteem him.

Pride seems the source not only of their national vices, but of their national virtues. An Englishman is taught to love his king as his friend, but to acknowledge no other master than the laws which himself has contributed to enact. He despises those nations, who, that one may be free, are all content to be slaves; who first lift a tyrant into terror, and then shrink under his power as if delegated from heaven. Liberty is echoed in all their assemblies, and thousands might be found ready to offer up their lives for the sound, though perhaps not one of all the number understands its meaning. The lowest mechanic however looks upon it as his duty to be a watchful guardian of his country’s freedom, and often uses a language that might seem haughty, even in the mouth of the great emperor who traces his ancestry to the moon.  

A few days ago, passing by one of their prisons, I could not avoid stopping, in order to listen to a dialogue which I thought might afford me some entertainment. The conversation carried on between a debtor through the grate of his prison, a porter, who had stopped to rest his burthen, and a soldier at the window. The subject was upon a threatened invasion from France, and each seemed extremely anxious to rescue his country from the impending danger. “For my part, (cries the prisoner), the greatest of my apprehensions is for our freedom; if the French should conquer, what would become of English liberty? My dear friends, liberty is the Englishman’s prerogative; we must preserve that at the expence of our lives; of that the French shall never deprive us: it is not to be expected that men who are slaves themselves, would preserve our freedom should they happen to conquer:” Ay, slaves, cries the porter, they are all slaves, fit only to carry burthens every one of them. Before I would stoop to slavery, may this be my poison (and he held the goblet in his hand), may this be my poison–but I would sooner lift for a soldier.

The soldier, taking the goblet from his friend, with much awe (fervently cried out), It is not so much our liberties as our religion that would suffer by a change: Ay, our religion, my lads, May the devil sink me into flames, (such was the solemnity of his adjuration), if the French should come over, but our religion would be utterly undone. So saying, instead of a libation, he applied the goblet to his lips, and confirmed his sentiments with a ceremony of the most preseving devotion.

In short, every man here pretends to be a politician; even the fair sex are sometimes found to mix the severity of national altercation with the blandishments of love, and often become conquerors by more weapons of destruction than their eyes.

The universal passion for politics is gratified by Daily Gazettes, as with us at China. But as in ours, the emperor endeavors to instruct his people; in theirs they endeavor to instruct the administration. You must not, however, imagine, that they who compile these papers have any actual knowledge of the politics, or the goverment of a state; they only collect their materials from the oracle of some coffee-house, which oracle has himself gathered them the night before from a beau at a gaming table, who has pillaged his knowledge from a great man’s porter, who has all the information from the great man’s gentleman, who has invented the whole stroy for his own amusement the night preceding.

The English in general seem fonder of gaining the esteem than the love of those they converse with: this gives a formality to their amusements; their gayest conversations have something too wise for innocent relaxation; though in company you are seldom disgusted with the absurdity of a fool; you are seldom lifted into rapture by those strokes of vivacity which give instant, though not permanent, pleasure.

What they want, however, in gaiety thay make up in politeness. You smile at hearing me praise the English for their politeness; you who have heard very different accounts from missionaries at Pekin, who have seen such a different behaviour in their merchants and seamen at home. But I must still repeat it, the English seem more polite than any of their neighbours: their great art in this respect lies in endeavouring, while they oblige, to lessen the force of the favour. Other countries are fond of obliging a stranger; but seem desirous that he should be so sensible of the obligation. The English confer this kindness with the appearance of indifference, and give away benefits with an air as if they despised them.

Walking a few days ago between an English and a Frenchman in the suburbs of the city, we were overtaken by a heavy shower of rain. I was unprepared; but they each ahd large coats which defended them from what seemed to me a perfect inundation. The Englishman seeing me shrink from the wather, accosted me thus: “Psha, man, what dost shrink at? Here take this coat; I don’t want it; I find it no way useful to me: I had a lief be without it.” The Frenchman began to show his politeness in turn. “My dear friend, (cries he) why won’t you oblige me by making use of my coat; you see how well it defends me from the rain; I should not chuse to part with it to others, but to such a friend as you, I could even part with my skin to do him service.”

From such minute instances as these, most reverend Fum Hoam, I am sensible your sagacity will collect instruction. The volume of nature is the book of knowledge; and he becomes wise who makes the most judicious selection. Farewell.     

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Filed under 1790's, Fiction, Letters, Politics, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Aesop’s “The Lion and other Beasts” (1782)

Full Title: Fables of Aesop and Others: Translated into English. With Applications; And a Print before each Fable. By Samuel Croxall. Twelfth Edition, Carefully Revised, and Improved. London: Printed for W. Strahan, J. F. and C. Rivington, T. Caslon, S. Crowder, T. Longman, B. Law, C. Dilly, T. Cadell, J. Bew, T. Lowneds, R. Baldwin, W. Goldsmith, G. Robinson. J. Johnson, E. Newberry, W. Ginger, and B. Collins, M.DCC.LXXXII. [1782]

FAB. VI. The LION and other Beasts.

The Lion and several other Beasts, entered into an Alliance offensive and defensive, and were to live very sociably together in the Forest, one Day, having made a sort of an Excursion by way of Hunting, they took a very fine, large, fat Deer, which was divided into four Parts; there happening to be then present, his Majesty the Lion, and only three others. After the Division was made, and the Parts were set out, his Majesty advancing forward some Steps, and pointing to one of the Shares, was pleased to declare himself after the following Manner: This I seize and take Possession of as my Right, which devolves to me, as I am descended by a true, lineal, hereditary Succession from the Royal Family of Lion: That (pointing to the second) I claim, by, I think, no unreasonable Demand; considering that all the Engagements you have with the Enemy turn chiefly upon my courage and Conduct: And you very well know that Wars are to be expensive to be carried on without proper Supplies. Then (nodding his Head towards the Third) That I shall take by Virtue of my Prerogative; to which, I make no Question, but so dutiful and loyal a People will pay all the Deference and Regard that I can desire. Now, as for the remaining Part, the Necessity of our present Affairs is so very urgent, our Stock so low, and our Credit so impaired and weakened, that I must insist upon your granting That without any Hesitation or Demur; and hereof fail not at your Peril.


No Alliance is safe which is made with those that are superior to us in Power. Tho’ they lay themselves under the most strict and solemn Ties at the Opening of the Congress, yet the first advantageous Opportunity will tempt them to break the Treaty; and they will never want specious Pretences to furnish out their Declaration of War. It is not easy to determine, whether it is more stupid and ridiculous for a Community, to trust itself first in the Hands of those that are more powerful than themselves, or to wonder afterwards that their Confidence and Credulity are abused, and their Properties invaded.



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Filed under 1780's, Fables, Fiction, Literature, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Works of Laurence Sterne, Complete in Eight Volumes. (1803)

Full Title: The Works of Laurence Sterne, Complete in Eight Volumes. Containing I. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. II. A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, and Continuation. III. Sermons. IV. Letters. V. The Fragment. VI. The Koran. VII. History of a Good Warm Coat. With A Life of the Author, Written by Himself. Vol. I. Edinburgh: Printed by J. Turnbull, Anchor-Close, for Gray, Maver, & Co. Booksellers, Glasgow, 1803.



The works of Mr. Sterne, after contending with the prejudices of some, and the ignorance of others, have at length obtained that general approbation which they are entitled to by their various, original, and intrinsic merits. No writer of the present times can lay claim to so many unborrowd excellencies. In none, have with, humour, fancy, pathos, an unbounded knowledge of mankind, and a correct and elegant style, been so happily united. These properties, which render him the delight of every reader of taste, have surmounted all opposition. Even envy, prudery, and hypocrisy are silent.

Time, which allots to each author his due portion of fame, and admits a free discussion of his beauties and faults, without favour and without partiality, hath done ample justice to the superior genius of Mr. Sterne. It hath fixed his reputation as one of the first writers in the English language, on the firmest basis, and advanced him to the rank of a classic. As such, it becomes a debt of gratitude, to collect his scattered performences into a compleate edition, with those embellishments usually bestowed on our most distinguished authors.

 This hath been attempted in the present edition, which comprehends all the works of Mr. Sterne, either made public in his lifetime or since his death. They are printed from the best and most correct copies, with no other alterations than what became necessary from the correction of literal errors. The letters are arranged according to their several dates, as far as they can be discoverd, and a few illustrations added, to explain some temporary circumstances mentioned or alluded to in them. Those which are confessedly spurious are rejected; and that no credit may be given to such as are of doubtful authority, it will be proper to observe, that the letters mumbered 129, 130, 131, have not those proofs of authenticity which the others possess. They cannot, however, be pronounced forgeries with so much confidence as some which are discarded from the present edition may be, and therfore are retained in it.

That no part of the genuine works of Mr. Sterne might be omitted, his own account of himself and his family is inserted without variation. But as this appears to have been a hasty composition, intended only for the information of his daughter, a small number of facts and dates, by way of notes, are added to it. These, it is presumed, will not be considered as improper additions.

It would be trespassing on the reader’s patience, to detain him any longer from the pleasure which these volumes will afford, by bespeaking his favour either for the author or his works. The former is out of the reach of censure or praise; and the reputation of the latter is too well established to be either supported or shook by panegyric or criticism. To the taste therefore, the feelings, the good sense, and the candour of the public, the present collection of Mr. Sterne’s works may be submitted, without the least apprehension that the perusal of any part of them will be followed by consequences unfavourable to the interests of society. The oftener they are read, the stronger will a sense of universal benevolence be impressed on the mind; and the attentive reader will subscribe to the character of the author, given by a comic writer, who declares he held him to be “a moralist in the noblest sense; he plays indeed with the fancy, and sometimes perhaps too wantonly; but while he thus designmedly masks his main attack, he comes at once upon the heart; refines, amends it, softens it; beats down each selfich barrier from abut it, andopens every sluice of pity and benevolence.



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Filed under 1700's, Fiction, Literature, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Hannah More’s Tales for the Common People (1801)

Full Title: The Works of Hannah More, in Eight Volumes; including several pieces never before published. Vol. V. “Tales for the Common People.” London: Printed by A. Strahan for T. Cadell Jun. and w. Davis, 1801.


To improve the habits, and raise the principles of the common people, at a time when their dangers and temptations, moral and political, were multiplied beyond the example of any former period, was the motive which impelled the Author of these volumes to devise and prosecute the institution of the Cheap Repository. This plan was established with an humble wish, not only to counteract vice and profligacy on the one hand, but error, discontent, and false religion on the other. And as an appetite for reading had, from a variety of causes, been increasing among the inferior ranks in this country, it was judged expedient, at this critical period, to supply such wholesome aliment as might give a new direction to their taste, and abate their relish for those corrupt and inflammatory publications which the consequences of the French Revolution have been so fatally pouring in upon us.The success of the plan exceeded the most sanguine expectation of its projector. Above two millions of the Tracts were sold within the first year, besides very large numbers in Ireland; and they continue to be very extensively circulated, in their original form of single Tracts, by Evans, in Long-lane, West Smithfield, Hatchard in Piccadilly, and Hazard in Bath, as well as in three bound volumes sold by Rivington, Hatchard, and all other booksellers.

As these stories, though principally, are not calculated exclusively for the middle and lower classes of society, the Author had, at the desire of her friends, selected those which were written by herself, and presented them to the public in this collection of her works, in an enlarged and improved form.


  • The Shepherd of Salisbury Plain: In Two Parts.

  • The Two Shoemakers: In Six Parts.

  • The History of Tom White the Postboy: In Two Parts.

  • The History of Hester Wilmot: In Two Parts; being the Sequel to the Sunday School.

  • The Grand Assize, or General Goal Delivery: An Allegory.

  • The Servant Man turned Soldier: An Allegory.

  • The History of Betty Brown the St. Giles Orange Girl, with some Account of Mrs. Sponge the Money-Lender.

  • Black Giles the Poacher: In Two Parts. Containing some Account of a Family who had rather live by their Wits than their Work.

  • Tawney Rachel; or, The Fortune-teller; with some Account of Dreams, Omens, and Conjurers.

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Filed under 1800's, Fiction, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Women

Item of the Day: The Foresters, an American Tale (1834)

Full Title: The Foresters, an American Tale: Being a Sequal to the History of John Bull the Clothier in a Series of Letters to a Friend. Exeter: Ulman & Jefferds, 1834.

[Continued from Letter II. of Belknap’s The Foresters—Peregrine’s soliloquy]

“So much for traveling! Abused by Bull, cheated by Frog, what am I at last come to? Here I am alone, no creature but bears, and wolves, and such vermin around me! Nothing in the shape of an human being that I know of, nearer than Pipeweed’s* plantation, and with him I cannot agree; he is so devoted to old Dame Bull that he and I cannot live together any more than I could with the old woman. But, why should I despair? That is unmanly; there is at least a possibility of my living here, and if I am disappointed in my worldly prospects, it is but right, for I professed not to have any. My wish was to have my own way without disturbance or contradiction, and surely I can here enjoy my liberty. I have nobody here to curse me, or kick me, or cheat me. If I have only clams to eat, I can cook them my own way, and say as long a grace over them as I please. I can sit or stand, or kneel, or use any other posture at my devotions, without any cross old woman to growl at me, or any hectoring bully to cuff me for it. So that if I have lost in one way I have gained in another. I had better therefore reconcile myself to my situation, and make the best of a bad market. But company is good! apropos! I will write to some of my fellow-apprentices; I know they were as discontented as myself in old Bull’s family, though they did not care to speak their minds as plainly as I did. I’ll tell them how much happiness I enjoy here in my solitude. I’ll point out to them the charms of liberty, and coax them to follow me into the wilderness; and by and by, when we get all together, we shall make a brave hand of it.” Full of this resolution, he sat down on a wind-fallen tree, and pulling out his inkhorn and paper, wrote a letter to John Codline, Humphrey Ploughshare, and Roger Carrier, three of his fellow-apprentices, informing them of the extreme happiness he enjoyed in having liberty to eat his scanty meals in his own way, and to lay his swelled ankles and stiff knee in whatever posture was most easy to him; conjuring them by their former friendship, to come to join him in carrying on the good work so happily begun, &c. &c. As soon as he had finished the letter, (which had deeply engaged his attention) a huntsman happened to come along in quest of game. This was a lucky circumstance indeed, for Peregrine had not once thought of a conveyance for his letter; it proved also favourable to him in another view, for the huntsman, taking pity on his forlorn situation, spared him some powder and shot, and a few biscuit which he happened to have in his pocket so taking charge of the letter, he delivered it as it was directed. . . .

*Sir Walter Raleigh.

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Filed under 1830's, Fiction, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Foresters, an American Tale (1834)

Full Title: The Foresters, an American Tale: Being a Sequal to the History of John Bull the Clothier in a Series of Letters to a Friend. Exeter: Ulman & Jefferds, 1834.

[Jeremy Belknap was a clergyman, historian, author, essayist, opponent of the African slave trade, member of the American Philosophical Society, founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society and overseer of Harvard College. Although probably best know for his History of New Hampshire and American Biographies, he also wrote The Foresters, An American Tale—a satirical fiction first published in 1792. The narrative was written as a series of letters, the subject of which is the settling, development and growth of the British colonies in America. Below is an excerpt from the 1834 edition of that work.]


Sickness and Delirium of Mr. Bull’s Mother. –Adventures of Perigrine Pickle. –John Codline. –Humphry Ploughshare. –Roger Carrier, and Theophilus Wheat-ear.

DEAR SIR,About the time in which these first attempts were making, and the same of them had raised much jealousy among some, and much expectation among others, there happened a sad quarrel in John Bull’s family. His mother,* poor woman, had been seized by hysteric fits, which caused her at times to be delirious and full of all sorts of whims. She had taken it into her head that every one of the family must hold a knife and a fork and spoon exactly alike; that they must all wash their hands and face precisely in the same manner; that they must sit, stand, walk, kneel, bow, spit, blow their noses, and perform every other animal function by the exact rule of uniformity which she had drawn up with her own hand, and from which they were not allowed to vary one hair’s breadth. If any one of the family complained of a lame ancle [sic] or a stiff knee, or had the crick in his neck, or happened to cut his finer, or was any other way so disabled as not to perform his duty to a tittle, she was so far from making the least allowance, that she would frown, scold and rave like a bedlamite; and John was such an obedient son to his mother, that he would lend her his hand to box their ears, or his foot to kick their backsides, for not complying with her humours. This way of proceeding raised an uproar in the family; for though most of them complied, either through affection for the old lady, or through fear, or some other motive, yet others looked sour, and grumbled; some would openly find fault and attempt to remonstrate, but they were answered with a kick or a thump, or a cato’-nine tails or shut up in a dark garret ‘till they promised a compliance. Such was the logic of the family in those days!

Among the number of the disaffected, was Peregrine Pickle, ** a pretty clever sort of fellow about his business, but a great lover of sour crout [sic], and of an humour that would not bear contradiction. However, as he knew it would be fruitless to enter into a downright quarrel, and yet could not live there in peace; he had so much prudence as to quit the house, which he did by getting out of the window in the night. Not liking to be out of employ, he went to the house of Nic Frog,+ his master’s old friend and rival, told him the story of his sufferings, and got leave to employ himself in one of his workshops till the storm should be over. After he had been here a while, he thought Nick’s family were so much too loose in their manners as Bull’s were too strict; and having heard a rumour of the Forest, to which Nick had some kind of claim, he packed up his little all, and hired one of Nick’s servants who had been there a hunting, to pilot him to that part of the Forest to which Nick laid claim. But Frog had laid an anchor to windward of him; for as Pickle had said nothing to him about a lease, he supposed that when Peregrine had got into the Forest he would take a lease of his old master Bull, which would strengthen his title, and weaken his own; he therefore bribed the pilot to shew Peregrine to a barren part of the forest, instead of that fertile place ++ to which he had already sent his surveyors, and of which he was contriving to get possession. Accordingly the pilot having conducted Pickle to a sandy point which runs into the lake, +++ it being the dusk of the evening,++++ bade him good night, and walked off. Peregrine, who was fatigued with his march, laid down and went to sleep, but waking in the morning, saw himself alone in a very dreary situation, where he could get nothing to live upon but clams, and a few acorns which the squirrels had left. In this piteous plight, the poor fellow folded his arms, and walking along the sandy beach, fell into such a soliloquy as this . . .

*The Church of England.
**The Plymouth Adventures.
+The States of Holland.
++Hudson’s River.
+++Cape Cod.
++++The month of December.

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Filed under 1830's, Fiction, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Complete Works of Fielding (1784)

Full Title:

The Works of Henry Fielding, Esq; with the Life of the Author. A New edition, in Ten Volumes. To which is now added, The Fathers; or, The Good-natured Man.

Written by Henry Fielding. Printed in London for W. Strahan, J. Rivington and Sons, T. Payne, S. Crowder, T. Longman, J. Robson, C. Dilly, G. Kearsly, G. Robinson, J. Johnson, T. Cadell, T. Lowndes, R. Baldwin, W. Cater, G. Nicol, S. Bladon, J. Murray, W. Otridge, J. Sewell, W. Lane, J. Bowen, and W. Fox, 1784.

From Volume VI, Book VI of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Chapter I, “Of Love”:

IN our last book we have been obliged to deal pretty much with the passion of love; and in our succeeding book, shall be forced to handle this subject still more largely. It may not, therefore, in this place be improper to apply ourselves to the examination of that modern doctrine, by which certain philosophers, among many other wonderful discoveries, pretend to have found out, that there is no such passion in the human breast.

Whether these philosophers be the same with that surprising sect, who are honourably mentioned by the late Dr. Swift; as having, by the mere force of genius alone, without the least assistance of any kind of learning, or even reading, discovered that profound and invaluable secret that there is no God; or whether they are not rather the same with those who, some years since, very much alarmed the world, by shewing that there were no such things as virtue or goodness really existing in human nature, and who deduced our best actions from pride, I will not here presume to determine. In reality, I am inclined to suspect, that all these several finders of truth, are the very identical men who are by others called the finders of gold. The method used in both these searches after truth and after gold, being indeed one and the same, viz. the searching, rummaging, and examining into a nasty place; indeed in the former instances, into the nastiest of all places, A BAD MIND.

But though, in this particular, and perhaps in their success, the truth-finder, and the gold-finder, may very properly be compared together; yet in modesty, surely, there can be no comparison between the two; for whoever heard of a gold-finder that had the impudence or folly to assert, from the ill success of his search, that there was no such thing as gold in the world; whereas the truth-finder, having raked out that jakes, his own mind, and being there capable of tracing no ray of divinity, nor any thing virtuous, or good, or lovely, or loving, very fairly, honestly, and logically concludes, that no such things exist in the whole creation.

To avoid, however, all contention, if possible, with these philosophers, if they will be called so; and to shew our own disposition to accommodate matters peaceably between us, we shall here make them some concessions, which may possibly put an end to the dispute.

First, we will grant that many minds, and perhaps those of the philosophers, are entirely free from the least traces of such a passion.

Secondly, that what is commonly called love, namely, the desire of satisfying a voracious appetite with a certain quantity of delicate white human flesh, is by no means that passion for which I here contend. This is indeed more properly hunger; and as no glutton is ashamed to apply the word love to his appetite, and to say he LOVES such and such dishes; so may the lover of this kind, with equal propriety, say, he HUNGERS after such and such women.

Thirdly, I will grant, which I believe will be a most acceptable concession, that this love for which I am an advocate, though it satisfies itself in a much more delicate manner, doth nevertheless seek its own satisfaction as much as the grossest of all our appetites.

And, lastly, that this love, when it operates towards one of a different sex, is very apt, towards its complete gratification, to call in the aid of that hunger which I have mentioned above; and which it is so far from abating, that it heightens all its delights to a degree scarce imaginable by those who have never been susceptible of any other emotions than what have proceeded from appetite alone.

In return to all these concessions, I desire of the philosophers to grant, that there is in some (I believe in many) human breasts, a kind and benevolent disposition, which is gratified by contributing to the happiness of others. That in this gratification alone, as in friendship, in parental and filial affection, as indeed in general philanthropy, there is a great and exquisite delight. That if we will not call such disposition love, we have no name for it. That though the pleasures arising from such pure love may be heightened and sweetened by the assistance of amourous desires, yet the former can subsist alone, nor are they destroyed by the intervention of the latter. Lastly, that esteem and gratitude are the proper motives to love, as youth and beauty are to desire; and therefore, though such desire may naturally cease, when age or sickness overtakes its object; yet these can have no effect of love, nor ever shake or remove from a good mind, that sensation or passion which hath gratitude and esteem for its basis.

To deny the existence of a passion of which we often see manifest instances, seems to be very strange and absurd; and can indeed proceed only from that self-admonition which we have mentioned above: but how unfair is this? Doth the man who recognizes in his own heart no traces of avarice or ambition, conclude, therefore, that there are no such passions in human nature? Why will we not modestly observe the same rule in judging of the good, as well as the evil of others? Or why, in any case, will we, as Shakespeare phrases it, ‘put the world in our own person?’

Predominant vanity is, I am afraid, too much concerned here. This is one instance of that adulation which we bestow on our own minds, and this almost universally. For there is scarce any man, how much soever he may despise the character of a flatterer but will condescend in the meanest manner to flatter himself.

To those, therefore, I apply for the truth of the above observations, whose own minds can bear testimony to what I have advanced.

Examine your heart, my good reader, and resolve whether you do believe these matters with me. If you do, you may now proceed to their exemplification in the following pages; if you do not, you have, I assure you, already read more than you have understood; and it would be wiser to pursue your business, or your pleasures (such as they are), than to throw away any more of your time in reading what you can neither taste nor comprehend. To treat of the effects of love to you, must be as absurd as to discourse on colours to a man born blind; since possibly your idea of love may be as absurd as that which we are told such blind man once entertained of the colour scarlet; that colour seemed to him to be very much like the sound of a trumpet: and love probably may, in your opinion, very greatly resemble a dish of soup, or a sirloin of roast-beef.

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Filed under 1780's, Fiction, Posted by Carrie Shanafelt