Pamphlets – literature published in an unbound, ephemeral format – are one of the strengths of Special Collections. The collections contain thousands of sermons, speeches, tracts, and political writings from the seventeenth through the nineteenth century, many of which are very scarce. We'll share a pamphlet each week to highlight these holdings.
This week's selection comes from the Fourth of July Orations Collection. It's one of eight known copies, all in the United States, and contains exactly what it says it does – the text of a Fourth of July address given in 1824.
The Fourth of July Orations collection is a great source for studying the development of American identity and politics. Many speeches, including this one, comment on contemporary world events and urge leaders to stick with the values and policies espoused by the country's founders.
Newburyport, [Mass.] : Printed at the Herald office [by Ephraim W. Allen], 1824. Find it in the MERLIN catalog.
Here in Columbia, we were greeted by temps of -10 (with wind chills of -25) during our morning commute. A meditation on winter somehow seems appropriate today. John Shower (1657-1715) was a Presbyterian minister who published several works during his lifetime, mostly funeral sermons. His Winter Meditations was first published in 1695, and was fairly popular – this is the third edition. In this sermon, Shower sets out to illustrate the ways his parishioners could see winter as a blessing.
For instance, "In some Countreys, as in Lapland, not only doth the Snow abide all the Year on the Mountains, but durign the whole Winter the Earth is cover'd with Snow. And considering that for some Months of Winter, the Sun riseth not above their Horizon, or not much above it, this is rather an Advantage than an Inconvenience. For by the Light of the Snow they are enabl'd to work by Day, and to travel safely by Night."
"The good Effect of the Winter's Frost and Snow is perceiv'd very often the following Summer… As when a Gardner is seen to pull up some delightful Flowers by the Roots, to dig up the Earth, and cover it with Dung, some ignorant Person may be ready to charge him with spoiling the Garden; but when Spring is arriv'd, there will be sufficient Ground to acknowledge his Wisdom in what he did."
And it could be a lot worse.
Our temperature should climb into the 20s tomorrow. Perhaps winter really isn't so bad. As Garrison Keillor put it, more than 300 years after Shower, "Winter is what we were meant for and we welcome it. We thrive on adversity and that’s just the truth. The snow shovel is the secret of happiness."
Find it in the MERLIN catalog.
Here are some New Thoughts for your New Year, courtesy of our extensive collections of seventeenth- through nineteenth-century British pamphlets. This one was printed in 1796.
The Cheap Repository Tracts series was created by the British poet, playwright, and philanthropist Hannah More, whose writings often dealt with religious themes. They were printed in large quantities for distribution to the poor. Although there must have been thousands of original copies, they were ephemera – not meant to be preserved. Only six copies of this tract are recorded in libraries around the world.
Many of the tracts deal with people in trades or in domestic service. This one shows "How Mr. Thrifty the great Mercer succeeded in his Trade, by always examining his Books soon after Christmas, and how Mr. Careless, by neglecting this rule, let all his affairs run to ruin before he was aware of it." The pamphlet ends with a hymn for the new year.
Find it in the MERLIN catalog.