akashiver: (People who read too much!)

Researching the development of hot air balloons, I came across this lovely letter from Horace Walpole (inventor of the Gothic novel) geeking out about the new invention. For your amusement:

To Hon, H.S. Conway, Oct 15 1784,

"As I was writing this, my servants called me away to see a balloon... I saw it from the common field before the window of my round tower....

I chiefly amused myself with ideas of the change that would be made in the world by the substitution of balloons for ships. I supposed our seaports to become deserted villages; and Salisbury Plain, Newmarket Heath... and all downs... arising into dockyards for aerial vessels. Such a field would be ample in furnishing new speculations. But to come to my ship-news:--

[Walpole writes his version of ship news from a world of air ships]:

'The good balloon Daedalus, Captain Wing-ate, will fly in a few days for China; he will stop at the top of the Monument to take in passengers.

'Arrived on Brand-sands, the Vulture, Captain Nabob; the Tortoise snow, from Lapland; the Pet-en-l'air, from Versailles; the Dreadnought, from Mount Etna, Sir W. Hamilton, commander; the Tympany, Montgolfier; and the Mine-A-in-a-bandbox, from the Cape of Good Hope. Foundered in a hurricane, the Bird of Paradise, from Mount Ararat. The bubble, Sheldon, took fire, and was burnt down to her galley; and the Phoenix is to be cut down to a second-rate.'


In those days Old Sarum will again be a town and have houses in it. There will be fights in the air with wind-guns and bows and arrows; and there will be a prodigious increase of land for tillage, especially in France, by breaking up all public roads as useless. But enough of my fooleries; for which I am sorry you must pay double postage."

I rather wish Walpole had written his air balloon news story. It might have given him another "first." As it is, he'll just have to settle for being indirectly responsible for goths.


akashiver: (Default)

Those of you who want to search 18th century texts for free can now do so at ECCO-TCP

The University of Michigan, the University of Oxford, and Gale have cooperated in a Text Creation Partnership to create 2,231 accurately keyed and fully searchable SGML/XML text editions from among the 150,000 titles available in the Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) corpus. These texts are now fully available to the public in two formats: plain text editions can be requested from 18thConnect, an online resource initiative in 18th century studies, and sgml/xml editions can be requested directly from our office. ECCO is an important research database that includes every significant English-language and foreign-language title printed in the United Kingdom during the 18th century, along with thousands of important works from the Americas.
akashiver: (Default)
It's official: I'm heading to London again this summer to tie up some loose research ends. Did I mention how much I love that city?
akashiver: (Default)

I don't know how I missed the online transcription of this journal of a Royal Navy Seaman, but I did. It's an interesting glimpse of shipboard life in 1798:

Friday 13th. At daylight Barbuda in sight, as Mr T got Tipsey last night. He was unable to keep his morning Watch, but sent word to the Officer that he was ill. Captain H knowing the true cause, ordered him up to the mast head.

Friday 13 July 1798 continued

        Mr. Taylor, the Masters Mate. during his intoxication last night in the middle watch went on the Quarter Deck, intirely naked. And at 10 PM the same evening, the Boatswain wife when all the Lights were out, came out of her Cabin with a large knife and her hand, and cut the head Clues of the Hammocks of Mis'rs Berkley, Taylor & Fitz.
        At 1 p.m. Fell in with La Concord, At 3 anchored in Basseterre Road. At 8 to Mr. Canes, the officer who had charge of the watch, was called into the cabin and there told by the Captain, to march out, and that he was an impertinent fellow for striking his Coxwain. Canes was releived; & confined to his Cabin
        At 7 AM. The Gunner complained to Captain of Mr. Tripes's conduct last night, he went to the Mast head at this hour, and remained there untill 4 PM without anything to eat, when he came down, he looked at me as if he wanted something, so I sent him a tumbler of Maderia, and a bit of roast Pork.
 


akashiver: (People who read too much!)
I've cleared enough service-work off my plate to get back to research. I just came across an odd 18C obituary for "Peter Wilkins, the muffin man." Given that "Peter Wilkins" is also the name of a well-known fictional character, this is a little like reading about "Harry Potter, the muffin man,"  who was "hanged in America by order of Gen. Green, during the late war, but was immediately restored to life by a French surgeon. He had amassed 1300 l. the whole of which he left to his wife, a black woman." Apparently, Wilkins was so frugal that even on his deathbed he refused to pay for an apothecary.

Interracial marriage, near-death experiences at the hand of rampaging Americans, and muffins. Sound like quite a guy.

The record, fyi, is "Deaths," Scots Magazine, 53 (1791:Dec.) p.620
akashiver: (Default)
TO THE AUTHOR OF A DULL EPIGRAM.
ON AN INFLAMMATION IN A LADY's EYE.
HOW TO WRITE ONE's OWN LIFE.

Also, an "Ode to the Water Pumps at Bath." Proving that, even in an era before magnetic poetry, you really could write a poem about anything.

Research

Feb. 4th, 2007 07:23 pm
akashiver: (blown away!)
The new IUCAT system works a lot better, though it still has a few glitches. I like that they now tell you the meaning of the subject headings they've assigned.

Today's research thought: Crossdressing Sailors )

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