Monday, August 6, 2007

1741 to 1748

1741. Sir Robert Walpole uses phrase "balance of power" to describe foreign policy.

1742. Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first prime minister, resigns after creating cabinet and party systems.

1742. Franklin stove invented by B. Franklin. Heats room more efficiently than open fireplace.

1742. Centigrade (Celsius) scale of temperature devised by Swedish Anders Celsius.

Joseph Andrews. Henry Fielding. British. 1742. Novel. Parodies Richardson's Pamela. Lady Booby, Fanny Goodwill, Parson Adams. Reversals and discoveries.

Night Thoughts on Life, Death and Immortality. Edward Young. British. 1742/46. Poetry. Theological reflections late at night on life, death, immortality. Vision of judgment Day and eternity thereafter; magnificence of the starry heavens. Nature revolves; man advances. Both are eternal. Nature a circle, man a line.

"Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Thomas Gray. British. 1742/50. Poetry. Rural life. Tragic dignity inherent in man. Pastoral idealization. Meditation on death.

The Life of Jonathan Wild the Great. Henry Fielding. British. 1743. Novel. Famous highwayman. Satire on tyranny and political innocence. Wild is an ironic representation of Robert Walpole.

1746. Princeton University has its beginnings in New Jersey.

Clarissa Harlowe. Samuel Richardson British. 1747/48. Novel. Epistolary (told in letters). Longest novel in the English language, about 1 million words. Clarissa refuses to marry Solmes. She flees to Lovelace who drugs and rapes her. She refuses his offer of marriage and dies of shame and grief. Subtle, penetrating psychological treatment of character.

1748. American colonists cross the Allegheny Divide and move into western lands.

1748. University of Pennsylvania has its beginnings, suggested by B. Franklin.

Zadig, ou la Destinee. Voltaire. French. 1748. Novel. Difficult to be happy in a world where everything goes wrong in spite of our efforts to do right. Whenever he thinks he achieves contentment, security, love, something happens to rob him of them. Angel reveals there is no good without evil, or evil without good. All is trial or punishment. Draws inferences from close observation.

The Spirit of Laws. Charles Montesquieu. French. 1748. Nonfiction. Principles and historical origins of law; man-made laws supported by natural, universal laws. Need positive laws to govern society; justice the supreme political virtue. Admires the English constitution for separation of powers. Roman vs. Germanic origins of French law. First example of comparative study of social institutions. Eminently readable. Advocated separation of Church and state. Influenced the U.S. Constitution.

Castle of Indolence. James Thomson. British. 1748. Poetry. Situated in the land of Drowsiness. Every sense steeped in enervating delight. Robs of free will and energy. The Knight of Arts and Industry breaks the spell cast by the Wizard of Indolence.

The Adventures of Roderick Random. Tobias Smollett. British. 1748. Novel. From prosperity to destitution. Ultimately, he has revenge on the relatives who scorned him.

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