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such as the Practice of Piety or Pilgrim's Progress. Printed sermons also were popular, particularly after 1740, when those of Whitefield began to be circulated. Among the volumes with which the colonial reader was familiar were the almanacs — the Farmer's Almanac of Whittemore or Nathaniel Ames in Massachusetts, Wells's Register and Almanac, the Hochdeutsche-Amerikanische Kalender, Tobler's South Carolina and Georgia Almanac, and scores of others. From these the colonists obtained all the scientific knowledge they possessed of sun, moon, tides, and weather predictions, as well as a great variety of religious, political, and miscellaneous information, a diverting assortment of jokes, puzzles, and charades for idle hours, and tables of exchanges, interest, and money values for the man of business. Except the Bible, probably no book was held in greater esteem or was more widely read in the colonies in the eighteenth century than the almanac. In various forms and from the hands of many publishers it circulated from coast to back country and from Maine to Georgia and was the colonists' vade mecum of knowledge. It was even more popular than the newspaper, which, though issued at this time in all the colonies except New Jersey,
was expensive, difficult to distribute, and very limited in circulation.
Collections of books, other than those on the shelves of the libraries and in the stocks of the booksellers, were largely confined to the houses of ministers, lawyers, doctors, wealthy merchants, and planters. Early libraries, such as those of John Goodburne in Virginia (1635), William Brewster in Plymouth (1644), and Samuel Eaton in New Haven (1656), were brought from England and consisted chiefly of theological works, with a sprinkling of classical authors and a few books on V mathematics and geography. None of these collec
tions contained works of fiction. William Brewster had a volume or two of poetry and history. The library of William FitzHugh of Virginia (1671) included books on history, law, medicine, physics, and morals, but nothing of literature, essays, poetry, or romance. The law library of Arthur Spicer of Virginia (1701) was remarkable for its scope and variety; and the briefs of his contemporaries, William Pitkin and Richard Edwards of Connecti cut, show that they too must have had the use of the leading law books of the day. Cotton Mather's library began when the owner was but nineteen with ninety-six volumes, of which eighty-one were