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- law, and art, many colonists went abroad to Eng
land, Scotland, and the Continent, where they
studied anatomy, surgery, medicine, pharmacy, ; and chemistry, read law at one or other of the Inns e of Court in London, or traveled, as did Benjamin
West and John Singleton Copley, to see the leading P: galleries of Europe. One of the first to study sur
gery abroad was Thomas Bulfinch of Boston, who was in Paris in 1720 studying obstetrics. He declared in his letters that few surgeons in America knew much of the business and that there was no place in the world like Paris. “I am studying,” he writes, “with the greatest man midwife in Paris (and I might say in the universe for that business)." In 1751 his son Thomas also went over to study pharmacy and boarded in London at the “chymists where drugs and medicines were prepared for the hospitals.” Later he turned to surgery, rose at seven, as he wrote his father, walked to Great Marlboro Street, Soho, three miles away from his lodgings in Friday Street, St. Paul's, where, “I am busied in dissection of dead bodies to four in the
afternoon, and often times don't allow myself time i to dine. At six I go to Mr. Hunter's lecture (in
anatomy], where I am kept till nine.” He tells us that he did chemical experiments in his chamber
and diverted himself by seeing Garrick act. But the majority of colonial doctors who studied abroad went to Edinburgh. Dr. Walter Jones of Virginia, one of the most distinguished of them, took his degree there in 1769, and has left us in his letters a delightful account of his sojourn in that city.
The colonists spoke a variety of languages. There were thousands who could not write or speak English, particularly among those who, like the Germans, came from foreign lands and not only retained but taught their native tongue in America. The Celtic Highlanders who settled at Cross Creek wrote and spoke Gaelic, and specimens of their letters and accounts still survive. Dutch continued to be spoken in New York, and in Albany and its neighborhood it was the prevailing tongue in colonial times and even long after the colonial period had come to an end. Many of the New York merchants were bilinguists, and some of them — Robert Sanders, for example, -- wrote readily in English, Dutch, and French. The Huguenots adapted themselves to the use of English more easily than did the Germans and Dutch, though many of them in New York and South Carolina continued to use French, with the result that even their negroes acquired a kind of French
lingo. The advantage of knowing French was generally recognized and among those who regretted their inability to speak the language was Cuyler of New York. A knowledge of French was desired partly as an accomplishment and partly as a business asset, for those who, like Charles Carroll, had been educated in France thus had a distinct advantage over their fellows.
Other languages were less generally understood. Moses Lindo, the indigo inspector of Charleston, was one of those who spoke Spanish, and many of the Jewish merchants and some of the foreign indentured servants were familiar with both Spanish and Portuguese. There must have been interpreters of Spanish in Connecticut in 1752 when there was some trouble over a Spanish ship at New London, for much of the evidence is in Spanish, and Governor Wolcott, who knew nothing of the language, had the documents translated for him. To a greater extent even than today, the exigencies of commerce demanded of those trading with France, Holland, Spain, Portugal, and the West Indies a knowledge of the languages used in those countries. Many colonists who went as merchants or factors to Amsterdam, Bordeaux, Lisbon, or the towns of the foreign West Indies, became proficient in one or more tongues. In all the colonies there were agents and missionaries who were familiar with Indian speech. In addition to such professionals as Conrad Weiser, Daniel Claus, Peter Wraxall, and Wheelock's missionaries, there were others who, though less regularly employed, acquired in one way or another a knowledge of Indian speech and were able to act as interpreters. Many of the slaves were African Negroes who spoke no English at all or only what was called “Black English,” and for that reason among others the Negro born in America always commanded a higher price in the market. Among the indentured servants were large numbers of Welsh who spoke only Gaelic, of English who spoke only their Cornish, Somersetshire, Lancashire, or Yorkshire dialect, and of Irish who spoke "with the brogue very much on their tongues.".;.
Not only were there thousands of men and women in the colonies who could hardly read and who could only make their mark, but there were also thousands who had little or no interest in reading or in collecting books. The smaller farmers and planters, artisans and laborers, confined their reading to the Bible or New Testament, the psalter or hymn book, and an occasional religious work